Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Resource on New York CW Soldiers

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 9, 2013
Composite images of the camp of the 2nd New York and 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiments at Belle Plain, Virginia, May 16, 1864. Via the New York State Military Museum.

One of the unfortunate things about the compiled service records (CSRs) available at NARA is that, while the extant Confederate records are all digitized and available online through sources like Fold3 (thanks, UDC!), Union records are not. Records for USCTs and some states are complete, some states are partially available, and others have only index cards available, that give the man’s name, “rank in,” “rank out” and unit. Some of the largest Northern states, including Pennsylvania and New York, are in this latter category. It’s a challenge, because those two states alone contributed a sizable proportion of the Union’s troops during the conflict.

Many of my readers will know about this, but the New York State Military Museum maintains an extensive website that includes a ton of information about that state’s units in multiple conflicts, including the Civil War. I haven’t been through the whole thing, but it looks to be huge. As one example, I’ll take the New York counterpart to my local regiment, the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery, the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery. For this unit, the museum’s website includes a brief summary of the unit’s history, including alternate names, a list of known images of the unit and its members, and a bibliography; a table of casualties; transcripts of news clippings and official correspondence, and images and descriptions of both the regiment’s national flag and one of the battery guidons.

But wait, there’s more.

For at least some of the units, including the 2nd Heavy Artillery, the museum has PDFs of State Adjutant General’s report (22MB PDF) that gives summaries of the service records of individual soldiers, like Frank McGuire:


I’m sure not all regiments have as extensive records online as this one, but still. . . . It seems like a tremendous resource, one that I wish every state had. It’s easy to navigate, fast to load, and free. Here’s the main index for the museum’s Civil War files. Happy researching!


11 Responses

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  1. Drew said, on January 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Nice picture here! Any background on it? Who, where, when?

    • Andy Hall said, on January 9, 2013 at 9:14 am

      I often put the caption down at the bottom, in this case, “Composite images of the camp of the 2nd New York and 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiments at Belle Plain, Virginia, May 16, 1864. Via the New York State Military Museum.” It is a great picture.

      • Drew said, on January 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

        Under my nose! Thanks.

        • Andy Hall said, on January 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

          Moved it. Works better up there, at least in this case.

  2. Will Hickox said, on January 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I haven’t been to the military museum yet, but I encourage those who are able to check out the state museum down the road in Albany. It has a tremendous Civil War display that includes, among other things, the flag that Elmer Ellsworth took down before he was killed and the flag of the Fire Zouaves. If archival research is your thing, the state archives and library have huge collections and the staff is excellent.

  3. Bummer said, on January 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks for the link Andy, the “old guy” is buried in new research and reading, never faced this kind of detailed task. I’ll share what’s happening if it pans out.


  4. dmfant said, on January 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    hey andy, you may have already seen this but it seemed like food for the thinking horde:
    happy new year, dmf

  5. John Hennessy said, on January 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Andy, the NYS Military Museum’s online resources are outstanding. They include transcriptions of the sometimes voluminous files of newspaper clippings for each regiment. So far as I have seen, no state’s online resources match it.

    I used to live in Albany, and what is today the NYS Military Museum had its genesis back in the 1980s, when Elmer Ellsworth’s bullet-scarred uniform jacket–perhaps the best item in the collection–appeared on a table at a gun show on Long Island. A collector had asked to display it, and the manager of the collection (then housed in the capitol) at that time said, “Okay.” The howls of horror that followed started the ball rolling toward what you now see today–a professionally managed collection that spans the state and includes some amazing items from all periods.

    I don’t believe I have ever seen the image you have posted here, which in terms of landscape is the best view of Belle Plain I have ever seen. I guess I need to do some more digging on their site,which I thought I had plumbed pretty thoroughly, but apparently not thoroughly enough. Thanks for posting this.

    • Andy Hall said, on January 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      John, thanks for commenting. Also, very belatedly, for the nice things you said about me at the bloggers’ session last summer.

      The image above is pasted together from two on their website, under the 2nd NY Heavy Artillery. The online versions are slightly higher-resolution, that I had to knock down to fit the blog, but not much bigger.

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