North Carolina Military Records
Many military records for North Carolina are at the National Archives. Microfilm copies of many of these are at the Family History Library and at other federal and state archives. A comprehensive description of military history and records of North Carolina is given in Chapter 33 of Helen F. M. Leary’s North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History listed in the "For Further Reading" section at the end of this outline. See also:
Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1994. Ancestry is a trademark of Ancestry, Inc. (Family History Library book 973 M23nu.) This book describes federal military records, then discusses each state individually. Pages 308–313 provide details of military records housed in various archives in North Carolina, many of which are not microfilmed.
For each war listed below, additional federal sources are listed in the United States Military Records. It contains search strategies and information to guide you to the best records for your objective.
The North Carolina State Archives has most of the existing military records, such as: the colonial wars, the state militia, the Continental Line, American Loyalists, soldiers’ homes, and gravestone files.
Fort Butler (Murphy, North Carolina)
Fort Johnston -- Textual records of this fort, 1867-1881, including registers, reports, and correspondence, are in the National Archives and are described in Records of United States Army, Continental Commands, 1821-1920, under the section entitled Records of Posts, 1820-1940 (Record Group 393.7).
Fort Macon 1834-76
Fort Prince George
Post of Raleigh -- Textual records of this post, 1865-1877, including registers, reports, and correspondence, are in the National Archives and are described in Records of United States Army, Continental Commands, 1821-1920, under the section entitled Records of Posts, 1820-1940 (Record Group 393.7).
Colonial Wars (1732–1775)
During the French and Indian War, 1755–1763, some North Carolina soldiers fought against the French and Indians. A list of these soldiers is found in:
Clark, Murtie June. Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732–1774. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1983. (Family History Library book 975 M29c.) This book gives the dates when a soldier served. The North Carolina soldiers are listed on pages 629–879, and the book is well indexed. The date, name of soldier, county of residence, military company, and rank are usually given.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina: Published under the Supervision of the Trustees of the Public Libraries, by Order of the General Assembly is described in the "Public Records" section of this outline. Volume 22 includes records of the Granville County Militia (1771), Oaths of Allegiance (1778), the Spanish Alarm (1747–1748), militia returns (1754–1755, 1758, and 1767), the War of the Regulators (1770–1771), and correspondence of governors and others (1775–1789).
Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
A man who was born in North Carolina between about 1710 and 1765 may be listed in some form of military record. If he supported the Revolution, he may be mentioned in the records as a rebel, patriot, or Whig. Those who opposed the Revolution were referred to as Loyalists or Tories.
For an Internet site on this subject, see:
North Carolina in the Revolutionary War. In NCGenWeb Military Project [database on-line]. N.p., 1999 [cited 15 December 2007]. Available at www.rootsweb.com/~ncrevwar/ncrevwar.htm. This site shows information about military units, enlisted men, books, mailing lists, record repositories, and related web sites.
Patriots. A published list of North Carolina soldiers is:
Daughters of the American Revolution (North Carolina). Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution: With an Appendix Containing a Collection of Miscellaneous Records. N.p.: NCDAR, 1932. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2d; film 1036677 item 3; fiche 6046553.) There is a reprint edition: Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1977. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2d 1977; film 1036687 item 4.) Contained in this book are many types of records: pension lists for 1818, 1832, and 1835; land grants, vouchers, and claims; and lists of soldiers by regiment and company. The book is well indexed.
Following is a source that indexes North Carolina Revolutionary War records:
United States. War Department. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteers Soldiers Who Served during the Revolutionary War in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M257. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1958. (Family History Library films 821595–96.)
Many Revolutionary War patriots were granted bounty lands in Tennessee and South Carolina. See the "Land and Property" section of the research outlines for those states for more information. No land in North Carolina was given to veterans.
For detailed information about national Revolutionary War service and pension records, cemetery records, and lineage society records, see the United States Military.
Loyalists. For information about North Carolina Loyalists, see:
Clark, Murtie Jane. Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. 3 vols. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1981. (Family History Library book 975 F2cm.) Volume 1 includes North Carolina musters, pay abstracts, and other records.
DeMond, Robert O. The Loyalists in North Carolina during the Revolution. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1979. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2dr.) This volume outlines the history of the Loyalists in North Carolina and lists many of their names.
Troxler, Carole W. The Loyalist Experience in North Carolina. Zebulon, North Carolina: Theo. Davis Sons, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.6 A1 no.128.) This book has information about many Loyalists and tells of their exodus to New York, the Bahamas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
Many persons who were Loyalists are not mentioned in the above volumes because they did not survive to apply for British compensation. Their names may be found in the Hillsboro, Morgan, and Salisbury district court records. Reconnaissance bonds were placed on the Loyalists’ heads. The money for the bonds was pledged by friends, and their names are listed in the court records. The Family History Library has the minutes of district court proceedings regarding these bonds. The loose papers are only at the North Carolina State Archives. See also the topic "Loyalist Land Losses" in the "Land and Property" section.
War of 1812 (1812–1815)
The Family History Library has indexes to the federal service and pension files for the War of 1812. See the U.S. Military Records Research Outline for details and for sources not mentioned below.
