South Carolina Military Records
This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny and Gareth L. Mark for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Colonial Wars. South Carolina’s military history began in 1670 when the Spanish attacked “Old Town.” Frequent battles with the Spanish, French, and Indian tribes continued throughout the colonial period. Unfortunately, few records have survived to tell of the participants and the nature of their involvement. Leonardo Andrea compiled a list of soldiers who served in various military capacities between 1715 and 1772 in South Carolina Colonial Soldiers and Patriots (Columbia, S.C., 1952). See also Murtie June Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732–1774 (1986; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, Co., 1999). Mention of South Carolina soldiers may be found in works dealing with specific wars of a national or regional scope.
Revolutionary War. South Carolinians were heavily involved in the Revolutionary War on both sides. Although some records were destroyed, the Revolutionary War resources for South Carolina are quite rich.
Patriots who served in the Continental Line may be found by examining the National Archives microfilm publications (see page 9), which are available at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and the The Family History Library (FHL). Original pension records are available at the National Archives, but a published index (see page 9) is widely available.
South Carolina militia units that participated in the Revolutionary War are not included in the service records listed above. A recent compilation of Patriot records, including militia records, is Bobby Gilmer Moss, comp., Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution (1983; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994). See also Alexander S. Salley, Jr., comp., South Carolina Provincial Troops in Papers of the First Council of Safety, 1775 (1900–02; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999).
Loyalists may be found in Murtie June Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, 3 vols. (1981; reprint, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999). See also South Carolina Royalist Troops, Muster Rolls, 1777–1783, on two microfilm reels at the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia (see South Carolina Archives, Libraries, and Societies).
Many South Carolinians can be found in the Accounts Audited of Claims Growing Out of the Revolution at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. The Accounts Audited is indexed in the Combined Alphabetical Index (see Background Sources for South Carolina).
Stub indents are another important resource. When South Carolina paid claims for goods, services, or damages from the Revolutionary War, they were paid with certificates called indents. Rather like stub checkbooks, the certificates were in two parts: one part was issued to the claimant as compensation; the other part was a stub on which pertinent information, such as the claimant’s name, the nature of the claim, and the amount paid was recorded. The state retained the stub of the indents, and they are found at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Office of the Commissioners of the Treasury, Stub Indents and Indexes, 1779–1791, 22 vols. See also Alexander S. Salley Jr., ed., Stub Entries to Indents Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, 12 vols. (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1910–27). Irregularly issued reprints may be available. See also Charles H. Lesser, Sources for the American Revolution at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (Columbia, S.C.: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2000).
War of 1812. The National Archives has service records, pension files, and indexes to the War of 1812 service and pension records (see page 9). See also Virgil D. White, comp., Index to War of 1812 Pension Files, 3 vols. (Waynesboro, Tenn.: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1989). Extensive manuscript and microfilmed records of South Carolina units and soldiers of the War of 1812 are at the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia (see Archives, Libraries, and Societies). The Department of History & Archives has a card index of South Carolina Pay Lists.
Civil War. The military personnel records of the Confederate States of America, along with other confederate records captured by the Union Army, were taken to Washington and preserved by the War Department. Consequently, service records for South Carolina Confederate soldiers can be found in the National Archives. See the National Archives microfilm publications: Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of South Carolina; Index to the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of South Carolina; and (Service) Records Relating to Confederate Naval and Marine Personnel. These three series are available at the National Archives and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. See also Alexander S. Salley, Jr., comp., South Carolina Troops in Confederate Service, 3 vols. (Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1913–14, 1930). References to South Carolina regimental histories are found in C. E. Dornbusch, comp., Military Bibliography of the Civil War, vol. 2 (New York: New York Public Library, 1967): 84-90.
South Carolina enacted a pension law for indigent Confederate veterans in 1888. Subsequent revisions in 1895, 1896, 1900, 1903, and 1910 added widows of veterans and all veterans who gave service in any Confederate state. A complete revision in 1919 established the Confederate Pension Department and County Pension Boards. Virtually all veterans and their widows qualified for pensions, but everyone receiving or wishing to receive a pension had to reapply. The reapplications are at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and are indexed in the “Card File Index of 1919–1926 South Carolina Confederate Pension Applications” at the Department.
See also Patrick J. McCawley, Guide to Civil War Records: A Guide to the Records in the South Carolina Department of Archives & History (Columbia, S.C.: The Department of Archives and History, 1994); Alexia Jones Hensley, South Carolina’s African American Confederate Pensioners, 1923–1925 (Columbia, S.C.: Department of Archives and History, 1998) detailing the activities and some personal information of a group of African Americans during the Civil War; and Patrick J. McCawley, Selected Civil War Bibliography (Columbia, S.C.: Department of Archives & History, 1998), listing over 450 titles published from 1863 to 1996.
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Mexican War. The Palmetto Regiment took part in the campaign in the Valley of Mexico. Jack Allen Meyer, South Carolina in the Mexican War: A History of the Palmetto Regiment of Volunteers, 1846–1917 (Columbia, S.C.: Department of Archives and History, 1996) chronicles the formation of the regiment’s companies, includes rosters of soldiers, maps tracing the routes they took, and the swords and medals awarded to the soldiers upon their return.