Civil War Pensions are an excellent way to find out information about your ancestor. However, you must have the following in order to do a worthwhile search.
1. Must have your ancestorís name
2. Branch of service
3. The state from which he served
4. And the war he served in.
Note: The veteran must have served on the Union side in order to receive a Federal pension.
How do you narrow down whether or not your ancestor fought in the civil war? First check for a male born between 1816 and 1843. Men who were eligible to serve were between the ages of 20 and 45 in 1861, which was at the start of the war.
For good measure add a couple of years for younger men and older men who also served. This way you narrow down the possibilities and remove the possibility of missing a possible veteran.
Now, make a list of possible pensioners.
Great! Now you are ready to start your search for key bits of information.
The best sources of information are:
City, County, and State histories
Genealogical or historical societies in the local area
Compiled transcriptions of cemetery readings and obituaries.
If you donít have enough information to use the above sources then you need to find out where your ancestor served and where he is buried.
One good index to use is the National Archives Microfilm Publication T288: General Index to Pension Files 1861 to 1934.
This index reproduces the general index to the pension files. You will find mostly information on Army, Navy, and Marine Corps service performed between 1861 and 1916. Most of the information is from the Civil War however, you will also find information from Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Regular Establishment.
You will find the information here.
There is also a Civil War Pension Index at Ancestry.com.
Civil War Pension Index
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