Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ordering Civil War Compiled Military Service Records

I've known for a few years that my great-great-grandfather, Ellis H. Bickerstaff, was a Civil War veteran who served in the 157th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company D. I soon learned that I could order information about his time in the Army from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) but they'd just increased their fees and the charge for a Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) was about $75.00. I just didn't have that much in my genealogy budget at the time so I laid that research aside until later.

Ellis was on mind today and I knew I needed to do something for him: find his Civil War service records. I pulled out my Bickerstaff file, found his Graves Registration Card, and headed to NARA's website, Civil War Records. It is an excellent resource detailing what records are available at NARA (though it didn't have a direct link to a site where I could order records). At this site I found
  • a good bibliography of other resources
  • details about the basic records including CMSR, pension records, and records of events of the companies
  • where these records can be found
  • links to Civil War photographs and maps
  • sources for photographs and maps that are not available online
  • information about the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) which is not affiliated with the U.S. Army
  • and sources for information about other Civil War records
My next step was to find how to order records from NARA. I searched again and found Civil War Service Records Research Guide. This site was focused on finding Compiled Military Service Records and offered
  • information about the records for Union and Confederate soldiers
  • finding aides and a list of the information required to order records
  • links to indexes where I could find regiment and company (if not yet known)
  • a direct link for ordering records online
  • a direct link to a site for printing mail order forms
  • the locations of microfilms containing CMSR
  • a link for information about ordering Union and Confederate pension records
I was surprised to learn that Fold3 has some records available online (but not Ohio) for both Union and Confederate soldiers.

I finally arrived at NARA's Veterans' Service Records where I ordered Ellis H. Bickerstaff's Compiled Military Service Records online. The fee was $25.00, about 60% less than I expected to pay. The cost is the same for either paper copies or a CD with the records. If you prefer to order the records by mail, you can print the form there. I ordered paper copies.

And now the waiting begins. Records may take 30 to 90 days to arrive.


  1. I also had an ancestor fight for Ohio during the Civil War; mine fought with the 120th. I have often wondered if ordering his record would be worth it, I can't wait to see what yours includes.

  2. Great post, Nancy. I've ordered compiled service records for ancestors in the 91st OVI and 18th OVI regiments, and felt they were worth it. It will be exciting to get that packet in the mail! I look forward to hearing what you find.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...