War of 1812 Veteran Pension Files

war-1812When the new United States was at war with the United Kingdom again in the early 19th century, it was known as the War of 1812, which actually occurred from June 18, 1812 to February 18, 1815. Those Americans who would have fought in that conflict would have been born roughly 1770 to 1795. They would have been too young to be involved during the American Revolutionary War and too old to serve during the American Civil War.

The veterans (soldiers and sailors) and their surviving spouses later were allowed to submit an application for a pension for their military service. Those records have been held by the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and now have been made digital. They are available on the Free FamilySearch.org site or on the for paid fee Ancestry.com site.

At first pensions were first granted to soldiers and sailors who were disabled while in the service and to heirs of soldiers who died during the war. The application requirements for a pension were expanded to all who had service and that was granted February 1871 then expanded in March 1878 for those with only a very short service record. So if the veteran, spouse or children were not living in 1870s, no application would have been filled out. Those who were living, locating these pension applications can provide a good deal of information. On these online sites it is just an index of the information. If you do find an ancestor had such an application, you can write to the National archives for a copy of the complete pension application.

war-1812-battle-of-new-orleansThe main information with the online indexes is the veteran’s name, their age, place of residence and their service data (dates and places of enlistment and discharge, organization, rank, etc.).

Using either of the online sites, place a surname and only include a given name if the surname is very common. With given names there are different forms and also initials may have been used. Various forms of the surname spelling will be on the list provided. For example, the surname ‘Groff’ can also have ‘Graff’, so check possible spellings offered.

The widows of veterans could apply for his pension and the death date would be provided. What is amazing is some of the short terms of military service some veterans had and yet they or their widow were able to correct a pension. Some service was for 3 or less months total.

war-1812-burning-whNot all the applications have complete information. Sometimes just a name and the service data is all on the form.

To get a comparison of how much a pension might have been, the veterans of the American Revolutionary War got $8 a month pension.

So go through your family tree and see if any relatives show up on the list of those applying for a War of 1812 Pension.

Photos: War of 1812; Battle of New Orleans; Burning of the White House by the British

Related FamilyTree.com genealogy blogs:

What War Did Your Ancestors Serve In?

Privateers During War of 1812

Forgotten War of 1812 Veterans

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