Locating a Confederate Civil War Soldier (1861–1865)
Military service records may give the rank, dates of service, place of residence prior to enlistment, age, place of birth, physical description, and date and place of death or discharge.
What you will need to get started. Service records are normally arranged by state, then by military unit, and then alphabetically by the serviceman's name. In order to find the service records you will need to determine the state from which he served, his military unit, and the name by which your ancestor was identified during the war. Some soldiers served in a military unit raised by the Confederate government rather than from one of the states.
On the Internet
Step A. Search the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database on the Internet. This easy-to-use database lists over 6 million Confederate and Union soldiers, and 18,000 African American sailors. The search engine finds names alphabetically.
- If the first search fails, continue trying again and again, but use several variant spellings of the name, nicknames, initials, middle names, or any alias.
- If you find too many matching names, try to narrow the field by using clues from your knowledge of your ancestors, such as his place of residence, or relatives or neighbors that joined up with him. Also, each state's ". . . in the Civil War" page on the Wiki has a link to that state's military units regiment-by-regiment. That regimental list sometimes gives the place where they were first organized or discharged. The majority of regiments were raised mostly in one or two counties.
Sometimes the database shows the same person under more than one spelling of his name.
Each entry in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database has the potential to list each serviceman's:
- regiment or battalion (always listed)
- if Confederate or Union (always listed)
- soldier's rank in
- soldier's rank out
- alternate name
- National Archives source microfilm number (always listed)
- If you find your ancestor in this Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database, make a copy of the information, and then look for the service record in Fold3. If you do not find the service record in Fold3, skip to Step 3.
Step B. Find the service record in Fold3, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com on the Internet. Fold3 shows images of service record card abstracts of entries of each soldier in original muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, hospital registers, Union prison registers and rolls, parole rolls, and inspection reports. These cards are arranged by state, by military unit, and then alphabetically by soldier's name.
To find an ancestor's card, open Fold3 to the Civil War Service Records > Confederate Records page, select the ancestors state, and then select his military unit within that state. You can then find the alphabetical list of soldiers' service record cards, and view individual cards.
- If you find an ancestor's card(s), make a copy, then note the source on your research log, update your family group record, and you are done with service record abstract cards. If you do NOT find the ancestor's card, you could continue the search by searching the microfilm version of the same records as follows:
Step 1. If you know the state where your ancestor enlisted (but still need to find his regiment), search the following statewide alphabetical indexes on microfilm for your ancestor's name. Click the appropriate state's FHL Film numbers blue link below to see the catalog entry showing which parts of the alphabetical index are on which films.
| Conf Gvmt troops index
Alabama troops index
Arizona troops index
Arkansas troops index
Florida troops index
Georgia troops index
Kentucky troops index
Louisiana troops index
Maryland troops index
Mississippi troops index
Missouri troops index
North Carolina index
South Carolina index
Tennessee troops index
Texas troops index
Virginia troops index
| FHL Films 1205310 to 1205355
FHL Films 821949 to 821997
FHL Film 821837
FHL Films 821811 to 821836
FHL Films 880001 to 880009
FHL Films 821700 to 821766
FHL Films 881380 to 881393
FHL Films 881457 to 881487
FHL Films 881522 to 881534
FHL Films 821838 to 821882
FHL Films 882002 to 882017
FHL Films 821768 to 821806
FHL Films 881967 to 882001
FHL Films 880055 to 880095
FHL Films 880014 to 880054
FHL Films 881395 to 881456
| (NARA M818)|
- If you find your ancestor in one of these statewide indexes, make a copy of the information, and skip to Step 3.
Step 2. If you do NOT know the state where your ancestor enlisted, search for your ancestor's name in the following microfilm index:
- Make a copy of any information you find.
- Make a copy of any information you find.
Step 3. Search the compiled military service records. Once you know an ancestor was in a military unit raised by either (a) the Confederate government, or (b) a particular state, plus the name of his military unit, and the name by which he was identified during the war, you are prepared to look up his service records. Search by state (or by the Confederate government), by military unit, and then by soldier's name in the microfilms listed in the following table. Click on the appropriate state's FHL Film number's blue link below to see the catalog entry showing which military units are on which films. In the catalog entry you may need to scroll past a beginning index before you come to the list of various military units.
|Federal Confederate Service Records|| State Confederate
|FHL Film Numbers||NARA Film Numbers|
| Conf Gvmt troops
Conf Staff Members
| FHL 880207 to 880329
FHL 881105 to 881379
| NARA M258
| FHL 880330 to 880837
FHL 880849 to 881104
FHL 880103 to 880206
FHL 1499064 to 1499670
| NARA M311
191674 to 191678
227858 to 227859
| FHL 1447468 to 1447603
FHL 1447610 to 1447670
FHL 1292663 to 1292684
FHL 1488026 to 1488452
FHL 1500030 to 1500222
| NARA M319
| 471735 to 471739|
1305383 to 1305385
1204828 to 1204847
| North Carolina
| FHL 1381001 to 1447080
FHL 1380691 to 1447467
FHL 1499671 to 1527065
FHL 1501077 to 1501521
FHL 1488678 to 1489752
| NARA M270
| 18075 to 18078|
29767 to 29808
|More service records||FHL 1380856 to 1380929||NARA M861|
Make a copy of the service record documents, record the results of the search on your research log, and update your family group record.
