Mapping Mainland Europe’s American Civil War Widows & Dependent Parents: An Online Resource

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.

Unit No. Servicemen
United States Navy 12
Mueller’s Battery B, Independent Pennsylvania Light Artillery 1
Independent New York Volunteers 1
Missouri Engineer Regiment of the West 1
1 Connecticut Heavy Artillery 1
1 Kansas Infantry 1
1 Kentucky Infantry 1
1 Louisiana Infantry 2
1 Michigan Cavalry 1
1 Missouri Light Artillery 1
1 New York Cavalry 1
1 New York Engineers 1
1 New York Infantry 1
1 New York Light Artillery 2
1 United States Sharpshooters 1
1 West Virginia Light Artillery 1
1 Wisconsin Infantry 1
2 Delaware Infantry 2
2 Illinois Light Artillery 1
2 Maryland Infantry 2
2 Michigan Cavalry 1
2 Michigan Infantry 1
2 Minnesota Infantry 2
2 Missouri Light Artillery 1
2 New Jersey Cavalry 2
2 Ohio Cavalry 1
2 Rhode Island Infantry 1
2 Wisconsin Infantry 1
3 California Infantry 1
3 Iowa Light Artillery 1
3 Maryland Infantry 2
3 Minnesota Infantry 1
3 Missouri Infantry 2
3 New Jersey Cavalry 2
3 New York Artillery 1
3 Wisconsin Cavalry 1
4 Maryland Infantry 1
4 Missouri Cavalry 2
4 Missouri Infantry 1
4 New York Infantry 1
4 Pennsylvania Cavalry 1
5 Iowa Cavalry 1
5 New Hampshire Infantry 1
5 New York Heavy Artillery 1
5 New York Infantry 1
5 United States Artillery 1
5 United States Infantry 2
5 Wisconsin Infantry 2
6 Connecticut Infantry 1
6 Minnesota Infantry 1
6 Ohio Infantry 1
6 United States Infantry 1
7 Connecticut Infantry 1
7 Minnesota Infantry 1
7 New Hampshire Infantry 1
7 New York Infantry 11
7 New York Heavy Artillery 1
7 United States Cavalry 1
8 Illinois Infantry 1
8 Kansas Infantry 1
8 Michigan Infantry 1
8 New York Infantry 1
8 United States Infantry 1
9 Illinois Cavalry 1
9 Michigan Cavalry 1
9 New Hampshire Infantry 1
9 New Jersey Infantry 1
9 Ohio Infantry 2
10 Massachusetts Infantry 1
11 New Jersey Infantry 1
11 New York Cavalry 1
11 Pennsylvania Reserves 1
12 Illinois Cavalry 1
12 Missouri Infantry 2
12 New Hampshire Infantry 1
12 Pennsylvania Cavalry 1
13 Connecticut Infantry 1
13 New York Infantry 3
13 United States Cavalry 1
14 New York Cavalry 1
14 Pennsylvania Cavalry 1
14 Wisconsin Infantry 2
15 Illinois Cavalry 1
15 Missouri Infantry 3
15 New York Heavy Artillery 7
15 New York Engineers 1
15 West Virginia Infantry 1
16 New York Cavalry 1
17 United States Infantry 1
18 New York Cavalry 1
18 United States Infantry 1
19 Illinois Infantry 1
20 Indiana Infantry 1
20 Massachusetts Infantry 2
20 New York Infantry 1
21 Wisconsin Infantry 1
22 Michigan Infantry 1
23 Indiana Infantry 1
23 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
24 Illinois Infantry 3
25 Ohio Infantry 1
26 New York Infantry 1
26 Ohio Infantry 1
27 Massachusetts Infantry 1
27 Pennsylvania Infantry 3
28 Ohio Infantry 6
29 Massachusetts Infantry 1
30 Missouri Infantry 1
30 Ohio Infantry 1
31 Iowa Infantry 1
31 New York Infantry 2
32 Indiana Infantry 3
32 Massachusetts Infantry 1
33 Ohio Infantry 1
34 Massachusetts Infantry 1
36 Illinois Infantry 1
36 Massachusetts Infantry 1
37 Ohio Infantry 2
39 New York Infantry 6
40 Missouri Infantry 1
41 New York Infantry 3
42 Illinois Infantry 1
42 New York Infantry 1
43 Illinois Infantry 1
45 New York Infantry 1
46 New York Infantry 4
47 New York Infantry 1
47 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
48 New York Infantry 1
51 New York Infantry 1
52 Illinois Infantry 1
52 New York Infantry 4
52 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
54 New York Infantry 3
55 Ohio Infantry 1
55 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
56 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
57 Illinois Infantry 1
58 Illinois Infantry 1
58 New York Infantry 2
58 Ohio Infantry 2
59 Massachusetts Infantry 1
59 New York Infantry 2
61 New York Infantry 1
61 Ohio Infantry 1
66 New York Infantry 1
68 New York Infantry 3
69 New York Infantry 2
73 Pennsylvania Infantry 4
74 New York Infantry 1
75 New York Infantry 2
75 Pennsylvania Infantry 3
75 United States Colored Troops 1
79 New York Infantry 1
80 New York Infantry 1
81 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
82 Illinois Infantry 1
82 New York Infantry 1
83 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
85 New York Infantry 1
89 Ohio Infantry 1
99 New York Infantry 1
98 Pennsylvania Infantry 2
99 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
100 Illinois Infantry 1
100 New York Infantry 2
103 New York Infantry 3
104 Pennsylvania Infantry 1
106 Ohio Infantry 1
108 New York Infantry 1
108 Ohio Infantry 1
113 Illinois Infantry 1
119 New York Infantry 1
131 New York Infantry 1
134 New York Infantry 1
140 New York Infantry 1
148 New York Infantry 1
156 Illinois Infantry 1
163 New York Infantry 1
174 New York Infantry 1
175 New York Infantry 1
176 New York Infantry 1
181 Ohio Infantry 1
183 Ohio Infantry 3

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

(1) Apthorp Gould 1869: 27;

References

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

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Categories: Mapping Pensions, Pension Files

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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7 Comments on “Mapping Mainland Europe’s American Civil War Widows & Dependent Parents: An Online Resource”

  1. March 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

    This is all confusing to me, although you have given plenty of info to help me understand it. I will definitely be checking back when I start looking at the members of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves. You, good sir, are amazing!

  2. March 26, 2017 at 4:35 am #

    This is amazing Damian!! What a great set of research tools you’ve set up. Have you thought of explaining how to make these maps?

    • April 1, 2017 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks! I must do that sometime, another post maybe!

  3. Annie Monier
    March 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

    merci   alain monier

  4. March 26, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

    Interesting info.

  5. March 27, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    WOW! And I thought I was a data nerd! Thank you for all this work!

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