This inaugurated the local bounty system. The localities mentioned began with offering a moderate amount, which proved sufficient at first to attract the attention of recruits, who left themselves at liberty to select, their place of enlistment. With the development of this system this amount was rapidly increased, owing to the fact that the several localities became competitors, and that success depended upon the amount offered. The amount was the same more readily increased in consequence of the general impression that every call was the last. Persons proposing to enter the service would seek the largest bounty, and the locality that paid the highest price secured the most recruits. This increase continued until, at the end of the war, in some localities, the bounty, Government, State, and local, had reached $1,500 per man. How much it would have increased if additional troops had been called for it is difficult to say, but enough was developed to demonstrate the ruinous effects of the system upon the country and its resources.
After conscription became necessary, the quota of each district was based upon its enrollment. The enrolled men constituted the material with which its quota was to be filled. Any influence calculated to raise recruits in one district for the benefit of another, that is, to attract them from the one to the other, was unjust to the Government and to the district from which the men were taken. Where District No. 1, for instance, could induce the men of District No. 2 to enlist to its own credit, it to that extent deprived District No. 2 of the means of filling the quota for which it was liable, and as No. 1 could not be required to furnish more than its quota, the Government lost all that No. 2 was unable to furnish.
In many of the districts exorbitant bounties were paid, while neighboring districts were unable to pay, perhaps, one-half as much, and the enrolled men of the latter were induced to enlist to the credit of the former, which, by this means, would escape the draft. The latter, with no material left with which to fill its quota, except that which the country could least afford to spare-the actual producers-men fixed to the soil-was compelled to abide the issue of the draft.
This injustice became so flagrant that the attention of Congress was directed to the subject, and an effort was made to prevent the evil by a law requiring all volunteers to be credited to their places of actual residence.
The attempt to carry out this provision was only partially successful. Where recruits or substitutes were presented as rapidly as the interest of the service required them, it was difficult to prove that they were not residents of the locality to which they claimed to belong and desired to be credited. If collateral proof was required to support their claim, it was readily afforded by the adroit management of recruiting agents or substitute brokers. Besides, men who were induced to enlist for the sake of bounty were generally those who sacrificed but little in changing their actual residence a day or two previous to enlistment, thus defeating, by a literal compliance, the spirit of the law.
Under these circumstances the business of recruiting assumed a mercenary character.
The enormous profits which the system yielded to those engaged in it soon developed a class of persons known as 'substitute brokers," who sprang up in various towns and cities, and who soon, to a great extent, monopolized the business of presenting volunteers and substitutes.