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Union and Confederate Soldier Pay During the Civil War

Kean Collection / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Approximately 2.4 million soldiers were engaged in the Civil War, with around 1.56 million fighting for the North and an estimated 800,000 for the South (although Confederate records remain incomplete). The estimated number of casualties in the conflict varies, ranging from approximately 620,000 to 752,000 lives lost. Regardless of the exact figure, the Civil War stands as the bloodiest conflict in American history. (Here’s a list of the wars that killed the most Americans.)

Union soldiers fought initially to preserve the Union and later to end slavery, while Confederate soldiers took up arms for reasons including state pride, the preservation of slavery, and defense of their homes. Steady pay was among the incentives for soldiers on both sides.

To compile a list of the monthly wage of soldiers of every rank fighting in the Civil War, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report by the data site Statista, which drew statistics from the American Battlefield Trust, an organization that preserves America’s battlegrounds, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The majority of soldiers on both sides were primarily farmers, with an average age of approximately 26. Although they were supposed to receive pay every two months, this often did not occur due to the considerable distances military paymasters had to cover.

Except for the rank of captain and, briefly, private, Confederate soldiers typically received lower pay compared to their Union counterparts. (These days, here’s how much the U.S. military are paid at every pay grade.)

Click here to see how much soldiers were paid during the Civil War

Lieutenant General
> Union wage: $748 a month
> Confederate wage: $301 a month

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Major General
> Union wage: $457 a month
> Confederate wage: $301 a month

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Brigadier General
> Union wage: $315 a month
> Confederate wage: $301 a month

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Colonel
> Union wage: $212 a month
> Confederate wage: $195 a month

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Lieutenant Colonel
> Union wage: $181 a month
> Confederate wage: $170 a month

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Major
> Union wage: $169 a month
> Confederate wage: $150 a month

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Captain
> Union wage: $115.50 a month
> Confederate wage: $130 a month

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Second Lieutenant
> Union wage: $105.50 a month
> Confederate wage: $80 a month

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

First Lieutenant
> Union wage: $105.50 a month
> Confederate wage: $90 a month

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Sergeant Major
> Union wage: $21 a month
> Confederate wage: $21 a month

Quartermaster Sergeant
> Union wage: $21 a month
> Confederate wage: $21 a month

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

First Sergeant
> Union wage: $20 a month
> Confederate wage: $20 a month

Sergeant
> Union wage: $17 a month
> Confederate wage: $17 a month

Source: MPI / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Private – after June 1864
> Union wage: $16 a month
> Confederate wage: $18 a month

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Corporal
> Union wage: $13 a month
> Confederate wage: $13 a month

Source: Kean Collection / Archive Photos via Getty Images

Private (white) – before June 1864
> Union wage: $13 a month
> Confederate wage: $11 a month

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Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Private (black) – before June 1864
> Union wage: $7 a month
> Confederate wage: $0

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