As you go through gathering information for your family tree, somewhere along the way you may well come across ancestor or two who were either military soldiers or sailors during the American Civil War (1861-1865). If they supported the North – the Federal Union they were recognized by ‘Blue’ for their uniform. If they supported the Southern region – the Confederacy they were recognized by ‘Gray’ for their uniform.
To assist in your research for ancestors serving on either side during this time frame, the online database ‘Fold3‘ is offering between April1 to April 15th, free access to their Civil War collection of military documents. Some records consist of pension files, discharge papers, medical documents, enlistment papers, Muster Rolls, photos, maps, claims made by soldiers, as well as records relating to sailors who served. There is information, some 85 million records, cover the Union and the Confederate side.
Once on the site, scan down the selection of categories to make your selection. You can also do a general search by clicking on ‘Civil War Collection’ in the first paragraph which will take you to a page where you can place an ancestor’s name for a search. You may get quite a few items found, but do narrow down the selection to the state the ancestor served with, not necessarily the state they were born in or lived in later.
You can click on Fold3 for each entry to enlarge and read further for each document. Use the ‘Save to’ or enlarge the image and select the ‘download’ button to save to your computer. You just might find a gold mine of documents on one or more ancestors. See if there is a widow’s pension record also, that can provide some new information.
Fold3 also has thousands of Civil War photos and you can search for them by going to the photo section and place a keyword. Suggest placing a battle you ancestor was in rather than their name.
Confederate Month is a month annually designated by six state governments in the Southern United States for the purpose of recognizing and honoring the history of the Confederate States of America. April has traditionally been chosen, as ‘Confederate Memorial Day’ falls during that month in many of these states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia.
If any of your ancestors fought with the Confederacy, search the free 2-week access of Fold3 also for those names, especially if you didn’t find them with any of the northern states. They may have joined the Confederacy, even if they lived in Pennsylvania or any northern state.
Make use of this Fold3 database while it is available.
Photos: Former Union and Confederate soldiers shake hands July 1913 at Gettysburg, marking the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Documents on my great great grandfather, Capt. Joseph Groff, a Union Officer from Maryland. I have done extensive research on this ancestor over the years and the Fold3 site had new additional documents I had not seen before.
Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:
< Return To Blog