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Remnants of records exist for every war, but there is little uniformity of content or style in the records. The Revolutionary War Pension Applications at times, may include copies of the family Bible, listing marriage records and births of the children, place of enlistment, unit of service and places of residence following the war.

When the U. S. declared war against Great Britain in 1812, Congress authorized the President to increase the size of the regular military establishment, to accept and organize volunteers, to raise units of Rangers and Sea Fencibles, and to create a Flotilla Service. Many of the War of 1812 volunteer units were mustered into service for short periods of time. Consequently, many persons served more than one enlistment in the same or different units. Search the Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812.

Military Bounty Land Warrants were certificates issued to eligible veterans giving them rights to free land in the public domain. Officers and soldiers serving for 5 years (unless discharged sooner), or their heirs, would be entitled to 160 acres of land from the public domain. Six million acres of land were reserved for this purpose in the Territories of Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana (present day Arkansas) and later Missouri. The warrants could not be transferred or assigned to another person, except by inheritance. These are four indexes; Alphabetical Index of Missouri Patentees, Alphabetical Index of Arkansas Patentees, Partial Index of Illinois Patentees (for those whose surnames begin with letters "C" and "D", Index of Patentees Under the Act of 1842.

In the decades after the War of 1812, volunteer units often served during Indian hostilities. Various legislative acts reimbursed the states and territories for the service of volunteer units, and the men who served, or their heirs, received bounty land and sometimes pensions.

Compiled military service records of volunteer soldiers serving in the various Indian campaigns generally do not contain personal papers for officers or enlisted men.

Records for soldiers who served during the last 75 years are restricted to immediate family members. Most of these federal records are housed at the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63132.

On July 12, 1973, fire broke out at the National Personnel Records Centers in St. Louis, destroying millions of military records and damaging millions more. Eighty percent of the army records for 1912-59, sixty percent of the air force records for 1947-63 and one percent or less of Army records for personnel discharged since 1 January 1973 were destroyed. Other military records were housed at the Federal Archives and Records Center in Atlanta, and were not destroyed. As a partial substitute for the lost records, the Atlanta Branch of the National Archives has the WWI Draft Card application cards. They are set up by state and selective service region. It is necessary for you to have the full name of the individual, city or county where registered, birth date and place and name of wife or nearest relative. For Chicago, a home or street address is required. Write to: National Archives, 1557 St. Joseph Ave., East Point, GA 30344.

Some Civil War records obtained from the National Archives contain little genealogical information. A researcher then applied to the state Archives in which the soldier served and received documents with much additional information.

Private; Private 2nd Class (ordnance), Matross (artillery) and Rifleman (Rifle Battalion or Regiment).

Private 1st Class: Ordnance only



First Sergeant (Senior Sgt in the company)

Some staff positions were filled by Sergeant Major, Quartermaster Sergeant, Hospital Steward.

Two confusing terms commonly encountered are line and staff. Line troops, commissioned and enlisted, were those actually on the firing line during the Revolution the term "line" was frequently used to refer to Army National Troops were the Continental Line, etc. Staff positions are usually found beginning with a regiment. An organization as as large as a regiment is too big for the commander to take care of all the details. These commander's would have a group of assistants, called his staff, who would take care of matters of supply, administration, etc. in the commander's name.

Another area of possible confusion is the difference between enlist and muster-in, and discharge and muster-out. When a soldier joined a state regiment he was enlisted. when his regiment was taken into Federal service, he was mustered-in. If at any time he left service while his regiment was on active duty, he was discharged. If he was still with the regiment when it was released from Federal service, he was mustered out.

SUTLER: A man who followed a regiment to sell necessary items to the soldiers. This was changed when Sutlers became official on 19 March 1862. They were replaced by the Post Exchange after the Civil War.

ZOUAVE: A special type of infantry copied from French North African regiments. Zouaves were noted for their precision drill, fast marching pace and gaudy uniforms (usually with baggy pants).

SAPPERS and PIONEERS: Specialized forms of Engineer troops.

RIFLEMEN: Until the Mexican War our Infantry was armed with the smooth bore musket, with selected men armed with a rifle and in special companies. After 1846 all infantry had a rifle, but some regiments kept the title Rifle Regiment as a mark of distinction.

BREVET: An officer who distinguished himself would be awarded a Brevet promotion. A Captain could be Brevet Major or Lt.Col while serving as a Captain. He would outrank all other Captains without Brevet, thus giving him an edge on future promotions.

ASSOCIATORS: Volunteers who had sworn to protect their homes by any means.

