Prologue Magazine
Summer 1995, Vol. 27, No. 2

The Little Regiment
Civil War Units and Commands
By Michael P. Musick

Appendix A
A Checklist for Sources on Regimental History in the National Archives

Note: Private letters and diaries should be sought outside the National Archives, in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, the Library of Congress's Civil War Manuscripts, and at the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA.  Photographs can be sought at the Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, the Division of Prints and Photographs at the Library of Congress, the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives, and the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.

Union Volunteer Regiments

Before you begin: You should be aware of these published sources: Charles E. Dornbusch, Military Bibliography of the Civil War; Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion; Volunteer Service Register (a listing of officers by regiment); the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections; and Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (battle reports, correspondence, and table of organization, indexed for units by state, arm of service, then name or number).

1. Bound record books for most (but not all) regiments, RG 94, entries 112 - 115.  When complete, they include a regimental order book, company order books, a regimental descriptive book, company descriptive books, consolidated morning reports by company, a regimental letters sent book, and miscellaneous books.  Most descriptive books were carded; other types of records were not.

2. A good Union name search (since regiments are composed of individuals) should consider the field officers of the regiment (colonel, lieutenant colonel, major).

3. Compiled Military Service Records, by regiment (Southern and border state unit records on microfilm).

4. Pension records: T289 on microfilm is an index to pensioners by unit, beginning with the field and staff, then showing them alphabetically by company; another microfilm publication has the overall pension index by name of soldier (T288, General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934).

5. Miscellaneous unbound regimental papers, filed with (but distinct from) muster rolls. U.S. Colored Troops papers have been removed from muster rolls and filed separately.

6. Carded medical records, filed by state and regiment number (thus Fourth Massachusetts lnfantry is interspersed with Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry and Fourth Massachusetts Heavy Artillery). RG 94, entry 534.

7. Quarterly summary statements of ordnance, microfilm M1281.

8. Compiled records showing service of military units in volunteer Union organizations, microfilm M594 ("Records of Events").

9. Records of brigades, divisions, army corps, posts, etc., RG 393.

10. Regimental hospital registers, RG 94, entry 544, transcribed for #8 above.

11. Commutation of rations for prisoners of war.

12. Additional material for Compiled Military Service Records for Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Veterans Reserve Corps.

13. Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, microfilm M686, under state, arm, then regiment number.

14. Correspondence of the Volunteer Service Division (RG 94, entry 496), especially if the circumstances of organization are disputed or unusual.

15. Court-martial proceedings, indexed on microfilm M1105, by name of accused, showing regiment.

16. Medal of Honor files, indexed by name of individual, with unit shown.

17. For U.S. Colored Troops regiments, Ira Berlin, et al., ed., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, Series II, indexed under "USCT."

18. Additional possibilities are almost endless.

Union Regular Army Regiments

Many sources given for Union volunteer regiments also cover regular units.  The equivalent for regulars of the Volunteer Service Register is the Army Register, issued yearly, 1860-1866.  All regular officers of the nineteenth century are in volume 1 of Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army . . . , and all West Point graduates in George W. Cullum, Biographical Register . . . of the U.S. Military Academy.

1. Muster rolls (not carded); the Record of Events on these are also not carded.

2. Monthly returns on microfilm.

3. Record Group 391.

4. A good Union name search (since regiments are composed of individuals) would consider the names of the field officers of the regiment (colonel, lieutenant colonel, etc.).  Researchers should keep in mind that in many cases regular officers, especially field officers, were not on duty with their regiments but were serving in the volunteer establishment at higher rank.

5. Carded medical records, RG 94, entry 529.

6. Records of brigades, divisions, army corps, posts, etc., RG 393.

7. Pension records: T289 on microfilm is an index to pensioners by unit, beginning with the field and staff, then showing them alphabetically by company; another microfilm publication has the overall pension index by name of soldier (T288).  For many regular units, T289 includes service from the Civil War through the War with Spain, and later).

8. Quarterly summary statements of ordnance, microfilm M1281.

9. Regimental hospital registers, RG 94, entry 544, transcribed for #5, above.

10. Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, microfilm M686.

11. Court-martial proceedings, indexed on microfilm M1105 by name of accused, showing regiment.

12. Medal of Honor files, indexed by name of individual, with unit shown.

Confederate Regiments

Before you begin: You should be aware of these published sources: Charles E. Dornbusch, Military Bibliography of the Civil War; Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army; Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies; Henry Putney Beers, The Confederacy: A Guide to the Archives . . . , pp. 304 - 312; the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections; and Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (battle reports, correspondence, and tables of organization, indexed for units by state, arm of service, then name or number).  Southern Historical Society Papers (with two-volume index) and Confederate Veteran (now indexed).

1. Compiled military service records, by regiment.  These contain more original documents than their Federal counterpart, notably for officers, and especially for quartermaster, ordnance, and other officers handling supplies.  Note the separate nonstate series for generals, staff of officers, and nonregimental enlisted men.

2. Compiled records showing service of military units in Confederate organizations on microfilm M861 ("Records of Events").  Note that these records are also reproduced before the alphabetical arrangement on the microfilm of the Compiled Military Service Records for each regiment.

3. Inspection reports, 1864 - 1865, on microfilm M935.

4. Because few Confederate records in the National Archives are arranged or indexed by unit, series indexed only by name are especially important.  Consider particularly references to field of officers (colonel, lieutenant colonel, major) on microfilm M409, M410, and M347.  You must first know the names you are seeking.

5. A very few miscellaneous regimental papers will occasionally be filed with the original muster rolls, RG 109, entry 18.

6. Clothing rolls, RG 109, entry 49, are in two subseries, "carded" and "uncarded."  The little information in these is a signature (often "X") and the quantity and date an individual drew an item, e.g., one hat, one cap, two pairs of drawers, and one knapsack.

7. Note that records of the Virginia Forces, 1861, are on microfilm M998 and of the Louisiana State Government, 1858-1888 (including the militia) on M359.

8. Unit record books in RG 109.  These are few in number, and listed in appendix B.  Most are not carded.

Appendices:

The Little Regiment, Part 1

The Little Regiment, Part 2

Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.
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