At Gopher Records, we have a standing policy of providing free service records to those who obtain a tombstone for a Civil War veteran from the Veteran’s Administration.
The Veterans Administration (VA) will provide a government-issued tombstone for Civil War veterans whose grave site is known but is currently unmarked. Under this program, the VA requires that the applicant provide sufficient proof of the veteran’s service, as well as other conditions of eligibility as outlined on their form VA40-1330. (The VA imposes no fee for such a tombstone but local cemeteries may impose their own fee to receive or place the stone.)
Our policy is to provide a free digital copy of the soldier’s Compiled Military Service Records (CMSRs) to anyone who successfully applies for such a tombstone. If the soldier served in more than one regiment, then the offer includes copies of the CMSRs for each of those regiments. We make this offer in order to encourage individuals and groups to preserve the memories of our veterans.
In a relatively small percentage of cases, the CMSRs for a soldier are already available online. In those cases too, we will provide free copies of those records.
Note that the VA’s requirement for proof of the soldier’s service may be met by a variety of records, including a copy of the soldier’s approved pension application, pension payment records, copies of service/pension index cards from a government database, or other official records. CMSRs would also qualify as that necessary proof but note that our offer only applies to tombstone applications that have already been approved. (Otherwise, I’m afraid, some people would abuse this policy by requesting the records for free while having no intention of obtaining a tombstone. Thank you for understanding).
So if no other proof of the soldier’s service is available and the CMSRs are needed in advance to obtain the tombstone, you would need to purchase them from us whereupon, on approval of the tombstone, we would provide a coupon so that your next order for CMSRs (i.e., for another soldier) would be free.
Note also that our services include the digitization of pension records, Court Martial files, soldiers’ carded medical records, and Federal land records, among others, and records for soldiers other than the Civil War – but those record types are not included in this free offer.
To requests free CMSRs under this program, please write to us with proof of your approved tombstone application.