Once you have figured out one of your ancestors served in the United States military, you do need to see if there are any pension records housed at the US National Archives. The online site ‘Genealogy Research in Military‘ just might prove to be invaluable in gathering more information on that ancestor.
It is not just those who served in times of war but even the career or long-term military soldier. During the numerous wars and conflicts there were millions of American men and women in the military. So the possible wars covered by the National Archives range from the American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War of 1840s, Civil War, Spanish American War of 1890s, and up to 1912. The most recent wars, including World War I, many of those records are held in personnel records (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri. If an ancestor served with their state militia, then those records are with the individual states.
Besides actually going to Washington, D. C. to search the archives, you can review some of the indexes on the National Archives site. However the best is to put in a written request to the archives (Textual Archives Services Division Washington, D.C. 20408) for copies of all available service and pension documents, photos, and records on a specific person. You would fill out form NATF 86. You can also order online. Make sure you do request all information.
Always provide as much details as you can. The ancestor’s full name (include different spellings), where they lived when they served, where they lived later, their birth year (even a good guess will help), their death date and the years they may have been in the military. If you know which branch (Army vs Navy) include that information. There is a fee to research and copy the archive’s documents to be mailed to you, but well worth having those copies.
You just might be really surprised on how much is in the archives on an ancestor. Again, if you have not requested those documents, make that a special project right away.
Photos: George W. Bladrige, of Indiana, in 1848 who serviced during the Mexican War, two soldiers during the Spanish-American War of 1898 and document about Pvt. Nathaniel D. Adsit who served in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
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