A Rogue's Gallery, Bounty Hunters

JPK Huson 1863

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
17,351
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#1
bounty brokers looking for subs 2.jpg


bounty brokers looking for subs.jpg


One of the more ' Iew ' sets I've come across, and you can't believe a photographer talked any of these sleezebuckets into posing for photos. I mean, really? Gives me the willies, " Sign on the line here, and here and oh wait, can't read? ' X ' here, never mind the small gobbltygook and listen, if you live long enough to desert? Come on back, we'll talk, have your people call my people, we'll do brunch. "

These guys are still scrubbing toilets with toothbrushes in Heaven's waiting room.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

James B White

Captain
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Messages
6,172
#2
From the thread title, I thought this was going to be something different. :smile:

But since these are military bounties for enlistment, I'm puzzled. How are these pictures different from a legitimate military recruiting station at a time when bounties were offered? I thought the sleazeballs were either the bounty jumpers (who enlisted solely for the bounty and then deserted), or those who didn't disclose the full amount of the bounty, recruited naive men, and kept most of the bounty for themselves.

The sign is surely listing the full amount of the bounty--can't imagine it would be over $500 even with federal, state and local bounties combined. I can't read most of the sign other than "Enlistments" and "$500 Prize Money." Is there something more there, or what are the clues that these are dishonest people? I don't know much about military matters, so I'm probably missing something obvious about the context.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
17,351
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#3
From the thread title, I thought this was going to be something different. :smile:

But since these are military bounties for enlistment, I'm puzzled. How are these pictures different from a legitimate military recruiting station at a time when bounties were offered? I thought the sleazeballs were either the bounty jumpers (who enlisted solely for the bounty and then deserted), or those who didn't disclose the full amount of the bounty, recruited naive men, and kept most of the bounty for themselves.

The sign is surely listing the full amount of the bounty--can't imagine it would be over $500 even with federal, state and local bounties combined. I can't read most of the sign other than "Enlistments" and "$500 Prize Money." Is there something more there, or what are the clues that these are dishonest people? I don't know much about military matters, so I'm probably missing something obvious about the context.
Sorry! It's what it was listed as in LoC- ' Bounty Hunters '. Which were always connected in my head with the men who scrounged around for warm bodies to make a commission from, right? If that's incorrect- will certainly change the post of course- the men who made money from other people's service, or service and death I always considered more than dreadful. If these men merely enlisted men, were paid government agents, handed over an honest 100%, great. If they are the ' Bounty Hunters ' as said- then I do feel they're despicable.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Messages
13,205
#4
The broadside listing $500 in prize money is for Navy recruitment. I don't know how the men in this image operated, but note that several of them are in uniform with badges. Likely they are on the lookout for bounty jumpers, which was a significant problem in the latter part of the war.
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
427
#6
Where is this? I would assume the bounty hunters were the enlistees. Men wanted to enlist, especially in urban areas, for financial reasons as well as adventure and the federal government offered them bounties that varied from state to state and over time. The idea was to enlist and get a bounty rather than be drafted. While recruitment abuses no doubt occurred, and are documented in New York City when dealing with immigrants, they were more about how long a term they were signing up for than the enlistment itself. This was the federal and state system of recruitment and recruiters were rewarded for enlistees.

If anyone has their pay incentives, I'd like to see them. Specifically was there an amount for each man mustered in or was there more money for the recruiter for the 3 year term than shorter terms, or was the government only offering 3 year to end of War terms after the 1863 Draft?

My Civil War ancestor was assigned to detached duty as a recruiter while serving in the 9th KS Cav. He was older than most enlisted men and a definite activist for the Union cause, but not a corrupt man. He was probably assigned this duty because of his genuine belief that all must be done to end the spread of slavery and was probably effective in communicating that. He later also served in combat, we believe at his request.
.
How can you raise an Army without recruitors?
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
3,713
#8
This poster from NYC explains the layered bounty system that combined the federal bounty, the state bounty and a local bounty, plus a discharge bounty.

This poster must be from early in the war, as some posters I have seen offer a much higher total.

Note also that this ad is encouraging enlistment of the 51st New York under Col. Ferrero, who became famous at Burnside's Bridge.


ac03211v.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2014
Messages
3,148
Location
Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
#10
The purpose of the bounty, as I understand it, was (1) to encourage enlistments and (2) give the dependents of the enlistee a nest egg to live on while the enlistee was in the Army. I've read a number of journal entries and journal quotes in secondary sources about bounty payments being delayed and soldiers sometimes going for months without being paid, resulting in extreme hardship at home, in some cases wives and children having to go into the local poorhouse. Of course some soldiers didn't send either the bounty or any of their pay home, which made things worse.

Yes, there were some criminals who kept deserting and reenlisting until caught. But for the most part, the enlistment bounty payments met a legitimate need.
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2015
Messages
23
Location
Washington, DC
#11
You're content comment is puzzling. You are applying 21st century values to mid-19th c. ante-bellum American life at the time of war - a war in which the Union could have very easily been dissolved. Similar tactics were used during WW1.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Messages
13,205
#12
The original caption at LoC is, "bounty brokers looking out for substitutes." That suggests that they were being paid by men subject to the draft, to find replacements for them. The whole substitute system grates on modern sensibilities (and did for plenty of people then, too), but it was common enough.
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
14,328
#13
Was wondering about men who got paid to hook up men who wanted to hire a replacement when thy got drafted. It was legal to pay someone to replace you, but not sure about how I feel about it. I guess the middleman deserved a cut of the money, but still kind of sleazy to me.

