Camp Butler (Springfield, Illinois): 1864. Unbound.
In this letter, a sutler, named Sam, describes his method of selling wares to soldiers at one of the largest Union training camps during the Civil War.
“I had a very good trade yesterday amounting to 70$ so I went to town this morning to prepare for another accason of the same kind only better, which only is when there is a number of soldiers paid The Sutlers all cary their goods to Head Quarters get in side of the guards Pile them on Boxes & Sell all they can The soldiers are called on one side and & came out on the other (we get on the other) This was the first time that I have sold in that way any. I looked rather too much like a Boy Pedling Papers or Apples. But I have my camp tax to pay equal to any others & I concluded I would try the same & see what virtue there was in it. I think I will try it again if an opportunity affords. They tried so many things that we put on an extra margin when there There will be some paid tomorrow. There is only 470 in camp now There will be some 100 day men in tomorrow which will revive the Business some.”
He also grouses about having to pay federal tax noting that he will need to pass that cost along to his customers.
"I am very Lazy now though you knew that long before I don’t have enough to do to keep a two year old Boy out of mischief. Well the Infernal Revenew man just came around and called for ten Dollars which you see will give me something to do. In order to make up will have to mark my goods all over." Very good. Item #009325 As of 2019, no similar sutler’s letters or for sale in the trade, and there are no auction records at the Rare Book Hub. OCLC shows no similar letters held by institutions.
A nice first-hand description of how sutlers marketed their goods to soldiers on paydays, and in the time-honored practice of retailers anywhere, they simply passed the cost of additional taxes on to the consumer.
As of 2019, no similar sutler’s letters or for sale in the trade, and there are no auction records at the Rare Book Hub. OCLC shows no similar letters held by institutions.