Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Southern Claims Commission

As with all wars there are those who are not in support of the war. Thus was true of the American Civil War. As I grew up in the south saw the war as the north (everyone) attacking the south and everyone in the rushing to sign up and defend their land and way of life. Not so. There were many in the north and south who had to be drafted into the war. As the battles began to take place largely in the south there was no time to determine whether the landowner was pro-union or pro-confederate. Property was officially and unofficially confiscated for use by troups and much was simply destroyed. Many times receipts were given by the union troops for animals or supplies commandeered from civilians. Six years after the fighting ended Congress created The Southern Claims Commission. Southerners could apply for reimbursement of some losses. Those who could file claims had to hold American citizenship, reside in a state that seceded, be able to document loyalty to the federal government throughout the conflict, and have suffered official confiscation of goods. 22,298 cases were filed by various entities with a total amount of alleged damages of $60,258,150. Ultimately only 1/3 of the claims passed inspection and virtually all claims were settled at a drastically reduced amount. $4,636,929 was actually paid out.
The records from these proceedings are stored at the NARA by case file. While not all case files still exist, you might find that your ancestor's file is there. One of the sources you can consider in our collection before contacting the NARA about a file is the book Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: the Southern Claims Commission by Gray B. Mills (copyright 1994 Clearfield Press). The claimants are listed alphabetically for ease of research. The additional columns show County and State, commission number, office number, report number, year, and claim status. You can find this source at R Gen929.373 MIL

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