Difference between revisions of "Beginning United States Civil War Research"

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[[Confederate Regular Troops in the Civil War|Confederate Regular Troops in the Civil War]]  
[[Confederate Regular Troops in the Civil War|Confederate Regular Troops in the Civil War]]  
== Ethnic Groups  ==
==== Ethnic Groups  ====
*African Americans, see [[United States Colored Troops in the Civil War|United States Colored Troops in the Civil War]]  
*African Americans, see [[United States Colored Troops in the Civil War|United States Colored Troops in the Civil War]]  
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==== State Civil War Records  ====
==== State Civil War Records  ====
{{State Civil War Records}}
{{State Civil War Records}}  
{{U.S. Civil War}}
{{U.S. Civil War}}  
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{{ featured article }}  

Revision as of 19:38, 6 January 2012

United States   Gotoarrow.png   U.S. Military   Gotoarrow.png   Civil War, 1861 to 1865

The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3, 1863


Many records are available to help you find information about your Civil War ancestor. The following are good steps to start:

Step 1. Identify an ancestor who may have served in the Civil War

Look at your ancestors' information to determine which match the following criteria:

- Ages: Most soldiers and sailors were men between the ages of 18 and 30, so they would have been born between 1831 and 1846. Some were as young as 10 or as old as 70, which widens the birth years to between 1791 and 1854.

- Location: Soldiers came from all over the continental United States.

Note: Every state had some men who fought for the Union, and some men who fought for the Confederacy.

Union, Confederate, and Border States in 1863. Union states and territories are blue and light blue. Border states are yellow. Confederate states and territories are brown and tan.
Union States
(24 states and 7 territories)
States= California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin
Border states (4 states were for the Union but had slaves. Many men served in the Confederacy instead of the Union)= Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia
Territories=Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico (all of New Mexico and Arizona), Utah, Washington

Confederate States
(11 states and 2 territories)
States= Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
Territories=Arizona (Southern half of New Mexico and Arizona), Oklahoma

More maps of the United States during the Civil war are available on the Wikipedia page Territorial Evolution of the United States.

Step 2. Identify the state where your ancestor lived around 1861

If you do not know where your ancestor lived at the start of the war, check the following:

  • The 1860 federal census for the soldier or his family. The following have digital versions of the 1860 census:
- FamilySearch
- Ancestry($)
- Fold3 ($)
- Heritage Quest ($)

  • Several states took censuses, usually in the years between the federal censuses. A list of links to articles about the censuses in each state is on the United States Census page.

Step 3. Find your soldier's regiment and company

Your soldier's regiment and company are often needed to find his records and to recognize him in the records. Some ways to find his regiment and company are:

You may find several soldiers who match your ancestor. If this happens, copy the information about all of them and continue searching to eliminate all but one.
- Look at each regiment Wiki page to find the county for the company or regiment. If some counties don't match what you know about your ancestor, this could eliminate some of the possible soldiers.
  • 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War
Information in the 1890 veterans schedules normally includes name, rank, company, name of regiment or vessel, date of enlistment, date of discharge, length of service, post office address, disability incurred, and remarks. Many Confederate veterans were mistakenly listed as well.
- 1890 Veterans SchedulesAncestry.com ($), has every name indexes and images to all veterans schedules except indexes to Ohio and Pennsylvania.
- United States, 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, FamilySearch.org, has images only but can be browsed by county
Surviving schedules include Washington D.C., the eastern half of Kentucky, and the rest of the U.S. States in alphabetical order Louisiana through Wyoming, Indian territories, and U.S. ships and navy yards. Unfortunately the census pages were destroyed for the states in alphabetical order from Alabama through the western half of Kentucky.

Step 4. Check the Wiki article for your ancestor's regiment

The indexes for Civil War soldiers often list more than one soldier with the same name in the same state. By finding the counties for the companies in a regiment, you will have additional information to help determine which might be the your ancestor.

On the regiment page, the list of companies will give the county or counties where many men were recruited.

Note: The Research Wiki will eventually have information about each regiment including links to many Internet sites, lists of books, pictures, etc. If the Research Wiki does not yet have information about your ancestor's regiment, please check back.  If you know additionl information about the regiment or company, please add it or send the information to uswiki@familysearch.org, and we will add it.

Step 5. Internet Databases

Many Internet sites have information about the Civil War and those who fought. Three sites that have broad coverage rather than just 1 or 2 states are Ancestry, Fold3, and FamilySearch. The links below are to lists of databases available on each, so when you go to the sites, you will know what to look for.

Step 6. Check sources listed on the following Wiki pages

- United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865, Part 2
describes records and resources on the national level.
- [state] in the Civil War describes state records and resources. See the list below for links to the state pages.
- The regiment article for the regiment of your soldier gives information about the regiment and its companies with links to the counties where the companies recruited men. For links to the regiment pages, see the table on the state page.
- The county page for the county where a company recruited men describes county records and resources. This is a good way to find records about an ancestor and his family.
- Begin a search for Union records describes major Union records.
- Begin a search for Confederate records describes major Confederate records.

Decide what else you want to find.

Focus your research by deciding to find just one or two things, such as age, death date and place, pension record, or service record.

The chart, US Military Record Selection Table, shows which type of record has the various types of information you may want to find.

Online Classes about the Civil War

States and Regiments in the Civil War

Union Regular Troops

Union Regular Army in the Civil War

Union Volunteers in the Civil War

Veteran Reserve Corps in the Civil War

Confederate Regular Troops

Confederate Regular Troops in the Civil War

Ethnic Groups

State Civil War Records