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.
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.
Pay for a legionnaire soldier in the Roman army increased substantially over time, from 225 denarii a year around the turn of the millenium to 600 denarri in the early 200s.
The amount of silver in a denarii was also steadily reduced over that same time. That is called inflation, which as we know from other reading, was driven by Roman Emperors intentionally debasing the currency as a way to help finance the empire.
First, let’s look at the declining value of a denarius. Here is the silver value of each coin, measured as the number of denarii minted from each pound of silver, along with my point estimate of the year of the change:
What was the payroll cost to staff a Roman Legion?
Earlier post discussed that until around 81 A.D. a Legionnaire was paid 225 sesterces a year.
With the help of a Wikipedia article, we can make a guess at the total payroll for a Legion. (A side note, amusing to me, is that several of the sources of this article are books I’ve previously read.)
As the first step, let’s look at the estimated staffing of a Roman Legion in about 100 A.D. Keep in mind this is assuming the Legion is fully staffed, which was never the case, as I’ve read in several places. This is also for a legion with 50 centuries instead of the authorized strength of 60 centuries earlier.
Another indication of average pay for Roman foot soldiers can be found in Wikipedia’s articleImperial Roman Army.
This pay rate applied during the reigns of Emperors Augustus and Vespasian, which means until about 81 A.D. After that point, debasement of the currency led to inflation and rising pay for soldiers. More on that later.
For general framework, this is the pay structure in effect during the time of the New Testament.