Pension records contain information on a veteran’s military service, wife and children, and place of residence. The federal government did not issue pensions to veterans who fought for the Confederacy. In an effort to compensate disabled veterans or widows, most southern states began paying pensions from state funds. Not all veterans or widows applied for or received pensions. By common consent former Confederate states agreed that pensions would be granted by the state in which the veteran or his widow lived at the time of application rather than by the state from which he served. Therefore, you may need to search each state in which a veteran lived after the Civil War.
On the Internet
- Alabama pensions 1862-1947 Ancestry
- Arkansas pensions 1891-1939 AR History Commission; pensions 1901-1929 FamilySearch
- Florida pensions 1885-1955 FL Dept State; pensions 1885-1955 FamilySearch
- Georgia 1879-1960 GA Archives; pensions 1879-1960 Ancestry
- Kentucky pensions 1912-1946 (by county) KY Archives; applications 1912-1950 (by number; index lacking) FamilySearch; pensions 1912-1930 Ancestry
- Louisiana pensions 1898-1950 LA State Archives; pensions 1898-1950 FamilySearch
- Mississippi applications 1889-1932 MS Dept of Archives and History; pensions 1889-1935 FamilySearch; applications 1900-1974 FamilySearch
- Missouri pensions 1911-1938 FamilySearch
- North Carolina how to access to online pensions NC State Archives; pensions 1885-1953 FamilySearch
- Oklahoma pension index pdf OK Dept of Libraries; pension index cards 1915-? ODL
- South Carolina various Confederate records including pensions 1888-1973 SC Archives
- Tennessee applications 1891-1965 TN State Library and Archives; applications 1891-1965 FamilySearch; applications 1891-1965 Ancestry
- Texas pensions 1899-1975 TX State Library and Archives Commission; pensions 1899-1875 Ancestry; pensions 1899-1965 Fold3
- Virginia pensions 1888-1978 Library of Virginia; pensions 1888-1978 Ancestry
The National Archives' Confederate Pension Records page on the Internet also provides a state-by-state list, and links to southern state archives which have pension records.
It helps to know the state of residence of a veteran or widow after the war in order to search for a file on microfilm. The Family History Library has microfilms (or books) of the Confederate pension files for each state.
- Alabama FHL Film 1502476-1522003; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Arkansas FHL Film 1697692 item 2; FHL Book 976.7 M22ai; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Cleveland Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Garland Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Hot Spring Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Independence Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Logan Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Marion Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Washington Co. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Florida FHL Book 975.9 M2w; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Georgia (Index) FHL Book 975.8 M22w; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Pensions) FHL Film 315678 +; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Kentucky (Index) FHL Book 976.9 M2k; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Applications) FHL Film 1670795-1670844; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Louisiana (Pensions 1912-1936) FHL Film 1704156 Item 17; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Pensions 1924 and 1933) FHL Book 976.3 M2dw; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Mississippi FHL Film 902556-904430; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Missouri (Pension and soldier home applications) FHL Film 1021101-1021127; (WorldCat).
- North Carolina (Applications and index) FHL Film 1535033-1547719; Index at various libraries (WorldCat).
- Oklahoma (Index) FHL Fiche 6046932; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Applications) FHL Film 1001529-1001548; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- South Carolina At various libraries (WorldCat); See also each individual SC county.
- Tennessee (Index) FHL Film 873919; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Applications 1891-1965) FHL Film 978497 +; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Texas (Index) FHL Book 976.4 M22w; At various libraries (WorldCat). (Applications) FHL Film 960279 +; At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Virginia FHL Film 1439763 +; At various libraries (WorldCat).
Many states North and South maintained soldier homes for needy veterans. Records of these homes can provide biographical, family, and military service information on its applicants and inmates. The Family History Library has soldier home related records for some, but not all Confederate soldier homes in every formerly Confederate state except North Carolina. For further details and links see US Military Old Soldiers Home Records.
Read the Confederate Veterans and Lineage Society Records page for help in finding information on veterans' organizations and lineage societies.
- If an ancestor survived the war, he may have joined a veterans' organization like the United Confederate Veterans.
- Look in the Confederate Veteran, 40 vols. (Nashville, Tenn.: United Confederate Veterans, 1893-1932). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 973 B2cv. This was their official publication from 1893 to 1932. Indexed in Confederate Veteran Magazine, 1893-1932. Cumulative Index, 3 vols. (Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot Pub., 1986). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 973 B2cva index.
- Check the records of veteran’s organizations because they may provide biographical information about their members. For example, some UCV rosters of membership for the years 1895 to 1899 are on FHL Films 1710607 items 10–20 and 1710608. At various libraries (WorldCat).
- Check with the state archives, historical society, or state library for any available veterans' organizations records of the state in which your ancestor served or lived after the war. See the Archives and Libraries section of each state's Wiki page for these addresses.
A descendant of your ancestor may also have joined a lineage society like the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Contact their national headquarters to learn about this organization. See their web site at United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Use the Military Records section for the state's Wiki page in which your ancestor enlisted to find other military papers, such as state rosters, Adjutant General’s reports, regimental or unit histories, and county histories.
You can also find these sources in the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search under the name of the state and the topic
- [State] — Military Records — Civil War, 1861–1865
Look for additional information about Civil War records in the FamilySearch Research Wiki at:
- Confederate Pension Records in Arkansas History Commission (accessed 25 March 2014).