Confederate Ancestor Research
A common question that we receive is:
How can I find out if an ancestor fought in the war and how do I find out about his service?
The SCV has resources and help available at www.scv.org/genealogy.php. On this page have come up with a generalized outline to help get you started with your research.
Making a connection to an Confederate ancestor is an exciting way to bring history alive for you and your family. So the first step has got to be learn your family’s genealogy.
The basic facts that you will need to know in order to research on an ancestor are: name, state, regiment, and if possible, the company. Knowing what county your ancestor resided in during the 1860’s would be helpful.
Start your search by talking with your oldest living relatives. See how much information they can give for building a family tree. Develop a family tree that extends back to the mid 1800’s.
Southern males aged 16-40 on the 1860 census are prime candidates for CSA service. Begin your search with these men. Later you can check on older or younger men that may have also served.
It is important now to determine the state and county of residence so that Census records from 1860 may be located and reviewed for information. Census records can be found in local libraries, historical and genealogy societies, government archives and at LDS Family History Centers. Some are in books, but more common are microfilms. Paper copies of census records can usually be made. Develop a list of men whom you suspect may have served.
Contact their home county to see if there is a local historical society. Many counties have historical societies that have already documented their local-county men who fought for the Confederacy. Many have “County History” books which contain their men’s involvement with the War.
They’ll have at least the local companies raised, and sometimes the roster and pension recipient list. Occasionally the battles their local soldiers participated in, their letters home, and more may be found in these books.
Confederate regiments were frequently referred to by the commander’s name even when in fact they had a numerical designation. You will find that many states have some sort of indexed listings of a soldiers.
The National Archives has published a “Consolidated Index to Compiled Confederate Service Records” on microfilm which is available in many large historical libraries. The service records themselves are also frequently on microfilm at the library.
All Southern states have archived records of men who fought in the War Between the States and records of men and/or widows of veterans who applied for pensions based on service to the CSA. Once you have a name or list of names you can visit or contact the state archives to view and/or obtain copies of service and/or pension records.
Remember that not all records survived the war and the amount and quality of information can vary greatly from state to state.
When you have gathered the basic information, you can also obtain copies of your ancestor’s service records from the National Archives. Here is a sample of what National Archive Confederate Records look like.
You can order your ancestors records on line at https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline/start.swe?SWECmd=Start The cost is now $25.00 per individual and takes 60-120 days to receive information. Contact Information for the National Archives:
The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone toll free 1-866-272-6272
Email contact page is listed as www.archives.gov/global-pages/email-page.html?send=/contact/index.html
If you want copies of the form to fill out or to distribute a booths, you may request NATF Form 86 Military Service Records at www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html#part-b
When you have the forms, fill one out as completely as possible and check “Military Service”. It is recommended that you write in red ink next to the veteran’s name “Please send complete contents of files”.
The information from compiled service records from the National Archives may be the same, similar or different that the information from the state archives on the same soldier. The National Archives will not have pension records for Confederate veterans. Only the former Confederate state did awarded the pensions and their archives will have such records.
Another option is to order copies of individual Confederate records from Soldier Search at Broadfoot Publishing Company. This information is from their website:
“Broadfoot’s Soldier Search Service __ can quickly and accurately check the thousands of soldiers recorded in our Confederate and Union rosters, which are the official indices to compiled service records, now available from Broadfoot’s. Our index transcriptions are the most accurate and are the key to finding your soldier’s Civil War records. Other rosters may have corrected or altered spellings, which do not match soldiers’ original files, making it difficult to find correlated records.
The basic SOLDIER SERVICE SERVICE checks our roster database, finds your soldier, and provides you with copies of your choice of: Service Records, Unit Records, Service Certificates, Name Lists, or Pension Records.
