For Union army soldiers, there are three major records in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that provide information on military service: (1) compiled military service record (CMSR); (2) pension application file; and (3) records reproduced in microfilm publication M594, Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations (225 rolls).
Each volunteer soldier has one Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) for each regiment in which he served. The CMSR contains basic information about the soldier's military career, and it is the first source the researcher should consult. The CMSR is an envelope (a jacket) containing one or more cards. These cards typically indicate that the soldier was present or absent during a certain period of time. Other cards may indicate the date of enlistment and discharge, amount of bounty paid him, and other information such as wounds received during battle or hospitalization for injury or illness. The soldier's place of birth may be indicated; if foreign born, only the country of birth is stated. The CMSR may contain an internal jacket for so-called "personal papers" of various kinds. These may include a copy of the soldier's enlistment paper, papers relating to his capture and release as a prisoner of war, or a statement that he had no personal property with him when he died. Note, however, that the CMSR rarely indicates battles in which a soldier fought; that information must be derived from other sources. A CMSR is as complete as the surviving records of an individual soldier or his unit. The War Department compiled the CMSRs from the original muster rolls and other records some years after the war to permit more rapid and efficient checking of military and medical records in connection with claims for pensions and other veterans' benefits. The abstracts were so carefully prepared that it is rarely necessary to consult the original muster rolls and other records from which they were made. When the War Department created CMSRs at the turn of the century, information from company muster rolls, regimental returns, descriptive books, hospital rolls, and other records was copied verbatim onto cards. A separate card was prepared each time an individual name appeared on a document. These cards were all numbered on the back, and these numbers were entered onto the outside jacket containing the cards. The numbers on the jacket correspond with the numbers on the cards within the jacket. These numbers were used by the War Department only for control purposes while the CMSRs were being created; the numbers do not refer to other records regarding a veteran nor are they useful for reference purposes today.
The Hawkins County Genealogical and Historical Society has bought most of the microfilm which contains the service records of the men from Hawkins and Hancock Counties. A copy of your ancestor's service record can be obtained from this microfilm by visiting the H. B. Stamps Memorial Library, Main Street, Rogersville, Tennessee, where this microfilm is housed in the genealogical room. (Note: Please do not call the library requesting a copy of these records - the library is not staffed to do work of this nature.
For Union pension records a NATF Form 80 is needed, and this can be obtained online by providing your name and mailing address to inquire @nara.gov.You will need one form for each type of file you want so you may want to order 2 forms - one for pension record and one for military service.
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