Weird History
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Last Survivors From Major Conflicts In History

Updated June 13, 2021 2.9k votes 411 voters 15.5k views14 items

List RulesVote up the last survivors from historical conflicts whose lives are a testament to the past.

As major wars, battles, revolutions, and conflicts of various kinds take place throughout history, it can be easy to overlook some of the people who took part in those events. We may know which side emerged victorious, but the names and faces of the participants get lost to the past. Those who survive go on to live their lives, maybe being recognized for their actions, maybe not. Eventually, someone becomes the last person present at any given historical happening - whether they, or anyone else, knew it at the time.

Some final survivors of historical conflicts are known - ones who witnessed truly remarkable events. We've collected some here; take a look and vote up the ones whose lives and stories fascinate you the most. 

  • 5

    Albert Woolson, Last Survivor Of The American Civil War

    Albert Woolson served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Born in 1850, he was 14 years old when he enlisted in 1864. At first, Woolson was a rifleman, but then shifted to drummer before becoming a bugler. As a member of the Minnesota Heavy Artillery, he was stationed with the reserve unit in Tennessee in 1865. 

    Woolson was discharged in September 1865 and went on to a career in music before working as a boiler inspector and teaching both mechanical engineering and music. While Woolson never fired a shot at the Confederates during the conflict, he represented "all the great virtues of the common, ordinary citizen" and served as the model for the "Last Survivor" monument to the Grand Army of the Republic at Gettysburg National Military Park. He passed in 1956 at the age of 106.

    Amazing witness to history?
  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Florence Green, Last Surviving Participant Of World War I

    When Florence Green passed in 2012, she was 110 years old. A native of London, she served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War I. Then Florence Patterson, she joined the Women's Auxiliary of the RAF in 1918 when she was just 17. Her service as steward began two months before the conflict ended, but she remained in the RAF until July 1919.

    Green told the BBC in 2010 that she "learned a lot of different things" while serving food at various military locations in England. In another interview with the Daily Mail that same year, she recalled meeting dozens of pilots and going on dates, but never taking them up on their offers to go up in one of their planes. Green was afraid to fly. 

    Amazing witness to history?
  • 7

    Daniel Bakeman, Last Man To Receive A Pension For Serving In The American Revolutionary War

    There are different ways to determine the last survivors of the American Revolutionary War, one being verification. John Gray, who passed in 1868, claimed to be the last survivor, having joined the Colonial Army in 1780. Because he only served for a few months, he wasn't eligible for a pension. He appealed and was awarded a retroactive pension by Congress, with payment starting in 1866. Gray perished two years later. 

    Another candidate for last survivor of the Revolutionary War is Lemuel Cook. While Cook perished in 1866, he was the last veteran who received a pension as a result of his service upon discharge. He fought with the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons and his discharge papers were signed by George Washington.

    Still one more contender is Daniel Bakeman, who passed in 1869. Bakeman received a pension for service during the Revolutionary War. The only evidence of his service, however, comes from his pension application, which was submitted - and approved - in 1867.

    Amazing witness to history?
  • 8

    Nathan E. Cook, Last US Veteran Of The Boxer Rebellion

    When Nathan E. Cook passed in 1992, he was 106 years old. At the time, he was believed to be the oldest living US veteran. He was only 15 when he enlisted in the US Navy in 1901, having lied about his age to do so. Cook spent 44 years in the military, first as a cabin boy on the USS Pensacola and later as a naval commander during World War I.

    As a member of the Navy, Cook reportedly sailed around the world no fewer than four times. He was active in the Spanish-American War and Philippine-American War (1898-1902), as well as the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901). He also took part in operations to combat border skirmishes with Mexican revolutionaries in 1916 and 1917, finally leaving the military after he was injured during World War II. Cook wasn't hurt in combat, however. He was reportedly run over by a truck while on shore patrol. 

    Amazing witness to history?