Virginia in the Civil War
Guide to Virginia in the Civil War ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Virginia Military Units
- 3 Battles Fought in Virginia
- 4 Union Records
- 5 Confederate Records
- 6 Guides to Military Units
- 7 Internet Sites
- 8 References
Virginia was a prominent part of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Many of the battles fought during the war were fought on Virginian land. The first and last significant battles were held in Virginia, and the men that Virginia supplied for the fight were men from all economic and social levels, both slaveholders and non slaveholders, as well as former Unionists. The only areas that sent few or no men to fight for the Confederacy were located on the border with the North.
The state was the focal point for a number of reasons.It had more manufacturers and more mines than any other state. It also had nearly 20% of the railroad track of the Southern states. Its state capital, Richmond, was also the Confederacy's capital. Because armies focus on capturing the enemy's capital, the Federals concentrated on capturing Richmond. The Confederates in turn worked to capture Washington D.C. The counties in between were doomed to suffer mass devastation. By 1865, the state's handsome towns were wrecked; its manufacturing centers destroyed; its farms ruined. Virginians starved and found themselves prey to foraging soldiers, looters and lawless bands. A half million men became casualties within its borders.
Virginia Military Units
Most units were numbered, however, many especially in the Confederate forces were named. See the table below for lists of the regiments, battalions, batteries, and other units
The information in the lists of Virginia Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors website. That website also can be searched by the name of a soldier but also see A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations 1861-1865 at FHL book 975.5 M2vr v. 29 and Confederate Regimental Histories with links to other sites.
Battles Fought in Virginia
Over 120 battles were fought in Virginia during the Civil War (1861-1865). For more information about these battles, click here.
1890 Census Veterans Schedules - The "Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War" (NARA M123) are available online for the state of Virginia. The schedules list Union veterans and their widows living in Virginia in 1890. For more information on the 1890 Veterans Schedules see Union Census Records.
The Family History Library and the National Archives have the:
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers . . . (Family History Library film 881594).
- Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers . . . (Family History Library film 1292638-644). May provide the soldier's or sailor's unit which can help to find pension records but does not give information about other members of the soldier's family.
- Compiled Service Records - The Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia are available online. In the future, these records will be made available at no charge through the National Archives website. The service records are also available at no charge at National Archives research rooms. The compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death. For more information see Union Service Records.
- 1861-1865 - Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- Pension Index File . . . 1861-1934 (Family History Library films beginning with 540757). The actual pension records are only at the National Archives. Pension records sometimes list other members of the soldier's family and birth, marriage, and death information.
- Civil War Pension Index Cards - An Index to Pension Applications of veterans who served in the US Army between 1861-1917 is available on FamilySearch. Each card gives the soldier’s name, application and certificate numbers, state of enlistment, and might include rank and death information. The majority of the records are of Civil War veterans, but the collection also includes records for veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Indian Wars, and World War I. For more information see Union Pension Records.
Old Soldier Homes
For records of national old soldier homes, including the home in Richmond, Virginia, 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.) Includes general indexes for twelve homes, but some volumes are indexed separately. These Historical Registers may list the soldier's name, date and place of enlistment, rank, military unit, length of service, date and place of discharge, place of birth, age, physical description, religion, occupation, previous residence, marital status, nearest relative, pension, soldier home admission and discharge dates, disability, death date, or cause of death.
Southern Claims Commission
If a Union sympathizer in Virginia claimed a loss during the Civil War due to Union military confiscation, he could apply to the Southern Claims Commission for reimbursement. Only a few applied per county, but their neighbors were called as witnesses and asked dozens of questions. Hundreds of the residents of all kinds in a county may be mentioned in answers to Commission questions, and their wartime activities described. To learn how to find records mentioning these neighbors in Virginia counties during the Civil War see the Southern Claims Commission.
Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)
Grand Army of the Republic founded in 1866 - 1956, was the largest veteran’s organization in the country after the Civil War. It was a fraternal organization members were veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, Marines and Revenue Cutler Service who served in the American Civil War. The group supported voting rights for black veterans, and lobbied the U.S. Congress to establish veterans' pensions. In 1890 the membership was 490,000.
In 1888 there were 27 posts and 1,018 members in the state of Virginia
The FamilySearch Catalog list records of the Virginia Grand Army of the Republic.
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
With the death of the last member of the Grand Army of the Republic the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was formed.
- 1861-1865 - Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- Index to Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers . . . (Family History Library films 881395-456).
- Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers . . . (on 1075 Family History Library films 1488678-1489752). Lists the soldier's name, rank, unit, and enlistment date and place.
Compiled Service Records - The Compiled Service Records ($) (Fold3.com) of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia are available online. In the future, these records will be made available at no charge through the National Archives website. The service records are also available at no charge at National Archives research rooms. The compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. Service records may provide rank, unit, date of enlistment, length of service, age, place of birth, and date of death. For more information see Confederate Service Records.
- Index to Confederate Service Records of Virginia . . .(Family History Library films 029777-808). An online index to Virginia Confederate Rosters is an unofficial roster of Virginia Confederate soldiers.
- Confederate Service Records of Virginia, 1861- 65 (Family History Library film 029767-76).
- Confederate Pension Applications, Virginia, Acts of 1888, 1900, 1902: Index 1888-1934. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (On 219 Family History Library films beginning with 1439763.) Indexed by veteran's, widow's, or servant's name. Files are arranged by pension act, then by county, then by surname. Usually gives age, birthplace, and residence. In addition, the Library of Virginia has the Confederate Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows Electronic Card Index. Because not all information is included in either of these pension rolls, both databases should be consulted.
The Confederate pension records from 1888 to 1928 are only at the Virginia State Library.
- Further Library of Virginia online databases include:
- - Confederate Disability Applications and Receipts
- - Robert E. Lee Soldier's Home Applications for Admission
- - Selected Civil War Resources in the Personal Papers and Military Records Collections at the Library of Virginia
- - Confederate Navy Index
- - Index to the Confederate Magazine
Presidential Pardons of Former Confederates, 1863–1868
From 1863 to 1868, former Confederates could apply for pardon from the federal government. The voting rights and citizenship of former Confederates were restored when they applied for pardon and signed an Amnesty Oath.
A published list of pardons is available online:
- Pardons by the President: Final Report of the Names of Persons Who Lived in Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, or Georgia, were Engaged in Rebellion and Pardoned by the President, Andrew Johnson. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, Inc., 1986. Digital version at FamilySearch Books Online - free.
Regimental Rosters and Histories
Regimental rosters with biographical information of Virginia soldiers are published in:
- Virginia Regimental Histories Series. (Lynchburg, Virginia: H. E. Howard, 1982–.), (Family History Library book 975.5 M2vr.) 119 volumes in the series have been completed.
- List of Field Officers, Regiments and Battalions in the Confederate States Army 1861-1865 Google Books
- Confederate Regimental History Links indexes regimental histories.
- A nineteen volume set of cemetery records is:
- - Spratt, Thomas M. Men in Gray Interments. Athens, Georgia: Iberian Pub. Co., c1996-1998 ; Athens, Georgia : New Papyrus Pub., c1998-2009. (Family History Library book 975.5 V3s) This gives name and location of cemetery, soldier's name, regiment, and any other information taken from tombstones, monuments and publications. Many of the soldiers served in regiments other than those from Virginia.
- Register of the Confederate Dead Interred in Hollywood Cemetery: Richmond, Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: Gary, Clemmitt and Jones, 1869. (Family History Library book 975.5451 V3r; Family History Library US/CAN Film 33625.) This register lists thousands of Confederate soldiers buried in Richmond. Includes name, company, regiment, state, date of death, cemetery section and number.
- Oakwood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, Register of Interments in Confederate Plots. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, [19—?] (Family History Library film 1294360) Alphabetical by name. Lists company, regiment, state, grave number, row, division, and remarks.
Guides to Military Units
For guidebooks to Virginia's military units for the Civil War, the following sources are helpful:
- Sifakis, Stewart. Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Virginia. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1992- 1995. (Family History Library book 975 M2ss, Ten Volumes.) Gives organization information for each unit and its field officers, assignments, and battles. It also lists sources further reading. Volume 5 is for Virginia.
- Wallace, Lee A. A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1861-1865. Lynchburg, Virginia: H. E. Howard, 1986. (Family History Library book 975.5 M2vr, Volume 29.) Gives brief historical sketches of each regiment and lists officers, company names, and commanders.
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Virginia, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Civil War in Virginia by the Commonwealth of Virginia has information about historical and current Civil War events. The Walk in Their Footsteps section has short regimental histories. In that section's Resources, is a list of other Internet sites and books with good Civil War information.
- Confederate Regimental History Links for indexes and links to Confederate Regimental Histories.
- Civil War in Virginia for a link to a variety of Virginia in the Civil War sites.