Civil War era Union Discharge papers

Did individual discharge papers from the Union Army exist from this period? How would I find discharge papers of two great-granfathers that served during the time of the civil war? William A. Chariton, N.Y. 95th Inf. Mustered out 6/1865 near Washington DC and John A. Aite mustered 2nd US Cavalry, mustered out at Fort Laramie 10 July 1867?

  • Hey there Ken, I was able to find the discharge doc for at least 1 of your 2 great grandfathers, the one I was able to acquire was for William..will add it here for you..John is proving to be a bit more difficult to find a discharge for...found a few pensons records etc, but nothing yet that states the 1867 date or even a muster roll as I was able to find for William...if you need a bigger image for this, let me know..

  • This is a great document. So I take that there were not standard "discharge " papers at that time? Something with a Army letterhead?

    John A. Aite was discharged at Fort Laramie. This is what I have found.

  • Hey Ken..! .nice fnd! And in regards to a "formal discharge cert/other, yes...there were actually many different types of discharge certs that were given to each soldier upon end of service...some were from their home state, others from the division they served, A Confederate discharge, the Union discharge etc etc. Will add 4 types of discharge certs for you here, just so that you may have an idea of what your relatives may have acquired...and/or something similar. First is a standard Union, 2nd a standard Confederate, 3rd a standard discharge from section/state, and the 4th a Grand Army discharge/service cert.

  • Fantastic information. I have been able to find a discharge certificate for John Aite issued by the State of Nebraska submitted with his homestead application. THANK you. 


    Thank you for posting your question to the History Hub!

    In the nineteenth century, the War Department generally issued only one original discharge certificate. It was given directly to the soldier to keep as proof of service and thus became his personal property. The War Department did not retain official file copies of discharge certificates for enlisted personnel until about 1944. For state volunteers during the Civil War, an extra copy of a discharge sometime found its way into the soldier's Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) as part of the personal papers filed with the service record. This was certainly not the case for every soldier, so copies of discharges do not appear in the service record of every soldier. Sometimes, the soldier also used his discharge as evidence of service when applying for a pension, and so the original certificate may have ended up in his pension file. These two sources (the service record personal papers and pension files) are generally the only exceptions where discharge papers might be found in our holdings. We did check the CMSR for William A. Chariton in the 95th New York Infantry, but did not find any extra copy of a discharge (John Aite does not have a corresponding CMSR since he served in the Regular Army). We also checked the available pensions for both soldiers but did not find any discharges filed among the paperwork. If you are in need of the service record for Chariton or the pension files for either soldier, we would recommend you contact the Archives 1 Reference Branch (RR1R) at for further assistance.

    We hope this information assists you with your research!

    Archives 1 Reference Branch