Civil War Research Database -- FAQs

1. Who is HDS?
Historical Data Systems, Inc. is a Massachusetts based company whose focus is the American Civil War. We have created the first online database, the Civil War Research Database®, which will contain the military records for the 4 million plus soldiers who fought in this great conflict.

2. How long has HDS been working on the database?
We have invested over 60,000 person hours in the creation of the database to date. Check the Database status section for the latest update of states completed or in process.

3. Where does the information come from that you are using to build the database?
A large amount of information in our database has previously been unavailable and inaccessible to the public. Our primary source of information are the state rosters that were published by the Adjutants General for each state involved in the War. These rosters include the military records for each member of that state's military forces. In addition, we are entering information from the Official Records, pension index records, 1860 census records, GAR records, Roll of Honor records, Medal of Honor Records, and Regimental histories. Also, the database will soon include images of battle maps that accompany the Official Records. For more detail about our sources please see the bibliography section on the site.

4. What information are you entering for each soldier?
We are entering the information contained within the Adjutants General's reports as published by each state. The types of data vary by state but typically include: name, residence, date of entry, regiments, companies, rank, promotions, transfers, events such as POW, wounded, etc. and how and where the soldier exited the military - discharge, desertion, muster out, death (and the cause of death, if available). Some states include birthplace, age at enlistment, occupation and physical description in their official record.

5. What level of detail is available in the database?
You can examine the military record for each individual soldier. Starting at the regiment level you can trace the war effort, critical statistics such as average age, method of entry into and out of the military, war engagements and their associated loss/prisoner statistics. You can search the Database by soldier, regiment, state, town, and battle.

6. What can I do with this information?
Since the information is contained in a relational database, you have tremendous flexibility to examine the data from different perspectives. You can now go below the 'big picture' scenario and examine the details of the regiments - where they saw combat, regimental casualty statistics, the effects of disease, etc. By examining census information, you will be able to hypothesize on the effect of the war on the soldiers' hometowns. You will also be able to cross reference variables that have previously been beyond reach because of the limitations of technology.

7. How is this system different from other products on the market?
There is no other product on the market with as detailed information as is contained in this database. Other systems lack the depth and breadth of information we have on the individual soldier. We go beyond simply scanning in the Official Records or state rosters and matching to a name index. Using the latest relational database technology, our database allows you to cross reference variables about a soldier with multiple data element records contained in his military file or with other soldiers' files. The Civil War Research Database® is a comprehensive research tool combined with powerful search capabilities. With it you can trace a soldier through the soldiers' war time experiences. For example, you start with an individual soldier -- link to the town he resided in and review the 1860 town population and perhaps the town's appraised values; link to the regiment(s) he was assigned to and examine any promotions or demotions received; jump to the battles his regiment was involved with and check the casualty analysis for the regiment and then compare those results against other regiments that were involved. Continuing the soldier's story -- determine if the soldier experienced any extraordinary event such as being captured or missing, examine how the soldier left the military - was he discharged, did he die, did he desert, is he missing, was he a member of the GAR and finally check on any pension requests that where submitted on his behalf.

Utilizing extensive edits we reduce potential sources of error or confusion within the database. For example, for many soldiers our edits will catch situations where a soldier's name is spelled differently between his various records. Also, another problem that our edit routines attempt to reduce is tracking a soldier's transfers. Often, the data on the receiving company is missing or incomplete.

Our edits and cross-reference checking catch many errors, however, when the data sources are over 100 years old, errors will still happen and we welcome your help in finding them. You should send any corrections along with corroborating material to us at our e-mail address.

8. Is the database complete?
The Civil War Research Database(c) contains the military records of nearly 2 million soldiers. This represents over 50,000 hours of our staff's time entering individual military records for these soldiers. We continue to add information on these soldiers into the database as well as to enter information on the remaining 2 plus million soldiers.

9. What states are completed or in the process of completion?
Click on "Database Status" to obtain the current listing of states completed or in process of completion.

10. Is there an e-mail address to send comments and questions to?
We want to hear from you. Please send your comments and questions to [email protected].

11. I think some of your information is incorrect. How do I notify you?
We welcome your comments, suggestions, and help clarifying any information we have about the soldiers. With over 22 million pieces of information in the database we recognize that some information may be wrong or incomplete. Please e-mail us and let us know what corroborating material you have to correct the mistakes. Leave us your e-mail address or phone number and a convenient time to contact you.

12. I have information, maps, or photographs that you may be interested in. How do I reach you?
We welcome your comments, suggestions, and help with additional material for the Civil War Research Database®. Please leave us an e-mail message with a description of the material you have and we will contact you.

13. How is the Ancestry site different from the HDS site version of the Database?
The data for each site is the same. The Ancestry site is intended to simplify the data configuration for a researcher whose primary interest is genealogical. Because genealogists most often approach the data looking for individuals, we have collected all available information about each individual in a single full text display. We have configured this full text individual display so as to accommodate the expanded information available for officers as well. The Ancestry version seeks to create an intuitive flow between regimental and individual soldier information. Links to regimental information are available from within individual soldier records. Links to individual soldiers are also available from within the regimental tables. Some of the charting functions available on the HDS site have been eliminated in order to focus on the information that seemed immediately important to genealogists.