United States Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: United States Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914 .
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What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of registers and index of men that enlisted in the United States Army between 1798 and 1914. The Regular Army is comprised of career soldiers and is maintained through peacetime. The registers are from the Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, DC NARA M233 part of Record Group 94 Records of the Adjutant General's.The records are arranged chronologically, then by the first letter of the surname. The registers will not usually include individuals who enlisted as part of a militia or reserve unit or in a volunteer military unit raised by a state. Data in these registers was compiled from a variety of other military records, including enlistment papers, muster rolls, and unit records.

Key to Abbreviations (See Remarks Column)

  • D.R. Descriptive Rolls
  • Hospl. Ret. Hospital Return
  • I.R. Inspection Return
  • M.R. Muster Roll
  • Mo. Ret. Monthly Return
  • O.B. Order Book
  • Ord. Order
  • Pri. or Pvt. Private
  • Rect. or Rct. Recruit
  • Regtl. Regimental
  • R.R. Recruiting Return
  • S.A. I.R. Semi-annual Inspection Return
  • S.A.M.R. Semi-annual Muster Roll
  • “See Pension Case” is added to records, part or whole of which, were copied at the Pension Office.
  • Additional abbreviations will be found if Gardner’s Dictionary of the United States Army. See related digital books in this article.

These records were created as a permanent record of those individuals who enlisted in the Army.

The records are generally reliable although some ages may have been falsified. Physical descriptions will generally vary in height and hair color over time due to the observation (not direct measurement) of the officer recording the enlistment.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914.

Collection Content

The following information is generally found in these records:

  • Name of enlistee
  • Age at time of enlistment
  • Physical description (color of eyes, hair, complexion and height)
  • Birthplace
  • Occupation
  • Date and place of enlistment and by whom
  • Rank, company, and regiment
  • Date and cause of discharge
  • Notes on death, desertion, apprehension, physical description, etc.

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know the name of the soldier and other identifying information such as birth date and place.

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name:
Fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Volume Number, Years, Letter of Surname Range" which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. This information will often lead you to other records. For example:

  • Birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Allow for variations of physical descriptions since officers enlisting soldiers did not use measuring devices and standard lighting was not used. General trends will show through multiples enlistments.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Related Digital Books

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"United States, Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M233. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United States Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Registers of Enlistment in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914.