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Military Records and Genealogy Research

Military records are an important resource for people who are seeking ancestors who served their country. Military records identify millions of individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. You may find evidence that an ancestor served in the military in family traditions, census records, naturalization records, biographies, cemetery records, and records of veterans' organizations. More recent military records usually have more information than older records.


Researching Military Records and Online Resources

U.S. Military Records Research Outline The best online resource for locating and researching U.S. military records is available on the LDS Church website . Their U.S. Military Records Research Outline is a must read and is available in PDF or portable document format.

Civil War Records and Resources Learn if your ancestor served in the civil war or received a pension after the war. Links to selected websites aid in locating these valuable records.

  • 1813 Invalid Pensioners There were 19 states and the District of Columbia listed on the 1813 Pension Schedule. The annual pension cost to the U.S. government was slightly less than $97,000 and about 1770 total pensioners were listed. Due to transfers, some pensioners are listed in two states.
  • 1883 Pensioners Online Primarily Union veterans from the Civil War and survivors of the War of 1812. There is even a handful of Rev War widows on this list.
  • 1890 Veterans and Widows Special U.S. Census In the process of taking the 1890 general census, there was a question relating to military service. If the answer was positive, the special schedule was to be completed. While the census was never intended to count Confederate veterans or veterans of other conflicts, many were included on the schedules. Mexican War veterans were often listed-- it is known that for every state where the schedules still exist, Confederate veterans were included and in some locales, particularily in the South, some schedules were entirely Confederate veterans and widows. In summary, veterans and widows(even occassionally mothers of veterans) of either side or of any military service whatsoever, are known to have been listed.

    If you don't have a free Adobe Acrobat reader program to view PDF files you can get one by clicking on the graphic link below.




    United States Military Campaigns, Conflicts, Expeditions, and Wars

    Compiled by Larry Van Horn, U.S. Navy Retired

    If you do not know if your ancestor served in the military, the year of birth may indicate the possibility. Most people who were in the military were between 18 and 30 years of age. Use the war chronology below to see if your ancestor could have served during wartime.

    Our chronology below is a listing of known military campaigns, conflicts, expeditions and wars that colonial Americans, U.S. military and state militia forces have been involved in. Note: An asterisk next to the name of a conflict indicates a major war during that period. Websites may freely link to this page without permission. This list my not be reproduced in any form without permission of the author. Copyright © 2002-2006, Family Roots and Branches.


