And then there was one… Irene Triplett. 86-year-old Irene Triplett is the daughter of a Civil War veteran and is the last living recipient of a Civil War pension, which her father earned for his service. She collects $73.13 each month from her father’s military Civil War pension.
Triplett’s father was “Mose Triplett”, born in 1846 who eventually served in both the Confederate and Union Armies. He joined the Confederate army, but later deserted and signed up with the Union.
Mose Triplett’s army career started on the Confederate side, when he joined the 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment in 1862 at the age of 16. In 1863, he transferred to the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Later that year, he fell ill with fever and was admitted to a Confederate hospital from which he escaped, deserting his regiment entirely. Thankfully for Mose, local people in North Carolina were sympathetic to the Union and frequently helped Confederate deserters. Mose made his way over the mountains and on to Knoxville, Tennessee where he joined the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, a Union regiment, in the summer of 1864.
Luckily for his future children, Mose missed the Battle of Gettysburg entirely and emerged from the war relatively unscathed. His first wife died and they did not have any children. He later married Elida Hall who was at least “50” years younger. They had five children, 3 of whom did not survive infancy. But Irene, and her younger brother Everette did. Mose Triplett was 83 when Irene was born, nearly 87 when her brother Everette came along.
Mose Triplett died a few days after returning from the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1938 (Some say he never truly escaped the Battle of Gettysburg). His wife and daughter ended up living in public housing, in which his son eventually ran away. Elida Triplett (Irene’s Mother) died in 1967. Everette Triplett, (Irene’s brother) died in 1996. This left Irene as the last family survivor and made her eligible to receive her father’s war pension.
The consequences of War can last much longer than most politicians, veterans and citizens realize. Pensions given to veterans sometimes continue being paid for decades and occasionally much longer. The Civil War started over 155 years ago and the United States is still paying $73.13 a month to a family affected by that war.
The Civil War was most notably the bloodiest United States conflict with approximately 620,000 soldiers who died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease. About 2.75 million soldiers fought in the Civil War — 2 million for the North and 750,000 for the South (and in some cases like Mose Triplett, served on both sides). The war eventually affected even greater numbers of family members.
And then there was one… “Irene Triplett”.
U.S. Veterans and Dependents on Benefits Rolls as of May 2016
|World War I||–||1,590||–||1,236|
|World War II||144,938||9,360||10||178,251|
1. For compensation and pension purposes, the Persian Gulf War period has not yet been terminated and includes Veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring, and New Dawn.
2. This total includes peacetime veterans receiving benefits.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs