Pay for American soldiers during each major war is provided by We Are the Mighty.
Their article, This is how much troops were paid in every major American war, provides the pay for a private in the major wars fought by the U.S. The then-current pay is also adjusted to an equivalent amount of money in 2016. Don’t know how they made the conversion to 2016 dollars. I usually want to look at the conversion rates, but won’t dive deeper for this post.
This info does provide some way of comparing pay rates across time.
Here is the great info they provide:
|pay for a private, first year of service|
|War of 1812, start||5|
|War of 1812, end of 1812||8||136|
|War of 1812, bounty, low range, one time||31||528|
|Civil War, Union||13||237|
|Civil War, Confederate||11||A|
|Civil War, black Union soldier||B||B|
|World War 1||30||558|
|World War 2||50||677|
|Korean War, over 4 months service||83||748|
|Vietnam War, over 4 months service||83||686|
|Persian Gulf War, over 4 months||754||1,318|
|Afghanistan & Iraq War||1,151||1,489|
- A – Conversion of the pay rate for a private in the Confederate army would be a challenge given the severe inflation during the war.
- B – Black soldiers were paid far less than white soldiers. Near the end of the war, they were paid $10 a month and also charged $3 for clothing, resulting in net pay of $7 per month.
Pay rates start at $50 per month for privates and $150 for 2nd Lieutenant under three years service up to max of $207 per month of what would now be an E-8 over 30.
For officers, maximum pay was:
- $665.67 for O-8 all years service
- $500 for O-7, all years service
- $500 for O-6 and O-5 at over 30 years