United States, Civil War and Later Pension Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Civil War Pension Index Cards .

Collection Time Period

The bulk of index cards imaged on this publication refer to pension applications of veterans who served in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1865 (U.S. Civil War).  Other pension records include those of the Spanish-American conflict, Indian wars, the Philippine insurrection, and the first year (1917) of U.S. involvement in World War I.

Record Description

The index is handwritten on preprinted cards with one individual per card.

Record Content

The Civil War pension index includes the following genealogical information:

  • Name of the person claiming the pension
  • Service record of the soldier, including rank, company, and regiment
  • Enlistment date
  • Discharge date
  • Date pension was filed
  • Whether an invalid, widow, or minor
  • Application number
  • Certificate number
  • Additional service information, including company and regiment
  • Death date of the soldier
  • Death place of the soldier

How to Use the Records

To begin your search you will need to know the following:

  • Full name
  • Approximate dates of service

If you are having difficulty finding your ancestor, look for variations in the spelling of the name. If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.

Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records.

For example:

  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.

You may also find these search tips helpful:

  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been seeking the pension.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.

Record History

The index was produced to provide easier access to the full pension application files. These records cover about 40 percent of soldiers who served in the Civil War or their widows and minor children.

Why the Record Was Created

Pensions were issued to compensate Civil War veterans and their widows and minor children for their service.

Record Reliability

Pension applications are usually reliable.

Related Websites

FamilySearch Learning Center Civil War Pension Research; Union Soldiers
FamilySearch Learning Center Civil War Research: Learning about Your Union Veteran Ancestor

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Example of a Source Citation for a Record Found in This Collection 

"Civil War Pension Index Cards."  index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org: accessed March 18, 2011). entry for Thomas Moore, served in Pennsylvania Calvary; citing ; NARA publication number T289; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

"Civil War Pension Index Cards," index, FamilySearch; from the National Archives. "Organization index to pension files of veterans who served between 1861 and 1900-[1917]." National Archives, Washington, D.C. FHL microfilm, 765 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Information about creating source citations for FamilySearch Historical Collections is listed in the wiki article Help:How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.