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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. The U.S. Military Records articles will provide more information on federal military records and search strategies.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cedar Fort
- Fort Crittenden -- Camp Floyd was renamed Fort Crittenden in 1860 and abandoned in 1861.
- Fort Hall -- in Idaho
- 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 Walker -- The original name of Hamilton Fort.
- Hamilton Fort -- A local fortification near Cedar City known initially as Fort Walker. It was never considered an official U.S. Army post.
- 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.
Zions Camp (1834)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Kirtland, Ohio, organized a military expedition known as Zions Camp to assist the persecuted members in Missouri. The following histories discuss this effort:
- Green, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri Under the "Exterminating Order." 1833. Reprint, Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, . (Family History Library film 025592 item 2.) This positive account of Zions Camp includes transcripts of addresses, reports, acts, and newspaper articles about the expulsion from Missouri.
- Launius, Roger D. Zions Camp: Expedition to Missouri, 1834. Independence, Missouri: Herald, 1984. (Family History Library book 977.841 K2L.) Includes chapter notes, bibliographical references and an index.
Mormon War in Missouri (1838)
The following deal with this period when Governor Boggs issued an extermination order against members of the LDS Church:
- LeSueur, Stephen C. The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1987. (Family History Library book 977.81 H2Lm.) This is mostly a history with some names of prominent individuals. Includes an index and bibliography. Indexed in The Early Church Information File.
- Missouri. State Archives. Mormon Papers, 1838-1842. Jefferson City, Missouri: State of Missouri, 1972. (Family History Library film 984920.) Includes unindexed affidavits of the Mormon War payroll of Missouri men and soldiers.
- Johnson, Clark V., ed. Mormon Redress Petitions: documents of the 1833-1838 Missouri Conflict. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University. 1992. (Family History Library book 977.8 K29j; fiche 6003720.) This indexed book contains affidavits, petitions, letters, and other documents concerning early Church members' compensation for Missouri losses.
Nauvoo Legion and the Mormon War in Illinois (1840–1846)
In 1840 the Illinois Legislature authorized the Nauvoo City Council to establish a militia. The officers were commissioned by the governor, and the members were required to do the same amount of military duty as the regular state militia. In 1844 the Nauvoo Legion numbered about 5,000 men. The organization was disbanded in 1846 and was reorganized in Utah in 1852. For a history see:
- Young, Robert W. "The Nauvoo Legion" Parts 1–12. The Contributor: Representing the Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the Latter-day Saints 9, nos.1–12 (November 1887– October 1888): 1–8, 41–49, 81–89, 121–27, 161–68, 201–12, 241–51, 281–86, 321–32, 361–73, 401–13, 441–54. (Family History Library book 289.305 C768m Volume 9.) This is an historical account of the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois and Utah from 1840 to 1887.
For records see:
- Illinois. General Assembly. Miscellaneous Petitions, 1839–1853. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975. (Family History Library film 980654). This record includes claims against the state for supplies furnished in the Mormon War at Nauvoo. It shows names and the amount they claimed for payment.
- Platt, Lyman De. Commission Records, Illinois State Militia, 1834–1855. Typescript, [1973?]. (Family History Library book 977.3 A1 no. 62; film 908142 item 9). This book contains commission records for the Nauvoo Legion. It shows name, date of commission, rank, company, and the date of rank of about 450 men.
Also search the Journal History for the Nauvoo Legion. See the "History" section of this outline for details.
The Mexican War and the Mormon Battalion (1846-1848)
In July 1846 the 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. For rosters and biographies of members and their families see:
- 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). This is alphabetical 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 name, 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 of the Mormon Battalion. This 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 Librarybook 973 M2Lar 1997.) Alphabetical listing 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, a biographical sketch, and sources on the wives of the men in the Mormon Battalion. It is alphabetical by surname.
- 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 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 (1849–1868) and (1879–1880)
Although American Indian and pioneer relations were generally peaceful, there were a few serious conflicts, including:
- Incident at Battle Creek, 1849
- Walker War, 1853–1854
- Goshiute War, 1863
- Battle of Bear River, 1863 (Including part of 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 the American Indians were involved.
The Utah State Archives have several important collections of records for Utah soldiers who were involved in Indian wars. Several records are also available at the Family History Library. Some of the more important records are:
- 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.) This is in alphabetical order. The sections from J. M. Smith to Robert William are out of order and 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 for benefits.
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 of the conflict includes an index with personal names in it.
- 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.) This source contains accounts from histories, diaries, newspaper files, and interviews. It identifies many of the settlers who were killed during the Indian wars. This book is indexed in:
- Index to History of Indian Depredations in Utah [by] Peter Gottfredson. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society, 1942. (Family History Library book 979.2 H2g index.)
