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War After the Civil War

Military personnel records for those who served within the last seventy-five years are restricted. It is not impossible, however, to learn more about people who served in more current wars.

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Type: Article
Resource: Tracing Lines
Prepared by: Ruby Coleman
Word Count: 683 (approx.)
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Military personnel records for those who served within the last seventy-five years are restricted. They are available to the veteran or people requesting the information with a release authorization signed by the veteran. Next of kin can obtain the records of a deceased veteran. With these restrictions it is not impossible to learn more about people who served in more current wars.

Are you skipping from the Civil War to World War I? You may be missing information on soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. If there are records within your family about these wars, you need to learn more. Sometimes service is mentioned in obituaries or you may locate photographs showing men in uniforms dating to these wars.

Rough Riders come to mind when mentioning the Spanish-American War. This well-known regiment was comprised of volunteers throughout the United States who became part of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. They served in Cuba under Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt. If your ancestor served in this regiment, be sure to check the compiled service records for 1,235 Rough Riders. They are online at the NARA website, National Archives And Records Administration.

The Spanish-American War (1898) volunteers for the most part came from the states of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. To begin your research about the records of the Spanish-American War, start at the National Archives web page,

http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/spanish-american-war/. This excellent web site may take some reading and re-reading, but it is worth learning more about the records that have been created and are available.

In February of 1899 hostilities broke out in the Philippine Islands. Volunteers were sent to reinforce the regular units. Some of the Spanish-American troops were still there. The units raised for what became known as the Philippine Insurrection were designated as U.S. Volunteers. Those who served there and showed a state regiment are found in the Spanish-American compiled records. If they were shown as a U.S. Volunteer, they will be in the Philippine Insurrection compiled service records. There are 24 rolls of NARA microfilm (M872) which pertain to the compiled service records. These will often contain more extensive information than just the normal military forms. They are definitely worth checking.

Copies of military records can be obtained from the National Archives online, using a credit card. You can also request a form to fill out and mail to them. For more information on doing this, go to http://www.archives.gov/order/.

A hidden treasure of Footnote, Fold3.com (formerly Footnote.com) is the Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900. In this you will find cards of veterans who served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. These are in Footnote under Civil War Pension Index, NARA micropublication T289.

Footnote is a subscription site on Internet, but you can check for records without buying into the subscription. This type of checking will allow you to see information and a small image what is there, but you cannot download or print the document or file. Their site contains images of original historical documents. There are a variety of categories, such as Revolutionary War, Civil War, historical newspapers and naturalizations. One of the most unique features is the indexing (annotations) of document files. Perhaps your ancestor did not file for a Revolutionary War pension, but he may have witnessed for a comrade or relative, thus his name will show up in their indexing of the document.

If you wish to use Footnote and see the full files and images, locate a Family History Center (LDS) near you. You can easily locate the FHCs by going to the

FamilySearch web site, FamilySearch International. Once you have located a FHC, contact them to see if they have Footnote available on their computers. This is a free service for patrons and you pay only for the copies you make of images.

There are many options available for searching the wars between the Civil War and World War I. Determine if your ancestor served and then begin searching for more information, whether it is within home sources or documents originating at the National Archives.

Source Information: Tracing Lines, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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