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Military records identify thousands of individuals who served or who were eligible for service. Evidence that an individual actually served may be found in family traditions, census records, naturalization records, biographies, cemetery records, and records of veterans’ organizations. Your ancestors will be more interesting if you learn about their military service and the history of their units. Military records can also give birth dates, marriage dates, death dates, spouse's and children’s names, and localities of residence throughout the life of the family.
Many military records are found at the Family History Library, the National Archives, the National Archives—Denver Branch, and the Utah State Archives. The Family History Library also has military histories for the various military engagements. U.S. Military Records provide more information on federal military records and search strategies.
The forts were built as protection from the Indians, then as a place to house the troops sent to put down the rebellion of the Mormons. These forts and camps are listed in alphabetical order by place, disregarding the words "fort" or "camp".
- Fort at Battle Creek — During the Walker Indian War in the 1850s, citizens of what is now Pleasant Grove, Utah Valley, built a fort with walls two or three feet thick and six feet tall that occupied an area the size of sixteen city blocks. The settlers in the area at the time built homes inside the fort. The town was previously called Battle Creek after a battle which took place there in 1849 between Mormon settllers and a small band of Ute Indians.
- Fort Cameron — Located just east of Beaver City, it served as a military post from 1872 to 1883. It later became a school, the Beaver Branch of Brigham Young Academy. That school closed when the state legislature required each county to provide tuition-free schools. One of the original buildings now serves as a private residence and some evidence of other remains of the fort exists.
- Cedar Fort
- Fort Crittenden — Camp Floyd was renamed Fort Crittenden in 1860 and abandoned in 1861.
- Fort Deseret — Fort Deseret was built in 1865 during the Utah Black Hawk War to protect settlers in western Utah from the attacks of local Utes. Location is in present-day Millard County, Utah.
- Fort Douglas — Located on the east bench of Salt Lake City, adjacent to the University of Utah. It was created in 1862 as Camp Douglas and was renamed Fort Douglas in 1878. It continued in use as a U.S. military post until 1991. It still is headquarters for several reserve units. Many of the buildings are preserved and a museum is open to the public. Textual records of this fort, 1869-1907, 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 Duchesne — Established in 1886 to replace Fort Thornburg in the Unitah Basin. It continued as a U.S. military post until 1912 when it was transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the headquarters for the Uintah-Ouray Agency.
- Camp Floyd — Established in 1858 when "Johnston's Army" came into the Salt Lake Valley and marched 40 miles south to Cedar Valley. The post was built by the soldiers assigned there, with the help of local settlers. It was renamed Fort Crittenden in 1860.
- Hamilton Fort — A local fortification near Cedar City known initially as Fort Walker. It was never considered an official U.S. Army post.
- Fort Robidoux (Uninta Basin) — Old Fort Kit Carson
- Fort Thornburg — Established as a post for U.S. troops in 1881. It was located in the Ashley Valley in Eastern Utah until its closure in 1883. The troops stationed there assisted in building a road from Vernal to Fort Bridger.
- Fort Utah — This original settlement at Provo, Utah, was established March 12, 1849. Incidents at the fort were part of the Provo War and the later Walker War. (See replica of Fort Utah above.)
- Fort Walker — The original name of Hamilton Fort.
- Union Fort — A small fortification was built in the Salt Lake Valley by local settlers in 1853-1854. Only a marker remains to identify the site.
Mexican War (1846-1848)
In July 1846 Mormon Battalion volunteers were officially organized at Council Bluffs, Iowa, to reinforce the United States Army in California during the Mexican War. The battalion consisted of five companies who enlisted for one year. Due to illness, about a third of the battalion did not complete the two-thousand-mile march but were sent to Pueblo, Colorado. The remaining members arrived in California in January 1847. They served in San Diego and Los Angeles. At the end of the one year, the army tried to reenlist all of its members, but only one company was organized in Los Angeles on 20 July 1847. This company only served for six months. After they were discharged, most battalion members went to Utah.
- Mormon Battalion Pension Applications, 1846-1923 contains about 373 names of those who applied for pensions of the about 500 who served in the Mormon Battalion. For more information read the wiki article about them.
