Fold3: Original military records online

Fold3 Blog

The official blog of Fold3

Tip: Finding Women in Civil War Photos

October 15, 2015 by | 4 Comments

Did you know that you can find photos of women in Fold3’s collections Civil War Photos and Brady Civil War Photos?

While it’s true that these collections are composed predominately of photos of men, there are numerous photos of women if you know how to look. One way to look is by simply browsing, but as it can take quite some time to go through the collections photo by photo, a faster way is to search, limiting your results to the Civil War photo collections.

If you know the name of a specific woman you want to look for, you can try searching the Civil War photo collections for the woman’s name, keeping in mind that many of the portraits of women are identified with their last names (e.g., “Mrs. Furnace“) or initials and last names (e.g., “Mrs. H. S. O’ Hare“). Because of this, it may be helpful to search using the last name only. Searching by last name will also allow you to find photographs that are titled with the husband’s name.

Some portraits are titled on Fold3 as wholly or partially “illegible.” However, many of these have been annotated with the person’s name by Fold3 users and are therefore still searchable.

If you’re interested in seeing photos of Civil War women in general, try searching the Civil War photo collections for terms such as “Mrs.” and “Miss,” as well as “wife,” “daughter,” and “family.” You can also search for terms associated with women’s roles during the war, such as “hospital” and “sanitary commission.” For photos of African American women, try searching terms like “slave,” “contraband,” or other related terms.

The following are examples of portraits of Civil War women that you can find on Fold3:

Have you found any interesting photos of women on Fold3? Tell us about it! In addition to searching the Civil War Photos and Brady Civil War Photos, you might also find a few photos of women during the Civil War in the New York State Military Museum Photos or the Civil War Horse Soldier Artifacts Collection.

Introducing Our New Viewer!

October 7, 2015 by | 1 Comment

We are excited to announce the release of our new and improved Fold3 Viewer! Don’t let the new, clutter free interface fool you, this new viewer is faster and more feature rich than our old viewer.

Here are some highlights of our new viewer:

  • More intuitive user interface
  • Faster image browsing
  • Easily save images to your Bookmarks folder and Gallery
  • Improved Annotation tools
  • Save in high resolution JPG or as PDF with source information
  • Save to your Ancestry Tree
  • Advanced keyboard shortcuts for power users
  • And much, much more.

In addition to these features, the new Viewer uses the latest HTML 5 technology. This means that you no longer need the Flash plugin installed. It is also designed to be very mobile friendly, so if you are using Fold3 on your phone or tablet browser, you will have all the same great features that you enjoy on your desktop.

When you launch the new Viewer for the first time, it will take you to a brief guided tour to familiarize you with the new design. You can revisit the tour information at any time by clicking on the Help icon on the Viewer toolbar.

We have also revamped our Fold3 Training Center to help you acclimate to our new viewer. Help topics include:

If you haven’t had a chance to try out our viewer, go kick the tires and let us know what you think by selecting the Feedback icon at the bottom left. Also, keep an eye on the Viewer because we aren’t done yet! We will be adding more exciting functionality over the next few weeks.

British Surrender at Saratoga: October 17, 1777

October 1, 2015 by | 139 Comments

Gates believes Burgoyne will soon launch an attack
On October 17, 1777, British and German troops under British general John Burgoyne surrendered to American general Horatio Gates, turning the tide of the Revolutionary War in the Americans’ favor.

In the summer of 1777, Burgoyne commenced his plan to lead his army down from Canada through upstate New York to meet up in Albany with other British troops moving in from the south and west. By doing so, he hoped to isolate New England and prevent it from presenting a united war effort with the other colonies.

However, near Saratoga the Americans had dug in, hoping to stall Burgoyne’s progress. On September 19, Burgoyne launched an attack, known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Though at battle’s end the British commanded the field, they suffered much higher losses than the Americans, who outnumbered the British by several thousand and were also receiving a constant stream of new militia troops.

