Union Navy in the Civil War

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United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Military Gotoarrow.png U.S. Civil War Gotoarrow.png Union Navy in the Civil War

USS Kearsarge (1861)


During the Civil War, several important naval actions made major impacts on the course of the war.

By the end of the war, the Union Navy had about 1041 ships and other craft.[1]

Union Navy Ships

Below are links to the names of ships with information about dates of service in the Civil War and type of ship with a link to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies where the information came from.

Union Civil War Ships by Name
Union Units

Navy Records

Rendezvous (Enlistment) Reports

  • United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel. Index to rendezvous reports, Civil War, 1861-1865. [S.l.] : U.S. Navy Department, Microphotographic Service, 1943. Alphabetical by name of sailor. Each card shows the name of the individual, rendezvous (place of enlistment or vessel on which enlisted); date of enlistment or return. May provide the date of reassignment or discharge, the names of vessels on which the individual served, or the date of death"--Military Service Records, p. 226. 31 FHL films starting with film 1570558


  • Hamersly, Lewis R. The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps: with a History of Naval Operations During the Rebellion of 1861-5, and a List of the Ships and Officers Participating in the Great Battles.  Bethesda, Maryland : University Publications of America, c1994. Microfiche of original published: Philadelphia : J.B. Lippincott, c1870. 350 p. Digital version on Internet Archives and FamilySearch. Also FHL fiche 6118727
  • Thompson, Kenneth E., Jr. Civil War Commodores and Admirals: a Biographical Directory of All Eighty-eight Union and Confederate Navy Officers who Attained Commissioned Flag Rank During the War. Portland, Maine: Thompson Group Inc, c2001. Includes biographies of the 85 Union flag officers and the 3 Confederate flag officers. FHL book 973 M3t. Libraries with book (WorldCat)


  • United States Marine Corps. United States, Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps, 1798-1892. Washington, District of Columbia : National Archives Microfilm Publications, 1969. Arranged by date, then by ship or location. Digital version: FamilySearch. Film version on 89 films starting with FHL film 929049.

Disapproved Pension Applications

  • Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War and Later Navy Veterans (Navy Widows Originals), 1861-1910. Washington, D.C.: The National Archives, 1986?
  • "The pension applications of widows or dependents include names, ages, residences, and dates and places of birth, marriage, and death...In addition, information about naval commands with which the veteran served, details of battles and campaigns, and activities of individuals may be obtained from application statements, from affidavits of witnesses, and from other documents submitted as proof of service...Furloughs, passes, pay receipts, enlistment papers, discharges, and other records are found in some of the files..."
  • "Each pension application file" is on one or more separate microfiche. "The records are arranged numerically by application or file number.
  • A typical Navy widow's or dependent's disapproved pension application file includes an application; a brief of the case prepared by the Bureau of Pensions; a statement of service supplied by the Navy Department and/or certified copies of the veteran's service record provided by State officials; documentary evidence of service, such as commissions or discharge certificates; affidavits or written declarations made by the widow, dependents, physicians, other veterans, and other persons having knowledge of the facts... --Introduction
  • On 7,034 FHL microfiche starting with fiche 6333805 which is an index.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies

  • United States. Navy Department. General index to official records of the Union and Confederate navies in the War of the Rebellion. New York, New York : Antiquarian Press, 1961. Reprint of original published: Washington : U. S. Government Printing Office, 1927. 1,457 pages. FHL film 924604 Item 2.

The above indexes:

  • U.S. Navy Department. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. 30 Volumes. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894–1922. National Archives Microfilm Publication M275. Similar to the official records of the armies, it is known as the ORN (Official Records . . . Navy). Its two series contain reports and correspondence on the Northern blockade of Southern ports and on matters concerning the Confederate Navy. Volume 1, series II has an index to Union and Confederate ships, statistical data, and muster rolls of confederate vessels. Digital versions at Internet Archive, and FamilySearch. FHL book 973 M2unr; films 1490058–88.

The following is another index to this set:

  • Knox, Dudley W. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion . . . General Index. . . 1927. Reprint, New York, New York: Antiquarian Press, 1961. FHL book 973 M2unr index; film 0924604 item 2. Alphabetically arranged with reference to series and volume number. The page number is located by searching the index in the specific volume referred to in the general index.

A reference aid to the Official Records is:

  • Aimone, Alan C., and Barbara A. Aimone. User’s Guide to the Official Records of the American Civil War. Shippinsburg, Pennsylvania: White Maine Publishing, 1993. FHL book 973 M29ua. Provides a history of the compilation of the official records.


  • Silverstone, Paul H. Warships of the Civil War Navies. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1989. FHL book 973 M2sil. Gives brief service histories of naval vessels and includes many photographs of naval ships.


  • Gaines, W. Craig. Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, c2008. Accounts of more than 2,000 American Civil War–period sunken ships. For each vessel, the book gives its final location, type, dimensions, tonnage, crew size, armament, origin, registry (Union, Confederate, United States, or other country), casualties, circumstances of loss, salvage operations, and sources. Organized alphabetically by geographical location (state, country, or body of water), also includes maps. Indexed by each vessel's names and nicknames.FHL book 973 M26g


Logbooks give information about the officers, number of other seamen on a ship, and the daily incidents pertaining to a ship. The following book is an alphabetical list of ships with the date span of their logbooks available at the National Archives.

  • Bradley, Claudia, et.al., comp. List of logbooks of U.S. Navy ships, stations and miscellaneous units, 1801-1947, Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1978. FHL book 973 M3lo

Other Sources


  • Navy Department. Naval History Division, compiler. Civil War Naval Chronology. 6 parts. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1961–65. FHL film 1550320. A chronological listing of the naval war and important events.

Web Sites


Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is the official blog for the sharing of information about the events of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial.

General Civil War Helps

  • Beginning United States Civil War Research gives steps for finding information about a Civil War soldier or sailor. It covers the major records that should be used. Additional records are described in 'Florida in the Civil War' and 'United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865' (see below).
  • United States Civil War, 1861 to 1865 describes and explains United States and Confederate States records, rather than state records, and how to find them. These include veterans’ censuses, compiled service records, pension records, rosters, cemetery records, Internet databases, published books, etc.


  1. U.S. Navy Department. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. 30 Volumes. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894–1922. National Archives Microfilm Publication M275. Digital versions: Internet Archives. Family History Books. FHL book 973 M2unr; films 1490058–88.