August 20, 2013

Should You order a Civil War Pension File?

I would certainly say YES -- IF the soldier or his widow and children are important for your research. They are expensive ($80) and can vary in size enormously depending on the soldier's situation and whether they were injured or killed. 

I ordered the file for one of my ancestors earlier this month and received the DVD with scanned images through the mail in 10 days !! WOW.  The NARA website advises that requests will be fulfilled in 42+ days.

This particular file was much smaller than 2 others I ordered previously since this soldier died only months after his enlistment.  However, it provided good evidence for his wife's maiden name and confirmed the birth dates of 3 minor children, and documented the death of his widow. Those items were worth quite a bit to me.

I should mention that the file for soldiers who survived, but were injured and claimed disability can be much larger and very rich with information:  affadavits from friends and associates before and after the war detailing the work they did, their physical capabilites (and diminishments), where they lived, marriage date & place, birth dates of family members, detailed medical exam records with blood pressure, weight, changes in health status. The file may or may not also include information about where and how the soldier served. For one of my soldiers, I learned that he was illiterate through statements from his letter writer/reader.

It's up to you -- but for selected individuals in my family history quest they are essential.  

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