9 Replies Latest reply on Feb 5, 2016 6:36 AM by Stephen Baxter

    Are Civil War pension files worth getting?

      I am undecided whether to request my great great grandfather's CW pension file. He received a pension and so did his widow.

        • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?
          Michael Pierce

          Speaking from personal experience - definitely. One of my ancestors sent in a small New Testament, in which he had written quite a bit about his experiences in battle. Another sent a photo of himself, shirtless, to show how mangled his arm was after being wounded near Vicksburg. Another sent a photo of himself in uniform (23rd Arkansas Infantry CSA), taken during the war, as part of his effort to prove service.

          • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?

            Absolutely!  I requested the Civil War Pension File for my great grandfather and received a file about and inch-and-a-half thick with much information in it.  He was wounded in the Battle of Sailor's Creek three days before the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.  He was hit by a "minnie ball in his left leg causing amputation above the knee" to near the hip.  In the file were picturex of him, showing the amputation and many physician notes, officer's declarations, witness statements, etc.  He drew his pension and then after he died, his widow applied for and received a pension; there are many statements, witness declarations, etc., for her request.  There is also a copy of a letter to the Commission of Pensions from a Pension and War Claim Attorney on the widow's behalf questioning why it has been over a year since the widow applied and nothing has been done. 
            I would say that requesting  your  gggrandfather's file is definitely worth it, especially if he was wounded int he war.

            • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?

              My 2x great grandfather's Widow's Pension was invaluable. Unfortunately, her pension only included dates of birth for her 2 youngest children since the older 2 had left  home. Is there any way we can obtain more information on these older children. We believe we may have found the eldest son but without any kind of documentation - the cemetery where he is buried confirms "he" is there but they have no other information; the clerks office in the city where 'he' died, according to several newspaper reports, has no death record. (1876). He was born in NY state, enlisted for 3 months, was an auditor...our search led us to believe he married his friend's sister as we tracked him (and later his friend)  to Chicago and Springfield where we 'believe' he enlisted with a local regiment in Illinois ...a great deal of his military history from Fold3 but no discharge date until he shows up in Illinois, dead, in 1876 ... This individual was well known  as we have local newspaper clippings about his funeral, conducted by the Knights Templar. Our local paper noted that "his widowed mother lived in Binghamton, NY. His name, rank and place of death / year on the family cenotaph in our local cemetery match that of this man in Springfield.  He was known in newspaper accounts as Col LB ___ but we never found any rank above Captain on Fold 3. (Recognizing that perhaps this could have been an honorary rank/brevet, etc.)But is he the same fellow? Or am I asking too much? How do I go about obtaining any records linking his military history from New York State to Illinois...during the Civil War?

              • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?
                Dina Herbert

                Hi Pat Taylor, you can also feel free to scan the pension file in the Innovation Hub at the Archives in DC.  For free you can scan the record and take home a copy of the jpegs and then we'll also upload a copy of the images to our catalog to help Make Access Happen.  You will have to commit to scanning the entire file but our scanners are very easy to use.  Plus, as a staff member scanning found a tintype in a pension file earlier this month in the Innovation Hub so you never know what you'll find! Let me know if you have more questions about the Innovation Hub.

                  • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?

                    hmmmm, we've seen a portion of his service record as well as letters to and

                    from his C.O.'s etc while he was serving as a Lt., then Capt. with USCT,

                    (on Fold3) but not sure his whole record is there. ?  Have not contacted

                    Illinois A.G.'s office though; good suggestion. Will follow through with

                    that. Also sending a letter to Knights Templar of Illinois. Maybe they have

                    something in their archives. Thanks for your input.

                  • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?

                    Definitely. The longer he lived the more information you may find. I, for example, found my gr-grandmother's birth date and her parents marriage date in affidavits within the pension file. I have not come across any other records that provide a precise date. My gr-gr-grandfather's cause of death was also discussed over many years. He was wounded so I also got his medical file, which is kept separate. His pension file, though, ran from 1865 to 1939 when his son passed away. His youngest daughter, my gr-grandmother, could have filed to receive it but she didn't. You never know what's in the file until you look.

                    • Re: Are Civil War pension files worth getting?
                      Stephen Baxter

                      I must say, like the rest here to get his pension file.  Included in the file i received was marriage certificate and listing all his children and dates of birth.  Also records of his Medal of Honor..