South Carolina
The War Between the States

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Researching Your Confederate Ancestor


A South Carolina state law enacted December 24, 1887, permitted financially needy Confederate veterans and widows to apply for a pension; however, few applications survive from the 1888-1918 era. Beginning in 1889, the SC Comptroller began publishing lists of such veterans receiving pensions in his Annual Report. To obtain a copy of the pension application from the 1888-1918 era, the researcher needs to know the exact year in which the veteran or widow applied for a pension. From 1919 to 1925, South Carolina granted pensions to Confederate veterans and widows regardless of financial need. These files are arranged alphabetically. Pension application files are typically one sheet of paper with writing on both sides. Also available are Confederate Home applications and inmate records for veterans (1909-1957), and applications of wives, widows, sisters, and daughters (1925-1955).

The veteran was eligible to apply for a pension to the State in which he lived, even if he served in a unit from a different State.

For information on procedures and fees for requesting copies of records, contact:
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
8301 Parkland Road
Columbia, SC 29223
Telephone: 803-896-6100


The National Archives has many records concerning the Confederate States of America. They include compiled military service records; records relating to naval and marine personnel; citizens files; amnesty and pardon records; and cotton bills of sale. Each kind of record is described separately below.


The records. -The compiled military service records consist of 3-1/4" x 8" cards on which the U. S. War Department, between 1903 and 1927, abstracted information on officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted men from Union prison and parole records and from captured and other surviving Confederate records, such as muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, and hospital registers. All the cards relating to the same soldier are filed together in one jacket-envelope. Filed in this envelope are also originals of any papers that relate solely to the particular soldier.

The abstracts made from the original records were verified by a separate operation of comparison, and every conceivable precaution was taken to ensure that the abstracts were accurate.

Most of the compiled military service records are arranged alphabetically by name of State; thereunder by branch of service such as cavalry, artillery, or infantry; thereunder by organization; and there under by personal name. There are also, however, two other series. One consists of jacket-envelopes for men who served in military units raised directly by the Confederate Government (such as the 1st Confederate Infantry, Morgan's Calvary, and the Cherokee Mounted Rifles), arranged by organization and thereunder alphabetically by personal name. The other series consists of jacket-envelopes known as the General and Staff Officers' Papers, which include, records not only for officers occupying staff positions but also for noncommissioned officers and enlisted men performing staff services; these records are arranged alphabetically by personal name.

All the compiled service records that are arranged by State or Territory have been microfilmed. The States are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; and the Territory of Arizona. The other two series have also been microfilmed.

Indexes to the records. - -The indexes are on 3-1/4" x 8" cards, ar ranged alphabetically by name of soldier and showing the unit in which he served. One is a consolidated index, which refers both to the records for the individual States and the records in the two other series. This index has been microfilmed. There is also a separate index to the compiled serv belonging to units from each of the following States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; and the Territory of Arizona. They have all been microfilmed.

Unless the unit in which a soldier served is already known, his compiled service record can be readily located only through the use of one of these indexes.

Information in the records. --A jacket-envelope shows the name of the soldier, the name of the State from which he served, the name of his company and regiment, and his rank. The cards and papers in the envelope show other information, such as the dates of changes in the soldier's rank, the date and place of his enlistment and discharge, his occupation, and his personal description. If the soldier was captured, they may show the date of his death, if it occurred in camp, or the date of his release and parole. References to the original records are included on the cards.

Research aids. - -Some Confederate soldiers are named in War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901). The last volume is a general index. This voluminous publication, including the index, has been microfilmed.

Information about the confirmation of appointments of Confederate officers is given in Confederate States of America, Congress, Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-65 (58th Cong., 2d sess., S. Doc. 234; serials 4610-4616). A general index is in the last volume.

Perhaps the most genealogically useful printed roster of soldiers of a Confederate State is the following indexed publication: Louisiana, Commissioner of Military Records, Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers and Louisiana Confederate Commands. . . Compiled by Andrew B. Booth, Commissioner, Louisiana Military Records (New Orleans, 1920).


The records relating to naval and marine personnel of the Confederate States of America in the National Archives include compiled hospital and prison records, reference cards and papers, shipping articles, and muster rolls. Each type of record is described below.

Compiled Hospital and Prison Records

The records. - -These records consist of cards on which the U. S. War Department, when it was compiling the military service records, abstracted information on naval and marine personnel from Union and Confederate hospital registers, prescription books, and other records and from Union prison and parole rolls. Filed with these are the originals of papers, primarily from prison records, relating to the individual. The records are arranged alphabetically by name of sailor or marine. They have been microfilmed.

Information in the records. - - The cards and papers show the name of the person and his ship or station and such other information as the date and place of capture, release, or parole, and place of confinement; and the date, place, and cause of admission to a hospital and the date of discharge. References to the original records are included on the cards.

Reference Cards and Papers

The records. --These records, which are known to be incomplete, consist of cards prepared by the U. S. War Department, probably in the latter part of the 19th century, showing references to vessel papers, payrolls, muster rolls, and other documents relating to service in the Confederate Navy and Marine Corps. Filed with them sometimes are original documents relating solely to the particular person. The records are in two series, one for naval personnel and one for marine personnel, and they are arranged alphabetically by surname in each series. They have been microfilmed.

Information in the records. - - The records show the name and rank of the sailor or marine and are a possible means of finding other information about his service.

Shipping Articles

The records. - -The National Archives has a few shipping articles for enlisted men in the Confederate States Navy, 1861-65. They are bound in one volume, which contains a typed index.

Information in the records. - -An entry on the shipping articles shows the name of the enlisted man, his rating, his signature, and the date of his enlistment.

