The 19th-Century Nebraska Veterans Pension Fight

Governmental bureaucracy is nothing new. Almost a hundred years ago, Nebraska veterans discovered missing records and “red tape” when they applied for military pensions. The Nebraska State Journal reported:

Are Nebraska militiamen who were ordered by the territorial governor to repeal an attack of Indians during the year of 1865 entitled to pensions? This question has been raised by Icullius Johnson who has applied to Adjutant General Barry for a record of service on which to base his claim for a pension.


The case seems to hinge on the question of whether or not Johnson was ever in the service of the United States. He was a member of Company B, First Regiment, Second Brigade, Nebraska National Guard when the guard was ordered out to repel attacks of Indians. After serving about six months he was mustered out February 13, 1865. It is admitted that the militia did good service in that campaign, as two engagements occurred and several were killed, but there were doubts as to whether persons who were members of the guard are entitled to pensions by reason of service under the government.


Because the guard was ordered out by a territorial governor, who may be considered a representative of the general government, it is claimed that such soldiers were actually in the service of the government. Adjutant Barry does not recall that any of the guard who took part in the suppressing of the Indian outbreak have ever applied for pensions. He thinks Johnson’s case is the first of the kind and on its settlement by pension officers a may hinge a great many other cases.


Soldiers who enlisted in Nebraska regiments during the war are beginning to look up their records for one purpose or another. Many desire to apply for pensions and they write for certificates of service. The military records were in no one’s particular charge in the 60’s and it is often difficult to find the desired information. Recently a lady living in Pennsylvania wrote for her husband’s record and she forwarded his commission as an officer, yet General Barry was unable to find any record of the man’s name or issuance of his commission.

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

The Woman on the White Horse

The Woman on the White Horse

The Silver Bugs of 1896

The Silver Bugs of 1896

Marker Monday: Japanese Balloon Bombs

Marker Monday: Japanese Balloon Bombs

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

Education Digital Learning Resources

Find games, lists, and more to enhance your history education curriculum.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

History Nebraska Services

Digital Resources

Find all of our digital resources, files, videos, and more, all in one easy-to-search page!

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.