Friday, January 18, 2008

Civil War Records- Case Study Part 2


From our last post on this topic we were able to determine that William Wallace Brown served in the 54th Ohio Co. K. The next step was to order the service records from the National Archives to document his period of service in the war.

The first step in this process is to get the form. This can be obtained from the National Archives website. From the County history I was able to determine the period of time that he served. (8 Feb. 1864-15 Aug. 1865) Other facts that are needed on the form is state of service, union or confederate, and volunteer or regular. The unit in which he served is critical. (54th OH, Co. K) They also want to know the persons date of birth, death and location of each event. The less information that you are able to provide the less likely you are to get back information from the National Archives.

With the use of a credit card the records can be ordered over the Internet. Allow for four to six weeks for delivery though. Please be aware that this information costs from $50 to $75 dollars.

The information you can expect to obtain from the service documents includes the rank of the solider, rate of pay, locations of payment, health and date of mustering out. The amount of data retrieved from these files really varies. I have experienced a variety of information from these records. They can be as basic as date of document, soldiers name, location of pay and amount of pay. Then there are others where the amount of information is much more detailed.

William Wallace Brown's service records were very detailed. He served a very short period of time in the war. He served in the latter half of the war in the Western Theater. The battles he fought in included Stone River, Chickamauga and March to the Sea. William was present at the signing of the peace treaty by Johnston in North Carolina and participated in the victory parade in Washington, DC at the end of the war. This was rare for soldiers that were fought in the Western portion of the war. Finally he was mustered out of the war in Texas. Amongst the things that he took home with him according to the documents was his uniform and equipment including his gun. This type of information is rare and would not be found anywhere else other than family lore.

I know in the case of my own ancestor my father and I took it one step further. We used the service record along with some other sources to document where are ancestor participated during the war. Then we mapped out a trip and visited the many battles that he served in during the war. This turned out to be a very moving experience for both of us. The meaning of history and the part that are ancestor had played in the war came home to both of us.

Tomorrow I will talk about the pension records. This will give a much richer understanding of the value of military records.
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