CIVIL WAR UNITS (CWUNITS) FILE FAQ


Last update June 22, 2014


0.0  Does this file tell me how to do Civil War research?


No, just how to use the Civil War Units File.  (For what the file is,

please see below.)  There are many other resources in libraries, on

the web, etc.; we do not keep lists of those.


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This file has questions and answers in the following sections:

1.0 What is the Civil War Units File?

2.0 How can I access the Civil War Units File?

3.0 How do I use the Civil War Units File?

4.0 What is involved in being listed as a contact?

5.0 How can I link to the file from my web site?


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1.0 WHAT IS THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?


1.1 What is the file for?


The purpose of the CWUNITS file is to list people who have information

on a specific unit that participated in the American Civil War and are

willing to help others research that unit.  If you are looking for

information on an individual, you are most likely to find this file

helpful if you know which state and unit he served in.


Most of this information comes from books, pension records, etc. Many

of the contact people on this list had ancestors in "their" units, but

all who are interested are welcome.  Please note, this is not a file

of reenactment units.


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1.2 What is the structure of the file?


CWUNITS is five files (plus one for the FAQ) as follows:


Part  Contents

1     USA national & states A-I

2     USA states K-N

3     USA states O-W

4     CSA national & states A-M

5     CSA states N-V

Q     FAQ (frequently asked questions with answers)


Parts 1-5 include the intro as well as the listings.  Within a state

the units are organized by number (1st Infantry, etc.).


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1.3 Who maintains the file?


Carol Botteron ( botteron@alum.mit.edu ) is the maintainer of the file.

If you have questions (after reading this FAQ) or would like to

volunteer as a contact, please write to her.


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1.4 Who supports the file?


The Civil War Units File is not a commercial venture and no money is

involved.  The kind people at Rootsweb provide space for the file.  The

maintainer does the work in what time she can spare from Real Life

(grad school, job, moving, surgery, etc.) and is "paid" in occasional

notes from users and contacts expressing appreciation for the file.


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2.0 HOW CAN I ACCESS THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?


The current version of the Civil War Units File is available at

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~acwunits/


Please note the new URL.


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3.0 HOW DO I USE THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?


3.1 What information can I get from the CWUNITS file?


If the unit (unit, ship, county, group, etc.) you are interested in is

listed, the listing has the email address of a contact person who has

information on the unit.  You can write to the contact, ask questions,

and share information.


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3.2 What can a contact do for me?


Some contacts are experts who have written books on their units but

most are "just" helpful fellow researchers who have volunteered to

share their information and knowledge.  They may be able to send you

information, point you to books or other resources, or "introduce" you

to other people who are interested in the unit.


Many of the contacts have set up web pages about their units, and list

the URLs in their listings.  If you have web access, please check the

web page before you write to the contact.


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3.3 What are good questions to ask a contact?


Be as specific as you can.  It's better to say too much than too

little.  If your message is getting long (say, more than a typed page)

you could summarize and ask whether the contact would like more

details.  Be sure to include the following information:


What unit are you looking for information about?

What was the name of the soldier you're interested in?

When was he in the unit (if you know)?

Where did he live before the war?

What sources have you already checked? (specific books, etc.)

What information do you already have? (roster, pension file, etc.)


Please do _not_ send attachments unless you clear it with the contact

in advance.


Be sure that the subject line of your message is informative, such as

"CWUNITS Query" or the unit you are asking about.  It is helpful to

mention that you found the contact's address in the CWUNITS file.


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3.4 What if an address in the file doesn't work?


If you can't get mail through to a listed address, check your

spelling.  If it's OK, try again in a few days in case there was a

temporary problem.  If that doesn't work, contact the CWUNITS

maintainer (see section 1.3).  You will need to send her the address,

what unit it's listed for, and what kind of error message you got.


If you don't get an error message from an address, but don't get an

answer to your message, try again in a week or two (after reviewing

section 3.3 to make sure your question is as clear as possible).

Maybe your messages are getting lost, or maybe the contact is sick or

busy.  The CWUNITS maintainer cannot help with these problems.


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3.5 How often is the CWUNITS FILE updated?


The file is updated every 3 months.  If you see a version of the

file that is more than 4 months old, please report it to the CWUNITS

maintainer.  Be sure to include the URL or other contact information.

(If you see it at sunsite.utk.edu you don't need to report it.  We're 

trying to get those old files removed.)


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3.6 What if I don't know which unit my relative served in?