Burgoyne decided not to immediately attack the Americans again, perhaps waiting for word of the movements of fellow British general Henry Clinton. Finally, with supplies running low, Burgoyne began his attack in the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7. This time it was the Americans who were victorious, led to success in large part by General Benedict Arnold, who, though previously dismissed by Gates, returned to the battlefield to rally the troops.

Terms of Surrender between Gates and Burgoyne at Saratoga

Burgoyne realized that at this point his two options were to retreat or surrender. He originally planned to retreat but discovered his path had been blocked by a contingent of Americans. Reluctantly, he agreed to surrender. After some back and forth between Burgoyne and Gates as to the terms, Burgoyne finally surrendered his army on October 17

Under the fairly generous terms of surrender, the British and Germans were to give up their weapons to their own officers after leaving camp. Then the troops were to march to Boston, where they were to return to England and never again fight in the war. (Congress, however, would later renege on this part of the agreement, and the troops remained prisoners of war for years.)

The American victory at Saratoga proved a pivotal event in the war. The victory led the French to openly side with the Americans a few months later, providing crucial funds, supplies, weapons, troops, and naval support.

Did you have any ancestors who fought in the Battles of Saratoga? Tell us about it! If you want to learn more about the battles and subsequent surrender, start a search on Fold3.

Find: Drumming Out

September 16, 2015 by | 58 Comments

Being Drummed out of the Army
Are you familiar with the historical military practice of drumming a soldier out of the army?

This process of dishonorably discharging a soldier had its origins in the British army in the 17th century and was later picked up by the American military. Soldiers could be drummed out for a variety of reasons, from thievery to desertion.

Usually, during a drumming out, the guilty man’s head was shaved, the insignia and buttons taken from his uniform, and a sign detailing his crime hung around his neck. Sometimes he was dressed in felon’s clothes or white feathers were placed above his ears, and other times a rope was put around his neck and he would be led by the smallest drummer boy. The convict would then be marched between the lines of his fellow soldiers to the tune of “Rogue’s March,” and he would be taken to the entrance of the camp, where he was sent on his way with orders to never return.

“Rogue’s March” was often played by drums and fifes, though if they couldn’t be found, a trumpet was sometimes substituted and the process was called being “blown out” of the army. During the Civil War, “Yankee Doodle” was sometimes played instead of “Rogue’s March.”

The point of drumming out a soldier was to make his departure from the military humiliating enough that others would be discouraged from committing the same crime. So in addition to being drummed out, the local newspaper would sometimes write about the man’s crime to make it public. However, drumming out eventually fell out of favor as a punishment, and by World War II it had largely been dropped altogether in the U.S.

On Fold3, you can find a variety of records about drumming out:

  • A photo of a man being drummed out of the Union army for theft
  • A Civil War muster roll abstract for John Riley, listing “drummed out” as the manner in which he left the army; also contains details of his court martial for “absence without leave” and “drunkenness on duty”
  • An excerpt from the General Orders of the Confederate War Department remitting James T. Wilder’s sentence of being drummed out of the army
  • An excerpt from the documents of a Revolutionary War artillery company listing drumming out as one of the permitted sentences of a court martial
  • Veteran describes drumming out process during the Civil WarAn excerpt from the World War II War Diaries observing that “old time practices” of drumming a sailor out of the fleet “have not entirely disappeared but they are not regarded with official favor.”
  • A Revolutionary War diary entry in the Pennsylvania Archives describing a drumming out ceremony
  • A list of crimes and punishments (including drumming out) in a Pennsylvania regiment in the Revolutionary War
  • A newspaper article describing the process of drumming out during the Civil War
  • A newspaper article describing a drumming out ceremony in the British army in 1863

Do you have any stories about ancestors being drummed out of the military? Tell us about it! Or if you’re interested in learning more about drumming out, start a search on Fold3.

American Troops Intervene in Northern Russia: September 4, 1918

September 1, 2015 by | 88 Comments

Location of Allied, Bolshevik, and anti-Bolshevik troops in Siberia
On September 4, 1918, American troops landed in Archangel, northern Russia, as part of an Allied intervention toward the end of World War I; American forces were also sent to Murmansk, near Finland, and to Vladivostok, in eastern Siberia.

