Locating a Confederate Civil War Soldier (1861–1865)

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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png U.S. Civil War Gotoarrow.png Locating a Confederate Soldier

United States
Civil War, 1861-1865
Bacon's Civil War Map.jpg
Getting Started
General Topics
Personnel Types
Status of the States 1861.png

Male ancestors who were born in the 1830s or 1840s and who lived in a southern state or the border states of Kentucky, Maryland, or Missouri, were most likely to have served in the Confederate forces in the U.S. Civil War. Most who served were in their late teens or early twenties but could have been older or younger. To find records, it helps to know at least the state from which your ancestor served.

Guide Books

Social Histories

Service records[edit | edit source]

Military service records may give the rank, dates of service, place of residence prior to enlistment, age, place of birth, physical description, and date and place of death or discharge.

What you will need to get started. Service records are normally arranged by state, then by military unit, and then alphabetically by the serviceman's name. In order to find the service records you will need to determine the state from which he served, his military unit, and the name by which your ancestor was identified during the war. Some soldiers served in a military unit raised by the Confederate government rather than from one of the states.

On the Internet

Step A. Search the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database on the Internet. This easy-to-use database lists over 6 million Confederate and Union soldiers, and 18,000 African American sailors. The search engine finds names alphabetically.

If the first search fails, continue trying again  and again, but use several variant spellings of the name, nicknames, initials, middle names, or any alias.

If you find too many matching names, try to narrow the field by using clues from your knowledge of your ancestors, such as his place of residence, or relatives or neighbors that joined up with him. Also, each state's ". . . in the Civil War" page on the Wiki has a link to that state's military units regiment-by-regiment. That regimental list sometimes gives the place where they were first organized or discharged. The majority of regiments were raised mostly in one or two counties.

Sometimes the database shows the same person under more than one spelling of his name.

Each entry in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database  has the potential to list each serviceman's:

  • regiment or battalion (always listed)
  • if Confederate or Union (always listed)
  • company
  • soldier's rank in
  • soldier's rank out
  • alternate name
  • National Archives source microfilm number (always listed)
If  you find your ancestor in this Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database, make a copy of the information, and then look for the service record in Fold3. If you do not find the service record in Fold3, skip to Step 3.

Step B. Find the service record in Fold3, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com on the Internet. Fold3 shows images of service record card abstracts of entries of each soldier in original muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, hospital registers, Union prison registers and rolls, parole rolls, and inspection reports. These cards are arranged by state, by military unit, and then alphabetically by soldier's name.

To find an ancestor's card, open Fold3 to the Civil War Service Records > Confederate Records page, select the ancestors state, and then select his military unit within that state. You can then find the alphabetical list of soldiers' service record cards, and view individual cards.

If you find an ancestor's card(s), make a copy, then note the source on your research log, update your family group record, and you are done with service record abstract cards.  If you do NOT find the ancestor's card, you could continue the search by searching the microfilm version of the same records as follows:

On Microfilm

Step 1. If you know the state where your ancestor enlisted (but still need to find his regiment), search the following statewide alphabetical indexes on microfilm for your ancestor's name. Click the appropriate state's FHL Film numbers blue link below to see the catalog entry showing which parts of the alphabetical index are on which films.

Conf Gvmt troops index

Alabama troops index
Arizona troops index
Arkansas troops index
Florida troops index
Georgia troops index

Kentucky troops index
Louisiana troops index
Maryland troops index
Mississippi troops index
Missouri troops index

North Carolina index
South Carolina index
Tennessee troops index
Texas troops index
Virginia troops index
FHL Films 1205310 to 1205355

FHL Films 821949 to 821997
FHL Film  821837
FHL Films 821811 to 821836
FHL Films 880001 to 880009
FHL Films 821700 to 821766

FHL Films 881380 to 881393
FHL Films 881457 to 881487
FHL Films 881522 to 881534
FHL Films 821838 to 821882
FHL Films 882002 to 882017

FHL Films 821768 to 821806
FHL Films 881967 to 882001
FHL Films 880055 to 880095
FHL Films 880014 to 880054
FHL Films 881395 to 881456
(NARA M818)

(NARA M374)
(NARA M375)
(NARA M376)
(NARA M225)
(NARA M226)

(NARA M377)
(NARA M378)
(NARA M388)
(NARA M232)
(NARA M380)

(NARA M230)
(NARA M381)
(NARA M231)
(NARA M323)
(NARA M324)
If  you find your ancestor in one of these statewide indexes, make a copy of the information, and skip to Step 3.

