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Military records identify millions of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family traditions, census records, naturalization records, biographies, cemetery records, and records of veterans’ organizations. Military records can give birth, marriage, and death dates; spouses’ and children’s names; and places of residence throughout the life of the family.

Military records are found at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. The Kentucky Military History Museum in Frankfort (which is part of the Kentucky Historical Society, listed in the "Societies" section) also has many military records. The United States Military Records Wiki article provides more information about the federal records and search strategies. For Kentucky the following sources are also available.

Contents

Forts

Fort Boonesboro (1775)

Fort Jefferson

Fort Nelson -- French and Indian War (1754–1763) 

  • Newport Barracks -- Textual records of this post, 1833-1894, including registers, reports, and correspondence, are in the National Archives and are described in Records of United States Army, Continental Commands, 1821-1920, under the section entitled Records of Posts, 1820-1940 (Record Group 393.7).
  • Taylor, Philip Fall. A Calendar of the Warrants for Land in Kentucky, Granted for Service in the French and Indian War. (See Kentucky Land and Property.) This record contains an alphabetical list of soldiers, mostly from Virginia, who received warrants for bounty land in what is now Kentucky from about 1774 to 1789.

Revolutionary War (1775–1783)

If a person supported the Revolution, he may be mentioned in records as a rebel, patriot, or Whig. Those who opposed the Revolution were Loyalists or Tories.

Patriots. Service and pension records and indexes for patriots are available on film at the National Archives and the Family History Library. See the United States Military Records Wiki article for these sources.

The Revolutionary War was fought before Kentucky became a state in 1792. Many veterans came to Kentucky and may be listed in:

  • Quisenberry, Anderson Chenault. Revolutionary Soldiers in Kentucky: Containing a Roll of the Officers of Virginia Lines Who Received Land Bounties, a Roll of the Revolutionary Pensioners in Kentucky, a List of the Illinois Regiment Who Served Under George Rogers Clark in the Northwest Campaign, also a Roster of the Virginia Navy. Baltimore, Maryland.: Southern Book, 1959. (Family History Library book 976.9 M2q; film 908017 item 5; fiche 6051503.) These lists are arranged by county and alphabetically within each county by the name of the pensioner.
  • Virginia State Library. Department of Archives and History. List of the Revolutionary Soldiers of Virginia: Special Report of the Department of Archives and History for 1911 and 1912. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954. (Family History Library film 29893.) The contents of this record are arranged in alphabetical order by surname.

An Internet site entitled “Revolutionary War Warrants is available to determine the names of Virginia veterans (or their assignees) who received bounty land warrants as payment for military service. The database also includes scanned images from the Warrants Register and the file identification for the patents authorized by the evolutionary War land warrants.

The 1835 Pension Roll of Kentucky, which includes Revolutionary War pensioners and heirs of War of 1812 casualties, is available twice online at Ancestry.com:

  1. The Pension Roll of 1835, Vol. III ($)
  2. Kentucky Pension Roll for 1835 (free)

Loyalists. For Loyalist records see the Canada Military Records Wiki article.

War of 1812 (1812–1815)

  • Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky. Soldiers of the War of 1812. 1891. Reprint, Greenville, South Carolina: Southern Historical, 1992. (Family History Library book 976.9 M2ke; film 1463598 item 2.) This book lists by company all soldiers who served, giving their name, rank, enlistment and termination dates. An index is included with the book. See also:
  • Index to Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, Soldiers of the War of 1812. Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky Historical Society, 1968. (Family History Library film 1463598.)

Mexican War (1846–1848)

  • Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky: Mexican War Veterans (1846–1847). Frankfort, Kentucky.: Historical Society, 1966. (Family History Library film 551064 item 3.) These are arranged by company and regiment and then alphabetically by the name of the soldier. It includes his name and rank, dates and length of service, the places he was mustered in and out of, and the dates this mustering took place.

