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Prussian Military Records
Courtesy of Dana Merkoulov / Charles of Houston TX
"MILITARY RECORDS. Most families in many times during 1600-1850 had at least one soldier in service. As a result, there are disperesed in numerous archives in Germany sizable amounts of military records. Because of this wide spread distribution of records, locating the proper ones is often somewhat time-consuming, since several archives must usually be contacted. It is extremely helpful if you happen to know the place or region of enlistment, the approximate dates of service, and the exact regiment. Especially important are the Regimentskirchenbücher (regimental church registers) and the Garnisionskirchenbücher (garrison church registers) in which church records (baptism, mariage, and death) of military personnel and often their families were kept. Among the records that can be sought for officers are the . . .
Offiziersstammrollen (Officer assignments)
Ranglisten (Officer lists)
Offiziersnachweise (Officer records)
"Records which deal with enlisted men also are . . .
Musterungslisten (Muster rolls)
Mannschaftsstammrollen (Personal assignments)
Regimentsgeschichte (Regimental histories)
"The German word for a pension is Pension, and records relating to the granting of military pensions are available. Among the major archives which act somewhat as centralized military record repositories are . . .
(note: the only archive I list is the one for Prussia)
Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Militärarchiv
"Letters of inquiry to the archives nearest your ancestor's area will often locate the military records for you. Not to be overlooked is a valuable publication listing Hessian troops who fought as mercenaries for the British in the American Revolution.
______ "Hessische Truppen im Amerikanischen
Unabhangigkeitskrieg," Staatsarchiv Marburg,
Marburg, Deutschland, 1972
"This extensive index lists names, birth dates, places from which the
soldiers came, regiments, ranks, enlistment dates, and what happened to
each (deserted, killed, died, returned to Hessen)."
The next excerpt is taken from page 77 of, "In Search of Your
German Roots, 3rd Edition, second printing 1995, written by Angus
Baxter, published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. Baltimore,
MD; ISBN 0-8063-1447-8." (note: this book is not as comprehensive
as the one listed above, but it is a good primer on getting started
in one's research activities in German records).
If you are interested, I would imagine it could be purchased
through the publisher's website at http://www.genealogical.com This is the site for the Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore, MD.
"MILITARY RECORDS (Kriegslisten)"
"These are incomplete and not always easily accessible but
they are worth working on because every male was liable for military
service in the various state armies. If your ancestors came from
Schleswig-Holstein area, you are luckier than most. The system there
involved the registration of every male child at birth, and the
record was kept up to date as far as addresses were concerned until
his call-up date. A good sequence of discoveries can follow: if you
find your ancestor's addresses from the military records, you can
trace the census returns; if you find the census returns you find
the place of birth; if you find the place of birth you find the
church records, you lucky people from Schleswig-Holstein! The
military lists in general date back to the early 1700s and are in
the state archives."
This last excerpt is taken from pages 41 to 43, of LDS
publication 34061 dated July 1994, "Research Outline for Germany."
"Military records identify individuals who served in the
military or who were eligible to serve. Germany had a large army
and a small navy. Since most German states had conscription laws,
most young men were required to register for military service. A
young man who had not yet served had to get special permission to
emigrate. Evidence that an ancestor actually served in the military
can sometimes be found in family records, biographies, censuses,
photographs, emigration papers, medals, probate records, civil
registration records, and church records.
"The crucial information needed to find military records is
the soldier's regiment or the sailor's ship. This is usually
difficult to find, making military records hard to use for
genealogical research. Search the sources cited above to find your
ancestor's regiment, ship, or commanding officer. Commanding
officers can be indentified with their units relatively easily.
Photographs sometimes show insignia that identify a regiment or
* * * * *
Types of Military Records
"The earliest German military records, which began around
1485, usually list only the names of the soldiers. Records from the
middle 1800s often give information about promotions, places served,
pensions, conduct, and other details concerning the soldier's
military career. In addition, these records may include the
soldier's age, birthplace, residence, occupation, and physical
description as well as the names of family members. However, many
German military records provide very few details about individuals
other than those who served as officers.
"Military records include the following . . .
Military church records [Kirchenbücher]. These records include garrison
[Garnisons-] records, parish registers, and regimental [Regiments-]
church records. They date from 1672.
Personnel files [Stammrollen] of common soldiers and noncommissioned
Published officer files [Offizier-Stammlisten].
Officer rolls [Ranglisten].
Regimental histories. [Regimentsgeschichten].
* * * * *
Foreign Military Service
"Germans frequently served with the armies of foreign countries.
