Beginning War of 1812 Research

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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png War of 1812 Gotoarrow.png Beginning US War of 1812 Research

War of 1812 northern map.png


Many records are available to help you find information about your War of 1812 ancestor. The following are good steps to start:

Step 1. Identify an ancestor who may have served in the War of 1812

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 1782 and 1796. Some were as young as 10 or as old as 70, which widens the birth years to between 1742 and 1804.

- Location:
United States - Soldiers came from all the states in existence at that time.
(18 states and 5 territories and District of Columbia)
States= Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts (including Maine), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia
Territories= Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri,
Canada - Most soldiers came from Ontario.
Britain - Most soldiers were regular troops, so they could have come from anywhere in the British Isles, though most were from England.

Step 2. Identify the location where your ancestor lived around 1812

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

  • The 1810 federal census for the soldier or his family. The following have digital versions of the 1810 census:
- FamilySearch (Free) United States Census, 1810
- Ancestry ($) 1810 United States Federal Census
- Heritage Quest ($) Census
  • The 1820 federal census for the soldier or his family.  The following have digital versions of the 1820 census:
- Family Search (Free) United States Federal 1820 Census
- Ancestry ($) 1820 United States Federal Census
- Heritage Quest ($) Census

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:

  • NARA, War of 1812 Discharge Certificates
-Appendix II: List of Company/Detachment Commanders gives name, rank, and regiment.
-Appendix III: List of Soldiers by Name gives name, year, regiment, and company.
These do not list every commander or soldier, but it is a great place to check.
  • FamilySearch. United States, War of 1812 Index to Service Records, 1812-1815. This is a browsable name index to compiled military service records of volunteer soldiers who served in the War of 1812. The files are located in the National Archives in Washington D.C. This collection is a part of RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917 and is National Archive Microfilm Publication M602.
  • FamilySearch. United States, War of 1812 Index to Pension Application Files, 1812-1910 Name index and images of the jacket-envelope that contains the pension application files located in the National Archives. The envelope will provide soldier name and military service information as well as widow name and pension and bounty land numbers. This collection is part of Record Group 15 Records of the Veterans Administration and is National Archives Microfilm publication M313.

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

The article will list books and web sites that may have information about your ancestor. See below for links to the state Wiki article.

Step 5. Internet Databases

Many Internet sites have information about the War of 1812 and those who fought.

  • Ancestry ($) has many records, both published and manuscript, about the War of 1812.
  • Fold3 ($) is digitizing many of the War of 1812 records at NARA.
  • FamilySearch Historical Record Collections is digitizing War of 1812 records.

Step 6. Check sources listed on the following Wiki pages

- United States in the War of 1812 describes records and resources on the national level.
- [state] in the War of 1812 describes state records and resources. See the list below for links to the state pages.
- 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.

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.

U.S. Troops in the War of 1812

State Troops

Many additional records have been created either by the state or about the state. Click the state of interest below to see explanations of these records and for links to pages about the each of the state's military units.

 Additional States with War of 1812 Records

Regular Troops

These troops were supported solely by the federal government rather than partly by a state. The men came from many states, but the troops were not organized by state.


Ethnic Groups

Canadian Troops in the War of 1812

Provincial Militia

British Troops in the War of 1812

Troops in Canada