CIVIL WAR UNITS (CWUNITS) FILE FAQ
Last Update June 20, 2011
0.0 Does this file tell me how to do Civil War research?
No, just how to use the Civil War Units File. (For what the file is,
please see below.) There are many other resources in libraries, on
the web, etc.; we do not keep lists of those.
This file has questions and answers in the following sections:
1.0 What is the Civil War Units File?
2.0 How can I access the Civil War Units File?
3.0 How do I use the Civil War Units File?
4.0 What is involved in being listed as a contact?
5.0 How can I link to the file from my web site?
1.0 WHAT IS THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?
1.1 What is the file for?
The purpose of the CWUNITS file is to list people who have information
on a specific unit that participated in the American Civil War and are
willing to help others research that unit. If you are looking for
information on an individual, you are most likely to find this file
helpful if you know which state and unit he served in.
Most of this information comes from books, pension records, etc. Many
of the contact people on this list had ancestors in "their" units, but
all who are interested are welcome. Please note, this is not a file
of reenactment units.
1.2 What is the structure of the file?
CWUNITS is five files (plus one for the FAQ) as follows:
Part Filename Contents
1 CWUNITS1 USA national & states A-I
2 CWUNITS2 USA states K-N
3 CWUNITS3 USA states O-W
4 CWUNITS4 CSA national & states A-M
5 CWUNITS5 CSA states N-V
Q CWUNITSQ FAQ (frequently asked questions with answers)
Parts 1-5 include the intro as well as the listings. Within a state
the units are organized by number (1st Infantry, etc.).
1.3 Who maintains the file?
Carol Botteron (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the maintainer of the file.
If you have questions (after reading this FAQ) or would like to
volunteer as a contact, please write to her.
1.4 Who supports the file?
The Civil War Units File is not a commercial venture and no money
is involved. The kind people of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville,
provide space for the file on the American Civil War Homepage. The
maintainer does the work in what time she can spare from Real Life
(grad school, job, moving, surgery, etc.) and is "paid" in occasional
notes from users and contacts expressing appreciation for the file.
2.0 HOW CAN I ACCESS THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?
The current version of the Civil War Units File is available on the
American Civil War Homepage:
Please note the new URL as of December 2010.
3.0 HOW DO I USE THE CIVIL WAR UNITS FILE?
3.1 What information can I get from the CWUNITS file?
If the unit (unit, ship, county, group, etc.) you are interested in is
listed, the listing has the email address of a contact person who has
information on the unit. You can write to the contact, ask questions,
and share information.
3.2 What can a contact do for me?
Some contacts are experts who have written books on their units but
most are "just" helpful fellow researchers who have volunteered to
share their information and knowledge. They may be able to send you
information, point you to books or other resources, or "introduce" you
to other people who are interested in the unit.
Many of the contacts have set up web pages about their units, and list
the URLs in their listings. If you have web access, please check the
web page before you write to the contact.
3.3 What are good questions to ask a contact?
Be as specific as you can. It's better to say too much than too
little. If your message is getting long (say, more than a typed page)
you could summarize and ask whether the contact would like more
details. Be sure to include the following information:
What unit are you looking for information about?
What was the name of the soldier you're interested in?
When was he in the unit (if you know)?
Where did he live before the war?
What sources have you already checked? (specific books, etc.)
What information do you already have? (roster, pension file, etc.)
Please do _not_ send attachments unless you clear it with the contact
Be sure that the subject line of your message is informative, such as
"CWUNITS Query" or the unit you are asking about. It is helpful to
mention that you found the contact's address in the CWUNITS file.
3.4 What if an address in the file doesn't work?
If you can't get mail through to a listed address, check your
spelling. If it's OK, try again in a few days in case there was a
temporary problem. If that doesn't work, contact the CWUNITS
maintainer (see section 1.3). You will need to send her the address,
what unit it's listed for, and what kind of error message you got.
If you don't get an error message from an address, but don't get an
answer to your message, try again in a week or two (after reviewing
section 3.3 to make sure your question is as clear as possible).
Maybe your messages are getting lost, or maybe the contact is sick or
busy. The CWUNITS maintainer cannot help with these problems.
3.5 How often is the CWUNITS FILE updated?
The file is updated every 3 months. If you see a version of the
file that is more than 6 months old, please report it to the CWUNITS
maintainer. Be sure to include the URL or other contact information.
(If you see an old file on Rootsweb you don't need to write.)
