First, I would like to send my love and support to my younger brother Shawn Hait, currently serving the U. S. Army in Iraq. He has already missed the birth of his first son, and will spend Christmas and New Year’s serving our nation. He is in my thoughts and prayers, and I ask that you keep him in yours as well, together with all of the other young men and women serving abroad.
In honor of our soldiers, let’s explore military records. Beginning with the American Revolution, the originals of most military records prior to World War I are held at the National Archives and Records Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C. The two basic record groups are service records and pension files.
Compiled service records contain details of the soldier’s service, put together from their appearances in muster rolls, clothing rolls, prisoner rolls, hospital rolls, etc. Many Revolutionary War records were destroyed, so these CSRs often contain much less information than those of later wars.
Pension files contain information from applications for pensions from either soldiers or their widows. These files can contain an enormous wealth of genealogical information, including birth, marriage and death records, and affidavits from friends, family members, and neighbors, on many different topics. The bulk of the file will usually contain information on any injuries sustained while in military service (if this is the basis of their application).
Both service records and pension files for the U. S. military from the Revolutionary War through 1917 are held at the National Archives and Records Administration headquarters in Washington, D. C. From World War I onwards, these files are held at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Additional information, including necessary forms, is available on the National Archives’ website: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/get-service-records.html
Merry Christmas, and God Bless You!