I’ve been looking through the U.S. Military archive on Ancestry.com, which is available for free until June 6 in observance of the anniversary of D-Day. I’ve found some interesting material. I found the draft registration card for a great-grandfather on my Mom’s side. The man was 63 years old at the time; his son was in his 30’s and served in the Glider Corps. in Europe. I also found a scanned ledger page from the U.S. War Department listing a great-great-grandfather on the Geek family side as a prisoner of war in 1865. This is more likely a record of his surrender along with the rest of the 16th Confederate Cavalry in May 1865 — according to sources on the Web, the whole unit was interned for 10 days then paroled.
The whole thing turned out to be a very interesting exercise. Neither of the two documents that I found was in the archives of family historians on either side of the family. On a more personal level, I had heard different stories about my family’s involvement on the Confederate side in the War Between The States, as my people (on one side) call it. I now have hard information about one of my ancestors. I am told that another ancestor fought in the Battle of Vicksburg on the Confederate side. I will be asking my Uncle, the family genealogist, for more information shortly.
I am also surprised at the spotty nature of the U.S. Military archive. The draft registration for my great-grandfather is in the archive, but very few of my other relations are mentioned, even though they lived in the same small town. My Dad’s time in the Army is not documented, and a cousin’s time in the Navy at the close of World War II is not documented either. Genealogy is obviously the business of scraps and clues, not well-organized archives.