RANGERS: Scouts who guarded the frontier and were usually formed from the militia who were the "home guard", along with the "State Line," these were similar to the National Guard.

Regarding granting pensions to certain enlisted men, soldiers,and officers who served in the Civil War and the War with Mexico. The Act: be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: That any person who served ninety days or more in the military or naval service of the United States during the late civil war, or sixty days in the war with Mexico, and has been honorably discharged therefrom, and who has reached the age of sixty-two years or over, shall, upon making proof of such facts according to such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may provide, be placed upon the pension roll, and be entitled to receive a pension as follows: In case such person has reached the age of sixty-two years, twelve dollars a month; seventy years, fifteen dollars a month; seventy-five years or over, twenty dollars per month; and such pension shall commence from the date of the filing of the application in the Bureau of Pensions after the passage and approval of this Act: provided, that pensioners who are sixty-two years of age or over, and who are now receiving pensions under existing laws, or whose claims are pending in the Bureau of Pensions may, by application to the Commissioner of Pensions, in such form as he may prescribe, receive the benefits of this Act; and nothing herein contained shall prevent any pensioner or person entitled to a pension from prosecuting his claim and receiving a pension under any other general or special act: provided, that no person shall receive a pension under any other law at the same time or for the same period that he is receiving a pension under the provisions of this Act; provided further, that no person who is now receiving or shall hereafter receive a greater pension under any other general or special law than he would be entitled, to receive under the provisions herein shall be pensionable under this act.

Sec. 2 That rank in the service shall not be considered in applications filed hereunder.

Sec. 3 That no pension attorney, claim agent, or other person shall be entitled to receive any compensation for services rendered in presenting any claim to the Bureau of Pensions, or securing any pension under this Act.
APPROVED: February 6, 1907.

Pension records can provide a wealth of information about your ancestors. Pension files for Civil War veterans are often full of details about the veteran and sometimes contain information about his wife and other family members.

There are two places to check for military records for your ancestor - the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the state archives of the state in which your ancestor lived. NARA is the repository for copies of all sorts of U.S. military records microfilmed and indexed. They have two types of Civil War records - military service and pension files. The National Archives in Washington, D.C. at has an easy on-line option for ordering forms to request a search in older military and pension records. These forms are free and you can order several at time. They are: Form 80 -- Military Service and Pension Records prior to World War I. Or you can write to National Archives and Records Administration, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20408.

Military service records contain information about dates of service, rank, details of assignment locations and battles, and other information. There is usually not much family information.

Pension records though, often contain much more family information. They often include information about his spouse and family. In order to apply for a pension, the veteran had to provide some proof of his service. In many cases, this was usually a sworn affidavit by the veteran and other soldiers who served with him and sometimes affidavits of neighbors or other family relatives. Sometimes the wife received the pension after the veteran's death or children would apply.

State archives files could be available for the State Militia. Pension applications filed by veterans at the state level are at the state archives and may hold entirely different information than found at NARA. Information may vary from state to state.

Recently a person I know encountered a problem with information furnished him from a Revolutionary War veteran's pension file. Briefly the problem concerned 3 soldiers, all first cousins, all having the same name, and from the same New York county. Their individual services were completely confused. Before the advent of photocopy machines, the National Archives responded to inquiries with extremely concise synopsis of each file's content in letter form. This person had at hand a 1937 letter that provided important details not confirmed by the copies of the pension file that had been received. Several letters to the Archives concerning the problem did not receive satisfactory answers to his questions. A visit to the Laguna Niguel branch of the Archives and a review of the microfilmed copy of the pension file resulted in the discovery of forty documents not remitted when he made his initial request. When he further checked their procedures, he found that they only remit a maximum of 20 documents and this file contained sixty! A quick review of other files he was familiar with resulted in the same ratio of remitted documents.

When requesting a pension or other record, it is strongly suggested that you offer to pay for the entire file! It's well worth the cost! If the National Archives returns the form that no records were found, try the state level next - or better yet, try both.

An article in the Elizabethton Star (Elizabethton, TN) related to a story about a man who had traced one of his ancestors back to the Revolutionary War. The man lived in Georgia, but found his ancestor in an unmarked grave in Kentucky. Since there was no marker for the grave, he petitioned the Veteran's Administration for a plaque. The Veterans Administration checked their policy and it was determined that any Veteran of any war fought by the US did/does qualify for a bronze plaque. The problem was that they had never had a request for a veteran that "old". They did wade through the paperwork and since the veteran's war record was documented, they did comply with the request. A lovely bronze plaque was delivered (by a representative from the Federal Govt) to the door of the descendant. The dedicated descendant decided that it was worth another trip to Kentucky to see that his ancestor should have the memorial plaque. He built a cement stand, mounted the plaque, and loaded it in the back of a pickup truck. Thanks to a dedicated man, his ancestor now has an identify after nearly two hundred years! This may give some of you some ideas.