Step 2. If you do NOT know the state where your ancestor enlisted, search for your ancestor's name in the following microfilm index:

Consolidated Index to Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers on
FHL Films 191127 to 191661   (NARA M253).
Make a copy of any information you find.

Step 3. Search the compiled military service records. Once you know an ancestor was in a military unit raised by either (a) the Confederate government, or (b) a particular state, plus the name of his military unit, and the name by which he was identified during the war, you are prepared to look up his service records. Search by state (or by the Confederate government), by military unit, and then by soldier's name in the microfilms listed in the following table. Click on the appropriate state's FHL Film number's blue link below to see the catalog entry showing which military units are on which films. In the catalog entry you may need to scroll past a beginning index before you come to the list of various military units.

Federal Confederate Service Records State Confederate

Service Records

FHL Film Numbers NARA Film Numbers
Conf Gvmt troops
Conf Staff Members
FHL 880207 to 880329
FHL 881105 to 881379
FHL 880330 to 880837
FHL 536241
FHL 880849 to 881104
FHL 880103 to 880206
FHL 1499064 to 1499670
191674 to 191678
227858 to 227859
FHL 1447468 to 1447603
FHL 1447610 to 1447670
FHL 1292663 to 1292684
FHL 1488026 to 1488452
FHL 1500030 to 1500222
471735 to 471739
1305383 to 1305385
1204828 to 1204847
North Carolina
South Carolina
FHL 1381001 to 1447080
FHL 1380691 to 1447467
FHL 1499671 to 1527065
FHL 1501077 to 1501521
FHL 1488678 to 1489752
18075 to 18078
227483; 227482
29767 to 29808
More service records FHL 1380856 to 1380929 NARA M861

Make a copy of the service record documents, record the results of the search on your research log, and update your family group record.

Pension records[edit | edit source]

Pension records contain information on a veteran’s military service, wife and children, and place of residence. The federal government did not issue pensions to veterans who fought for the Confederacy. In an effort to compensate disabled veterans or widows, most southern states began paying pensions from state funds. Not all veterans or widows applied for or received pensions. By common consent former Confederate states agreed that pensions would be granted by the state in which the veteran or his widow lived at the time of application rather than by the state from which he served.[1] Therefore, you may need to search each state in which a veteran lived after the Civil War.

On the Internet

The National Archives' Confederate Pension Records page on the Internet also provides a state-by-state list, and links to southern state archives which have pension records.

On Microfilm

It helps to know the state of residence of a veteran or widow after the war in order to search for a file on microfilm. The Family History Library has microfilms (or books) of the Confederate pension files for each state.

Soldier homes[edit | edit source]

Many states North and South maintained soldier homes for needy veterans. Records of these homes can provide biographical, family, and military service information on its applicants and inmates. The Family History Library has soldier home related records for some, but not all Confederate soldier homes in every formerly Confederate state except North Carolina. For further details and links see United States Military Old Soldiers Home Records.

Family History Library Catalog

FamilySearch Historical Records

Veterans' organizations[edit | edit source]

Read the Confederate Veterans and Lineage Society Records page for help in finding information on veterans' organizations and lineage societies.

  • If an ancestor survived the war, he may have joined a veterans' organization like the United Confederate Veterans.
    • Look in the Confederate Veteran, 40 vols. (Nashville, Tenn.: United Confederate Veterans, 1893-1932). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 973 B2cv. This was their official publication from 1893 to 1932. Indexed in Confederate Veteran Magazine, 1893-1932. Cumulative Index, 3 vols. (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Pub., 1986). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 973 B2cva index.
    • Check the records of veteran’s organizations because they may provide biographical information about their members. For example, some UCV rosters of membership for the years 1895 to 1899 are on FHL Films 1710607 items 10–20 and 1710608. At various libraries (WorldCat).
    • Check with the state archives, historical society, or state library for any available veterans' organizations records of the state in which your ancestor served or lived after the war. See the Archives and Libraries  section of each state's Wiki page for these addresses.

Lineage Societies[edit | edit source]

A descendant of your ancestor may also have joined a lineage society like the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Contact their national headquarters to learn about this organization. See their web site at United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Other Sources[edit | edit source]

Use the Military Records section for the state's Wiki page in which your ancestor enlisted to find other military papers, such as state rosters, Adjutant General’s reports, regimental or unit histories, and county histories.

You can also find these sources in the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search under the name of the state and the topic

[State] — Military Records — Civil War, 1861–1865

Look for additional information about Civil War records in the FamilySearch Research Wiki at:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Confederate Pension Applications in Arkansas Digital Archives (accessed 22 February 20201).