American military heritage in Virginia started with the establishment of the colonial militia early in the seventeenth century basically to battle to prevent attacks from native inhabitants. The applications and importance of Virginia military records in genealogical research for ancestors that were veterans are apparent but Virginia military records can also be important to researchers whose immediate ancestors just weren’t soldiers in any war. Due to the amount of genealogical details included in quite a few Virginia military pension files they should never be disregarded all through the research process.
In the early 1600s the colonial militia was established. Its main function was to protect colonists from Native American attacks. The Colonial Wars took place from 1622 to 1763. Those service records may contain names, units, and other information. Rolls, lists, and rosters do still exist, but several were destroyed in fires and other disasters. Many genealogical libraries and societies across the country have those published records on file.
A fire destroyed some of Virginia’s original Revolutionary War records. The National Archives holds those that have survived, including rolls and rosters from militia units. Military field officer reports may also be included. There are also some published indexes available. The National Archives holds a card index of Virginia soldiers as well. The Library of Virginia also has a searchable online resource of Revolutionary War Virginia State Pensions.
Virginia soldiers received bounty-land warrants after their service ended. Those who served in the Continental Line or the Virginia State Line, when approved for a warrant, received certificates, which then had to be traded in for the warrants in question. The bounty-land was located in either Ohio’s Virginia Military District or Kentucky. Heirs of deceased soldiers could also apply for bounty-land. Land in Kentucky was settled before Ohio land, which was added in 1792.
The FHL and the Library of Virginia each have Virginia bounty-land warrant application records on file. Rejected applications under the heading of “Revolutionary War Rejected Claims and Index of Soldiers from Virginia, 1811-51″ are also available on microfilm. The FHL and the Library of Virginia also have files of Military Land Certificates, 1782-1876 available to researchers.
Bounty-land warrants were not just given by the federal government. The following states also gave out bounty-land warrants: Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia
However, those states did not create specific bounty-land grant record systems or groups.
The website for the Library of Virginia lists a searchable index called Revolutionary War Bounty Warrants. Dates, service times, and other information can be found in that index of Revolutionary War Continental unit sailors and soldiers.
War of 1812 service record information is similar to that found in Revolutionary War service records. One good resource, which can be found online, is Soldiers of the War of 1812. There is also a pay roll and muster roll index for the War of 1812 that can be found online. However, the bounty-land warrant applications from the War of 1812 can only be found at the National Archives, with indexes available there or through the FHL.
In April of 1865 the Confederate government was forced to leave Richmond. At that time, Samuel Cooper, the adjutant and inspector general moved all of the personnel records from the confederacy to North Carolina. So, they stayed in Charlotte for a time. When the civil authorities of the Confederacy departed Charlotte and an armistice agreement took place, Cooper was told to turn the records over to “the enemy, as essential to the history of the struggle.” President Jefferson Davis gave that order. Then, Joseph E. Johnston, the Union General, learned that the records were in Charlotte and gave them to the Union Commander.
Soon, those records were moved to Washington, as were other captured Confederate records. The War Department was put in charge of maintaining those records. From 1878 to 1901 Marcus J. Wright, a former Confederate general, was put in charge of finding and copying records from the Confederacy. Most of the southern states were convinced to allow the War Department to copy their Confederate records in 1903, having been persuaded to do so by Elihu Root, the Secretary of War at that time.
The Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia was created from those records. Most Confederate and border states have similar records. An index to those Virginia records exists. It is called Index to Compiled Service Records of Confederated Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia. The FHL and the Library of Virginia each have those records on file. Several searchable online databases can also be found on the Library of Virginia’s website. That includes Index to Confederate Rosters, as well as Index to Confederate Pension Applications.
The FHL and the Library of Virginia each have the pension applications on file. Some information that cannot be found in the searchable online index can also be found in the Confederate Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows Electronic Card Index.
Virginia ancestors who were eligible for the World War I draft can be found in Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, which is in alphabetical order according to city or county. Generally, cards included names, places and dates of birth, citizenship, race, occupation, signature, and description of the person in question. Both ancestry.com and the FHL can supply those resources. World War I History Questionnaires at the Library of Virginia can also be quite useful to researchers.
- Virginia Military Records (Fold3.com) gives you easy access to military records, stories, photos, and personal documents belonging to the Virginia both women and men which served. Ideal for genealogists, researchers, historians and much more.
- Virginia Military Records (ancestry.com) from Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
- Virginia Military Dead Database (lva.virginia.gov) The primary purpose of the Virginia Military Dead Database is to honor those Virginians that have given their lives in defense of freedom. It pulls together information from a wide variety of sources and makes that information more accessible.
- Virginia Military Records (search.ancestry.com)
- Virginia Military Record Books (amazon.com)
Virginia in the Colonial War
Colonial War Website Links
- Virginia Colonial Militia, 1651-1776 (search.ancestry.com)
- Colonial Wars Bounty Lands (lva.virginia.gov)
- Virginia colonial militia, 1651-1776 (search.ancestry.com)
- Virginia Colonial Militia, 1651-1776, Vol. II (search.ancestry.com)
- List of the Colonial Soldiers of Virginia (search.ancestry.com)
- Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (search.ancestry.com)
- Virginia Colonial Militia, 1651-1776
- Virginia Colonial War Books (amazon.com)
Virginia in the Revolutionary War
Virginia in the War of 1812
War of 1812 Website Links
- Research in the War of 1812 1812-1815 (uswars.net)
- Soldiers of the War of 1812 (lva.virginia.gov)
- Index to Virginia War of 1812 Pay Rolls and Muster Rolls (lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com) A fully-searchable personal name index to Pay Rolls of Militia Entitled to Land Bounty Under the Act of Congress of Sept. 28, 1850 and its supplement, Muster Rolls of the Virginia Militia in the War of 1812. Approximately 40,000 names are indexed.
