If your family tree extends back for several generations in the US, chances are good that you have at least one ancestor who fought in the military. With the growing collection of online databases, learning about your military ancestors has never been easier. Military records can do much more than shed light on the details of your ancestor’s military service. They might provide insights into their lives or help you fill in family relationships.
The Basics of US Military Records
US military records date back to before the Revolutionary War. These records exist at both the state and federal level. Under the umbrella of military records, you can find a wide range of documents, such as service, draft, and conscription records as well as bounty land warrant and pension records.
Sometimes military records can hold the most thorough—and interesting—information available about your ancestors. They often include basic information, such as name, residence, and age along with some information about that person’s military service, such as his unit and the date he was mustered in and out of service. Many records contain a lot more than this. Military records might tell you what your ancestor looked like or describe in detail how he got an injury and how it affected him after the war. A few, particularly pension records, can contain details about events that occurred during service, letters, proof of family dates and places (birth, marriage, and death certificates or other documents), and sometimes even photos or pages torn from the family Bible.