Over recent months I have been working on a major new resource for those interested in the emigrant experience of the American Civil War. It seeks to provide information on all the widows and dependents receiving American pensions outside the United States, based on those listed in the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll. The first element of this project has now been completed and is made available here. It deals with widows and dependent parents who were in receipt of monies on mainland Europe, principally as a result of a loved one’s service in the American Civil War. Future additions to the project will include the UK & Ireland, the Americas (excluding the United States) and the Rest of the World. Ultimately it will constitute a detailed freely accessible resource on all 1883 American military pensioners everywhere outside of the U.S. I am eager for this resource to be of maximum use to prospective researchers, and as such the excel files I have created for have been freely provided for download below. For ease of use I have also mapped the results, creating an interactive resource on Google Fusion Tables so that readers can spatially explore the pensioners in a European context and also with respect to the locations in the United States where their loved ones died. I would like readers feedback on this project, so if you have any suggestions for corrections, additions or improvements please let me know.

As outlined above, the baseline data for this project has come from the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll, which was created at the direction of Congress in order to ascertain the details of American military pensioners then in receipt of Federal monies. The list contained details on the pension certificate number, the pensioner name, their postal location, the reason for their pension, its monthly value, and the date from which it was approved (see Figure 1 below). As my principal area of interest is in dependent pensioners, I am only seeking to map them as part of this project- pensioned former servicemen have therefore been excluded. Having first exported the information from the List of Pensioners into an excel spreadsheet, I sought to identify gaps or errors in the data. This most commonly arises from mis-spelling of the pensioners name, mis-spelling of their postal address, and occasionally mis-assignation to an incorrect region. In order to increase the functionality and usefulness of the dataset, I next conducted extensive research in pension files, pension indexes, regimental muster rolls and regimental rosters to add three further layers of information, namely the name of the serviceman on whom the pension was based, his unit, and his fate. In addition I added grid-coordinates for both the location of the pensioner in their home country, and also the site associated with their loved one’s death. The results allow for a range of different types of analysis of the data, which allow us to both ask and formulate different questions about these pensioners.

Baden Pensioners on the Roll

Figure 1. An extract from the 1883 List of Pensioners on the Roll, showing pensioners in the Baden Region of Germany (Click to enlarge)

In this first data and mapping instalment, I have covered all those pensioners listed on mainland Europe, together with those who were recorded as having ‘Unknown’ locations, the majority of whom were also from the 19th Century German States. Readers should be aware that the geography of Europe has changed substantially since the 1883 list was prepared, and as a result, the homes of pensioners which were once part of the German States or the Austro-Hungarian Empire now form part of different countries, and some have undergone an official name change.In some instances I have found information within pension files or through other research which have led me to correct or interpret information provided on the List of Pensioners, and users will be able to identify this in the data through the use of parentheses ().

It is my intention once this project is complete to use the dataset to explore many different facets of both the pensioner experience and the pension process itself, but with this initial tranche I wanted to briefly draw attention to a number of interesting points. Perhaps the most fascinating is the overwhelming concentration of mainland European pensioners in the central belt of the Continent, covering Switzerland and most significantly Germany (Figure 2). It is certainly no surprise that German pensioners dominate; Apthorp Gould in his 1869 Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers estimated that there were 176,817 Union volunteers of Germanic origin. When British and Irish servicemen are excluded, Apthorp Gould surmised that there were only 48,410 ‘other foreigners’ under Union arms. However, even given this overwhelming dominance, it is still a surprise that there is not more geographic variety in the pension distribution. We are left to ponder possible explanations for this. Perhaps more Germanic dependents returned home to Europe than those of other nations? However, if this was the primary explanation one might expect to see higher representation in other regions such as Scandinavia. Foreign dependent pensions often relied on strong communications being maintained between immigrants in the United States and their origin communities, so perhaps these ties were not as solid for many mainland European emigrants. However, it seems the most probable explanation lies with knowledge of, and access to, the pension process. Not only did those in Europe have to be aware that they were entitled to a pension, they also had to have access to both legal assistance and in many cases U.S. Consular assistance. Language barriers also undoubtedly proved a major stumbling block. In light of that, it is likely that many thousands of European dependents who were entitled to military pensions were either unaware of their entitlements, or unable to navigate the process which would allow them to claim their payments. (1)

Breakdown by Country

Figure 2. Breakdown of Mainland Europe Widows and Dependent Pensioners by Defined Region (Click image to enlarge)

Another way of looking at the information relates to examining the death locations of the men on whom the pensions were based. Figure 3 records this data, looking at each location among the mainland Europe group where place of death was identifiable, and which registered three or more dead.

where they died

Figure 3. Known locations where men died and on which Mainland European pensions were based. Only those with 3 and above deaths are represented on the chart. For the purposes of this representation all New York harbour military installations were amalgamated with New York, while all battles of the Petersburg Campaign were amalgamated with Petersburg (Click image to enlarge).