3.6 What if I don't know which unit my relative served in?
Without knowing the unit it will be difficult to get any information
from this file. If you are researching an individual and don't know
what unit he was in, check the beginning of the listings for the state
where he lived (there may be a contact listed for "all units" or "all
soldiers" for that state) and the beginning of USA or CSA for general
Also look at resources such as www.usgenweb.org under the state and
county of interest. Besides the CWUNITS file, there are many sources,
starting with where you found this file (newsgroups, email list, WWW
site, etc.), that will help you in your search. A good place to ask
(& answer) questions about the Civil War is the Civil-War mailing list
3.7 What if the unit I'm interested in isn't listed?
If a unit isn't listed, there is currently no contact. Check the
beginning of USA or CSA and the beginning of the appropriate state for
general resources. http://www.rootsweb.com/ has many useful mailing
lists including several Civil War lists. Try typing the name of the
unit into a search engine such as http://www.google.com
If there is no contact for your unit, and you have some information,
wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for you to volunteer? Others
may contact you and share what information they have, which is the
purpose of the CWUNITS file.
3.8 Can I subscribe to a mailing list to get updated versions of the
No, sorry, we're too busy already without running a mailing list. But
we post calls for listings, and announcements of new versions, to
several relevant newsgroups and mailing lists, including the Civil-War
list on http://www.rootsweb.com
4.0 WHAT IS INVOLVED IN BEING LISTED AS A CONTACT?
If you have information about a unit, especially one that is not
listed, please consider being a contact.
The most important thing about being a contact is to have the desire
to help fellow researchers. If you're able and willing to help
beginners, especially for a unit that isn't listed, you're qualified
to be a contact.
4.1 How would I volunteer to be a contact person?
Just send email to the CWUNITS maintainer (see 1.3) from the address
where you'd like people to send queries. If you send your message
from another address, the maintainer will need to write to the address
you want listed (to make sure it works) and you'll need to confirm it.
So please send the message from the address you want listed!
Please do _not_ send me attachments.
Please format your listings like the example shown here. (Use spaces,
not tabs.) Start with the state and the regiment or unit number. Be
sure to include any details you know like infantry, cavalry, or
artillery, the company if you have information on only one, etc. Next
show the years for which you have information. Finally include your
email address and name for each unit. (If you have no email address,
a hardcopy address is OK.)
UNIT YEARS CONTACT
6th Kansas Cavalry, Co. B 1862-4 email@example.com (Your Name)
If you have a web page about the unit and would like it listed, please
include the complete URL (including http://www). Also please make sure
that your site works properly on at least two different browsers.
If there's anything in your listing that is not obvious, make sure to
include it the information you provide. For example, some states had
both Union and Confederate units in the war, in which case we will
need to know which side the unit was on. (Maine we can figure out,
Missouri please tell us.) If you are sending several listings, it's
OK to put them all in one message.
Please use an address that is stable (i.e. people will be able to get
mail to you), that you look at fairly frequently, and that is not
likely to change soon. If you have a permanent forwarding address
(maybe through your college alumni association) that might be the best
choice. You might consider getting an address at a web site such as
yahoo, lycos, or hotmail. If you'd like to include two addresses,
A contact's email address *must* accept mail from unknown senders. If
your account sends back messages like "To control spam, I now allow
incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand" please
set up a friendlier account for Civil War Units mail. If I write to you
and get a message like this, your listings will be removed from the file.
The reason we ask for your name is so that if you change addresses and
forget to tell us, we have a better chance of finding you again. If
your address does change, though, please tell us! (See 4.7.) Also,
names are friendlier and help people remember that they are writing to
a real person.
4.2 To be a contact, would I need to be an expert on my unit?
Some contacts are experts who have written books on their units, but
most are "just" helpful fellow researchers who have volunteered to
share their information and knowledge. You need not be an expert to
be a contact. You should be able to at least point people to some
information on your unit, such as a list of battles (Dyer's Compendium
of the Rebellion is widely available), a roster, a history of the
unit, or books that mention the unit (such as a history of the county
where many of the soldiers lived).
For the many units for which not much information exists, a major
function of the contacts is to keep track of what there is and try to
help researchers find it.
4.3 What else does a contact do?
Many contacts keep notes on who has written to them about the unit,
and what questions and resources the people had. Sometimes they can
"introduce" people with similar interests.
You might also do an occasional search for books and web sites you
could recommend to people who would like to read more about your unit.
