THE ECONOMICS OF THE UNION DRAFT: INSTITUTIONAL FAILURE AND GOVERNMENT MANIPULATION OF THE LABOR MARKET DURING THE CIVIL WAR

  • Cady Alpert
  • Kyle D. Kauffman

Abstract

The Civil War is still the bloodiest of all wars in which the United States has fought. The number of men who died and the reduction in the labor force had profound effects on the economy for years. In this paper we examine the methods used by the Union Government to procure a fighting force. We argue that institutional failure by the Union Government to raise and put into battle a sufficient number of men in the early years of the war prolonged the inevitable. Had the North either raised the wages of soldiers or created an effective draft, which for various institutional reasons it did not do until late in the war, fewer lives would have been lost and the war would have come to an end sooner.