Kinsearching August 11, 2013




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Since the United States is mid-way in its commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War (1861-1865), more and more people have taken an interest in its history. Naturally, genealogists wonder if any of their forebears participated in the conflict. If a male ancestor was born between the years 1825 and 1840, chances are good that he did. To help individuals become familiar with the vast body of materials available on the subject, Nancy Hendrickson has compiled Civil War Genealogy Research. As the latest addition to the popular “Genealogy at a Glance” series, the guide follows the standard format of condensing her expertise about fundamental resources into four laminated pages.

     In her “quick facts” section, Hendrickson furnishes the number of men who fought, the amount of casualties and deaths that occurred, and the number of African-Americans who served. She then briefly mentions details that usually appear in military records, such as the units in which a man served and the battles he witnessed. The material may also provide information about any wounds or illnesses he suffered and his physical description. If he or his widow received a pension, the document may contain additional data about their marriage and children.

     Hendrickson suggests that a good place to begin your research is the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS), a free online database, which serves as an index to participants on both sides. If your ancestor’s name was common, she explains that gathering as many details about him as possible will help to differentiate him from other individuals with the same name. She also discusses the fact that a battle (like the war itself) may be called different names by the Confederate and Union forces.

     Next, Hendrickson describes two more important resources. The Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) abstracted material from various sources so the amount of data about an individual may widely vary from person to person. Pension records often contain detailed information about the man’s family. She reminds researchers that the federal government only granted pensions to those who fought on the Union side. Confederate veterans received their pensions from the individual Southern states.

     Census records may also shed light on Civil War veterans. The 1910 federal schedule, for example, indicated whether a person was a survivor of the Confederate or Union Army or Navy. Only partially extant, a special 1890 Civil War Veterans Schedule listed names of Union servicemen or their widow. Some states, particularly in the South, took special censuses of Confederate veterans. Special censuses in other states also asked questions about military service.

     Additional resources include Civil War prison records, historic newspapers, lineage and patriotic societies, Civil War-related collections, and online websites. Hendrickson also provides a bibliography of books for further reading.

     In her compilation, Hendrickson provides a good mix of printed materials and online resources, many of which are free. As a result, Civil War Genealogy Research is a quick and useful reference tool on the subject.

     To the guide's price of $8.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $6.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The guide (item order 2683) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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