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Military records identify the millions 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. Many useful military records are at the Family History Library, the National Archives, and other federal and state archives. United States Military Records provides more information on federal military records and search strategies. The Tennessee State Library and Archives Internet site has many military records, including indexes to soldiers of the state who served in various conflicts.
- Fort Watauga
- Post of Chattanooga -- Textual records of this fort, 1864-1879, 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 Loudoun (1756-1760)
- Fort Marr
Colonial Period (1600–1775)
Tennessee was part of the Colony of North Carolina during the colonial times.
- Kegley, Mary B. Soldiers of Fincastle County, Virginia, 1774. Dublin, Virginia: M. B. Kegley, 1974 FHL book 975.5 A1 no. 12. The record is arranged by companies and gives name, number of days served, rate, and amount paid. The record may include men living in the territory that later became the State of Tennessee. This record includes an index.
- See Also: North Carolina Military Records
Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
- Patriots. Service and pension records and indexes for patriots are on film at the National Archives and the Family History Library. See Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783 for sources.
- Loyalists. For Loyalist records, see the "GREAT BRITAIN - MILITARY RECORDS, The Loyalist Era" section in Canada Military Records.
The website Tennesseans in the Revolutionary War, hosted by TNGenWeb, contains details about more than 2,200 veterans who appear on the 1835 pension roll, as well as hundreds of veterans whose pensions were rejected or suspended in 1852. The 1835 pension roll is also available on Ancestry ($). County pages on TNGenWeb also contain many abstracts of records about Revolutionary War soldiers.
Pension files are available to view on three commercial websites for a fee:
The 1835 Pension Roll
On June 5, 1834, the U.S. Senate required the Secretary of War to submit a statement showing the names of pensioners who were on the pension rolls or had previously been on the pension rolls. For more information on the 1835 Pension Roll see Revolutionary War Pension Records. The 1835 Pension Roll for Tennessee is available online:
- Report from the Secretary of War... Vol. III (Google Books)
- The Pension Roll of 1835, Vol. III (Ancestry) ($)
Some good general sources to search include:
- A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services: With their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshalls of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census. 1841, reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. WorldCat oclcFHL film 2321; book 973 X2pc 1840. 1841 edition digitized by the U.S. Census Bureau and Google books [Tennessee section begins on page 152.]
- Armstrong, Zella. Twenty-four Hundred Tennessee Pensioners: Revolution–War of 1812. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987. FHL book 976.8 M2az. This lists pensioners, their ages, where they served, and where their pension was drawn.
- Bates, Lucy Womack. Roster of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in Tennessee. Brentwood, Tennessee: Tennessee Society, NSDAR, 1979. FHL book 976.8 V3b. The record is arranged alphabetically by surname, then given name. Most entries give name, birth date and place, marriage date and place, death date and place, rank, and unit; and spouse’s name, birth date and place, and death date and place.
- Some Tennessee Heroes of the Revolution. 1933. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1975. FHL film 1036620 item 2; book 976.8 M2so nos.1–5 1975;. This contains abstracts of pension applications.
Information varies for each person listed. It may contain the veteran’s name and age, where he served, and where his pension was drawn.
Many county genealogical societies have published lists of Revolutionary War veterans from their area in their journals. See "Military Records" under relevant Tennessee county pages.
See also Tennessee Census, which lists other sources for the 1840 Revolutionary War veterans’ schedules.
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
The War of 1812 between Britain and the United States confirmed the separate existence of the United States and the future Canada.
See the Wiki article, Tennessee in the War of 1812, for information concerning military records, histories, links to relevant web sites, etc. for Tennessee.
There are helpful nationwide records for soldiers of the War of 1812. For more information, see United States in the War of 1812.
Indian Wars (1780s-1890s)
Creek War (1813-1814)
A card index of Indian War soldiers is:
- Alabama. Department of Archives and History. Indian War Service, 1812–1814. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988.FHL film 1462786 item 3. This includes alphabetically arranged, typed cards for the Indian wars of 1813–1814 and the War of 1812. The films include each soldier’s name, age, residence, rank, and date enrolled and the date and amount of his pension payments (usually for the years of 1833–1834). Includes records of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina soldiers, as well as Indian names.
