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Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Most young men were required to serve in or register for military service in Argentina. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family records, biographies, census, probate records, civil registration, and church records.
Military records in Argentina begin with the Spanish military records in the colonial period before Argentina’s independence and continue with the nation’s own records. They give information about an ancestor's military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records usually include information about his age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members. Many military records in Argentina provide very few details about individuals other than officers.
In the late 15th century, during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, one out of every 12 Spanish males between the ages of 12 and 45 was required to serve in the army. In 1773, Charles III established the quinta system, which required every fifth Spanish male to serve in the military.
The Quinta system was not practiced in Argentina. The Colonial armies included four kinds of troops:
- Spanish soldiers assigned to temporary service in the colonies.
- Spanish soldiers permanently assigned to colonial service.
- Provincial militia
- Local militia
The provincial militias were composed of men from the colonies, but the officers were almost exclusively from Spain. Local militias were created toward the end of the 18th century for community defense. Both the provincial and local militias were instrumental in the independence movement.
Except for the military records in the Archivo Historico Nacional, almost all of the military records since the organization of the Argentine military are in the Archivo Historico del Ejercito.
The provincial archive do have historical military accounts in which you may be able to find mention of some military personnel. The Family History Library has a few of these military records, primarily for the 18th and 19th centuries.
Military archives is open to the public. You do need to show the purpose of your visit and relationship to the person you are researching, and perhaps a letter of recommendation. Following are addresses of the military archives in Argentina:
- Archivo Historico Nacional (Mayor del Ejercito)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Biblioteca del Circulo Militar Argentino
Avenida Santa Fe 750
Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Escuela Superior de Guerra
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Census records also have information on military personnel. For example the 1895 census of San Martin in the province of Buenos Aires, records the cadets which were enrolled in the college Colegio Militar de la Nacion. Most of the officers for the army came out of this college. Also in the census of the city of Buenos Aires you can find listings of marines who belonged to the Prefectura Maritima.
A census taker may have also recorded a squadron which was posted in the outlying provinces. Military records are potentially of great genealogical value. For Argentine research in the military records is not practical. They are difficult to access, partially destroyed, and may not be indexed.
Other sources such as church records and civil registration are more easily available and contain much of the same information. The few military records that have been microfilmed are unindexed, but can be searched.
To use Argentinian military records, you will have to determine the specific unit that your ancestor served in. If the records of your ancestor do not provide this information, it may be possible to learn which units were inducted in the area where he lived. To do this, you must know at least the town where the individual was living when he was of military age.
The following dates are important to the military history of Argentina:
1580 Spain established Buenos Aires.
1776 Spain created the Viceroyalty of La Plata.
1806–7 British troop tried to seize Buenos Aires to establish a British Colony, to have a foothold in the region for British trade. Local troops fought them off.
1812 Jose de San Martin lead fight against Spain.
1816 Argentina declared its independence from Spain. The Ejército de los Andes received official sanction and Jóse de San Martín is named General of the army.
1859 Justo Jose de Urquiza tries to get Buenos Aires to join the Confederation. He defeated the Buenos Aires army led by General Bartolomé Mitre.
1930 Army officers overthrew the elected government.
1955 A military revolt overthrew the Perón dictatorship.
1976 Military leaders removed Isabel Perón from office.
1982 War with Greath Britain over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).
For more historical information about the Argentinian military see:
- Grau, Carlos A. El Fuerte 25 de Mayo en Cruz de Guerra. (The Fort 25th of May in Cruz de Guerra.). La Plata: Dirección de Impresiones Oficiales, 1949. (FHL book 982.12/V1 H2g.)
- Reseña Histórica de la Infantería Argentina. (Review History of the Argentine Infantry). Buenos Aires: Círculo Militar, 1969. (FHL book 982 M2r.)
- Rodríquez, Augusto G.Reseña Histórica del Ejército Argentino 1862–1930. (Review History of the Argentine army 1862–1930). Buenos Aires: Dirección de Estudio Históricos, 1964–. (FHL book 982 M25ro.)
Also any general encyclopedia will give you a good history of the military history of Argentina.
Resources at the Family History Library
Additional military histories are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:
ARGENTINA - MILITARY HISTORY
ARGENTINA, (PROVINCE) - MILITARY HISTORY
Military Records of Genealogical Value The following records include information on most soldiers, and can be useful in researching your family.
- Hojas de servicio (Service records). Lists of officers’s name, birth date, birthplace, family information, and military ranks and assignments.
- Expedientes personales (Personal petitions files). Personal requests by servicemen such as their petitioning for military advancements after citing their military record. The files may include a number of documents of genealogical interest, such as family baptismal and marriage certificates.
- Listas de quintas o conscripciones (Conscription Lists). Lists of new recruits and in some cases a census of all males eligible for military service. The town or municipal archives (Archivo de Ayuntamiento) sometimes house these records.
- Filiaciones (Enlistments). Lists of common soldiers in the military, excluding officers. Enlistments include the soldiers’s name, birth date and birthplace, parents’ names, residence, religion, marital status, and physical description. They may also list the soldier’s military history. Enlistments are less likely than service sheets to be indexed.
