Researching Your Civil War Ancestor
"Vermont in the Civil War (VermontCivilWar.Org)" is a military history project, not a genealogy project, but when researching your Civil War ancestor, it is difficult to separate the two. Although we cannot provide assistance with your research other than military service and burial information, we have compiled the following list of resources for you. If you have any additional Vermont-specific listings to add, please let us know.
If you find that your ancestor does not have a grave marker, you may wish to visit the National Cemetery Administration website in order to obtain general information regarding the application process for a Government headstone or marker.
VermontCivilWar.Org can be used as a resource for individuals looking for information on their Civil War ancestor. If you don't know what unit your ancestor served with, start with the Surname Index. If your ancestor is listed, you will be provided with a link to his or her page which will contain a variety of information including military service and burial information, if available. You may also visit the Descendants Page associated with your ancestor's unit. If other descendants have registered with us, you may have something to share with each other. For more general information, check out our extensive bibliography listing which will allow you to search our master bibliography by name, unit, or location.
Many of the resources listed below are free. Others require a paid subscription, membership, or a fee for admission; some charge a fee per item requested. We have tagged those resources that are not free with a $. Please refer to the website for each of these resources to determine the cost.
$ National Archives: Once you know your ancestor's unit, you can request service and pension records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This will take you to a page where you can order forms to request the files. Request NATF Form 85 for a pension record, and NATF Form 86 for a service record.Speaking of towns, if you can't find the name of a 'town' in Vermont - it might not be a town. Vermont has a slew of villages, hamlets, gores and other locales that are actually within the towns and cities in the state. Check with the University of Vermont's Gazetteer of Vermont Places: Real and Imagined, including places that no longer exist, like 'Sodom'.
$ Ancestry.com: Ancestry.com is the largest provider of family history with billions of historical records including military documents, vital records, census records, and access to public family trees. It also provides a means for contacting others who may also be researching your ancestor.
FamilySearch.org: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Family History Library at Salt Lake City, Utah, has an extensive online database which includes census records, vital records, military service and pension records, and much more. You may Search Historical Records to find more information about your ancestor.
FindaGrave.com: Findagrave.com, a free resource owned by Ancestry.com, has over 152 million grave records that may help you find the final resting place of your ancestor. In addition to providing cemetery information, these records often include birth and death information, biographical information including military service, and links to the graves of other relatives. It also provides a network of volunteers with whom you may wish to communicate regarding your ancestor, along with the ability to request a photograph of the grave.
Cemetery Records: In addition to Findagrave.com, cemetery records may also be found at the following sites: Billion Graves Index, The Political Graveyard, Vermont Cemetery Lists, and www.Interment.net. A large number of cemetery databases and transcriptions may be found online. We suggest you do a Google search for the specific cemetery or location related to your ancestor.
$ Fold3: Fold3.com is a military history website owned by Ancestry.com. It includes Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs) for Vermont Civil War soldiers. It also includes some pension documents, so check here before you spend much more money at the National Archives for the same thing.
$ Vital Records: Many vital records are available online, but if you would like an official, certified copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate, you will need to contact the local town or city clerk depending on where the birth, death or marriage occurred. A Guide to Vermont's Town Clerks, Treasurers and County Clerks provides contact information for your reference.
$ Vermont History Center (VHS): The Leahy Library at the Vermont History Center in Barre, Vermont has a vast collection of historical information that may help you in your genealogical research. In addition, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Members of VHS can use the facility for free.
$ Bennington Museum Library: The library at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont is a comprehensive resource for genealogical research. In addition, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Members of the Museum can use the facility for free.
National Cemeteries: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Nationwide Gravesite Locator which may help you with your search. You may also find The Barry Report on National Cemeteries to be helpful.
Sons of Union Veterans Civil War (SUVCW): The SUVCW has an online database called the National Graves Registration Database that includes the burial locations of Civil War veterans. The Vermont Adjutant General's Office Burial Records have been transcribed and included in this national database.
Public Libraries and Historical Societies: You may wish to contact the local Historical Society for the town or county where your ancestor lived. Many of these groups have information that is not available online, and most are very willing to assist you. There is a listing of historical societies at Vermont Historical Societies League of Local Societies & Museums Directory. Public Libraries also have books, documents, and other helpful information specific to that town that is often not available online.
$ Canada: The American-Canadian Genealogical Society of Manchester, NH has the most extensive collection of Franco-American records in the United States, including the famous Drouin microfilm collection of Catholic Church records in Quebec. There may be a small fee to use the library for non-members.
Canada: If your ancestor was originally from Canada, you might find additional resources through the Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society . Also, Canada, French Canadians and Franco-Americans in the Civil War Era provides a good background study of Canadians in the Civil War.
Other National Resources: The National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, in Washington, D.C., which claims to have one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world (I believe it, I've been there!), has published their Online Library Catalog. It is an impressive collection! But also, don't forget the Library of Congress.
Vermont Resources: The Genealogical Society of Vermont has a website and the Vermont Genealogy Library may have just the link or source you are looking for. The University of Vermont maintains an online listing of their Special Collections Department. One of the more interesting collections they have is in their Center for Digital Initiatives, where they have correspondence from 28 Vermont soldiers and families.
Genealogy Forums and Communities: RootsWeb is a free genealogical community with resources and searchable databases. GenForum also provides an opportunity to add queries based on your ancestor's surname , Civil War genealogy in general, or Vermont. They also cover a number of General topics. Also, please check out the Vermont Mailing Lists Homepage. They frequently offer access to lots of people who have additional sources. They have a list specifically for Vermont in the Civil War, VT-CIVIL-WAR-L
Cyndi's List: Cyndi's List is a categorized & cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the Internet. You may find the Civil War Section to be particularly helpful.
Revised and updated by Heidi McColgan, 9/4/2016