Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > "Desirving of a Small Pention:" Navigating the Civil War Pension System

The vocal nature of Republican and Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) military pension campaigns publicly presented veteran beliefs about federal government obligation during the Gilded Era. However, the widely-publicized GAR views do not indicate how individual veterans viewed and engaged with the federal pension system during the period of major centralization, industrialization, and bureaucratization between 1880 and 1900. A thorough examination of pension files linked to members of the Union Army’s Company C, Eighth Wisconsin Infantry reveals that the veterans formed loose, informal networks to provide testimony, at times appearing to engage in a tacit agreement to stretch the truth or refuse to do so based upon their judgements of the claimant’s deservingness. Through the process of providing testimony, Company C members exhibited a nascent belief of entitlement to federal assistance and engaged in redefining beliefs about federal government obligations to soldiers during the period.