When Southern pension systems did finally emerge, they generally resembled the pre-1890 U.S. system: eligibility depended upon service-related disability or death and indigence, and widows as well as other dependents of deceased soldiers could receive pensions. Despite these similarities, however, there were striking differences.
First, in the South widows collected pensions set at a specific rate for widows of deceased soldiers. These rates were generally lower than those to which their husbands would have been entitled should they have survived. Under the Federal system, there was no separate category for widows.
Second, most Southern pension laws determined stipend amounts based only on the degree of disability. No regard was given to military rank.
Third, there was never a Confederate equivalent to the 1890 U.S. Dependent Act. Although over time Confederate pension requirements became more liberalized, there was always an income and poverty limit-pensions were never given simply for service.
Fourth, whereas indirect taxes funded Federal pensions, most Southern states financed their pension through a direct tax.
And fifth, because Southern pension systems were on the state level only, they varied as to method and amount and were much less financially generous than U.S. pensions. Though the individual pensions of Southerners were minuscule compared to those of Federal veterans and war widows, as a percentage of state expenditures, Southern pension expenditures were monumental. Of all the former Confederate states, Georgia generally spent the most per year on pensions, Alabama ran a close second.
Pensions for Confederate Civil War veterans and their widows were handled through the state in which the soldier served. Unlike pensions for Union veterans, pensions for Confederate soldiers were not obtained through the federal government.
In order to obtain a pension file for your Confederate ancestor you will need to contact the state agency located in the state your ancestor served for. Remember, that not all soldiers or their widows requested a pension. Typically, veterans requested pensions when they were somehow disabled or were indigent.
Indigent widows also may have requested a pension based on their husband's service. Whether the pension was granted or denied, the file can contain useful information including birth, death, and marriage dates as well as affidavits from family and friends.
The following is information for acquiring pension records from the following Southern states. This information and link to online records is also located on the National Archives website at:
Pension records are available at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Pensions were granted to disabled Confederate veterans beginning in 1867. In 1886, the widows of Confederate veterans were given pensions. Starting in 1891, indigent veterans or their widows could apply for pensions.
Civil War pension records are available through the Arkansas History Commission,http://www.ark-ives.com/. In 1891, Arkansas began granting pensions to civil war veterans. It wasn’t until 1915 that the widows and mothers of veterans could receive a pension.
The Florida State Archives, , is the repository of pension records of Flordinian Civil War veterans. In 1885, Civil War veterans could apply for pension benefits and then in 1889 their widows could also apply for benefits.
Georgia Department of Archives and History, has pension records for Civil War veterans and widows from Georgia. In 1870, pensions were granted on a limited basis to veterans who had lost a limb. In 1879, other veterans with disabilities or their widows residing in Georgia were eligible for pensions. Beginning in 1894 eligibility for pension benefits included veterans who were elderly and or impoverished.
Louisiana The Louisiana State Archives, holds the records for Confederate pensions for veterans and widows in Louisiana. Pensions for Civil War veterans and widows did not begin until 1898 and only required that the veteran or widow be impoverished.
Mississippi began providing pensions to indigent Civil War veterans and their widows in 1888. These pension records are available at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is the repository for Civil War pension files, . In 1889, Texas began granting pension to veterans and their widows. Prior to this in 1881, Texas set aside over 1,000 acres for disabled veterans.
As our ancestors in the past had to defend out states rights from an oppressive federal government, we do must defend our selves in the name of states rights.
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