Military Pay


23rd New York Infantry. Library of Congress

In theory, the soldiers of both the Confederate and the Union armies were supposed to be paid every two months. In practice, they usually weren't so lucky because the military paymaster had to keep up with the troops who moved swiftly over long distances. When the paymaster did arrive with the current and back pay, it was a happy day in camp. The following figures compare the income per month of the soldiers of each rank.

Army Pay per Month













First Sergeant 



Quartermaster Sergeant



Sergeant Major



Second Lieutenant



First Lieutenant  









Lieutenant Colonel 






Brigadier General 



Major General



Lieutenant General







  • Officer Allowances: When you notice the discrepancy between the enlisted ranks and the officer ranks, remember that the officer pay included certain allowances, such as additional rations, forage, and fuel allowances. So, for instance, the Union infantry colonel's pay included the cash value for six human and three horse rations a day, which came to $78 a month.
  • Confederate General Salaries: The Confederate generals' salaries do not reflect allowances. All ranks of Confederate generals received the same base pay because the Confederate army regulations recognized only one grade above colonel. Generals holding different commands, however, earned additional allowances for additional rations, fodder, fuel, quarters, and seniority. In addition, generals commanding an army in the field received $100. Therefore, in 1864 Robert E. Lee's monthly salary totaled $604 a month. This amount included $301 base pay, $108 rations (for 12 rations a day), $32 fodder allowance (for four horse rations a day), $63 seniority pay (for $9 per month for each five years in the service, including those years he served in the United States Army), and $100 as an army commander.
  • Colored Troops: Colored Troops received $10 a month for most of the war, of which $3 was deducted for clothing allowance. This deduction was abolished in September, 1864.


Seamen's pay was comparable to those of the soldiers. The following lists Union enlisted ranks' monthly pay.

Navy Pay per Month



Recruit Seamen


Ordinary Seamen


Able Seamen


Third Class Petty Officer


Senior Petty Officer



  • Seagoing enlisted men over 21 also received a half pint or wine or a quarter pint of grog each day. This practice was abolished in September 1862, when the ration was replaced by a cash payment of $1.50 a month.


Nofi, Albert A., A Civil War Treasury, Da Capo Press, 1995. Orig. 1992. Pages 381-383.