Civil War (1861–1865)

Soldiers from Kentucky served in both the Union and Confederate armies. The state adopted a policy of neutrality until September 1861, when a pro-Union element gained control of the legislature. Though Kentucky never seceded from the Union, there was a sizable pro-Confederate element in the state. Indexes to the service records of Civil War Soldiers are at the Family History Library and the National Archives. The service records are available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Civil War Pension Index Cards - A free Internet index to pension applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch Record Search. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. Other wars, of that time period, may be included.

Union

  • Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, 1861–1866. 2vols. 1866–1867. Reprint, Utica, Kentucky.: McDowell Publications, 1984. (Family History Library films 1463599–600.) This book contains background information on the war, brief information about each unit, and a list of soldiers by unit, with their rank and service dates. An index is included in the book but not in the film. These records contain the reports for troops serving with the Union.
  • Kentucky. Adjutant-General’s Office. Report of the Adjutant General [1861–1865]. Bethesda, Maryland.: University Publications of America, 1990. (Family History Library fiche 6082379–80, 6082382–84.) This record contains reports and rosters of units from Kentucky, with the names of officers by unit. It also contains their residence and dates of commission.
  • Speed, Thomas. The Union Regiments of Kentucky. 1897. Reprint, Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, [ca. 1984]. (Family History Library book 976.9 M2st; film 1321096 item 6.) This record includes a brief history of each unit and lists the names of all soldiers. The index lists only the names of the commissioned officers from Kentucky.
  • United States. Record and Pension Office. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Kentucky. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0397. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1962. (Family History Library films 1487066–90057.) These service records are arranged by company and regiment and then alphabetically by the name of the soldier. They include the soldier’s name, age, rank, service record, muster, enlistment, discharge and disability information, payment cards, and physical description.
  • The Civil War Archive-Union Regimental Index [Internet site]. N.p., 1998 [cited 25 October 1999]. Available at www.civilwararchive.com/unionky.htm. This site includes histories and background information on Kentucky regiments.

For the 1890 census of Union veterans of the Civil War, see the "Census" section.

Confederates

  • Kentucky. Division of Archives and Records Management. Index of Confederate Pension Applications. Commonwealth of Kentucky. Frankfort, Kentucky.: Archives Branch, Division of Archives and Records Management, Dept. of Library and Archives, 1981. (Family History Library book 976.9 M2k.) This index is arranged alphabetically and lists the applicant’s name and county of residence at the time the application was made, the date the application was received in the Confederate pension office, and the application number. The listings for the widow’s applications provide maiden names if stated on the application. The veteran husband’s name is listed in parentheses.
  • The Kentucky Historical Society produced a second index to Kentucky Confederate Pension Applications. Both the index and the pension applications are available at the Family History Library. (Family History Library films beginning 1670795.) The pensions are organized by pension number.
  • Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, Confederate Kentucky Volunteers, War 1861–1865. 191–?. Reprint, Utica, Kentucky.: McDowell Publishing, 1980. (Vol. 1 on Family History Library [1]; Vol. 2 book 976.9 M2rc].) The book contains brief histories of confederate units and includes a list of soldiers, with their rank and dates of service. It is indexed. An index to the infantry soldiers in volume 1 is:
  • Cook, Michael L. Index to "Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky." Utica, Kentucky.: McDowell Publishing, 1979. (Family History Library book 976.9 M2rcaindex.)
  • United States. Record and Pension Office. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Kentucky. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0319. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1960. (Family History Library films 1447468–603.) The compiled service records of Kentucky soldiers are arranged according to a complicated organizational breakdown, ending with either the regiment or independent battalion or company. Under each unit the service records are arranged alphabetically by soldiers’ surnames.
  • "Kentucky in the Civil War-Confederate Files" in USGenWeb Project [Internet site], N.p., 7 September 1999 [cited 25 October 1999]. Available at www.rootsweb.com/~kymil/cw/cw-conf.html. This site contains rosters or histories of Confederate military units and includes links to pension records, veteran’s records, biographies of prominent leaders, and military organizations.

