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.
In 1836, when Sherman started classes at West Point, he took a stagecoach for the trip. The journey from Zanesville, Ohio to Washington was three days, traveling night and day. Each stagecoach’s was loaded with nine passages on the inside and perhaps three or four on the roof of the coach.
A quick check on Google maps shows this journey is 345 miles on the modern I-70 and I-68. A trip that took three days and nights, say 72 hours, back in 1836 can now be completed in 5 hours 40 minutes, say just over 6 hours adding in a refueling stop.
That is a drop in travel time by a factor of 12, or a reduction of 92%.
In July 1846, company F of Third Artillery, with young first lieutenant Sherman aboard, sailed from the East Coast to California. They sailed around the Cape Horn. The company consisted of 5 officers and 113 enlisted men. The ship stopped in Rio de Janeiro for re-provisioning.
While in California Mr. Sherman built a very nice house, hoping that would entice his wife to move to California. He spent the relatively large sum of $10,000. This was in the early 1850s.
Things were different back in the 1800s. For just one particular thing, private citizens would gather contributions and give the funds to high-profile, popular people in public life. William T. Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant each received such gifts.
The book also provides multiple comments on his compensation level and financial conditions. For his entire married life he struggled with finances, with his large and growing salary never been able to quite keep up with his wife Ellen’s taste for the good life.
Following posts will mention some comments in the book on cost of nice housing, gifts to public figures, travel times, and logistics.
While serving in the Army in California, Sherman formed a partnership and funded a retail store. He was making $70 a month. Each of the three men in the partnership chipped in $500 and drew out $2,000, make a profit of $1500 each.