|➤UPDATE: Irene Triplett died June 1, 2020, at age 90.|
|Irene Triplett: Her father was in Stoneman's rear guard|
(2014 photo and illustration from the Wall Street Journal)
WILKESBORO, N.C.You think the Civil War is ancient history? Think again, fellow taxpayer. As of the 150th anniversary of Stoneman's Raid, there was still one lady living in North Carolina who got a $73.13 check each month from Uncle Sam for her father's service with Kirk's Raiders, an outfit under the command of Gen. George Stoneman that terrorized Boone in 1865.
The Wall Street Journal told the whole story in 2014, which I highly recommend. Here are the details as they relate to Stoneman's Raid.
Irene Triplett was born in 1930, or 65 years after the war, when her father Mose was 83. Mose (1846-1938) had no children with his first wife, Mary Watson. After she died, he remarried in 1924 to 28-year-old Elida "Lydia" Hall. (She was related to Tom Dula, who used the alias Tom Hall when he was a famous fugitive.) They had five children, but only Irene and Everette (1933-1996) lived to adulthood.
Mose Triplett died in 1938, two weeks after participating in the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was housed in the Confederate camp. Triplett told a newspaper he "fooled everybody" and was actually a Union man. "We didn't want to leave the Union, but our neighbors did," he said.Triplett actually fought on both sides.
A native of western Watauga County, he went to neighboring Wilkes County at age 16 to volunteer for the Confederacy's 26th North Carolina Infantry. Six months later, as his regiment marched toward Gettysburg, he developed a fever and was hospitalized in Danville, Va., from where he deserted in June 1863. Whatever his motives, that decision may have saved his life: Of the 800 men in the 26th North Carolina, close to 700 were killed, wounded, or captured at Gettysburg.
A little over a year later, in August 1864, Triplett enlisted in the Union's 3rd North Carolina Mounted Infantry under the notorious Col. George Washington Kirk. These mountain men became known as "Home Yankees" for their fierce loyalty to the Union. We can assume that Triplett was among those who took advantage of the occupation of Boone to exact vengeance against Confederate neighbors in Watauga County.
"He served his time out with the Union so he would get a pension," his grandson Charlie Triplett told the Wall Street Journal. (Charlie is Everette's son and Irene's nephew). The $877 annual pension was approved in 1885 and continued 135 years through his daughter, who was eligible because of a mental disability. Click here to watch an interview with Charlie and Irene.
After the war, "Uncle Mose" settled at the foot of the mountains in Wilkes County, where neighbors knew him as a hard man. One newspaper clipping describes him keeping a pet rattlesnake. "He sat on the front porch with his old military pistol and shot walnuts off the trees just to let people know he had a gun," his grandson said.
He is buried along with his first wife and four children of his second wife in a family cemetery in the Ferguson community of western Wilkes County. His gravestone says, "He was a Civil War soldier."
|Though Triplett's father was pro-Union,|
it is unlikely that he actually voted for Lincoln,
who was not on the ballot in North Carolina nor Tennessee.