Compiled Military Service Records are core genealogical documents for your ancestors’ military service for the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Indian Wars, Mexican Wars, Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Expert Michael Strauss tells us what’s in them and how to find them.
What’s in Compiled Military Service Records
Compiled Military Service Records (often abbreviated as CMSR or CSR) are the records that may exist for your ancestors who served in the U.S. military from the Revolutionary War to the end of the Philippine Insurrection and Spanish-American War. This set of records represents the volunteer Army and doesn’t include regular Army enlistments. Except for limited records of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 for the Navy, the other branches of the military (including Navy, Marines, and Revenue Cutter Service) all have their equivalent set of records.
Information you may find in Compiled Military Service Records varies greatly from each of the war periods. They typically contain:
- name, unit, and period of service of the veteran
- muster in/out information
- rank in/out details
- details of the soldier’s career: promotions, prisoner of war memorandums, casualties, and a number of personnel papers which may include enlistment papers and other related documents
- for several of the war periods, physical descriptions of the soldiers including name, age, nativity, occupation, height, hair, eyes, and complexion information
Your ancestor may have multiple entries in Compiled Military Service Records. This could occur if a soldier served in more than one unit, or in the case of John LeMaster, if he enlisted in two different armies during the Civil War! The Civil War divided our nation, testing the loyalty of all persons who lived during this time. Lemaster chose the Confederacy, at least initially, when he enlisted with the 2nd VA Infantry in 1861 in Charlestown, VA. He fought alongside his Brigade commander, Thomas J. Jackson, who later would be known as “Stonewall Jackson.”
After the Confederate loss at the battle of Gettysburg, he deserted and lived in Martinsburg in what was now West Virginia, where on his draft registration he was listed as a deserter from the Rebel Army. In 1864, he enlisted in the United States Army with the 3rd WV Cavalry, serving out the duration of the war until 1865. After the war, he was granted a federal pension, with no mention of his former service in the Confederacy.
Here are his military service records for both the Confederate and Union armies:
Where to Find Compiled Military Service Records
You may access various CMSR indexes and images online. Here are links to collections at subscription websites Fold3, Ancestry.com and even a couple at the free FamilySearch.org:
Compiled Military Service Records at fold3:
- Revolutionary War. Compiled Military Service Record images for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops. Genealogists should also search the local state where their ancestors were from as some Militia isn’t included in these records. During the Revolutionary War additional Compiled Service Records were completed for the Navy, which was broken down to include Naval Personnel, Quartermaster General, and Commissary General Departments. One additional set of CMSR images covered Revolutionary War service along with Imprisonment Cards.
- Old Wars (1784-1811). After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States government sought to maintain a regular Army. However, volunteer soldiers who served from 1784-1811 were recorded. (One of the reasons for volunteers to be called up would have included the Whiskey Rebellion of 1793.) Their Compiled Military Service Record full images are available here.
- War of 1812. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes for CT, DE, DC, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA and also the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Shawanoe Indians along with United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for the Chickasaw and Creek Indians, along with the men from buy herpes medication online uk Lake Erie and Mississippi.
- Indian Wars. Compiled Military Service Records Indexes for the various Indians wars from 1815-1858.
- Mexican War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes for AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, DC, MA, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, and the Mormon Battalion and the United States Volunteers. Full copies of the CMSR are online for AR, MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion.
- Civil War. Click here to search. Union: Indexes for AZ, CA, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WA, WI, United States Veteran Volunteers, and Veteran Reserve Corps. Full copies of CMSR for AL, AR, CA, CO, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OR, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, United States Colored Troops, United States Volunteers, and 1st NY Engineers. Confederate: indexes are online for AL, and VA. Full copies of CMSR are online for AL, AZ, AK, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA, Miscellaneous, Volunteers, Indians, and Officers.
- Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record indexes for AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, Dakota Territory, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, and United States Volunteers. Full copies of CMSR are online for FL.
Compiled Military Service Records At Ancestry.com:
- Revolutionary War. Full copies of the Compiled Military Service Records for CT, DE, GA, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA, and Continental Troops. (This database often doesn’t list the local militia, as most of the men listed were part of the continental line. Researchers search by keyword or location.)
- Old Wars. An index and full images of the Compiled Military Service Records of those men who served after the Revolutionary War and before the War of 1812, covering the years of 1784-1811.
