Thursday, November 13, 2008
COMPARING THE CIVIL WAR SOLDIER TO THE PERIOD COAL MINER...ITS BETTER TO BE A COAL HEAVER THAN A SOLDIER
BOYS OF THE 48TH IN THE MINE AT PETERSBURG
IT'S BETTER TO BE A COAL HEAVER !
During the Civil War, many Schuylkill County men turned in their coal shovels for the musket and volunteered to join the army to serve their country and the Union cause. According to a Mr. A. Lee, a former Lieut. in the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry and a mine owner, the men and boys would have fared out better by remaining at home and working in the coal pits. From an article he wrote to the National Tribune on November 16, 1893 titled "A Computation" we learn the differences.
BRINGING POWDER INTO THE PETERSBURG MINE
Editor National Tribune; The following is a comparison of work performed by a soldier in the war of 1861 to 1865, and his wages, with that of a laboring man at the coal mines of Pennsylvania at the same time.
The labor performed by a soldier was to march and carry his load; the average laboring man to load coal. The average day's work of a soldier we will say, was to march 16 miles per day, carry his gun, 40 rounds of ammunition, three days rations, and knapsack, which would weigh 56 pounds: the average weight of a soldier is 150 pounds; making a total weight of 206 pounds.
While walking on a level road his average step would be about 28 inches, and the height from the ground to his thigh joint would be 34 inches. At every step he lifts his center of gravity 2½ inches. All the weight above the knee would be raised 2½ inches at every step. Now we will assume 180 pounds to be lifted 2½ inches at every step.
CIVIL WAR SOLDIER IN FULL KIT
In one mile there are 2,263 steps; 2,263 steps by 2½ inches equils 5,658 inch pounds; or 471 foot pounds by 180, equals 84,780 pounds. The soldier's weight with his load would equal 84,780 foot pounds, or 2,58 horse power per mile.
If a soldier marches 16 miles per day this would equal 41 horse power , or 1,383,000 units of work per day.
The work performed by a laboring man about the mines is to load eight cars of coal per day from the bottom of the chamber or gangway. As each car holds 96 cubic feet of loose coal it will take 350 No. 3 scoop shovels of coal to fill one car 350 by 8 cars equals 2800 shovels of coal per day. The labors throw the coal seven feet high into the cars. The weight of the coal and shovel is 20 pounds. The force necessary to throw the coal 7 feet high would be 40 pounds, making a total of 60 pounds. 2,800 by 60 equals 168,000 pounds by 7 feet high equals 1,176,000 foot pounds. The soldier received an average of $1.10 per day to perform 41 horse power. The laboring man receives $2.37 per day to perform 35.6 horsepower per day. The soldier received 26 months at $13.00 per month. $338.00; 10 months at $16 per month, $260.00: Us bounty, $100.00: Three years board at 25 cents per day $275.75: three years clothing $126.00; Total $997.75 . The laborer received 12 months at $30.00 per month; $360.00 12 months at $60.00, $720.00, 12 months at $87.50 per month, $1,030.00, total $2,180.000.
A soldier would have to receive a pension of $4.00 per month for 23 years 7 months and 2 days to receive as much wages as the laboring man who stayed at home. This average I send you is that of a strong young man employed by me in my mines for the last 13 years. If I should take the average of 300 men in my employ it would be 25 % less.
It is interesting to speculate as to how many men would have made a different choice knowing the facts presented, and would have stayed with the coal shovel instead of shouldering a musket for Uncle Sam. Either way both the soldier and the coal heaver suffered in their own way.