Jen Holik and I have had the privilege of writing for the In-Depth Genealogist magazine, Going In-Depth, for the last couple years.
Jen’s column specializes in World War II research. In fact Jen has two books coming out soon, Stories from the World War II Battlefield vol.1 & vol. 2 They’ll cover how to research all branches of the military in World War II. They’re a must have for your WWII research.
Jen and I’ve both been interviewed for the Meet the Writers series for the In-Depth Genealogist. It’s a fun way to learn about us and our research. You can find our interviews on YouTube. Jen’s here. Along with mine here.
After you watch both interviews you’ll see a lot of similarities in the records and sources Jen uses for World War II research and the ones I use in Civil War research.
When Jen and I realized we use similar records we decided to write blog posts comparing the records and strategies for research. Please read Jen’s post today describing her research methods for World War II records.
Here are my suggestions when researching your Civil War ancestor.
Where do you start?
Check the 1860 U.S. Federal Census for the location of your ancestor. You’ll need to know where your ancestor was living just prior to the Civil War to have a better idea which state’s militia he joined. The 1860 U.S. Federal Census can be found several places online like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
Where do I find my ancestor’s enlistment dates and regiment? With his name and where he lived check the several online sources for enlistment info. These sites also list regimental histories which you’ll find valuable, learning about troop movements and battles fought.
*National Parks Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
*Try Individual State rosters too. For example the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Vols. 1-12 can be found online and in local libraries. Search the state roster from where your ancestor served.
Pvt George W Lowery Co. A 81st Pennsylvania
How do I find out more about his military service?
Through Pension Files and CMSR files at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Washington, D.C.
* First check United States Civil War and Later Pension Index 1861 – 1917 to see if your ancestor received a pension or the family applied for one. Index found at FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, Fold3.
* If your ancestor did receive a pension, request a copy from NARA. Using NATF Form 85 it can be ordered online at archives.gov for $ or you can download the form and mail it in. You have the option of receiving hard copies or a cd/dvd for your files.
* Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) also at NARA is a file for each veteran containing muster rolls, pay vouchers, hospital rolls and so on. They can have additional information like muster in and out dates, some limited biographical information: age, eye and hair color, height, weight. These can be ordered with form NATF 86 like the pension files above.
* Confederate soldiers did not receive a pension from the U.S. government. Confederate pensions were given by the individual southern states where the soldier served. NARA site has a listing for each southern state’s archives to contact for Confederate soldiers pensions. http://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/state-archives.html
What can I find in Courthouse Records?
* Soldier’s Discharge Papers – Union veterans did receive discharge papers and were supposed to file them at their local courthouse once back home.
* Money account – In some counties families sent soldiers money via the local courthouse. Soldiers were able to send money home the same way.
* Graves Registration File – file of veterans buried in that particular county.
* Indigent Union Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Interment – if you’ve hit a brick wall, or not sure you’re ancestor was buried by family.
What are some online sources for Civil War research?
* Civil War Draft Registration Records – Ancestry.com
* Special Enumeration of Union Veterans and Widows aka 1890 Veterans Schedule FamilySearch and Ancestry.
* The Official Pension Roll of 1883 – Ancestry and Archive.org
* U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers – FamilySearch and Ancestry
* Confederate veterans – a list of state-run home can be found on the National Archives and Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home Applications for Admission
Where else might I locate information? Your ancestor likely belonged to a veterans group after the war.
* Grand Army of the Republic
Library of Congress – http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/gar/
Grand Army of the Republic Library and Museum – http://garmuslib.org/
* Sons of Union Veterans – http://www.garrecords.org/
* United Confederate Veterans – Archive.org – http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A %22United+Confederate+Veterans%22
* Sons of Confederate Veterans – http://sonsofconfederateveterans.blogspot.com/2011/01/records-of-united-confederate- veterans.html
There’s also more research help in my book, Ancestors in a Nation Divided. Please check it out.
Be sure to check Jen’s post today to learn about researching your WWII veteran!