Civil War-era Veterans Benefits

During the Civil War, Congress enacted new veterans benefits laws including the General Pension Law of 1862. This law and its later amendments created a system for disabled and retiring veterans of the Civil War, and formed the basis for veterans of the Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion, and other conflicts to receive their benefits through the end of the twentieth century.

1862 Lincoln’s General Pension Law
1863 Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
1865 Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address
1873 Consolidation Act
1879 Arrears Act
1890 Disability Pension Act

Use the links on this page to access original documents from online public records.

1832—June 4 (Ch. 126) (4 Stat. 529) An Act supplementary to the “Act for the relief of certain surviving officers and soldiers of the revolution.”


1836—July 4 (Ch. 362) (5 Stat. 127) An Act granting half pay to widows or orphans, where their husbands and fathers have died of wounds received in the military service of the United States, in certain cases, and for other purposes.


1837—March 3 (Ch. 42) An Act explanatory of the act entitled An act granting half-pay to widows and orphans where their husbands and fathers have died of wounds received in the military service of the United States, and for other purposes.


1838—July 7 (Ch. 189) An Act granting half pay and pensions to certain widows.


1842—August 23 (Ch. 191) An act to amend the acts of July, eighteen hundred and thirty-six, and eighteen hundred and thirty-eight, allowing pensions to certain widows.


1846—May 13 (Ch. 26 Sec. 7) (9 Stat. 9) Provisions (Disability Benefits) for Volunteers Wounded in Service.


1848—Jul 21 (Ch. 108) An Act amending the Act entitled “An Act granting Half Pay to Widows or Orphans, where their Husbands and Fathers have died of Wounds received in the Military service of the United States,” in Case of deceased Officers and Soldiers of the Militia and Volunteers, passed July Fourth, eighteen hundred and thirty-six.


1849—February 22 (Ch. 62) An Act granting five Years’ Half Pay to certain Widows and Orphans of Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, Musicians, and Privates, both Regulars and Volunteers.


1851—March 3 (Ch. 25) (Pub. L. 31-25) (9 Stat. 595) An Act to found a Military Asylum for the Relief and Support of invalid and disabled Soldiers of the Army of the United States.


1853—February 3 (Ch. 41) (Pub. L. 32-41) (10 Stat. 154) An Act to continue Half-Pay to certain Widows and Orphans.


1858—June 3 (Ch. 85) (Pub. L. 35-85) (11 Stat. 309) An Act to extend an Act entitled “An Act to continue Half-pay to certain Widows and Orphans,” approved February three, eighteen hundred and fifty-three.

1861—July 24 (Ch. 14) (12 Stat. 273) An Act for the Relief of the Widows and Orphans of the Officers, Seamen, and Marines of the United States Sloop-of war Levant, and for other Purposes.


1862—July 14 (Ch. 166) (12 Stat. 566) **An Act to grant Pensions. (General Pension Law)


1864—July 4 (Ch. 247) (13 Stat. 387) An Act supplementary to an Act entitled “An Act to grant Pensions,” approved July fourteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-two.


1865—March 3 (Ch. 84) (13 Stat. 499) An Act supplementary to the several Acts relating to Pensions.


1866—June 6 (Ch. 106) (14 Stat. 56) An Act supplementary to the several Acts relating to Pensions.


1866—July 25 (Ch. 235) (14 Stat. 230) An Act increasing the Pensions of Widows and Orphans, and for other Purposes.


1868—July 27 (Ch. 264) (15 Stat. 235) An act related to Pensions.


1870—July 7 (Ch. 213) (16 Stat. 191) An Act to construe certain Acts therein cited, in Relation to Pensions.


1870—July 8 (Ch. 225) (16 Stat. 193) An Act to define the Duties of Pension Agents, to prescribe the Manner of paying Pensions, and for other Purposes.


1871—February 14 (Ch. 50) (16 Stat. 411) An Act granting Pensions to certain Soldiers and Sailors of the War of eighteen hundred and twelve, and the Widows of deceased Soldiers.


1872—June 8 (Ch. 342) (17 Stat. 335) An Act increasing the Rates of Pension to certain Persons therein described.