Broadfoot’s Complete Research Package: Includes our basic Soldier Search Service plus an extensive search in our massive library (microfilm, books, references, documents, and rosters) to provide copies of every mention of your soldier. THIS INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS, WHEN AVAILABLE. We have hundreds of Civil War books, documents and references not readily available to most researchers or genealogists – a collection of Civil War reference materials, most of which we reprinted, supplemented with new material, and indexed ourselves. We have information on thousands of soldiers. We will look for YOUR SOLDIER and send you all of the information we find. This may include obituaries, pictures, hospital injury or illness reports, veteran service accomplishments, and mentions in official reports that were not published in the original Official Records. We have the long-forgotten soldiers’ accounts of heroic incidents and every-day camp life – do we have YOUR SOLDIER?
Broadfoot’s also offers multiple soldier records at a reduced price (as low as $25!). Multiple records are a great way to enhance research for families with several soldiers, regimental histories, prisons, cemeteries, or any group of soldiers, such as brigade band members or chaplains.
Broadfoot Publishing Company has been in the Civil War book and research business for over 30 years. We are very knowledgeable about Civil War books and records. Our Confederate records research is lightning-fast (same day for most records!) and our Union records research is much quicker than the National Archives’ service (4 weeks vs. 6 months).
Costs start at $25.00, but again they usually get the records in the mail within a day or two of the order. Contact information:
Broadfoot Publishing Co.
1907 Buena Vista Circle
Wilmington, NC 28411-4452
Order Line (910) 686-9591 Fax Line (910) 686-4452
General Information (910) 686-4816
Another source are the LDS Family History Centers. Most communities will have a Family History Center (genealogy library) within easy driving distance. Check your yellow pages. You can rent an entire roll of microfilm that covers your ancestor’s regiment and records. You may view and copy the records at your local FHC.
You may find other ancestors on this same roll of film as it was common for family and friends in the same county to join the same regiment. The cost to rent the microfilm is $3.45 for the initial period (6 weeks) and $3.45 for each of the renewals.
A second renewal puts the roll in permanent loan status to your local FHC, so for $10.35 up front you can have the entire roll available for your own use (and anyone else who may be interested now or in the future). To look for a FHC in your state go to www.genhomepage.com/FHC/
Washington Genealogy Library, Macon, GA: The library has graciously agreed to provide a Georgia CSA soldier service. Please follow the guidelines. Submit only 2 Soldier’s names at one time, include the soldiers name, the unit he served in and the county he would have received a pension from if known. The name and unit are required in order to do the research.
They will copy the files they have, mail them to you along with a bill for the copies. Usually the cost is less than ten dollars. Please be punctual with paying the library, we would hate to loose this privilege. We would suggest that the day you receive your records that you send payment. GEORGIA RECORDS ONLY!
Send E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or written requests sent to:
Genealogy & History Room
Washington Memorial Library
1180 Washington Avenue
Macon, GA 31201-1790
Also check out these sites:
Georgia Archives Confederate Muster Rolls:
Georgia Civil War Soldiers Index:
National Park Service: How to do Ancestor Research:
National Park Service Civil War Soldiers Index:
Georgia and Confederate Military History:
Bell Research Center
In Search of Confederate Ancestors by J.H. Segars.
Civil War Genealogy by G.K. Schweitzer,
In the Footsteps of the Blue and Gray: A Civil War Research Handbook” by Brian A. Brown (1996)
Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor by B.H. Groene, ISBN 0-345-36192-X;
Confederate Research Sources: A Guide to Archive Collections by James C. Neagles, (ISBN 0-916489-11-6,
Military Bibliography of the Civil War, (4 vols) by C.E. Dornbusch;
Broadfoot’s: Roster of Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865 16 vols. (1,500,000 Names In One Cumulative Index A cumulative index of all Confederate soldiers as transcribed from the 535 microfilm rolls entitled Consolidated Index to All Confederate Soldiers.
Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861-1865, 6 Volumes by Lillian Henderson, (also available on CD-ROM Names, ranks, dates, and status of the soldiers of Georgia, organized by regiments).
How can I find information about a particular regiment?
