Monday, March 16, 2009

Military Monday - Unclaimed West Virginia Civil War Medals

I wrote about this some time ago but it seems that I have more readers now (thanks for coming by!) and it is well worth the repeat if someone can claim their Civil War Soldier's medals from my lovely state of West Virginia.

I have over the past year learned how hard it is to get something, anything, from the military. There is much paperwork, waiting, more paperwork, more waiting - you get the picture. I have yet to "nail down" an ancestor who was in the civil war but as research into their lives continues you never know! I managed to track down my Grandfather's WWII medals and think that all families should be reunited with their loved ones' military history.

As I wrote about back in December, I came across some interesting information on a WV site that I visit often. I found that they actually have a list of Union Soldiers from the state of West Virginia who never claimed their medals. The state made an effort at the end of the war to distribute them but still the archives is holding about 5200 (at last count) of the original 26,000+. I understand from reading up on this that these medals are still in their original packaging AND can be claimed by someone proving their relationship to the person. Note: According to the information below, it does not have to be a Direct relationship. I have seen comments from others stating that they claimed a Great-Great Uncle's medal.

Here's some info directly from the site:
"Many heirs of West Virginia Union veterans of the Civil War may be eligible to claim medals struck to honor their ancestors years ago. Most of the medals were claimed by the veterans themselves, their immediate families, or their descendants, but several thousand medals remain unclaimed. A list of the unclaimed medals is available in the Archives and History Library and on its website.

To claim an ancestor's medal, a claimant must submit his or her line of descent from the veteran along with documentation to support this line of descent. To establish line of descent, claimants must include copies of primary sources, including birth, death, marriage, will, deed, military,census, Bible records, etc. Old letters, diaries, marriage announcements, or obituaries may also prove helpful in supporting a descendant's claim. Please note that a family chart submitted without primary source documentation is not sufficient.

The claimant who establishes the most direct relationship to the veteran will be awarded the ancestor's medal six months from the date the fully documented claim is received by Archives and History. The purpose of the six-month waiting period is to allow for sufficient verification of the descendant's claim and for submission of counterclaim(s) by other potential descendant(s). In the case of equal claims, the descendant whose claim was received first will be awarded the medal."

If you know of a Civil War Union Soldier from West Virginia in your family's past, it's worth visiting the site just to check the list. I find it heartbreaking that these medals were never retrieved by the soldiers or their family to pass down to us....

Heres the website link:


  1. I remember your first post on this Cindy and it is good for people to know about
    Hugs June xxx

  2. I think I read about this. So you are from West Virginia...I do alot of research in Morgantown and try to get their annually. My grandmother's roots go back in that area for over 100 years, so I have alot of work to do there. I don't think the state has any Civil War medals for me, although I wish it did! Thanks for this post.