January 27, 2012
So you think your ancestor fought in the Civil War?
A number of you have inquired about how to discover your own Civil War ancestry. (And a number of you are far more knowledgeable on the topic than your humble correspondent so please feel free to comment on questions posed at the bottom of the page!) Stories from departed grandparents and even great-grandparents have fired your curiosity—a good thing!—and now you are wondering how do I confirm my family’s personal connection to the late unpleasantness?
Several of you have mentioned seeing or inheriting family memorabilia—not just daguerreotypes or diaries, but graveyard markers, a box of old letters, and a Colt revolver. Know that these are the true touchstones to your heritage. And if you value your heritage, you know it is indeed priceless. But understand you don’t really own it; you’re just the current curator, the history steward until the next generation. Put more bluntly, avoid the temptation: That relic of the past is not really yours to sell!
But now you want to know more. The National Archives is the best primary source for your ancestor’s military service record. Yet there are a number of accessible sites to investigate these records without having to go to Washington. The Gettysburg Visitor Center has on site access to look up names from the past. And a number of googleable for-profit vendors will also be glad to research your civil war ancestor(s), Blue and/or Gray.
Hereditary societies also put out the welcome mat to prospective members and offer one of the best ways to continue your participation in commemorating your ancestor’s military service. We offer an alphabetical listing of the most prominent Civil War hereditary societies, with links for you to investigate. Good luck!
Auxiliary to Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War http://www.asuvcw.org/
Children of the Confederacy http://www.hqudc.org/CofC/
Dames of the Loyal Legion of the United States http://suvcw.org/mollus/dollus/home.htm
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War http://www.duvcw.org/
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) http://www.suvcw.org/mollus/mollus.htm
Military Order of the Stars and Bars (MOS&B http://www.militaryorderofthestarsandbars.org/
Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) http://www.scv.org/
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) http://www.suvcw.org/
United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) http://www.hqudc.org/
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