Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Obtaining Civil War Records

I ran across the web site http://www.civilwarrecords.net/ recently and wondered how their fees charged to search for Civil War records (presumably at the National Archives in DC) matched the online ordering system at the Archives at http://www.archives.gov/research/order/orderonline.html.

At the CivilWarRecords site, they charge:

* $30 for a Compiled Military Service Record (CSMR) plus $5 shipping and handling.
* $45 for a Civil War Pension File plus $5 shipping and handling.
* no charge for a unit history if either a CMSR or Pension File are ordered.
* $0.15 per copied page (some pension files may be 50 to 100 pages).
* no charge if the requested files are not found.

The files will be sent within 10 days of the order, according to the web site.

At the National Archives online ordering site - http://www.archives.gov/research/order/orderonline.html - you can click down to a web page where you can order these same records for:

* $17 for a Compiled Military Service File (no additional shipping cost, ships in 60 to 90 days)
* $37 for a Federal Military Pension Applications (no additional shipping cost, ships in 42 to 120 days)
* $14.75 for a Pension Documents Packet (selected 8 pages) from a Federal Military Pension Application.

There are probably other services that will do this research at the Archives and expedite the shipping of the records - I haven't researched any others, frnakly.

The tradeoff between using a paid researcher or using the Archives online ordering system is time versus money (isn't it always!). A service record and a 50 page pension file will cost $92.50 using the researcher, but you get it within 10 days. Using the Archives, you pay $54 but you have to wait 6 to 16 weeks. Your choice, depending on need and patience-tolerance!

If you don't have this information, I highly recommend that you obtain it - the pension file may be chock full of interesting data about your soldier's life. The service record, combined with the unit history, will tell you when and where your soldier served.

For more information on finding online Civil War records, see Joe's http://www.militaryindexes.com/civilwar/ web site. Joe also has a web site for how to order Civil War pension records at http://www.genealogybranches.com/civilwar/.


Anonymous said...

Actually, during the last couple of years, the National Archives seems to have sped up considerably. I've ordered four files which came in less than a month. So I'd say there's no reason to pay the extra money unless, of course, they can find that one missing person I've been researching for five years (www.jlcrook.com/Tillotson).

Anonymous said...

I frequently request information from the National Archives. If they can't find your information there is no charge at all. They have have a web interface that shows you the status of your order and for the most part you get something returned in about 4 weeks, give or take a few days.