Florida Military Records
This entry was originally written by the Florida Pioneer Descendants Certification Program Committee of the Florida State Genealogical Society, Inc. for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The Florida Department of Military Affairs, St. Francis Barracks, 82 Marine Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084 dma.myflorida.com has produced an ongoing series of approximately 150 “Special Archives Publications” distributed to a limited number of depositories in Florida and elsewhere. Selected volumes will be noted in the discussions below, but researchers are encouraged to query the director at the above address regarding a list of pertinent titles or see a list online by Anne Futch through the “Archives FTP site” at www.rootsweb.com/~flgenweb.
The Revolutionary War. Since Florida remained loyal to the Crown during the war, there are few Revolutionary War military records in Florida repositories. In fact, Florida served as a haven for southern loyalists when its English settlers invited loyalists from other states (especially South Carolina and Georgia) to move to Florida. Several skirmishes took place along the Georgia-Florida border and at Pensacola; later, many soldiers moved to Florida with their families, applied for pensions, and were buried here.
- Fritot, Jessie Robinson. Pension Records of Soldiers of the Revolution Who Removed to Florida. Jacksonville, Fla.: Jacksonville Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 1946.
- Wright, J. Leitch. Florida in the American Revolution. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1975.
More current information on soldiers buried or ever living in Florida can be found in:
- Cooper, Pamela J. “Revolutionary Soldiers in Florida,” The Florida Genealogist 24 (Jul/Sept 2001): 94.
- Patriots Who Died and/or Are Buried in Florida. Sons of the American Revolution, Florida Chapter www.sar.org/pat_idx/FL-Patriots/index.htm.
Excellent resources for identifying many of the Loyalist men who went to Florida for asylum and filed claims are:
- Siebert, Wilbur Henry. Loyalists in East Florida, 1774 to 1785: The most important documents pertaining thereto. Reprint. Boston: Gregg Press, 1972.
- Dwyer, Clifford S. Index to Series 1 of American Loyalist Claims. Athens, Ga.: Iberian, 1990.
- _____ and J. R. Jones. Index to Series 2 of American Loyalist Claims. DeFuniak Springs, Fla.: Ram Pub., 1986.
The actual records associated with the above two indexes are on microfilm.
War of 1812. The War of 1812 occurred before the U.S. acquired Florida. The East Florida Papers, 1737–1858, include references to military activities during this period. See:
- Florida War of 1812 Pension Project at http://usgwarchives.net/pensions/1812/index.htm
- James G. Cusick’s, The Other War of 1812: The Patriot War and the American Invasion of Spanish East Florida (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2003).
- "The Patriot War Papers and Patriot War Claims 1812-1846." Manuscript found at Saint Augustine Historical Society, 271 Charlotte street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Indian Wars (1817–18, 1835–42, 1855–58). Many of the following records can be found at major libraries throughout Florida and at the Florida State Archives. There is no state index, but participants are included in the master Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During Indian Wars and Disturbances, 1815–1858. See also:
Compiled Service Records of Volunteers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Florida During the Florida Indian Wars, 1835–1858.
Original Florida Territorial Muster Rolls, 1826–1849. Includes a few original muster rolls from the Second Seminole War.
Seminole War Muster Rolls of Florida Militia, 1836–1841, 1856–1858.
Florida Militia Muster Rolls; Seminole Indian Wars. 10 vols. Florida Department of Military Affairs, Historical Services Division. Indexed online by Aurie Morrison (search by title).
In 1903 the Florida Board of State Institutions published an unindexed and somewhat flawed volume entitled Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars. (1903; reprinted, Macclenny, Fla.: Richard J. Ferry, 1983) and digitized at Florida State Library website under Florida History and Materials http://diglib.lib.fsu.edu. The P. K. Yonge Library has an index to the Civil War section compiled by the WPA, but the volume’s chief usefulness is as a lead to original source materials.
A database called the Florida War Death List, 1836-42 is searchable at Ancestry.com.
The Mexican War (1846–48). Florida had recently been through the Second Seminole War and had been a state just over a year when the war with Mexico began, yet the five-company quota assigned to Florida was quickly filled. Very little attention has thus far been paid to the new state’s part in the Mexican War, but one excellent account, including rosters of the five companies, is T. Frederick Davis, “Florida’s Part in the War with Mexico,” Florida Historical Quarterly 20 (1942): 235-59. The full article can be found online at http://palmm.fcla.edu/fh/. In addition to general military sources for all states, see Mexican War Muster Rolls of Florida Independent Companies, 1847–1848, at the Florida State Archives.
Civil War. Florida seceded from the Union on 10 January 1861, remained an independent nation until 22 April 1865, and ended the Civil War with the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi not captured and occupied by federal forces. More than 16,000 Floridians served in the Civil War (15,000 Confederate and 1,290 Union).
Several volumes of the special publications of the Florida Department of Military Affairs pertain to Union and Confederate soldiers from Florida. The Florida State Archives and many other libraries in Florida have the National Archives microfilm indexes to the Union and Confederate soldiers Service and Pension indexes. See also:
Biographical Rosters of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers, 1861–65. 6 vols. Compiled by David W. Hartman & David Coles. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1995.
