After four hard years of fighting, the American Civil War came to an end in 1865, but the Confederacy's surrender at Appomattox Court House did not immediately put an end to the nation's divisions. Instead, it signaled the start of the challenging process of uniting a split nation with more than 2 million recently minted soldiers. Many people were sickened or injured during the conflict, and those who passed away frequently left behind families with few means of subsistence. The American government established a pension system to provide financial assistance to Union troops and their widows for the rest of their lives as a response to escalating health care and social crisis (Confederate soldiers did not qualify, though some Southern states funded their pensions). The final Civil War survivor had passed away by 1956, but the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue to collect pensions for decades to come, all the way up until 2020.
Only one woman who served in the Civil War was granted a salary. Thanks to her father's service in the Union Army, Irene Triplett, a 90-year-old woman of North Carolina, was the last individual to receive a Civil War pension. Originally a Confederate soldier who deserted in 1863, Mose Triplett later enlisted in the Union Army. By doing so, he avoided participating in the battle at Gettysburg, where 90% of his former infantry were slain. In addition to securing Mose a pension for the rest of his life, switching teams helped him get remarried after his first wife passed away. At the age of 78, Mose married Elida Hall, who was 27 years old. According to historians, this was a common occurrence during the Great Depression, when older veterans who needed care could give younger women financial security. The couple had two kids, including Irene, whose cognitive impairments made her eligible for her father's pension after both of her parents passed away. The United States government had performed its job by the time Irene passed away in 2020, paying out Mose Triplett's pension for more than 100 years.