Minnesota Military Records
Military records identify millions of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family traditions (or legends), census records, naturalization records, biographies, cemetery records, and records of veterans’ organizations.
Many military records are found at the Family History Library, the National Archives, the Minnesota Historical Society, and other federal and state archives. United States Military Records provides more information on federal military records and search strategies.
- 1 Forts
- 2 War of 1812 (1812-1815)
- 3 Mexican War (1846–1848)
- 4 Civil War (1861–1865)
- 5 Soldiers' Home Records
- 6 Indian Wars (1780s-1890s)
- 7 Spanish-American War (1898) and Philippine Insurrection (1899–1902)
- 8 World War I (1917-1918)
- 9 World War II (1941-1945)
- 10 Other Records
- 11 References
Fort Beauharnois -- 1727-1756
Fort Howard 1816-52
Fort Ripley -- 1849-1877
Fort Ridgely -- Textual records of this post, 1853-1865, 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 Sanborn -- 1862-1863
Fort Snelling -- 1819-1946. Textual records of this post, 1855-1922, 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 Wilkins 1844-70
Encyclopedia of Indian Wars Western Battles and Skirmishes 1850-1890. By Gregory F. Michno. Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, Montana C. 2003 ISBN 0-887842-468-7
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
Although Minnesota did not exist as a state during the War of 1812, records exist for War of 1812 veterans that later settled in Minnesota.
- War of 1812 Pensioners in Minnesota, 1883 (includes pensioners and widows). Abstracted from the U.S. Pension Bureau's List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883, volume IV.
- Finnell, Arthur Louis. Known War of 1812 Veterans Buried in Minnesota. Roseville, Minnesota: Park Genealogical Books, 1997 (FHL book 977.6 V3f.) Includes the name, place of birth and death, name of spouse, and where married. Also includes the soldier’s service record with dates and his residence at time of death.
Mexican War (1846–1848)
Although Minnesota did not exist as a state during the time of the Mexican War, men who served in that war were eligible for military bounty land in Minnesota. (See Minnesota Land and Property.)
Civil War (1861–1865)
See Minnesota in the Civil War for information about Minnesota Civil War records, web sites, etc. with links to articles about the Minnesota 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.
Soldiers' Home Records
Records of the state operated soldiers' home in Minneapolis are found in the Minnesota State Historical Society Library. They include resident admission and discharge records, history of residents’ military service, and clinical records.
Indian Wars (1780s-1890s)
Dakota Conflict (Sioux Uprising, 1862)
The Dakota Conflict, sometimes called the Sioux Uprising or Sioux War of 1862, erupted in Minnesota during the Civil War. Driven by hunger and broken promises, some Dakota Indians attacked settlements in the Minnesota River Valley in mid-August 1862. Although not long, the Dakota Conflict claimed the lives of hundreds of Dakota people and white settlers. The unrest that persisted following the conflict caused many Dakota Indians to flee to the Dakota Territory or to Canada.
Records of troops in federal service who took part in the Dakota Conflict are included with Civil War records. Names of those who served with local militia units are included as an appendix to Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars, 1861–1865, volume 1, described above. Names of more than 200 white settlers and many Indians who died in the Dakota Conflict are included in:
- Satterlee, Marion P. A Detailed Account of the Massacre by the Dakota Indians in 1862: with Names of all Victims [and a] Complete List of Indians Killed in Battle.. Minneapolis, Minnesota: M. P. Satterlee, . (Family History Library film 1671601 item 7.)
Spanish-American War (1898) and Philippine Insurrection (1899–1902)
Minnesota raised four volunteer regiments for service in the Spanish-American War. About 5,000 men served with those regiments. Four Minnesota soldiers were killed in action; more than 80 died of disease. Minnesota was one of a few states that also provided volunteers during the Philippine Insurrection. Rosters of those who served in both conflicts are included in:
- Holbrook, Franklin F. Minnesota in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota War Records Commission, 1923. (Family History Library film 1654701.) Includes brief regimental histories of the Minnesota volunteer units, followed by rosters of Minnesotans who served between 1898 and 1902 in those units and in other branches of service—more than 8,000 names. Information includes name, age, birthplace, residence, regiment, and dates mustered in and out. Includes an index to names in the rosters and a general index.
Names of those who filed for pensions based on service in these two conflicts are included in the General Index to Pension Files, 1861–1934, described in United States Military Records.