- Padrones y Listas de Revistas (Census and muster rolls). Censuses of military men and their families were often taken in various areas.
The census records may include all the citizens who were served and protected by the military outpost.
For more information on the military records of Argentina, including where the records are found, see:
- Ryskamp, George R. Tracing Your Hispanic Heritage. Riverside, Calif.: Hispanic Family History Research, 1984, pp. 591–632. (FHL book 946 D27r.)
Spanish Military Records
The Spanish military records are located in several archives in Spain. The records include Spanish soldiers who served in Argentina in the colonial era as well as soldiers from Argentina who joined the Spanish service. The records of the Army are found in the archives of Simancas, Sevilla, and Segovia.
A listing of Spanish civil and military archives that contain military service records is found in:
- Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de. Archivos Militares y Civiles donde se Conservan Fondos de Carácter Castrense Relacionados con Expedientes Personales de Militares. (Military and Civil Archives Which Hold Sources of a Military Nature Dealing with Records of Military Men). Madrid: Hidalguía, 1963. (FHL book 946 m2.)
The most extensive military archive in Spain is the Archivo General Militar de Segovia (General Military Archive of Segovia). Service files of soldiers and officers are housed in the archive.
You may obtain information about an individual by writing to:
- Archivo General Militar de Segovia Secretaria General del Ejército Subsecretaria
Archivo Militar de Segovia Alcázar 40071
If your ancestor was an officer, check the published indexes of the Archivo General Militar.
The files on officers are indexed (those of common soldiers are not) and references may be found in:
- Cadenas y Vicent, Vicente de. Indice de Expedientes Personales. (Index to Personal Records). 9 vols. Madrid: Hidalguía, 1959–1963. (FHL book 946 m23s.)
- Ocerin, Enrique de. Indice de los Expedientes Matrimoniales de Militares y Marinos.(Index to Marriage Records of Soldiers and Sailors). Madrid: Zurita, 1959. (FHL book 946 M2oe; film 0897927 item 1.)
In your written request to the Archivo General Militar, include the name of the index you used, the page number of the information, and a copy of the information in the index about your ancestor.
The Archivo General de Simancas (General Archive of Simacas) in Spain houses military records of Spanish soldiers who served in the Americas from 1780 to 1810. An alphabetic listing and index of these soldiers is found in:
- Catálogo XXII del Archivo de Simancas (Catalog XXII of the Archive of Simancas). Valladolid: Secretaríade Guerra, c1958. (FHL book 946 m23e.)
For additional military records of Spain, you may write to the following archives:
- Archivo General de Simancas
Carretera de Salamanca C.P. 47130 Simanacas, Valladolid, Spain Servicio Histórico de Segovia
- Archivo General Militar Plaza Reina Victoria Eugenia s/n C.P. 40071 Segovia, Spain
Archivo General de Indias Avda. De la Constitución C.P. 41004 Sevilla, Spain Military Records at the Family History
Some of the Argentine military records and Spanish military records that list service in Argentina at the Family History Library include:
- Tomas de razón: de despachos militares, cédulas de premio, retiros, empleos civiles y eclesiásticos, donativos, etc., 1740–1821.(Alphabetical index to registrations of government personnel, including the military, the civil service and the Catholic Church). Buenos Aires: El Archivo, 1925. (FHL book 982 N22t; film 1614820 item 8.) This is an index by surname of the personnel listing military status, regiment, citing book, page and date of original document, which are housed in the National Archives.
- Censo Argentino, ejército de operaciones en el Paraguay, 1869.(Argentine Census of Army of Operations in Paraguay, 1869). Buenos Aires: Archivo General de la Nación, 1992. (FHL film 1840686 items 1–2.) This record is not indexed but is on a printed form and easy to search. It lists name, age, sex, civil statues, nationality, province of birth or country, profession, etc.
- Batallón de Buenos Aires: Varias filiaciones, regimientos, y listas de revistas 1778–1809. (Battalion of Buenos Aires: Muster rolls, regimental registers, and review lists 1778–1809). Buenos Aires: Archivo General de la Nación, 1992. (FHL film 1840686 item 3.) These are miscellaneous documents which are not indexed and are hard to read but have good information on the personnel listed.
The following two records are on printed forms and give the same type of personal data: name, age, province or country of birth, health, service record, war complaints, and civil status. These records are easy to search.
- Fojas de servicio, siglos XVIII–XIX: Buenos Aires. (Service records from the 18th and 19th centuries: Buenos Aires). Buenos Aires: Archivo General de la Nación, 1992. (FHL film 1840688 item 2–3 [surnames A–G] and 1840689 [surnames I–Z].)
- Hojas de Servicios Militares de América: Virreinato de Buenos Aires, 1787– 1799. (Military Service Records of America: Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires, 1787–1799). Madrid: Servicio Nacional de Microfilm, 1971. (FHL film 1156322–1156323.) This record has an index in the FHL book 946 M23e.