Understanding Reenlistment in the Union Army during the American Civil War

Mario Trottini and John Robertson


This paper focuses on the analysis of the factors that influenced the reelinstment decision of the volunteers who fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War. We examine 15 of the companies which served in four infantry regiment recruited in Pennsylvania. Individual soldiers' covariates as well as company covariates and regiment covariates are considered. A two-stage hierarchical logistic regression model with a company's random effect is used. Based on our analysis the occupation of the soldier and the date in which he started his service are significant predictors of the soldier reenlistment decision. In particular we found that non-stakeholders are more likely to reenlist than stakeholders, and soldiers that started their service later are more likely to reenlist than soldiers that started their service earlier in 1861. The evidence in our data set suggests that other variables, such as the size of the company or the number of battles that the company went through or the area in which the company was recruited, did not have any effect on the decision of reenlistment. Some of these results confirm results from previous studies, as for example the non relevance of the number and type of battles for the decision of reenlistment. The modest sample size and the presence of potential confounding variables not included in the study such as the marital status of the soldier or the economic condition of his family, suggest caution in interpreting these results.

Heidi Sestrich
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