On 27 September, 2004, a special ceremony was held at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, commemorating the completion of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database (CWSS). This online, searchable database contains 6.3 million names of Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate.
In case you’ve never used this database, it’s a dandy.
You can search for individual soldiers and their assigned regiments, as well as battle engagements. To search for your ancestor, click on Soldiers or Sailors, then enter at least a surname. The system will then display a list of names, along with each person’s regiment, function (i.e. infantry, artillery), and side (Union or Confederate).
Additionally, a click on the soldier’s name will display their rank on entering in and mustering out, their company, the National Archives film number of their service, and any notes. If you click on the name of their regiment, you can view the names of all the soldiers in the unit, and read a history of the unit (if available).
Eventually, you’ll be able to search 13 national cemeteries relating to Civil War battlefield parks, but for now only the Poplar Grove National Cemetery at Petersburg National Battlefield is searchable. This will eventually be a valuable resource for genealogists, as the cemetery database includes information like original burial site and date of death, as well as an image of the tombstone.
There’s lots more to search on this site (including Andersonville prison records), and Medal of Honor winners, so poke around for an afternoon or two.