French-Spanish - 1565-1567 - Florida
English-French - 1613-1629 - Canada
Anglo-French - 1629 - St. Lawrence River
Pequot War - 1636-1637 - New England
Pequot War - 1640-1645 - New Netherlands
Iroquois - 1642-1653 - New England, Acadia
Battle of the Severn - 1652 - Maryland
Anglo-Dutch - Jul 1653 - New Netherlands
Bacon's Rebellion - 1675-1676 - Virginia
King Philip's - 1675-1676 - New England
Dayves-Pate Uprising - 03 Sep 1676 - Calvert Co., MD
War in the North - 1676-1678 - Maine
Culpepper's Rebellion - 1677-1680 - Carolinas
Leisler's Rebellion - 1688-1691 - New England
Revolution in Maryland - 1689 - Maryland
Glorious Revolution - 1689 - New England
King William's War - 1689-1697 - Canada
Queen Anne's War - 1702-1713 - New England
Tuscarora - 1711-1712 - Virginia
Jenkin's Ear War - 1739-1742 - Florida
King George's War - 1744 -1748 - GA & VA
Louisbourg - 1745 - New England
Fort Necessity - 1754 - Pennsylvania
Anglo-French - 1755-58 - Canada
French and Indian - 1754-1763 - New England, Virginia
Seige of Quebec - 1759 - Canada
American Revolution - 1775-1783 - North America
Wyoming Valley - 1782-1787 - Pennsylvania
Shay's Rebellion - 12/1786-1/1787 - Massachusetts
Whiskey Insurrection - 1794 - Pennsylvania
Northwestern Indian War - 1790-1795 - Ohio
War with France (Naval) - 1798-1800 Atlantic Ocean
War with Tripoli (Naval) - 1801-1805 - N Coast of Africa
Burr's Insurrection - 1806-1807 - Southern Mississippi Valley
Chesapeake (Naval) - 1807 - Virginia
Northwestern Indian - 1811 - Indiana
Florida Seminole Indian - 1812 - Florida (GA Vols)
War of 1812 - 1812-1815 - North America
Peoria Indian - 1813 - Illinois
Creek Indian - 1813-1814 - Southern US
Lafitte's Pirates - 1814 - Local
Barbary Pirates - 1815 - N Coast of Africa
Indian Wars - 1817-1858
Seminole Indian - 1817-1818 - Florida and Georgia
Arickaree Indians - 1823 - Missouri River, Dakota Territory
Fever River Indian - 1827 - Illinois
Winnabago Indian - 1827 - Wisconsin
Sac and Fox Indian - 1831 - Illinois
Black Hawk Indian - 1832 - Illinois, Wisconsin
Toledo - 1835-1836 - Ohio, Michigan
Texan - 1835-1836 - Texas
Indian Stream - 1835-1836 - New Hampshire
Florida Seminole Indian - 1835-1842 - Florida, Georgia, Alabama
Heatherly Disturbance - 1836 - Missouri
Creek Indian - 1836-1837 - Florida, Georgia, Alabama
Sabine/Southwest Indian - 1836-1837 - Louisiana
Cherokee - 1836-1838 -
Osage Indian - 1837 - Missouri
Mormon - 1839 - Missouri
Aroostook Indian - 1839 - Maine
Dorr's Rebellion - 1842 - Rhode Island
Mormon - 1844 - Illinois
Mexican War - 1846-1848 - Mexico
Cayuse Indian - 1846-1848 - Oregon
TX and NM Indian - 1849-1855 - Texas, New Mexico
California Indian - 1851-1852 - California
Utah Indian - 1850-1853 -
Rouge River Indian - 1851,53,56 - Oregon
Oregon Indian - 1854 - Oregon
Nicaraguan - 1854
Kansas Troubles - 1854-1859 - Kansas
Yakima Indian - 1855 - Washington
Klamath & Salmon River Indian - 1855 - Oregon, Idaho
Florida Indian - 1855-1858 - Florida
John Brown's Raid - 1859 - Virginia
American Civil War - 1861-1865 - America, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Gulf of Mexico
Cheyenne Indian - 1861-1864 - Local
Sioux Indian - 1862-1864 - Minnesota
Indian Campaign - 1865-1868 - Oregon, Idaho, California
Fenian Invasion of Canada - 1866 - New England, Canada
Indian Campaign - 1867-1869 - Indiana Territory, Kansas, Colorado
Modac Indian - 1872-1873 - Oregon
Apaches - 1873 - Arizona
Indian Campaign - 1874-1875 - Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Indian Territory
Cheyenne and Sioux - 1876-1877 - Dakota Territory
Nez Perce - 1877 - Idaho
Bannock - 1878 - Washington, Idaho, Wyoming
Cheyenne - 1878-1879 - Dakota Territory, Montana
White River (Ute Indian) - 1879 - Utah, Colorado
Spanish American - 1898-1899 - Cuba
Philippine Insurrection - 1899-1902 - Phillipines
World War I - 1917-1918
World War II - 1941-1945
Korean Action - 1950-1953
Vietnam Action - 1961-1973

