Pension Applications from Confederate Soldiers Now Online

Feb 29, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - James E.  Carlton of Lawrenceburg was 24 years old when he enlisted in the 5th Kentucky Cavalry of the Confederate States Army.  He suffered a gunshot wound to the left knee in 1863 at the Battle of Lebanon, but served until the end of the war.

By 1912, Carlton was an old man with no money or property. His application for a Confederate Army pension is one of several now available online through the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.

“In the applications the veterans often had to find a witness or find someone else who knew they had enlisted in the army in order to prove they had been in the Confederate Army,” says State Archivist Barbara Teague.

The online database should prove useful to historians and genealogists. The digitized Confederate Pension files cover about 4,800 applications that were sent to state government by indigent veterans or their widows.

“They had to prove that they had less than $300 income per year and own less than $2,500 worth of property. So you had to prove that you really didn’t have any money and you needed this pension, which may have been $15 to $25 a month,” says Teague.

Kentucky passed its Confederate Pension Act in 1912. Other southern states approved similar legislation in the 1880’s. The pension applications include information on when and where a soldier served, statements from witnesses, and whether or not he took the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. 

Kentucky State Archives has information for Union pensions on microfilm.