Following a Bolshevik takeover of the Russian government in October 1917, Russia signed a peace treaty with the Central Powers in March 1918. With Russia no longer fighting with the Allies, the Eastern Front collapsed, allowing Germany to send troops that had previously been committed in the east to the Western Front, which the Allies were desperate to prevent.

So in the summer of 1918, the Allies sent thousands of troops to Russia, including 5,000 Americans to northern Russia and 8,000 Americans to eastern Siberia. They were tasked with reopening the Eastern Front, which they would try to accomplish by aiding anti-Bolshevik Russian forces (and the Czech Legion, 60,000 former Czech prisoners of war) who were willing to fight against the Central Powers. The troops were also meant to prevent stockpiles of unused supplies the Allies had previously sent to Russia from falling into German or Bolshevik hands.

Distribution of American troops in northern Russia
However, just a few months after the Allied arrival, World War I ended. Despite this, the Allied troops were kept in Russia even though there was no longer a need for a new Eastern Front. Their mission became more nebulous, compounded by the individual allies’ varying motives and priorities.

Morale dwindled among American and other Allied troops stationed in northern Russia, especially after the WWI armistice in November. They often didn’t understand why they had been sent to Russia in the first place, let alone why they were still there when the war was over. As they became increasingly discontent, some Allied forces refused to follow orders, and several mutinies occurred. Finally, in summer 1919, the Americans in north Russia were pulled out, and in April 1920 the last of the American intervention forces were withdrawn from Siberia.

Did you have any relatives involved in the Allied intervention in Russia? Tell us about it! Or you can learn more about the intervention in the collections “US Expeditionary Force, North Russia” and “WWI Supreme War Council” on Fold3.

WWI Panoramic Unit Photos

August 21, 2015 by | 33 Comments

US Base Hospital number 29
Have you checked out Fold3’s new WWI Panoramic Unit Photos yet? This free collection, via the National World War I Museum, includes a variety of WWI-era panoramic images. Many of the photos are group shots of military units, but there are also group photos of other organizations connected to the military, as well as images of military cemeteries, Navy ships, military camps, and more.

The amount of information available varies per photo, but whenever possible, Fold3 has included the names of the individuals pictured and the description, military unit, location, and date.

Here are a few examples of the photos in this collection:

317th Ammunition, Company G

Interested in seeing more of these panoramic photos? Search or browse within the WWI Panoramic Unit Photos!

Find: WWII Escape from Albania

August 12, 2015 by | 33 Comments

Did you know that among the images of Fold3’s WWII US Air Force Photos collection, you can find pictures of a group of 30 American servicemen and women who escaped from behind enemy lines in Albania in 1943-44?

The group of 13 flight nurses, 13 medics, plus 4 aircrew members set out by plane from Sicily headed to Bari, Italy, on November 8, 1943. But a storm, combined with a run-in with the Germans, forced their C-53 down far from their intended flightpath. When they exited the plane, they were discovered by some anti-German partisans who informed them they were in German-occupied Albania.

Group photo of 10 of the nurses that escaped from Albania
The partisans provided the Americans with food and shelter and agreed to help them escape the country. They walked the Americans from tiny village to tiny village through the mountainous, undeveloped Albanian countryside on a slow, cold trek.

The group was separated in the town of Berat when Germans invaded, but eventually everyone except three of the nurses were reunited. Since the group couldn’t go back to Berat, they had to keep hiking through the snow, narrowly surviving a blizzard.

The group made contact with some British officers in the country, who decided that they’d walk the Americans to the coast to make their escape. They were finally met by an American officer who had been sent into Albania to lead them out, and, under his guidance, in January the group finally made it to the coast and a waiting ship. They had been in Albania for 2 months and had walked somewhere between 600 and 800 miles with little food and no changes of clothing.

The three nurses that had been separated from the group in Berat made it out of Albania too, though not until March, led to safety by the same American officer who had helped the larger group escape.

View photos of the group upon their return to safety on Fold3. The photos include:

You can also view the Missing Air Crew Report from when their plane went down.

Find more records from this and other World War II stories by searching or browsing on Fold3.