The American Civil War, 1861 to 1865, was one of America’s most bloodiest conflict with brother against brother in many cases. For genealogical researchers it also today one of the most fascinating aspect of looking for ancestors; to see who served on which side and what happened.
In beginning any such journey, first list those known ancestors of the appropriate age range, those born between 1815 and 1845. Some would be a bit too old and others too young, however you never know which may have lied about their age. If you know that ancestor did not even immigrate to America until after 1865, they can be eliminated right away.
Using the online site Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System can provide the basic information to help determine if a relative did serve during the war. From the records with the National Archives and Records Administration there is a database of some 6.3 million soldiers and sailors, both Union and Confederate, representing those who served from 44 states and territories. This database includes some 18,000 African Americans who served.
Another feature of the site is the histories of some 4,000 Union and Confederate regiments. Most soldier’s listing include the regiment they served with, so this history of each regiment during the war is invaluable to the researcher.
Included is the listing of some 1,200 soldiers and sailors who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The records of the Union prisoners at Andersonville, Georgia and the Confederate prisoners held at Fort McHenry in Maryland are another great aspect to the database.
When beginning a research on the site, go first to ‘soldiers’ search. Place the surname, whether Union or Confederate and the state they served from. There is also a section for the unit number and whether the soldier was infantry, cavalry or other. These portions maybe unknown, so don’t worry about placing a response. The best approach is by surname, state and which side first.
Placing the surname ‘Everhart’, ‘Maryland’ and ‘Union’ produced five names, of which two were the same individual, one with his full first name and the other with initials. The other two was the same person, but one with more details on the regiment. So there were actual three different individuals listed.
Clicking on a name gave the name, regiment name, company name and the soldier’s rank, along with the National Archives microfilm number on that person. Clicking on the regiment name provided all the posts the regiment served at, the dates and the battles it fought in. Clicking on each battle provided even more details.
Once you have found a Civil war ancestor, order from the National Archives and Records Administration copies of the service record and even more important their complete pension files. This is where the greatest amount of information on the soldier and his family can be located. The NARA does not have Confederate soldier’s pension files, the individual state they served under would have those documents.
Obtaining the military and pension records for a Civil War ancestor soldier is a wonderful boost to anyone’s research.< Return To Blog