Muster Rolls and Payrolls

The records. - -The National Archives has some muster rolls and payrolls of vessels and marine detachments of the Confederate States Navy. They are sheets and booklets in wrappers labeled by name of vessel or marine detachment. They are unindexed.

Information in the records. - -An entry in the rolls shows the name and rank of the naval serviceman or marine.

Research aids. - -For identification of Confederate naval officers consult Office of Naval Records and Library, Register of Officers of the Confederate States Navy, 1861-65 (Washington, 1931). Names in it are arranged alphabetically.

Some Confederate naval servicemen and marines are named in Navy Department, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, General Index (69th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc. 113; serial 8603). This consists in part of a personal name index to 30 volumes of transcripts of official and other records.


The citizens files relate chiefly to civilians of the Southern States during and shortly after the Civil War. They consist of the Confederate citizens file and the Union citizens file. Each is described below.

Confederate "Citizens File"

The records. - - The Confederate citizens file, 1861-65, comprises papers of the Confederate States of America relating to many thousands of citizens. Typical documents are receipted bills and vouchers for serv ice and supplies requisitioned from individuals by the Confederate Government and papers relating to claims against the Government for damages. The file also includes cross-references to pages of bound volumes of Confederate records. Documents are arranged alphabetically by name of person or firm. These records have been microfilmed.

Information in the records. --A document shows such information as the name of a citizen, the place of his residence, and the date and nature of his transaction with the Confederate Government.

"Union Provost Marshal Citizens File"

The records. --This file, 1861-67, consists of a miscellany of correspondence, reports, affidavits, loyalty oaths, lists, and other papers of Union provost marshals relating to civilians suspected of anti-Union sentiments or activities, those violating military orders, those claiming pay for property used or taken by the Union military authorities or for supplies or services furnished the Army, civilian prisoners and some military prisoners, and persons authorized to travel in or enter the Confederate States. Most of the postwar papers concern freedmen and whites in the Southern States. Many documents dated 1861-66 are arranged alphabetically by name of person. Other documents of the same dates are arranged numerically because they contain the names of more than one person, but cross- references have been prepared in the alphabetically arranged file. These records have been microfilmed. The documents for 1867 are in a separate group.

Information in the records. - - The records show such information as the name and place of residence of a person, together with a varying amount of information depending upon the circumstances in the case.


The amnesty and pardon records, 1863-67, are based upon proclamations authorized under section 13 of an act of Congress approved July 17, 1862 (12 Stat. 592). They include amnesty oaths and amnesty papers. Each kind of record is described below.

Amnesty Oaths

The records. --The series of amnesty oaths, 1863-67, relate to a vast number of Southern people who wished to gain or regain U. S. citizenship. Usually the oath, a single document, is all that relates to one person. Filed with the oaths, in appropriate instances, are acknowledgments of warrants of Presidential pardons and agreements to accept conditions of pardon. Documents relating to one person are arranged by name of State, thereunder usually alphabetically to the first two letters of the surname. Documents relating to more than one person are arranged numeric ally, usually under the name of State. Some of the latter are in a miscellaneous group. Names on documents relating to more than one person are cross-referenced in the series of documents relating to one person.

Information in the records. - -An oath shows the name of the person; the place the oath was taken, which was often the place of his residence; the date the oath was taken; and usually the signature of the person taking the oath. Some oaths give the ages and personal descriptions of persons taking the oaths and, in appropriate instances, the identifications of their Confederate military organizations.

Use of the records. - -As many of the oaths show places of residence and as, for many persons, the places of residence were the same in 1860 and 1870, an effective search of the amnesty oaths may serve to direct a search in the population census schedules to those for the proper county.

Amnesty Papers

The records. --The series of amnesty papers, chiefly 1865-67, consists of applications for Presidential pardons on the part of persons belonging to classes listed in the proclamation of May 29, 1865 (13 Stat. 758). Among these classes were former high Confederate officials and persons owning $20,000 worth of property or more. The application files, which include supporting documents, are arranged by name of State, thereunder alphabetically by name of applicant.

Information in the records. --An application file gives the name, age, occupation, and place of residence of the applicant, together with autobiographical data.


The records. --Cotton bills of sale, vouchers, and registers and lists of cotton sales, 1862-65, show transactions between individual cotton sellers and the Confederate States of America. They are arranged by State. Discrete series of cotton bills of sale are available for Alabama and Mississippi only; these are arranged numerically and by county, respectively.

Indexes to the records. - -There are various indexes in volume form to these records.

Information in the records. - - Each entry shows the name of the cotton seller, the name of the county or parish in the State where the sale occurred, the number of bales of cotton sold, the value in Confederate currency or bonds, and the date of sale.

Research aid. - - The information in the records is transcribed in Treasury Department, Cotton Sold to the Confederate States (62d Cong., 3d sess., S. Doc. 987; serial 6348). The entries are arranged by name of seller in two alphabetical sequences, one for sellers in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, and one for sellers who sold through the Texas Cotton Bureau at Houston.


Related Records

For information about pensions applied for on the basis of Confederate military, naval, or marine service, address the appropriate archival or other depository at the State capital of the State for which service was rendered or in which the veteran resided after service.

Record Groups

The records are in Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, except that the navy shipping articles and the muster rolls and payrolls are in Record Group 45, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library; amnesty oaths are in Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State; amnesty papers are in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office; and cotton bills of sale are in Record Group 56; General Records of the Department of the Treasury.

The information above on Confederate records contained at the National Archives is excerpted from:
Guide to Genealogical Records in the National Archives.
M.B. Colket, Jr. & F.E. Bridges, U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 022-002-00016-3, 1964

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