June 30, 1862
As a Recruiting Officer in Aroostook County early in 1862, Hovey Austin had his work cut out for him.
Recruiting involved travel from farm to farm, house to house looking for men who might want to join the army. Austin’s main connection between towns was a military road carved out of The County’s wilderness in 1842, at the time of the Aroostook War.
Once he found prospective recruits, Austin, a 30 year-old lumberman, could speak to them with some knowledge. He had enlisted in 1861 as a 1st Lieutenant in the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment. He had not yet made it out of Maine. Stricken by illness, Austin had been discharged.
Now, less than a year later, Austin has regained his health and wants to return to the army. Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon recruits him to recruit others.
Austin’s biggest challenge was familiar.
"I have not been able to do as much as I should for want of means of which I am at present very short. Money in these parts is very tight and I have already expended the small stock I had on hand," Austin writes to Hodsdon in July.
Nevertheless, Austin assures the Adjutant General that he intends "to keep on and do the best I can."
Within the month, Austin re-enlists as a 1st Lieutenant with Company C of the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment. He is mustered in on August 14, 1862, shortly after he completes the "recruiting business" for Hodsdon.
The business went well enough. Austin and his 27 recruits head south from Aroostook County to Augusta on August 22.
Later, Austin is wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862. He was discharged with a disability on March 20, 1863.
- What would be some necessary characteristics of a recruiting officer?
- What might a Civil War recruit consider when wondering whether to join the military?
- Would considerations be any different today?