America has an extensive military history. There is a good chance that you will find someone in each of your generations that was involved with the military in some way. Military records can be quite useful to the genealogist.
Georgia was one of the original 13 colonies so we can go back farther in time than the Revolutionary War. There were local militias that fought in the Colonial Wars (1607-1763) which includes King William's War (1689-1697), Queen Anne's War (1702-1713), King George's War (1744-1748) and the French and Indian War (1754-1763). These were fought by local units that were not part of the British Army, so you will not find the records at any official repository. You can find then in local historical society archives and state libraries. Many of these records have been microfilmed by the Latter Day Saints and are available through the Family History Centers.
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) provides us with service records, bounty land certificates, and muster rolls. Three good resources for Georgia records are:
Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution by Robert S. Davis Jr.
Military Certificates of Georgia, 1776-1800 by Marion R. Hemperley.
Revolutionary Soldier's Receipts for Georgia Bounty Grants published by Foote and Davies Company.
The War of 1812 (1812-1815) also provides an assortment of records. You will find compiled service records, pension records, bounty land warrants and prisoner of war records. There is an index to the soldiers that fought in the War of 1812 on microfilm through the National Archives. There are state indices for Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, also available through the National Archives. Mississippi is the only state that has the actual records microfilmed. These records are available through the Family History Centers. To get a compiled service record from another state you will have to contact the National Archives.
Georgia soldiers served in the Indian Wars (1836-1838). There is an index to the compiled service records of the soldiers that served during these conflicts. The index is available on microfilm through the Family History Center, but the actual records are only available at the National Archives as they have not been microfilmed.
Georgia soldiers also served in the Mexican War (1846-1848). Indices for the compiled service records are available at the Family History Centers. Some compiled service records are on microfilm, but many have to be obtained directly from the National Archives.
The Spanish American War (1898) was short-lived so the records are pretty easy to search. A list of the soldiers that served can be found in A Roster of Spanish American Soldiers from Georgia by Carlton J. Thaxton et. al.
When you receive a compiled service record you never know what you might find. Sometimes you will get a very complete record with a lot of useful information, but sometimes you will get almost nothing. Some of the records were destroyed, some were damaged and some were lost. However, it is well worth the effort to try and get these records.
The next column will focus on the military records of the Civil War until the present time.