Without knowing the unit it will be difficult to get any information

from this file.  If you are researching an individual and don't know

what unit he was in, check the beginning of the listings for the state

where he lived (there may be a contact listed for "all units" or "all

soldiers" for that state) and the beginning of USA or CSA for general

resources.


Also look at resources such as www.usgenweb.org under the state and

county of interest.  Besides the CWUNITS file, there are many sources,

starting with where you found this file (newsgroups, email list, WWW

site, etc.), that will help you in your search.  A good place to ask

(& answer) questions about the Civil War is the Civil-War mailing list

on http://www.rootsweb.com


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3.7 What if the unit I'm interested in isn't listed?


If a unit isn't listed, there is currently no contact.  Check the

beginning of USA or CSA and the beginning of the appropriate state for

general resources.  http://www.rootsweb.com/ has many useful mailing

lists including several Civil War lists.  Try typing the name of the

unit into a search engine such as http://www.google.com


If there is no contact for your unit, and you have some information,

wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for you to volunteer?  Others

may contact you and share what information they have, which is the

purpose of the CWUNITS file.


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3.8 Can I subscribe to a mailing list to get updated versions of the file?


No, sorry, we're too busy already without running a mailing list.  But

we post calls for listings, and announcements of new versions, to

several relevant mailing lists including the Civil-War list on

http://www.rootsweb.com


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4.0 WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BEING LISTED AS A CONTACT?


If you have information about a unit, especially one that is not listed,

please consider being a contact.


The most important thing about being a contact is to have the desire to

help fellow researchers.  If you're able and willing to help beginners,

especially for a unit that isn't listed, you're qualified to be a contact.


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4.1 How would I volunteer to be a contact person?


Just send email to the CWUNITS maintainer (see 1.3) from the address

where you'd like people to send queries.  If you send your message

from another address, the maintainer will need to write to the address

you want listed (to make sure it works) and you'll need to confirm it.

So please send the message from the address you want listed!


Please do _not_ send me attachments.


Please format your listings like the example shown here.  (Use spaces,

not tabs.)  Start with the state and the regiment or unit number.  Be

sure to include any details you know like infantry, cavalry, or

artillery, the company if you have information on only one, etc.  Next

show the years for which you have information.  Finally include your

email address and name for each unit.  (If you have no email address,

a hardcopy address is OK.)


-Unit---------------------------Years------Contact----------------------

USA

Kansas

6th Kansas Cavalry, Co. B      1862-4  you@address.com (Your Name)

 http://www.something.or.other/6thks


If you have a web page about the unit and would like it listed, please

include the complete URL (including http://www).  Also please make sure

that your site works properly on at least two different browsers.


If there's anything in your listing that is not obvious, make sure to

include it the information you provide.  For example, some states had

both Union and Confederate units in the war, in which case we will

need to know which side the unit was on.  (Maine we can figure out,

Missouri please tell us.)  If you are sending several listings, it's

OK to put them all in one message.


Please use an address that is stable (i.e. people will be able to get

mail to you), that you look at fairly frequently, and that is not

likely to change soon.  If you have a permanent forwarding address

(maybe through your college alumni association) that might be the best

choice.  You might consider getting an address at a web site such as

yahoo, lycos, or hotmail.  If you'd like to include two addresses,

that's fine.


A contact's email address *must* accept mail from unknown senders.  If

your account sends back messages like "To control spam, I now allow

incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand" please

set up a friendlier account for Civil War Units mail.  If I write to you

and get a message like this, your listings will be removed from the file.


The reason we ask for your name is so that if you change addresses and

forget to tell us, we have a better chance of finding you again.  If

your address does change, though, please tell us!  (See 4.7.)  Also,

names are friendlier and help people remember that they are writing to

a real person.


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4.2 To be a contact, would I need to be an expert on my unit?


Some contacts are experts who have written books on their units, but

most are "just" helpful fellow researchers who have volunteered to

share their information and knowledge. You need not be an expert to

be a contact.  You should be able to at least point people to some

information on your unit, such as a list of battles (Dyer's Compendium

of the Rebellion is widely available), a roster, a history of the

unit, or books that mention the unit (such as a history of the county

where many of the soldiers lived).


For the many units for which not much information exists, a major

function of the contacts is to keep track of what there is and try to

help researchers find it.


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4.3 What else does a contact do?


Many contacts keep notes on who has written to them about the unit,

and what questions and resources the people had.  Sometimes they can

"introduce" people with similar interests.


You might also do an occasional search for books and web sites you

could recommend to people who would like to read more about your unit.


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4.4 Are there rules on what a contact is and is not allowed to do?


