The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was the largest fraternal organization for Union veterans. It was a very active organization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Only Union veterans were permitted to join the GAR. As the members aged and then died, the organization eventually disappeared. However, it was replaced by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, with membership restricted to descendants of Union Civil War veterans. The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War inherited most of the records of the national GAR organization, as well as many of the records of local chapters (called “encampments”).
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) now has created its Grave Registration Project to document the final resting places of BOTH Union and Confederate Civil War veterans. The fully-searchable database is available online and is free for everyone.
The SUVCW web site can be found at http://www.suvcw.org. You can save yourself some time if you go directly to http://www.suvcwdb.org/home/search.php?action=search. The site is free and no registration is required.
The main search form has a lot of fields to fill in: first name, last name, birth date, death date, Union or Confederate, unit, state, branch, company or ship, rank, cemetery name and location, and more. You simply fill in whatever information you have and leave the remaining fields blank. Click on SEARCH, and the database will return a list of all entries that match your search criteria.
I entered my own surname into the Last Name field and left all the other fields blank. I clicked on SEARCH, and about three seconds later the web site returned a list of 137 matches. I was especially intrigued by one entry: a man who also shares my first name as well as last name. I’ll use him as an example of the information available in this database:
Last Name: Eastman
First Name: Richard
Middle Name: K
Civil War: Union
Unit Designation: 31
If federal, State From:
Cemetery Name: Ohio Soldier’s & Sailors’ Home Cemetery
Grave Number: 8
Cemetery Street: Columbus Avenue
In addition, the database indicates that this soldier had a military-issued headstone and that the cemetery burial records had been checked.
As you can see, the above entry had quite a bit of information. However, there is a place for text notes, and in this man’s record the text notes were blank. I looked around a bit more for others and found some entries had extensive text notes.
For instance, here are the notes for George E. Eastman of Company E, 9th Maine Infantry:
Residence: Cornish, Me. Born: Cornish, Me. Age at enlistment; 18, Mustered US Service Sept 22, 1861. Re-enlisted Jan 1,1864. POW Sept 29, 1864 at Chaffin’s Farm,Va. Died of starvation April 9, 1865. Stone at Riverside Cemetery, SR 25, Cornish, Me.
The records in this database were obtained from many sources, and it is believed that some number of veterans’ records have not yet been found. If you have new information not yet in the database, you can submit it online. However, if you have updated or additional information concerning previously submitted registrations, you should submit that information to the National Graves Registration Officer. Details may be found at http://www.suvcwdb.org/home/about.php.
While this database was created by and is maintained by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the database lists Confederate as well as Union soldiers. There are fewer Confederates listed. The reasons are two-fold: (1.) because the organization collected only Union veterans’ information in its earlier years and (2.) because record keeping was not as well organized among the Confederates. The SUVCW is keenly interested in adding more information about Confederate graves.
This is a great database for anyone researching Civil War ancestry. If you are not sure of the origins of your ancestor, there is a good chance that you can find his place of birth as well as place of enlistment in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Grave Registration Project. To search the database at no charge, go to http://www.suvcwdb.org/home/search.php?action=search.