APPROXIMATE AGES OF ANCESTORS FIGHTING IN WARS IN USA - 1st column indicates "if born between ages", 2nd column names the war, and 3rd column indicates dates of the war

1600-1644 - Dutch Indian War - 1655-1664
1626-1656 - Bacon's Rebellion - 1676
1639-1743 - Inter-Colonial Wars - 1689-1763
1713-1743 - Pontiac's Rebellion - 1763-1766
1720-1750 - Boston Massacre - 1770
1715-1770 - American Revolution - 1775-1783
1740-1791 - Indian Wars - 1790-1811
1756-1802 - War of 1812 - 1812-1815
1762-1812 - Black Hawk War - 1832
1780-1820 - Texas War (Alamo) - 1836
1796-1828 - Mexican War - 1846-1848
1806-1849 - Civil War - 1861-1865
1849-1880 - Spanish-American War - 1898
1870-1900 - World War I - 1914-1918
1900-1930 - World War II - 1939-1945
1910-1935 - Korean War - 1950-1953
1915-1957 - Vietnam War - 1956-1975

Generally speaking, ribbons and decorations are listed on the DD214 Report of Separation or Discharge from Active Duty. However, there are times when they are not listed such as the award actually being issued AFTER discharge of the individual. Upon the end of WWII, sometimes they were in such a hurry to process these veterans out of the service that not all of the awards they were entitled to were entered on their separation papers. The National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132 is the place to write for copies of personnel records. For the WWII Veteran, you need to use Form 180 to request the records. The website to request this form is: Your local American Legion or VA office should also be able to provide this form to you.

To obtain loved ones lost medals who served in the Army, you can write to:
Army Commander,
U. S. Army Reserve Personnel
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

Twenty-four million men who were born between 13 Sep 1873 and 12 Sep 1900 (between 18 and 45) registered for the draft. Draft registration records are available for a fee of $5 by sending a "World War I Registration Card Request form to:
National Archives Southeast Region
1557 Saint Joseph Avenue
East Point, Georgia 30344
To find an individual's draft card, you must know his name and residence at the time of registration. The records are arranged by state, county, and surname (alphabetically within each draft board). Most counties had only one board; large cities had more. Finding your ancestor's street address in a city directory will help you determine the board number if he lived in a large city. To find board numbers for Chicago, New York, and 35 other major cities, see "United States of America Maps of World War I Draft Registration Boards" (FHL film 1,498,803). A typical card has the man's name and signature, home address, age, birth date, citizenship state, occupation, employer's name and address, race, dependents or nearest relative, and physical description. For registrants born between 6 Jun 1886 and 28 Aug 1897 (45 percent of total), the cards also give city or town, state, and nation of birth, previous military service; and marital status.

The Barbary States were once greatly feared as the home of the Barbary pirates who attacked the ships of other nations in Mediterranean waters from about 1550 to 1816. The pirates, protected by the rulers of the Barbary States, demanded money and gifts from other countries in return for safe passage in the Mediterranean. The pirates seized English, French, Spanish, and American ships, kept the cargoes, and sold the passengers and crews as slaves. The U.S. paid large sums of money to the Barbary States from 1795 to 1801, despite protests of Thomas Jefferson and others. After Jefferson became President, a war was fought with Tripoli (1801-1805).

For those seeking information about a deceased family member who served in World War I or later, contact the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132 or visit its web page on the Internet at:

If you are the next of kin, you can request a copy of the service member's personnel records. Although a fire at this repository in 1973 destroyed many records, some have been reconstructed and others found that supplement the lost ones.

