2 Replies Latest reply on Oct 13, 2021 2:19 PM by Elliot Schneider

    How can I obtain Civil War records for my ancestor?

    Beth O'Such Newbie

      I'm visiting DC the week of October 18 and it appears as if availability of the research rooms is very limited.  Is there another way to obtain these records without an in-person visit?  The need is time sensitive and living in another state makes it difficult to return to DC.  Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

        • Re: How can I obtain Civil War records for my ancestor?
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Ms. O'Such,

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          The research room at the National Archives in Washington, DC, is currently closed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Washington, DC. Once public health conditions improve and NARA is able to reopen the research room, NARA will update our website with additional information. For updates on the status of NARA’s DC facility, please visit https://www.archives.gov/dc.


          The nature of the available records documenting service during the American Civil War depends on whether your ancestor was Union or Confederate, and if Union, whether they were Regular Army, Volunteer, or Navy. For Regular Army soldiers, there are also separate records for officers and enlisted. Additionally, some special categories of soldiers have their own separate records. Some of these records have been digitized in whole or in part. Please see the following for an overview of the types of records that are most commonly used to document individuals during the Civil War.



          For Union veterans, there also may be a pension record in National Archives custody, however not all Union veterans qualified for, applied for, or received a pension.  For Confederate veterans, pensions were issued by states, and if they still exist, are in the custody of the relevant state archives.


          To order records that have not already been digitized, please fill out a NATF Form 86 for the service records and a NATF Form 85 for the pension records and mail the completed forms to the address listed on the form. For more information see Requesting Copies of Older (pre-WWI) Military Service Records.


          If you provide more information about the person you are researching, we may be able to provide more specific information as to which records are most relevant to your research. We can also assist you with looking for digitized records. Or you may contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at archives1reference@nara.gov for further information and assistance.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1.

          Please note that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has suspended reproduction and digitization services until further notice due to COVID-19. Also, the ability to place orders online using eservices.archives.gov has been temporarily discontinued.  However, you may still submit a paper form. Orders will not be serviced until operations can resume safely. Once operations resume, document reproduction requests will be filled in the order in which they were received. We apologize for any inconvenience.


          We hope this is helpful.

          • Re: How can I obtain Civil War records for my ancestor?
            Elliot Schneider Ranger



            Do you have any additional information on your ancestor such as a name, DOB, place of birth?