Here is another way to look at it. A young husband and father wants to join, but his monthly pay would not be enough for his wife to hire help to run the farm or business with her husbands gone. When a bonus was offered the money could go to the recruits wife to pay for help on the farm while he was gone.
 
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
5,286
#14
Could someone explain something to me about substitutes? In the South, where all able bodied men who were not exempt had to serve, how come the substitute wasn't also subject to the draft anyway? How could you find someone to hire to serve for you who did not already have to serve on his own behalf?
 

JPK Huson 1863

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
17,351
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#16
I'm a little sorry if anyone disliked my own dislike- not a lot. Army recruiters in modern times are already in the armed forces, sent to recruit enlistees. As far as I know no money changes hands nor does the recruiter receive money per warm body delivered. None of these men went to war themselves, just were in business. That business was not the usual recruiting as we know it. Somewhere, non-bounty enlistment took place. This is not that.

Someone enlisting men and someone recruiting while involved in bounties were not always the same thing through the war.

There were some nefarious methods employed, too. Immigrants were sometimes signed up as they entered the country. When money is involved it was not a good idea, giving free rein to people whose business it is, making more of it based on delivering men to government service. At the time this thread was created, we had had discussions on this. Will now have to go dig those threads up, too, since this one was.
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
427
#17
Remember at the beginning of the War recruitment was largely on the hands of the state militias. Later on after state units were federalized, all recruiters were in the military. The US had always paid bounty land for service until the Civil War, there was no land bounty for service in the Civil War but the cash bounty was intended to replace it. The US abolished the bounty system befoe WWI. Men who were drafted did not receive a bounty. The bounty system did help to keep the number of soldiers draft very low in the Union.

I still can find nothing in the way of research published concerning this whole issue of who are recruiters, which was an issue mostly for the states when our primary military force was composed of the state militias, I believe all federal recruiters were serving in the military. Also what was their compensation. Did the recruiters serving in the military receive any "head count" compensation? I've seen no evidence of it.

In the Union service records I've seen, out of the $300 federal bounty allowed toward the end of the War, $100 was paid at muster in, $100 was paid in mid service and $100 was due at muster out. In addition. the soldier received regular monthly pay. Sometimes that was difficult if the soldier was on detached duty or in hospital, and all of that bounty wasn't earned if the full 3 years weren't served. There was an accounting for every penny owed in pay and bounty when every Union soldier was mustered out and I don't see large arrears when I review service records. Any disputes were resolved through a federal claims procedure.

The Confederacy however experienced more financial difficulty during the War and in the end, didnt fully didn't pay their bounties or their soldiers. Many desertions came about because wives and families were starving. I don't know about the East coast states, but in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, the Confederate families experienced great hardship because the Confederate Army mostly, but sometimes the Union Army as well, took their crops and livestock to feed the troops and their animals and the soldiers weren't receiving pa that was owed.. These Confederate desertion rates were discussed in the Operations Reports on both sides in the last months of the War as hundreds were deserting Sterling Prices forces as he was attempted his last raiding expedition into Missouri.

Attached is a federal enlistment a green dared 1865. I know most soldiers couldn't read it, but it lays out the pay process. The law as to maximum bounty allowed under what conditions was changed from time to time by Congress throughout the War.
20160902_144620-1.jpg
20160902_144646-1.jpg
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
427
#18
Here is a good, very readable article on soldiers pay and the bounty system in the Civil War (no discussion of Navy however):

http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/data/ccwrt_history/talks_text/moffat_soldiers_pay.html

The Library of Congress discussion of this photo says the sign is intended to recruit for the Navy. The picture is from a stereoptican card published by a New York City firm in business between 1865 and 1869, although that really says nothing about the date and place the photo was taken.

I found very little about pay during the Civil War to the Navy, but is noted that their pay was always higher than the Army pay because they were hoping to enlist professional sailors and not just "land's men" who had not been at sea. I found nothing concerning Navy quotas or bounties, but the higher bounty of $500 makes sense as consistent with the policy of higher compensation for Navy personnel.

The uniformed Navy personnel in that LoC photo would be the recruiters and they were not paid by the head for enlistments. I don't know who the other gentlemen were or what role if any they played in the process. Were they politicians or other officials (Provost Marshal office?) hoping that publicity for the new $500 bounty would bring in recruits?

The article cited above discussed the varying bounty laws of the United States as a product of our country's first attempt to establish a large federal military verses push-back from the states. The federal government was making it up as it went along, totally unprepared for the creation and maintenance of a large national force fed by a draft and volunteer recruitment policies, as the states were totally unprepared to cede power over the military to federal control.

The article mentions that federal pay to soldiers was delivered every 4 months, not monthly, and was sometimes delayed and that there was not a very good system for pay to be diverted to wives and parents. The Confederacy is also discussed and a lack of primary sources noted. The appalling inability of the Confederacy to pay its soldiers in the Trans-Mississippi is discussed, with the comment that this failure caused the Confederate Army to "melt away" in that venue.

I must say I do question any labeling of this photo as "rogues" or as bounty brokers, that doesn't fit the sign. Could someone here who works brilliantly with vintage photos sharpen that sign to readability? That would seem to help set that scene properly.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
3,713
#19
Somebody correct me of I am wrong, but I believe today's US Army pays an enlistment bonus when you sign up.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Messages
13,205
#20
Could someone explain something to me about substitutes? In the South, where all able bodied men who were not exempt had to serve, how come the substitute wasn't also subject to the draft anyway? How could you find someone to hire to serve for you who did not already have to serve on his own behalf?
They would probably have to find substitutes from men who were already excepted based on their jobs or slaveholding status.
 



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top