- Black, Susan Ward Easton. Members of the Mormon Battalion: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance. N.p., [1981?]. (Family History Library book 973 M2ew; fiche 6019070.) Alphabetical listing of members with birth, marriage, death, and rank. Includes a bibliography with 22 sources. This is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Camp of Israel (Iowa). Return List of Company A, and Company B of the Mormon Battalion to Council Bluffs, 16 July 1846. Included with Record of the Organization of the Camp of Israel.... Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954. (Family History Library film 1922 item 3). Names are in alphabetical order within each company and rank. It is transcribed and indexed in:
- Carlsen, Ardath. Return List of the Mormon Battalion, July 1846. N.p., 1986. (Family History Library book 973 M2cd). This record lists Battalion member's names, rank, birthplace, birth date, number in family, wife’s name, gear and livestock, where family was located on the trail, wishes concerning his family, and wages of each volunteer in companies A and B. This List is included in the LDS Family History Suite 2.
- Larson, Carl V. Database of the Mormon Battalion: an Identification of The Original Members of the Mormon Battalion. Second Edition. Salt Lake City, Utah: U.S. Mormon Battalion, 1997. (Family History Library book 973 M2Lar 1997.) Alphabetical list of members including grave location, federal and state sources, biographical references, vital statistics, and genealogy. Includes index. The 1987 edition is indexed in the Early Church Information File.
- Larson, Carl V. The Women of the Mormon Battalion. [Smithfield, Utah]: C.V. Larson, 1989. (Family History Library book 973 M2Lc; fiche 6111512). This book may list birth, marriage, death, biographical sketches and sources on the wives of the men in the Mormon Battalion. Contents are in alphabetical order.
- A roster of Iowa troops in the War with Mexico (including the Mormon Battalion) is found in volume six of the "Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion: Together with Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, 1861–1866". Volume six is available online. See Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers.
- United States. Bureau of Pensions. Selected Pension Application Files for Members of the Morman [sic] Battalion, Mexican War, 1846–48. National Archives Microfilm Publications, T1196. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Record Service, 1934. (Family History Library films 480129–49.) These films contain an alphabetical list of applications from veterans, widows, and dependents. Not all soldiers are included, and some files are not in order. They may show name, unit, rank, enlistment and discharge dates, disability, details of service, witness affidavits, marriage and family information.
- United States. Record and Pension Office. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War in Mormon Organizations. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0351. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1961. (Family History Library films 471465; 471517–18). These alphabetically compiled service records usually include the soldier’s name, rank, dates of enlistment and service, and the unit in which he served. It often contains abstracts of entries relating to the soldier as found in the original muster rolls and returns. Cross references were included for each soldier’s name that appear with more than one spelling.
For more records about the Mormon Battalion see:
Nelson, Glade I. "The Mormon Battalion: A Selected Bibliographic List." Genealogical Journal 26, no. 2 (1998): 59–79. (Family History Library book 973 D25gj.)
Utah Militia (1849-1887)
The Constitution of the Provisional State of Deseret officially created the Utah Militia in 1849 to protect the settlers. The Constitution required all men between the ages of 18 and 45 to participate. Organizations for boys ages 14 to 17 and men ages 45 to 75 also existed. The federal government took control of the militia in 1887 with the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act.
The Utah State Archives has the largest collection of Utah Militia records. The Family History Library has some Utah Militia records such as muster rolls and payroll lists which are found in:
- United States. War Department. Utah Territorial Militia Muster Rolls, 1849 to 1870. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library films 485554–58.) These are arranged by military districts. Most districts are connected to each county.
- Utah State Archives. Utah Territory Militia; Nauvoo Legion Correspondence Orders and Reports, 1–2126. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (On six Family History Library films beginning with 497709.) This manuscript includes correspondence, orders, and reports. It is indexed by place names, subjects, and personal names.
- Gardner, Hamilton. Pioneer Military Leaders of Utah. Typescript, 1952. (University of Utah, Marriott Library, Ms 57.) This is a military history of Utah from 1847 to 1898, focusing on the activities of the Territorial Militia. A register is available.
