It's exciting to see an ancestor's handwriting and his or her own words used in the application.
Because witnesses who knew about the veteran's service were required to sign, the veteran or his widow had to find them in their home county at the time of the war. Until looking at statements by witnesses, I had no idea that my ancestor had moved over two hundred miles after the war. Because his name matches that of several other men, I might never have picked up his family line in this distant county without reading the pension application carefully.
For what it's worth, most people living in the postwar South appear to have been indigent.