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Many military records for North Carolina are at the National Archives. Microfilm copies of many of these are at the Family History Library and at other federal and state archives. A comprehensive description of military history and records of North Carolina is given in Chapter 33 of Helen F. M. Leary’s North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. See also:
Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, 1994. Ancestry is a trademark of Ancestry, Inc. (Family History Library book 973 M23nu.) This book describes federal military records, then discusses each state individually. Pages 308–313 provide details of military records housed in various archives in North Carolina, many of which are not microfilmed.
For each war listed below, additional federal sources are listed in United States Military Records. It contains search strategies and information to guide you to the best records for your objective.The North Carolina State Archives has most of the existing military records, such as: the colonial wars, the state militia, the Continental Line, American Loyalists, soldiers’ homes, and gravestone files.
Fort Butler (Murphy, North Carolina)
Fort Johnston -- Textual records of this fort, 1867-1881, 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).
Fort Macon 1834-76
Post of Raleigh -- Textual records of this post, 1865-1877, 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).
Colonial Wars (1732–1775)
During the French and Indian War, 1755–1763, some North Carolina soldiers fought against the French and Indians. A list of these soldiers is found in:
Clark, Murtie June. Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732–1774. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1983. (Family History Library book 975 M29c.) This book gives the dates when a soldier served. The North Carolina soldiers are listed on pages 629–879, and the book is well indexed. The date, name of soldier, county of residence, military company, and rank are usually given.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina: Published under the Supervision of the Trustees of the Public Libraries, by Order of the General Assembly is described in [[North Carolina Public Records]]. Volume 22 includes records of the Granville County Militia (1771), Oaths of Allegiance (1778), the Spanish Alarm (1747–1748), militia returns (1754–1755, 1758, and 1767), the War of the Regulators (1770–1771), and correspondence of governors and others (1775–1789).
Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
A man who was born in North Carolina between about 1710 and 1765 may be listed in some form of military record. If he supported the Revolution, he may be mentioned in the records as a rebel, patriot, or Whig. Those who opposed the Revolution were referred to as Loyalists or Tories.
For an Internet site on this subject, see:
- North Carolina in the Revolutionary War. In NCGenWeb Military Project [database on-line]. N.p., 1999 [cited 15 December 2007]. Available at www.rootsweb.com/~ncrevwar/ncrevwar.htm. This site shows information about military units, enlisted men, books, mailing lists, record repositories, and related web sites.
A published list of North Carolina soldiers is:
- Daughters of the American Revolution (North Carolina). Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution: With an Appendix Containing a Collection of Miscellaneous Records. N.p.: NCDAR, 1932. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2d; film 1036677 item 3; fiche 6046553.) There is a reprint edition: Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1977. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2d 1977; film 1036687 item 4.) Contained in this book are many types of records: pension lists for 1818, 1832, and 1835; land grants, vouchers, and claims; and lists of soldiers by regiment and company. The book is well indexed.
The 1835 Pension Roll
On June 5, 1834, the U.S. Senate required the Secretary of War to submit a statement showing the names of pensioners who were on the pension rolls or had previously been on the pension rolls. For more information on the 1835 Pension Roll see Revolutionary War Pension Records. The 1835 Pension Roll for North Carolina is available online:
- Report from the Secretary of War... Vol. III (Google Books)
- The Pension Roll of 1835, Vol. III (Ancestry) ($)
Following is a source that indexes North Carolina Revolutionary War records:
- United States. War Department. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteers Soldiers Who Served during the Revolutionary War in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M257. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1958. (Family History Library films 821595–96.)
Many Revolutionary War patriots were granted bounty lands in Tennessee and South Carolina. See the "Land and Property" Wiki articles for those states for more information. No land in North Carolina was given to veterans.
For detailed information about national Revolutionary War service and pension records, cemetery records, and lineage society records, see the Loyalists. For information about North Carolina Loyalists, see: United States Military Records.
- Clark, Murtie Jane. Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. 3 vols. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1981. (Family History Library book 975 F2cm.) Volume 1 includes North Carolina musters, pay abstracts, and other records.
- DeMond, Robert O. The Loyalists in North Carolina during the Revolution. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1979. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2dr.) This volume outlines the history of the Loyalists in North Carolina and lists many of their names.