    Colonial Period

    War/ConflictDatesArea Involved in Confrontation/Additional Information
    French-Spanish Colonial Attacks1565-1567Area that is now northeastern Florida - battle between the French colonial settlement on the St. Johns River and the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine.
    Anglo (Great Britain)-French War1613-1629Canada
    Jamestown Conflicts1622-1644Jamestown, Colonial Virginia - Indian attacks and counter attacks by Jamestown colonists.
    Anglo (Great Britain)-French War1629St. Lawrence River Region
    Pequot Indian War1636-1638Connecticut - this war involved the Pequot Indians and the settlers of the Pilgrim and the Massachusetts Bay Colonies.
    First Anglo (Great Britain)-Dutch War1640-1645New Netherlands
    Iroquois Indian War1642-1653Colonial New England and Acadia
    Battle of the Severn25 Mar 1655Colonial Maryland - this was the final battle of the Civil War. No not the American Civil War, but the English Civil War. This battle was on and around the banks of the River Severn in what is now the state of Maryland. It was small as battles go with only 400 or so men involved with 19 killed during battle and 4 executed afterwards.
    Second Anglo (Great Britain)-Dutch War1664New Netherlands - capture of a Dutch fort at what is now New Castle, Delaware
    Third Anglo (Great Britain)-Dutch War1673New Netherlands
    King Philip's War1675-1676Massachusetts and Rhode Island - conflict by New England colonists with the Wampanoag Indians
    Bacon's Rebellion1676Colonial Virginia - revolt of colonial farmers led by Nathaniel Bacon against oligarchic rule of Governor Sir William Berkeley and his colonial government.
    War In North1676-1678Maine
    Dayves-Pate Uprising3 Sep 1676Calvert County, Colonial Maryland
    Culpepper's Rebellion1677-20 Nov 1680Carolinas - an 'anti-proprietary' party was established on 3 Dec 1677, to counteract Thomas Miller's illegal takeover of the Carolina colony. One of its leaders was John Culpepper. The antiproprietary party captured Miller and imprisoned him.
    The Glorious Revolution of 16881688-1689Colonial New England - the term "Glorious Revolution" refers to the series of events which culminated in the exile of King James II (reigned 1685-1688) and the accession to the throne of William and Mary.
    Leisler's Rebellion1688-1691Colonial New England - an insurrection as part of the overthrow of the Dominion of New England.
    Maryland Revolution1689Colonial Maryland - group of Protestant leaders seized control of the colonial Maryland government.
    King William's War*1689-1697Colonial New England, Colonial New York - also known as the War of the League of Augsburg. French and Indian attacks on the New England colonies bordering Canada.
    Queen Anne's War*1702-1713Colonial Massachusetts, Colonial South Carolina, Florida and Canada - also known as the War of Spanish Succession. A dispute between England, France, and Spain against the English forces in North America.
    Tuscarora Indian War22 Sep 1711-25 Mar 1712Colonial Carolinas - the Tuscarora attacks was the worst Indian war in North Carolina. The attacks occurred around New Bern and surrounding communities.
    Yamassee War1715-1716Colonial Georgia and Colonial South Carolina - Indians outside Port Rotal, SC conspired to drive all white people from the coast from St. Augustine to Cape Fear. Eventually a military force routed the Indians at the Combahee River and permanent garrisons were established for the protection of the colonists.
    Battle of Ocracoke Island1718Ocracoke Island, Colonial North Carolina - resulted in death of the pirate Blackbeard
    The War of Jenkin's Ear1739-1742Colonial Georgia and Florida - in 1739 the merchant brig Rebecca, commanded by a Captain Jenkins, was accosted by a Spanish privateer and found to be smuggling goods. After detaining the crew the privateer Captain Juan de leon Fandino then took the liberty of cutting off one of Jenkin' ears. As a result of this incident, England declared war on Spain in what was to be known as the "War of Jenkin's Ear."
    King George's War*1744-1748Canada, Northern New England, Colonial New York - also known as the War of the Austrian Succession. Fighting between the French and British colonists.
    Fortress Louisbourg1745Canada - this battle that was part of the war between Britain and France.
    Fort Necessity1754Southwest Colonial Pennsylvania - fort built by George Washington and surrendered to the French.
    French and Indian (Seven Years) War*1754-1763Colonial New England, Colonial Virginia and Canada - English colonist conflict with the French and Indians
    Anglo (Great Britain)-French War1755-1758Canada
    Siege of Quebec1759Canada - fall of Quebec, the fortified capital of New France, to British forces in 1759 led to the ultimate defeat of French power in North America.
    Cherokee Uprising1760-1761Colonial Carolinas - during the French and Indian War, friction between Cherokee Indians and settlers in Virginia and the Carolinas increased. An indian attack prompted an invasion of Cherokee country by a force of 1500, but the invaders were beaten back by an ambush. In 1761 a militia force of 2600 launched another expedition that forced the Cherokee to ask for peace.
    Pontiac's Rebellion1763Ohio River Valley (Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania - frustrated by British trading practices, an indian chief named Pontiac organized a massive campaign to drive the Brits out of the west.
    War of the Regulators1771Colonial North Carolina - uprising of frontiersman in the western portions of North Carolina that had become incensed over inequitable taxation. They organized into groups known as the Regulators. Several attacks occurred during the year and they were defeated and retreated further into the North Carolina mountains.
    Lord Dunmore's War1774Ohio River Valley (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia) - the Battle of Point Pleasant, present-day Mason County, West Virginia, was considered by some as the first engagement of the American Revolution.

