Are you or a family member researching your Civil War ancestor?




Check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle and also in paperback. Great research help as you start to learn about your family in the Civil War.


I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly tipsFinding more on your Civil War ancestor here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!

My 3 best online sites to begin your Civil War research all are Free!

Civil War blog reading

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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.

Family Search

Continue researching your Civil War ancestor at the 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!

Cyndi’s List

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.

Continue reading

I appreciate your spare time!

Genealogy CircleWe’re all pretty busy anymore, aren’t we? Whether we work full time, part time or are retired there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done! You know what I’m saying and I’m right there with you.

I also know how valuable your spare moments are and I’m grateful you spend a few of yours here with me. If you’re a regular reader you probably already know I research Civil War soldiers, learning their stories, sharing and preserving them so they’re not lost to history.

I also write about how you can start your research on your own Civil War ancestor or continue it. I explain the how-to and whys of finding out about his military service.

I include tips on research with links, examples of research found and some history on battles, available record sets, etc.

My goal here is to help family historians learn how to uncover their ancestors Civil War experiences and document what they find to share with future generations.

Thank you for all the times you’ve stopped by and read my posts. I appreciate your spare time. I’ve recently updated my About page. Please take a look at it and I hope you’ll continue spending a few moments with me here at Genealogy Circle. It’s always nice to meet up again.

Re-energize Your Research! Re-energize You!


Photo Credit: ctr @

The last couple weeks have been busy at our house. Celebrating Easter, Confirmation and the final tournament of club volleyball season has kept my little family on the go. You know how it is, with all these events packed into a couple weeks. There’s less researching, less writing, less Facebook time and less Twitter on my part.

At first I was really bothered by that. No blog posts! Few tweets! Everyone will forget me! Oh no! The earth will quit turning! But as the days went by and I enjoyed my family events I realized the sun came up every morning even without a new blog post or Facebook message from me.

Maybe it’s happened before to you too. The pressure you feel (probably self-imposed) to keep up with social media, along with your blog writing and blog reading. Somehow we get in the mindset that pushing harder for more blog posts, more tweets, more of everything makes us smarter and much more professional. Then if it doesn’t get done a small somewhat frantic panic sets in. There’s so much “computer work” to do and what if I don’t get it all done! I’ve felt just that way these past couple weeks but you know what? I came to a realization.

It’s okay to step away from the grid now and then. We need time to re-energize and to restore our enthusiasm for genealogy, our research, in fact our daily life!

My online dictionary tells me this about re-energize:

rē-ˈenərjīz/ verb; give fresh vitality, enthusiasm, or impetus to

You know what? That’s exactly what stepping away has done for me these past couple weeks. In the time away I’ve done some thinking about my writing and research. I’ve spent some quiet time planning what direction I want my blog to take. I feel good about my decisions. I feel refreshed. I’m ready to get back on track. I found that I’m more than ready to learn, to research and write again. I want to jump back into social media and see what my friends have been up to and you know what? I don’t feel guilty about the time spent with those who mean the most to me or the moments I spent listening to my own thoughts.

Every now and then I think we all should unplug for a few days. No stressing about it, just enjoying some time to ourselves. We all need to regroup now and again and how much better our contributions will be if we’re enthusiastic and re-energized! So look at your calendar and take some time to unplug. I am!

Using Newspapers in your Civil War Research


Photo Credit: boria at

**Newspapers may be one of the last resources you have on your Civil War ancestor check list. In fact as a family historian you may shy away from newspapers. Genealogists are well aware that newspapers, although chock full of history including names and dates can be tedious to research. Many historical newspapers are still not indexed so the researcher needs to select an approximate date and physically scan page after page for any information or a reference to information regarding their ancestor. UGH!

Please don’t let this put you off from researching your Civil War ancestor via newspapers. There is so much to learn about this turbulent era of our country’s history by reading the articles, ads and editorials of the day. Reading historical newspapers really puts you in your ancestor’s footprints. It’s almost like a form of time travel.

Start off by checking the local newspapers from your Civil War veteran’s hometown or locale during the war. The search will produce articles about the regiments that were raised in the area as well as citing soldiers’ by name. These articles may list battles fought, some in extensive detail, naming those injured, killed or missing from the regiment.

Many times soldiers themselves wrote home about their own personal experiences and that of the regiment. The local papers would print those letters in their entirety. There were two newspapers in my hometown during the Civil War. Captain Mart Armstrong, Co. B 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry wrote a weekly letter home that was printed by both newspapers. From training drills in camp to actual combat the folks at home were kept apprised of their hometown hero’s military life.

The political fervor of your Civil War ancestor’s hometown is also revealed in era newspapers. I just assumed living in the Yankee north this area was a big backer of President Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Reading newspaper articles from that time I find this area had a good many “Peace Democrat” or “Copperhead” residents that were vocal during the presidential campaign.

Along with articles and letters about the regiments movements hometown papers also have snippets about daily life and how the residents were doing their part to support their boys in the war. Some of these columns are just as interesting and important as reading about the soldiers themselves.

Gleaning all this information from historical newspapers helps the researcher better understand your Civil War ancestor, the climate of the times he lived in and perhaps his view on the events unfolding around him. Continue reading