- Troxler, Carole W. The Loyalist Experience in North Carolina. Zebulon, North Carolina: Theo. Davis Sons, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.6 A1 no.128.) This book has information about many Loyalists and tells of their exodus to New York, the Bahamas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
Many persons who were Loyalists are not mentioned in the above volumes because they did not survive to apply for British compensation. Their names may be found in the Hillsboro, Morgan, and Salisbury district court records. Reconnaissance bonds were placed on the Loyalists’ heads. The money for the bonds was pledged by friends, and their names are listed in the court records. The Family History Library has the minutes of district court proceedings regarding these bonds. The loose papers are only at the North Carolina State Archives. See also the topic "Loyalist Land Losses" in the "Land and Property" section.
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
The Family History Library has indexes to the federal service and pension files for the War of 1812. See United States Military Records for details and for sources not mentioned below.
The National Archives has the original service and pension records. They are not filmed, but the following important sources are available:
- Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 Detached from The Militia of North Carolina, in 1812 and 1814. 1851. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2mr; film 1036618 item 6.) This indexed volume indicates the county in which each soldier enlisted.
- Jackson, Ronald Vern. North Carolina Military Muster Rolls 1812 and 1814. Salt Lake City, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1989. (Family History Library book 975.6 M2j.) The book is arranged alphabetically, and the county where the soldier enlisted is mentioned.
- "Index to compiled service records of volunteer soldiers who served during the War of 1812 in organizations from the state of North Carolina" (NARA M250) (FHL films 0880838–42)
Indian Wars (1711–1858)
The regular army, often assisted by volunteer units, fought in various campaigns against American Indians. These include the Seminole or Florida Wars (1817–18, 1835–1842, and 1855–58), Black Hawk War (1832), and the Creek War (1836–37).
The following index is available:
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during Cherokee Disturbances and Removal in Organizations from the State of North Carolina. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M256. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1958. (Family History Library film 368686.) This source lists soldiers who served in the period 1836–39. It generally gives their rank, date enrolled, date mustered out, and company.
For detailed information about national service and pension records from the Indian Wars, see United States Military Records.
Mexican War (1846–1848)
About 1,000 North Carolina soldiers were involved in the Mexican War. The following records are available:
United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Mexican War. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M616. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1965. (Family History Library films 1205336–57.)
Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1887–1926. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T317. Washington DC: Veteran’s Administration, 1967. (Family History Library films 537000–7013.)
Civil War (1861–1865)North Carolina in the Civil War for information about North Carolina Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the North Carolina regiments involved in the Civil War. The regimental pages often include lists of the companies with links to the counties where the companies started. Men in the companies often lived in the counties where the companies were raised. Knowing a county can help when researching more about the soldiers and their families.
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System allows name searching for soldiers. The result set gives the regiments for the soldiers. Then you can check the Wiki regiment pages to determine counties. Often knowing the counties that had men in a regiment will help you determine if a soldier was your ancestor.
- North Carolina, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- North Carolina, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers (FamilySearch Historcial Records)
- North Carolina Confederate Soldier's and Widow's Pension Applications (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Spanish-American War (1898–1899)
North Carolina raised three regiments of volunteers from the state guard and active militia for this conflict. None of the soldiers saw serious action. In 1900 the office of the North Carolina adjutant general published the following unindexed roster:
Roster of the North Carolina Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898–1899. Raleigh, North Carolina: Edwards & Broughton, 1900. (Family History Library film 18079 item 2.)
World War I (1917-1918)
World War I draft registration cards, for men ages 18 to 45, may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, occupation, citizenship, and next of kin. Not all registrants served in the war. For North Carolina’s cards, see:
United States. Selective Service System. North Carolina, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 81 Family History Library films beginning with 1765557.)
Also online at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~rwguide/WWIdraft.html
To find a person’s draft card, it helps to know his name and residence at the time of registration, since the cards are arranged alphabetically by county, within the county by draft board, and then alphabetically by surname. Counties may have had more than one draft board.
For a list of soldiers who died in World War I, see:
Haulsee, W. M. Soldiers of the Great War. 3 vols. Washington, DC: Soldiers Record Pub. Association, 1920. (Family History Library book 973 M23s; fiche 6051244.) Volume 2 has information on North Carolina soldiers and includes the names of those who were killed in action or died of disease or accident. The place of residence is given, and there are photographs of about 500 North Carolina soldiers.
World War II (1941-1945)
The Family History Library has microfilm copies of military discharge papers from 1918 to the 1970s for many counties. Military discharge papers may show a person’s birthplace, birth date, service information, and disability condition. The original records are kept by the register of deeds in each county.
Military records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search of under:
NORTH CAROLINA- MILITARY RECORDS
NORTH CAROLINA, [COUNTY]- MILITARY RECORDS