The series contains applications for state pensions filed by former Confederate soldiers and sailors, as well as their widows and wartime servants residing in Mississippi at or after the time of passage of the state's first pension law in 1888. The content of the applications varies by type of applicant and year but generally includes such information as age, place of residence, name of military unit(s) and/or officers, dates of enlistment and discharge, information about living circumstances to establish eligibility for pension, other details of military service, and signatures of applicant, county chancery clerk, county board of inquiry (pension board) members, and witnesses. Some applications are accompanied by correspondence, notes, and/or statements from witnesses attesting to the eligibility of the applicant in support of his/her claim. Applicants filed for pensions in the state in which they resided at the time of filing, not necessarily the state in which they enlisted. Arrangement is alphabetical by name of applicant.
The 1888 pension law limited the payment of pensions to
every soldier or sailor, and to the servants of the officers, soldiers and sailors of the late Confederate States of America, who enlisted from the State of Mississippi, and who lost a leg, or an arm, in the service of said Confederate States. To every such soldier or sailor, or servant of the officers, soldiers and sailors of the late Confederacy who is now, or may hereafter be, otherwise incapacitated for manual labor by reason of a wound received in said service; and to the widow, remaining unmarried, of any soldier or sailor who lost his life in said service, while a citizen of this State.
Mississippi's Constitution of 1890 included in Section 272 that
The legislature shall provide by law, pensions for indigent soldiers and sailors who enlisted and honorably served in the Confederate army or navy in the late civil war, who are now resident in this state, and are not able to earn a support by their own labor. Pensions shall also be allowed to the indigent widows of such soldiers or sailors now dead, when from age or disease they cannot earn a support. Pensions shall also be allowed to the wives of such soldiers or sailors upon the death of the husband, if disabled and indigent as aforesaid. Pensions granted to widows shall cease upon their subsequent marriage.
In 1892 the legislature designated the state's auditor of public accounts the pension commissioner, with responsibility to prescribe regulations for drawing pensions and furnish all proper blanks to applicants for any pension granted by the legislature. The law also expanded the pool of persons entitled to a pension to include
All soldiers and sailors who enlisted and honorably served in the Confederate army or navy, who are now resident in this State, and who are indigent and not able to earn a support by their own labor; the indigent widows of such soldiers and sailors, who are unable to earn a livelihood, and indigent colored persons who were servants, in the army or navy, of Confederate soldiers or sailors, and who are now unable to support themselves by their labor.
The law setting the requirements for eligibility, the amounts to be paid, and procedures for securing approval was amended several times through the years before finally being repealed in 1992. The state's constitutional pension requirement (Section 272) was repealed in 1990 by a combination of Senate resolution, ratification by the electorate, and proclamation of the Secretary of State.
Of the former Confederate states, Mississippi was the only one to include African American servants in its pension program from the program's inception. From 1888 to 1921 it was the only state to do so and consequently had more African American pensioners than any other. Out of approximately 36,000 applications 1,739 were submitted by African Americans.
Series 1201 was digitized by FamilySearch onsite at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in 2011. In 2013 MDAH received from a donor nearly sixty pension applications that were filed in Tishomingo County and once held as the county chancery clerk's copies. These were added to the series, digitized by MDAH, and made accessible online in a folder titled "Tishomingo County" in 2013.
There is currently no name index available on the Web. Betty Couch Wiltshire published the three-volume index Mississippi Confederate Pension Applications in 1994. It is available in the MDAH public reading room (http://catalog.mdah.state.ms.us/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=4962).
Hollandsworth, James G. Jr. 2008. "Black Confederate Pensioners After the Civil War." Mississippi History Now, http://mshistory.k12.ms.us/articles/289/black-confederate-pensioners-after-the-civil-war (accessed January 2012)
Wiltshire, Betty C. Mississippi Confederate Pension Applications (Carrollton, MS: Pioneer Publishing Co., 1994)
Laws of Mississippi, 1888, Chapter 12; 1892, Ch. 80; 1922, Ch. 178; 1990, Ch. 691; and 1992, Ch. 396
Mississippi Constitution, 1890