Index to Civil War Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers
Alphabetical card index to the compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers.
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The images in this collection are of alphabetical card indexes to the compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers. They are grouped by state of service. Each index card gives the name of a soldier, his rank, and the unit in which he served. There are cross-references for names that appeared in the records under more than one spelling and for service in more than one unit or organization.
The NARA descriptive pamphlets (DP) for each title are available by clicking on the publication number for any state in the Source section below. Much of this description is taken directly from the DPs.
The compilation of service records of Union soldiers was begun in 1890 under the direction of Capt. Fred C. Ainsworth, head of the Record and Pension Division of the War Department. The abstracts made from the original records were verified by a separate operation of comparison, and great care was taken to ensure that the abstracts and the indexes were accurate.
There is one document type for this entire collection: the index card, created to help others locate a soldier and his Civil War service record. As pictured here, the card has the full name of the soldier, his company and regiment, and also the state from which he served.
It also lists his rank. When two ranks are shown, one is the man's rank entering service, the other his final rank at the end of his service. This can give you a good idea that there is information on his promotion in his service record. The card shown here shows Appleton serving in Company F of the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was a sergeant, later promoted to corporal.
Compiled service records for 23 states and the U.S. Colored Troops can be searched and browsed beginning on this page.
Using the records
The index cards are found within the Service Record category on Fold3, along with compiled service records for Union troops. Look for "(Index Cards)" after the state name. They are then alphabetical by surname. There will be only one card per soldier, but there may be a reference card due to variant spellings of a surname.
The supposedly correct name of a volunteer Union soldier from a particular state may not appear in the index for several reasons. First, he may have served in a unit from another state or in the Regular Army. Second, he may have served under a different name or used a different spelling of his name. Third, a proper record of his service may not have been made; or, if made, it may have been lost or destroyed in the confusion that often attended the initial mobilization, subsequent military operations, and disbandment of troops. Fourth, the references to the soldier in the original records may have been so vague that it was not practicable to determine his correct name or the unit in which he served.
Unless the unit in which a soldier served is known, his compiled service record is best located through the use of an index, such as the one reproduced here, which gives the name of the unit in which he served.
The compiled service records to which the index applies consist of a jacket-envelope for each soldier, labeled with his name and containing (1) card abstracts of entries relating to the soldier in the original muster rolls, returns, hospital rolls, descriptive books, lists of deserters, and lists of men discharged; and (2) the originals of any papers relating solely to the particular soldier. Compiled service records on Fold3 are found here.
To order copies of a compiled service record that has not yet been digitized and placed online by Fold3, contact the National Archives (NARA). Information is available on its Veterans' Service Records webpage, Requesting Copies of Older (pre-WWI) Military Service Records. Requests for such reproductions should give the name of the state, the regiment or battalion, and the company for each soldier, exactly as shown in the index.
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
The National Park Service has transcribed the complete set of index cards to compiled service records (referred to as "General Index Cards) and placed the data online in its Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. When searching for a soldier there, you are provided with a transcription, while Fold3's images allow users to view the original card as well as determine the accuracy of the transcription. Once you find the soldier you're looking for, you can connect his index card to his service record on Fold3, or contact NARA for copies of his documents.
The National Archives and Fold3 have other records that may contain information about Union soldiers.
Other series of compiled service records of volunteer soldiers are (1) an alphabetical series of records of Union staff officers, (2) medical records of volunteer Union and Mexican War soldiers, and (3) records of non-State organizations, such as the U.S. Sharp Shooters, the Signal Corps, the U.S. Colored Troops, and the Veterans Reserve Corps.
Information relating to soldiers who served in the Regular Army is recorded in Registers of Enlistments in the U. S. Army, 1798-1914 (reproduced as Microcopy 233), and in other records of The Adjutant General's Office. If an application for a pension was made, additional information about the soldier may be among the pension application files of the Veterans Administration in Record Group 15. Supposed Union military service is sometimes shown by the records to have been civilian service as a scout, guide, or spy. Evidence of such service may be among the records of the Provost Marshal General in Record Group 110.
Be sure to review the entire Civil War Collection on Fold3 for pertinent information and valuable documents.
The indexes and the compiled service records to which they relate are part of Record Group 94, Records of The Adjutant General's Office.
Explore this title
From the following Fold3 title pages, you can search, browse, and see what others are finding within these documents:
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Connecticut
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Illinois
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Indiana
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Iowa
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Kansas
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Maine
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Massachusetts
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Michigan
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Minnesota
- Civil War Service Index - Union - New Hampshire
- Civil War Service Index - Union - New Jersey
- Civil War Service Index - Union - New York
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Ohio
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Pennsylvania
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Vermont
- Civil War Service Index - Union - Wisconsin