As Fold3 continues to add valuable content to the Civil War Collection, we have started placing online the alphabetical card index to compiled service records of Union troops.The first four states to go live are Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Each index card gives the name of a soldier, his rank, and the unit in which he served. Anyone looking for a Union a soldier in the Civil War will find these cards useful in identifying the state and regiment in which a man served and how his name appears in the military records. You can then locate his records to learn about his service in the war and the battles in which his regiment fought.
Beginning in 1890, Capt. Fred C. Ainsworth, head of the Record and Pension Division of the War Department, spearheaded an effort to create card abstracts of information from muster rolls, regimental returns, descriptive books, and other military records to build a compiled service record for each Union soldier. The index cards reference the resulting Civil War Service Records, many of which are also available on Fold3. As an example, the index card for Timothy Canty tells us that he served as a private and an artificer in Company A of the 1st New York Engineers. We can then find Canty’s service record as the 1st New York Engineers is one of regiments digitized on Fold3.
This new index, viewed as card images on Fold3, may be familiar to some. The National Park Service transcribed these cards, referred to as “General Index Cards,” and placed the data online in its Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. When searching for a soldier there, you are provided with a transcription, while Fold3’s images allow users to view the original card as well as determine the accuracy of the transcription. Once you find the soldier you’re looking for, you can connect his index card to his service record on Fold3, or contact NARA for copies of his documents.