October 4, 2004
BY GARY WISBY Staff Reporter

Civil War buffs, historians and people adding branches to their family trees can now go to a single source to find service records of 6.3 million Union and Confederate soldiers.

Completion of a database called the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System was announced last week at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., by the National Park Service.

"Never in one place could one get this information so easily," spokesman Gerry Gaumer said.

Volunteers from the Mormon Church, Federation of Genealogical Societies and United Daughters of the Confederacy did the monumental task of assembling information from disparate sources and entering it at www.civilwar .nps.gov.

"It’s like a concordance to the Scriptures," said Jerry Kowalski, president of the Chicago Civil War Round Table. "This will be one of the best tools available for people studying their own lineage and genealogy."

Gail Santroch, president of the Chicago Genealogical Society, said, "It saves you the trouble of going to the National Archives and looking on the microfilm."

"This is wonderfully valuable," said Theodore Karamanski, a Civil War expert at Loyola University Chicago. "The service record is the first thing you look at."

Karamanski tapped into a listing of Medal of Honor winners and within seconds turned up local hero Cpl. James Warden of Lemont, who on May 22, 1863, at Vicksburg displayed "gallantry in the charge of the volunteer storming party."

Among Illinois’ 24 other Medal of Honor winners was one Wellis H. Blodgett of Downers Grove. On Sept. 30, 1862, in Newtonia, Mo., the lieutenant "with a single orderly, captured an armed picket of eight men and marched them in

[as] prisoners."

The database lists 370,624 Union soldiers from Illinois, exceeded only by the then-much more populous states of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Historians generally accept 3.5 million as the number who served in the War Between the States. Why does the database contain 6.3 million soldiers?

"There are duplicates, mostly because of men who served in more than one unit and name-spelling variations," said John Peterson of the National Park Service. The service manages 13 national cemeteries related to Civil War battlegrounds.

Thousands of names of sailors remain to be added. Graduate students at Howard University in the nation’s capital are pulling them together now.

Copyright 2004, Digital Chicago Inc.

Link: http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-civil04.html