Many of the towns, however, did not pay strict regard to the law, but expended in many cases a much larger amount than the State
Vast sums were also contributed by private benevolence for the comfortable support of the wives and children of the absent volunteers, and to the widows and the fatherless of those who fell in battle, or died of disease, of which no account can be given, as in a majority of cases no record was ever kept of it. By the same act, any city or town was authorized to raise money by taxation to defray any expense already incurred, or to carry out any contract heretofore made with any of its inhabitants who might have enlisted in the volunteer service, but all other contracts of a like nature were to terminate in ninety days. The purpose of this provision was to restrain towns, when under momentary excitement, from making rash and costly promises of monthly pay to volunteers, which, if continued, and the war was prolonged, were likely to impoverish the town to a degree bordering upon bankruptcy.
Another object which it sought to prevent was a rivalry or competition between towns in obtaining volunteers by extravagant outlays of money, giving to a wealthy town an undue advantage over one comparatively poor.
This evil was further remedied by the act. passed at the extra session of the Legislature, entitled an act ‘for the payment of bounties to volunteers and for other purposes,’ which was approved by the Governor
November 18th, 1863.
This act provided that bounties to volunteers should be paid directly by the Commonwealth
and fixed the amount at three hundred and twenty-five dollars to each volunteer, who should enlist for a term of three years, and be credited to the quota of any town or city in the Commonwealth
It also allowed volunteers the option of taking, in lieu of this aggregate amount, a bounty of fifty dollars when mustered into the military service, and twenty dollars a month until discharged, and in the event of his death while in the service one hundred and twenty dollars to his widow or legal heirs.
It was believed that the liberal amount of bounty provided in this act would, by making it uniform throughout the Commonwealth
, secure all the men