Pre-War Occupations of Volunteer Soldiers

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
A few examples from my files:

(CSA) Company A, 4th Alabama: As of April 1861, the roll included 15 farmers, 15 soldiers, 12 merchants, 11 clerks, 6 lawyers, 6 students, 2 artists, 2 printers, 2 engineers, 1 editor, 1 physician, 1 “P.M.”, 1 teacher, 1 telegraph operator, 1 machinist, 1 mechanic and 1 dentist. (Reuben Vaughan Kidd, Soldier of the Confederacy, by Alice V. D. Pierrepont)

(CSA) Company G, 11th Mississippi: In the company were 51 farmers, 47 students, 20 clerks, 5 merchants, 3 mechanics, 3 lawyers, 3 professors or teachers, 2 medical students, 1 minister, 1 physician, 1 deputy sheriff, 1 telegraph operator and 1 tombstone agent. (Lamar Rifles, A History of Company G, Eleventh Mississippi Regiment, C.S.A., May, 1861 to April, 1865)

(USA) 149th Pennsylvania: 530 farmers, 340 laborers, 63 carpenters, 47 shoemakers, 39 lumbermen, 35 blacksmiths, 29 teachers, 21 clerks, 18 millers, 14 students, 13 bricklayers/masons, 13 tailors, 11 engineers, 11 saddlers, 10 boatmen, 10 plasterers, 10 teamsters, 9 moulders, 9 salesmen, 9 sawers, 8 miners, 7 cabinetmakers, 7 wagonmakers, 5 coopers, 5 machinists, 5 merchants, 5 tanners, 4 butchers, 4 nailers, 4 tobacconists, 3 bakers, 3 nailcutters, 3 railroad agents, 3 railroaders, 4 mechanics, 4 printers, 3 brickmakers, 3 millwrights, 3 painters, 3 stonecutters, 2 artists, 2 clockmakers, 2 coachmakers, 2 jewelers, 1 barber, 1 boatbuilder, 1 bookbinder, 1 builder, 1 carter, 1 cigarmaker, 1 distiller, 1 doctor, 1 druggist, 1 farrier, 1 fencemaker, 1 fireman, 1 gardener, 1 hosemaker, 1 hostler, 1 innkeeper, 1 lawyer, 1 minister, 1 potter, 1 quarryman, 1 roller, 1 sailor, 1 soapmaker, 1 tinker and 1 wheelright. (The 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Unit in the Civil War, by Richard E. Matthews, Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1994)

(USA) Company F, 12th New Jersey: At enlistment, the company had 77 farmers, 4 shoemakers, 4 clerks, 3 millers, 3 carpenters, 2 wheelwrights, 1 harnessmaker, 1 tinsmith, 1 boatman, 1 painter, 1 basketmaker, 1 bartender and 1 undertaker.

(USA) 46th Pennsylvania: 16 farmers, 11 carpenters, 11 laborers, 5 blacksmiths, 5 shoemakers, 5 tailors, 3 boatmen, 3 millers, 3 students, 3 teamsters, 2 bricklayers, 2 clerks, 2 painters, 2 wagonmakers, 1 cabinetmaker, 1 clerk/machinist, 1 collier, 1 druggist, 1 gentleman, 1 lime burner, 1 moulder, 1 printer, 1 railroader, 1 saddler and 1 schoolmaster. (An Uncommon Look at the Common Soldier, by Benjamin E. Myers, Civil War Times, August 2016, p. 29)
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Tom,

How did you find this information?
I've been collecting primary source materials for 30 years on units that participated at Gettysburg, so can focus on any particular topic, although I have not paid specific attention to this kind of data.

I'm not certain about the Company F, 12th New Jersey source - thought it likely to have come from History of the Men of Co. F ... 12th New Jersey Vols. by William P. Haines, but could not find it there after a cursory search.

I know research exists that has determined percentages for the various occupations based on an average of many regiments, but not broken out by specific unit, and as I recall farmers do comprise the largest percentage on both sides. There's no doubt a wide variation depending on whether the unit was raised in an urban or rural area.
 
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19thOhio

Private
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Would these be recorded in original muster rolls? .. and available in some records someplace. I hadn't come across anything like that in my 19th Ohio research. That is interesting information. Thanks.
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Would these be recorded in original muster rolls? .. and available in some records someplace. I hadn't come across anything like that in my 19th Ohio research. That is interesting information. Thanks.
I believe so. For example, Massachusetts records published by the Adjutant General (below) provides occupational data. The preface gives some idea of the amount of effort required to assemble the information:

 

frontrank2

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Oct 10, 2012
Location
Mt. Jackson, Va
My gr gr grandfather came over from Germany just prior to enlisting in the 39th NY Infantry. His occupation was listed as a sugar maker. They were captured at Harpers Ferry and sent to Camp Douglas for a couple of months. While there, he learned how to make cigars and started his own brand after the war.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
I find it interesting that the North was made up of a very diverse mix. I'm finding a lot of occupations that would have been also occupations in the South are not represented. Maybe just the examples that you posted.
Many of those trades positions were done in the South by slaves, & the opportunities were just not there for whites. And, of course, the South was deficient in manufacturing enterprize, large-scale and small.

In overall numbers, "Farmer" and "Farm Laborer" were far the most numerous occupations, both North and South.
 
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Coonewah Creek

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2018
Location
Northern Alabama
Occupations from the 2nd Mississippi CMSR's. Mostly farmers and planters. Not as diverse as Northern regiments...

2nd Miss occupations.jpg
 

Fairfield

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Would these be recorded in original muster rolls? .. and available in some records someplace. I hadn't come across anything like that in my 19th Ohio research. That is interesting information. Thanks.
The Maine enlistment papers give a man's occupation at the time of enlistment. The 1860 census gives occupations as of 1860--which mightn't be far off from those a few years later.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I've done occupations of soldiers from this town but not of their entire regiments. They were mostly farmers and timber workers but, as part of the town is right on the river, there were a number of river drivers and workers in small mills.
 

neyankee61

Cadet
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
Co B 7th New Jersey recruited from the city of Newark 5 farmers, 6 day laborers, 5 harness makers, 2 carriage painters, 3 carriage makers, 2 silver platers, 2 tinsmiths, 4 clerk's, 2 trimmers, 2 jewelers, 2 tailors, 1 well sinker, 1 butcher, 1 brass tuner, 1 boilermaker, 1 broom maker, 1 comb maker, 1 umbrella maker, 1 cooper 1 moulder, 1 hatter 1 millwright, and 1 wool spinner. Definitely showing an urban background
 
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