Confederate Records. Florida granted pensions to Confederate veterans and their widows under laws passed in 1885, 1887, and 1889. The Florida State Archives has a collection of some 14,000 approved and denied pension applications from 1885 to 1954, also available at the FHL. They are now available online at http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/barm/PensionFiles.html. The files are indexed by both veterans’ and widows’ names.
The Florida Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Home records are kept at the Jacksonville Public Library in three binders and are completely indexed. Microfilmed records and index to Confederate Soldiers in Florida are available at both the National Archives and FHL.
See also Virgil D. White, Register of Florida CSA Pension Applications (Waynesboro, Tenn: National Historical Publishing Co., 1989).
Union Records. Union sources also include microfilmed service records and an index for those who served from Florida, which is available at both the National Archives and the FHL. See also:
The Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861–1865. (Florida, vol. 19) Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Publishing. Co., 1997.
Bibliographical sources that may be helpful include:
Davis, William Watson. The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida. Reprint. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964.
Florida State Genealogical Society. Census Department of the South, November 1864: For Jacksonville, Fernandina, and St. Augustine, Florida. Ordered by the Department of the South, Hilton Head, South Carolina. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2002.
Schmidt, Lewis G. The Civil War in Florida: A Military History. 4 vols. Allentown, Penn.: L.G. Schmidt, 1989–92.
Taylor, Paul. Discovering the Civil War in Florida: A Reader and Guide. Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple Press, 2001.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
- Florida, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865
- Florida, Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers
The Spanish-American War. Most of the Florida volunteers in the infantry units of what John Hay called this “splendid little war” moved smartly about the state, into and out of training camps and guard detachments, but never left it. Several hundred of them are listed, with capsule unit histories, in part 3 of Soldiers of Florida (see section on Indian Wars above). The section is unindexed but can serve to alert researchers to further resources. A thirteen-reel National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication (M1087), Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served in the Florida Infantry During the War with Spain, is generally more reliable, and access to the records is facilitated by a 126-roll index (M871). The Florida Department of Military Affairs Special Publication No. 3 is Mobilization Lists, Florida State Troops and Naval Militia, Spanish-American War, 1898–1899. The Florida Historical Society has an extensive collection. See also:
Soldiers of Florida in the Seminole Indian, Civil, and Spanish-American Wars. Macclenny, Fla.: R.J. Ferry, 1983.
World War I. Sources at the Florida State Archives include:
Summary of Florida Veterans of World War I, 1925. This series contains a summary of the citizens of Florida who served in the armed forces of the United States during World War I from 1916 to 1920. It lists the name, race, period served, the branch served in, ranks attained, those killed or wounded, and any awards or citations earned.
Soldiers and Sailors Discharge Records. These records contain the individual’s name, race, rank, serial number, reason for discharge, birthplace, age at time of enlistment, occupation, and physical description. The enlistment record, usually included with the discharge record, gives the length of service, prior service, marital status, arms and horsemanship qualifications, advancement, battles, decorations and honors, leaves of absence, physical condition, and character evaluation. The Florida State Archives has these papers on microfilm for twenty-eight counties, with microfilm copies at the FHL. Search by the individual county. See also:
The Florida State Archives, Florida Memory Project has the World War I Service Cards online at www.floridamemory.com/Collections/WWI.
World War I Navy card roster of Floridians, 1925 are at Florida State Archives and FHL.
Florida Department of Military Affairs. Florida Veterans of the First World War All Services, 1917–1919. Special Archives Publication Nos. 21-29.
World War II.
The Florida World War II Memorial www.floridawwii.com/sites.asp lists historic sites and research collections if they are available.
World War II Casualty Card Files, 1950. This Florida State Archives series contains cards that were assembled by the Military Department and used as a central file to track the military casualties from Florida during World War II.
Florida Department of Military Affairs. Special Archives Publication Nos. 15, 19, 59-62, 119, 133, 135-137.
Later Conflicts. Names of military personnel who died or are missing in action in the Korean War and Vietnam are available online through the USGenWeb archives (see page 16) for Florida.
Militia. Florida has had a militia since its earliest territorial days. When voters lined up to register for the young state’s first election, every able-bodied man over twenty and under forty-five was enrolled in the militia before being allowed to vote; only age and infirmity excused the prospective voter from his military obligation.
Home guard (state militia) units were under state command during the Civil War, and their personnel and other records were never provided to Confederate officials. Most of the records that survived the war were placed in the State Arsenal, which has recently transferred them and other treasures to the Florida State Archives. Including records as early as the 1820s, as well as muster rolls from the Second Seminole, Mexican, and Civil Wars, this new acquisition constitutes a major source for Florida researchers. Later records include documents of the Florida Militia, Florida State Troops, and Florida National Guard (1870–1917). See Robert Hawk, Florida’s Army: Militia/State Troops/National Guard, 1565–1985 (Englewood, Fla.: Pineapple Press, 1986).