Civil War News Review

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Primary Sources on the Internet

I use the Internet a great deal to find hard to obtain historical resources.  I have listed below those to which I refer.

This is an excellent source to find regimental rosters, and war related primary sources on every New York unit, which served during the Civil War. I have found it invaluable in identifying obscure documents  relating to the regiments about which I have written. Some photos are available of individual soldiers and regimental flags.

The Soldier and Sailor System consists of a searchable database for nearly every Union and Confederate regiment which was involved in the war.  It is a great way to identify men by state, company, and regiment and to find thumbnail regimental histories. This provides the researcher with only the individual’s company and ranks held throughout the war but does not indicate when he transferred or got promoted. It is a great place to start.  The U.S. Regular Army citations are the most incomplete.

Confederate Veteran is self-explanatory. For about 30 years the aging Confederate soldiers contributed memoirs and recollections to this serial magazine. A great deal of the material is devoted to perpetuating the “Lost Cause”, and meticulously recording the  obituaries of its members. Nevertheless, it does contain a great deal of good war time material. Check out the sources carefully.  As they got older the veterans tended to promote themselves to ranks they never attained during the conflict. This is also a great genealogical source.

The War Papers of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, with the exception of the Pennsylvania Commandery, are mostly downloadable. Part of the site also contain transcriptions of some of the articles which were cited in the index but not available through other sources. It contains a complete index for every volume.

The National Tribune, which later evolved into Stars and Stripes, began as the voice for Union veterans’ to press the government to pay them pensions. This index only covers this weekly veterans’ paper from 1871 through 1911, but the information within its pages are invaluable. The editors dedicated at least one page in every issue under the caption “Fighting Them Over”, for the old soldiers to record their recollections of the War and to argue over points of accuracy. It was the early version of  Facebook and ran into the 1930’s by which time the information became harder to find and less reliable.

If the reader wants to find downloadable published recollections, memoirs, and regimental histories this is the go to site. It is a great way to build up a research library of hard to find material. is another great site.

Exclusively dedicated to Pennsylvania’s regiments, a person can look up regimental rosters, diaries, published materials, prison records, in some cases, photos of soldiers.  It is a real gem.

For anyone studying Gettysburg who wants to go to the library in the battlefield Visitor Center, this is the source to use to identify particular regimental and biographical sources. I cannot recommend this too highly. The battlefield library also has a tremendous collection of hard copy regimental histories. Call in advance to make an appointment to use the library. The librarian is a tremendous individual to work with. You can bring a camera to photograph pictures and you may bring in a laptop computer.

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