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Harriet Tubman Davis, 1911

Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and led hundreds of fugitives to freedom, used her knowledge and skills as a scout to assist Union troops during the Civil War.


Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Harriet Tubman Davis, 1911

Civil War Pensions

In 1861 Congress enacted legislation granting pension benefits to dependents of Civil War soldiers killed in action as well as to veterans with war-related disabilities. Over the next three decades, Congress expanded the program and the pension office became the largest government department outside the military. Those denied pensions—including women who had served as scouts, disguised themselves as soldiers, or provided auxiliary support—petitioned Congress directly with their claims.