A North Carolina woman who was the last American to receive a Civil War-related pension has died at the age of 90.
According to The Washington Post, Irene Triplett, who died last month, received $73.13 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs via her father, Mose Triplett, a Civil War soldier. Because she had cognitive impairments, Irene qualified for a lifelong pension as a helpless adult child of a veteran.
Mose Triplett was 83 when his daughter was born in 1930.
He had begun the war as a Confederate soldier but switched to the Union in 1863, not long before the Battle of Gettysburg. He died in 1938 at the age of 92 after returning from a veterans’ reunion at Gettysburg.
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) June 5, 2020
A Wall Street Journal story from 2014 said Mose Triplett was 16 when he enlisted in the 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment in May 1862, but he spent much of his time in a hospital. In January 1863, he was transferred to the 26th North Carolina.
As the Army of Northern Virginia began the march that would culminate in the Battle of Gettysburg, Triplett became ill and was placed in a Confederate hospital in Danville, Virginia.
The Journal quoted records that said Triplett was “present or accounted for until he deserted on June 26, 1863.”
That illness may have saved his life. All but 66 of the 800 men the 26th North Carolina took into the Battle of Gettysburg were killed, wounded or captured.
The records are dark on the next year of Mose Triplett’s military career, but on Aug. 1, 1864, he is recorded as joining the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry, which was part of the Union Army.
Triplett was discharged in August 1865, four months after the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox to make the end of the fighting in the eastern part of the U.S.
Mose Triplett applied for a pension in 1885.
Irene Triplett was the child of a May-December marriage between her father and the former Elida Hall, who was 49 years younger than her husband.
When interviewed by the Journal in 2014, she said she started a tobacco habit in the first grade.
“I dipped snuff in school, and I chewed tobacco in school,” she said. “I raised homemade tobacco. I chewed that, too. I chewed it all.”
Nine years ago, Irene Triplett moved into Accordius Health in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, according to the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
“She was a joy to be around,” Jamie Phillips, activities director at Accordius, said. “She was very helpful with the other residents and was kind to the staff … She was very active and made her own decisions.”
More than four dozen Americans are receiving pensions from the 1898 Spanish-American War. The VA says it is paying pensions to 33 spouses and 18 children who survived veterans of that conflict.
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