Concept

Bounty jumper

Summary
Bounty jumpers were men who enlisted in the Union or Confederate army during the American Civil War only to collect a bounty and then leave. The Enrollment Act of 1863 instituted conscription but allowed individuals to pay a bounty to someone else to fight in their place. Bounty jumpers commonly enlisted numerous times in the army, collecting many bounties in the process. Being a bounty jumper was more profitable in the North. A month after the Battle of Fort Sumter the United States Congress passed a law allowing for bounties up to 300.TheConfederategovernmentdidlikewise,startingat300. The Confederate government did likewise, starting at 50 and then later in the war increased the bounty to 100.AstheUSdollarwasworthmorethantheConfederatedollareverwas,regardlessofthe100. As the US dollar was worth more than the Confederate dollar ever was, regardless of the 200 disparity, the Northern government had greater luck with bounties, and was more likely to have to deal with bounty jumpers. With state and local governments also adding to bounties, the total could amount to 1000,aconsiderableamount.AsthetypicalNorthernprivatewaspaid1000, a considerable amount. As the typical Northern private was paid 13 a month, the bonuses were considerable. Typically, the bounty jumper would desert his unit before arriving on the front lines, traveling to a new area to gain another bounty. One bounty jumper collected at least 32 bounties. Another bounty jumper, John Larney aka "Mollie Matches", claimed to have enlisted and deserted from 93 regiments for bounties. Due to the number of bounty jumpers taking advantage of being substitutes for those drafted, the Confederate Congress withdrew the law making substitutions possible in December 1863. Not all bounty jumpers successfully left their new unit. During the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864, one bounty jumper who was a member of the 35th Massachusetts Regiment shouted "Retreat!" causing the entire unit to panic and run back to their earthworks. A popular place for bounty jumpers to go to was New York City. At one time 3,000 professional bounty jumpers were believed to be in the city. A dozen a day were found in a brief campaign to catch jumpers in February 1863; many were caught while enjoying a brothel.
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