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Index to Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers

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.

Index to Compiled Service Record

Index to Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers

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.


  1. Theresa says:

    Are all of the NY Union cards included in the online offering? I ask because someone who SHOULD be there is not, but I have already gotten the records from the National Archives.

  2. Jude says:

    The cards I want to see are the ones that are marked “illegible” in some systems. I’d like to determine for myself if they are illegible.

    • Laura says:

      Hi, Jude. If a card is marked illegible on Fold3, you can still see it. There is a link to any illegible card within each state so you can easily look at them yourself.

  3. Judy Nation says:

    So, what about the Southern soldiers?When can we expect to see their indexes? I know that there are mant South Carolina Regiments that are not currently listed, yet I kno that they exist.

  4. Laura says:

    Hi, Judy. There is no index for the southern soldiers since most of the Confederate compiled service records are on Fold3 and therefore someone can be located by searching on a name, or browsing a regiment.

    It may be possible that a soldier from South Carolina served in a regiment in another state, especially a neighboring state like Virginia or North Carolina.

    But, if you’ve found a muster roll with your soldier’s name on it for a particular unit, and that service record is not within the Fold3 collection, we’d like to know so we can see if a particular company or regiment was overlooked. If you can find your soldier on the NPS Soldiers and Sailors Index (link above in the blog), their service record should be in the same unit on Fold3. Good luck!

  5. I’d like to reprint this blog posting in our Society’s quarterly. Do I have your permission?

    Maureen Garner Elliott