Kentucky Military Revolutionary Records
This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D., FUGA, for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Kentucky men served in all U.S. military conflicts. As with other states, many types of military records—service, pension, and bounty land—are maintained by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and its regional centers (see pages 11-12). The Military Records and Research Branch, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, 1121 Louisville Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601, maintains military service records from the Revolutionary War to the present. The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and the Kentucky Historical Society have strong collections that cover service as well as pension and bounty-land records.
Although sparsely settled at the time, men from Kentucky served in the Revolutionary War. Many of the state’s later residents served for Virginia and were allotted Kentucky land for their service. Anderson C. Quisenberry’s Revolutionary Soldiers in Kentucky (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968) covers a broad scope of service records. Names of many early Kentuckians and others who later obtained land grants in Kentucky can be found in records of the George Rogers Clark military expedition. A chronological compilation of name, rank, dates of enlistment and discharge, and payment is included in Margery Heberling Harding, George Rogers Clark and His Men: Military Records, 1778–84 (Frankfort, Ky.: Kentucky Historical Society, n.d.). Civil War rosters for Kentuckians who served in the Union and Confederate armies have been indexed and are available at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. A searchable database of Kentucky Civil War Union Volunteers is available at Ancestry.com. Kentucky provided its Confederate veterans and widows with pensions, which can be located through the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Alice Simpson, Index of Kentucky Confederate Pension Applications (Frankfort, Ky.: Division of Archives and Records Management, Department for Libraries and Archives, 1978) is helpful in locating these materials in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Historical Society has indexed rosters for Revolutionary Soldiers buried in Kentucky and Kentuckians who served in the Mexican War (1846–48). The University of Kentucky and Kentucky Historical Society house the state Sons of the American Revolution organization papers, and Eastern Kentucky State University published rosters of Civil War regiments from Kentucky.
Military Records and Research Branch, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, 1121 Louisville Rd., Frankfort, KY 40601 maintains records for the Department of Military Affairs. These holdings are discharge documents for over 300,000 Kentucky veterans from all conflicts from World WariI through Desert Storm and historical records of all Kentucky militia and National Guard units from statehood to date. Some military group records can be accessed through online subscription databases (see page 17).
The following is a brief selected list of published works on Kentucky military records:
- Alfaro, Armando J. The Paper Trail of the Civil War in Kentucky, 1861–1865. Frankfort, Ky: Stuff Publications, ca 2001.
- Burns, Annie Walker. Abstracts of Pension Papers of Soldiers of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Indian Wars Who Settled in Kentucky. 20 vols. Washington, D.C.: the author, 1935-present.
- Clift, G. Glenn. The “Cornstalk” Militia of Kentucky, 1792–1811. 1957. Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982. Includes a history of the militia and lists of commissioned officers.
- Cook, Michael L. Index to Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky. 4 vols. Owensboro, Ky.: Cook and McDowell Publications, 1979–82. Both volumes (Union and Confederate) of the original report are covered by these indexes.
- Kentucky Adjutant General. Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812. Kentucky Adjutant General’s Report, 1891. Reprint. Nashville: Byron Sistler and Associates, 1992. Includes full name index and names of over 25,000 men who served. Probably the best single source of information on Kentucky veterans.
- Kentucky Pension Roll of 1835: Report from the Secretary of War—in Relation to the Pension Establishment of the U.S. Baltimore: Southern Book Co., 1959. Taken from the U.S. Pension Roll of 1835, this provides a comprehensive list of pensioners residing in Kentucky that year.
- Lynn, Stephen D. Confederate Pensioners of Kentucky: Pension Applications of the Veterans and Widows, 1912–1946. Nashville: Byron Sistler and Associates, 2000. Alphabetical list of 4,7000 Confederate pensioners. Data includes name, military unit, date and place of birth, and death information. Widow’s data lists both married and maiden names, date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, husband’s names, military unit, date and place of birth, and date and place of death.
- ____. Confederate Soldiers of Kentucky: A Roster of Veterans, 1861–1865. Nashville: Byron Sistler and Associates, 2002. Most complete list. Names taken from various sources, including the Report of the Adjutant General of Kentucky, pension files, Confederate Home records, records of Veterans’ organization, and others.
- Taylor, P. F. A Calendar of the Warrants for Land in Kentucky for Service in the French and Indian War. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967. Good source for records of early military land warrants.
- Wilson, Samuel M. Catalogue of Revolutionary Soldiers and Sailors to Whom Land Bounty Warrants Were Granted by Virginia. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online: