Rhode Island Military Records
The U.S. Military Records provides more information on federal military records and search strategies.
Many military records are found at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. The United States Research Outline provides more information about the federal records. For Rhode Island, the following sources are also very helpful:
Colonial Wars (1731-1774)
Published rosters of soldiers include:
Chapin, Howard. M. A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in King George's War: 1740-1748. Providence: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1920. (FHL book 974.5 M2ch; film 1425647 item 11.)
Chapin, Howard M. Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars; A List of Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors in the Old French and Indian War 1755-1762. Providence: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1918. (FHL book 974.5 M2c; film 1425576 item 5.)
The Rhode Island Historical Society has additional military records of soldiers who served from 1731 to 1774 (FHL films 953925-30).
Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
The Family History Library and the National Archives have the federal service and pension records and indexes for the Revolutionary War. The Rhode Island Historical Society also has military papers for 1774 to 1792 (FHL film 953931-37; 954925-55).
A published roster of soldiers is in Benjamin Crowell, Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island. . . . (Boston: A. J. Wright, 1850; FHL book 974.5 M2cbe; fiche 6046885). An index is in Volume 12 of Vital Records of Rhode Island (see the "Vital Records" section of this outline). This volume also lists officers and pensioners living in 1820, 1835, and 1840 (FHL book 974.5 V2a; film 908273 item 2; fiche 6046912).
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
The Family History Library has copies of the National Archives federal service and pension indexes. The library also has state military papers that include some enlistment certificates for soldiers (FHL films 954957-58).
Civil War (1861-1865)
Indexes to service (FHL films 821940-46) and pension records of Union army soldiers are on film at the Family History Library. The service and pension records are available only at the National Archives.
A published roster of soldiers is in Rhode Island Adjutant General, Annual Report of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations For the Year 1865, 1866, Revised, Two Volumes. (Providence: E. L. Freeman, 1893-95; FHL book 974.5 M2ri; film 982363; fiche 6046949; 1866 ed. on film 908721). This includes each soldier's residence, his date of enlistment, his dates of muster-in and muster-out, and regimental sketches.
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 Rhode Island, see:
United States. Selective Service System. Rhode Island, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1987-1988. (On FHL films beginning with 1852212.)
has these cards online for a fee.
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, DC: National Archives. (FHL film 1498803.)
Additional Military Records
The Rhode Island State Archives has a card index to military and naval records for the years 1774 to 1805. The Family History Library has a copy on 19 microfilms (FHL films 934758-74 and 1000369).
State records from the World War I to the present are at the Adjutant General's Office, Command Readiness Center, 645 New London Ave., Cranston, Rhode Island 02920- 3097, Telephone: 401-457-4102, Fax: 401-457-4338.