• by Dave Miller

Have an ancestor who served during the Civil War? There are ways of finding more about him!

With the recent Memorial Day weekend, The Ancestor Guy also wishes to honor the veterans who have served our country during the military conflicts. Many are buried at National Cemeteries throughout the U.S. This includes those who died or served during America's Civil War in the 1860s. Perhaps you have recently discovered that your ancestor was a Civil War veteran. Perhaps he died in one of the battles during the war. Or perhaps he serviced during the war and mustered out and lived to file a pension in the late 1800s. Perhaps he served on the confederate side. So how do you find out where he served and perhaps if he is buried at one of the National Cemeteries around the U.S.

There are several avenues available for searching for that Civil War ancestor. The 1890 Census provided a schedule for veterans from the Civil War who filed for the veterans pension. Although most of the population census from 1890 was later destroyed in a fire, there is still a good portion of the veterans census that has survived and is available to the public. It's called THE SPECIAL CENSUS SCHEDULES OF SURVIVING UNION CIVIL WAR VETERANS OR THEIR WIDOWS, 1890. This schedule does contain the name of the veteran, or in the case of the widow, the name and rank of the deceased veteran. It also mentions the unit and regiment of the veteran and where this individual is living at the time the census was taken. If the veteran was wounded while in service, the schedule may also contain the injury sustained while in combat. These records are on microfilm at the National Archives and may also be purchased through NARA.gov. You can also find these records online at Ancestry.com. You must have a subscription in order to view these records.

The National Park Service has developed an index of those who were served in the Civil War. The site is called the Soldiers and Sailors database and contains an index of those who served in the Army and Navy and on both sides of the conflict as well as information on National Cemeteries, battles and even Confederate prisoners who were held at a few selected camps. https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm.

There are over 100 National Cemeteries throughout the U.S which is the final resting place for those veterans that lost their lives during battle or who are now buried after serving their country. One of the more interesting of these cemeteries is Camp Butler National Cemetery just outside Springfield, Illinois. According to the cemetery's website, it was founded soon after the start of the Civil War and served as the second largest training camp during the war. The site is named after the Illinois State Treasurer at the time William Butler. General William Tecumseh Sherman was sent to Springfield to select and develop the new training camp. He and Butler identified the location northeast of Springfield.

A portion of the site was also used as a POW camp. Many Confederate prisoners lost their lives as a result of disease and extreme weather conditions throughout the year. The Camp Butler website indicates that roughly 700 Confederate prisoners died as a result of the small pox outbreak of 1862. Soldiers not only from both sides of the Civil War but also from the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam wars are buried at this site. The Cemetery has since been honored by many organizations and in 1997 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. To find out more on this Cemetery and to see if you have an ancestor buried there, check their website: https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/campbutler.asp. The National Park Service also has more historical information on the history of Camp Butler Cemetery at https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/Illinois/Camp_Butler_National_Cemetery.html.

The National Cemetery Administration under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also has a Nationwide Gravesite Locator which contains the burial locations of veterans and their families who are buried at National and State veteran cemeteries. The listing also includes veterans who are buried at private cemeteries when the grave is marked by a government grave marker. You can find this index at http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/. Thanks to Camp Butler National Cemetery for allowing me to post these pictures in reference to this blog.

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