    National Period

    War/ConflictDatesArea Involved in Confrontation/Additional Information
    American Revolution*19 Apr 1775-11 Apr 1783Colonial America
    Pennamite-Yankee War1782-1787Wyoming Valley - conflict fought between the colonists of Connecticut and Pennsylvania for possession of the Wyoming Valley. This period also included many Indian disturbances.
    Shay's RebellionDec 1786- 2 Feb 1787Massachusetts - Revolt by debtor farmers against their creditors over high taxes. Fought by state militia forces.
    War with Northwestern IndiansSep 1790- Aug 1795Ohio - Warfare with northwest indians of the Chippewas, Delawares, Miamis, Ottawas, Pottawatomies, Shawnees and Wyandots tribes.
    Whiskey Insurrection1794Pennsylvania - a liquor tax was imposed on the farmers of western Pennsylvania, who made rye whiskey, which was the spark that fired this rebellion.
    John Fries Rebellion1798-1799Pennsylvania - the House Tax Rebellion of John Fries.
    Quasi-War with FranceJul 1798-30 Sep 1800Atlantic Coast/West Indies - undeclared naval war carried on by the United States through its navy and privateers.
    Barbary Wrs1801-1805 and 1815North Coast Africa - wars with the Barbary Powers conducted by the authority of the United States through its Navy.
    Sabine Expedition1806Louisiana
    Aaron Burr's Insurrection1806-1807Southern Mississippi Valley
    Chesapeake Bay1807Virginia - naval war
    Northwestern Indian WarNov 1811-Oct 1813Indiana - the Battle of Tippecanoe in November 1811 was the start of the Northwest Indian Wars.
    War of 1812/War with Great Britain*18 Jun 1812-17 Feb 1815Great Lakes, Maryland, New Orleans - fought between the United States and Great Britain. This war involved about 60,000 U.S. Army forces supported by 470,000 militia and volunteer troops.
    Seminole Indian Disturbances15 Aug 1812-Oct 1812Florida (Georgia Volunteers)
    Creek Indian War27 Jul 1813-9 Aug 1814Alabama - conducted by the authority of the United States
    Peoria Indian War19 Sep-21 Oct 1813Illinois
    Lafitte's Pirates1814Local conflict - expedition against Lafitte Pirates conducted by the authority of the United States.
    Creek Indian War4 Oct 1814-24 Jan 1815Alabama - conducted by the authority of the United States
    First Seminole Indian War20 Nov 1817-31 Oct 1818Florida and Southern Georgia
    Yellowstone Expedition4 Jul 1819-Sep 1819Expedition by Colonel Henry M. Atkinson near Council Bluffs on the Missouri River.
    Lafitte's Pirates1821Galveston, Texas - Lafayette attacks an American ship and he finally leaves Galveston Island in May 1821.
    Arickaree Indian Campaign1823Upper Missouri River/Dakota Territory - campaign against Blackfeet and Arickaree Indians.
    Le Fèvre Indian WarJun-Sep 1827Wisconsin - also known as the Winnebago expedition, no fighting
    Black Hawk Indian War26 Apr 1831-21 Sep 1832Illinois and Wisconsin - U.S. troops and militia men clashed with the Sauk and Fox indian tribes and expelled them from Illinois. Afterward the famous warrior Black Hawk tried to regain their Rock Island home and failed.
    Pawnee Expedition9 Jun 1834Indian Territory
    Toledo War1835-1836Ohio and Michigan - boundary dispute
    War for Texas Independence1835-1836Texas - the Texas revolution with Mexico.
    Indian Stream1835-1836New Hampshire
    Second Seminole Wars28 Dec 1835-14 Aug 1842Alabama, Florida and Georgia
    Heatherly Disturbances1836Missouri and Iowa
    Cherokee Indian Disturbances/Removal1836-1839Southern United States - which resulted in the famous "Trail of Tears."
    Southwestern Frontier (Sabine) disturbancesApr 1836-Jun 1837Louisiana and Arkansas - no fighting.
    Creek Indian Disturbances5 May 1836-30 Sep 1837Alabama
    Osage Indian Troubles1837Missouri
    Mormon1838Missouri - the Mormon church colony was expelled from Missouri and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois.
    Aroostook/Patriot War Frontier Disturbances1839Maine - boundary dispute between Maine and New Brunswick. The war brought approximately 10,000 troops into the area in 1838-1839. No actual fighting occurred.
    Battles of the Republic1840-1845Texas Republic - clashes between Texas Rangers and the Mexican Army/Indians.
    Dorr Rebellion1841-1842Rhode Island - dispute over the old state constitution enacted in 1663 that restricted suffrage to freeholders and their eldest sons.
    Mormon1844Illinois - after the Mormon church colony settled in Illinois conflict with local residents continued which led to the death of the church's founder John Smith on 24 Jun 1844. Brigham Young led the colony westward to Utah.