Spanish-American War (1898)

  • Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky: Kentucky Volunteers, War with Spain, 1898–1899. 1908. Reprint, Frankfort, Kentucky.: Historical Society, 1966. Family History Library film 551064 item 2.) These unindexed records are arranged by company and regiment and then alphabetically by name. They include the soldier’s name, rank, date and place of enrollment, and dates and places of mustering in and out.
  • Volunteer Officers and Soldiers of the Spanish American War, 1898–1899. Frankfort, Kentucky.: Kentucky Historical Society, 1966. (Family History Library film 482881.) These are arranged alphabetically by name within the company and regiment. The soldier’s name, rank, and enlistment and muster dates and places are listed.

World War I (1917–1918)

For a published roster of soldiers who died in the war, see:

  • Haulsee, W. M. Soldiers of the Great War. 3vols. Washington, DC: Soldiers Record Pub. Association, 1920. (Family History Library [2]].) Kentucky soldiers are listed in volume 1, pages 375 to 408. It gives the soldier’s name, residence, rank, and cause of death, and it includes pictures.

World War I draft registration cards for men age 18 to 45 may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, citizenship, and next of kin. Not all registrants served in the war. For registration cards for Kentucky, see:

  • United States. Selective Service System. Kentucky, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington DC: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 92 Family History Library films, beginning with 1643933.)

To find an individual’s draft card it helps to know his name and residence at the time of registration. The cards are arranged alphabetically by county, within the county by draft board, and then alphabetically by surname within each draft board.

Most counties had only one draft board, and large cities had several. A map showing the boundaries of individual draft boards is available for most large cities. Finding an ancestor’s street address in a city directory will help you use the draft board map. There is an alphabetical list of cities that are on the map. For a copy of this map, see:

  • United States. Selective Service System. List of World War One Draft Board Maps. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1989. (Family History Library film 1498803.) Louisville is included in these maps.

Following World War I Kentucky attempted to keep three sets of records by county. They were:

Scrapbooks.

Records filled out by soldiers.

Records from the government with service number.

These records are scattered, though a full set may be found in the Department of Libraries and Archives in Frankfort, Kentucky. 

Vietnam War (1963–1972)

  • Register of Vietnam War Casualties from Kentucky. Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, 1988. (Family History Library book 976.9 M28k.) This book lists soldiers alphabetically and by county. It includes lists of soldiers who came from other states and those who were missing in action. The soldier’s name, rank, birth date, residence, and casualty date are given.

Other Military Records

For a published list of militia officers from 1792 to 1811, see:

  • Clift, Garrett Glenn. The Corn Stalk Militia of Kentucky, 1792–1811: A Brief Statutory History of the Militia and Records of Commissions of Officers in the Organization from the Beginning of Statehood to the Commencement of the War of 1812. Frankfort, KY.: Kentucky Historical Society, 1957. (Family History Library book 976.9 M25c; film 1035658 item 4; fiche 6051254.) This book is indexed and includes an alphabetical list of soldiers by year, showing each soldier’s name, regiment, and enlistment date.

For an index to Kentucky veterans from the War of 1812 to World War I, see:

  • Kentucky Historical Society (Frankfort, Kentucky). Index to Veterans of American Wars from Kentucky. Frankfort, KY: Kentucky Historical Society, 1966. (Family History Library films 471728–74.) This microfilm is arranged by war and then alphabetically by the name of the veteran. It references published rosters for the various wars.
  • For a comprehensive description of both federal and Kentucky state military records, see James C. Neagles’s book U. S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present. Pages 246 to 254 provide details of military records (many of which are not microfilmed) housed in various archives in Kentucky.

Additional military information and sources can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:

KENTUCKY- MILITARY HISTORY

KENTUCKY- MILITARY RECORDS

KENTUCKY, [COUNTY]- MILITARY RECORDS

KENTUCKY, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- MILITARY RECORDS

References

  • 1880 Cenus Index CD Manuel.

 

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