Confederate Soldiers' Homes

The Kentucky Confederate Home was the brightest jewel in a necklace of Confederate veterans’ homes draped across the South and the border states.

Confederate veterans in various states acted largely independent of one another as they planned, financed, built, and opened soldiers’ homes in Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, Maryland, Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. (South Carolina would open a home in 1909, Oklahoma in 1911, and California in 1929.)

R. B. Rosenburg’s Living Monuments: Confederate Soldiers’ Homes in the New South (University of North Carolina Press, 1993) is a terrific source for information about these unique institutions.

Virginia—The Lee Camp Soldiers Home in Richmond, Virginia, resulted from a nationwide fundraising effort by Confederate and Union veterans in that city. With money raised from Northern philanthropists, theatrical benefits, charity bazaars, and gifts from Confederate veterans everywhere, the home opened in February 1885.

Maryland—The Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home opened its doors in Pikesville, Maryland, in 1888, thanks to a $5,000 appropriation from the state and the donation of the old barracks at the U. S. Arsenal there.

Texas—Confederate veterans in Austin, Texas, raised enough money to buy and equip a seven-room house on fifteen acres near the state capitol in 1886. The Texas Confederate Home for Men struggled for five years until the Texas legislature (in contravention of its own state constitution) voted regular funding in 1891

Louisiana—The Louisiana legislature in 1866 voted to fund a home, but reversed itself before a permanent place could be established. Twenty years later, after a series of political knife fights, the state again appropriated money to supplement local contributions, establishing Camp Nicholls Soldier’s Home in New Orleans in 1884.

Tennessee—Tennessee Confederate veterans convinced the state to lease them Andrew Jackson’s former estate in Nashville and provide a cash grant. Tennessee’s first needy ex-Confederates moved onto the Hermitage grounds with the opening of the Tennessee Soldiers’ Home in 1890.

Arkansas—Arkansans set out to raise $50,000 and, with the first $9,000, bought an old homestead south of Little Rock. The Arkansas Confederate Home opened officially in December 1890.

North Carolina—Ex-Confederates in North Carolina organized, reorganized, and struggled for more than five years to raise money for a home in that state. It wasn’t until 1891, when the state provided property and voted an annual appropriation, that the North Carolina Soldiers’ Home in Raleigh first welcomed nine needy ex-Confederates.

Missouri—The Confederate Home Association of Missouri bought 395 acres of prime farmland near Higginsville and opened the Confederate Soldiers Home of Missouri there in 1891. The state took over financial control of the home in 1897, caring for more than 1,600 Confederate veterans and their wives, children and widows through 1950.

Florida—The Florida Old Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home opened in April 1893 on ten acres outside Jacksonville. Florida’s home was one of the smallest, rarely caring for more than a dozen inmates in a seven-room house.

Georgia—Georgia’s veterans built a home in 1891, and then asked their state legislature for operational funding. The state turned down the funding request, and the building remained unoccupied for a decade until it burned in 1901. The Georgia veterans finally received support from their state legislature and opened a rebuilt home in 1902.

Alabama—Alabama delayed any serious effort to build a home until 1901, largely because the state’s Reconstruction constitution mandated that a tenth of all state revenues go toward Confederate pensions. The state eventually passed an appropriation to support the Jefferson Manley Faulkner Soldiers’ Home on donated land in 1903.

Mississippi—Only the Mississippi veterans’ home came close to the comfortable elegance and setting of the Kentucky Home. Varina Davis, former First Lady of the Confederacy, turned over the family home, Beauvoir, for use as a soldiers’ home in 1903. Facing the Gulf shore in the little resort town of Biloxi, Beauvoir wasn’t nearly as spacious as Kentucky’s old Villa Ridge Inn.

South Carolina—For more than a decade South Carolina veterans tried to raise money and acquire property before they opened the South Carolina Confederate Infirmary to twelve men in 1909.

Oklahoma—The state veterans’ association organized, lobbied and raised funds to create the Oklahoma Confederate Home in Ardmore. The building still stands. It was eventually turned over to the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans of other wars now walk the hallways there.

California—Dixie Manor was the only facility for aged Confederate soldiers in the far west. It was established in 1929 by the California Division United Daughters of the Confederacy and was located on Clarence Avenue in Los Angeles.