Overall, I would say that thus far in my life, I have managed to avoid governmental red tape. Sure I have had my run ins of having to provide documentation here and there and even had to wade through the multi-year process of marrying someone who was not a U.S. citizen. Believe you me, it was a process but as long as you read the directions of the scores of forms and followed them, things kept progressing... slowly. But the last place I expected to deal with governmental red tape was while pursuing my genealogy addiction.
In order to obtain Civil War military records, one must download a form from the National Archives, fill it out thoroughly including the person of interest's full name, state served, war served, side served, kind of service, company served, regiment served, arm in which he served, list whether officer or enlisted, date of birth, place of birth, date of death and place of death. After finding all this information out and filling out the paperwork, you have to mail it out and wait 90 days for a reply.
I have received a few packets of records thus far after 90 days of waiting but I have also receive a few rejection letters. The first one stated that they could not find the record. They found a record where I had correctly matched 12 of the 13 things required of me but incorrectly had the wrong state in which he was born. (I actually have the correct state but he must have incorrectly filled out or dictated it wrong back then.) Despite having also to fill out a phone number and an email address as well as a mailing address where I presumed they might call, email or write to question whether that was the record I wanted, remember I answered 12 out of 13 correctly, they simply stated they didn't have a record because the place of birth was incorrect. The remedy, correct it, fill out the 13 boxes again making pains to write the incorrect state of birth down, resubmit it and wait another 90 days. So basically I have to wait a half of a year for my answer.
Rejection letter two was even more vague. There was nothing on the paper except a check mark in the box stating they could not find the record and a circle with a slash mark written over the last name. The last name is Luther and belonged to my 3rd great grandfather Jesse Luther. Now here is the kicker. I have already received his pension records which contain the name Luther written and typed out hundreds of times. I have death certificates, census records, probate records, etc., all using the last name Luther. However, I had seen the name spelled Louther one time and remembered that after seeing my rejection letter. So after much digging, I found out where I had seen the name Louther and you guessed it, it was on a Civil War registration card. So despite there only being one Jesse Louther/Luther of Company I of the 211th Pennsylvania Infantry who was born on 19th of June 1836 in Fairfield township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania and who died on the 24th of July 1921 in Miller township, Scotland county, Missouri, they couldn't make that connection, didn't call, didn't email and didn't write. Now I have to refill out the form, lie about his last name and wait another three months after already waiting three months.
Rejection letter three found that I had filled out all 13 boxes correctly yet despite me checking the box saying I was okay paying for the extra copies beyond the standard fee that includes up to 100 pages, they sent me a form requiring that I okay the extra dollars. After all this, I wonder why they even bother for a phone number that I can be reached during the day and email address. They have shown they have no inclination to contact me to perhaps be more efficient.
Yes sir, this is red tape at the government's finest.