Union Service Records
Compiled Service Records
The Compiled Service Records of volunteer Union soldiers were made by the United States Record and Pension Division of the War Department, beginning in 1890. The Record and Pension Division made card abstracts from documents in the custody of the War Department and from muster, pay, and other rolls borrowed from the Second Auditor of the Treasury. In addition to the cards, original documents that related only to the individual soldier were included.
Envelopes were made for each of the soldiers and card abstracts pertaining to that individual were placed inside along with original documents that related only to that individual. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death. Preceding the jacket-envelopes for the individual soldiers there are some envelopes containing record-of-events cards giving the stations, movements, or activities of the regiment.
The Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of volunteer Union soldiers are available online. In the future, these records will be made available at no charge through the National Archives web site. The service records are also available to access at no charge at National Archives research rooms and any library that provides free access to Fold3.com.
Note: The following Union volunteer records are not available online as of July 2011. To access these records please see Compiled Service Records of Individual States below. Check to see a list of states currently available online at Fold3.
In addition to the above states, the records of Union volunteers that served with the U.S. Colored Troops are only partially online. Check to see a list of regiments currently available online at Fold3.
Compiled Service Records relating to African Americans
The following related records are available on microfilm at the National Archives, The Family History Library as well as online.
- Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Troops Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 1st United States Colored Infantry, 1st South Carolina Volunteers (Colored) Company A, 1st United States Colored Infantry (1 Year). National Archives Microfilm Publication M1819. (also available on Fold3) ($)
- Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 55th Massachusetts Infantry. National Archives Microfilm Publication M1801. (also available on Fold3) ($)
- Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored).National Archives Microfilm Publication M1898. (also available on Fold3) ($)
- Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: Artillery Organizations. National Archives Microfilm Publication M1818. (also available on Fold3) ($).
Compiled Service Records of "Galvanized Yankees"
Listed below are the service records of former Confederates or “galvanized Yankees” who enlisted in the Union from prison camps:
- Compiled Service Records of Former Confederate Soldiers Who Served in the First through Sixth U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiments, 1864–66. National Archives Microfilm Publication M1017. (FHL films 1315687–751; computer number 122843.) (also available on Fold3) ($).
Compiled Service Records of Individual States
The records below all refer to Union soldiers only, even though they may have been serving from Southern states.
|Dakota Territory||Index||M1960||Fold3 ($)|
|District of Columbia||Index|
|Nebraska Territory||Index||M1787||Fold3 ($)|
|Nevada State/Territory||Index||M1789||Fold3 ($)|
|New Mexico Territory||Index||M427||0471538–83||Fold3 ($)|
|North Carolina||Index||M401||1473248–72||Fold3 ($)|
|Utah Territory||Index||M692||0821588||Fold3 ($)|
|West Virginia||Index||M508|| 1478231–475,
Indexes for Compiled Service Records
Indexes for Compiled Service Records
There are microfilmed name indexes for each state. Consult state archives for records of state or local militias or National Guard units that were not federalized. Individual indexes to state volunteer regiments are available on microfilm for every Northern state and every Southern state except South Carolina.
A transcription of the National Archives indexes to compiled Military Service records of Volunteer Union soldiers is:
- The Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861–1865 (FHL 973 M29h) (Worldcat) 33 Volumes. Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Publishing, 1997–. This series is currently in publication.
Additional service indexes for Union soldiers are:
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in the Veteran Reserve Corps National Archives Microfilm Publication M636. (FHL 1205358–83) (Worldcat) Indexes the names of soldiers who were no longer able to serve combat duty but who could still perform limited duty, such as being prison guards and hospital stewards.
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with United States Colored Troops National Archives Microfilm Publication M589. (FHL 1266617–43 and FHL 1266546–616) (Worldcat) Covers many former slaves from the South as well as free African‑Americans who served in the Union Army between 1863 and 1865.
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations Not Raised by States and Territories National Archives Microfilm Publication M1290. (FHL 1604884–920) Indexes records of special units not raised by the states, such as the U.S. Sharpshooters, Indian Home Guard, and former Confederates.
To order compiled military service records from the National Archives see Requesting copies of Civil War service and pension records. To order a service record you must have the soldier's name, rank and unit number.
For medical information about volunteer soldiers who fought in the Civil War, consult the National Archives series, "Carded Medical Records of Volunteer Soldiers in the Mexican and Civil Wars, compiled 1846 - 1865" found in Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 17862-1984, entry 534. These cards relate to volunteers admitted to hospitals for treatment and may include information such as name; rank; organization; complaint; date of admission; hospital to which admitted; and date returned to duty, deserted, discharged, sent to general hospital, furloughed, or died. This series is arranged by state, thereunder by the number of the regiment (cavalry, infantry, and artillery are filed together under the common regiment number) and then by initial letter of surname.
The War Department did not compile military service records for those who served in the Regular Army during this period.
For a register of enlistments, see the Family History Library Catalog or click on the link: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798–1914. National Archives Microfilm Publication M233. (FHL films 350307-350349; 1319378-1319380; 1465934-1465954). The register usually shows the individual's name, military organization, physical description, age at time of enlistment, place of birth, enlistment information, discharge information, and remarks.
The National Archives also maintains a textual record, entitled "Regular Army Enlistment Papers, 1798–1894" (Record Group 94, entry 91). This series is arranged alphabetically by name of soldier and generally shows the soldier's name, place of enlistment, date, by whom enlisted, age, place of birth, occupation, personal description, regimental assignment, and certifications of the examining surgeon and recruiting officer. Soldiers usually have multiple enlistment papers if they served two or more enlistments.
When researching Army officers, researchers should first consult Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, available in two volumes. Volume one, a register of army officers, provides a brief history of each man's service. Volume two contains a "chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated.
The War Department did not maintain or compile personnel files for Regular Army officers until 1863.
For service prior to that date, the best place to start is the series of letters received by the adjutant general entitled, "Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General (Main Series), 1861–1870," National Archives Microfilm Publication M619.
For an officer's military service after 1863, consult the Commission Branch (CB) and Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch (ACP) records: "Letters Received by the Commission Branch of the Adjutant General's Office, 1863–1870," National Archives Microfilm Publication M1064.
The following books may be of help when researching officers:
- General Index to Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States, 1861–65
- Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue
- Officers of the Army and Navy (Volunteer) Who Served in the Civil War
- Officers of the Army and Navy (Regular) Who Served in the Civil War
- Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders
- The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps with a History of Naval Operations during the Rebellion of 1861–65, and a List of the Ships and Officers Participating in the Great Battles
- Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army for the Years 1861, 62, 63, 64, 65
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System allows name searching for soldiers. The result set gives the regiments for the soldiers. Then you can check the Wiki regiment pages to determine counties. Often knowing the counties that had men in a regiment will help you determine if a soldier was your ancestor.
For records of sailors who served in the Union Navy, contact the National Archives. The records have not been filmed and are available only at the National Archives in Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel.
The weekly returns of enlistments, 1855 to 1891, are the records of most value for sailors, particularly those who served between 1855 and 1865. Entries list the sailor’s name, enlistment date, birthplace, age, occupation, personal description, date of or return of enlistment, and record of previous naval service. See the following for more information:
- Baugh, Virgil E., comp. Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel. PI 123. Washington, D.C. 1960.
An index to sailors who enlisted between 1861 and 1865 is listed below: