State finds it wronged a widow

Staff WriterJuly 22, 2011 

— Along with clarity, the North Carolina Civil War Death Study brought delayed credit to Virgil Covit and his forsaken widow.

Covit, a Chatham County soldier conscripted into the service in 1864, died shortly after his portion of the fighting began.

So in 1885, when the state allowed Confederate women to apply for pension benefits, Mrs. Covit sought her husband's share.

But for some reason, state officials searched for his service record under the name "Virgil Covert." Josh Howard, historian at the state Office of Archives and Records, figures she must have spoken the name aloud and not been literate enough to catch the bureaucrat's mistake.

Benefits denied.

But 150 years later, Howard turned up Virgil Covit with all the same vital statistics. Same age. Same conscript camp. Same time of death. He also served with a regiment of engineers, which pulled soldiers from all over the South, and whose records might have been unavailable in Raleigh.

"We're giving the guy credit," Howard said.

He knew of no living relatives who might collect the long-overdue reward.

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