The Home Front: 1861 to 1865

A British Traveler

What were the prices for commodities at the end of the war?

April 12, 1865, marked the fourth anniversary of the war’s commencement. It also fell within the week that saw the end of most hostilities: Lee had surrendered three days previous. That date, therefore, is useful for a comparison of prices, at least where the figures exist.

In New York City, ashes sold for $8 per pot. Coffee was divided into four groups: Java sold for 22 cents per pound; Rio sold for 18.25 cents; Laguayra sold for 18.5 cents; and Santo Domingo for 18 cents. Cotton sold for between 30 and 35 cents per bushel, and 3,000 bales of cotton were put up for sale on government account (this was specifically from General Sherman’s recent capture of the city of Savannah). Hay sold for between $1.50 and $1.65 per 100 pounds. Petroleum, which had not been listed in the New York Times four years earlier, sold for 34.5 cents per gallon of crude. And the situations-wanted advertisements displayed mostly the same type of positions—waitress, nurse, gardener, and coachman—but with a decided new twist. Many of the situations-wanted advertisements proudly proclaimed “Protestant nurse,” “Protestant gardener,” and so forth. This religious addition was clearly in response to the draft riots of 1863, which had turned “Catholic” into a very bad name.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Civil War Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App