The National Archives has the original service and pension records. They are not filmed, but the following important sources are available:
Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 Detached from The Militia of North Carolina, in 1812 and 1814. 1851. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2mr; film 1036618 item 6.) This indexed volume indicates the county in which each soldier enlisted.
Jackson, Ronald Vern. North Carolina Military Muster Rolls 1812 and 1814. Salt Lake City, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1989. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2j.) The book is arranged alphabetically, and the county where the soldier enlisted is mentioned.
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the War of 1812 in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M250. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1958. (Family History Library films 880838–42.)
Indian Wars (1711–1858)
The regular army, often assisted by volunteer units, fought in various campaigns against American Indians. These include the Seminole or Florida Wars (1817–18, 1835–1842, and 1855–58), Black Hawk War (1832), and the Creek War (1836–37).
The following index is available:
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during Cherokee Disturbances and Removal in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M256. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1958. (Family History Library film 368686.) This source lists soldiers who served in the period 1836–39. It generally gives their rank, date enrolled, date mustered out, and company.
For detailed information about national service and pension records from the Indian Wars, see the U.S. Military Records Outline.
Mexican War (1846–1848)
About 1,000 North Carolina soldiers were involved in the Mexican War. The following records are available:
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Mexican War. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M616. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1965. (Family History Library films 1205336–57.)
Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1887–1926. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T317. Washington DC: Veteran’s Administration, 1967. (Family History Library films 537000–7013.)
Civil War (1861–1865)
North Carolina seceded from the Union in May of 1861. However, soldiers from the state served in both the Union and Confederate armies.
For an Internet site with information about North Carolina in the Civil War and links to related web sites, see:
Weaver, Jeffrey C. "North Carolina Civil War Home Page" [database on-line]. N.p., 22 February 1999 [cited 4 August 1999]. Available at: http://members.aol.com/jweaver303/nc/nccwhp.htm. This site has information about election statistics, lists of confederate units, descendant organizations, and unit histories.
Union. The National Archives has the Civil War service records, pension records, and indexes for the Union Army. The Family History Library has copies of the service record and pension indexes:
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M391. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1962. (Family History Library films 881590–91.)
United States. Veterans’ Administration. General Index to Pension Files, 1861–1934. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T0288. Washington, DC: Veterans’ Administration, Publications Service, 1953. (Family History Library films 540757–541300.)
Confederate. For lists of North Carolina Confederate soldiers, see:
Manarin, Lois H., and Weymouth T. Jordan, comps. North Carolina Troops, 1861–1865: A Roster. 15 vols. Raleigh, North Carolina: State Department of Archives and History, 1966–. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2nc; film 1697997 item 3 has vol. 13; fiche 6088179 has vols. 1–13, film 1425054 item 20 has vol. 14.) This series contains extensive biographical information about soldiers in the Confederate army, beginning with the 1st regiment and ending with the 56th. Information may include the soldier’s age, occupation, residence at time of enlistment, county of birth, date of enlistment, service information, transfers, desertions, hospital confinement, and death during the war. Each volume is indexed. A combined index for all volumes is:
Roster (Index) of North Carolina Troops in the War between the States. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Dept. of Archives and History, 1958. (Family History Library films 194214–28.)
North Carolina granted pensions to its Confederate veterans or their widows in 1885 and in 1901. The pension records and an index are at the North Carolina State Archives and on film at the Family History Library:
North Carolina. State Auditor. Applications for Confederate Soldier’s and Widow’s Pensions, 1885–ca. 1953. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958, 1988; Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Department of Archives and History. (On 105 Family History Library films beginning with 175779; indexed on Family History Library film 1547723) Applications may give age, residence, service information, death information about the soldier, name of the widow, and sometimes children’s and grandchildren’s names. If a widow remarried and her second husband died, she could still apply for a pension because of the service of the first husband.
Pensions. The pension applications are in three files: (1) 1885-1901; (2) after 1901; and, (3) some "after 1901" material that belongs in the 1885- 1901 file. The dates indicated for each item are not always reliable. For this reason, the archive staff has been removing "After 1901" material that belongs in the earlier file. Also, the earlier file contains a small a mount of material created prior to 1885.
Confederate Pension applications (1885-1901): The first general pension law in North Carolina for Confederate veterans and widows (Chapter 214) was passed in 1885. This law provided for the payment of $30.00 annually to Confederate veterans who were residents of the state and who had lost a leg, eye, or arm, or who were incapacitated for manual labor while in the service of the Confederate States during the Civil War. Widows of soldiers who were killed in service were entitled to the same benefits as long as they did not remarry. Any person, however, who owned property with a tax value of $500.00 or received a salary of $300.00 per year from the nation, state, or county was not eligible. Chapter 116 of the laws of 1887 amended the 1885 law to include widows of soldiers who had died of disease while in service, the next general pension law was passed in 1889 and remained in effect until it was amended in 1901. Applications had to be certified, witnessed, and filed with the county commissioners who in turn sent them to the State Auditor.
