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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.
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)
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 (Family History Library 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. FHL US/CAN Book 973 X2pc 1840; FHL US/CAN Film 2321. 1841 edition digitized by the U.S. Census Bureau and Google books et. al. [Tennessee section begins on page 152.]
- Armstrong, Zella. Twenty-four Hundred Tennessee Pensioners: Revolution–War of 1812. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987. (Family History Library book 976.8 M2az 1987). 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library book 976.8 M2so nos.1–5 1975; film 1036620 item 2). 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 Tennessee State Library and Archives provides these articles:
- "Brief History of Tennessee in the War of 1812," gives brief descriptions of battles plus a map of the "Creek Campaign."
- "Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units During the War of 1812," lists the regiments, commanders, dates, counties represented by the regiment, and brief regimental histories.
- Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul. 1961):95-98; Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct. 1961):122-124. FHL Collection 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website.
- Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files. National Archives Microfilm Publication M313. (FHL films 0840431–500 and 0847501–32.) This index has the veteran’s name, widow’s name, rank, unit, dates of enlistment and discharge, application and certificate numbers, and bounty land warrant numbers.
- McCown, Mary Hardin. Soldiers of the War of 1812 Buried in Tennessee. 1959. (Family History Library book 976.8 M2mh). The record is arranged alphabetically by surname. Most of the entries give name, birth and death dates, home county, rank, and unit; and spouse’s name, birth and death dates.
- Sistler, Byron. Tennesseans in the War of 1812. Nashville, Tennessee: Byron Sistler and Associates, 1992. Family History Library book 976.8 M22s; film 1697905 item 3). The names are arranged in alphabetical order. It includes officers and enlisted men, giving each name, rank, regiment, and residence.
- War of 1812 Pensioners Living in Tennessee during the 1880's. Cullman, Alabama: Gregath, 1983. (Family History Library book 976.8 M2wa). The record is arranged alphabetically by county. Most of the entries give the pensioner’s name, address, cause for pension, and date of original allowance. The record includes an index. (The Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files listed above is a better index.)
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 Wars (Removal) (1836–1839)
- Douthat, James L. Volunteer Soldiers in the Cherokee War, 1836–39. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1995. (Family History Library book ].) This record contains a listing of the volunteer soldiers from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
- United States. Adjutant General’s Office. 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. Washington D.C.: National Archives, 1972. (Family History Library film 1205384). The record is in alphabetical order by surname. Entries include the soldier’s name, rank, regiment, and company.
Mexican War (1846–1848)
- 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. (Family History Library films 882797–811). 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.
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)
World War I (1917-1918)
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. (Family History Library book .)] Tennessee soldiers are listed in Volume Three, pages 207–44. It gives the soldier’s name, residence, rank, cause of death, and includes pictures.
World War I draft registration cards for men ages 18–45 may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, citizenship, and next of kin. Not all registrants served in the war. For registration cards for Tennessee, see:
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.)
To find an individual’s draft card, you need 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; large cities had several.
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)
Combat Connected Naval Casualties, World War II, by States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946. Compiled and revised by Casualty Department. (Family History Library book 973M3dc v 1-2; Film 1440393 Items 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.
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. New York : Auburn : 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (On 282 Family History Library films.) This includes general indexes for each of 12 homes, including the Johnson City home. 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. Nashville, Tennessee: State Library and Archives. (Family History Library films 969840–42.)
The following sites have further information about Tennessee military records:
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