Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)





Committee Chair

Susannah Ural

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Chester Morgan

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Max Grivno

Committee Member 3 Department



In 1860, few destitute white citizens lived in Mississippi, and they were supported by their home counties. The Civil War drastically increased county indigent levels due to the high service and casualty rates of Mississippi soldiers. This thesis explores how Mississippi provided for its soldiers and their families during and immediately after the war (1861-1868), through post-war pensions (1888-1992), and through the Beauvoir Jefferson Davis Memorial Soldiers’ Home (1903-1957). This thesis challenges the existing historiography, showing that Mississippi began aiding indigent soldiers and families as early as 1861, and the 1888 pension law operated outside the Lost Cause movement, providing for veterans and African-American camp servants at equal rates, in addition to widows. Finally, this study argues that, unlike other Confederate soldiers’ homes, the residents of the Beauvoir Soldiers’ Home were not the poorest of the poor prior to the Civil War and came from diverse economic backgrounds.

Few historians have written about the concept of Confederate welfare, especially in Mississippi. This study challenges James G. Hollandsworth’s work on black Confederate pensioners, and builds on Elna Green, Kathleen Gorman, and James Marten analysis of pensions and the political process. This study directly challenges the work of R. B. Rosenburg in regards to the socio-economic status of Confederate veterans’ home residents. Primary sources used in this work include census records, county wartime destitute lists, pension applications and records, newspapers, Beauvoir Soldiers’ Home records, and the 2016 results of the Beauvoir Veteran Project at the University of Southern Mississippi.