Confederate Pension Records
Submitted by Tim Harrison
Confederate veterans or their widows, like their Federal counterparts, could apply for a pension based upon their service. Unlike former Union veterans, the pensions were set by each individual state, as were the terms and conditions of the pension. As a result, records of these pension applications are maintained by the individual states and not at the national archives.
Pension applications can be a valuable source of information that may be unavailable elsewhere. For example, I learned of my great-grandfather’s (J. D. Harrison) service in the 15th Tennessee Cavalry, Company G, from his Mississippi pension application. I learned that he enlisted “in the summer of 1864” and that he was not present at the surrender because he was a “prisoner at Camp Douglas.” Based upon this information I was able to locate records of his capture and imprisonment. You may also learn details of the soldier’s, or widow’s, financial situation. The widow’s pension of Dora Parsons, widow of William L. Parsons, indicated that her husband had served from May 1862 to October 1863 in Ed Porter’s Company, Ballentine’s Regiment of cavalry (AKA 2nd Mississippi Partisan Rangers). It also stated that, in 1893 when she filed, she had 10 daughters to support. Since the 1890 Census had been destroyed, I was not aware that she and William had so many children! Pension applications also often mention wounds or diseases not otherwise shown in the records. Use of pension applications should not be overlooked in genealogical research.
The agencies listed below are repositories for Confederate pension records. The veteran was eligible to apply for a pension to the State in which he lived, even if he served in a unit from a different State. Generally, an applicant was eligible for a pension only if he was indigent or disabled. In your letter to the repository, state the Confederate veteran's name, his widow's name, the unit(s) in which he served, and the counties in which he and his widow lived after the Civil War. Some repositories also have records of Confederate Homes (for veterans, widows, etc.), muster rolls of State Confederate militia, and other records related to the war.
For information on procedures and fees for requesting copies of records, contact the appropriate repository.
Alabama Department of Archives and History
624 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130-0100
In 1867 Alabama began granting pensions to Confederate veterans who had lost arms or legs. In 1886 the State began granting pensions to veterans' widows. In 1891 the law was amended to grant pensions to indigent veterans or their widows.
Arkansas History Commission and State Archives
1 Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201
In 1891 Arkansas began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans. In 1915 the State began granting pensions to their widows and mothers. Two published indexes are available in many libraries:
Allen, Desmond Walls. Index to Confederate Pension Applications (Conway, Ark.: Arkansas Research, 1991).
Ingmire, Frances Terry. Arkansas Confederate Veterans and Widows Pensions Applications (St. Louis, MO: F.T. Ingmire, 1985).
Florida State Archives
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahasse, FL 32399-0250
In 1885 Florida began granting pensions to Confederate veterans. In 1889 the State began granting pensions to their widows. A published index, which provides each veteran's pension number, is available in many libraries:
White, Virgil. Register of Florida CSA Pension Applications (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989).
Georgia Department of Archives and History
Ben W. Fortson Jr. Archives and Records Building
330 Capitol Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30334
In 1870 Georgia began granting pensions to soldiers with artificial limbs. In 1879 the State began granting pensions to other disabled Confederate veterans or their widows who then resided in Georgia. By 1894 eligible disabilities had been expanded to include old age and poverty. A published index is available in many libraries:
White, Virgil D. Index to Georgia Civil War Confederate Pension Files (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1996).
Kentucky State Archives
300 Coffee Tree Road
Frankfort, KY 40601
In 1912, Kentucky began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows. The records are on microfilm. A published index is available in many libraries:
Simpson, Alicia. Index of Confederate Pension Applications, Commonwealth of Kentucky (Frankfort, KY: Division of Archives and Records Management, Department of Library and Archives, 1978).
Louisiana State Archives
3851 Essen Lane
Baton Rouge, LA 70809-2137
In 1898 Louisiana began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans or their widows.
On-line searchable index: www.sos.louisiana.gov/archives/gen/cpa-alpha.htm
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
P.O. Box 571
Jackson, MS 39205
In 1888 Mississippi began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans or their widows. A published index is available in many libraries:
Wiltshire, Betty C. Mississippi Confederate Pension Applications (Carrollton, MS: Pioneer Publishing Co., 1994).
Missouri State Archives
State Information Center
P.O. Box 778
Jefferson City, MO 65102
In 1911 Missouri began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans only; none were granted to widows. Missouri also had a home for disabled Confederate veterans. The pension and veterans' home applications are interfiled and arranged alphabetically. Typically, the pension file is small, perhaps four to eight pages, containing a standard application form and may include letters of recommendation from family members or others.
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
Division of Archives and History
109 East Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601-2807
In 1867 North Carolina began granting pensions to Confederate veterans who were blinded or lost an arm or leg during their service. In 1885 the State began granting pensions to all other disabled indigent Confederate veterans or widows.
Oklahoma Department of Libraries
Archives and Records Management Divisions
200 Northeast 18th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Telephone: 1-800-522-8116 (nationwide) ext. 209
In 1915 Oklahoma began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows. A published index is available in many libraries.
Oklahoma Genealogical Society. Index to Applications for Pensions from the State of Oklahoma, Submitted by Confederate Soldiers, Sailors, and Their Widows (Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Genealogical Society Projects Committee, 1969)
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
8301 Parkland Road
Columbia, SC 29223
A state law enacted December 24, 1887, permitted financially needy Confederate veterans and widows to apply for a pension; however, few applications survive from the 1888-1918 era. Beginning in 1889, the SC Comptroller began publishing lists of such veterans receiving pensions in his Annual Report. To obtain a copy of the pension application from the 1888-1918 era, the researcher needs to know the exact year in which the veteran or widow applied for a pension. From 1919 to 1925, South Carolina granted pensions to Confederate veterans and widows regardless of financial need. These files are arranged alphabetically. Pension application files are typically one sheet of paper with writing on both sides. Also available are Confederate Home applications and inmate records for veterans (1909-1957), and applications of wives, widows, sisters, and daughters (1925-1955).
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Public Service Division
403 Seventh Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243-0312
In 1891 Tennessee began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans. In 1905 the State began granting pensions to their widows. The records are on microfilm. A published index is available in many libraries:
Sistler, Samuel. Index to Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications (Nashville, TN: Sistler & Assoc., 1995).
On-line searchable index
Confederate Home records are also available, and there is an online index:
Index to Tennessee Confederate Soldiers' Home Applications
Tennessee Civil War Veterans’ Questionnaire
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
P.O. Box 12927
Austin, TX 78711
In 1881 Texas set aside 1,280 acres for disabled Confederate veterans. In 1889 the State began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows. Muster rolls of State militia in Confederate service are also available. A published index is available in many libraries:
White, Virgil D. Index to Texas CSA Pension Files (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989).
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
In 1888 Virginia began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows. The records are on microfilm.
Pension applications provide a valuable tool about an ancestor’s military service and/or financial/health condition at the time the application is filed. Many former soldiers suffered greatly from the effects of their service for many years. Many soldiers developed rheumatism and other ailments from their time in the service from which they never fully recovered. These applications give clues as to the quality of their later years. Let’s not neglect so great a source in our research.
DeSoto County Coordinator: Tim Harrison
Copyright © 2005-2013 by Tim Harrison & MSGenWeb. All rights reserved. Copyright of submitted items belongs to those responsible for their authorship or creation unless otherwise assigned.