Still Only One Generation Removed

Union Veterans on Parade

A number of people have picked up on a recent news item that two children of Union soldiers are still receiving monthly payments from the U.S. government.  It certainly reminds us of how close we are to the generation that fought to preserve this nation, but what I have yet to see is any acknowledgment that the two recipients currently live in former Confederate states.  All we know is that one lives in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina.  It raises all sorts of questions.  Did the families move after the war or were the soldiers in question Southern Unionists?  Of course, we can’t answer that question, but I prefer the former.

48 comments… add one

  • Scott A. MacKenzie Mar 21, 2013

    I once read that in the 1950s, the Veteran’s Administration still paid out two pensions from the War of 1812.

  • Rob Baker Mar 21, 2013

    Did the families move after the war or were the soldiers in question Southern Unionists? Of course, we can’t answer that question, but I prefer the former.

    Why the preference?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      I guess because I like the idea of movement between different regions of the country. Our memory of the Civil War often seems static as if we are dealing with the same fault lines that existed in the 1860s.

      • Rob Baker Mar 21, 2013

        Interesting take. I guess I’m more partial to the idea of a Southern Unionist receiving a pension. It seems to fly in the face of the normal “southern” portrayal.

  • Andy Hall Mar 21, 2013

    I believe the (1958?) legislation that formally recognized Confederate veterans as U.S. veterans, made their dependents eligible for VA benefits on a par with U.S. soldiers. The last actual veterans were gone by then, but there were still lots of widows and dependent children. Although no specific information about these two beneficiaries has been released, the presumption is that they have some sort of disability that allowed them to remain eligible for VA benefits after they reached adulthood.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      You just shot that post out of the water. I was not aware of that legislation. So it could be that we are talking about Confederate descendants. Thanks, Andy.

  • Frances Clarke Mar 21, 2013

    wow. this is interesting. While doing research for a lecture last year, I discovered that the govt finally granted the few remaining confederate vets federal pensions in the 1950s (or was it the 40s?), so maybe the families you’re talking about didn’t even support the union. I also read a fabulous article on the confederate welfare system. I knew that state governments in the postbellum South were spending quite a lot on pensions/prosthesis/homes for confederate vets, but this article pointed out that these funds were being raised by taxing all local residents. So former slaves and southern unionists were now being taxed to support ex-confederates. Frightening to think how the costs of war on both sides were passed down through the generations, as will be those of the current wars.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Hi Frances,

      Nice to hear from you. Yep, Andy Hall made just that point re: Federal pensions a few minutes ago. My current research on the history and memory of Confederate camp servants includes an examination of state pensions that were handed out between the 1880s and 1920s. Today they are mistakenly interpreted as evidence of black Confederate soldiers as opposed to an interesting window into Jim Crow politics and culture. Thanks for your final point. We shouldn’t forget that this story comes at the 10-year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, most Americans have already moved on if they were ever interested in that war and its sacrifice to begin with.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    Andy,

    That’s interesting because it seems any Confederate widowers that were around after 1958, who wanted the Fed benefit, might have to forfeit the benefits they were getting from the respective states. I’m aware of my second great grandfather’s fifth wife, who was still kicking (if memory serves), and I don’t recollect anything about her geting Fed money for her widow status. She did continue to receive benefits from Virginia until her death.

    Regarding the two remaining beneficiaries… actually, I saw an article about one specifically, just yesterday. She even named her father, and was pictured holding a picture of him. Based on that, it shouldn’t be hard to establish if he had relocated to the South, or if he was a local. Regretfully, I don’t have the article handy right now; othersie I’d do a quick look-up.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Hi Robert,

      Interesting. Do you know why widows were forced to give up state benefits in favor of the Federal government’s compensation. I will look for the article you referenced. Thanks.

    • Andy Hall Mar 21, 2013

      Robert, I don’t know the details of how any transition from state benefits to federal might have been effected. The law itself often gets swung around like a club in “heritage” circles when someone, somewhere, suggests that Confederate secessionists weren’t very “American,” arguing that by act of Congress (literally) they are. The interesting thing to me about the law is less what it says on its face, but the historical context and timing of its passage — after the last verifiable soldier on either side had died, and in the run-up to the CW Centennial. I don’t think that law was especially controversial in the late 1950s, but it’s also important to recognize how long it took the nation to get there.

      (I also have to chuckle that the same present-day folks whose vitriol toward the oppressive, intrusive national government in Washington knows no limits, righteously cite the absolute moral authority of Congress on this particular bit of federal legislation.)

      A quick Google search shows that as early as 1900, Congress authorized monies for the placement of headstones on Confederates’ graves (mostly for those who had died in Federal prison camps and were buried in national cemeteries), but this is the big one:

      US Statutes at Large Volume 72, Part 1, Page 133-134)

      U.S. Public Law 85-425: Sec. 410 Approved 23 May 1958

      The Administrator [of the VA] shall pay to each person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War a monthly pension in the same amounts and subject to the same conditions as would have been applicable to such person under the laws in effect on December 31, 1957, if his service in such forces had been service in the military or naval forces of the United States.

