The National Park Service has announced that
the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (CWSS) website is now up and
running. It features basic information on the service records of 6.3 million
Civil War soldiers, and may be found at www.civilwar.nps.gov. Due to the
sometimes erratic and duplicative record-keeping of the day, as well as
reenlistments, the number of entries is greater than the number of those who
actually served. The website also lists Federal and Confederate regiments and
NPS project manager John Peterson told
Civil War News that the 11-year project would have cost millions more had it
not been for the committed volunteer work of the Mormons, the United Daughters
of the Confederacy, and amateur genealogists across the country. The NPS soon
hopes to work with the National Geographic Society to provide online maps for
all major battles, with additional information and even “interpretive sound
I recently tried out the new website, and was
impressed. I soon found two lineal ancestors who served in the Civil War, my
great-great-grandfather, Col. William H. Vodrey of the 143rd Ohio, and his
brother, Pvt. John W. Vodrey of the 46th Pennsylvania, Co. F. The website has
citations to the Army’s official microfilmed records, as well as Union or
Confederate designations, regiment and company, and often a notation of rank
at both enlistment and at discharge. You may search by last name only, by
first and last name, by state, or by unit. Alternate names are also provided
in some cases, as are Medal of Honor citations.
I ran searches for some familiar names, and
found no fewer than 12 Abraham Lincolns (11 Union, 1 Confederate), and 55
Jefferson Davises (44 Union, 11 Confederate) who served in the ranks. The 84th
Iowa Volunteer Infantry had both an Abraham Lincoln and a William Sherman. In
fact, there were 183 William Shermans serving at all ranks during the Civil
War, 20 of whom were from Ohio. Thirteen men named Phil Sheridan also served.
The sole Ulysses S. Grant is listed not as lieutenant general and
general-in-chief of the armies of the United States, but as colonel of the
21st Illinois (the future President’s first regimental command). There were
58 Confederate Robert Lees, but 84 Union ones. There were 616 George Thomases:
475 Union (only one of whom would win the nickname “The Rock of Chickamauga”
and my and The Charger editor’s enduring admiration), and 141 Confederate.
Three men named James Longstreet fought in the Civil War: two Union, and one
(rather better known) Confederate. There were 309 Thomas Jacksons from the
North and 162 from the South, but only one has gone down in history as “Stonewall.”
Just for fun, I also checked on some familar
Cleveland Roundtable names. There are records of 257 Maurers (but none named
Mel); 551 Crewses (6 of whom were named Richard); 16 Zeisers (but no Dans),
but alas, no Carrinos, Fazios or DeBaltzos. An impressive 886 McClellands
served in the war (but none with the first name of Warren), of whom 620 wore
blue and 266 wore gray or butternut. There were no Lorittses (Lynn or
otherwise), but a whopping 13,792 Thomases, 8,383 U.S. and 5,589 C.S. (none of
whom were named Dale). There were 918 Bauers, of whom 863 bore arms for the
Union and 55 fought for the Confederacy (none named Maynard, though). There
were two Novaks, both of whom fought for the Union, but neither was named
David. There was one Kuenzi (a Union soldier, whose first name wasn’t Hans),
but no Terry Koozer (nine soldiers, all of whom wore blue, were named Koozer).
There were 16 Kellons, but none named Anthony (or Tony). There were 2,559 men
with the last name George. Of these, 1,554 fought for the Stars and Stripes,
and 1,005 fought for the Stars and Bars. Fourteen were named George George -
all wore blue, and one is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Civil War sailors’ records aren’t on the
Park Service’s website yet, but should be added in the next few years. There
are also searchable rosters of those held in the Confederate prison at
Andersonville, Ga., and the Union prison at Ft. McHenry, Md. You can also
search the burial records of Poplar Grove National Cemetery at Petersburg, Va.
The Park Service hopes to someday expand these features to include all Civil
War-era prisons and cemeteries.
The next time you’re exploring the
Internet, be sure to drop by www.civilwar.nps.gov. It’s well worth a look.