Posted By Norman Gasbarro on January 4, 2011
One of the best sources for general information about individual soldier Civil War service in Pennsylvania military units is Steve Maczuga’s Pennsylvania Civil War Project also known as “Pennsylvania Civil War Project: Pennsylvania in the Civil War.” Steve Maczuga is at the Population Institute at Penn State University.
A fully downloadable database contains the names of all the Pennsylvanians who served in the Civil War, their military units, their ranks and some general information about them including muster dates and if and when they were wounded or killed. But you don’t have to download the whole database to do a search.
The results for a search for Lykens Valley soldier, Capt. Benjamin Evitts is shown below.
A recent addition to the entry for each individual soldier is the regimental flag, which has been shown courtesy of the Pennsylvania Capitol Preservation Committee, and a link is provided to information on Pennsylvania Civil War Flags. A few months ago, the entry for the individual soldier only contained the information, not the flag.
The database is easily searched, provided you know the exact spelling of the last name and have some idea of the regiment in which the soldier served. Otherwise, the searching tends to be on a hit or miss basis – guessing the various alternative spellings or looking through the “drill down listings” to find a soldier whose name could be a match.
Fortunately, in searching for “Evitts,” only a few names came up as results, and knowing that he served in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry, it was easy to locate the above “card” for him.
To see a list of the soldiers who served with Evitts in the 177th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I, it is an easy matter to go to the “drill down listing” and find the regiment and company. Part of a list so produced is shown below.
As can be seen, most of the soldiers on the beginning of this list were mustered out with the company on 5 August 1863. However, one solider, Charles Coleman, was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate on 2 November 1862. Maczuga takes his “notes” information from Bates, which is the standard reference for Pennsylvania in the Civil War. Bates, as a resource, will be discussed in a later post.
A more interesting drill-down listing is for the 50th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company A, where many of the men are reported as taken prisoner, wounded or killed. A portion of that listing is shown for comparison:
Maczuga’s database also includes search terms for 54 different Civil War battles. So, if the soldier was killed, wounded, or captured at Gettysburg, searching for the Battle of Gettysburg will produce a listing of all that have the word “Gettysburg” in the notes. Again, a portion of the list is produced as a sample:
There are other features of the site, including a listing of those captured and sent to six Confederate prisons and a complete listing of those buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery including maps of the cemetery.
Some of the drawbacks are that the soldier is only listed under one spelling of his name and the search tool won’t find him unless you use the same spelling that Maczuga uses; it’s hard to find soldiers who were in the “named” regiments rather than the numbered regiments; and for some soldiers, the muster dates are not given or may not match dates found in other records. A caution is that this is a secondary source and information can be in error unless checked against primary sources.
All in all, the site has some good basic information but for more detail it is best to follow up with other resources. And, the regimental flags are a bonus, not easily found elsewhere.
Other resources for finding basic as well as more comprehensive information about Civil War soldiers will be discussed in later posts.