Site Commemorates Veterans Day with Free Access to Entire U.S. Military Records Collection
PROVO, UTAH, November 10, 2010 - Ancestry.com, which has the largest online collection of historical military records, today added more than 115,000 U.S. Military Academy Cadet Application Papers from West Point to its online collection of military records to commemorate Veterans Day.
“Handwritten cadet application papers are true gems in family history research, as they provide such depth and personal insight into the military veterans that came before us,” said Quinton Atkinson, director of content acquisition for Ancestry.com. “It is a treasure when we can see personal letters and records intersect with our shared history as a country. This Veterans Day, we hope this new collection will allow millions of Americans to explore their military ancestry, while inspiring them to discover the rich history of our nation’s past military leaders.”
The West Point Application Papers include letters from applicants from 1805-1866 requesting appointment, letters of recommendation and notification from the War Department if the candidate was accepted and letters of acceptance from the candidate. Over 115,000 candidates are listed and include well known graduates of West Point, including:
· William Tecumseh Sherman (1835) – known for his outstanding military strategy as a Union Army General during the Civil War, this collection contains several letters of recommendation for Sherman from his guardian, Thomas Ewing. Ewing’s letter praises 16-year-old Sherman as a “stout athletic lad, and very well prepared for entrance, a good Latin, Greek & French scholar… His father died insolvent… [and] it was his father’s wish… that he should receive an education which would fit him for the public service in the Army or Navy.”
· Thomas J (Stonewall) Jackson (1842) – one of the most well-known Confederate commanders, eighteen-year-old Stonewall Jackson was the subject of a nomination letter for West Point from South Carolina Governor F. W. Pickens. In his letter, Pickens asks if there are any vacancies at West Point for the state of South Carolina, and requests a copy of the department rules and qualifications for admission. Jackson went on to graduate 17th out of 59 students in the Class of 1846.
· George Pickett (1842) – an acceptance letter now available on Ancestry.com shows that Pickett, known for leading the appropriately named “Pickett's Charge” at the Battle of Gettysburg, was accepted as a cadet at West Point in 1842. Also included in the collection is Pickett’s resignation letter from the US Army’s 9th Infantry in 1861 to join the Confederate army, which also shows that upon resignation from the Union army he owed $96.38 in “expenses recruiting.”
· George A Custer (1856) – most remembered for a disastrous military engagement at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer’s nomination letter describes him as “17, 5’ 9¾”, good health, no deformity, reads well, spells correctly, writes a fair and legible hand, able to perform with facility and accuracy the ground rules of arithmetic, fully possesses all the qualifications physical, mental, and moral required.” This nomination letter sent to Jefferson Davis was written and signed by Congressman John A. Bingham, the judge advocate in the trial of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and a principle framer of the 14th amendment. Custer went on to graduate last in his class at West Point.
The collection includes many other records and letters relating to artist James Whistler, Dupont dynasty heir and Civil War veteran Henry Dupont, and Union Army Major General George B. McClellan.
The West Point Cadet Application Papers are part of Ancestry.com’s U.S. Military Collection, which includes 100 million names that span more than three centuries of American military service.
In honor of America’s military heroes, the entire U.S. Military Collection on Ancestry.com can be searched free from Veteran’s Day through Nov. 14. To begin exploring your family’s military heritage, visit www.ancestry.com/military.