About a month or so ago I saw AncestralFindings.com wrote a blog post about Civil War Medical Cards. These are medical files, for Union Civil War soldiers, and are housed at the National Archives in Washington DC.
These Medical Cards document the health issues of Union Civil War soldiers. If your ancestor was wounded or contracted an illness the details were recorded on a card.
This information is not found in a pension file or in a Compiled Military Service Record. Medical Cards are a file all their own.
The files can contain a lot of information you may not already have, and like all files some cards are may be more detailed than others.
Some of the information you may find on the cards: the injury or illness the soldier suffered, the kind of treatment he received, where he recuperated like a field hospital or a barracks. There’s also the results of his injury or illness such as a surgeons certificate of discharge, return to regiment, or died. There can be a list of the soldiers personal belongings, and even information on the soldiers family or next of kin.
Civil War Medical Cards are available for you to research at the National Archives if you happen to be going there. But even better than that, copies of the files are free upon request.
Let me tell you about my experience.
I went to the National Archives site and emailed, http://www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html – If you scroll down on this link there is an email form further down on the page titled:
“I have a question about research and records at NARA” with a text box to fill in your request. I asked for a copy of three of my ancestors Civil War Medical Cards. I included their name, rank, regiment and company in my request.
Pvt. George W Lowery Co. A 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Pvt. James R Vanmeter Co F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
Cpl. George S Vanmeter Co F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
and then further down on the page was a form for your name, address, etc.
It only took two weeks and I received copies of the Medical Cards of my three ancestors by snail mail. Now their medical cards didn’t contain all the details listed above but I did learn new information on two of the soldiers.
For example my great-great-grandfather, George W Lowery, was wounded in the right chest at the Battle of Cumberland Church on April 7, 1865. That’s all the information I had.
Through his Medical Card I found that his gunshot wound to the right breast received a simple dressing after battle. He went to a field hospital on April 8th in City Point, Virginia. Then on April 15th he was transported on the U.S.A. Hospital Steamer Connecticut to Carver Hospital in Washington DC. He was discharged from the hospital June 7, 1865 and mustered out of the army.
New bits of information on our ancestors is always exciting and this was no exception. I have new leads to follow up.
If your Union Civil War ancestor was ill or injured during the war contact the National Archives for his Medical Cards. This free research information may be just the info you need to tear into a brick wall.