It was April 1861 in the United States and both the Union and Confederates armies needed recruits, and they needed them in a hurry. Not surprisingly, as seen in newspaper advertisements during 1861 to 1865, different groups and branches of the service had competing ads with unusual and even funny slogans.
There was need for different types of recruits, some of the recruitment ads were for guards, musicians, volunteers, buglers, cooks, wagon masters, sharpshooters and other type of troops. An example of special offers can be found in a 1862 New Hampshire newspaper, where a $100 bounty was offered for mounted service in the U.S. Army. Also, any unmarried men between the ages of 21 and 35 who could serve for three years would be paid from $13 to $22 per month, which was ‘big’ money back in the 1860s.
Here are a few examples of slogans that were used:
A Few Men Wanted to Fill this Crack Company (for the Ellsworth Guard)
Young man, your country wants you! (for the Louisiana Volunteers)
Union! Fraternity! Equality! Rally! Rally! Rally to the Call! (for the John Brown Guards)
Recruitment posters increased after any major battle when many soldiers died on either side. The armies needed men to refill rapidly declining ranks and used recruitment advertisements as a means to find them. Union posters used patriotic effigies such as ‘Lady Liberty’ to entice recruits.
There were even special regiments of specific cultural backgrounds such as German or Irish. Many men were more willing to join a regiment with those of a similar background. By March of 1863 men of color (former slaves) were encouraged to join Union regiments with solely soldiers of color. Yet the officers in charge of such units were white only.
When recruiting efforts failed to get enough men to enlist, drafts were imposed, forcing men to serve in the military.
If you have found one or more ancestors who served in either the Union or Confederate Armies or Navy, see if you can find a recruitment poster for a cultural group, a hometown, a county or a specific regiment that an ancestor may have been part of. If you do locate such a find, it will really add to the family history, this may have been the same poster that your ancestor saw and encouraged him to join.
Photos: Third Irish Regiment from Massachusetts; Manhattan Recruitment; Regiments of Color; Confederate Recruits; and North Carolina Recruits.
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