    Los Diablos Tejanos1846-1848Texas and Mexico - Texas Rangers who participated in expeditions during the Mexican War (below).
    Mexican War*24 Apr 1846-30 May 1848Old Mexico, California, New Mexico and Texas — this conflict between the United States and Mexico resulted from the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. 35,000 U.S. Army troops and 73,000 state volunteers fought in this war. Most volunteer regiments were from southern states such as Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.
    New Mexico Expedition30 Jun 1846-13 Feb 1848New Mexico
    Cayuse Indian War1848Oregon - Oregon volunteers
    New Mexico and Texas Indian Disturbances1849-1855New Mexico and Texas
    Najavo Indian Troubles1849-1861New Mexico
    Texas Indian Disturbances1849-1861Texas - continuous disturbances with Comanches, Cheyenne, Lipan and Kickapoo indian tribes.
    Utah Indian Disturbances1850-1853Utah
    Pitt River Expedition28 Apr-13 Sep 1850California
    Oregon/Washington Indian Wars1851-1856Oregon and Washington - conflict with the Rogue River, Yakima and Klikitat indian tribes.
    Yuma ExpeditionDec 1851-Apr 1852California
    Nicaragua Naval Battles1854-1858Naval War
    Klamath & Salmon Indian Troubles1855Idaho and Oregon River
    Cheyenne and Arapahoe Troubles1855-1856Western United States
    Winnas Expedition24 May-8 Sep 1855Oregon - expedition against the Snake Indians.
    Sioux ExpeditionJun-Oct 1855Nebraska Territory
    Yakima Expedition11 Oct-24 Nov 1855Washington Territory
    Florida Seminole Indian WarDec 1855-Sep 1857Florida
    Kansas Troubles1857-1858Kansas - border problems
    The Utah Expedition1857-1858Utah - U.S. troops were sent to the state to suppress a rebellion that did not exist. The expedition ended peacefully.
    Gila Expedition16 Apr-16 Sep 1857New Mexico
    Washington Territory Indian troubles1858Washington Territory - conflict with Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and Paloos indian tribes.
    Expedition against Northern Indians17 Jul-17 Oct 1858Washington Territory
    Puget Sound Expedition10 Aug-23 Sep 1858Washington Territory
    Navajo Expedition9 Sep-25 Dec 1858New Mexico
    Wichita Expedition11 Sep 1858-Dec 1859Indian Territory
    Cortina troubles1859-1860Texas and Mexican border
    Colorado River Expedition11 Feb-28 Apr 1859California
    Pecos Expedition16 Apr-17 Aug 1859Texas
    Antelope Hills Expedition10 Jun-23 Sep 1859Texas
    Bear River Expedition12 Jun-18 Oct 1859Utah
    John Brown's RaidNov-Dec 1859Harper's Ferry, Virginia
    Southern Plains Indian Wars1860-1879Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas
    Kiowa and Comanche Expedition8 May-11 Oct 1860Indian Territory
    Carson Valley Expedition14 May-15 Jul 1860Utah
    Navajo Expedition12 Sep 1860-24 Feb 1861New Mexico
    Cheyenne Indian Disturbances1861-1864Local conflicts
    Apache Indian Wars and troubles1861-1900Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
    Civil War - War Between the States/ War of Rebellion*19 Apr 1861-20 Aug 1866Southern and Border States; Pennsylvania - the Civil War was fought between northern and southern (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia) states. Actual hostilities, however, commenced upon the firing on Fort Sumter, 12 Apr 1861, and ceased by the surrender of the Confederate forces under General Kirby Smith on 26 May 1865. Approximately 3.5 million soldiers fought in the war. The war resulted in almost 600,000 deaths and affected nearly every family in those regions involved in the war.
    Sioux Indian War1862-1867Minnesota and Dakota Territory
    War against Indians1863-1869Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Indian Territory - conflict with the Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Comanche and Kiowas indian tribes.
    Fenian Raid1865-1866New York and Canada - border disturbances
    Indian Wars1865-1868Southern Oregon and Idaho, Northern California and Nevada
    The Frontier Battalions1866-1890Texas - Texas Rangers units that protected settlers from criminals and indian attacks.
    Indian Campaign1867-1881Western United States - campaign against Comanche, Kiowa, Kickapoo and Lipan indians and Mexican border disturbances.
    Canadian River Expedition5 Nov 1868-13 Feb 1869New Mexico
    Yellowstone Expedition25 Aug-25 Oct 1871
    The Modac Indian WarNov 1872-Jun 1873Northern California and Southern Oregon
    Apache Indian Disturbances1873Arizona
    Yellowstone Expedition4 Jun-4 Oct 1873Dakota Territory
    Red River Indian War1874Northern Texas
