Civil War account book kept by a sutler traveling with the 94th Illinois Infantry Regiment
Civil War account book kept by a sutler traveling with the 94th Illinois Infantry Regiment
Civil War account book kept by a sutler traveling with the 94th Illinois Infantry Regiment

Civil War account book kept by a sutler traveling with the 94th Illinois Infantry Regiment

Various locations: Circa 1862-1865. Disbound. This 3.75” x 5.75” notebook contains 77 pages with about 540 entries. In nice shape although its string binding has perished. Entries are in faint pencil but legible; the cover title “Morgan Bond / Account Book Sutler 94th Il Reg,” has faded but can be read with a magnifying glass. Very good. Item #009237

During the Civil War, sutlers, i.e., licensed civilian merchants, accompanied Union regiments and stocked a variety of foods, usually desiccated or canned, and supplies that weren’t furnished by the army.

In this account book, Bond has recorded goods sold to regimental soldiers. The most popular purchases were raisins, crackers, tobacco, and G-nuts (either ginger snaps or peanuts, or both). Other purchases were bread, herring, oysters, peaches, pepper, pickles, sardines, sugar lemon (probably lemon drops), sweet oil, tomatoes, cigars, smoking tobacco, ink, emery paper, matches, oil, sandpaper, soap, thread, boots, hats, shoes, shirts, etc. One entry reads, “Oysters per nigger” suggesting a servant made the purchase.

Sutler prices were always excessive; Bond sold peaches (probably a pound) for $1.25, quite a sum when privates were paid between $12 and $16 per month. Yet, sutlers held monopolies within their regiments and could charge whatever they liked. Most demanded immediate cash or pre-purchased script payments, since soldiers could die without settling debts. However, as pay was often delayed, at times agreements were made with paymasters to cover purchases made on credit. That that may have been the case in the 94th Illinois as these entries are all uniformly overwritten with slashes, possibly indicating they were paid later. Dealings between soldiers and sutlers were contentious, and in truth, sutlers were usually hated by officers and enlisted men alike. (See Delisi’s “From Sutlers and Canteens to Exchanges,” Army Logistician, Vol. 39 #6 and Lord’s Civil War Sutlers and their Wares for more information. The 94th Illinois Infantry was mustered into service at McClean, Illinois in August of 1862. It initially campaigned in southern Missouri and Arkansas, and then participated in the siege of Vicksburg. Following the city’s surrender, the 94th served with expeditions to Yazoo City, Morganza, and Morgan's Ferry, and later occupied Brownsville, Texas. Its final actions were while participating in the Mobile campaign, after which it returned to occupation duty, this time at Galveston.

An important record of a relatively undocumented element of regimental life during the Civil War that provides insight into the types of foods and supplies campaigning Union soldiers purchased to improve their daily lives. Although records from permanent post and camp sutlers are not uncommon, those from mobile sutlers who traveled with regiments are scarce. As of 2019, nothing similar is for sale in the trade. Although Rare Book Hub reports no other auction results for sutler account books, one sold on eBay in 2013. OCLC shows only four Civil War regimental sutler books are held by institutions.

Price: $1,000.00

See all items by