Seminole Wars (Florida Wars) (First 1817–18; Second 1835–42; Third 1855–58)
The Tennessee State Library and Archives has microfilm:
- Index, Tennesseans in the Seminole War (Florida War), 1818 and 1836. 1 reel. TSLA Mf.#867. Index is arranged alphabetically by soldier's surname. Also includes rank, date and place of enlistment, company, regiment, brigade, and place of residence. See also: Index to Volunteer Soldiers in Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815-1858. White, 1994. Card file in Archives Reading Room.
- Military Records, 1813-1836. 1 reel. TSLA Mf. #RG 158. Muster rolls and payrolls for Creek War 1813-15 and Seminole Wars 1818 and 1836. Arranged by captain's name. See also: Card file in Archives Reading Room.
Some services offered by mail and by e-mail.
Cherokee Disturbances and Removal (1836–1839)
- Douthat, James L. Volunteer Soldiers in the Cherokee War, 1836–39. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1995. Available online Digital version at Family History Archives FHL fiche 6038272. This record contains a listing of the volunteer soldiers from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
- "Indexes to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served During the Cherokee Disturbances and Removal in Organizations From the State of Tennessee and the Field and Staff of the Army of the Cherokee Nation" (NARA M908) FHL film 1205384 At various libraries The Cherokees were removed to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. The compiled military service records have not been microfilmed.
- The above collection is also available online:
- U.S. Army Indian Campaign Service Records Index (Ancestry) ($) - browsable only.
Mexican War (1846-1848)
The Mexican War was caused by the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. Most volunteer regiments were from southern states. Records of Mexican War veterans might exist in a state where the veteran later resided.
- United States. Adjutant General’s Office. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Mexican War in Organizations from the State of Tennessee. Washington D.C.: National Archives, 1965. FHL films 882797-882811. This includes regimental returns, a record of events during the war, and company muster rolls.
- Campbell, William B. Mexican War Letters of Col. William Bowen Campbell of Tennessee, Written to Governor David Campbell of Virginia, 1846-1847. Nashville, Tenn.: Tennessee Historical Magazine, 1915. Free digital copy.
- Furber, George C. The Twelve Months Volunteer; or, Journal of a Private in the Tennessee Regiment of Cavalry, in the Campaign in Mexico, 1846-7. Cincinnati, Ohio: J.A.U.P. James, 1849. Free digital copy.
- Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1887–1926. (NARA T317). FHL films 0537000–13 Alphabetically arranged and includes the veteran’s name, rank, and unit; names of dependents; date of filing and application; certificate numbers; act filed under; and state from which application was made. Also available at:
- United States, Mexican War Pension Index, 1887-1926 (FamilySearch) Free digital copy. (Learn more.)
- Robarts, William Hugh. Mexican War Veterans : A Complete Roster of the Regular and Volunteer Troops in the War Between the United States and Mexico, from 1846-1848… Washington, D.C. : Brentano’s, 1887. FHL book 973 M2rwh Digital version available at Internet Archive.
Civil War (1861 to 1865)Tennessee in the Civil War for information about Tennessee Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the Tennessee 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.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Tennessee, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Tennessee, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Spanish-American War (1898)
The Spanish-American War was largely fought in Cuba and the Philippines. Spanish-American War records might exist in the state from which the soldier served or in a state where the veteran later resided.
- United States, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 (NARA T288). (FamilySearch) Free digital copy. The index covers veterans of the Civil War, Spanish‑American War, Philippine Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion (1900 to 1901), and the regular Army, Navy, and Marine forces. (Learn more.)
- United States, Index to Service Records, War with Spain, 1898 (FamilySearch) Free digital copy. (Learn more.)
Click on the link to learn more about the Spanish American War.
World War I (1917-1918)
World War I was a global war fought on multiple continents with several nations involved. Over four million men and women served from the United States.
- United States. Selective Service System. Tennessee, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington D.C.: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 82 Family History Library films beginning with 1852852) Also available at:
- United States, World War One Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (FamilySearch) - free
See WWI Draft Records for more information.
