Early French military enlistment records of the “Ancien Regime” (pre-revolution) can be exasperating and confusing for those of us who only know English. Do we understand the different regiments and their functions? Do we understand the provinces of the Ancient Regime and how the armies operated then” Do we know what “Dragons” and “Hussards” are? How to search through them?
Post Revolution military records are easier to find and in a lot of departments, they are searchable. Starting with the Napoleonic era of 1802-1815, through 1918 are available. There are gaps of years missing until 1868 where they were available in each department
France’s Departmental Military Archives You can find online enlistment records under each department HERE. Depending on the department, you might find military records as earlier as 1868 up until 1918. These enlistment records would be found under each Department’s ‘matricules militaire’ category.
- Military Enlistments of the “l’Ancien Régime” 1682-1793 at Mémoire des Hommes. Military Enlistments of the Ancient Regime for France (including what is now known as Belgium) is a MASSIVE repository of image records of enlistments, different branches of army i.e. Infantry, Calvary, Artillery and more. It covers the units, towns of Enlistments and battlefields. Early records have the old names of regions and Provinces (ex: Anjou) that don’t exist today. Unfortunately, this is not a searchable database but a browsable one. This requires a lot of time going through each regiment looking for ancestors. There are filters on the right side of the page that help narrow down fields so you can browse better. Click here for instructions on how to navigate through this database..
- Napoleonic War Enlistments 1802-1815 at Mémoire des Hommes Napoleonic War enlistments searchable database. Also has some earlier records and includes what is now known as Belgium. With images
- Geneanet’s Military Archives Geneanet continues to shine with their ongoing indexing project of the Napoleonic War enlistments 1802-1815. This is an index.
- 1914-1918 A database of French soldiers who died for France during World War One
- Memorial Genweb “List and honor the soldiers and resistance fighters who gave their lives for France during conflicts or missions, the civilian victims of acts of war as well as the foreign soldiers who died on our territory”
- Ancestramil – Contributions for the Search of French Military Ancestors
- GenealomaniC -Fantastic Military Information Website
During the French Revolution, in what we know now as Wallonia, Belgium was part of the department of Sambre-et-Meuse. That department no longer exists. At FamilySearch, you can find early 1800s to late 1800’s military enlistment records within the town’s marriage records of Belgium at FamilySearch.org. They are called annexes and contain other important vital records besides the enlistment ones. Most of the series of annexes have been pulled from the marriage vital records and grouped by years as separate browsable image rolls. In these, you could find death and birth records of parents and even grandparents. It’s time-consuming to find and go through but worth it. Check your town, to see if they are available (not all towns have them though)
Memoire des Hommes; Military Enlistments of the ‘L’Ancien Régime 1682-1793 Military Enlistments and Campaigns of the Ancient Regime. Also includes men from what is now known as Belgium. This is a MASSIVE browsable depository of all recorded enlistments with images, of different branches of army i.e. Infantry, Calvary, Artillery and more. It covers the names of soldiers, towns of Enlistments and battlefields. Early records have regions and Provinces (ex: Anjou) that might not exist today. Unfortunately, this is not a searchable database but a browsable one. There are filters on the right side of the page that help narrow down fields so you can browse better. Click here for instructions on how to navigate through this database..
Mémoire des Hommes 1802-1815
Napoleonic War enlistments searchable database. Includes enlistments from areas now known as Belgium.
In Flanders Field–1914-1918
A searchable list of soldiers’ names of Belgians who died in WWI- This is an on-going project