AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: Civil War Surnames
In Response To: Re: Civil War Surnames ()
Re: Those USCT who didn't apply for pensions. Here are a few of the many reasons:
1. By the time the pension was enacted, many were either in soldier's homes,or too debilitated to go through the process, which was time-consuming and often difficult.
2. Many were illiterate and unsure of the process-and may not have had family members or friends to help.
3. The process was costly-necessitating records, affidavits, medical records. Just the cost of postage was a major factor.
4. The pension indexes (Ancestry.com)only show those for whom files were established. Lots of applications never made it that far.
Searching for records is complicated by the many, many duplicate names and aliases. An ancestor could have service records under another name. If the name is common-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Green, Black, Freeman, Jones-there are thousands on the rolls, and without knowing regiment/company it's hard to narrow down. Some regiments had numerous members of the same name-within the same company, again complicating the process.
I have an alternate suggestion that may or may not streamline the process. If you know the location for a possible ancestor, check for state GAR records. They can be quite extensive, giving service records, personal narratives of battle experiences, etc. (It varies greatly with the post.)State archives often have rosters of soldiers who are credited to that state, which can give you regiments, companies, and service dates. And, sometimes no matter what you do, you will hit a dead end. Check for alternative spellings-remember, the persons who wrote this information may have spelled things as they heard them-especially in the case of unusual names or places, or someone whose accent/dialect was hard for them to understand.