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Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Most young men living in rural parishes were automatically registered in the levying rolls at the time of birth. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in military levying rolls, family records, biographies, census, probate records, civil registration, and church records.
Before 1700, the Danish army consisted of volunteers, mostly foreigners. In 1701 and in 1733, this army was supplemented with a national militia. Few records exist from this time period, and they contain little genealogical information.
Military records of genealogical value begin about 1788 and 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.
Military records were kept by the national government of Denmark. These records have been centralized at the Military Archive (Hærens Arkiv) in Copenhagen. The Family History Library has many military records, primarily army and navy rolls for 1788 to 1860.
For a list of abbreviations found in the Military Levying Rolls with their meaning see the article Denmark: Abbreviations in Army Levying Rolls.
Information on soldiers serving after this time may be obtained by writing to the Military Archive in Copenhagen. See the "Archives and Libraries" section.
The records you will find include:
- Army and navy levying rolls.
- Personnel files.
- Regimental account books.
- Letters of deportment.
- Lists of officers.
- Pension records.
- Naval records.
Military Records of Genealogical Value
Only certain military records are useful for Danish research. The following records include information on most soldiers and sailors and are relatively easy to search.
Army Levying Rolls Military levying rolls are a major source for genealogical research in Denmark. Levying rolls often help you follow a male ancestor as he moved from parish to parish. Doing this can help you determine where he was living when other important records were compiled, such as census and church records. Starting in 1788, all males from the time of birth until age 34 were listed on a parish roll of potential draftees. Each name entered was assigned a number. Each time a new regular roll was taken (at three-year intervals), each man's personal number became smaller. Every parish in the county was also assigned a number. This number was permanently assigned to identify the parish. If an individual moved from one parish to another, the roll usually indicates the new parish's number and the person's supplemental number. Using the supplemental number you can trace your ancestor as he moved to a new parish and then continue your research.
Naval Records [Søruller]. Before 1802 these rolls were included with the army rolls, except for Fyn, where they began in 1796. Port cities often have separate rolls. The rolls are divided into main rolls (active) and extra rolls (reserve). Information found in the main rolls includes the conscript's name, birthplace, age, height, marital status, number of children, residence, father's name, parish number, present and next serial entry number, date and number of seaman's certificate, occupation, ability to serve, reasons for not serving, remarks, transfers, and deaths. If the conscript was at sea, the rolls give the home port of ship, name of captain, expected date of return.
Extra rolls used for the reserve are similar to the main or active rolls except for date of transfer, reason for the transfer, and the sailor's former number in the main rolls. Names can remain on the sea roll until the seaman's death.
Naval rolls have a slightly different format than army rolls, but they are not difficult to follow. When a person is added to a complete roll, he will commonly be placed in the first vacated number of that district rather than at the end.
If your ancestor was an officer, there are some other sources with genealogical information. A card index of Danish army officers, 1757-1890, and a card index of Berliens collection of army officers and personnel is listed in the Family History Library Catalog under DENMARK - MILITARY RECORDS - INDEXES.
Military records for Denmark are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:
DENMARK - MILITARY RECORDS
DENMARK - [COUNTY] - MILITARY RECORDS
DENMARK - [REGION] - MILITARY RECORDS
Denmark was involved in the following military actions:
1563-70 The Seven Years' War of the North
1611-13 The Kalmar War
1643-45 Conflict between Denmark and Sweden 1657-1658 War with Sweden. Loss of Scanian Provinces including Bornholm. 1660 War with Sweden. Bornholm is returned to Denmark. 1675-79 The Scanian War.
1700-20 The Great Northern War
1805-15 Napoleonic Wars
1863-64 The Danish-Prussian War
1914-18 First World War
1939-45 Second World War
Military histories are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under:
DENMARK - MILITARY HISTORY
DENMARK, [COUNTY] - MILITARY HISTORY