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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - August 8, 2013

The August 2013 meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library on Thursday, August 8, at 7:00 pm.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.

The following is the Treasurer's report for the month of June:

The following is the Treasurer's report for the month of July:


Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Petie Hunter, at, about a gift membership.

August Meeting

On August 8, 2013, Tom Pearson, Subject Specialist in the Genealogy Room of the St. Louis Public Library presented a program titled I Fight Mit Sigel: German-American Service in the American Civil War.

Persons of German Descent in the U.S. (1860)
A majority of German immigrants were either farmers or skilled tradesmen. A majority of German settlement in the U.S. occurred between 1820 and 1914. In 1860, the following states had the most persons of German descent: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. They lived mainly in these cities: New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Omaha. The vast majority of German-Americans were opposed to slavery, and therefore supported the North during the Civil War. The minority of Germans who settled in the South lived mainly in: New Orleans, Texas, and Northern Kentucky.

Germans in the South
Many Germans living in the Confederacy avoided conscription into the Southern army by either hiding in the woods or in swamps, or by serving as teamsters in caravans that took embargoed cotton to Mexico.

German Service in the Civil War
The following Civil War regiments included almost entirely men of German descent: 9th Ohio Infantry, 9th Wisconsin Infantry, 74th Pennsylvania Infantry, and 32nd Indiana Infantry.

Service of Missouri Germans in the Civil War
Missouri was a border state during the Civil War. It furnished men to both sides (an estimated 2/3 served in the Union Army, 1/3 in the Confederate Army). Germans were much more likely to join the Union Army. During the Civil War, it was possible to serve in three basic types of military unit:

Regular Army: military units raised directly by the federal government.
Regular Army units could serve wherever the President ordered them to go.
State volunteer regiments: military units raised directly by the states.
These units could serve in their home state, but could also serve elsewhere once they had been mustered into federal service.
Militia units: military units raised by the state in local areas, which usually did their service in that local area.
Many men of German descent chose to serve in militia units, generally enlisting in the company of relatives, friends, and/or men from their own neighborhood. Service in militia units generally offered the advantages of: short-term service, service close to home. service with men who spoke the same language, and relatively low risk of loss of life or limb.

Missouri fielded numerous different types of militia units during the Civil War:
1. Citizen Guards (one-year)
2. Home Guards (three-month)
3. Enrolled Missouri Militia [EMM] (three-year)
4. Missouri Militia (three-month)
5. Missouri Militia (six-month)
6. Missouri State Militia [MSM] (three-year)
7. Provisional Companies of Enrolled Missouri Militia (one-year)
8. Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia [PEMM] (three-year)
9. U.S. Reserve Corps [USRC] (three-month)
10. U.S. Reserve Corps [USRC] (three-year)

Large numbers of men of German descent served in these Missouri Civil War militia units:
1st U.S. Reserve Corps Regiment (three-month) [almost entirely German]
2nd U.S. Reserve Corps Regiment (three-month) [90 % German]
3rd U.S. Reserve Corps Regiment (three-month) [75% German]
4th U.S. Reserve Corps Regiment (three-month) [75% German]
5th U.S. Reserve Corps Regiment (three-month) [83% German]
1st Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-month) [48% German]
2nd Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-month) [almost entirely German]
3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-month) [almost entirely German]
4th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-month) [88% German]
5th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-month) [65% German ]

After serving in a short-term militia unit, some men of German descent then served in longer-term Missouri Civil War militia units: Enrolled Missouri Militia [EMM], Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia [PEMM], Missouri State Militia [MSM], or U.S. Reserve Corps [USRC] (three-year).

Substantial numbers of men of German descent chose, however, to serve in Missouri Civil War state volunteer regiments:
2nd Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
4th Missouri Cavalry Regiment (three-year)
5th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
12th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
15th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
17th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)
40th Missouri Infantry Regiment (three-year)

Verifying Civil War Service of German Ancestors
You can search for German men who served during the Civil War in the following online databases:

National Parks Service Soldiers and Sailors Database
Missouri State Archives Soldiers Records
Illinois State Archives Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database
Index of Pennsylvania Civil War Soldiers
New York State Civil War Soldier Database
Ohio Genealogical Society Database
Wisconsin Historical Society Database

Military Service Records of German Ancestors
Once you know the regiment and company in which a man served, you can then look for a compiled military service record (CMSR) for that individual. If he served in a state volunteer regiment, NARA in Washington, DC likely has a CMSR for that man. If he served only in a state militia unit that was never federalized, then the only record of his service is probably at the State Archives in the state in which he served. Fold3 has images of the CMSR online.

Ordering CMSRs from NARA:

CMSRs available fromFold3

Regimental Histories
You may also wish to find more information about the regiment he served in. A good way to start that process is to check Dyer's Compendium of the Civil War You can also check to see if a book history has been written for the regiment in which he served.

To find histories for regiments from a particular state, use these search terms: regimental histories state name.

Federal Pensions for Civil War Soldiers and Their Widows
If he served in a state volunteer regiment, or if his local militia unit was, in fact, federalized, he or his widow would have been eligible for a federal pension based on his Civil War service. There is an index to these federal pensions on

If He Died During the War
If he died during the war, you can look for his place of burial on these websites: Nationwide Gravesite Locator or Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Other locations you can search are:

Find a Grave:

Why Didn't He Serve in the Civil War?
If you cannot find a record of his service in the Civil War, the reason may be that he never joined the army or got drafted!

Why didn't some men serve in the army during the war? There were a number of legitimate reasons for not doing so, including:
1. Worked in an exempt occupation (railroad man, telegrapher, etc.)
2. Not a citizen, and had not begun the naturalization process (and therefore couldn't be drafted)
3. Minister, or membership in religious sect opposed to war
4. Paid to stay out (commutation or substitution)
5. Physically or mentally challenged
6. Chronic medical condition (alcoholism, tuberculosis, venereal disease)
7. Not enough teeth to bite open a powder bag, or no trigger finger
8. Too young or too old (less than 20, more than 45)
9. Too short or too tall (under 5'0" or over 6'3")
10. Too light or too heavy (less than 100 lbs or more than 220 lbs)
11. Too dishonest (convicted felon)

Draft Registrations, Conscription Records, and Substitutes and the national archives have these records.

For more information:
Missouri Digital Heritage
Cyndi's List
Missouri Civil War Museum

This presentation was very well received by the audience and generated much discussion and several questions.