For another timeline see the table American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present on the American History section of About.com.
I went to Fold3 to puzzle out what the source of this image might be -- as ColeValleyGirl says, it's important to have the context in order to analyze this record.
I don't have a current Fold3 membership, so I can't see the premium images, but here's my best guess as to where this came from. Choose the timeframe "Mexican American and Early Indian Wars" and then the collection Pension Numerical Index aka Numerical Index to Pensions, 1860-1934. That collection seems to have a card format similar to the image richardtallant posted. Fold3's catalog says:
This index complements the Civil War and Later Veterans Pension Index
(T289), as well as other pension indexes and files, in assisting
researchers in locating pension file numbers and names of Army and
Navy personnel, as well as widows' pensions (marked with a w) on the
card. It is a superb cross-referencing tool when deciphering illegible
or missing numbers within other indexes. Both certificate numbers and
application numbers are included.
Fold3's description says:
The cards give the name of the veteran or dependant who had the number
as an application number or as a certificate number. Each number could
be used four times for four different people. (emphasis mine) For application or
original numbers, the card also shows the certificate number.
NARA's blog: Family Tree Friday: Pension Indexes Examined has an explanation of how to read the index cards. The Fold3 catalog says these cards are from NARA A1158, which was not yet online at Fold3 in December 2010 when the blog post was written, so the example cards shown for that blog post are probably from a different Numerical Index than the series we want to examine. However, the example given in the blog post says:
See what I meant about being confusing? The number appears in the
upper left hand corner. Along the left side of the card, you will see
“Invalid” and “Dependent,” and then “Orig” (meaning application) and
“Ctf” (meaning certificate). Since we’re looking for Lazarus White’s
certificate number, look under Invalid, then Ctf. Look to the right,
and you will see Lazarus White’s name and unit. So now we know that
the number 920,628 is correct.
Unfortunately the author of the post does not show a portion of a card which has the same legend as the "Old War" section, so there are no clues to what the "Rej." stands for, nor is there any clue as to what period "Old War" means.
Now I wondered: if the records of the War Department were reorganized at some point, could "Old War" refer to a filesystem and not necessarily a specific war? Could it be a catch-all term for all the wars prior to 1812? The position on the card suggests that (at least to me).
The descriptive pamphlet for the later series of Pension Files, Microfilm Publication T288: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 (see the sidebar, where it says "For more information, please see the descriptive pamphlet for Microfilm T-288." to find the link to the PDF) says:
This microfilm publication reproduces a card index to the "Old Wars"
series of pension files, 1815-1926. These files relate chiefly to
claims based on death or disability incurred in service in the Regular
Army, Navy, or Marine Corps between the end of the Revolutionary War
in 1783 and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
The entry portal for Research in Military Records led me to the Prologue article An Overview of Records at the National Archives Relating to Military Service. Author Trevor K. Plante writes:
The pension files in the National Archives are divided into these
major series: Revolutionary War, Old Wars, War of 1812, Indian Wars,
Mexican War, and Civil War and later. The records in each series are
arranged alphabetically by name of veteran, except those in the Civil
War and later series, which are arranged numerically by application,
certificate, or file number. All series of pension application files
have alphabetical name indexes.
For the Civil War and later pensions, consult National Archives
Microfilm Publication T288, General Index to Pension Files, 1861–1934,
which is arranged alphabetically by the individual's last name. The
index cards include the individual's unit(s), making it easier to
decipher individuals with the same name. Once you find the application
number or pension certificate number, you can request to view the
pension file. Pension files (including application files) often
contain valuable personal information on soldiers, sailors, and
marines not found in other records. For a listing of microfilm
publications to other pension indexes and pension files, consult the
National Archives' Microfilm Resources for Research: A Comprehensive
Catalog (2000). For more information on pension records, consult
chapter seven of the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National
If you can find the file referred to with the number 18336 then perhaps it will become more evident exactly which war is being referred to, what the "Rej." means, and Jeptha Tallant's connection (if any) with the associated person Eleazer Bulkley.
Let's use what we've learned from the above to examine the card ColeValleyGirl found -- let's call it "card #2". [This card is from Microfilm series T316, Old War Index to Pension Files,1815-1926.] Note that it is stamped "Old War" and is for an application filed in 1851, class marked "inv" for "Invalid"? So the card richardtallant posted, card #1, is a pointer to card #2. (Clearly a pension application from 1851 cannot be for service in the Civil War, so it must be for earlier service, and as richardtallant pointed out in his question, the soldier is too young to have served in the Revolutionary War, so the service must be from somewhere in between. So the answer to the question of when he serves lies in his file, and further records might be found by deciphering the unit in the entry marked "service" on this card.)
Can we find a card for Eleazer Bulkley with a file #18336? (Researchers may not be able to find the corresponding file, because it appears that the right-hand side of that line on the card says "Missing".) Here is FamilySearch's index result for card #3:
Eleazer Buckley, "United States Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty
Land Warrant Applications"
- Veteran's Name: Eleazer Bulkley
- Pensioner's Name:
- State: Connecticut Veteran's Military Service
- Branch: Conn. Conn. Sea Service Pension Number: S. 18336
- Additional Name: Eleazer, Eleazer Buckley, George Moyer, John Q Wilson, Seth
- GS Film number: 970401
- Affiliate Publication Number: M804
- Digital Folder Number: 004154229
- Image Number: 00336
- Affiliate Identifier: 12029578
"United States Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant
Applications," index, FamilySearch
(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N9HR-5MG : accessed 01 Feb
2014), Eleazer Buckley, .
This is clearly from a different period of service and a different area of the country, so it seems to me that the only association between these individuals is the coincidence of their file numbers.
WorldCat has listings for where the Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives (2000) can be found in libraries, including a copy to view online at HathiTrust Digital Library -- see page 173, section 7.2.2 for the explanatory matter on "Old Wars" and the sections following for more records pertaining to the individual conflicts.
A search for "Old War" in the Guide also results in a hit on page 375, in the List of Microfilm Publications cited, for T316: Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926, RG 15. 765 rolls.
For more information on NARA's index cards, see:
- Family Tree Friday: Pension Indexes Examined from NARAtions the blog of the US National Archives, posted on December 31, 2010 by katherinevollen
- Content Update: Pension Numerical Index, 1860-1934 from fold3's blog, posted October 8, 2013 by Laura
- Pension Numerical Index overview at fold3
- Pensions for Service in the Regular Army, 1775 – 1912 NARA Reference Report #900
- Did Your Union Army Civil War ancestor apply for a pension? by By Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL, and Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, published in NGSQ, July—September 2014,Volume 40, Number 3, pg 29-43
- from the references in the article immediately above: Card Records in Use in the Bureau of Pensions, 1916 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1916) available at Google Books and the Internet Archive.
In the section A1158, A numerical index, Melchiori and Prechtel-Kluskens says on page 42 that this index includes many different wars:
... the cards include several different wars -- Old War, War of 1812,
Mexican War, Indian War, and Navy as well as Civil War army soldiers.
(Old War refers to service in the Regular Army between the 1780s adn
the Civil War.) This index can be useful if a published source
connects a person with a common name to a pension file number without
any military unit or other helpful identifying information.
NARA's guide Microfilm Publications and Original Records Digitized by Our Digitization Partners is also useful for cross-checking which NARA microfilm publications are online and where. Different sites can have wildly different image quality, so it can help to check them all if the image you find at the first site is difficult to read.