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 challenge an alleged Mormon rebellion. When the Army arrived in 1858, the conflict was settled peacefully. The army built Camp Floyd, southwest of Salt Lake City, and the soldiers remained there until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
Records of Utah participants are found in the Utah Militia records mentioned previously. The United States Army records have information of the 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:
- Johnston, Connor and the Mormons: An Outline of Military History in Northern Utah [Salt Lake City, Utah: N.p.], 1962. (Family History Library book 979.2 M2j; fiche 6117855 [set of 5].) This book is a history of Camp Floyd and Fort Douglas. It includes the names of individuals buried in the post cemeteries and lists 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 (1861-1865)
Utah's participation in the Civil War was minimal. Two small units of Utah Militia were called to guard the stage coach routes, telegraph lines, and the mail. A few men enlisted and went east to fight in the war. Their records are located with the federal records.
The Family History Library and the National Archives have the service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in the Lot Smith Company from the Territory of Utah. See:
- United States. Adjutant General's Office. Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the Territory of Utah. National Archive Microfilm Publications, M0692. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1967. (Family History Library film 821588.) This includes data about Lot Smith's Company, Utah Calvary. The alphabetical index to these service records is found separately in:
- United States. Adjutant General's Office. Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the Territory of Utah. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0556. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1964. (Family History Library film 1292645.)
A few Utah veterans applied for Civil War pensions. These records are at the National Archives. The Family History Library has a microfilmed index to the pension records. The information is found in United States Military Records.
The Family History Library has the 1890 census of Union Veterans. This includes union veterans and their widows living in Utah in 1890. See Utah Census for more information.
The most dramatic event of the Civil War for Utah was the arrival of Colonel Patrick E. Connor and 750 volunteer soldiers from California and Nevada. They founded Fort Douglas in 1862. Information about these soldiers can be found in:
- Utah State Archives (Salt Lake City, Utah). Military Records of the Civil War. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library film 536239.) This is the official record of the veterans of the 3rd California infantry and the 2nd California cavalry. The record is from the Utah State records.
- Orton, Richard H. Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1867 Sacramento, California: State Office, 1890. (Family History Library book 979.4 M2a; film 1000133 item 4; fiche 6051180.) This has a roster of the California troops. It lists their name, rank, place of enrollment, date of enlistment and muster, and remarks. This book is indexed in:
- Parker, J. Carlyle. A Personal Name Index to Orton's "Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1978. (Family History Library book 979.4 M2a index.)
By 1890, about 40 percent of the Civil War Union veterans were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The descriptive books of each GAR post usually show each member's name, age, rank, birthplace, residence, occupation, and enlistment and discharge information. The Family History Library has membership records for some posts. Some are found in:
- Grand Army of the Republic. Department of Utah. Grand Army of the Republic Utah Membership. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Archives, 1981. (On three Family History Library films beginning with 1666083.) This film contains membership information for posts 1–5, 7, and 22.
The GAR organization has published Civil War history books. A history about the Civil War and veteran organizations in Utah is:
- Fisher, Margaret M. Utah and the Civil War. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1929. (Family History Library book 979.2 H2f.) This contains the rosters of the Lot Smith expedition and the Robert T. Burton expedition. The J. Q. Knowlton GAR post directed the writing of this history.
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.) They contain the soldier's name, rank, age, place of birth, and occupation. The muster-out roll has date last paid, destination, and place of discharge
Published histories of Utah volunteers include:
- 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 book 979.2 M2p; film 1697617 item.) 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. This book is online at the BYU Family History Archives website.
- Mabey, Charles R. The Utah Batteries: A History. [Spanish American War 1898] Salt Lake City, Utah: n.p., 1900. (Family History Library book 979.2 M2m; film 1000615 item 5.) This book includes each soldier's name and place of residence at time of enlistment.
The pension index for soldiers from this war are found with the Civil War Pension indexes. See the U.S. Military Records Research Outline for information on this index.
Mexican Border Campaign (1916-1917)
In 1916 the United States had trouble at the United States-Mexico border. The Utah National Guard served with other state units on the Mexican 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 person'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 the U.S. Military Records Research Outline for further information.
World War I (1917-1919)
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:
United States. War Department. World War I Service Records of Utahns. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. (Family History Library films 485733-50.) The records are arranged alphabetically and contain such information as the 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 the person's residence, date and place of birth, injuries, residence at time of joining, enlistment place, service, and discharge date. They are arranged alphabetically. Records for both the Army and Marine Corps are:
- 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 the soldier's name, place of residence upon enlistment, and dates of service
World War I draft registration cards for men age 18 to 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 Utah, see:
- 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.)
To find an individual's draft card, it helps 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. All the counties, except Salt Lake and Weber, had only one board. Weber County has several for Ogden and one for the rest of Weber. Salt Lake County has several boards. Salt Lake City boards are separated from the county.
World War II (1942-1945)
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. See:
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 branch of service, then alphabetically by surname.
Additional Military Records
The Utah State Archives has a large collection of military records. A current listing of their holdings is available at the 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.