Common courtesy, mostly.  If you are a contact and get a question that

you are too busy to answer, please send the person a note saying that

you got their mail and will try to handle it in a month or whenever.

If you can't answer their question at all, say so.  If you don't

answer someone's mail, they're likely to ask the (very busy) CWUNITS

maintainer whether your address is still OK, and then we have to ask

you, so you have yet another question to answer.  So when you get a

question, please at least acknowledge it.


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4.5 Are contacts allowed to charge for information?


Contacts are expected to try to answer questions by email, but not to

do lots of typing.  If you're a contact and the best way to answer a

question is to send copies of book pages or other records, it's OK to

ask the questioner to reimburse your expenses, but you should estimate

the amount in advance.

  If you have written a book about the unit, it's OK to tell

questioners how to purchase it, but you should do reasonable lookups

by email for free (e.g. a soldier's roster listing) and be willing to

give enough information about the book that someone can look in a

library for it.


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4.6 I'm interested in being a contact for a unit, but a contact is

already listed.  Is it worth volunteering anyway?


Yes!  You probably have access to different resources than the current

contact(s), so you might be able to answer questions that they can't.

Also a contact may get busy or sick, or have to "unvolunteer," or lose

email access.  So we're always glad to have more than one contact for

a unit.

   If you're thinking of volunteering, and someone is already listed

for "your" unit, it's a good idea to send a note to the current

contacts telling them about your interest in the unit and what

resources you have.


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4.7 If my address changes or I want to change my listing, what do I do?


Write to the maintainer at botteron@alum.mit.edu

Send the mail from your new address if possible.  Include your current 

listing(s) and the revised listing(s).  If you only send new listings, 

we might not realize that old listings need to be deleted.


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4.8 Can I just send you my files instead of being listed?


Sorry, we don't have space to store files.  All we keep is a "diffs"

file of changes for the next version.  If you can set up a web page

somewhere, we'd be glad to put your URL in the file.  We'd still like

to include your email address and name, just in case.


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4.9 I was listed and now my listing is gone.  What happened?


Listings are deleted if the contact requests it or if the email address

stops working.  If we receive a report that your address doesn't work,

we test it.  If we get an error message (e.g. "unknown user" or

"permanent fatal error") that does not say the problem is temporary, we

have to search out and delete your listings.  It's a good idea to check

the file at least once a year to make sure that your listings are there

and have your current address.  You might find that you want to change

a listing.


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4.10 I'm the foremost authority on my unit, but someone else is listed.

Would you please remove the other person's listing?


We delete listings only if the contact requests it or if the email

address stops working.  We would prefer to have more than one listing

for a unit; see question 4.6.


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4.11 I have a special problem.  (Losing email access suddenly, or will

be off line for a month, etc.)  Can the maintainer help?


We'll try!  Just write (see 1.3 or below) and we'll try to find a

solution that is best for you and for people who write to you.


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4.12 If I'm listed as a contact, will I be put on a mailing list?


No, there are no mailing lists for CWUNITS.  You'll get mail from

people who have questions, and maybe occasionally from the maintainer

(e.g. to check your email address if someone reports a problem).


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4.13 I'm interested in helping with the CWUNITS file, in a way other

than being a contact.  Is other help needed?


Yes, indeed!  If you can HTML code files, track contacts whose

addresses have changed, provide backup file space, or suggest other

improvements, please contact the CWUNITS maintainer (see 1.3 or below).


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5.0 HOW CAN I LINK TO THE FILE FROM MY WEB SITE?


5.1 I have a web page for a state or county and would like to link to

the CWUNITS file.  Is this OK?


You can link to the file on its official home (see question 2.0).  This

site always has the newest version of the file.  You can make the link

just once and then your page will always have the current file.


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5.2 I have a web page for a state or county and would like to copy my

state's part of the CWUNITS file to my page.  Is this OK?


Sorry, but we cannot allow this use of the file.  We release a new

version of the file every 3 months.  People have copied sections of the

file to web pages before, but after a while they can't keep up.  This

leaves an old version on their page, which causes problems because of

bad email addresses and incompleteness.  Instead, see answer 5.1 about

linking to the relevant section of the file at its official home site.


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6.0 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I'd like to thank the people who help me keep this big project going:

George Hoemann, who hosted the files for many years at the Civil War

Home Page, and Dennis Heltemes, who helped me compile this FAQ.  And,

of course, all the people who volunteer to be contacts for units.


Carol Botteron  (ancestors on both sides)  botteron@alum.mit.edu


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