How to Find Your Civil War Ancestor

Tens of millions of Individuals descend from a Civil Struggle veteran. However how have you learnt if one in all your ancestors did (if any)? Listed here are some straightforward steps to take to seek out you Civil Struggle ancestor and learn how to begin digging deeper into navy information.

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Did Your Ancestor Serve within the Civil Struggle?

Roughly 3 million males served within the American Civil Struggle. That could be a giant quantity, however it isn’t the full inhabitants of military-age males. Earlier than you begin digging into navy information, it’s best to search for clues that your ancestor even served.

Take a look at residence. Do you have got any photographs of him in uniform? How about letters or journals? Any memorabilia from regimental reunions? (Be sure you ask your cousins if they’ve something like this, too!)

Take a look at his delivery date. The vast majority of troopers and sailors have been born between 1820 and 1845. (That is a median, and there are exceptions, akin to Johnny Clem, the drummer boy of Chicamauga who was born in 1851.)

In case your ancestor matches these years, check out his obituary and tombstone. In his obituary, search for a point out of Civil Struggle service or his membership in a navy fraternal group, such because the Grand Military of the Republic. His tombstone might have symbols indicating navy service. You would possibly get fortunate and have his precise service spelled out for you!

tombstones with military symbols including crossed flags and the Grand Army of the Republic insignia

If he died after 1910, search for him within the 1910 federal census. Column 30 asks if he was a survivor of the Union or Accomplice Military or Navy. Search for the letters UA, UN, CA, or CN on this column.

Discovering a Civil Struggle Veteran’s Regiment

After you have got an concept that he served, you’ll want to find out what regiment he served in (or what vessel he served on, if he was within the navy). Many Civil Struggle information are both organized by regiment or use the regiment as a solution to determine the right individual. (They didn’t assign troopers serial numbers like they do now.) With virtually 3 million males who served, likelihood is good that there’s multiple individual along with your ancestor’s identify. (I believed I used to be doing properly with my ancestor Eber Johnson. Even with that uncommon first identify, there’s nonetheless multiple Civil Struggle soldier with that identify.) Figuring out your ancestor’s regiment will assist you understand if the file you’re is for him or somebody with the identical identify.

When you’re fortunate, that obituary or tombstone you checked out earlier will spell out the data. If not…

Search for him or his widow in the 1890 Particular Schedule of Union Veterans and Widows. This schedule nonetheless exists for about half of Kentucky, then alphabetically by the remainder of the states. (So, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee researchers, you’re good. Sorry, people who find themselves researching in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa.) That is accessible on Ancestry, FamilySearch, and most different main family tree web sites. (You could find out extra in regards to the 1890 Particular Schedule right here.)

If he was a Union veteran, search for him within the pension indices. The one which’s on Ancestry is the alphabetical index, and it usually contains the identify of the widow. There’s an organizational/regimental index on FamilySearch, which hyperlinks to the pictures on Fold3. (Notice: FamilySearch has the index, however once you click on by to Fold3, you’ll be able to usually learn the preview picture properly sufficient even in the event you aren’t a Fold3 subscriber.) This organizational index normally contains the veteran’s date and place of dying. By utilizing each indices, you’ll be able to normally piece collectively sufficient data to inform if it’s your individual or not.

When you’re researching a Accomplice veteran, you’ll nonetheless wish to search for his obituary and tombstone, however you received’t discover him within the pension indexes I simply talked about. As an alternative, if he received a pension, it will have been by one of many former Accomplice states, or Kentucky, Missouri, or Oklahoma. Happily, many Accomplice pensions have been digitized and can be found without cost on FamilySearch.

Most regiments (or at the very least firms inside regiments) have been raised domestically. So in the event you can decide which regiments have been raised the place your ancestor lived, you’ll be able to slim down the chances of what regiments he served in. Use Google, test the native family tree society’s web site, and seek the advice of county histories.

The Key to Civil Struggle Analysis Success

The important thing to doing profitable Civil Struggle analysis is to maintain your ancestor’s identification in thoughts. When was he born? Who did he marry? The place did he dwell? When did he die, and the place is he buried? Evaluating that data to what you see on the navy information will assist you understand if that file pertains to your ancestor or simply somebody with the identical identify.

Steered Studying:

Take a look at these different posts about Civil Struggle analysis:

  • “Utilizing Grand Military of the Republic Data for Civil Struggle Analysis”
  • “10 Sources for Discovering Civil Struggle Burials”
  • “5 Sources for Civil Struggle Unit Histories”
  • “What Did Your Civil Struggle Ancestor Look Like”
  • “Utilizing the 1890 Civil Struggle Veterans Census”


Need to get extra out of your on-line searches? Click on to get a free copy of my information “5 On-line Search Methods Each Genealogist Ought to Know”


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