War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0669 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

States, as, for instance, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey, rank high in the column of desertion; and this result is to be attributed not only to the fact that such States are dotted with towns and cities, but to the secondary fact that these towns and cities crowded with foreigners. The respectable and industrious part of this population did, indeed, produce a mass of faithful troops; but with these were mixed a vast number of adventurers, unworthy of any country, who had no affection for the Republic, and who only for money.

In general, those States which gave the highest local bounties are marked by the largest proportion of deserters. The bounty was meant to be an inducement to enlistment; it became, in fact, an inducement to desertion and fraudulent re-enlistment.

It is a singular and at first sight a puzzling fact that two extreme Western States, Kansas and California, are distinguished, respectively, by the high ratios in desertion of 117.54 and 101.86. But it must be remembered that more than half the male population of Kansas entered the service, and that consequently its contingent contained an unusually large percentage of men whose presence was necessary to the subsistence and protection of their families. In further explanation of this fact something may be attributed to a lax state of discipline natural in border regiments serving for the most part in a somewhat irregular defense of their own frontiers. As for California, it is to be observed that a portion of the contingent of that State consisted of men levied in the large cities of the East or of adventurers from all quarters of the globe collected in the cosmopolitan thoroughfares of San Francisco.

Casualties of colored troops.*

In the casualties among the colored troops the most striking circumstance is the enormous proportion of deaths by disease. The ratio is no less than 141.39 per thousand, while the highest ratio on the volunteer list is 114.02 (Iowa), and the general volunteer ratio is 59.22. This disparity is the more remarkable because the colored troops were not so severely exposed during the war to the hardships of field service proper, as is evident from the fact that their battle mortality is but 16.11 per thousand, while that of the volunteers is 35.10. The ratio of deaths by disease among the colored troops compares still more unfavorably with that of the regulars, which is but 42.27 per thousand. It seems to indicate that the negro, in the condition in which the war found him, was less able than the white to endure the exposures and annoyances of military service. It may be assumed that where one man dies of disease at least five others are seriously sick, so that a large proportion of the colored troops must have been const-list. The cause of this difference of stamina in the two races is worthy of more space than can here be given to it. It is merely suggested that it is moral rather than physical; that the greater susceptibility of the colored man to disease arose from lack of heart, hope, and mental activity, and that a higher moral and intellectual culture would diminish the defect. This view is supported by the opinions of surgeons of boards of enrollment on the abstract question of the physical fitness of the colored men examined by them. (See Appendix, Doc. No. 8.)

---------------

* But see foot-note (+), pp.664, 665.

---------------