The Civil War is the one single event in our country’s history that still captures a lot of attention today. More books are published and read about the Civil War every year than any other era in our history. Maybe you’ve even wondered if your ancestor(s) played a role in this powerful time in our county’s history. Nearly 3 million men from both the north and south fought in the war. All these men left their homes and families to fight for their beliefs. It’s more than likely one, if not several, of your ancestors participated.
So, where do you begin as you search for your ancestors place in this monumental struggle known as the Civil War? First look through your family tree at the generation of men born in the late 1820’s, the 1830’s and 1840’s. Also, remember many youths lied about their age and served when only 16 or 17 years old. So flexibility with dates is a plus! Now where do you go from here?
National Parks Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System
Armed with a name try finding your potential soldier at the National Parks Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System Database. It’s a good, free website provided by the National Parks System. While there be sure to click on the Tools page and Info page. There’s a lot of great information available and many details on regiments and battles. Knowing a little about the battles your ancestor fought in puts you in his footsteps. How far from home was he? Did his regiment move often? Did he see major casualties? All these variables were sure to change him forever and certainly helps the genealogist identify with their ancestor.
Continue researching your Civil War ancestor at the FamilySearch.org site. Along with their database this free site, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has info pages, video demos, a blog, and free courses. There’s a lot to find on this site beside the records you’re searching for and all free!
Another avenue to follow as you research your Civil War ancestor is Cyndi’s List. This is not a database where you’ll find your particular soldier listed but a compilation of links when researching your Union, Confederate, and African-American soldiers. There’s listings for battlefields and battles, prisoners and prisons, censuses, and the lists go on and on. With links to just about every Civil War internet site known to mankind you could quite possibly spend the rest of your life pursuing leads from Cyndi’s List alone. Stop here when you have time on your hands.