Indian Wars (1849s-1890s)
Although Native American and pioneer relations were generally peaceful, there were a few conflicts, including:
- Incident at Battle Creek, 1849
- Walker War, 1853–1854
- Goshute War, 1863
- Battle of Bear River, 1863 (partially in Idaho)
- Black Hawk War, 1865–1868
- Ute Indian Campaign, Colorado and Utah, 1879–1880
United States troops from Fort Douglas were involved in the Goshiute War and the Battle of Bear River. In the other Indian wars, only the settlers and Native Americans were involved.
- Index to Indian Wars Service Affidavits, 1909–1919 at the Utah State Division of Archives and Records with links to the image of the documents.
- Utah, Indian War Service Affidavits, 1909-1917 images are available. At this time they are not indexed, but they are arranged alphabetical. For more information, see the wiki article Utah, Indian War Service Affidavits.
- Utah State Archives. (Salt Lake City, Utah). Card Index to Military Records of the Indian Wars in Utah, 1866–1867; A–Z. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library film 536221.) In alphabetical order except for the sections from J. M. Smith to Robert William which are filed after James Barlow.
- Utah. Board of Commissioners of Indian War Records. Service Records of Indian Wars in Utah, 1853–1868. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library films 485506–16.) These records give the name, town of residence, years in the county, age, service information, residence and age at joining, length of service, date of release, engagements, and affidavits of two witnesses.
- Correspondence Records Concerning Indian War Pensions (1914–1928). Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library films 485517–31.) These records are arranged alphabetically. They include proof of service which entilted pensioners to benefits. This is the online version.
Beside the Utah records of correspondence for pensions, federal records exist for these men. For information about federal pension records see United States Military Records.
Historical accounts of the Indian war period are in:
- Peterson, John Alton. Utah's Black Hawk War. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1998. (Family History Library book 979.2 H2pe.) This history includes a personal name index.
- Gottfredson, Peter. History of Indian Depredations in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Skelton, 1919. (Family History Library book 979.2 F3g; film 1421844 item 10.) Contains accounts from histories, diaries, newspapers, and interviews. It identifies many of the settlers who were killed during the Indian wars and is indexed in Family History Library book 979.2 H2g index.
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:
The Utah War (1857-1861)
The Utah War began when President James Buchanan appointed a governor to replace the Latter-day Saint leader Brigham Young. He ordered several thousand United States troops to the Utah Territory in 1857 to enforce the appointment and repel an alleged Mormon rebellion. The Army arrived in 1858 but the conflict was settled peacefully. The army built Camp Floyd southwest of Salt Lake City. Soldiers remained there until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
Soldiers are found in the Utah Militia records mentioned previously. The United States Army records have information about troops involved in this "war." Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army, 1798–1914 includes the U.S. troops who came to Utah. Information about these records is found in the United States Military Records.
The library has several published accounts of the Utah War, such as:
- Hance, Irma Watson and Irene Warr. Johnston, Connor, and the Mormons: An Outline of Military History in Northern Utah [Salt Lake City, Utah: N.p.], 1962. (Family History Library ].) This book is a history of Camp Floyd and Fort Douglas. It includes burials in the post cemeteries, and a few marriages from 1863 to 1868. It also includes a bibliography.
- Moorman, Donald R. Camp Floyd and the Mormons, the Utah War. Utah Centennial Series, Volume 7. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1992. (Family History Library book 979.2 M2mo.) This history of the Utah War includes a name and subject index and a bibliography.
Civil War (1861 to 1865)Utah in the Civil War for information about Utah Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the Utah 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.
Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902)
About 700 men from Utah volunteered to serve during the Spanish-American War. Utah units fought in the Philippines and also served in Florida, San Francisco, and Hawaii.
The Utah State Archives in Salt Lake City, Utah has the Spanish-American War; Index to Utah Units Salt Lake City, which is muster-in rolls for 1898 to 1899. The Family History Library has:
- Military Records, Spanish-American War, 1898–1899 (Utah). Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library film 485751.) It contains soldier's names, rank, age, place of birth, and occupation. The muster-out rolls have date last paid, destination, and place of discharge. Published histories of Utah volunteers include:
- Prentiss, A. The History of the Utah Volunteers in the Spanish-American War and in the Philippine Islands. Salt Lake City, Utah: W. F. Ford, 1900. (Family History Library Online (link in catalog); book 979.2 M2p; film 1697617 ) This source includes the names of volunteers for wars from 1898–1901. It gives biographical sketches of officers and men from Utah. There is a roster of men listing name, rank, and residence along with the official reports.
