TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog

America in 1913, 50 Years after the War


The celebration of the 100th Birthday of a local community started me thinking about what America was like as the 50th anniversary of the War Between the States occurred.  This paper is a very quick look at America during the 50th anniversary of the events of 1863.

Woodrow Wilson is President, the first Southerner and one of the few Democrats to hold this office since the war.  The assassinated William McKinley will be the last Civil War veteran elected president.

Arizona became the 48th state last year.

Women do not vote and will not do so for several years.

America’s last war is the Spanish-American War and the resulting Philippine Insurrection.  These veterans are in their late 20’s to early 40’s.  Veterans of the Indian Wars are not uncommon.  These men are usually in their late 50’s to mid 60’s.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars is a year away from being founded.  The American Veterans of Foreign Service and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines are working on a merger.  The new VFW will accept veterans of the War with Mexico and the Spanish-American War.

Washington Gardner is Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic with 180,227 members.  Young Civil War veterans are in their 60s.  The majority of the veterans are in their 70s to 90s.  They participate in Decoration Day parades and hold reunions.   The 1913 National Encampment, the 47th, is at Chattanooga, Tennessee September 18-19.

United Confederate Veterans Commander-in-Chief is Bennett Henderson Young, the leader of the St. Albans Raid in 1864.   Their national encampment is May 27-29 in Chattanooga.  The monthly Confederate Veteran is the unofficial voice for these men.

For the first time, the 1910 Census asks about service in the Civil War.  Veterans can indicate service in the army or navy and on which side they fought.  Census returns and Civil War pensions are two very different numbers.  The Census declares enumerators’ not understanding how the question should be answered is causing this problem.

The 50th anniversary of Gettysburg attracts 8,500 Confederate and 44,000 Union veterans to the celebration.  Railroads offered reduced or fee tickets to help them attend.  A city of tents occupied most fields to provide housing and dining.  The Webb/ Pickett Flag Ceremony at the Bloody Angle is the climax of the celebration.  Veterans advanced about 50 feet meeting at the angle to shake hands.  Popular history says that some pushing and shoving occur as Confederates try to cross the stonewall not the official “brotherly love”.  A motion picture United at Gettysburg is playing in theaters.

Pensions for Union veterans, widows and orphans are a major government budget item.  Pension eligibility has changed from war related to being 62 years-old based on the idea that service as a Union Veteran created a contract and a right to support from the nation.   Elderly Union veterans often marry much younger widows.  The wife will take care of him and his pension will help support her.  The US Government will pay Civil War pensions for many more years.  The pension system is subject to fraud and exploitation of veterans.  Possession of a discharge document and swearing you are that person establishes your rights to a pension.  Those who have “lost” this document are at the mercy of individuals that will represent them, for a price.  This is another aspect of the exploitation of Union veterans that started with collecting the bounty money due them after the war.

Confederate veterans have no regular pension system.  Those unable to support themselves depend on a combination of private charity and limited state support.  The states that made up the Confederacy are slowly establishing and/or expanding support for their veterans.  This aging population is overwhelming the abilities of individuals to meet the expanding needs.  Unlike their Union counterparts, Confederate veterans often lack documentation to establish service.  The only available documentation is an affidavit from an established veteran saying they served together.

The National Military Parks system is not quite 25 years old.  The parks are Chickamauga/ Chattanooga, Antietam, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Vicksburg.  The War Department is in charge of the parks.  With the exception of Gettysburg and Vicksburg the parks are largely undeveloped and isolated.  Shiloh is the most difficult park to visit.  Erecting monuments as an ongoing and competitive process is ending.

The Great War, what we call World War I, will not start for another year.  America will not enter the war until 1917.  The automobile is gaining on the horse but most people use horses and will for many years.  Rural areas do not have electricity or telephone service and will not for another 20+ years.  Wireless, radio, is not available on a personal level.  Most communication is by letter or telegraph.

A number of Civil War Generals are still alive or died in 1913.

Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Bruckner (CSA) lives near Munfordville.  He is the last living person that held this rank during the war.

Major General Adelbert Ames (USA) lives in Florida.

Major General John Brooke retired at that rank in 1902.  A Brigadier General during the war, he lives in Philadelphia.

Major General Greenville Dodge (USA) lives near Council Bluffs.

Major General Lunsford Lomax (CSA) passed away in May 1913.

Major General Nelson Miles (USA) retired from the army in 1903as general-in-chief and lives in Washington.

