Kentucky in the Civil WarEdit This Page
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Kentucky was a border state during the Civil War. Its legislators preferred neutrality at the beginning of the war, since it had strong ties to both sides. In the 1861 election, most of the state congressional seats went to Union sympathizers. In September 1861, a Confederate army went into Kentucky, thus breaking its neutrality, and a Union army followed. During the war, many battles and guerilla campaigns were fought in Kentucky. Kentucky soldiers served in both the Union and Confederate armies.
Kentucky Military Units
Most units were numbered, however, some were named. See the table below for lists of the regiments, battalions, batteries, and unassigned companies.
The information in the lists of Kentucky Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
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.
Records and Resources
- Kentucky, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865. Digital index-Free. Record Collection 1932398 Linked to the records on Fold3 described below.
- The Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Kentucky 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 at no charge at National Archives research rooms. The compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death. For more information see Union Service Records.
- Kentucky, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers (FamilySearch Historical Records) describes the collection with a link to the database.
Civil War Pension Index Cards - An Index to Pension Applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. The majority of the records are of Civil War veterans, but the collection also includes records for veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Indian Wars, and World War I. For more information see Union Pension Records.
Other Union Records
- Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, 1861–1866. 2vols. 1866–1867. Reprint, Utica, Kentucky.: McDowell Publications, 1984 FHL 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.
- An alphabetical list of officers with name, rank, regiment, residence and remarks on pages 906-961.
- Lists of men buried at cemeteries arranged by cemetery on pages 972-980. Most entries give name, rank, company, regiment, and date of death.
- Kentucky. Adjutant-General’s Office. Report of the Adjutant General [1861–1865]. Bethesda, Maryland.: University Publications of America, 1990. FHL fiche 6082379–80, FHL fiche 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]. FHL film 1321096 item 6; book 976.9 M2st.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. FHL 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.
- Wright, Steven L.Kentucky soldiers and their regiments in the Civil War : abstracted from the pages of contemporary Kentucky newspapers.(Utica, Kentucky : McDowell Publications, c2009) FHL 976.9 M2ws vols. 1-5
For the 1890 census of Union veterans of the Civil War, see the "Census" section.
- Kentucky, Service Records of Confederate Soldiers of the Civil War 1861-1865. Digital index- Free Record Collection 1932371 Linked to images on Fold3 described below.
- Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Kentucky 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 at no charge at National Archives research rooms. The compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death. For more information see Confederate Service Records.
- Kentucky, Confederate Pension Applications, 1912-1950. -Free. Browseable images. Not indexed. Record Collection 1916017 Pension applications filed by surviving former Confederate soldiers or their widows who lived in Kentucky at the time of application. The law providing for pensions was enacted in 1912 by the Kentucky State Legislature.
- Department of Confederate Pensions (1912 - 1946)
A wiki arrticle describing an online collection is found at:
Other Confederate Records
- 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. FHL 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. FHL films 1670795 (first of 50 films). 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 FHL film 467975 item 3; Vol. 2 FHL 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. There is an alphabetical list of commissioned officers on pg. 238 - 297. 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. FHL book 976.9 M2rca
- 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. FHL 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.
An important inventory for finding Civil War military histories is:
- A Guide to the Microfiche Edition of Civil War Unit Histories: Regimental Histories and Personal Narratives. Part 1, Confederate States of America and Border States. Bethesda, Maryland.: University Publications of America, 1992. FHL book 973 M2cwu pt. 1. Kentucky units are listed on pages 33 to 38. The library has the large microfiche collection described in this guide. Use the library catalog to find individual items. This may include correspondence, diaries, memoirs, and regimental histories published before 1920. The guide shows the unit name, counties where it was raised, author, title, publication information, number of pages, and source repository. This guide includes an author index and a major engagements index.
The web site Last Road to Freedom has information on America's Civil War contraband camps.
Civil War Contraband Camps in Kentucky were located in Columbus, Fort Donelson, Fort Heiman (Calloway County), Smithland, and Paducah
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
Grand Army of the Republic founded in 1866 - 1956, was the largest veteran’s organization in the country after the Civil War. It was a fraternal organization members were veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutler Service who served in the American Civil War. The group supported voting rights for black veterans, and lobbied the U.S. Congress to establish veterans' pensions. In 1890 the membership was 490,000.
In 1888 there were 80 posts and 3,214 members in the state of Kentucky
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
With the death of the last member of the Grand Army of the Republic the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed.
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