Like most aspects of genealogy, in order to get the most out of the records and paper trails you find, it's best to understand the context and background of the material. Like my previous post, "What you can learn from a social security number", here we have information to better understand Civil War Pension Files.
You can find the U.S. Civil War Pension Index on Ancestry.com by clicking here. The search is free, but a subscription is required in order to access the file. On these indexes, you can find the pension file number, should you seek a copy of the files, either by visiting the National Archives in Washington, D.C., or by ordering copies. Ordering by mail currently costs $25 for an 8-page pension packet, or $75 (min.) for one entire pension file up to 100 pages.
If you're planning trip to the National Archives, click here for more information on their hours, rules, and more. You can even hire a researcher!
Source: Archives.gov NGS Magazine