Irish Genealogy News - US Civil War

Hi!    2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the U.S. Civil War (12 Apr 1861 at Fort Sumter, SC).  Did someone in your family fight in that war?   If your ancestors were in the U.S. at that time, your family was very likely affected in some way.  Below are some basic steps for researching those who served from your family.  For more info, you may want to take a look at Course I – Civil War Addendum at my website.

Identify family members who served
  • Don’t limit your search to direct ancestors. Brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews, in-laws may have served and their military records may include important family info (remember the benefits of Whole Family Research).
  • Locate the candidates in the 1860 U.S. Census (www.familysearch.org). Most served in Voluntary units which were state-based. In most cases, the state where they resided at the time of the 1860 census will be the same state where they enlisted. 
  • Locate the candidates in the following censuses, which include an indication of their veteran status:
             * 1865 NY (census of other states may include similar info) – at www.familysearch.org.  Includes unit and service dates.
             * 1890 US Veterans & Widows Schedule- at www.familysearch.org Includes unit and service dates. Deceased veterans may be included.
  • Search for your candidates in rosters of soldiers and sailors.  Civil War Soldiers and Sailors (CWSS) – at www.civilwar.nps.gov. For each soldier found, gives easy access to regimental history and basic info about each of its battles.

Procure military records and pension applications
  • The National Archives suggests that genealogists:
              * first order the pension application files (often contains great info relevant to the family history).
              * If no pension application is found, then order the compiled military service records (usually contains only info about their service record, although in some cases they do include some family history).
  • How to order a pension application file ($75 or $25)
              * Go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html#natf85
              * Under Military Pension/Bounty Land Warrant Applications, click Download the Form in order to verify that you have the required information to order.
              * Under Military Pension/Bounty Land Warrant Applications, click Order Online to order.
              * You will have to choose between 2 pension options: Full Pension Application File-Civil War, 1860 or Later ($75) or Pension Documents Packet ($25)
              * The Form 85 instructions describe both options. In theory the $25 packet has the sections which most likely contain genealogical info, but you will have no indication of what you might be missing by not ordering the full option.
  • How to order a compiled military service record ($25)
              * Go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html#natf86
              * Under Military Service Records, click Download the Form in order to verify that you have the required information to order.
              * Under Military Service Records, click Order Online to order.

Good Luck.

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