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?

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    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 archives1reference@nara.gov for further assistance.

    We hope this information assists you with your research!

    Sincerely,
    Archives 1 Reference Branch
    [RR1R-24-24204-JD]

Reply
  •   

    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 archives1reference@nara.gov for further assistance.

    We hope this information assists you with your research!

    Sincerely,
    Archives 1 Reference Branch
    [RR1R-24-24204-JD]

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