- Virginia Militia in the War of 1812, Vol. I
- Virginia Militia in the War of 1812, Vol. II
- Virginia War of 1812 Books (amazon.com)
Virginia in the Civil War
Virginia was the 8th state to suceed from the Union on April 17, 1861. Virginia provided 192,924 of her sons for the war effort which translates to 5.0% (ranked 6th out of 44 states and territories) of the total men who served on both sides of the conflict. There were a total of 2,154 raids, skirmishes and battles in the state.
Virginia had 3 Union P.O.W. Camps at Fort Monroe, Fort Norfolk, Newport News and Libby and 35 Confederate P.O.W. Camp at Alexandria (Prince Street Jail), Atkinson’s Factory, Barrett’s Factory, Belle Isle, Castle Godwin (Lumpkin’s Jail), Castle Lightening, Castle Thunder (Richmond, Gleanor’s Factory, Palmer’s Factory, Whitlock’s Warehouse) , Danville, E.D.M. Prison, Edward’s Prison, Franklin Street, General Hospital #1 (Shockoe Hill), Grant’s Factory, Gwathmey Warehouse, Harwood’s Factory, Libby Warehouse, Ligon’s Warehouse, Lynchburg, Howard’s Factory, Gordonsville, Henrico County Jail, Libby *, Mayo’s Factory, McCurdy’s Warehouse, McDaniel’s Warehouse, Pemberton Warehouse (Crew’s), Petersburg (Castle Thunder), Richmond (15 prisons- Virginia State Penitentiary), Ross’s Factory, Scott’s Factory, Smith’s Factory, Taylor’s Factory, Warwick & Barksdale Mill, Winchester (Frederick County Jail)
Civil War Website Links
- Research in the Civil War 1861-1865
- Using Virginia Civil War Records (lva.virginia.gov)
- Civil War links from fold3.comwith original data from the National Archives:
- Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia – Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Virginia units, labeled with each soldier’s name, rank, and unit. Original data from the National Archives
- Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Virginia.
- Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index from Virginia
- Virginia Confederate Amnesty Papers – Case Files of Applications from Virginia of former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (“Amnesty Papers”), 1865-1867
- Virginia Civil War “Widows’ Pensions”
- Barred and Disallowed Virginia Claims – The Southern Claims Commission denied these claims by Virginia citizens seeking compensation for property loss. They were barred or disallowed for a number of reasons. Original data from the National Archives
- Virginia Approved Virginia Claims – Approved case files of claims submitted to the Commissioners of Claims (known as the Southern Claims Commission) from the State of Virginia, 1871-1880.
- Virginia Civil War Maps – Maps, charts, and atlases depicting battles, troop positions and movements, engagements, and fortifications in Virginia during the Civil War, 1861-1865.
- Confederate Disability Applications and Receipts for Virginia (lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com)
- Confederate Virginia Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows (lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com)
- Index to Virginia Confederate Rosters (lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com)
- Confederate Pension Rolls, Veterans and Widows Electronic Card Index (lvaimage.lib.va.us)
- Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers’ Home Applications for Admission – Library of Virginia
- Confederate Virginia Navy Index – Library of Virginia
- Index to Virginia Confederate Veteran Magazine – Library of Virginia
- Civil War Soldiers and Sailor System (itd.nps.gov)
- Virginia Civil War Infantry Regiments and Units
- Virginia Civil War Cavalry Regiments and Units
- Virginia Civil War Artillery Regiments and Units
- Civil War links from ancestry.com:
- U.S., Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 – This database contains an index to compiled service records (CSRs) for soldiers who served with units in the Confederate army. Most of the men whose names appear in this index served with units from 15 different states or territories; others were soldiers raised directly by the Confederate government, generals and staff officers, and other enlisted men not associated with a regiment. Compiled service records are files of cards that abstract original military records relating to an individual soldier. A typical CSR will include an envelope that lists a soldier’s name, rank, unit, and card numbers, followed by cards with details extracted from muster rolls, rosters, hospital rolls, Union prison records, payrolls, and other records, with a new card being created each time a soldier’s name appeared on a new document. The CSRs may also include original documents pertaining to the soldier. The CSRs do not constitute an exhaustive list of all men who served in the Confederate army.
- U.S., Union Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865
- U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938
- U.S., Confederate Pensions, 1884-1958
- List of staff officers of the Confederate States Army
- Richmond Howitzers in the war : four years campaigning with the Army of Northern Virginia
- Contributions to a history of the Richmond Howitzer Battalion, Pamphlets 1-4
- A history of the Laurel Brigade : originally the Ashby Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia and Chew’s Battery
- Virginia Civil War Books (amazon.com)
Virginia Modern Wars
War Website Links