1873—March 3 (Ch. 234) (18 Stat. 566) **An Act to revise, consolidate, and amend the Laws relating to Pensions.


1874—June 18 (Ch. 298 / Ch. 299) (18 Stat. 78) An act to increase the pensions of soldiers and sailors who have been totally disabled. / An act to increase pensions in certain cases.


1876—August 15 (Ch. 300) (19 Stat. 203) An act to regulate the issue of artificial limbs to disabled soldiers, seamen, and others.


1877—May 3 (Ch. 120) An act amending the pension-law so as to remove the disability of those March 3, 1877. who, having participated in the rebellion, have, since its termination, enlisted in the Army of the United States, and become disabled.


1878—March 9 (Ch. 28) (20 Stat. 27) An act amending the laws granting pensions to the soldiers and sailors of the war of eighteen hundred and twelve, and their widows, and for other purposes.


1879—January 25 (Ch. 23) **ARREARS Act – An act to provide that all pensions on account of death, or wounds received, or disease contracted in the service of the United States during the late war of the rebellion, which have been granted, or which shall hereafter be granted, shall commence from the date of death or discharge from the service of theUnited States; for the payment of arrears of pensions, and other purposes.

1901—January 28 (Ch. 184) (31 Stat. 745) An Act To establish a branch soldiers’ home at or near Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee.


1902—June 27 (Ch. 1156) (32 Stat. 399) An Act To extend the provisions, limitations, and benefits of an Act entitled “An Act granting pensions to the survivors of the Indian wars of eighteen hundred and thirty-two to eighteen hundred and forty-two, inclusive, known as the Black Hawk war, Creek war, Cherokee disturbances, and the Seminole war,” approved July twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and ninety-two.


1907—February 6 (Ch. 468) (34 Stat. 879) An Act Granting pensions to certain enlisted men, soldiers, and officers who served in the civil war and the war with Mexico.


1908—April 19 (35 Stat. 64) An act to increase the pension of widows, minor children, and various Indian wars, and so forth, and to grant a pension to certain widows of the deceased soldiers and sailors of the late civil war.


1910—June 25 (36 Stat. 736) Appropriations for National Homes for Disabled Veterans; Back Pay and Bounty.


1910—June 25 (Ch. 393) An Act For the relief of soldiers and sailors who enlisted or served under assumed names, while minors or otherwise, in the army or navy, during the war of the rebellion, the war with Spain, or the Philippine insurrection.


1912—May 11 (Pub. L. 62-155) (37 Stat. 112) An Act Granting pensions to certain enlisted men, soldiers, and officers who served in the Civil War and the War with Mexico.


1916—September 8 (39 Stat. 844) An Act To amend an Act entitled “An Act to increase the pensions of widows, minor children, and so forth, of deceased soldiers and sailors of the late Civil War, the War with Mexico, the various Indian wars, and so forth, and to grant a pension to certain widows of the deceased soldiers and sailors of the late Civil War,” approved April nineteenth, nineteen hundred and eight, and for other purposes.


1917—March 4 (Ch. 189) (39 Stat. 1199) An Act To pension the survivors of certain Indian wars from January first, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine, to January, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, inclusive, and for other purposes.


1918—June 10 (Ch. 96) (40 Stat. 603) An Act To amend an Act entitled “An Act granting pensions to certain enlisted men, soldiers, and officers who served in the Civil War and the War with Mexico,” approved May eleventh, nineteen hundred and twelve.


1918—June 25 (Ch. 104) (40 Stat. 609) War Risk Insurance Amendments (Family Members)


1918—June 27 (Ch. 107) (40 Stat. 617) An Act To provide for vocational rehabilitation and return to civil employment of disabled persons discharged from the military or naval forces of the United States, and for other purposes.


1918—July 16 (Ch. 153) (40 Stat. 903) An Act To pension widows and minor children of officers and enlisted men who served in the War with Spain, Philippine insurrection, or in China.


1919—March 3 (Ch. 98) (40 Stat. 1302) An Act To authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to provide hospital and sanatorium facilities for discharged sick and disabled soldiers, sailors, and marines.

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