Nine Steps to Civil War Ancestors

By Diane Haddad

The July 2007 Family Tree Magazine makes researching Civil War soldiers doable for anyone, with nine steps to uncovering genealogical records on Union and Confederate ancestors. Here’s a quick overview of the steps:

1. Search the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.

2. Order your ancestor’s Compiled Military Service Records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

3. Seek the soldier’s pension file, at NARA for Union soldiers and state archives for Confederate soldiers.

4. Look for NARA‘s records of the first US military draft, enacted in 1863.

5. Consult your ancestral state censuses and the 1890 US census schedule of Union veterans and widows (extant for states alphabetically from Kentucky through Wyoming).

6. Research records of veterans organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic (post records are usually at state historical societies and archives) and United Confederate Veterans (on Family History Library microfilm).

7. Find cemetery records using sources such as the Department of Veterans Affiars National Gravesite Locator.

8. Get the back story on your ancestor’s regiment—the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System can get you started here, too, with its regimental histories.

9. Look for digital maps and images on Web sites such as the Library of Congress’ American Memory collection.

You can find thorough how-tos and additional resources for each of these steps in the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine, available now on newsstands and at