    Sioux Expedition13 Feb-19 Aug 1874Nebraska and Wyoming
    Black Hills Expedition20 Jun-30 Aug 1874Dakota Territory
    Indian Campaign1 Aug 1874-16 Feb 1875Indian Territory - conflict with the Cheyenne, Comanche and Kiowas indian tribes.
    Big Horn Expedition13 Aug-10 Oct 1874Wyoming
    Nevada Indian Expedition Sep 7-27, 1875Eastern Nevada - expedition against Indians in eastern Nevada.
    Cheyenne and Sioux Indian Wars1876-1879Dakota Territory, Indian Territory, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming - conflict with northern Cheyenne and Sioux indian tribes.
    Big Horn and Yellowstone Expedition17 Feb 1876-13 Jun 1877Montana and Wyoming
    Powder River Expedition1 Nov-31 Dec 1876Wyoming
    Nez Perce Indian WarJun-Oct 1877Idaho and Montana
    Maryland/Pennsylvania Labor StrikesJul-Oct 1877Maryland and Pennsylvania
    Piute Indian troubles1878Idaho and Nevada
    Bannock CampaignMay-Sep 1878Idaho, Washington and Wyoming Territories
    Ute Expedition3 Apr-9 Sep 1878Colorado - White River Campaign
    Oklahoma Settler and Cherokee Disturbances1879-1894Indian and Oklahoma Territories - "Oklahoma Boomers" settler and the Cherokee indian strip disturbances.
    Ute Indian Campaign21 Sep 1879-8 Nov 1880Colorado and Utah
    Wyoming Chinese Miner and Labor TroublesSep-Oct 1885Wyoming
    Sioux Indian disturbancesNov 1890-Jan 1891South Dakota
    Garcia Troubles1891-1893Texas and Mexico - border disturbances
    Idaho Miner DisturbancesJul-Nov 1892Idaho
    Various Labor Disturbances1894"Industrial Army," "Commonwealers," "Coxeyites," and labor disturbances
    Railroad StrikesJun-Aug 1894Illinois to Pacific Ocean - Railroad, Pullman and Labor strikes extending from Illinois to Pacific Coast
    Spanish-American War*21 Apr 1898-11 Apr 1899Cuba and the Philippine Islands — war between the United States and Spain that was largely fought in Cuba and the Philippine Islands. In the end the United States acquired Puerto Rico and Guam and bought the Philippines. Cuba became independent. The war was fought by U.S. regular forces and state volunteers. About 250,000 enlisted men and 11,000 officers served in this conflict. Most volunteers came from the states of Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Note: Actual combat did not cease until August 13, 1899. Also see Philippine Insurrection below.
    Philippine Insurrection*February 4, 1899-July 4, 1902Philippine Islands — more than 125,000 American soldiers were sent to the Philippines. Over 4,000 deaths occurred during this conflict. Also see Spanish-American War above.
    Boxer RebellionMay 1900-May 1901China
    Tampico and Vera Cruz IncidentsApril 1914Mexico - Members of a U.S. Navy ship were arrested in April 1914 by Victoriano Huerta, Mexican dictator. The sailors were released but Huerta further insulted the U.S. over failure to deliver an apology. We bombed Vera Cruz. Huerta abdicated and the conflict ended.
    Mexican Punitive Expedition1916-1917Mexico - General John Pershing led 75,000 National Guard troops in the pursuit of the Mexican bandit Francisco "Pancho" Villa in Mexico.
    World War I*1917-1918Europe - the United States entered World War I in April 1917. Over 4.7 million men and women served in the regular U.S. forces, national guard units, and draft units. There were 53,402 killed in action, 63,114 deaths from disease and other causes, and about 205,000 wounded. Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania furnished the most soldiers.
    World War II*1941-1945Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific - over 16.5 million men and women served in the armed forces during World War II with 291,557 dead in battle, 113,842 dying from other causes, and 670,846 wounded.
    Korean War*1950-1953Korean Peninsula - conflict between North and South Korea involving the United Nations and United States military forces. About six million U.S. servicemen were sent to the conflict with 160,000 casualties.
    Vietnam War*1954-1975North and South Vietnam - conflict between North and South Vietnam involving United States forces. This conflict involved nine million servicemen who suffered 200,000 casualties.
    Desert Shield/Desert Storm*1991-1992Persian Gulf War - there were 500,000 members of the armed forces who served during the war with Iraq with less than 300 casualties.
    War on Terrorism11 Sep 2001-?As a result of the Al-Queda terror attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, President George Bush declared a war on terrorism which continues to present time. The only major action so far in the war occurred in Afghanistan.

