08:27 AM

How to Find Your Civil War Ancestor


Millions of Americans descend from a U.S. Civil War veteran. But how do you know if one of YOUR ancestors did (if any)? Here are some easy steps to take to find your U.S. Civil War ancestor and how to start digging deeper into military records.

Look at home. Do you have any photos of him in uniform? How about letters or journals? 

Look at his birth date. The majority of soldiers and sailors were born between 1820 and 1845. (This is an average). If your ancestor fits those years, take a look at his obituary and tombstone. In his obituary, look for a mention of Civil War service or his membership in a military fraternal organization, such as the Grand Army of the Republic.

If he died after 1910, look for him in the 1910 federal census. Column 30 asks if he was a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy. Look for the letters UA, UN, CA, or CN in this column.

Look for him or his widow in the 1890 Special Schedule of Union Veterans and Widows. If he was a Union veteran, look for him in the pension indices. 

The key to doing successful Civil War research is to keep your ancestor’s identity in mind. When was he born? Who did he marry? Where did he live? When did he die, and where is he buried?