Readily apparent is the toll that prison camps, most notably Andersonville, took on Mainland European-born troops. It is also interesting to note the relative impact of different engagements when it comes to this dataset. Battles that are not among the most celebrated during the conflict, for example Cross Keys and Princeton, are prominent on this table, while others such as Antietam (where I recorded two deaths) are not. Indeed, Cross Keys is equivalent in impact to Chancellorsville on the reasons behind the pension claims, despite the fact that the latter engagement is viewed as the most disastrous with respect to German participation in the conflict. Gathering data in this fashion on both sides of the Atlantic also allows us to seek to visualise data in different ways. The map in Figure 4 uses the Palladio Visualization Tool (developed at Stanford) to connect the areas in Mainland Europe where pensions were being claimed with the Confederate prison locations where their loved one’s died.

POW deaths

Locations in Mainland Europe where pensions were claimed based on deaths in Confederate prison camps. Andersonville, Georgia dominates. Visualized using Palladio (Click to enlarge).

It is also possible to examine the data from the perspective of State of affiliation (Figure 5). New York is overwhelmingly dominant, with almost four times as many associations with Mainland European pensioners when compared to any other State. Unsurprisingly given their German populations, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Missouri also figure strongly.

by state

Figure 5. The States/Affiliations of the identified units in which men served and on which Mainland European pensions were based. It includes the United States Regulars and United States Navy (Click image to enlarge).

I am aware that many readers will be eager to discover what specific military units are connected with the dataset; with that mind, at the bottom of this post is a full listing, in numerical order, of all the units I was able to identify and the number of servicemen associated with each (Table 1).

As alluded to above, the main interface for this resource is through the mapping of the pensioners, which was carried out using Google Fusion Tables. Four maps have been produced, two location maps which identify the sites in Europe and the United States where pensioners were based and the servicemen died, and two heatmaps which identify relative concentrations of sites in Europe and the U.S. The latter are particular interesting for identifying regions within Germany where pensioners were at their densest. In order to utilise the location maps, click on the images below to go to map, and zoom in to specific area to explore the material. You can click your mouse over a point to see the information on the pensioner and their loved one’s service and fate. The information you can access for each datapoint can be seen in Figure 6 below.

Card Example

Figure 6. The details you will be able to access with each datapoint on the map. This particular example relates to Johanna Lonntz, whose son Gustav died with the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

It is also worth noting that in order to see all the datapoints in areas of high concentrations (e.g. cities such as Berlin and Paris) you will need to zoom right into that location, as the points are closely spaced. Hopefully there will be information of interest to a wide range of users. Keep an eye out for some of my favourite pensioners in this group, the wealthy American widows who were claiming their pensions while presumably on European tours in France and Italy.

Europe Locations

Map 1. Widows & Dependents in Receipt of American Military Pensions, Mainland Europe, 1883. Location Map (Click on image to explore map)

Europe Heat Map

Map 2. Widows & Dependents in Receipt of American Military Pensions, Mainland Europe, 1883. Concentration Heatmap (Click on image to explore map)

United States Location Map

Map 3. Widows & Dependents in Receipt of American Military Pensions, Mainland Europe, 1883. American locations where death occurred on which pensions were based (Click on image to explore map)

United States Heat Map

Map 4. Widows & Dependents in Receipt of American Military Pensions, Mainland Europe, 1883. American locations where death occurred on which pensions were based. Concentration Heatmap (Click on image to explore map)

Although I sought to identify as many locations and units as possible, inevitably there are a number I was unable to locate. I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who may have information they can add to this dataset in this regard, or if you have any corrections to offer. For those who wish to access the original excel spreadsheets, you can download the European datasheet here: European Dependent Pensions Mainland Europe: DATA-EUROPE and the American datasheet here: Europe Dependent Pensions Mainland Europe:DATA-USA. Finally, below is the table of military units identifiable for men on whom the Mainland European pensions were based.

