Military records are yet another very useful set of records that will help you in finding more about your ancestors. There are a ton of records that are available for free online, and there are some very robust collections (such as Fold3 and Ancestry) that have sizable online military collections as well.
Typically, military records online fall into 5 different categories. The specific information that you should be targeting in your research is listed for each category:
Military Service Records
- Full name
- Birth date and location
- Location of enlistment
- Date enlisted, mustered out
- Contact information of next of kin
- Medical and military information
- Unit assignations while in the military
Selective Service Records
- Full name
- Marital status
- Birth Date
- Contact information
- Physical Description
Bounty Land Warrant Applications
Includes similar information as in service records as well as other information, such as the number of warrants, date of issuance, and the number of acres. Only used between 1775 and 1855.
- Birth, Marriage, and Death information (dates and locations)
- Demographic information
- Information about the spouse and children
- Rank and Unit
- Pension balance
- Information if the person was a prisoner of war, wounded or killed in action, or MIA
- 1910-1940 Census Records include questions about military service
- Veteran’s cemeteries’ burial lists
An excellent resource to avail yourself of is the National Archives Genealogy Research in Military Records.
Also, check out links to Free Online Military Record Collections on The Ancestor Hunt’s Military Records page.