California Military Records

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United States Military Records>California

Template:Adoption CA State Genealogical Alliance

The United States Military Records Wiki article provides more information on federal military records and search strategies.

Many military records are at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. The United States Wiki article provides more information on the federal records. For California the following sources are especially helpful:


Alcatraz -- 1850, became a military prison in 1907, federal prison 1934-19

Fort Anderson -- 1862-1866


Encyclopedia of Indian Wars Western Battles and Skirmishes 1850-1890. by Gregory F. Michno. Mountain Press publishing Co., Missoula, Montana C. 2003 ISBN 0-87842-468-7

Indian Wars

  • Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815-1858 (Family History Library films 882753-94).
  • Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914 (beginning on Family History Library film 350307).
  • Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926 (Family History Library films 821603-09).
  • Pension Index Files, Indian Wars, 1892-1926 (Family History Library films 821610-21).

Civil War (1861-1865)

  • The Family History Library has an index to compiled military service records of Union Army volunteers from California (films 881609-15). The compiled military service records and the pension records have not been microfilmed and are only available at the National Archives. The Family History Library has the pension index on microfilm.
  • An exhaustive list of the Civil War volunteers is found in Richard H. Orton, Records of California Men in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1867 (Sacramento, California: State Office, 1890; Family History Library book 979.4 M2a; film 1000133 item 4; fiche 6051180). An index to this list is J. Carlyle Parker, A Personal Name Index to Orton's "Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1867" (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1978; FHL 979.4 M2a Index).
  • Civil War Pension Index Cards - A free Internet index to pension applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch Record Search. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. Other wars, of that time period, may be included.

World War I (1917-1918)

World War I draft registration cards for men age 18 to 45 may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, citizenship, and next of kin. Not all registrants served in the war. For registration cards for California, see:

  • United States. Selective Service System. California. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1987-1988. (Beginning on Family History Library film 1530652.)

To find an individual's draft card, it helps to know his name and residence at the time of registration. The cards are arranged alphabetically by county, within the county by draft board, and then alphabetically by surname within each draft board.

Most counties had only one board; large cities had several. A map showing the boundaries of individual draft boards is available for most large cities. Finding an ancestor's street address in a city directory will help you in using the draft board map. There is an alphabetical list of cities that are on the map. For a copy of this map see:

  • United States. Selective Service System. List of World War One Draft Board Maps. Washington, D.C.: National Archives. (FHL film 1498803.)

Additional Records

The California State Archives has military records from the California Adjutant General's office dating from 1849 to 1945. These include papers of the California Militia from 1850 to 1916, registers of California Volunteers in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, records of California National Guard Units, and enlistment records from World War I and World War II. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some of these records from 1858 to 1923 on 35 rolls. Records from World War I that include name, biographical, geographical, and newspaper card files are on the last 17 rolls of this set.

Web Sites


California. (originally published as a research outline.)Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2003.