All of the services have outstanding home pages: The URLs are:
U.S. Air Force --
Here you will find excellent tips on finding military personnel:
information at:
U.S. Army --
U.S. Coast Guard --
U.S. Navy (includes Marine Corps pages):
Vietnam Veterans Home Page:
Don't neglect local sources either. These include:
-- Adjutant General's Office in the individual's state of residence for those who served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam.

-- Newspapers published in the city or county where the individual is presumed to have lived prior to entry into service.

-- Local posts of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Veterans of World War II for information on local men and women who survived.

The National Archives, 8th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20408, has some other military-related records that may be of interest to family historians. They include:
-- Application for Headstones (1879-1903). Arranged on cards, alphabetically by soldier's surname.

-- Applications for headstones of Confederate veterans (1879-1964). Most applications are arranged by place of burial and then by cemetery. Soldiers buried in foreign countries are arranged alphabetically by name.

-- Card Records of WWI era Soldiers Who Died Overseas (1917-1922). These are arranged alphabetically by name of soldier or name of cemetery. These records are mainly grave registrations of American buried in European chapels. Records for American soldiers who were buried in Russia are also included.

-- List of Soldiers Missing in Action (1923-1960). This includes the name of the missing soldier, units in which served, date of disappearance, and is arranged chronologically.

-- The Cemetery Service, National Cemetery System, Veterans Administration, 810 Vermont Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20422. Its records, from 1861 to the present, identify almost all soldiers buried in national cemeteries and other cemeteries under federal jurisdiction. These records are arranged alphabetically on cards by name of soldier.

You may find additional family information in the records of your ancestor's siblings, uncles or other family members. It pays to be thorough in your research for military records -- they are valuable documents of your family's history.

If you're doing Military Research, check out the book, U.S. Military Records, by James C. Neagles, published by Ancestry. Gathered in this volume is source information for the National Archives and its adjuncts; historical institutions and archives of the armed forces; the Department of Veterans Affairs (Veterans Administration); state archives; libraries and historical organizations; and such patriotic organizations as the Daughters of the American Revolution. Extensive bibliographic listings of published sources for the United States in general and published sources for each state are also included.

A good page on History and Use of Military Records in Genealogical Research is at:

There is a book "HOW TO LOCATE ANYONE WHO IS OR HAS BEEN IN THE MILITARY" by Lt. Col. Richard S. Johnson. P2 states:

"Beginning in 1940 each entrance and examining station in the US was allocated certain sets of service numbers for enlisted Army personnel. At times not all numbers were used because of an overestimate of needs in that area.

The US was divided into six Service areas which were later changed to Army areas. A set of numbers was allocated to each entrance station identified with that Army area. For example First Army 11,000,000 through 12,999,999 and 31,000,000 through 32,999,999 and 51,000,000 through 51,999,999; Second Army 13,000,000 through 15,999,999 and 52,000,000 through 52,999,999 also 33 and 35 million numbers; Third Army 14 million through 34 million and 53 million; Fourth Army 13 million through 38 million and 54 million; Fifth Army 16 million through 17 million and 36 million through 37 million and 55 million; Sixth Army 19 million through 39 million and 56 million.

Numbers in the 10 million and 50 million were assigned to members who entered the service outside the Continental US. Numbers in the 20,000,000 through 20,999,999 were assigned to members of the National Guard on active duty (1940-1946). Numbers 21 million through 29 million were assigned to members of the National Guard ((1946-1969).

Numbers in the 30 million series were assigned to those men who were inducted (drafted) during WWII (1940-1946). 42 through 46 million were assigned to members inducted between 1943-1946. Numbers in the 50 million series were assigned to those who were inducted in the Korean and Vietnam wars. (1948-1966).

The Air Force may not release home or overseas duty addresses, but will forward a personal letter. Seal your letter in a stamped envelope, enter your return address (including retired grade) and send your letter and addressee's name, grade and Social Security number or service number in another envelope to AFPC/MSIMDL, 550 C Street West Suite 50, Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4752. (If addressee's SSN/SN is not available, the locator needs the most recent Air Force base assignments/dates, etc., to help research an address.) For a reply about the status of your letter, provide a stamped self-addressed envelope. Locator service free to retirees and their immediate families is limited to one address per request. The Air Force does not provide reunion locator service.

For those wanting to check out their ancestors in ILLINOIS for the Civil War, you can search through Dogpile (or any other search engine you use) and insert "civil war IL" and you should come up with a lot of sources. Here are some urls to search in Illinois and in all other states too.

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