Bounty Jumper

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BOUNTY JUMPER, a Civil War deserter. The system of military bounties paid during the Civil War to encourage enlistment in the U.S. military produced bounty jumpers. Aided and abetted by bounty brokers, a man would enlist, collect the bounty, desert, and then reenlist elsewhere. He would repeat this process until authorities finally caught him. One especially devious deserter received a sentence of four years in prison after confessing to jumping bounties thirty-two times. The large initial bounty payments were a major cause of desertion from the ranks of the Union army. More than 268,000 soldiers deserted from the Union forces during the Civil War.


Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861–1865: Organization and Operations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Fred A.Shannon/a. e.

See alsoDesertion ; Substitutes, Civil War .

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