- War of 1812. Abstracted lists of names, state, and military units from the Compiled Service Records (no images).
- Indian Wars: Database with images for Florida: includes the Florida Wars, Second Creek War, and the Third Seminole War from 1835-1858.
- Mexican War. Full copies of the CMSR for MS, PA, TN, TX, and the Mormon Battalion.
- Civil War: Indexes to Union Compiled Military Service Records and Confederate Compiled Military Service Records. An additional set of Service Records comes from units that were raised by the Confederate Government and not from any of the states that comprised the Confederacy; you can view the images and search by military unit.
- Spanish American War. Compiled Military Service Record Indexes cover the same geographical areas as on Fold3. Full copies of CMSR are online for Florida.
Free Compiled Military Service Records at FamilySearch.org:
FamilySearch has fewer Compiled Military Service Records that include images. One of the major collections includes the Revolutionary War CMSR’s that when searched here, the images provide a direct link to Fold3.
Most of the other major war periods are microfilmed and available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. With online access through both Fold3 and Ancestry provided on the computers in the library, though, accessing the film is less desirable. Click here to learn more about changes in microfilm lending at the Family History Library.
Michael Strauss contributes the Military Minutes segment on Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast. In the recently-published Episode 211, he profiles the 20th-century replacement for Compiled Military Service Records: the Official Military Personnel File. Click here and listen for free!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting the free Genealogy Gems podcast and blog!
This week’s Friday records post is all about Swedish genealogy! Findmypast has added 12 million Swedish records to their international collection, and we’ll show you other resources for accessing similar records. We’ll also highlight some past unique collections for Sweden, and you can explore expert research tips from a professional genealogist.
Featured: Swedish Genealogy Records Online
June 6 is the National Day of Sweden, which honors two historical events: Gustav Vasa being elected king on June 6, 1523, and the adoption of a new constitution on June 6, 1809. After decades of discussion, the Swedish parliament finally voted to make June 6 a public holiday. And we can’t think of a better way to observe than to spend time researching your Swedish ancestors!
As Findmypast continues to grow their international records database, they’ve highlighted the recent addition of Swedish records to their collection. Over 12 million Swedish baptisms, marriages, and burials are now dating back to 1611 are now available to search on Findmypast. These records will also generate hints against your Findmypast family tree.
Their Swedish collection consist of the following indexes:
If you’re a Findmypast subscriber, head over there now to explore these indexed records. If you’re not a Findmypast subscriber, you can explore select Swedish baptisms, burials, and marriages at Ancestry.com. You can also find select Swedish baptisms, burials, and marriages at FamilySearch.org for free.
Unique Swedish Genealogy Resources
Swedish Newspapers. A couple of years back we highlighted the Minnesota Historical Society’s collection of Swedish-American newspapers. They are available through an online portal. Users can explore more than 300,000 pages from 28 different Swedish-American newspaper titles published across the U.S. between 1859 and 2007. The portal is available in Swedish and English and includes a keyword search.
Biographies of notable Swedish women. The Chicago Evening Post reported on a new online biographical dictionary of women in Swedish history. The site itself is Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexicon (it does have an English-language home page). The home page encourages visitors to “Read up on 1,000 Swedish women from the Middle Ages to the present day. Use the search function to reveal what these women got up to, how they were educated, which organisations they belonged to, where they travelled, what they achieved, and much more. All of them contributed in a significant way to the development of Swedish society.” According to the Chicago Evening Post, the current collection of 1,000 biographical sketches will soon double (at least)
Expert Swedish Genealogy Research Tips
Swedish genealogy can be daunting. Many people avoid Swedish research because they don’t speak the language and because the names change every generation–like from Ole Olsson to Ole Nilsson to Nils Pehrrson. Despite these barriers, Swedish research can be relatively simple, fun, and successful! In a special guest article, Paul Woodbury, a Senior Genealogist with Legacy Tree Genealogists, shares the following 5 things to keep in mind when researching your Swedish ancestors:
- You can “read” many records without reading Swedish.
- Family events are summarized in Swedish clerical examinations.
- Many Swedish records cross-reference each other.
- You can trouble-shoot record gaps.
- There are some excellent Swedish indexes and databases online.
Paul covers these 5 points in-depth in this special article. Click here to read it now!
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!