- Mabey, Charles R. The Utah Batteries: A History. [Spanish American War 1898] Salt Lake City, Utah: n.p., 1900. (Family History Library Online (link in catalog); book 979.2 M2m; film 1000615 item 5.) This book includes each soldier's name and place of residence at time of enlistment.
- United Spanish War Veterans, Department of Utah. Muster Rolls of Members, 1929–1957. (FHL film 1666085) - Lists the veteran’s name, age, residence, final discharge date, and unit. Some entries may contain additional data.
The pension index for soldiers from this war are found with the Civil War Pension indexes. See Organization Index to Pension Files.
Mexican Border Campaign (1916-1917)
In 1916 the United States had trouble along the United States-Mexico border. The Utah National Guard served with other state units on the Border from March 1916 to February 1917.
The Family History Library has some Utah State Archives' records on this campaign. These records include the Mexican Border Service muster rolls and the Index to Utah participants:
- Utah State Archives (Salt Lake City, Utah). Mexican Border Campaign (15 March 1916 – 5 February 1917). Index to Those Who Participated From Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library film 536225.) This record is arranged alphabetically by surname. It gives each man's name, rank, unit, and dates and places of enlistment, muster, and discharge
The pension index for soldiers from this campaign is found with the federal pension indexes. See U.S. Military Records for further information.
World War I (1917-1918)
More than 24,000 men from Utah served in World War I. The Family History Library has a copy of the set of service questionnaires for World War I soldiers from the Utah State Archives. It is online and on film.
United States. War Department. World War I Service Records of Utahns. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966.
- United States, World War One Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 You will be able to browse this group at this time. Choose Utah, then the county.
- (Family History Library films 485733-50.)
- The records are arranged alphabetically and contain such information as a soldier's date and place of birth, names of parents, and names of spouse and children. Photographs are included for many soldiers.
The Family History Library and Utah State Archives have service records which list residences, date and place of birth, injuries, enlistment place, residence at time of enlistment, service and discharge dates. They are arranged alphabetically. Records for both the Army and Marine Corps are in:
- United States. Marine Corps. World War I Service Records, Marines (from Utah). Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Archives and Record Service, 1973. (Family History Library film 1643885.)
- United States. Adjutant General's Office. World War I Service Records, Army (Utah). Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Archives and Record Service, 1973. (Family History Library films 1643886–94.)
A published roster of soldiers is found in:
- Warrum, Noble. Utah in the World War. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Council of Defense, 1924. (Family History Library book 979.2 M2w; film 1033897 item 8.) This book lists soldier's name, place of residence upon enlistment, and dates of service.
- United States. Selective Service System. Utah World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M1509. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 20 Family History Library films beginning with 1983881) These cards have been digitized and are searchable online. See WWI Draft Records for more information.
World War II (1941-1945)
More than 65,000 Utah men and women served in the armed forces during this World War II. They are included in an alphabetical card index that lists date and place of birth, name and address of next of kin, marital status, name and address of spouse, and military history for each individual.
Utah State Archives (Salt Lake City, Utah). Index to Military Records of World War II. Veterans from Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library films 536228–38.) This record is arranged separately by each branch of the service, then alphabetically by surname.
Additional Military Records
For information about veteran burials in Utah, see the "Veteran Burial Records" portion of the Utah Cemeteries Wiki article.
The Utah State Archives has a large collection of military records. A current listing of their holdings is available at their Internet site. A published inventory of their military holdings in 1981 is:
- Utah State Archives and Records Service. Inventory, Military Department, Record Group 027, Microfilms and Microfiche. Salt Lake City, Utah: Archives, 1981. (Family History Library book 979.2 M2.) This gives the accession number, title, period covered, subject, and geography covered by the records.
Wiki articles describing these collections are found at:
- United States, Mormon Battalion Pension Applications (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Utah, Box Elder County Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Utah, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Utah, Indian War Service Affidavits (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Utah Veterans Burial Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)