Four Quick Pointers to get you started on your Civil War Ancestor Research

Have you been thinking about doing some research for Civil War veterans in your family tree? Not sure where to begin? Here are four quick pointers to get you started.

Civil War Quick Tip: Compiled Military Service Records

Hey Friends! Today’s Civil War Quick Tip was recorded on Periscope and I’ve uploaded it here in case you missed it. The addresses I refer to in the video can be found below.



Complied Military Service Records – Record Group 94 at the National Archives

Civil War CMSR records for both Union and Confederate veterans
are filed by state, then by regiment, then alphabetically by soldier’s name.

1. Records within jacket – Records in the jacket are abstracts made from the original muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, orders, etc. about that particular soldier.

Complied Military Service Record – (form NATF 86) can be ordered online from NARA for $30 or you can download the form and mail it in. You have the choice of receiving hard copies or a cd/dvd of the file.

**scroll to center of page**

2. Records outside the jacket – There are cards and personal papers that were never filed in a soldiers CMSR jacket.

Confederate cards can be found on microfilm M347 Unfiled Papers and Slips Belonging in Confederate Compiled Service Records at National Archives Building, NARA regional sites, libraries with large genealogy departments, Fold3.

Union unfiled cards are usually found at the end of a regiment’s section or maybe filed after every couple regiments in the CMSR. Submit a request to NARA for copies of these records. Write to the:

Old Military and Civil Records Branch, National Archives and Records Administration

700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20408

or send an e-mail to:

Provide the soldier’s name, company, and regiment and specify the Civil War and that you’re looking for “unfiled cards and personal papers” that are outside the CMSR jacket.


Good Luck! Let me know if this helped you in your research or send me questions at: cindy[at]genealogycircle[dot]com I’d love to hear from you!


Civil War Quick Tip – Free Genealogy Research!!

Civil War blog reading

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Don’t forget that usually around patriotic holidays most subscription-based genealogy websites offer a few days on their site for free. It is of course their way of showing you all they have to offer in the hope you’ll find lots of value and subscribe. Fold3, the database for military records has done this in the past.

Let me stress, I don’t have inside info but with Memorial Day weekend less than two weeks away Fold3 may offer a free weekend for you to research their records.

If you don’t have a Fold3 subscription you might want to plan on taking advantage of a free offer if it does happen. Start a research log for the veteran you’re researching. List what you already know, regiment, company, enlistment dates, etc. Then state your goal(s), the questions about his service you are attempting to answer.

With this kind of prep work done you’ll be able to take some time out of your busy holiday weekend and make the most of the records on the site.

If a free research weekend isn’t offered or you just don’t have the spare time during the holiday you’ll still have your research log and goals ready to go either for the next free research weekend or you can try your local library. Many libraries have a subscription to Ancestry, Fold 3 and so on. It’s available to those members with a library card so you may want to check that out as well.

Good luck researching and if you find some good stuff leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you found!

P.S. Happy Memorial Day!

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Ancestors In A Nation DividedIf you’re interested in focusing your research on your Civil War ancestor check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – available in Kindle and also in paperback. Only $15.77 on Amazon. Great help as you seek your veteran’s place in our country’s history.


Also I’d love for you to sign up for my monthly Civil War Research Tips – Finding More on Your Civil War Ancestor here. I’ll share pointers and info to help in researching your Civil War ancestor. Please take a moment to sign up and thanks so much!

My 3 best online sites to begin your Civil War research all are Free!

Civil War blog reading

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The Civil War is the one single event in our country’s history that still captures a lot of attention today. More books are published and read about the Civil War every year than any other era in our history. Maybe you’ve even wondered if your ancestor(s) played a role in this powerful time in our county’s history. Nearly 3 million men from both the north and south fought in the war. All these men left their homes and families to fight for their beliefs. It’s more than likely one, if not several, of your ancestors participated.

So, where do you begin as you search for your ancestors place in this monumental struggle known as the Civil War? First look through your family tree at the generation of men born in the late 1820’s, the 1830’s and 1840’s. Also, remember many youths lied about their age and served when only 16 or 17 years old. So flexibility with dates is a plus! Now where do you go from here?

National Parks Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System

Armed with a name try finding your potential soldier at the National Parks Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System Database. It’s a good, free website provided by the National Parks System. While there be sure to click on the Tools page and Info page. There’s a lot of great information available and many details on regiments and battles. Knowing a little about the battles your ancestor fought in puts you in his footsteps. How far from home was he? Did his regiment move often? Did he see major casualties? All these variables were sure to change him forever and certainly helps the genealogist identify with their ancestor.

Family Search

Continue researching your Civil War ancestor at the site. Along with their database this free site, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has info pages, video demos, a blog, and free courses. There’s a lot to find on this site beside the records you’re searching for and all free!

Cyndi’s List

Another avenue to follow as you research your Civil War ancestor is Cyndi’s List. This is not a database where you’ll find your particular soldier listed but a compilation of links when researching your Union, Confederate, and African-American soldiers. There’s listings for battlefields and battles, prisoners and prisons, censuses, and the lists go on and on. With links to just about every Civil War internet site known to mankind you could quite possibly spend the rest of your life pursuing leads from Cyndi’s List alone. Stop here when you have time on your hands.

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The June issue of Going In-Depth is available!!

Going In-Depth is the free digital genealogy magazine presented by The In-Depth Genealogist. In each monthly issue, you’ll find guest articles, regular columns, and free resources such as Ask Ephraim and MIAA to help you along your family history journey. As with all IDG products, they strive to create a resource for every genealogist, no matter the age, stage, or focus of your research.

My article this month is Civil War POWs and listed on the cover! Click the magazine photo to start reading excellent genealogy research ideas for free!