Updated 1 Jan 2011
Do I have a Civil War ancestor?
Although there were exceptions, men who fought in the Civil War were typically anywhere from 14 to 44 years old. They did not need to be United States Citizens. If you have a male ancestor who was born between 1817 and 1851, and who was in the United States between 1861 and 1865, you may have a Civil War ancestor. While some women did serve as soldiers, this was not very common.
Start with what you know, and locate as many family records as you can.
Is there a family tradition that one of your ancestors served? If so, start with that branch of your family. Otherwise, you'll need to look at every branch. But remember, applicants to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 must have a direct ancestor; the veteran cannot have been a brother, uncle or cousin. When you are looking for a Civil War veteran in preparation for submitting an application to the Daughters, concentrate on the direct lines up from you: parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. This will simplify things and make your search easier.
Try to determine the basic vital statistics (birth, marriage and death) for your parents and their parents and grandparents. Collect as much information as you can on each generation. If you can't get all of these dates from people in your family, you can write away to your local Dept. of Health for copies of these certificates (Note: each state has their own restrictions on access to vital records). You can also check local newspapers for obituaries. If you've been able to locate an obituary or death certificate for an ancestor, it should list the place of burial. If the cemetery is nearby, try to locate the grave. If your ancestor was a former soldier, he might have a government-issued Civil War gravestone. Or, there might be a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) medallion placed near his grave. Either of these would indicate this person was a veteran of the Civil War.
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