The following are sources of information on regiments:
Compendium of the Confederate Armies by Stewart Sifakis, (New York: Facts on File, 1991-1994), 11 vols. (The volumes in this series are for VA; TN; AL; FL and AR; NC; LA; MS; TX; SC and GA; KY, MD, MO and Indian units; and a volume of Tables of Organizations).
Units of the Confederate States Army by Joseph H. Crute Jr., (Midlothian, VA: Derwent Books, 1987), (Crute’s work is not quite as comprehensive as Sifakis’, but it has the advantage of having everything in one volume).
Military Bibliography of the Civil War by C.E. Dornbusch, 4 Vols. (bibliography of regimental histories, both North and South).Vol. II, contains listings of publications, i.e. books, as well as articles, concerning Confederate units.
Confederate Military History, 1899 by the Confederate Publishing Company 19 volumes by state, 6,100 Biographical Sketches, Edited by Gen. Clement A. Evans of Georgia; (This set was written by distinguished men of the South, producing a work which truly portrays the times and issues of the Confederacy.
Each state being treated in a separate history allows space for details concerning its peculiar story, its own devotion, its own heroes, and its, battlefields with information about regiments that formed from that state. The military history of each Confederate state with eye-witness battle accounts, first-hand narratives, maps, military organizational charts and thousands of detailed biographical sketches.
These volumes contain information on each unit; where, when, and by whom the unit was formed. There are some Rosters. There are two General Subject volumes, Maryland & West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama & Mississippi, Kentucky & Missouri, Louisiana & Arkansas, and Texas & Florida volumes. It is now also available on CD-ROM.
Tennesseans in the Civil War is a two volume set which has essentially a Tennessee State Index to Complied Service Records for both Confederate and Union veterans. Vol. 1 has unit histories.
The Confederate Research Center located at Harold B.Simpson Texas History Museum at Hill College maintains files that includes regimental histories. You can contact the center at (254)-582-2555 or write PO Box 619, Hillsboro, TX 76645.
In addition many “County History Books” contains their men’s involvement with the WBTS. They’ll have at least the local companies raised, sometimes the roster and pension recipient list. Occasionally the battles their local soldiers participated in, their letters home, etc. Contact the county of origin. Ask for contacts for the county historical society or local library or local UDC or SCV organizations.
Finally many books on individual regiments, brigades, divisions, and corps have been written. A search on the internet or in your local library or local book store may turn up works that will cover the history of the specific regiments of interest.
On the internet:
There are many researchers that have posted regimental histories. Use search engines to match up with regiments of interest. In particular here are some sites to help you in your research:
Georgia and Confederate Military History:
Confederate Regimental Histories Links:
U.S. Civil War Regimental Histories in the Library of Congress
National Park Service-Civil War Regiments:
WBTS Researchers list CSA A-M
WBTS Researches List CSA N-V
Regimental Research Sites by CSA state:
You can also try the “OR’s” Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. It is suggested that you use the index or obtain the CD-ROM that allows searches. This may be your only alternative for particularly obscure units. The index lists the regiments by state. It is a good idea to check the index for the name of the regiment’s commander and perhaps for the brigade commander.
At some point it will be helpful to learn of the regiment’s place in the army structure. In other words which brigade, division, corps it was attached to. Knowing other regiments in the same brigade can give you a picture of what the regiment may have experienced. Histories of battles or campaigns may not mention every regiment, but they may mention the brigade or division the regiment is in.
Gravestone Restoration, Care and Etiquette : Learn how to properly clean and care for old headstones.
SCV Cross of Honor Grave Marker: Order one for your Confederate Veteran Ancestor. This link will also explain how to obtain a CSA Veteran’s headstone for your CSA Veteran at no cost to you.
While it is not possible to answer every specific question that you might have here on this web page, it is hoped that we have helped you to get started in this exciting, honorable, and worthy cause. Please feel free to contact us for further clarification and assistance.