Major General Galusha Pennypacker, brevet major general during the war, the youngest person to command a regiment or appointed a general officer lives in Philadelphia.

Major General Daniel Sickles (USA) is “irresponsible and cantankerous” in New York City.

Major General James Wilson (USA) possibly the most distinguished of the “boy generals” lives in Wilmington.

Brigadier General Cyrus Bussey (USA) lives in Washington.  General Bussey was very liberal in awarding pensions while serving on that commission.

Brigadier General Robert Catterson (USA) lives in a veteran’s hospital in San Antonio.

Brigadier General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (USA) summers in Maine and winters in Florida.

Brigadier General Augustus Chetlain (USA), brevet major general, lives in Chicago.

Brigadier General Powell Clayton (USA) lives in Washington.

Brigadier General Selden Connor (USA) lives in Maine.

Brigadier General David Gregg (USA), who helped hold the line the first day at Gettysburg, lives in Reading.

Brigadier General Martin Hardin (USA) is retired and living in St. Augustine.

Brigadier General Edward Harland (USA) lives in Norwich.

Brigadier General John Hawkins (USA), brevet major general, retired from the US Army and lives in Indianapolis.

Brigadier General Christopher Andrews (USA) is Secretary of the Minnesota Forestry Board.

Brigadier General John Beatty (USA) lives in Ohio.

Brigadier General Francis Cockrell (CSA) retired from the Senate and lives in Washington.

Brigadier General William Cox (CSA) lives in Richmond.

Brigadier General Basil Wilson Duke (CSA) is commissioner of the Shiloh National Military Park.

Brigadier General Samuel Ferguson (CSA) lives in Greenville, Mississippi.

Brigadier General Richard Grano (CSA) died March 1913.

Brigadier General Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson (CSA) lives in Texas.

Brigadier General Robert Johnson (USA) retired as president of the Birmingham National Bank.

Brigadier General William Kirkland (CSA) in an invalid in a soldier’s home in Washington DC.

Brigadier General Evander McIvor Law, commander of the Alabama Brigade AoNV, is the Florida commander of the UCV and lives in Bartow FL.

Brigadier General George Washington Custis Lee (CSA) died February 1913.

Brigadier General Thomas Logan is retired living in New York City.

Brigadier General John McCausland (CSA) lives on his farm in West Virginia.

Brigadier General William McComb (CSA) lives in Virginia spending winters in Richmond and summers on his farm.

Brigadier General Charles Paine (USA), brevet major general, commanded the Third Division X Corps USCT lives in Massachusetts.

Brigadier General Bryon Pierce, (USA) brevet major general, lives in Grand Rapids.

Brigadier General Roger Pryor (CSA) became a judge after the war, retired he lives in New York City.

Brigadier General Felix Robertson (CSA) lives in Waco and is dean of the local bar.  The CSA Senate for unknown reasons never approved Robertson’s promotions.

Brigadier General William Seward Jr. (USA) is one of the most prominent men in Western New York.

Brigadier General Thomas Benton Smith (CSA) lives in the State Asylum at Nashville due to injuries received during the war.

Brigadier General William Soy Smith (USA) the well-known engineer lives in Medford, Oregon.

Brigadier General Marcus Wright (CSA) continues to write articles on the war and work on the OR.

Reading books about the war is very much what we call original source materials.  Grant’s memories are very popular as is Longstreet’s book.  Most major figures have written a book about their experiences.  Unit histories have limited acceptance.  Century Magazine’s “Battles and Leaders” series is available.  Many of these books are self-serving designed to conceal as much or more than they reveal.  Much of the population accepts what we consider “Lost Cause” mythology as history.  An item disappearing from the narrative is the role non-whites played in the war.  This view will solidify into a “history” that will remain unchallenged for many years.

Just published is The attack and defense of Little Round Top, Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 by Oliver W. Norton This book will define the history for the fighting on Little Round Top.  John J. Pullen, Michael Shaara and the movie Gettysburg accept Norton as the authority and popularize his view of this event.

Bruce Catton is 14 years-old living with his parents in Benzonia, Michigan.

Douglas Southall Freeman works for a Richmond newspaper and is writing a book with a working title of Lee’s Dispatches.

Benjamin Mack inlay Kantor is nine year living in Webster City Iowa with his mother and grandparents.

Margret Mitchell and Shelby Foote exist only as the thought “It would be nice to have children, some day.”






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