Military Census and State Military Records

Census information involving military service was taken in 1840 and 1890. At the time of the 1840 federal population census, enumerators were asked to list all living pensioners of the revolutionary war or other military service. These names and the accompanying information have been published in A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services; With Their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshals of the Several Judicial Districts Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census (Washington, D.C.: 1841, 1956. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Books in Print, 1996). The 1840 census provides the veteran’s name, age, and residence.

The schedules for the 1890 census of pensioners for (in alphabetical order) Alabama through Kansas and approximately half of those for Kentucky are missing. The remaining schedules for the latter half of Kentucky through Wyoming (including Washington, D.C.) have been microfilmed as Special Schedules of the Eleventh Census (1890) Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War. This microfilm publication, M123, consists of 118 rolls.

This special 1890 census provides the veteran’s name; rank; company, regiment, or vessel; dates of enlistment and discharge; length of service in years, months, and days; aliases; post office address of the institution in which living at the time of the enumeration; and disabilities incurred in service. Entries include those who had served in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of the United States in the war of the rebellion, and who were survivors at the time of the 1890 census, or the widows of soldiers, sailors, or marines.

Contrary to instructions, for the former states of the Confederacy, the records sometimes contain entries for Confederate veterans and widows of Confederate veterans as well. Separate indexes for many state enumerations of 1890 Union veterans and widows have been published by Byron L. Dilts (Index Publishing).

The 1910 census indicates whether an individual was a veteran of the Union Army, Union Navy, Confederate Army, or Confederate Navy. In the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses, there is a category devoted to military personnel. The 1900 and 1920 military censuses have Soundex indexes.

Military records, which may be referred to as militia records, were also created and preserved by state and local jurisdictions. Their contents are much like those described above. These militia records, however, are often the first to be disposed of because local militias no longer exist. They will be found scattered through state archives, historical societies and museums, military forts (both those still active and museums for those discontinued), and among the papers in the county clerk’s office. These records may sometimes be located using state and local record inventories.

Private collections of military records also exist, often housed in a records repository some distance from the location where they were created or refer to. Check the National Union Catalog of Manuscripts Collections of the Library of Congress (NUCMC) and The National Historic Trust for Records Preservation, available in most research libraries of any size, to discover their locations.

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