The northern economy was quite strong during the Civil War, with demand for skilled and unskilled workers in industry creating more lucrative job opportunities in the civilian world than being in the army.
While the pay for a soldier was $13 a month, the author says a man could make four times that much money merely by working as “a sign maker or a clerk in a dry goods store” (location 26210). That stat is credited to American Annual Cyclopedia, 1863, p. 413. A 30 second search on the ol’ internet suggests the book can be had for between $60 and $100.
The ratio of 4x suggests a dry good store clerk could make somewhere around $50 a month.
Note: This was originally posted on September 11, 2013 at my other blog, Nonprofit Update. It is cross-posted here because it kinda’ sorta’ fits. Even though the video is no longer available online, the post is worth reading.
How’s this for a very creative visualization? A four-minute video that tells the story of the American Civil War through the amount of territory controlled by the Union and Confederate forces with mention of major battles and a casualty counter in the corner.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum created The Civil War in Four Minutes.
You can view the video here at what appears to be the only authorized place to host it.
Update on 1/19/19: Video is no longer available online. You need to buy a copy if you want to see it. A bootleg copy can be found online, but I won’t link to it.