    Sources:

    1. U.S. Army Center of Military History, online http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/
    2. U.S. Army Military History Institute, online http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usamhi/
    3. U.S. Military Academy - History Department, online http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/home.html
    4. U.S. Military Academy - Officer's Professional Reading Guide, online http://www.dean.usma.edu/history/pdfs/OPRG02FINAL.pdf
    5. U.S. Naval Historical Center, online http://www.history.navy.mil/
    6. Everton Publishers, The Handybook for Genealogists, 10th edition. Draper, Utah: Everton Publishers, 2002.
    7. The Readers Digest, Family Encyclopedia of American History. Pleasantville, New York: The Readers Digest Association, Inc, 1975.
    8. George K. Schweitzer, Civil War Genealogy. Privately published: 1996.
    9. George K. Schweitzer, Revolutionary War Genealogy. Privately published: 1997.
    10. George K. Schweitzer, War of 1812. Privately published: 1995.
    11. James C. Neagles, U.S. Military Records - A Guide to Federal and State Sources. Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 1994.


    Thanks to the Savage/Goodner Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1513 website and the Civil War Clip Art Gallery for the graphics used on the military pages of Family Roots and Branches. You can click on the logos above to view their collection of civil war era clipart.


    Webpage: military.html
    Last Update: 31 July 2006
    Webpage Created: 4 August 2002
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