Finding information in the military archives
Let's take a closer look on how to find information in the military archive, in this case closing in a specific regiment and a specific conscript, my great grandfather, Knud Christian Hansen Skov. This post is about how I found some of the military records available regarding my great grandfather and hopefully it can be a kind of 'how-to' when you need to find information about your own ancestors.
I started out with nothing more than my great grandfather's name and an old photo of him in uniform as well as a general idea of when he served (my initial guess was 1890 +/- 5 years). Unfortunately noone in my family could give me anymore details than that, except of cource that everyone remembers my grat grandmother telling that "he looked so handsome in his uniform". Not much to go by, but lets see what we can find. Luckily the Danish archives have rather much information available and the resources are generally very well organized.
First step was taking a closer look at the photo. The photo shows my great grandfather mounted on horseback and wearing a dragoon's uniform (dragoons wear a characteristic helmet). Beneath the photo is the name of the photographer, Ed Langhoff in Næstved (in this case spelled 'Nestved').
1. An internet search with the keywords 'dragonregiment' and 'næstved' quickly leads me to Peter Loumann's website 'Huse i Næstved' ('Houses/buildings in Næstved'). Here I can see a military barracks called 'Grønnegades Kaserne'. From the information found here I can see that 4. Dragonregiment ('4th Dragoon Regiment') were stationed in Næstved from 1842 to about 1922/23. Now I know in what regiment my great grandfather served.
2. An additional internet search with the keywords 'langhoff' and 'næstved' leads me to Næstved Museum's website with a section called 'Fotografer i Næstved' ('Photographers in Næstved'). Here I can read that Edvard Langhoff (or Eduard Christian Langhoff) were a photograher in Næstved from June 26, 1882 to April 1889. This information narrows down my search to a specific range of years.
Source: 'Photographers in and from Denmark until the year 1900' A valuable help for identifying old family photos is the reference book 'Fotografer i og fra Danmark indtil år 1900' ('Photographers in and from Denmark until the year 1900') by Bjørn Ochsner which contains an index with biographical information of nearly all photographers in Denmark until 1900, in the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg until 1864 as well as photographers of Danish descent working abroad.
3. Next step was make a lookup in register with title "Registratur over Forsvarets Arkiver". This register lists all military resources held by the Military Archive ("Forsvarets Arkiver") in Copenhagen and is generally available at every archive and several libraries in Denmark (perhaps also at your local family history center who also holds small collections of published resources. Does anyone know? Post a comment). The register is vital in finding the right resources. Not only does the index tell you what kind of resources are available which years has been preserved but it also provides information about the changes in regiment names and stations etc. through time. Regarding 4th Dragoon Regiment I found both regimental registers, internal and external correspondance, list of punishments/penalties, regimental accounts etc. (The military records below includes a lot of military terms, well, of cource, but I'm not sure how to translate all terms so I just left some of them in Danish):
4th Dragoon Regiment (4. Dragonregiment)
Ressort: Royal Resolution of May 1, 1670.
History: Raised Aug. 1, 1670 af "1. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1675: "2. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1748: "1. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1763: "Jyske Kyrasseregiment". 1772: "1. Sjællandske Regiment Rytteri". 1785: "Sjællandske Rytterregiment". 1816: "Sjællandske Lanseregiment" ("Sjællandske Lansenérregiment"). 1842: "4. Dragonregiment". Disbanded 1923.
Litterature: Hansen, H. D.: "4. Dragonregiment 1670 - 1. august 1920". (Published 1920).
Regimental registers: Indgåede skrivelser 1771-1924. Registraturbøger 1765-1923. Kopi- og korrespondancebøger 1767-1923. Listebøger samt eskadrons- og skolearkiver 1846-1923. Ordrebøger 1763-1849. Befalingsbøger 1765-1923. Rapportbøger 1828-1924. Straffebøger 1850-1923. Stambøger 1737-1923. Hestesager 1870-1923. Fortroligt arkiv 1856-1924. Varia 1746-1922. Regnskaber 1790-1923.
4. My focus here is the "Stambøger" (pl.) which could be translated to something like "personel registers". As you might have noticed in the above not everything has been archived and preserved, especially not the older documents, but the "personel registers" are preserved from 1737 and until the regiment were disbanded in 1923. These registers holds all information regarding the individual conscript or officer etc. including a physical discription and is available on microfilm as self service in the reading room at the Danish National Archives ("Rigsarkivet") in Copenhagen, but can also be ordered for research at the various regional archives. However, I chose to travel to Copenhagen, as I also wanted to check out some other resources there at the same time. It turned out that my great grandfather where a noncommissioned officer while serving at the 4th Dragoon Regiment, but it also gave me other interestiing information, suck as a physical discription:
Knud Christian Hansen Skov, born June 28, 1861 i Sønder Broby [Svendborg County]
- Height: 64' 3/4'' [164,5 cm]
- Build: Strong
- Hair: Blond
- Eyes: Blue
- Speciel characteristics: -
- 4th Dragoon Regiment:
- Compagni: [Særlen] Jan. 21, 1886 - June 14, 1886
- Compagni: 2. Squadron June 15, 1886 - Feb. 12, 1894
- (Called in as) conscript: Oct. 6 1885
- Udskrivningskreds / "enlistment area": no. 2 [Holbæk County]
- Lægd / "enlistment locality": no. 206
- Letter and number.: [J] - 24
- Recruit: Jan. 31, 1886
- Non-comissioned Officer Academy (Befalingsmandselev): 28/10 86
- Non-commissioned Officer (Undercorporal): 15/6 87
- Hjemsendelses- og Indkaldelsesnr.: 12
- Vedtegninger: -
- Class (Duelighedsnummer): 1 [the best class]
- Offences: -
- Punishments: -
- Non-commissioned Officer Training passed: Non-commisioned Officers Academi (Underkorporalskolen)
- Other notes: Farmer
- Indkaldt til 12/9 88, men fritaget, see K. f. H. no. 45/1888
- Forholdsattest: 3/10 87
- From Jan. 1 1894 [xxx] in the reserves at the 2nd Dragoon Regiment. (ref: 4DR 345/1894)
- Indkaldt til tjeneste:
- [Særlen]: Jan. 31, 1886 - June 14, 1886
- 2. Squadron: June 15, 1886 - Oct. 3, 1887
- 2. Squadron: Sept. 2, 1889 - Oct. 3, 1889
[Source: "Stambøger" > "4. Dragonregiment" > "Underofficerer m.v."; microfilm no. M. 12129, Forsvarets Arkiver/Rigsarkivet]
As you can see I found a lot of interesting information about my great grandfather. Not only information of his military service, but also characteristics such as height, color of his eyes etc. that you might not learn from a photo alone.
Was this information helpful for you? Could it be relevant for you to search the military archives? Why/why not? Have you already found some information and want to tell how you did it. Then please consider leaving a comment below.
Latest from Anders Buch-Jepsen
Thursday, 11 April 2013 02:56
posted by Patti Roberts
I am trying to find out information on my Great grandfather service in the Royal Life Guard.
His name is Christian Thomsen b. June 1, 1842 in Lautrop,Denmark.
Unfortunately, I don't speal or read Danish - so I hope you can help me. Even if you find records in Danish - maybe I can get them translated.
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