Civil War Soldiers

The original service records of Union and Confederate Civil War Soldiers and the pension records of Union veterans are maintained at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, where they are available for research to anyone at least age 16.

The records exist in their originally created form or on microfilm. You can request copies of those records by ordering online or by using the NATF forms 85 and 86 (see below).The military service records and pension files are separate series of records and must be requested separately. For example, if you need both the service record and the pension file for one particular veteran who fought for the Union, you need to submit two separate orders.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),, does not have custody of Confederate soldier pension files. For additional information regarding Confederate pension files, please contact the State Archives for the state where the veteran lived at the time he would have been eligible for a pension. For a successful search of the records, certain specific information is required, including: Full name, state in which he served, and branch of military. You must also indicate the side on which he fought, Union or Confederate. If a file is found for the veteran in question, NARA will supply copies of documents that provide pertinent information about the veteran and his family. Instructions at the National Archives Order Online Web Site or on the NATF Forms 85 and 86 explain the payment procedure for copies.

Also, Bertram Hawthorne Groene's "Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor" (Winston-Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1973) is an easy-to-read guide to sources of information on Civil War soldiers.

Civil War Regiments

There are four publications which offer more information on Civil War regiments. Bertram Groene's "Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor" discusses several different sources on Civil War regiments. Charles E. Dornbusch's four volumes "Military Bibliography of the Civil War" contains information on thousands of Civil War publications. To discover more information on Union regimental histories one should first look at Frederick Dyer's "A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion" which is published by Morningside Press. For Confederate regimental histories, Joseph H. Crute, Jr. and Stewart Sifakis separately compiled Confederate unit histories: Crute's "Units of the Confederate Army" which is published by Olde Soldier Books, Inc., 18779 B North Frederick Rd., Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20879; and Sifakis'"A Compendium of the Confederate Armies" (11 vol.) which is published by Facts on File, 460 Park Avenue South, New York, New York, 10016.

As for archives, the National Archives in Washington, D.C. has a wealth of information on Civil War regiments in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94. This record groups consists of 82 linear feet of bound records and 56 linear feet of unbound records. The Army's Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania also contains several thousand reference bibliographies on regiments.

And finally, one may uncover information by visiting or writing to any one of the National Park Service's Civil War-Related National Parks. The rangers offer information through talks, walks, films, dioramas, maps, and in many cases they have access to extensive research libraries at the parks.

Obtaining Records and NATF Forms

Visit the National Archives Web Site to decide if you want to order online or request a paper copy of the form.


Use the Inquiry Form. Include the type of "form" (85 or 86) in your message, and be sure to include your postal mailing address and quantity of forms needed .


Textual Reference Branch (NWCTB) National Archives and Records Administration 7th and Pennsylvania Av NW Washington, DC 20408

Last updated: June 27, 2012