Valley of the Shadow
The Aftermath
Spring 1865–Fall 1870

Southern Claims Commission Papers

The United States Congress created the Southern Claims Commission on March 3, 1871, so that pro-Union Southerners who had lost property to invading Union armies could request compensation. Congress most likely took this step to help calm the sectional tensions of the Reconstruction era. There were also some clear political motivations underlying the creation of the Commission—northern Republicans had long hoped that Southern Unionists would join the Republican Party, and they hoped to cement their allegiance as the former Confederate states returned to full representation in Congress.

Congress initially expected the Commission’s duties to last for two years, but they extended its life until 1879 due to the overwhelming number of claims they received. During those nine years, Southerners filed 22,298 cases, claiming more than $60 million in damages. Special Commissioners were appointed to take testimony in cities and towns throughout the former Confederate states, so that claimants did not have to travel to Washington, D.C.

Each claimant filed a petition and testified before the Special Commissioner, answering a list of fifty-seven to eighty standing questions that the Commission had created. (There were actually three different lists—the Commission created the original list, with 57 questions, in 1871, expanding it in 1872, and again in 1874. The 1874 list is posted on this site.) The claimant then called witnesses, who also testified before the Special Commissioner. Many claimants also sent notarized letters from acquaintances who were not available to testify. The three members of the Claims Commission, Asa Owen Aldis, Orange Ferris, and James B. Howell (all northern Republicans), read each file and made a recommendation to the House of Representatives, who ultimately had the power to grant remuneration.

In order to receive compensation, claimants had to satisfy four general requirements:

  1. Claimant held United States citizenship
  2. Claimant resided in a state that had seceded
  3. Claimant could prove his or her loyalty to the United States throughout the Civil War
  4. United States troops had taken the claimant’s goods for official army purposes

The testimony that accompanied each claim addressed both the loyalty of the claimant and the circumstances under which the property had been confiscated. Ultimately, only 7,092 claimants—or about one third—satisfied all four requirements and received compensation for their property. The total cost of satisfying these claims came to $4,636,930. 137 residents of Augusta County filed claims between 1871 and 1879, but the Commission only allowed 36 of these claims.

A few of the disallowed claims received a second consideration in the 1890s. Under the terms of the Bowman Act (March 3, 1883) and the Tucker Act (March 3, 1887), claimants could transfer their cases to the Congressional Court of Claims and ask for an appeal on unfavorable findings. Forty-two residents of Augusta County, most under the guidance of Washington, D.C., lawyer Gilbert Moyers, appealed their cases to the Court of Claims, often taking new testimony before filing a series of legal briefs. These appeals sometimes lasted years; the final judgments for some Augusta County claimants did not come until 1906.

Each case file contains a petition, which included a list of all confiscated property and a summary of the testimony, and testimony from the claimant and at least one witness. Many claimants called several witnesses, and some also appended letters and receipts. A number of the files contain memoranda from the War Department Archives Office, comprising further evidence regarding the claimant’s loyalty. Finally, each file contains a summary sheet listing the value of the property claimed, whether the claim was allowed or disallowed, and the Commissioners’ comments on the case. Files for cases referred to the Court of Claims usually also contain additional testimony and briefs by lawyers for the claimant and the government.

You can browse Augusta County claims by the name of the claimant or search by date or keyword. Each claim has a short summary, which you can read on the browsing pages. The claims begin with the Commissioners’ chart and summary, and then continue with testimony and any additional evidence. In most cases, the claimant’s testimony is listed first. When the claimant appealed his case to the Court of Claims, those legal briefs are also included.

Of the 137 claims from Augusta County, 106 are included on the site. According to the National Archives, some 2,000 allowed claims were inadvertently destroyed between 1879 and 1950, including 12 from Augusta County. Nineteen additional claims, presumably all disallowed, were also unavailable. The following lists contain the names of all claimants from Augusta County:

Allowed Claims

  • Andrew J. Acord
  • Robert E. Alexander
  • Alexander Anderson
  • Mary Blackburn
  • John Brown
  • Thomas Calbreath
  • Frederick K. Cline [Kline]
  • Frederick M. Cline
  • Joseph M. Cline
  • Rebecca Coffman
  • Ellen C. Cox
  • James K. East
  • Lydia Fishburn
  • Abraham D. Garber
  • Elizabeth Garber
  • Martin Garber
  • William W. Hailey
  • G.W. Hess
  • Jacob Hess
  • George W. Hollar
  • Ephraim Hulvey
  • Samuel D. Humbert
  • Thomas and Nancy Jefferson
  • Christian Landes
  • John Miller
  • David Myers
  • Waller Odor
  • Samuel D. Stover
  • Philip D. Swisher
  • Samuel H. Swisher
  • Hiram Thompson
  • David Thornton
  • Matthew Tisdale
  • David Wampler
  • George Ware

Disallowed Claims

  • Richard Anderson
  • George L. Arehart
  • Benjamin T. Bagley
  • Mary Baker
  • John H. Bates
  • James W. Beard
  • David Bowers
  • Jacob Bowman
  • David Buchanan
  • John R. Buchanan
  • William Bull
  • John Bumgardner
  • Jacob B. Carwell
  • George Craun
  • Joseph H. Craun
  • James F. Davis
  • Lewis Defenbaugh
  • Henry DeMasters
  • Harriet Doom
  • Samuel Driver
  • Henry K. Eakle
  • Peter Elinger
  • John Engleman
  • William D. Ewing
  • John B. Fauver
  • Daniel Fishburn
  • Adam Fix
  • John H. Fix
  • Joseph Flory
  • David Fultz
  • George W. Furr
  • Eli A. Garber
  • Reuben A. Garber
  • Samuel Garber
  • William Gibson
  • Thomas J. Gilbert
  • Samuel Glick
  • David Gutherie
  • Hannah M. Hanger
  • Thomas Hayden
  • William D. Hemp
  • Jacob L. Humbert
  • Julia Hurley
  • John K. Keiser
  • Elias Kindig
  • Christian Kline
  • John W. Landes
  • William A. Landes
  • Abraham Lavell
  • Adams Lushbaugh
  • John A. Mann
  • William L. Masincup
  • Amelia McCray
  • Daniel Miller
  • Henry Mish
  • Hays Moffett
  • Medley Moore
  • Franklin H. Myers
  • Jacob Myers
  • Andrew J. Palmer
  • Christian Palmer
  • John Price
  • John D. Price
  • James S. Quick
  • Kilburn H. Rowsey
  • John Ruebush
  • David Sansabaugh
  • Peter Sheets
  • Abner Shumake
  • Simon Stickley
  • William Stickley
  • Jacob Stover
  • Simon P. Stover
  • William V. Strough
  • Julius C. Waddle
  • Benjamin F. Wampler
  • John Wampler
  • Jonas Wampler
  • Isaac Ware
  • John Wine Jr.

Other Claims

(Unknown if allowed or disallowed)

  • Alexander Andrews
  • Benjamin J. Craig
  • Samuel Crickenberger
  • Jacob Crumbaker
  • John Dettor
  • John Glick
  • William R. Hicks
  • Samuel Huffman
  • John M. Humbert
  • Valentine Hupman
  • Joseph F. Niswander
  • George Peters
  • Peter Ruebush
  • Albert Sheets
  • Moses B. Smart
  • Daniel Stover
  • Henry Tutwiler
  • David Wampler
  • Joseph Williams


  • Susanna Michelle Lee, “Claiming the Union: Stories of Loyalty in the Post-Civil War South.” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia, 2005.
  • Gary B. Mills, Southern Loyalists in the Civil War: The Southern Claims Commission (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994).