Confederate Pension Applications

About this collection

This collection contains both the 1885 and 1901 Confederate pension applications from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Application forms for Confederate pensions, sometimes includes correspondence or additional affidavits regarding a soldier's or widow's claim. The information provided includes name; age (at time of application); place of residence; service information such as company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability; name of witness; and date of application. Also, verification from the county pension board regarding applicant's claim and whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry. The widows' applications are (typically) filed under the names of the deceased soldiers.

The first general (or expanded) pension law in the state for Confederate veterans and widows was passed in 1885 (P.L. 1885, c. 214). This law provided for payment of $30 annually to Confederate veterans who were residents of the state and who had lost a leg, eye, or arm, or who were unable to work because of disability. Widows of slain soldiers were entitled to the same benefits as long as they did not remarry. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 were ruled ineligible for a pension. Inmates of the Soldiers' Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.

The 1885 law was amended by P.L. 1887, c. 116, to include widows of soldiers who had died of disease while in service. The next general pension law was passed in 1889. This law, when amended in 1901, greatly expanded the eligibility requirements for pensions and stipulated that all persons meeting those requirements (current pensioners included) had to submit a new application.

In 1901, the General Assembly passed a new pension law (P.L. 1901, c. 332) entitled "An Act to amend Chapter 198 of the Laws of 1889, for the relief of certain Confederate soldiers and widows." Under this new act "every Person who has been for twelve months immediately Preceding his or her application for a pension a 'bona fide' resident of the State, and who is incapacitated for manual labor and was a soldier or a sailor in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America, during the war between the States, and to the widow remaining unmarried of any deceased officer, soldier or sailor who was in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America during the war between the States (Provided said widow was married to said soldier or sailor before the first day April 1865)" was entitled to a pension.

As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.

All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification.

Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made. In 1927, pensioners were reclassified, and a special category for Class "B" pensioners was established to compensate former slaves who could prove they had been servants of soldiers, or who could prove they had served in some support capacity.