More than 150 years after the end of the War Between the States, the US government continues to pay out pension money connected to the Civil War.
Irene Triplett, a Wilkesboro, NC, woman and the 86-year-old daughter of a Civil War veteran, collects $73.13 each month from her father’s military pension.
Triplett’s father was Mose Triplett, born in Wilkes County, NC, in 1846. He joined the Confederate army in May 1862 as a member of Company K of the 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, at age 16. In 1863, he transferred to Company C of the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.
Later that year, he fell ill with fever and was admitted to a Confederate hospital in Danville, Va. He escaped from the hospital on June 26, 1863, and deserted.
Triplett’s decision to turn his back on the Confederacy enabled him to miss the Battle of Gettysburg, which began less than a week after he slipped out of the Danville hospital, and likely saved his life.
The 26th North Carolina suffered unparalleled casualties at Gettysburg, losing 734 of the approximately 800 men it went into the battle with, according to the David H. McGee’s regimental history of the 26th North Carolina.
The losses suffered by the 26th North Carolina at Gettysburg were the highest of any regiment in a single battle during the 1861-65 conflict.
Triplett is said to have made his way to Knoxville, Tenn., where he joined the 3rd NC Mounted Infantry, a Union regiment, in the summer of 1864. He began receiving a pension of his own in 1885, as an invalid.
Triplett’s first wife died without the pair having any children.
At age 78, Triplett married Lydia “Elida” Hall, who then 28. They had five children, three of whom did not survive infancy. But Irene, and her younger brother Everette, did. Mose Triplett was 83 when Irene was born and nearly 87 when her brother Everette came along.
Mose Triplett, who lived into his early 90s, eventually made it to Gettysburg, attending the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1938. But he died a few days after returning from the event.
With the Great Depression still lingering, times weren’t easy for a single mother with two children. In 1943, Elida and Irene went to live in public housing, while Everette ran away, according to the website theveteransite.com.
Sadly, Irene Triplett, who was born disabled, did not have a happy childhood, she told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.
“I didn’t care for neither one of them, to tell you the truth about it,” she said referring to her parents. She noted she was often abused. “I wanted to get away from both of them. I wanted to get me a house and crawl in it all by myself.”
Elida Triplett died in 1967. Everette Triplett died in 1996.
When US News & World Report recently reached out to the Department of Veterans Affairs for updated information on Triplett, a spokesman indicated the family did not wish to be contacted.
(Irene Triplett with historian Jerry Orton in 2010. Photo credit: The Daily Telegraph.)