      Current U.S. Code (38 USC § 1501) includes this in the definitions:

      (3) The term “Civil War veteran” includes a person who served in the military or naval forces of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and the term “active military or naval service” includes active service in those forces.

      But again, that was a looooong time coming, and there were several generations passed since 1865 to get to that point.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

        Sounds like a little Cold War politics to me. It is, indeed, interesting.

  • Andy Hall Mar 21, 2013

    Word also comes today that the last Confederate “real daughter” in South Carolina passed away on Monday. One generation removed.

  • terry Mar 21, 2013

    The article said the veterans were receiving benefits from the federal government. Southern states paid Confederate pensions without any help from the federal government, so these two veterans cannot be Confederate??

  • terry Mar 21, 2013

    Frances, don’t feel to bad, Southerners were taxed into oblivion before the War and during Reconstruction to pay for Yankee projects. Confederate veterans didn’t even qualify for a VA approved headstone until 1914. So stop complaining about taxes going to Confederates.

    • Jimmy Dick Mar 21, 2013

      Then that would have been by their own states and controlled state politicians. The tariff argument is an utter failure because the South paid a miniscule tariff amount compared to the North. There was no income tax prior to 1862 and that was only as a result of the war itself so that argument fails as well. So what federal tax could the South be paying? There were and still are no export taxes because that is in the US Constitution Art. I, sec. 9. Excise taxes were essentially zero until the war started and were reestablished as a direct result of the war.

      The vast majority of the federal revenue prior to 1862 came from the tariff and the sale of public lands. So the concept of the South being squeezed for federal taxes is highly erroneous and can generally be laid at the feet of the Lost Cause supporters who were and still are searching for any possible excuse to avoid slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    There’s none to my knowledge, but this is actually the first I’ve heard of the Feds kicking in benefits to CS widows. I know Virginia was paying out to Confederate vets even into the latter 20th century. For that article, check my FB page. I “shared” the article yesterday.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Yeah, I was also aware of state support, but not the Feds. Will check out your FB page and thanks again.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    Kevin,

    Your reference to your preference (relocated Union vets vs. Southern Unionists) caught my attention. I’d prefer to read about both equally. I’m not sure if its a generalization or not (a “static” in the CW memory of some in small circles), but it seems a fair number of folks are unaware of stories of Union vets relocating to the South in years after the war… due to job opportunities (and I’m not talking “carpetbaggers”. They were helpful with RR bridges in the Shenandoah Valley, for example), relocation to better climates in hopes of better health, because they “married Southern” during the war, or just because they liked what they saw in the South during the war. For anyone curious about enhancing knowledge of these things, I’d recommend examinations of “settlements” in places like Fitzgerald, Ga., and St. Cloud, Fl. For that matter, a look at the lists of GAR posts throughout the South is telling… as is the 1890 Veterans Census.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Good point. I would also throw in western North Carolina as an attractive destination for Northerers once the resorts had been established. The carpetbagger reference is a convenient way to ignore that Americans North and South were on the move throughout the antebellum and postbellum periods and for a myriad of reasons.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    Not wanting to take your post too far off topic, Kevin, but here’s a pic of Union vets and families in St. Cloud. Thought some might find it interesting considering the brief chatter about Union vets in the South. http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/148116

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Great photograph. No doubt, one of them is already thinking about the need for an amusement park. :-)

  • Nathan Towne Mar 21, 2013

    Kevin,

    They could be the direct descendants of Confederate veternas as well. Throughout the second half of the 19th century and into the first half of the 20th century the states were being smothered with pension applications. The Federal Government began recognizing Confederate veteran pension applications in the 1950′s and gradually adopted those pensions up through the mid 1970′s. Interestingly, however men who served in state units, units never transferred to Confederate service, never had their pensions transferred I believe, of which there large numbers especially in the Trans-Mississippi. It is just as likely however that they are the children of Federal veterans. The state of Tennessee turned out 42,000 men during the war, the state of North Carolina over 25,000 men, more in fact than in Virginia, a state with less secessionist sentiment in 1861.

    Nathan Towne

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Hi Nathan,

      Yes, Andy Hall pointed the Fed pensions in the comment thread above, which I did not know anything about. I as was aware of state pensions. Interesting point about the men who served in state units, but did not transfer to the Confederate army. This gets more interesting by the minute. Thanks.

    • Allen Mar 24, 2013

      The figure you give for Tennessee is deceptive. Many of the federal regiments were filled by men from other states, particularly in the USCT units, trained at places like Camp Dick Robinson in Kentucky, and arbitrarily designated as “Tennessee” regiments. Further, according to “Tennesseans in the Civil War”, the aggregate total strength of Tennessee federal units was 31,092, not 42,000. If you have a source for that higher number I would appreciate a reference.

      • Richard Mar 24, 2013

        The monument in Knoxville National Cemetery says 31,092 and another 5000 in other state organizations.
        http://buffaloesoldiers27june1862.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/tennessee-will-not-furnish-a-single-man-for-the-purpose-of-coercion/

      • Nathan Towne Mar 24, 2013

        Allen,

        The information came from the Encyclopedia of the American Civil War (2002), by David Stephen Heidler, Jeanne Heidler and David Coles. I however, using the text cannot find a source for their information. The endnote for that paragraph does not specifically identify the source for those numbers, as far as I can see. The only citation is the Official Records, which checking the citation in the OR, I see that it is a source for the earlier comments in the paragraph pertaining to Gov. Isham Harris.

