Wisconsin Military Records Research Guide

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The benefits and significance of Wisconsin military records in family history research for ancestors that were veterans are apparent but Wisconsin military records can also be crucial to researchers whose direct ancestors were not soldiers in any war. Because of the volume of genealogical information covered in a number of Wisconsin military pension data files they should never be disregarded throughout the research process.Only a small group of records relating to military members in Wisconsin before the Civil War can be found at the Wisconsin Historical Society.Wisconsin soldiers who served in the Civil War, as well as after it, are listed in “Red and Blue Books,” which are the Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Regimental Muster and Descriptive Rolls. Those records list the soldier’s name, rank, company, and regiment, as well as when they joined (mustered into) the service. Some of the records also list information such as the following:

  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Marital Status
  • Physical Description
  • Date of Leaving Service (Mustering Out)
  • Service Notes

Researchers should check the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website for a listing of its military record holdings, which include the records listed above.

There are some Wisconsin pension records available at the National Archives. However, there are no other pension records for the state available. Nevertheless, many Civil War records for military units and civilians who lived around that time can be found at the State Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Quartermaster general’s records are included in that collection, along with the following important records: Draft Books, Lists of Persons Eligible for Military Service, Regimental Muster Rolls, Hospital Reports, Certificates of Service, Duty Rosters, Records of the Disposition of Personal Effects.

Some regiment records include more information than others. Also, researchers should note that those original documents must be searched in person. However, staff members at the archives can help and some indexes are available. There is also an alphabetical index of Wisconsin soldiers available at the archives and another index of those who served during the Spanish-American War.

The World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards (1917–18) can be found in the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Also housed there is a group of World War I and World War II camp newspapers. The State Archives of Wisconsin contains the Adjutant General’s collection of service records for World War I personnel. There are also many other documents pertaining to all wars at both the library and the archives. Those records include unit histories, personal histories, and general historical information. Researchers can send requests for information in writing. Inquiries should contain the veteran’s full name, birth date, residence at time of death, and date of death, if that information is known.

The State Archives of Wisconsin does not hold any original records of veterans from the World War II, Korean, or Vietnam wars. The only exception is that they do hold a listing of those who served in the National Guard from Wisconsin during the Vietnam War.

A large collection of oral histories and diaries of veterans can be found at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Archives. Their collection also features records from various veterans’ organizations across the state, as well as a collection of veteran burial listings for the state. Approximately 500 veterans’ memorials are also listed in that collection.

Wisconsin in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812

 

Revolutionary War Website Links

War of 1812 Website Links

Wisconsin in the Mexican-American War

Wisconsin in the Civil War

 

Civil War Website Links

Wisconsin Modern Wars

War Website Links

Further Reading

  • Exploring Civil War Wisconsin: A Survival Guide for Researchers. Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2002.
  • Wisconsin in the War of Rebellion: A History of all Regiments and Batteries. Chicago: Church and Goodman, 1866.
  • Wisconsin’s Civil War Archives. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1965.
  • The Military History of Wisconsin: A Record of the Civil and Military Patriotism of the State, in the War for the Union. Chicago: Clarke & Co., 1866.
  • Soldiers When They Go: The Story of Camp Randall, 1861–1865 (Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin for the Department of History, University of Wisconsin, 1981)
  • Wisconsin Women in the War Between the States (Madison, Wis.: Democrat Printing Co. for the Wisconsin History Commission, 1911).
  • Wisconsin. Adjutant General’s Office. Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865. Madison, Wis.: Democrat Printing Co., 1914. An alphabetical index (also available on microfiche) to the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865, 2 vols. (Madison, Wis.: Democrat Printing Co., 1886). This has been digitized and can be browsed at <www.wisconinhistory.org/roster/search.asp>.