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Civil War Pensions Index
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This publication group contains over two million index cards for pension applications of veterans who served in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1917. Most records are from the Civil War, but there are also several from four later wars:
- the Spanish-American War
- the Philippine Insurrection
- Indian wars
- World War I
Search on a name, or browse by state, arm of service (infantry, cavalry, militia, etc.), regiment, and company. Drill down through each sub-category to locate individual records within each unit.
Each card lists the soldier's full name, rank, company and regiment, when he enlisted, and when he was discharged. It will also include a certificate number for each pension requested.
Any record stamped "DEAD" in the upper left-hand corner will include a soldier's death date and where he died at the bottom of the card, but only if he died after the war was over. Those who were killed or died during the war will have an application classified as a widow's file, and sometime as a minor's file.
You can view a list of all abbreviations used in this publication and learn more about this pension file index by reviewing the descriptive pamphlet for publication T289, provided by NARA here.
If you wish to order copies of a serviceman's complete pension file, you will need most of the information displayed on the index card, and most particularly the certificate number. Then visit the National Archives webpage for "Requesting Copies of Older (pre-WWI) Military Service Records" at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html. There you can order the pension file online or request to have NATF Form 85 mailed to you.
As commanders in chief, presidents of the United States were entitled to military pensions, even if they did not serve in the military. In the Civil War Pensions Index at Fold3, you will find index cards for twelve US presidents and a vice president (Thomas R. Marshall, vice president under Woodrow Wilson).
The image of each president's index card is shown here. There are two for William McKinley. Several of the presidents in this index were not alive during the time period covered by this index (1861-1900), nor were their wives. So, the question may be asked - why is there a pension card?
United States Presidents in the Civil War Pensions Index
(with presidential term, followed by life span in italics and parentheses)
- George Washington, 1789-97 (1732-1799)
- James Madison, 1809-17 (1751-1836)
- William Henry Harrison, 1889-93 (1833-1901)
- John Tyler, 1841-45 (1790-1862)
- James K. Polk, 1845-49 (1795-1849)
- Zachary Taylor, 1849-50 (1784-1850)
- Abraham Lincoln, 1861-65 (1809-1865)
- Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-77 (1822-1885)
- James A. Garfield, 1881 (1831-1881)
- William McKinley, 1897-1901 (1843-1901)
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-09 (1858-1919)
- Woodrow Wilson, 1913-21 (1856-1924)
Biographies of the presidents can be found on the White House website.
For another example of surprising presidential document discoveries at Fold3, check out LBJ's Texas birth certificate.
Citation and source
Citation example for this image
“Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900,” digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 27 October 2011); Charles H. Drew (Co. H, 18th Mass. Inf.) index card; imaged from Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, T289 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), roll 211.
Citation template for this title
“Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900,” digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com : accessed [date image viewed]); [soldier's name (company, regiment)] index card; imaged from Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, T289 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), roll [roll number found in Image Information].
These images are scanned from the microfilm publication of the Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, T289, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. The original records are located in Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in the National Archives.
Note: The example and template shown here are based on methods described in Evidence Explained, a definitive guide to the citation and analysis of historical sources, by Elizabeth Shown Mills. For guidance on creating and using citations, including source list entries, subsequent notes, and models for citing other records, we suggest consulting Evidence Explained.
Civil War Collection
Read more about the entire collection of Civil War titles available at Fold3, including records of the Southern Claims Commission, Confederate soldier service records and amnesty papers, letters from the Department of State, Lincoln Assassination Papers, photos, and more.
The list of all Civil War titles at Fold3 can be found here.