Civil War Substitutes

During the Civil War, men in certain states, who did not want to fight, were able to pay for a substitute. This is what F. Bill, a Connecticut resident, had in mind when he wrote home to H.C. Holmes.

(Click the above images to enlarge)

Bill was writing from Cleveland, Ohio. He intended to buy a substitute there, and bring the person with him back to Connecticut. The laws of Ohio, however, aimed to prevent this. To avoid trouble, Bill was also contemplating finding his substitute in Buffalo, New York. He had heard it was easier to find an alien (non-citizen) there.

How did Bill fare? We do not know. The collection contains only the one letter. H. C. Holmes seems to be Hiram C. Holmes, of Stonington, Connecticut. A collection of his papers is held by the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport. In the finding aid, F. Bill is listed as one of Holmes’ correspondents.

Below is a transcript of the letter.

                   Cleveland Aug 2, ’64
H.C. Holmes
Dr Bro,
Yours of the 30th ult
Is received, I am glad you
wrote me of the vote at town
meeting as it will make some
diff- with the price I pay for
sub- I shall get one to take
home with me if I can at a
reasonable price. The difficulty
is to get them East. Can get
plenty here at from $500 to
$700_ I can procure colored
subs lowest I think. I shall
if can make arrangements to
bring East several subs if can
avoid breaking state laws +
getting caught
. They are
taking them from this state

to York state, thus violating law
of O. I must see what can
be done here- + may stop
in Buffalo, as I understand
aliens are obtained
there at more reasonable
rates than in this place +
it is nearer Ct_ Do I
understand that they are
paying $700 in addition
to town + state bounties_
Wish you would write
me if so.
Yours truly
F. Bill

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