For a published roster of soldiers who died in the war see:
- Haulsee, W. M. comp. Soldiers of the Great War. Three Volumes. Washington, D.C.: Soldiers Record Publication Association, 1920. Digital version of V. 2 at Family History Archives FHL book 973 M23s. 3 vol.Tennessee soldiers are listed in Volume Three, pages 207–44. It gives the soldier’s name, residence, rank, cause of death, and includes pictures.
- The Tennessee Library and Archives Internet site has an index of World War I Veterans arranged by county. The index lists the soldier’s name, birth date and place, and any notes.
World War II (1941-1945)
On April 27, 1942, the Selective Service conducted the fourth of six draft registrations related to WWII. The "World War II Selective Service Draft Cards: Fourth Registration, 1942" is often referred to as the “Old Man’s Registration” or the “Old Man’s Draft" because it included men with a date of birth from April 28, 1877 to February 16, 1897. Since there is overlap in the WWI and WWII Selective Service registration, men born in the years 1877 to 1900 may have registered twice and have both WWII and WWI draft records.
- United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 (Image Browse) (FamilySearch) - free
- United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 (images with partial index) (FamilySearch) - free
- Also available at:
Combat Connected Naval Casualties, World War II, by States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. Compiled and revised by Casualty Department. FHL film 1440393 Items 1-2; book 973 M3dc v 1-2. This book lists soldiers alphabetically by state, then within the state by status: dead, missing, wounded, died or killed while a Prisoner of War (POW), and released POW's.
World War II United States Military Records provides additional information.
Korean War (1950–1953)
The Korean War was a conflict between North Korea (and its communist allies) and South Korea (with support of the United Nations, primarily the United States). See the Korean War wiki article for information on records and their availability.
Vietnam War (1964–1972)
The Vietnam War was a conflict between North Vietnam (and its communist allies) and South Vietnam (with support of its anti-communist allies, including the United States). See the Vietnam War wiki article for information on records and their availability.
Frost, John. Border Wars of the West;: comprising the frontier wars of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and Wisconsin; and embracing individual adventures among the Indians, and exploits of Boone, Kenton, Clark, Logan, Brady, Poe, Morgan, the Whetzels, and other border heroes of the West. Auburn, New York: Miller, Orton and Mulligan, 1856.
Other Military Records
A published list of militia officers of 1796–1815 is:
Moore, Mrs. John Trotwood. Record of Commissions of Officers in the Tennessee Militia, 1796–1815. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1977. FHL book 976.8 M2m. Commissions are listed in chronological order and include the officer’s name, regiment, and rank.
For a comprehensive description of both federal and Tennessee state military records, see:
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. FHL book 973 M23nu. This book describes federal military records, then discusses each state individually. Pages 339–343 provide details of military records housed in various archives in Tennessee, many of which are not microfilmed.
State Soldier Homes
For national old soldier homes, including those in Johnson City and Nashville, Tennessee, see:
- United States. Veterans Administration. Registers of Veterans at National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866–1937. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. Digital version at Record Collection 1916230; FHL film 1571745 (first of 22 films) This includes general indexes for the Johnson City home. Eleven other homes are searchable nationwide. See the FHL catalog. These records may list a soldier’s name, date and place of enlistment, rank, military unit, length of service, date and place of discharge, birthplace, age, physical description, marital status, religion, occupation, previous residence, nearest relative, pension, soldier home admission and discharge dates, disability, death date, and cause of death.
For Confederate soldiers’ applications to the soldiers’ home in Nashville.Tennessee, see:
- Tennessee. Confederate Soldiers’ Home. Soldiers’ Applications for Admission, 1889–ca. 1965. - free index. Nashville, Tennessee: State Library and Archives. FHL films 969840–42.
The following sites have further information about Tennessee military records:
- Tennessee Military Records (Tennessee Genealogy)
United States Military Records provides more information on federal military records and search strategies. See the Tennessee Archives and Libraries article for facilities with regional collections which might include military histories and records. Additional military information and sources can be found in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
TENNESSEE - MILITARY HISTORY
TENNESSEE - MILITARY RECORDS
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY] - MILITARY RECORDS
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - MILITARY RECORDS