Want to find your ancestor in military records? Here is an efficient way to identify all military records on FamilySearch, and to narrow your search by collection. It is then easy to search within a single collection.
On the FamilySearch home screen click “Search” and then “Records” in the dropdown menu.
Military records are a valuable source of genealogical information—one of the best! Military service records, bounty land files, and pension files are some of the more commonly used in this record group, but don’t stop there. Draft cards, discharge papers, prisoner of war records, veteran cemeteries, soldier homes, and veteran/lineage societies can be rich resources for the researcher.
Do you know if your ancestor served in the military? The FamilySearch Wiki provides an Ages of Servicemen table to help determine this. From this table I created the Table of Wars – Ages of Servicemen downloadable cheatsheet with a timeline of wars servicemen might have been involved with, according to their birth dates at the time of the conflict. This is a table for wars the United States was a part of, but since most of these wars involved foreign countries, it can be a helpful tool for your foreign-born ancestors, as well.
We tend to think of wartime service for veterans, but don’t forget that men and women served in peacetime, too. Use this cheatsheet to determine if your ancestor might have been part of a military conflict, and then check the FamilySearch Wiki for search strategies specific to each war.
In honor of Independence Day this post features a snippet from the Revolutionary War pension file for my 4th great-grandfather, William Tong. He was born 9 Aug 1756 at Piscataway, Prince Georges County, Maryland and died at age 93 at Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County, Illinois.
Military pension files, as mentioned previously in this blog, are of immeasurable value for their content. Note the answers William gives the interviewer:
Here he gives a rundown of the battles he participated in when his company of minute men joined the army of General George Washington at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown:
Worldcat is the catalog for more than 10,000 public and university libraries worldwide, and items you find can be ordered through Inter-library loan to your local public library. I was able to order a copy of his autobiography through my small-town library.