As hard as the war was on the soldier, it was also difficult for the wives, children, and other dependants left at home. The pay of a soldier was not much ($13.00 a month for a private) and often he would need that money to replenish clothing or buy supplemental food supplies. There were also serious problems with pay being months behind and with enlistment bounties not being disbursed in a timely fashion.
If a soldier was wounded, his pay was immediately cut off as he was no longer able to fight and this would contribute to a family’s already tenuous financial situation. If a soldier died, there were no provisions made for his family until after 1862 when an act was passed to provide pensions for widows and dependants, which could include underage children, mothers, and sisters. The only problem with the act was that it required proof of death in order to qualify and in an age where the government did not provide such proof, it was often difficult to obtain. Families would have to seek out comrades who could testify to a death if they were unable to secure the actual body.
These documents from the City of Middletown show the lists of soldiers’ names and the amounts paid out to their dependants from the city and the state. Note how many of the soldiers dependants signed only with an X. What would happen to these wives, children, mothers, and sisters, if their loved one fell on the field of battle, succumbed to disease, or were permanently crippled?