World War I (1917-1918)
World War I draft registration cards for men ages 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 Minnesota, see:
- United States. Selective Service System. Minnesota, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. National Archives Microfilm Publication M1509. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1987–1988. (On 94 Family History Library films beginning with 1675275.)
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.
Most counties had only one board, large cities had several. Maps showing the boundaries of individual draft boards in Minneapolis and St. Paul are included in:
- United States. Selective Service System. List of World War One Draft Board Maps. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 19––. (Family History Library film 1498803.)
Finding an ancestor’s street address in a city directory will help you in using the draft board map. See Minnesota Directories.
Haller’s Army. During World War I, the Polish Army in France, commonly called Haller’s Army, recruited about 20,000 soldiers from among Poles living in the United States. Two forms that contain genealogical information were filled out by the recruits. Form A contains each volunteer’s name, address, marital status, number of children, how his family would be supported if he was accepted into service, whether volunteer was an American citizen, his age, physical description, signature, recruiting station, and the date. Form C contains additional information such as the volunteer’s birth date and place, the addresses of his closest relative in America and of his closest relative in Poland, his previous military service, and remarks. All volumes of the collection are available through:
PGS of America
ATTN: Haller’s Army Request
984N. Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
A name index is on the Internet at:
- Haller’s Army Index. In Polish Genealogical Society of America [Internet site]. [Chicago, Illinois: PGSA], 1998 [cited 17 July 1999]. You can search by surname and first name. The index shows the volunteer’s surname and given name, the town and state where he volunteered, his form (Form A or C described above, or L [loose papers]), and page number.
A microfilm copy of the Form A records only is:
- United States (with Some from Ontario, Canada) Recruits for the Polish Army in France, 1917–1919 A microfilm copy of the Form A records only is:
United States (with Some from Ontario, Canada) Recruits for the Polish Army in France, 1917–1919: States Represented most Frequently are New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Connecticut, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Nebraska & Kansas (for Complete Breakdown See Film Inventory). Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1995. (On 11 FHL films beginning with 1993525.) The forms are in Polish, but at the beginning of each film is a blank form printed in English. The records are not organized by locality, and Minnesota recruits are represented on almost every film. There is, however, an alphabetical list of volunteers for each item.
World War II (1941-1945)
Lists of dead and missing soldiers who served during World War II, arranged alphabetically by county, are in:
- Minnesota’s World War II Army Dead. Brooklyn Park, Minnesota: Park Genealogical Books, 1994. (Family History Library book 977.6 A1 no.135.) It includes 6,462 names and indicates the soldier’s rank and cause of death.
The Minnesota Historical Society Library has a collection on 88 rolls of microfilm of military service record cards for Minnesotans entering federal service from the state militia or National Guard. These cover conflicts from the Civil War through World War I, including the Spanish- American War. These cards are arranged by war and branch of service, then alphabetically by soldier’s family name. They give name, age or date of birth, sometimes birthplace, and dates and places of service. The microfilms can be used through the interlibrary loan service of your public library. For film numbers, contact the Minnesota Historical Society Library.
The Minnesota Historical Society has a number of other military records, including a few muster rolls dating from the late 1800s for state militia and National Guard units. The Society also has copies of more than half the original induction records of the 60,000 Minnesota men drafted into service in World War I, records of World War I veterans who applied for bonuses, records of the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis, established in 1887, and some records from veterans’ organizations. For descriptions of these and other records, see Genealogical Resources of the Minnesota Historical Society: A Guide cited in Minnesota Archives and Libraries.
Information may also be obtained from Fort Snelling National Cemetery (7601 34th Avenue South, Fort Snelling Minnesota 55111, telephone 612-726-1127). Veterans from the Civil War through recent conflicts are buried at the Fort Snelling cemetery. Minneapolis also has a national cemetery and an office of the Veterans Administration.
Other useful military records are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
MINNESOTA – MILITARY RECORDS
MINNESOTA – MILITARY HISTORY
MINNESOTA, [COUNTY] – MILITARY RECORDS
Minnesota Veterans Graves Registration index - a list of Veterans buried in Minnesota - 1857 - 1975. It also includes a birth and death index.
Minnesota. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001. NOTE: All information in the original research outline has been added to the FamilySearch Wiki, where it is both enhanced and updated by the genealogical community.