Colombia Military Records

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Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Today, all young men at 18 years of age are required to serve in the military with a few exceptions. The requirement can be fulfilled by duty with either the army (18 months), the navy (24 months), the air force (18 months), or the National Police (12 months). However, only a small proportion of those eligible actually serve--usually those from the lower classes. The Colombian military is one of the largest and most well-equipped in Latin America.

Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family records, biographies, censuses, probate records, civil registration, and church records.

Military records in Colombia begin with the Spanish military records in the colonial period before Colombia’s independence and continue with the nation’s own records. They give information about an ancestor’s military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records usually include information about his age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members.

In the late 15th century, during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, one out of every 12 Spanish males between the ages of 12 and 45 was required to serve in the army. In 1773, Charles III established the quinta system, which required every fifth Spanish male to serve in the military.

The colonial armies included four kinds of troops:

Spanish soldiers assigned to temporary service in the colonies
Spanish soldiers permanently assigned to colonial service
Provincial militia
Local militia

The provincial militias were composed of men from the colonies, but the officers were almost exclusively Spanish. The local militias were created toward the end of the 18th century for community defense. 

These records are the most easily accessible and many are available through FamilySearch.

Early Military