The word "mind-bending" features in the Wall Street Journal's obituary on Irene Triplett and her place in history, with good reason. The 90-year-old died Sunday in a Wilkesboro, NC, nursing home, bringing an end to the final pension that had been paid out in connection with the Civil War. Triplett collected $73.13 a month from the Department of Veterans Affairs as "a helpless adult child of a veteran," a reference to her mental disabilities and her father, Pvt. Mose Triplett. He initially fought for the Confederacy, ending up in the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment in early 1863. An illness en route to Gettysburg left him in a Virginia hospital; of the 800 men from his unit who went on to Gettysburg, all but 66 were killed, wounded, or captured.
Mose Triplett left the hospital as a deserter, traveled south to Tennessee, and switched to the Union side as part of the 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry. The Journal reports the regiment was known for its "campaign of sabotage against Confederate targets in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina." In 1924, at the age of 83, he married Elida Hall, who was in her late 20s. Irene was born six years later, and US News & World Report adds that of Hall's four other children with Triplett, only son Everette survived infancy. Mose Triplett died in 1938, his wife in 1967, and Everette in 1996. In 2014 the Journal ran a feature on Triplett and her family, noting at that time she was the last child of a Civil War vet collecting VA benefits, and that the same could then be said of 16 widows and children of veterans of the 1898 Spanish-American War. (For more, check out the 2014 article.)