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RESEARCHING A CIVIL WAR SOLDIER

Reproduced with permission of Texana/Genealogy Department , San Antonio Public Library
Civil War Research , 4 Oct 2001

 

1. As in any genealogical project, work from yourself backwards.
 

 a. Search at home and talk to relatives for family information and oral histories.

 b. Fill out "Ancestry Chart" as much as possible. 

(1).   Note missing information
(2).   Note any questions the information you have raises.
 

c. Fill out "Family Group Sheet" for each family as completely as possible.
 


2. Check United States Census for families moving from 1920 back to 1860.
 

a. 1910 Census, Column 30 asks if the individual was a veteran of the Civil War.

b. 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows, only exists for states beginning with Kentucky and after alphabetically. This sometimes lists Confederates.

c. 1860 -If you find your individual, copy his information along with his family and several pages on either side. Families and neighbors often enlisted together in the same unit. Note all males between 15 and 50 years of age may have served at some time during the War.
 


3. If you locate your ancestor on the 1860 census,
 

Confederate
 

a. search the Roster of Confederate Soldiers, for a unit designation for him and other members of the family;

b. check Crute's Units of the Confederate States Army for a brief history of the unit. (Note counties where enlistments occurred);

c. check the Supplement to the Official Records under the unit designation for a list of officers and a chronology of each unit's actions.
 

Union
 

a. search the Roster of Union Soldiers, for a unit designation for him and other members of the family;

b. check Dyer's Compendium of the War of the Rebellion for a brief history of the unit. (Note counties where enlistments occurred);

c. check the Supplement to the Official Records under the unit designation for a list of officers and a chronology of each unit's actions.
 


4. If you have found the person in the above sources. and know his unit,

a. search for the person's military service record, and/or

b. write for a soldier's or widow's pension file. (Consult Where to Write for Confederate Pension Records. Confederate pensions were issued by individual Southern states. For Union veterans write the National Archives.)
 


5. Create a timeline of your ancestor's Civil War service from his military service record, pension file, and the other sources listed above.

6. Consult the sources listed in the unit histories portion of this bibliography for more detailed information.

7. Search the "Official Records" and follow the unit through its service.

8. Compile information and timelines on other family members.

9. Read county histories, public records, memoirs, etc. to see how the family back home lived.


If the person you are looking for is not listed in the Roster of Confederate Soldiers, then

1. he may not have served in any unit;

2. he may have served in the Union Army, see the Roster of Union Soldiers;

3. he may have served in a militia or home guard unit;

4. his name may be terribly misspelled;

5. no records may exist.


If the person you are looking for is not listed in the Roster of Union Soldiers, then
 

1. he may not have served in any unit;

2. he may have served in the Confederate Army, see the Roster of Confederate Soldiers;

3. he may have served in a militia or home guard unit;

4. his name may be terribly misspelled;

5. no records may exist;

6. he may have served in the Regular U. S. Army, Navy, or Marine Corps.

    For the Regular Army try the Register of Enlistments for enlisted and NCOs. For Regular Army officers try Heitman, the O. R. Supplement, and the Army Register. For Naval and Marine Corps see the section on "Naval Forces" in the Civil War Unit Histories.
 


If he is not listed in any of these, then

1. go back to the 1860 census and search for any other family members or neighbors (Look them up in the Roster of Confederate Soldiers or the Roster of Union Soldiers);
 

2. check these in "Crute" or "Dyer" and the Supplement to the Official Records;

3. read through military service records, unit histories, county histories, etc. to find information on these individuals that might help.

4. Ask for help.
 

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