4.4 Are there rules on what a contact is and is not allowed to do?
Common courtesy, mostly. If you are a contact and get a question that
you are too busy to answer, please send the person a note saying that
you got their mail and will try to handle it in a month or whenever.
If you can't answer their question at all, say so. If you don't
answer someone's mail, they're likely to ask the (very busy) CWUNITS
maintainer whether your address is still OK, and then we have to ask
you, so you have yet another question to answer. So when you get a
question, please at least acknowledge it.
4.5 Are contacts allowed to charge for information?
Contacts are expected to try to answer questions by email, but not to
do lots of typing. If you're a contact and the best way to answer a
question is to send copies of book pages or other records, it's OK to
ask the questioner to reimburse your expenses, but you should estimate
the amount in advance.
If you have written a book about the unit, it's OK to tell
questioners how to purchase it, but you should do reasonable lookups
by email for free (e.g. a soldier's roster listing) and be willing to
give enough information about the book that someone can look in a
library for it.
4.6 I'm interested in being a contact for a unit, but a contact is
already listed. Is it worth volunteering anyway?
Yes! You probably have access to different resources than the current
contact(s), so you might be able to answer questions that they can't.
Also a contact may get busy or sick, or have to "unvolunteer," or lose
email access. So we're always glad to have more than one contact for
If you're thinking of volunteering, and someone is already listed
for "your" unit, it's a good idea to send a note to the current
contacts telling them about your interest in the unit and what
resources you have.
4.7 If my address changes or I want to change my listing, what do I
Write to the maintainer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send the mail from
your new address if possible. Include your current listing(s) and the
revised listing(s). If you only send new listings, we might not
realize that old listings need to be deleted.
4.8 Can I just send you my files instead of being listed?
Sorry, we don't have space to store files. All we keep is a "diffs"
file of changes for the next version. If you can set up a web page
somewhere, we'd be glad to put your URL in the file. We'd still like
to include your email address and name, just in case.
4.9 I was listed and now my listing is gone. What happened?
Listings are deleted if the contact requests it or if the email
address stops working. If we receive a report that your address
doesn't work, we test it. If we get an error message (e.g. "unknown
user" or "permanent fatal error") that does not say the problem is
temporary, we have to search out and delete your listings. It's a
good idea to check the file at least once a year to make sure that
your listings are there and have your current address. You might
find that you want to change a listing.
4.10 I'm the foremost authority on my unit, but someone else is
listed. Would you please remove the other person's listing?
We delete listings only if the contact requests it or if the email
address stops working. We would prefer to have more than one listing
for a unit; see question 4.6.
4.11 I have a special problem. (Losing email access suddenly, or will
be off line for a month, etc.) Can the maintainer help?
We'll try! Just write (see 1.3 or below) and we'll try to find a
solution that is best for you and for people who write to you.
4.12 If I'm listed as a contact, will I be put on a mailing list?
No, there are no mailing lists for CWUNITS. You'll get mail from
people who have questions, and maybe occasionally from the maintainer
(e.g. to check your email address if someone reports a problem).
4.13 I'm interested in helping with the CWUNITS file, in a way other
than being a contact. Is other help needed?
Yes, indeed! If you can HTML code files, track contacts whose
addresses have changed, provide backup file space, or suggest other
improvements, please contact the CWUNITS maintainer (see 1.3 or
5.0 HOW CAN I LINK TO THE FILE FROM MY WEB SITE?
5.1 I have a web page for a state or county and would like to link to
the CWUNITS file. Is this OK?
You can link to the file on its official home, the American Civil War
Home Page, at http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/warweb.html. This site
always has the newest version of the file. You can make the link just
once and then your page will always have the current file. To make this
link, contact the owner of the CW Home Page, George Hoemann, whose email
address is at the bottom of that page.
5.2 I have a web page for a state or county and would like to copy my
state's part of the CWUNITS file to my page. Is this OK?
Sorry, but we cannot allow this use of the file. We release a new
version of the file every 3 months. People have copied sections of the
file to web pages before, but after a while they can't keep up. This
leaves an old version on their page, which causes problems because of
bad email addresses and incompleteness. Instead, see answer 5.1 about
linking to the relevant section of the file at its official home site.
I'd like to thank the people who help me keep this big project going:
George Hoemann, who hosts the files at the Civil War Home Page, and
Dennis Heltemes, who helped me compile this FAQ. And, of course,
all the people who volunteer to be contacts for units.
Carol Botteron (ancestors on both sides) email@example.com