So in last week’s post Johnny Reb or Billy Yank? we looked at the steps to identify who might have served.  Let’s look at how you find a soldier in the records.

Let’s look for James C Donald.  We know from the 1860 census, he  was living in Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia and was born about 1835:

1860 census

You will need to know where he lived in 1860 so that you can match that information on the service records.  Most likely your soldier enlisted fairly close to home.  James lived in Lexington.  While possible, it is doubtful that he enlisted in Nelson County.

Now let’s see if we can find the service records for our soldier. Start on the home page and click through to the Civil War Service records.

Civil War Service Records


Now let’s click through to the Confederate records:

Confederate Records

Scroll down the page until you find Virginia:


Virginia Civil War Service Records


If you know the unit the soldier served with, you can browse into that unit and find him there.  But we don’t know, so we will do a search:

Searching for James Donald

We know James’ middle name was Calvin and that he was about 25 years old.  There are at least two good candidates to look at:

results list


First, we look at the James C Donald in the 4th infantry, and we find this is probably a good candidate.  From the 1860 census, we know that James was living in Rockbridge County, specifically Lexington

And in the service records for James C Donald we find that he lived in Lexington and that this unit was organized in Rockbridge, Virginia.


Service Card



Next week, we will look at how to put the service records together to tell the story.


Happy Searching!

4 Responses to “Finding that Confederate Soldier in the Service Records”

  1. Kris

    The Civil war Military records can be a treasure of info. Three brothers where all in the Civil War. One brother I was unable to follow. Thru Fold3 I started digging around and found him in the Widows and Dependents Application file. What a find. 36 pages testimony given by his parents, Grandfather, brother and wife. Childrens names and birth dates, how he died and service record, how and who married them and the list goes on. Great find!!!

    • Anne Gillespie Mitchell

      Pension records hold all sorts of genealogy gold don’t they? I’m glad you were able to break through a brick wall!

  2. Susan

    I tried to access the free Civil War records on Fold3 but everything I turned up was marked “premium” and I had to buy a membership to see it. I thought your blog said these records were free for April.

    • Anne Gillespie Mitchell

      Only Confederate records are free for this month. Which records were you looking at specifically?