“General”John Salling : Virginia’s Last Confederate Veteran?

The front page of the program for the dedication of memorial marker for John Salling in Scott County, Virginia. The monument was erected by the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

John Salling of Slant, Virginia, in Scott County, was long recognized as Virginia’s last surviving Confederate veteran.  In recognition of his service, the state of Virginia issued him a pension from 1933 until his death in 1959, at which time Salling claimed to be 112 years old. Doubt was first cast on Salling’s credibility upon his application for a state pension. When Pension Clerk John H. Johnson was unable to find evidence of Salling’s war record at the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia) which maintained the records of the Department of Confederate Military Records, he required Salling to provide a sworn statement of his service to the Pension Office. Salling submitted an affidavit before a notary public of Scott County certifying that he enlisted in Company D, 25th Virginia Regiment, under Capt. James R. Collins. Salling also stated that he was detailed throughout the war to work in the saltpeter mines in the Dekalb District of Scott County. Salling’s application was approved in April 1933 and he received a monthly pension of twenty-one dollars. In his February 1991 article “The Great Imposters” in Blue and Gray Magazine, Civil War historian William Marvel invalidates John Salling’s claim using census records which place his birth in 1858, not 1846 as Salling long maintained.  Additionally, Life Magazine ran an article in 1953 featuring Salling and other aged Confederate veterans.  The magazine’s online archive states that many supposed veterans misrepresented their age or military service in order to qualify for pensions issued by several Southern states, especially during the Great Depression when Salling first applied.

The Library of Virginia houses Salling’s initial pension application from 1933 which can be viewed on the Library’s Web site along with those of thousands of other Confederate veterans and widows on the Confederate pension rolls (Confederate Pension Rolls). In addition, a recently processed collection from the Department of Accounts Confederate Pension Records (Accession 44105) documents annual pension certificates and pension payroll cards for Salling and his fellow pensioners. This latter collection also documents pensions to maiden or widowed daughters of Confederate veterans, a resource not available on the online pension rolls.

Although the Confederate Pension Rolls and recently processed Confederate Pension Records neither confirm nor deny Salling’s claim, in the eyes of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he was, in fact, who he said he was.  On 15 May 1961, a memorial marker was dedicated in memory of John Salling in Slant, Virginia, as “Virginia’s Last Confederate Veteran.”

-Craig Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist

12 Comments

  1. Katheryne Cowan said:
    6 October 2010 at 8:45 am

    From the article about John Salling, I find this sentence: “Additionally, Life Magazine ran an article in 1953 featuring Salling and other aged Confederate veterans.” Does anyone know WHICH 1953 issue this was?

    • Dale said:
      6 October 2010 at 9:22 am

      The article according to the index should be in the June 1, 1953 issue on page 2. We found the information on Life’s website http://www.life.com/ Life does not allow us to link directly to the article. In the search bar on the top right-hand corner just type John Salling and you will see links to the photographs. I believe the website contains many photographs that were not published in 1953. Thanks for reading!

      • Katheryne Cowan said:
        6 October 2010 at 10:14 am

        Thanks, I’ve been to the life.com website. Very nice.

  2. Dale said:
    7 October 2010 at 12:38 pm

    We are grateful to Ann Avery Hunter of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for sharing with us the photograph of Salling she took at the final reunion of the United Confederate Veterans in 1951 at Norfolk, Virginia. “I was 16 at the time and was there with my mother’s cousin, Daisy Lester Avery, an ardent (United Daughters of the Confederacy) member,” she wrote. Thank you for allowing us to share the photograph with our readers Ann!

  3. George Salling said:
    29 March 2012 at 1:59 pm

    My great great Uncle John

    • Beckie Mostello said:
      17 January 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Hi George ,
      How are you related. Do you know who John Salling’s father was?
      Thank You

  4. Beckie said:
    2 September 2013 at 10:15 pm

    am researching my husband’s family tree. John B Salling is his great- great Grandfather. I have collected several articles about him. We are trying to learn more about his mother Caroline Salling and his father who is unknown because he is listed as a slave?? She lived on her Grandmother Matilda Carter Salling’s Farm where she had 4 children from the Slaves on her grandmother’s farm.
    Any info you would have to find his father’s name would be wonderful.

  5. Gary Hood said:
    13 December 2013 at 7:54 pm

    As a U.S. Army photographer in 1959, I was sent to film John Sallings funeral. He lie in state in the National Guard Armory in Gate City, VA. There were so many people we had to stay upstairs in the local funeral home which was downtown Gate City. Lots of memories…

  6. Beckie Mostello said:
    17 January 2014 at 5:12 pm

    My husband is one of John Salling’s great x3 son through John’s daughter Nancy. In several articles I have researched about John Salling, it says his father was a slave. I cannot find any information on John’s father. The odd thing is that my husband had his DNA tested. The only possibly African ethnicity that appeared in my husband’s DNA was Iberian Pennisula, Spain, Portugal. No traces of African. So how can this be when most articles say his father was a slave. I am guessing his father may have been a man of color but not a slave? Any thoughts would be helpful. Thank you.

  7. Beckie Mostello said:
    17 January 2014 at 5:17 pm

    We also have several photos & articles from the funeral. My husband’s Grandmother was John’s Granddaughter, Rose Aurrichio Mostello

  8. Jacqueline Jordan said:
    13 February 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Hello. Just wondering who all this family tree was. Me salling is actually my great grandfather. His daughter is my grandmother and I remember great granny well. She lived into her later 90s and was sharp as a tack. I would love to hear from some of you people and your family trees please. Would be wonderful
    Jdjordan9@hotmail.com

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*