Beginning Your Research
The three most valuable pieces of information when researching a Civil War ancestor are the soldier's name, whether he served for the Union or Confederate army, and the state from which the soldier served. By knowing these facts, other aspects of a soldier's record of service can often be determined. Usually, the piece of information that poses the most problems to find is the state from which the soldier served. Often, you will find that you have vague idea of the soldier's state of service, but you are not quite sure. The easiest way to confirm this is to contact the state archives in the state of possible service. They should be able to direct you to the muster rolls for their state if you go to the archives in person, or inform you of the procedure for requesting that information if you write or call. Remember to keep your requests simple, and offer only those details pertinent to your request. Be aware that names were often misspelled, so do not despair if you have a hard time finding your ancestor. Chances are he is listed under a name with a similar spelling.