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Military records can help fill large gaps in family tree research

In the last column I outlined what military records are available to the genealogist, but we were only able to cover half of America's military history.

There is quite a bit of information available for The Civil War (1861-1865). Soldiers from Georgia fought both for the Confederacy as well as the Union Army. One of the best resources is the National Parks Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System which is online at It is a searchable database which is very easy to use. Once you find the soldier you are looking for, you will know in which unit he served. With that information you will be able to request his compiled service record and pension record file from the state archives. The only problem you will have with this database is the fact that many of the soldiers are listed by their initials and not by their full names. You can narrow this down by reading about the units and figuring out which ones were mustered in the area your ancestor lived. You can also look at the roster lists for the companies that you are interested in and see if any of your other relatives show up (brothers and cousins commonly enlisted together). Civil War records are very interesting. You will see medical records and hospitalizations as well as prisoner of war records and exchange and release records.

There are two excellent books available that cover local Confederate soldiers. These two books were written by Thomas Holley of Thomson. Tom is working on a third book which covers the remaining company that was mustered from the area (Hamilton's Rangers).

Company K, Ramsey Volunteers, the Sixteenth Georgia Infantry Regiment Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate States of America, The Officers, The Battles and a Genealogy of its Soldiers.

Company F, Thomson Guards, Tenth Regiment Georgia Volunteers, Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate States of American, The Officers, The Battles and a Genealogy of its Soldiers.

Both of these books are available at the Thomson Library and from the author. Tom has done an excellent job of putting this information together. Everything is footnoted with his sources so you can go back and look at the original records.

The WWI (1917-1918) draft registration cards are available online at The information you might find is the person's name, address, birth date, birth place, race, nationality, citizenship and next of kin. However, not every draft board collected all of this information.

WWII (1941-1945) information is a little harder to come by because most of these records are covered under privacy acts as many WWII soldiers are still living. The types of info you will be able to find is lists of prisoners of war, list of casualties, some unit rosters etc.

Compiled service records for soldiers that served in WWII and later are not available to the general public. If the soldier is deceased, the immediate family can request copies (spouse, children).

Please take advantage of the military records that are available. You will be able to glean quite a bit of useful information from them.

Web posted on Thursday, December 16, 2004


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