        If the information is incorrect, I take full responsibility for the misuse of a source, as it is not an area I have specifically studied and hence used a quote offhand.

        I am assuming you are referring to the book by the Tennessee Historical Comission? If so, were in it is the information?

        Nathan Towne

        • Allen Mar 24, 2013

          I certainly had no intention to chastise you, Nathan, over the figure. I was just curious as to where you saw it. Yes, the figure I used was from the Tennessee Historical Commission, and can be found in the introductory pages of volume 1. I have a well-used first edition, and don’t recall if the more recent reprint by the University of Tennessee press is also a two volume set. But I would presume the content is the same whether contained in one volume or two. I don’t recall seeing a reference there to the “5,000 in other state organizations” which Richard says appears on the Knoxville monument.

          • Nathan Towne Mar 25, 2013

            Allen,

            I don’t feel chastised at all. It is very important to present factual information. It is quite unusual for me to present factually incorrect information, however if someone does, it should be corrected. I was using a presumably faulty source. Had I been consciously presenting an argument, I would always take necessary precautions, this however was a passing comment. Never-the-less, I am fine with you disputing the information.

            My overarching point however remains with regards to the possibility of the pension recipients being the children of Federal veterans.

            The number of Federal veterans from North Carolina comes from Mark Snell’s book on the political atmosphere in Western Virginia in the American Civil War and its ultimate seperation from Virginia.

            Nathan Towne

  • Nathan Towne Mar 21, 2013

    These men are U.S. vets? Floridian? Do you know anymore about them, where they served or where they enlisted?

    Nathan Towne

  • Nathan Towne Mar 21, 2013

    Kevin,

    It gets even more complicated dealing with disbanded state units, or militia units that were never regular outfits, like say the Louisiana Native Guard. Furthermore, most of the men of that unit went to serve, some of them to their death, in U.S. outfits. I bet if we were to look into Louisiana pension records, none of those men received pensions, despite serving in a Confederate (authorized) formation for nine months. That is kind of your alley, maybe you know more about it?

    Nathan Towne

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Nathan,

      No surprise there given that the Confederate government never acknowledged the legitimacy of the unit. The LNG were rebuffed at ever opportunity they took to show their support. Of course, shortly after they disbanded many joined the Union ranks.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    Nathan,

    I take it you are referring to the pic of the Union vets in St. Cloud, Fl. They were not native Floridians. You can find references to the vets on various sites on the Web. Just like the one in Fitzgerald, Ga., this was a “settlement” or “colony” of Union vets that relocated to Florida from points in the North. As for the units with which they served and where they enlisted, unless it’s already covered on the Web or elsewhere, that requires a good deal of legwork that probably requires a look at the 1890 Vet Census just for starters.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    Nathan,

    Are you referring to former Confederates who later served in units such as the United States Volunteers? If so, that’s a study yet to be completed. In all likelihood, considering the hoops these types of men had to go through to get approved for a US pension (for their service in the USV), they probably wouldn’t dare attempt to double-dip and apply to their states for a pension as a Confederate veteran. It would compromise their US pension. The benefits as a US vet were far greater than those offered by the states.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013

    O.K., Kevin, I.looked it up. Juanita Tudor Lowrey (86) is the daughter of Union vet, Hugh Tudor, but (correcting myself) she’s not one of the two still receiving pension benefits.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Thanks for looking it up.

  • Robert Moore Mar 21, 2013
    • Kevin Levin Mar 21, 2013

      Wow. They are dropping like flies.

  • Forester Mar 21, 2013

    I wonder if any slaves/impressed “soldiers” have living children?

    I know I’ve told this story before, but my great-great-grandfather had a slave of the same age that he took to war with him (allegedly a slave-playmate given to him as a baby). In the early 1930s, my great-aunts met and talked with the slave who had outlived his master by 40 years. He claimed to have killed Yankees, and after the 2010 textbook scandal, morphed into a full-fledged Black Confederate.

    I’m very doubtful about this whole storyline. But the idea of impressed slave “soldiers” having children intrigues me. It’s possible.

    For that matter, I wonder if any slave’s children are still alive? And how would we even know?

  • Richard Mar 22, 2013
  • Nathan Towne Mar 23, 2013

    Robert,

    As for me referring the issue to Kevin, I meant as far as the Louisiana Native Guard is concerned. I was simply trying to demonstrate the complexity of the issue Kevin is dealing with here, especially with regards to Confederate service.

    Nathan Towne

    • Kevin Levin Mar 23, 2013

      For those interested my understanding of the history of the LNG comes from Hollandsworth’s book.

  • Nathan Towne Mar 23, 2013

    Kevin,

    I will get a copy at some point. Too much to read at the moment however.

    Nathan Towne

    • Kevin Levin Mar 23, 2013

      Certainly understand that. :-)

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