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Service Records

Service records document an individual’s involvement with the military and can be used for proving military service, or as a valuable tool in genealogical research.

Volunteers

Compiled Service Records

When researching volunteers, start with the compiled military service records. A volunteer's compiled service record consists of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. The abstracted information may include references to wounds, hospitalization, absence from the unit, courts-martial, and death.

Index to Mexican War Compiled Service Records 

The general name index for the Mexican War "Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the Mexican War" (M616) is on microfilm. The index includes names, ranks, and units of soldiers compiled from original records. (FHL films 1205336–57)

Order Mexican War Compiled Service Records 

Copies from the actual compiled military service records, held at the National Archives, can be ordered online, as well as through NATF Form 86. Researchers may also request to see the original compiled military service records at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

Microfilmed Mexican War Service Records

Some of the actual service records have been digitized and are available at the Family History Library. Only the service records for the following states have been microfilmed:

  • Mississippi. National Archives Microfilm Publication M863. (FHL films 1205446–54).
  • Pennsylvania. National Archives Microfilm Publication M1028. (FHL films 1314139–51).
  • Tennessee. National Archives Microfilm Publication M638. (FHL films 0882797–811).
  • Texas. National Archives Microfilm Publication M278. (FHL films 0471519–37).
  • Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Mexican War in Mormon Organizations. National Archives Microfilm Publication M351. (FHL films) 0471517–18).

Digitized Mexican War Service Records

Some of the actual service records have been digitized and are available online. These digitized records include the same states as the microfilmed records, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Mormon organizations.

Officers

The "Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army..." by Francis B. Heitman lists Regular Army and volunteer officers from 1789 to 1903 in two volumes giving a brief history of the officers service and awards received. Casualties (including prisoners of war) from 1789 to 1902 are also listed. See Vol.2 pp.43-73 for a list of officers of the volunteer regiments from the Mexican War.

Medical Records

For medical information about volunteer soldiers who fought in the Mexican war, consult the National Archives series, "Carded Medical Records of Volunteer Soldiers in the Mexican and Civil Wars, compiled 1846 - 1865" found in Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 17862-1984, entry 534. These cards relate to volunteers admitted to hospitals for treatment and may include information such as name; rank; organization; complaint; date of admission; hospital to which admitted; and date returned to duty, deserted, discharged, sent to general hospital, furloughed, or died. This series is arranged by state, thereunder by the number of the regiment (cavalry, infantry, and artillery are filed together under the common regiment number) and then by initial letter of surname.

Regular Army

Enlisted Men

The War Department did not compile military service records for those who served in the Regular Army.

A register of enlistments is available online, see US Army Enlistments, 1798-1914.

The National Archives also maintains a textual record, entitled "Regular Army Enlistment Papers, 1798–1894" (Record Group 94, entry 91). This series is arranged alphabetically by name of soldier and generally shows the soldier's name, place of enlistment, date, by whom enlisted, age, place of birth, occupation, personal description, regimental assignment, and certifications of the examining surgeon and recruiting officer. Soldiers usually have multiple enlistment papers if they served two or more enlistments.

Officers

The War Department did not maintain or compile personnel files for Regular Army officers until 1863.

Also, see the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: Letters received by the Office of The Adjutant General, main series, 1822-1860, National Archives Microfilm Publication M567.

Published rosters of officers can be located in the following sources:

Butler, Steven R. A Complete Roster of Mexican War Officers, 1846–1848, both Army and Navy, with Alphabetical Indexes. Richardson, Texas: Descendants of Mexican War Veterans, 1994. (FHL book 973 M2mwb.) Includes regular army officers arranged by department and regiment, volunteer officers arranged by state and regiment, and Navy and Marine officers arranged by fleet and vessel.
Gardner, Charles K. A Dictionary of All Officers. . . in the Army of the United States. . . . New York, New York: G. P. Putnam and Company, 1853. (FHL book 973 M2g; film 496461 item 1, pp. 527–63.) Arranged by unit and rank. It provides the name of the soldier. Some entries contain death dates, wounded dates, and date resigned.

Returns

Additional information about Regular Army enlisted men and officers may be found in post and unit returns. See the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: Returns from U.S. Military Posts, 1800–1916, National Archives Microfilm Publication M617 (FHL films 1663081-1663180). Returns generally show units stationed at the post and their strength, the names and duties of officers, the number of officers present and absent, and a record of events.

Navy

Enlisted Men

Begin your research on navy enlisted men by looking in the pension files. A pension file may provide leads such as dates of service and the ship(s) or duty station(s) where the sailor served. Pensions usually provide the most genealogical information.

Next, search the Index to Rendezvous Reports, Before and After the Civil War, 1846–1861, 1865–1884, National Archives Microfilm Publication T1098. A rendezvous was the recruiting station where the men signed up to enlist in the navy. Officers at the rendezvous kept a record of each man enlisted and reported the information weekly to the Navy Department. These documents, known as the "rendezvous reports," provide the following information: name of recruit, date and term of enlistment and rating, previous naval service, usual place of residence, place of birth, occupation, and personal description. Next search Keys to and Register of Enlistment Returns, 1846–1902, National Archives (Record Group 24, entry 224). The keys to enlistment show names of men enlisting at rendezvous or on board vessels, enlistment data, and a summary of service.

