The Union Army data has significant information on the identifying information of recruits and their pension application information. This includes full name, a unique identification number, and application and certificate numbers.
2. Variable Groups
Collection: Military, Pension and Medical Records
App and Cert Number: Application and certificate numbers
ID Number: Recruit identification number
Name: Recruit name, Household member name
Recruit identification numbers are additionally classified under entry/recruit information and Census Input variable categories.
3. Historical Background
3.1 Original Sources
The primary sources of identification information data are the Pension Record and Regimental Books. Application and certificate numbers are from the Pension application. Recruit identification numbers were generated by the Early Indicators project. Recruit names were found in a variety of sources, while household member names were primarily found in the U.S. Federal Census and the Family Circular in the pension record.
Applications and certificate numbers were used to request a soldier's pension at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The numbers were recorded to enable researchers to request a pension again, if needed, to resolve discrepancies found later between various records.
Recruit identification numbers consist of a two-digit state code, a three-digit regiment code, a two-digit company code, and a three-digit individual code assigned sequentially as each recruit in a company was found in the Regimental Books. For example, the recruit ID number for a recruit in Pennsylvania Company E Regiment 28 could be 1402805021. The recruit identification number can be used to link recruits across data sets. The two-digit state codes are given by a set of ICPSR standardized state codes.
The first recruit name variable, recname1, is the name taken from the Regimental Books at the beginning of the collection process. However, in many cases, the most reliable name for linking the recruit to other document sources is found in recname2, which came from the Pension Record. All variant spellings were collected to aid in location of recruits in the Federal Census. For example, James Smith and J. Smith are not variant spellings; James Smyth and Jem Smythe are.
Civil War pensions were available for veterans with disabilities as well as for deceased veterans' widows, minor children, dependent major children, and parents. Under the Act of July 14, 1862, the first pension legislation specific to the Civil War, the veterans were eligible only for disabilities (wounds or chronic illnesses) received during wartime. The Act of June 27, 1890 changed that requirement and expanded eligibility to include disabilities not directly related to wartime experience. As a result, the number of men on the pension rolls swelled. Laws passed after 1907 changed the pension from disability-based to age-based.
When a veteran wanted to receive a pension, he would, under his attorney's supervision, submit an application/declaration. This form was sent to the Pension Bureau in Washington D.C., which reviewed the application and collected further testimony in support of the veteran's application. The decision is recorded on a claim form, which is input alongside the pension application/declaration. Veterans could, and often did, apply for a pension under several laws or submit additional applications because of an increase in disability or a dissatisfaction with the Pension Bureau's decision, therefore, records usually contain more than one pension application and claim.
Information about each pension application/declaration and claim is recorded separately. The pension board required that the veteran appear before a Board of Examining Surgeons to determine his rate of disability. Once the board had the veteran's application and the surgeons' determination of disability, they would issue their ruling-granting the pension or rejecting the claim.
A veteran's application for a pension, includes supporting documentation regarding:
- family information
- occupation at enlistment
- employment after discharge from the service
- summary of military and medical wartime experience
- affidavits from comrades, neighbors, family members, and physicians.
There are several types of dependent pensions. These are: widow, minor, parent, dependent major, and sibling. Dependent pensions include information on:
- dependent's name
- including maiden, married, remarried names
- dependent's relationship to the veteran
- dependent's age
- dependent's residence
- veteran's death
- date, cause, and burial
Information regarding the veteran's economic status is found in dependent pensions. For example, in order to receive a pension, a parent had to prove that her/his deceased son contributed to the support of the family in a substantial way. In such a situation, one might find an employer's affidavit testifying that the young man worked as a carpenter before enlisting and gave every nickel he earned to his mother for food. Also, to prove their economic dependency, parents might submit a letter or letters the veteran had sent home during the war which mentioned sending his army pay home for the family.
Important material is found in a variety of documents within the pension. An example is the veteran's religious affiliation. We find this type of information in several places, including the baptismal records, marriage certificates, and burial information. Nowhere in the official Pension Bureau forms is the veteran asked to state his religion. Another example is a veteran's residence. Rarely will a document in a pension state that the veteran lived at Constantia, Oswego County, NY from July 1, 1862 to May 10, 1894, but there may be an envelope in the file that gives that address on February 28, 1865. Lacking a "residences" document, we must peruse all documents, including envelopes, for addresses and dates, then piece together the veteran's residence patterns from disparate sources with accompanying quality codes. In the residence example above, the researcher would assign a quality code "9" to the date found on the envelope indicating that on the particular date recorded the recruit lived in Constantia, NY. The "9" is the code for "at present time."
Viewing the pension as a whole document allows us to roughly reconstruct a veteran's life. We do this by recording different places of residence, occupations, levels of labor force participation, health problems, family relations, and standards of living throughout the veteran's pensionable lifetime.
The recruit's unique identification number, recidnum, which is based on standardized state, regiment, and company codes is used to link the soldier across data sets. The variable recname1 is the first recruit name variable, while each other instance with numerical suffix 2 through 8 represent variations of the recruit's name as found in the Military, Pension and Medical Records.
4. User Guide Table
|Variable Label||Variable Name||Data-Set||Source|
|appcrtn1 - appcrtn4||Application and certificate numbers||MIL||PEN: Pension Application|
|recidnum||Recruit's identification number||MIL||Early Indicators Project|
|recname1 - recname8||Recruit's name||MIL||Regimental Book
PEN: Pension Application CMSR CMR
|recnam, hnam||Recruit/Household member name (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)||CEN||U.S. Federal Census (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930)|