1864: Andrew Russell Barrows to Warren Snow Barrows

The following letter was written by Andrew Russell Barrows (1832-1871) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Warren Barrows (1800-1868) and Philinda Smith (1800-1838) of Cheshire county, New Hampshire. He wrote the letter to his older brother, Warren Snow Barrows (1824-1888) of Hinsdale, Cheshire county, New Hampshire.

The subject of the letter pertains to the purchasing of substitutes to meet State enlistment quotas or face a draft. From the letter we learn that the “going rate” for substitutes was rising dramatically by this final year of the Civil War and the urgency was heightened by Gen. Early’s raid into Maryland in the summer of 1864. The letter is datelined from Philadelphia on 28 July 1864—two weeks after the Battle of Fort Stevens on the outskirts of the Nation’s Capitol so it is somewhat surprising that he did not seem to be aware that Early had already been defeated and had withdrawn to the Valley.

A Wartime Sheet Music Cover (LOC)


Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]
July 28, 1864


Yours of the 25th was received this noon. I suppose you have received my letter I wrote the 25th by this time though I have not received every dispatch yet. I wrote [you] to telegraph me as soon as you received the letter and let me know what you thought of taking five men at $700 if I could get them to enlist at Lebanon but 715 is the lowest figure he would agree to deliver them for and take all the risk of their passing [physical] examinations and running away so I thought that the cheapest and best way of getting subs and certainly the safest way. So I thought I would telegraph to you Tuesday so I could get an answer before this man would have a chance to back out or subs bring higher prices so I telegraphed to you Tuesday but I have not received any answer yet. Perhaps you did not get the dispatch. I expected I would get an answer yesterday sure.

I have been to see the man this afternoon. He says he will wait till I get the answer though he would like to know soon. I thought it would be a good chance. I don’t believe subs will be any less while this war lasts. By the way, things look, people are getting alarmed here again about the big raid that are coming again into Maryland and Pennsylvania. That is the news today—that 80,000 strong are marching down the Valley again and crossing over the Potomac. I guess it is true. If so, there will be another great raise of every man called to arms.

I see you have given up the idea of getting subs at present by your letter today. I do not want to criticize you but I think subs will bring $1,000 before winter and more though you must do as you think best about it. Perhaps you would not be drafted anyway. Then you would lose it all—your pay and the bounty, though if you get $300 from the State, $300 more from the town, and $300 from the government, it would not cost you anything at all. That would make $900. The government does pay $300 to three-year’s men here, of course they do. In all other States they pay it to representative subs or enlisted men either. So you could make money in the operation in the end but it would take you the three years before you got all your bounty money.

If you conclude to take these 5 subs, we could not start with them till the middle of next week. Please write soon. Your truly, — Andrew

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