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Dept Michigan
How to Request
Civil War Soldier and Sailor
Military & Pension Records
from the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holds a variety of records relating to a Civil War era soldier's military service. These are a few suggestions intended to aid the novice researcher with obtaining military and pension records from the NARA. Additional information can be obtained from the NARA website . Forms can be ordered from the NARA website as well.

First you must know your ancestor's full name and the military unit in which he served. If you are not familiar with genealogy, there is usually a member of the family who could help you search for the ancestor's name and/or birth and death dates. A local genealogical or historical society could also help, and you can usually get a referral to them from the local or county library. To find the ancestor's Michigan military unit, check the "Brown Books," or The Index to MI Soldiers and Sailors Individual Records , published at Lansing, MI, 1915.In this books are listed the names of most of those who served from MI. When you find your ancestor's name in the index, it will tell you what volume and page number to look up, for a short record of service. This record usually gives name, enlistment date, muster date, unit, length of service, age at enlistment and rank, and rank at end of service.

To obtain copies of your ancestor's service record from the National Archives, you must fill out form NATF 85 (Military Service Records) form NATF 86 (Pension Records). Copies of forms NATF 85 & 86 may be obtained free by writing to:

National Archives and Records Administration

700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20408-0001

The NATF Forms 85 & 86 can also be ordered via e-mail , just download the inquiry form and submit it We strongly suggest you provide your name, mailing address, e-mail address, number of forms requested and optionally, your telephone number. You will need a separate form for every request submitted; e.g., pension and military service record requests for one soldier would require two forms.

When you receive a form, complete it as directed on the form. It is important to note that pension records usually contain the most genealogical information.

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  Last updated on December 29, 2005 9:00 PM - webmaster