Scarce Original Civil War Sutler Check/Voucher Ohio Volunteer Militia (Lot #84)
For those not familiar, virtually every Union regiment in the Civil War had its own sutler or traveling store that followed the regiment throughout the war. Sutler's carried everything from ink and paper to socks and blankets to coffee (a very rare commodity during the war) and coffee pots.
Soldiers in the field could easily go months or even a year or two without having the ability to find an actual store to purchase goods. The only other way soldiers could get necessities (or luxuries) was to write home and ask family members to send them something. While the mail service was surprisingly decent, it still would be difficult to count on anything arriving for weeks or months, if ever, especially as army units seldom stayed in one place except during the winter.
The sutlers were a unique element of the Civil War and played an important role for the Union Army. Sutlers would not necessarily require payment in cash but would use a check/voucher system whereby they would present the vouchers to the regimental paymaster who would deduct the amount from the soldier's pay and thus ensure the sutler was paid and paid in a somewhat timely manner.
The soldier would simply sign for the amount of his purchase much like a charge account, a pretty efficient system, especiallly when the vast majority of soldiers had no pocket money.
While vouchers such as these were not uncommon during the war, few examples survived due to the fragile nature of paper and the fact that such blanks were only in the hands of the sutlers who had no desire to save unused examples and certainly not used ones.