Meeting of March 27, 2012

Arthur W. Henrick on “Civil War Currency, Monetary Policy, and Soldiers’ Pay”

man in a Civil War paymaster uniform

Arthur Henrick

Arthur’s talk described what Union soldiers were paid in 1861 (Gold/Silver) and the first issue of the new paper currency in early 1862 and the result of the mass issue of these “United States Notes” (commonly called “Greenbacks”) and the beginning of “Fiat” money. Confederate quartermasters paid their troops irregularly and inflation made their pay a fraction of the value that Union soldiers received. Arthur has a number of sources to cite. Readings from the Union prospective, the 1863 book “Light and Dark of the Rebellion” by Rev. Charles Edward Sester will cover the chapter “The Life of an Army Paymaster for a Day.” Another book is the 1887 “Corporal Si Klegg and his Pard” by Lt. Colonel Hinman and the chapter “An Interview with a Paymaster.” Data and facts from 1869 book by Hon. E. G. Spaulding, Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Ways and Means when the Greenback Law was passed in February 25th, 1862. As with 19th Century books, the full title is “History of the Legal Tender Paper Money issued during the GREAT REBELLION. Being a Loan without Interest and a national Currency.” Gold, silver, copper coins and Postage and Fractional Currency will be present for inspection of those who attend.

Arthur Henrick has been an avid American Civil War historian and reenactor since 1987. He was a founder member of the American Civil War Association in 1993, which has become one of the largest CW Reenactment organizations on the West Coast. He has collected original coins and currency of the Civil War period since he was a young adult. His small but interesting collection contains 1862 US greenbacks and Confederate Currency. His reenactment career is a Union Paymaster (a Staff Major) who carries a Henry Rifle and original 1861 (old-Elliot) Army Remington and Colt pistols. His current fighting rank in the ACWA is the 1st Sgt in the 24th Michigan Infantry. Past positions have been from Private, Corporal, Sgt Major, to 1st Lieutenant of the Federal Staff over the last 25 years. He has traveled to the East Coast and has paid off 300 fellow reenactors during the 135th Antietam and 140th Nashville event. That experience matched closely what is written in the diaries and books printed during and after the Civil War.