It is often a surprise to many that the American Civil War, also referred to as The War Between the States, only lasted for four years, three weeks and six days from 1861-1865 (April 12, 1861 – May 10, 1865). Eleven Southern U.S. slave states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederacy or the Confederate States of America. Led by Gen. Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy fought against the U.S. Government, also known in the war as the Union. The Union was made up of all of the free states that no longer recognized slavery and five slave states that were known as Border States.
The American Civil War
The War Between the States was a national tragedy that resulted in over 600,000 Americans killed. Few families escaped the horrors of war. This is a resource for finding the civil war records of your Civil War ancestors:
Every soldier who fought for the Union or Confederacy should have a Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) for each regiment that he served in. Most of these CMSR’s are held in the National Archives. The CMSR has basic information on the soldier’s military career, birthplace, country of birth (if foreign-born), age, place of residence, occupation , physical description, and facts on imprisonment during the War.
To find your ancestor’s CMSR you will need to know his name, regiment and state (i.e. 4th North Carolina Infantry) and whether he fought for the Union or Confederacy. You can begin your search of the National Archives online and, for a fee, can order records for download or to be mailed to you. Some service records are available on microfilm from both the National Archives and the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Not all state’s records are available on microfilm. The best way to access these microfilmed records locally are to find the nearest LDS Family History Center (Mormons) and ask the on-site family historian to help you. If your ancestor’s records are available within their system, they will find them and copy them for you for a nominal fee.
The American Civil war records can be found on a good number of websites and resources that will point you in the direction of where to find your ancestors. Searching civil war records can become a special passion, and there are websites that have tons of helpful information about the war including living conditions and politics of the period, and maps of battlefield sites.image from wikipedia/commons by Leonard Smith