Records often provide overlooked information about army activities as well as naval actions.
Naval and marine corps personnel can also be traced through ships on which they served. The eight-volume Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships provides dimensions, illustrations, and service histories of Civil War naval ships. The National Archives has available A List of Log Books--a ship's official record--and includes orders, battle actions, and personnel matters. Additional sources identifying naval enlisted men can also be found in state adjutant generals' published annual reports listed in Charles Dornbusch Military Bibliography of the Civil War.
Future research using Civil War genealogical sources will increasingly benefit from microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROM, and digital copies of ephemeral documents and aging books and magazines. A number of classic Civil War genealogical sources have been reprinted on high-quality paper and indexed using modern standards of cross reference, subject entry, and name entry including variant spelling entries. The National Park Service, in conjunction with the National Archives, the Genealogical Society of Utah, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies, has developed a computerized listing on compact discs (Civil War Soldiers System) of over 3.5 million compiled military service records of Confederate and Union soldiers. One of the goals is to determine whether a soldier or his regiment was present on a particular battleground. Beside each soldier's name, the database will cite his company and regiment, whether Confederate or Union, and his rank upon entering and leaving the service. To this names index will be added other computerized information on the 7,000 wartime regiments and units, the regiments' participation in major battles, and burial records from Civil War cemeteries managed by the National Park Service. An estimated 5.5 million names will be entered in the database because of aliases and alternate name spellings.
Growing interest in the Civil War is not surprising, given the nature of that conflict, undoubtedly the most influential force to shape the contemporary United States. The Civil War divided states, communities, and even families in powerful and often poignant events that even today cannot be matched for drama. One of eight Americans fought in the Civil War's almost 11,000 separate engagements, from Maryland to New Mexico and Minnesota to Florida. As many as one-half of today's American citizens have an ancestor who took up arms between 1861 and 1865. The desire to search for one's Civil War roots will continue as each new American generation discovers the Civil War.
Aimone Alan C., and Barbara A. Aimone. A User's Guide to the Official Records of the American Civil War, Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Co., 1993.