Confederate Pension applications (After 1901): In 1901, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed a new pension law (Chapter 332). Under the new act "Every person who has been for twelve months immediately preceeding his or her application for pension bona fide resident of the State, and who is incapacitated for manual labor and was a soldier or a sailor in the service of the State of North Carolina or of the Confederate States of America, during the war between the States (provided, said widow was married to said soldier or sailor before the first day of April, 1865)" was entitled to a pension. The pensioners were divided into four classes: First class, totally incompetent from wounds to perform manual labor, $72.00 per year; second class, those who lost a leg above the knee or an arm above the elbow, $60.00 annually; third class, those who lost a foot or leg below the knee or a hand or an arm below the elbow or had a limb rendered useless from a wound, $48.00 annually; fourth class, those who lost one eye, widows, and those unfit for manual labor, $30.00 annually. Certain persons were excluded from benefits under general pension acts. No person holding a national, state, or county office for which he received $300.00 annually, no person with property valued at $500.00 or more, or no person receiving aid under laws for relief of totally blind and maimed was eligible (inmates of the Soldiers' Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were excluded from benefits under the pension acts, although inmates of the Soldiers' Home were granted quarterly allowences of $1.50 in 1909 -- increased to $3.00 quarterly in 1913). Practically each succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. These changes are reflected in the collected series of applications and are too numerous to mention.
Confederate Pension applications (After 1901) supplement: This collection of documents were originally a part of the 1901 series, but during the last few years the Archives staff has been carefully reexamining each file in the collection. As a result these documents were found that were written before 1901. The staff hasn't completed its task yet, in fact, it's only about half way through. So this collection only goes from A to K. These documents will probably be merged with the 1885 series in the future, about right now are a separate series. Most of the documents in the series are applications for entrance into the Soldier's Home. Since some of the people in this series aren't included in either of the other series they are all shown here.
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M230. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1956. (Family History Library films 821768–810.) This source can help you determine if an ancestor served in the Civil War. The records are listed by regiment, then company. These films index the following records:
United States. Record and Pension Office. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M270. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1960. (Family History Library films 1381001–500 and 1447001–80.) These microfilms have cards with Civil War service information about individual soldiers. The records are listed by regiment, battalion, or company.
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.
Unit Histories. An important inventory for finding Civil War military histories is:
A Guide to the Microfiche Edition of Civil War Unit Histories: Regimental Histories and Personal Narratives. Part 1, Confederate States of America and Border States. Bethesda, Maryland: University Publications of America, 1992. (Family History Library book 973 M2cwu pt.1.) North Carolina units are listed on pages 61–66. The library has the large microfiche collection described in this guide. Use the library catalog to find individual items that may include correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and regimental histories published before 1920. The guide shows the unit name, counties where it was raised, author, title, publication information, number of pages, and source repository. This guide also includes an author index and a major engagements index.
Southern Claims Commission. If a Union sympathizer in North Carolina claimed a loss during the Civil War due to Union military confiscation, he could apply to the Southern Claims Commission for reimbursement. Only a few per county applied, but their neighbors were called as witnesses and asked dozens of questions. Hundreds of the residents in a county may be mentioned in answers to Commission questions, and their wartime activities described. To learn how to find records mentioning these neighbors in North Carolina counties during the Civil War see the Southern Claims Commission.
State Soldiers’ Home. North Carolina had a soldiers’ home in Raleigh. Three alphabetical listings of the veterans in the home from 1890–1936 are among the Auditor General’s records in the state archives.
Guidebook. A useful source for learning more about the Civil War records of North Carolina is:
Guide to Civil War Records in the North Carolina State Archives. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1966. (Family History Library book 975.6 A3n; film 908225 item 2.)
Spanish-American War (1898–1899)
North Carolina raised three regiments of volunteers from the state guard and active militia for this conflict. None of the soldiers saw serious action. In 1900 the office of the North Carolina adjutant general published the following unindexed roster:
Roster of the North Carolina Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898–1899. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton, 1900. (Family History Library film 18079 item 2.)
World War I (1917–1918)
World War I draft registration cards, for men ages 18 to 45, may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, occupation, citizenship, and next of kin. Not all registrants served in the war. For North Carolina’s cards, see:
United States. Selective Service System. North Carolina, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 81 Family History Library films beginning with 1765557.)
Also online at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/WWIdraft.html
To find a person’s draft card, it helps to know his name and residence at the time of registration, since the cards are arranged alphabetically by county, within the county by draft board, and then alphabetically by surname. Counties may have had more than one draft board.
For a list of soldiers who died in World War I, see:
Haulsee, W. M. Soldiers of the Great War. 3 vols. Washington, DC: Soldiers Record Pub. Association, 1920. (Family History Library book 973 M23s; fiche 6051244.) Volume 2 has information on North Carolina soldiers and includes the names of those who were killed in action or died of disease or accident. The place of residence is given, and there are photographs of about 500 North Carolina soldiers.
World War II and Later Wars
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of military discharge papers from 1918 to the 1970s for many counties. Military discharge papers may show a person’s birthplace, birth date, service information, and disability condition. The original records are kept by the register of deeds in each county.
Military records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search of under:
NORTH CAROLINA- MILITARY RECORDS
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- MILITARY RECORDS
North Carolina Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.