How to Request
Civil War Soldier and Sailor
Military & Pension Records
from the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds a
variety of records relating to a Civil War era soldier's military
service. These are a few suggestions intended to aid the novice
researcher with obtaining military and pension records from the
NARA. Additional information can be obtained from the NARA website
. Forms can be ordered from the NARA website as well.
First you must know your ancestor's full name and the military
unit in which he served. If you are not familiar with genealogy,
there is usually a member of the family who could help you search
for the ancestor's name and/or birth and death dates. A local genealogical
or historical society could also help, and you can usually get a
referral to them from the local or county library. To find the ancestor's
Michigan military unit, check the "Brown Books," or The
Index to MI Soldiers and Sailors Individual Records , published
at Lansing, MI, 1915.In this books are listed the names of most
of those who served from MI. When you find your ancestor's name
in the index, it will tell you what volume and page number to look
up, for a short record of service. This record usually gives name,
enlistment date, muster date, unit, length of service, age at enlistment
and rank, and rank at end of service.
To obtain copies of your ancestor's service record from the National
Archives, you must fill out form NATF 85 (Military Service Records)
form NATF 86 (Pension Records). Copies of forms NATF 85 & 86
may be obtained free by writing to:
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20408-0001
The NATF Forms 85 & 86 can also be ordered via e-mail , just
download the inquiry form and submit it We strongly suggest you
provide your name, mailing address, e-mail address, number of forms
requested and optionally, your telephone number. You will need a
separate form for every request submitted; e.g., pension and military
service record requests for one soldier would require two forms.
When you receive a form, complete it as directed on the form.
It is important to note that pension records usually contain the
most genealogical information.