Medical Reports in Military Pension Files

Some United States Civil War pension files are chock full of medical reports. Many times these reports are repetitive and full of more details about your ancestor’s height, weight, temperature, and body functions than a person needs or wants to know.

But there are times when those reports do have information helpful to your research.

The reports may provide details about their injuries during the war. Specific battles or locations where injuries took place may be mentioned and that can provide additional insight into their service. Some testimony may be included from their comrades when they were on the battle field.

Testimony from doctors may indicate where and where they first saw the doctor after the war. In some situations those dates and locations may help you to pinpoint where your ancestor lived during the war. Occasionally those residential details are not mentioned elsewhere. The length of time your ancestor had been seeing the doctor could be a relevant clue–all depending on your specific research situation.

Consider reading through the medical reports in detail. You may learn a few of your ancestor’s habits that you really don’t care to know–like perhaps he drank quite a bit which contributed to his health problems.

Or you may gather a piece of information that helps you flesh out a non-medical clue to your ancestor’s life.

You won’t know if you don’t read it.


4 thoughts on “Medical Reports in Military Pension Files

  1. You might also want to see if a Carded Medical Record exists for a Civil War soldier at the National Archives since they have information that is not included in the regular Military Service Record. If your soldier did not apply for a pension himself they can provide a lot more information on what happened to them during the war.

  2. One of my veteran ancestor’s files has a huge number of medical-examination pages, among which is a statement by one of the pension-bureau appointees that the original local examining physician was an incompetent charlatan. The local man was in business for decades, and was among those who were informants for death records.

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