Civil War Pension Files

Guidelines for submissions and help on ordering your ancestor's pension files

A man's military pension file can offer you a wealth of information and may advance your research.  Normally included in a pension file are:  soldier's regiment, enlistment and discharge date, age, residence, date of death, marriage date, spouse's name, previous spouses, children and their dates of birth, physician's report, witnesses giving testimony for the pensioner (possibly family members) and many other things.  By sharing your ancestor's pension file, you can help others too. People who might be searching for their ancestor, might just find them in your pension file.

If you haven't ordered a pension before, and would like to, you'll need to know as much information as possible, so the National Archives can locate your file (name, regiment, date of enlistment/discharge, spouse's name, last known residence, etc.)

Chances are, you can find some of this information in the County Rosters and a list of those who filed in 1883 that are online here (See your particular county page). You can also check here for a list of statewide pensioners during 1887 and 1888.

The National Archives fees for a pension or military file have changed and are as follows:

Full Pension Application File: $37
Pension Documents Packet: $14.75 (includes 8 documents, if available in the
file, that contain genealogical information about the pension applicant)
Bounty Land Warrant File: $17.25

You must use a Form 85 for pension files and a Form 86 for military service files (there's no charge for these forms). You can order these forms via email by
clicking here. Request a Form 85 or 86 (you can order up to four at a time), include your name, address, city, state and zip.  Once you receive your form and mail it, it normally takes between 4 and 8 weeks to receive the file in the mail (that's from my own experience).

If you find that your ancestor or his family members DID NOT file for a pension, you can order his military file.  A military file will consist more with the man's time during the war, but my ancestor's contained two hand written letters from him that contained family information.  You'll also find in this file, a description of the man and various other items.

To donate your records here, just follow the format below, and email the pension information to your county host, Susan (in simple text format - .txt)

Name of Soldier, birthdate, etc.

Regiment and Rank

Date of Enlistment, Date of Discharge

Place of Residence

Wife's name, marriage date, etc.

Dependent children and pertinent information on them

Previous marriages for either soldier or spouse

Diseases and/or Invalid?

Witnesses who filed on behalf of pensioner, their residence, date and any

Pertinent information they might have regarding the soldier

Date pension was filed

Date pension was granted and amount of pension per month

Date pension ended (death of soldier or dependent)

Other residents who appear in the file (attorney, clerk, MD,


Any pertinent correspondence in the file

Go To The Pension File Index Page

Return To The Illinois Pensioner's Page

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Page maintained by Susan Cook