(note: Most of the following lists wars fought in America. Readers of
this posting who reside outside of America should nevertheless read all
of the following because ancestors, or possibly colateral relatives, may
have served in the military on American soil. At the very least, be
aware of the American wars and their time frame.)
"DENMARK. Before 1772 the Danish army was made up mostly of German
soldiers and officers. After 1772 the army began to recruit more Danes,
and by 1803, the army was entirely Danish. If your German relative
served in the Danish military before 1803, you may be able to find
valuable genealogical information in Danish military records. For more
information, see the "Denmark Research Outline."
"AMERICAN REVOLUTION 1776-1782. Germans served on both sides of the
American Revolution. To find information about Germans who fought for
the Americans, see the U.S. Military Records Research Outline."
"About 25,000 mercenary troops raised in Germany worked for the
British. They may have come from any part of Germany, but they are
usually called 'Hessians.' Some desserted or were sold to Americans as
laborers. Many remained in the United States or went to Canada after the
War. The following source is a major index of German mercenaries:
"Hessiche Truppen im amerikanischen
Unanhängigkeitskrieg" (Hetrina) (Hessian troops in the
American Revolution). 6 vols. Marburg: Archivschule,
1971-1976, 1987-. (LDS microfilms 1,020,516 item 6-7
and 1,020,542 items 5-6) Indexes from this series list
each soldier's name, year of birth, place of origin,
rank, and military unit and the source of the
"The following source indexes thousands of American and British records
of German mercenaries:
Smith, Clifford Neal. "Cummulative Surname Index and Soundex to
Monographs 1 through 12 of the German-American Genealogical
Research Series." McNeal, Ariz.: Westland Publishing, 1983.
This index lists only the soldier's surname and the series
number of the monogrpah where information about the soldier
can be found. Each monograph is individually indexed. The
monograph normally lists the soldier's name, rank, and
unit. Some of the following may also be listed: birthplace;
age; occupation; promotions; where the soldier resided or
was recruited; and whethere he was wounded, killed,
missing in action, captured, deserted, or sold and where.
"AMERICAN CIVIL WAR 1861-1865. About one in ten Union soldiers was born
in Germany. Over 200,000 German immigrants to the untied States were
recruited by the Union, many as they stepped off the boat. Some were
drafted. Some Germans served in the Confederate military. To find
information about Germans who fought in the Civil War, see the "U.S.
Military Records Research Outline."
* * * * *
Locating Military Records
"German military records can be of great genealogical value, but
getting access to them is often a problem. For example, it is very hard
to get information from military records through correspondence. Also,
the Family History Library has microfilmed only a FEW German military
records. Those that have been filmed are hard to read, incomplete for
several years, poorly arranged, and not indexed.
"If you write to archives for information from military records,
you must indicate the regiment or comapny to which your ancestor
belonged. Also include the garrison town or commanding officer's name
and your ancestor's rank if you know that information.
"Two books help identify where regiments from Prussia were
stationed. Although the records they describe were burned in World
War II, the garrison towns listed are locations to look for other
Lyncker, Alexander von. "Die altpreußische Armee 1714-1806
und ihre Militärkirchenbücher" (Old Prussian Army and
its military parish records, 1714-1806). Berlin: Verlag
für Standesamtswesen, 1937. (LDS film 477,806).
________. "Die preußische Armee 1807-1867 und ihre
sippenkundlichen Quellen" (Old Prussian army and its
genealogical sources, 1807-1867). Berlin: Verlag für
Standesamtswesen, 1939. (LDS film 477,807).
* * * * *
Records at German State Archives
"There is no central archive for German military records.
German states each had their own system of keeping military records
before 1867. These records are now stored in several German state
archives. The folowing pamphlet lists the archives where existing
military records for each state are found:
Reschke, Horst A. "German Military Records as
Genealogical Sources. Salt Lake City, Utah: Reschke,
1990 (LDS microfiche 6,001,596).
"In 1867 the armies of all but three German states were
integrated into the armies of Prussia. From that time, soldiers of
any German state (except Bayern, Sachsen, or Württemburg) were
recorded only in the military records of Prussia. Unfortunately,
the Prussia military records were almost completely destroyed in
See the German Archives address list
* * * * *
Records at The Family History Library
"Only a few German military records are available at the Family
History Library. They are mostly military parish registers, a few
published officer rolls [Stammlisten and Ranglisten], and regimental
histories. German military church records are usually listed in the
Family History Catalog with other church records. For other German
military records, see the Locality section of the catalog under--
GERMANY - MILITARY RECORDS
GERMANY, PRUSSIA - MILITARY RECORDS
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