UnitNo. Servicemen
United States Navy12
Mueller’s Battery B, Independent Pennsylvania Light Artillery1
Independent New York Volunteers1
Missouri Engineer Regiment of the West1
1 Connecticut Heavy Artillery1
1 Kansas Infantry1
1 Kentucky Infantry1
1 Louisiana Infantry2
1 Michigan Cavalry1
1 Missouri Light Artillery1
1 New York Cavalry1
1 New York Engineers1
1 New York Infantry1
1 New York Light Artillery2
1 United States Sharpshooters1
1 West Virginia Light Artillery1
1 Wisconsin Infantry1
2 Delaware Infantry2
2 Illinois Light Artillery1
2 Maryland Infantry2
2 Michigan Cavalry1
2 Michigan Infantry1
2 Minnesota Infantry2
2 Missouri Light Artillery1
2 New Jersey Cavalry2
2 Ohio Cavalry1
2 Rhode Island Infantry1
2 Wisconsin Infantry1
3 California Infantry1
3 Iowa Light Artillery1
3 Maryland Infantry2
3 Minnesota Infantry1
3 Missouri Infantry2
3 New Jersey Cavalry2
3 New York Artillery1
3 Wisconsin Cavalry1
4 Maryland Infantry1
4 Missouri Cavalry2
4 Missouri Infantry1
4 New York Infantry1
4 Pennsylvania Cavalry1
5 Iowa Cavalry1
5 New Hampshire Infantry1
5 New York Heavy Artillery1
5 New York Infantry1
5 United States Artillery1
5 United States Infantry2
5 Wisconsin Infantry2
6 Connecticut Infantry1
6 Minnesota Infantry1
6 Ohio Infantry1
6 United States Infantry1
7 Connecticut Infantry1
7 Minnesota Infantry1
7 New Hampshire Infantry1
7 New York Infantry11
7 New York Heavy Artillery1
7 United States Cavalry1
8 Illinois Infantry1
8 Kansas Infantry1
8 Michigan Infantry1
8 New York Infantry1
8 United States Infantry1
9 Illinois Cavalry1
9 Michigan Cavalry1
9 New Hampshire Infantry1
9 New Jersey Infantry1
9 Ohio Infantry2
10 Massachusetts Infantry1
11 New Jersey Infantry1
11 New York Cavalry1
11 Pennsylvania Reserves1
12 Illinois Cavalry1
12 Missouri Infantry2
12 New Hampshire Infantry1
12 Pennsylvania Cavalry1
13 Connecticut Infantry1
13 New York Infantry3
13 United States Cavalry1
14 New York Cavalry1
14 Pennsylvania Cavalry1
14 Wisconsin Infantry2
15 Illinois Cavalry1
15 Missouri Infantry3
15 New York Heavy Artillery7
15 New York Engineers1
15 West Virginia Infantry1
16 New York Cavalry1
17 United States Infantry1
18 New York Cavalry1
18 United States Infantry1
19 Illinois Infantry1
20 Indiana Infantry1
20 Massachusetts Infantry2
20 New York Infantry1
21 Wisconsin Infantry1
22 Michigan Infantry1
23 Indiana Infantry1
23 Pennsylvania Infantry1
24 Illinois Infantry3
25 Ohio Infantry1
26 New York Infantry1
26 Ohio Infantry1
27 Massachusetts Infantry1
27 Pennsylvania Infantry3
28 Ohio Infantry6
29 Massachusetts Infantry1
30 Missouri Infantry1
30 Ohio Infantry1
31 Iowa Infantry1
31 New York Infantry2
32 Indiana Infantry3
32 Massachusetts Infantry1
33 Ohio Infantry1
34 Massachusetts Infantry1
36 Illinois Infantry1
36 Massachusetts Infantry1
37 Ohio Infantry2
39 New York Infantry6
40 Missouri Infantry1
41 New York Infantry3
42 Illinois Infantry1
42 New York Infantry1
43 Illinois Infantry1
45 New York Infantry1
46 New York Infantry4
47 New York Infantry1
47 Pennsylvania Infantry1
48 New York Infantry1
51 New York Infantry1
52 Illinois Infantry1
52 New York Infantry4
52 Pennsylvania Infantry1
54 New York Infantry3
55 Ohio Infantry1
55 Pennsylvania Infantry1
56 Pennsylvania Infantry1
57 Illinois Infantry1
58 Illinois Infantry1
58 New York Infantry2
58 Ohio Infantry2
59 Massachusetts Infantry1
59 New York Infantry2
61 New York Infantry1
61 Ohio Infantry1
66 New York Infantry1
68 New York Infantry3
69 New York Infantry2
73 Pennsylvania Infantry4
74 New York Infantry1
75 New York Infantry2
75 Pennsylvania Infantry3
75 United States Colored Troops1
79 New York Infantry1
80 New York Infantry1
81 Pennsylvania Infantry1
82 Illinois Infantry1
82 New York Infantry1
83 Pennsylvania Infantry1
85 New York Infantry1
89 Ohio Infantry1
99 New York Infantry1
98 Pennsylvania Infantry2
99 Pennsylvania Infantry1
100 Illinois Infantry1
100 New York Infantry2
103 New York Infantry3
104 Pennsylvania Infantry1
106 Ohio Infantry1
108 New York Infantry1
108 Ohio Infantry1
113 Illinois Infantry1
119 New York Infantry1
131 New York Infantry1
134 New York Infantry1
140 New York Infantry1
148 New York Infantry1
156 Illinois Infantry1
163 New York Infantry1
174 New York Infantry1
175 New York Infantry1
176 New York Infantry1
181 Ohio Infantry1
183 Ohio Infantry3

Table 1. The identifiable units associated with the Mainland European pensions, in numerical order.

(1) Apthorp Gould 1869: 27;


Gould, Benjamin Apthorp 1869. Investigations in the Military and Anthropological Statistics of American Soldiers. 

Government Printing Office 1883. List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883. Volume 5