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At Ease: Finding Family History on the Battlefields?

Searching For Stories

Why does Civil War preservation matter? One of our beliefs is that it is meaningful and powerful to stand where history happened. The hallowed ground of Central Virginia on the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House is a perfect place to explore this idea. Some of us have ancestors who fought in the Civil War, and those survey answers and stories have helped to shape today's email and discussion. You'll hear from one of our board members and find a few tips for learning details about your Civil War ancestor. Don't forget to vote in the new survey to get ready for next week!


Survey Results

Check out the results of last week's survey. Thank you for sharing your answers. Out of the 18 answers, there were 11 "yes," 6 "no," and 1 "not sure." Many meaningful stories or accounts can be found in family stories, old letters, and fading diaries. And sometimes those stories can still be traced to exact locations on a battlfield.


Research Ideas

Hi, this is Sarah (staff at CVBT). I just wanted to reach out with a few research ideas if you're "looking for" Civil War ancestors or seeking to learn more about his or her experiences. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of chatting with several genealogy societies about this topic and we've brainstormed some ideas for helping military (or civilian) history come together with the family records.

  1. Look For Unit History - many Civil War regiments had official unit histories and these are a great way to look for more details about a soldier's experiences and piece together a general idea of the battles he may have fought in or places he may have marched or guarded.

  2. Look For Local History - reach out to historical societies or genealogy groups in the hometown of your ancestor. There just might be some wonderful Civil War history in the local archive that has not been digitized. (Oftentimes, I find the missing piece of my historical research puzzles when I "go local.")

  3. Study The Culture - it's always interesting when an understanding of Civil War military practices or typical 19th Century culture can start peeling away the secrets on the terse genealogy documents. Look for (or re-read) resources that detail typical soldier experiences that will provide a greater understanding of what an ancestor when through.

  4. Look For The Tiny Details/Artifacts - CVBT Board Member Paul Scott (see our new video below) has done some special research on weapons used by his Civil War ancestors. Sometimes it's a unit button, an artifact weapon, a pin, or a photograph—that little extra that offers a link or an illustration of something they had or used. And if you have a family heirloom...cherish it!

  5. Get To The Historic Site - maybe it's a graveyard, maybe it's a trench line on a battlefield or a historic home. Usually, there will be someplace that is identifiable and traceable in connection to an ancestor's life and story. As we remember that history is about real people, we gain a greater appreciation for preserving and protecting the places where "common people" made uncommon history.


CVBT's New Video: Stand Where They Stood

Paul Scott—CVBT Board Member—and life-long resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, shares a little about his family history and passion for preservation in our new video. (click on the image to view the video)


Your Unit "Shout Outs"

In last week's survey, we left a text box and invited all participants to leave a shout-out to their ancestor's unit. Here's that list:

29th Alabama Infantry New Jersey Volunteers 1st New York Dragoons 5th Ohio Cavalry Battery H, 1st Ohio Artillery 12th Pennsylvania Reserves Infantry Regiment 49th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry 54th Pennsylvania Infantry 63rd Pennsylvania Infantry 88th Pennsylvania Infantry 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry 101st Pennsylvania Infantry 148th Pennsylvania Infantry 149th Pennsylvania Infantry 171st Pennsylvania Infantry 208th Pennsylvania Infantry 11th Tennessee Cavalry Rogers’ Battery 1st Rockbridge Artillery 4th Virginia Infantry 6th Virginia Cavalry 7th Virginia 8th Virginia Infantry 10th Virginia Heavy Artillery Battalion 30th Virginia Infantry 41st Virginia 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry (Mosby’s Rangers) 56th Virginia Infantry



Central Virginia Battlefields Trust's mission is to preserve, protect, and educate about Civil War hallowed ground at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.

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