Last Person to Receive a Civil War Pension Dies at 90

Irene Triplett, age 90, died in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on May 31st, 2020, bringing about the end of an era. She was the last person receiving a Civil War pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rainy Day in Camp by Winslow Homer

Irene Triplett was the daughter of Moses Triplett, a Confederate soldier who originally enlisted in the 53rd North Carolina Infantry before transferring to the 26th North Carolina Infantry in 1863. Moses deserted June 26th, 1863, from a hospital in Danville, Virginia. His regiment was part of Brigadier General James Pettigrew’s Brigade of Major general Henry Heth’s Division. A few days after Moses deserted, the 26th North Carolina fought the Iron Brigade on Day 1 of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1st) and participated in Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd; the unit suffered 80% casualties at Gettysburg. To coin a phrase, Moses dodged a bullet–actually lots of them–by deserting when he did.

In 1864, Moses Triplett enlisted in the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry (Union), serving until the end of the war. He qualified for a U.S. military pension based on that service. In 1923, Moses first wife died; a year later, 77 year old Moses married 26 year old Elida Hall. Such marriages between elderly veterans and much younger women were not unheard of at the time; often, the much younger wives collected pensions for many years after the veteran’s death. Moses was 83 when Irene was born in 1930. Moses died at age 92 in 1938, and Elida qualified to get his pension, which she did until she died in 1967. Irene had a cognitive disability, and when her mother died, she qualified for the pension. The amount of the pension: $73.13 per month.

Here’s a 2016 video about Moses and Irene Triplett:

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