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Ft. Smith History Links is owned and maintained by Angela Y. Walton-Raji.  Use of material cannot be used without permission.  For information, contact Page Updated January 10, 2010

Researching US Colored Troops from Arkansas

When the name of a Civil War soldier has been obtained it is worth it to try and document that soldier’s service while in the military and obtain data on the life of that soldier.  

Civil War headstones can be identified by the shield engraved into the headstone. Inside the shield is the name of the soldier and the unit in which they served. When known the company was included.  A soldier may have have been placed in one regiment when he enlisted but was in a second company or unit, upon being discharged. The last company to which the soldier belonged is what is inscribed onto the stone.

There are two types of records that can be obtained to learn more about the person.  The military service record documents the soldier’s enlistment and service and the pension file contains data pertaining to both the soldier’s service and his left after discharge.  Both document types are useful for the researcher. A sample page from the military service record appears below.


The military service records are in the process of being microfilmed at the National Archives.  There are some that are already digitized and online. A portion of the US Colored Troops service records can be found from, including the 11th US Colored Infantry, organized in Ft. Smith, Arkansas

However, the most complete collection of Service Records of the US Colored Troops can be obtained at the National Archives in Washington DC.

Civil War Pension files are the documents that provide personal data including information on the personal history, family, and life of the soldier before an after the Civil War.