Mexican War, 1846 to 1848Edit This Page
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This conflict between the United States and Mexico resulted from the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845. Thirty-five thousand U.S. Army troops and 73,000 state volunteers fought in this war. Most volunteer regiments were from southern states, such as Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, and Texas.
Records for this war are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
UNITED STATES ‑ MILITARY RECORDS ‑ WAR WITH MEXICO
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.
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.
The general name indexes for the Mexican War (1846-1848) are on microfilm, but the compiled military service records for this conflict is not. The indexes includes names, ranks, and units of soldiers compiled from original records. See the Family History Library Catalog or click on the link: Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Mexican War. National Archives Microfilm Publication M616. (FHL films 1205336–57.)
Copies from the actual compiled military service record, held at the National Archives, can now 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.
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.
Service records of volunteers are also available at most state archives (search the Wiki for the state and "military records" for more information).
The War Department did not compile military service records for those who served in the Regular Army.
For a register of enlistments, see the Family History Library Catalog or click on the link: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798–1914. National Archives Microfilm Publication M233. (FHL films 350307-350349; 1319378-1319380; 1465934-1465954). The register usually shows the individual's name, military organization, physical description, age at time of enlistment, place of birth, enlistment information, discharge information, and remarks.
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.
The War Department did not maintain or compile personnel files for Regular Army officers until 1863.
When researching Army officers, researchers should first consult Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, available in two volumes at the Family History Library. Volume one, a register of army officers, provides a brief history of each man's service. Volume two contains a "chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated and troops engaged."
Also, see the Family History Library 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.
Additional information about Regular Army enlisted men and officers may be found in post and unit returns. See the Family History Library 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.
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.
When beginning research on U.S. Navy officers, see the Family History Library 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 Family History Library 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).
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 Family History Library 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.
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.
To verify the service of a marine officer, see the Family History Library 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.
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.
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.
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.
For Registers of Lighthouse Keepers, 1845–1912, see the Family History Library 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.
State Level Resources
The Family History Library also has service records for the following states. (See the Family History Library Catalog for complete film numbers and bibliographic information.)
- Mississippi. National Archives Microfilm Publication M863. (FHL films 1205446–54).
- Illinois. www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases.html
- 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 0471465, 0471517–18.)
The compiled service records of other states are available at the National Archives.
Records of Officers
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 0496461 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.
Pensions were first granted to widows and minor children whose husbands or fathers had died in the service and to veterans who were disabled. Pensions based on 60 days of service were first granted to veterans or unremarried widows in 1887. The following are the only pension records that have been microfilmed:
Selected Pension Application Files for Members of the Morman [sic] Battalion, Mexican War, 1846–48. National Archives Microfilm Publication T1196. (FHL films 0480129–49.)
Pension files are available at the National Archives. Below is an index to the names of veterans and widows who applied for or received pensions:
Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1887–1926. National Archives Microfilm Publication T317. (FHL films 0537000–13.) Alphabetically arranged and includes the veteran’s name, rank, and unit; names of dependents; date of filing and application; certificate numbers; act filed under; and state from which application was made.
Published versions of the above index are listed below:
Troxel, Navena Hembree, and Susan Merrill Warner. Mexican War Index to Pension Files, 1886–1926. 13 Volumes. Plano, Texas: N. H. Troxel and S. M. Warner, 1983–92. (FHL book 973 M2mw.) Entries list either the name of the veteran or widow’s application number or both, state or country, unit served, date of application, and residence at the time of application.
White, Virgil D. Index to Mexican War Pension Files. Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing, 1989. (FHL book 973 M22mw.) Entries include the name of the veteran and widow, certificate number, date of application, and unit served.
Wolfe, Barbara Schull. An Index to Mexican War Pension Applications. Indianapolis, Indiana: Heritage House, 1985. (FHL book 973 M22w.) Entries include the name, state where the veteran was living at the time of application, date of application, and application or certificate number.
The following is a list of those who died in the Mexican War:
Peterson, Clarence Stewart. Known Military Dead during the Mexican War, 1846–48. Baltimore, Maryland: Clarence Stewart Peterson, 1957. (FHL book 973 M23pa; film 0873756 item 4; fiche 6051240.) An alphabetical list including the soldier’s rank, company, regiment, and death date.
American Battle Monuments Commission: Cemeteries Mexican War= www.abmc.gov/abmc42.htm.
Veterans’ and Lineage Society Records
Veterans of the Mexican War organized the National Association of Veterans of the Mexican War in the 1870s.
The Aztec Club of 1847 was organized by officers in Mexico City during the war. The following book provides information on this society.
Breithaupt, Richard Hoag
. Aztec Club of 1847 Military Society of the Mexican War: Sesquicentennial History, 1847–1997. Universal City, California: Walika Publishing Company, 1998. (FHL book 973 C4b.) Topics covered include biographies of early club members, a chronological list of officers, prominent early members, a register of members from 1848 to 1998, and officers serving in the Mexican War.
Descendants of Mexican War Veterans. This society, established in 1989, publishes the following newsletter and journal:
Butler, Steven R., editor. The American Eagle. Richardson, Texas: Descendants of Mexican War Veterans, 1991–. (FHL book 973 M25ae.)
Butler, Steven R., editor. Mexican War Journal: A Publication of the Descendants of Mexican War Veterans. Richardson, Texas: Descendants of Mexican War Veterans, 1992–. (FHL book 973 M25mv.)
The address for the Mexican War Veterans organization is:
Descendants of Mexican War Veterans
P.O. Box 830402
Richardson, Texas 75081-0482
This web site includes information about the organization, how to find your Mexican War veteran ancestor, history of the war, historic sites, graves registry, and links to other organizations and museums.
The following Internet sites have information about the Mexican War:
- US Military Units (lists the units) = www.dmwv.org/mwvets/units.htm
- Roll of Honor (lists of wounded and killed) = www.dmwv.org/honoring/roh.htm
- The U.S. Mexican War - Statistics = www.dmwv.org/mexwar/mwstats.htm
-  Gives brief information about the Navy in the Mexican War with some statistics.
The following Internet sites have histories of the Mexican War:
- U.S. Mexican War = www.dmwv.org/mexwar
- History Guy = www.historyguy.com/Mexican-American_War.html
- Chronology of the U.S.
Mexican War = www.dmwv.org/mexwar/chrono.htm
- Maps of the
U.S. Mexican War = www.dmwv.org/mexwar/maps.htm
INFORMATION FROM: US/Canada Family History Reference Consultants. "Mexican War," LAD database 4.2, February, 2004, mjm.