Sunday, December 9, 2012



Civil War Pension card for Nancy Lunsford

Lately it seems I've been running across a lot of ancestors who served in the Civil War.  Since I'll soon be making my first trip to the southern California National Archives center, it's a good time to review these files. 

I've always found the Civil War to be fascinating study.  Very sad, for sure.  Brothers killing brothers and families torn apart.  The majority of my ancestors who did fight, were fighting for the North.  A few fought for the south.  Just a matter of geography really.  My ancestors lived in the northeast or migrated to the midwest states.  Migration patterns are a subject for another day.  A few of them were right on the cusp, living in northwest Virginia, which became West Virginia in 1863.  Here is a photo shared with me by my cousin Amy (who lives in Denmark).  My ancestor is the one identified as #9 in the photo, Elijah Fisher Gillen.  Elijah is my 3rd Great Granduncle.

So, where do we find these Civil War service & pension records.  You can check first at  Records of more than 6 million men who served during the Civil War and over 2 million pension files can be accessed on the site.

For the detailed, page by page records I go to Fold3.  This is a site that was begun several years ago for the purpose of offering Revolutionary War records to the public.  FREE!  Yes, you can do all of the following things for FREE on this site:
  • Create your own Memorial Pages
    Search & browse all images
    Spotlight images & documents
    Upload images to Your Gallery
    Annotate Member images
    Upload, annotate and print your own images
    View and search Member images
If you want to be able to annotate images, share them with others or create a gallery of images you'll need to pay the annual subscription fee for "full access."  This fee can vary. If you belong to a genealogical society you can sometimes get a deal.  I'm sure there are other ways to get discounts too.  The cost is not horribly expensive.  I paid $39.95 for full access for a year. 


  • Did your ancestor serve in the war?
  • Which side did they fight for - North or South?
  • When did they enlist? 
  • What was their title?  Private, Lieutenant, Surgeon?
  • Were they injured?
  • Were they captured and put in prison as a prisoner of war?
  • Did they desert?
  • Did they die of a disease or injury?
  • Were they killed in action?
I learned when Hannah Wilson Lunceford/Lunsford died from a letter about her pension being dropped. 
Letter dated 4 May 1886 stating that Hannah Lunceford's pension is dropped due to her death

I learned when & where her husband, Pleasant Lunsford died.

Casualty sheet listing Pleasant Lunsford as killed in action

I don't know about you, but I find this information fascinating.  We can read or watch documentaries on TV about the Civil War.  But, it brings it all to life when you have ancestors who lived during that time....and died fighting for their cause. 

There's more to learn from these files, but I'll stop for now.  I hope this has peaked your interest and makes you want to go in there and dig and find out about your own family.  Let me know what you find out.  I'm always interested to hear your stories. 

Back to the 1860's I go,
Michigan Girl

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I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.