Officers

When beginning research on U.S. Navy officers, see the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, edited by Edward W. Callahan.

Also, consult the pension files, which may provide leads such as dates of service and the ship(s) or duty station(s) where the officer served.

Next consult the abstacts of service; see the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following links: Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers ("Records of Officers"), 1798–1893, National Archives Microfilm Publication M330 (FHL films 1445969-1445987), and Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers ("Records of Officers"), 1829–1924, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1328 (FHL Films 1579079-1579096).

Published rosters of officers can be located in the following sources:

Butler, Steven R. A Complete Roster of Mexican War Officers, 1846–1848, both Army and Navy, with Alphabetical Indexes. Richardson, Texas: Descendants of Mexican War Veterans, 1994. (FHL book 973 M2mwb.) Includes regular army officers arranged by department and regiment, volunteer officers arranged by state and regiment, and Navy and Marine officers arranged by fleet and vessel.

Navy Deck Logs

U.S. Navy deck logs typically provide information on a ship's performance and location, weather conditions, personnel (names of officers, assignments, transfers, desertions, deaths, injuries, and courts-martial), supplies received, and miscellaneous observations. See the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: List of Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Miscellaneous Units, 1801–1947, Special List (National Archives): no 44.

Marine Corps

Enlisted Men

Generally, service records for enlisted marines who separated from service prior to 1905 are held at the National Archives, in Washington, D.C. Service records or "case files" of enlisted marines at the National Archives are found in Record Group 127, Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, entry 76. Service records may include enlistment and reenlistment papers, descriptive lists, conduct records, notice of discharge, military history, and the issuance of campaign badges and awards. These records are arranged chronologically by year of enlistment or latest reenlistment, thereunder alphabetically by initial letter of surname of enlisted man, and thereunder chronologically by date of enlistment or reenlistment. If the enlistment date is unknown, researchers can use the card index found in RG 127, entry 75, Alphabetical Card List of Enlisted Men of the Marine Corps, 1798–1941.

To track a marine's service, the National Archives maintains a microfilm publication (T1118), entitled: "Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798–1902." The muster rolls, for this period, are arranged chronologically by year and month, and thereunder by post, station, ship detachment, or unit. There are indexes in most volumes to the names of ships, stations, and units. A muster roll generally shows name of ship, station, or unit and provides name of officer or enlisted man, rank, date of enlistment or reenlistment, and if applicable, date of desertion or apprehension, sentence of court-martial (and the offense), injuries sustained or illness and type of treatment, and date of death or discharge. Depending on the date, the researcher must know the vessel on which the marine served, the unit in which he served, or duty station.

Officers

To verify the service of a marine officer, see the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: "List of officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 : comprising a complete register of all present and former commissioned, warranted, and appointed officers of the United States Navy and of the Marine Corps, regular and volunteer," edited by Edward W. Callahan.

Coast Guard

The National Archives has records relating to the Coast Guard and its predecessor agencies: the Lighthouse Service, Revenue Cutter Service, and the Lifesaving Service. These records are found in Record Group 26, Records of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lighthouse Keepers

For Registers of Lighthouse Keepers, 1845–1912, see the FamilySearch Catalog or click on the following link: Registers of Lighthouse Keepers, 1845–1912, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1373 (FHL Film 2311165). Each volume has an index, arranged alphabetically by surname of keeper or name of lighthouse. The registers include the names of keepers and assistant keepers. The registers typically consist of the person's name; the district and the name of the light; date of appointment; date of resignation, discharge, or death; and sometimes annual salary.

The National Archives also maintains (in Record Group 26, Records of the U.S. Coast Guard) a series entitled, "Correspondence Concerning Keepers and Assistants, 1821–1902." These letters, arranged alphabetically by surname, may contain nominations of keepers and assistant keepers with testimonials, lists of examination questions, notifications of appointments, oaths of office, requests for transfer, recommendations for promotion, complaints, petitions, reports of inspectors, and letters of resignation.

Enlisted Men

National Archives records relating to enlisted crew members of the Revenue Cutter Service are located in Record Group 26, Records of the U.S. Coast Guard.

These records include muster rolls, payrolls, and shipping articles. Muster rolls for the Revenue Cutter Service/Coast Guard, 1833–1932, provide for each crew member: name, rating, date and place of enlistment, place of birth, age, occupation, personal description, and number of days served during the reported month, along with notes if the crewman was detached, transferred, or discharged or if he deserted or died during the report period. The records are arranged alphabetically by name of vessel.

In another series of muster rolls are unbound monthly reports, 1848–1910, which are arranged by name of vessel and thereunder chronologically. Because they are not indexed, this series can be searched only by name of vessel and the individual's approximate date of service.

Muster rolls and payrolls show the name, and when appropriate, signature or mark of each crew member.

Officers

National Archives records relating to officers of the Revenue Cutter Service are located in Record Group 26, Records of the U.S. Coast Guard.

For records relating to officers of the Revenue Cutter Service, the National Archives series, "Records of Officer Personnel, compiled 1797-1919," provides dates of service, citations to pertinent correspondence, and charges. This series is indexed alphabetically by name of officer.

The National Archives also maintains a series entitled, "Lists of Commissions of Revenue Cutter Officers, compiled 1791 - 1910," which is arranged chronologically as commissions were issued.

References



 

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  • This page was last modified on 24 September 2014, at 01:41.
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