Countless Americans have ancestors that fought, or served in some way, during the Civil War – which began on April 12, 1861 and ended at the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865 (although fighting continued in some places into May).
Now, 154 years after its end, we are left with a nation forever impacted by its outcome and millions and millions of records. In recognition of the fact that this war both began and ended in April, Fold3 is making a large selection of these records available for free through April 15th. Family History Daily is an affiliate partner of Fold3 and may receive a referral fee to support our work if you follow links from our page.
Fold3 has worked with the US National Archives to bring millions of original records to the Internet for the first time. Explore Civil War records that feature everything from personal accounts to historic writings that would shape a nation.
To access the free collections, simply visit the dedicated Civil War collections page on Fold3 and type in your search terms. You will then be brought to a results page where you can further refine your search and view potential matching records. You can easily filter by date, location, Union or Confederate Records or collection. When you try to view a record you will be prompted to sign up for a free account.
Here are just a few collections being offered for free from April 1st-15th.
- Soldier Service Records
- Slave Court Records from Washington D.C.
- Civil War Pension Index
- Widows’ Pension Files
- Confederate Amnesty Papers
- Confederate Citizen Files
- Navy Survivors’ Certificates
You can read more about each of these here.
Of course, if you want to access the many other records on Fold3 you will need to grab a subscription to their site, take advantage of a 7 day free trial, or access their records with an Ancestry All Access membership.
More Help With Civil War Research
When looking for your ancestors who may have fought or served in other ways during the Civil War, be persistent and flexible. Many old records may have listed names incorrectly – or used shortened version of names. Don’t give up after a couple of searches. And be sure to look for women’s names as well. Several of the collections included focus on widows, and women served in many other ways during this time.
For more help researching see Free Civil War Records: Discover Your Ancestors Who Fought in the War Between the States. It provides databases that are always free and well as tips for finding your ancestors. Also check this article which gives details about accessing the 1890 Veteran’s Census Schedule.
For specific help with African American research during this time please read African American Genealogy: A Guide to Finding Your Ancestors Online.
Image: [Two unidentified Civil War soldiers in Union uniforms, seated in a photographer’s studio; one is holding a saber]. between 1864 and 1865. See full image on the Library of Congress.