Look for your ancestors in this PA genealogy database of American Civil War soldiers - infantry, cavalry & artillery rosters, histories, biographies, draft, journals, letters, medal of honor recipients, prisoners of war (POWs), & pensions of our Pennsylvania military ancestors. Use this free Pennsylvania database to help with your genealogy search.
Discover if your ancestor served in the Civil War by following the advice below. While searching for your military ancestor, keep in mind that sometimes a person entered under a false name, that there could be spelling variations, or that your ancestor may have crossed county or even state lines to enlist
Use the Pension Index to order original pension application records from
. Civil War pension records have an incredible amount of genealogy info. They typically have birth dates, addresses of next of kin, medical information, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and death certificates. Expedite your NARA request for pension files by using the Civil War Pension Index.
Civil War Pension Index
- Fold3 (formerly Footnote.com) Images of Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900. T289. Taken from 765 microfilm rolls and often includes death date and place.
Civil War Pension Index
- Ancestry.com Images of General Index Cards to the Military Pension Files of 1861-1934. From the NARA General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. T288. 544 microfilm rolls.
- Article describes how to use Pension Index to get more information about your ancestor.
Local libraries - Some have local census on microfilm.
Newpapers of your ancestor's locality during the war typically included articles about the local men and their units. These articles may list battles, draft lists, soldiers returning home, lists of killed, injured, and POWs.
Send away to the National Archives (NARA) for Military and Pension records:
You are only charged a fee if the Archives finds information. You can send a form even if you are not sure if your ancestor served in the Civil War. Supply information about your ancestor and NARA will search their rosters. The more information you supply, the better chance NARA has of finding your ancestor. But take care, sending information of which you are not sure may keep NARA from finding the right file.
Most of the information about a soldier are in his Service records. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, such records document enlistment/appointment, duty stations and assignments, training, qualifications, performance, awards and medals, disciplinary actions, insurance, emergency data, administrative remarks, separation, discharge, retirement, and other personnel actions.
The useful genealogical data you might learn from service records could include the individual's full name, rank, age, physical description, marital status, occupation, city of birth, and place of residence at enlistment. Ask NARA for use NATF Form 86
Pension records represent the greatest reward for genealogy research, especially if your military ancestor served prior to the twentieth century. To get a pension, the veteran had to go through a lengthy application process. The federal government kept a pension file on every applicant.
Pension files contain all the paperwork associated with the application, including any supporting documentation. From these files you might learn some or all of the following: the applicant's name, spouse's name, rank, military unit, length of enlistment, and residence at time of application. There may also be children's names, names of deceased wives, physical description, medical records and marriage license.
When a widow applied for a pension in the name of her husband, she was required to submit evidence to prove her marriage; this often included the names of any children living with her at the time.
Pension records were carefully compiled when a veteran applied for benefits on grounds of injury, illness, or disability (later, veterans could also receive benefits based on age) or when the mothers, fathers, widows, and minor children of veterans similarly applied for benefits. Pension records typically include the application forms, proof of marriage, proof of children's births, a summary of military service, and usually death certificates. Ask NARA for NATF Form 85