United States, Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
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Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Compiled Military Service Records
Record Group RG 94: Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917
Collection years 1863-1865
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of compiled military service records of volunteers who served in the United States Colored Troops. The records include abstracts of entries relating to the soldier as found in original records such as muster rolls, payrolls, hospital and prison records. A file may also include original documents. Many volunteers were former slaves who enlisted after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. This collection is a part of RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office 1780s - 1917.Colored Troops Division

For each military unit, the service records are arranged alphabetically by the soldier's surname. The Military Unit field may also display the surname range (A-G) as found on the microfilm. The information in this index is quite reliable. However, keep in mind that even though this index is very accurate it still may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations. Index courtesy of www.fold3.com (Previously called Footnote.com).

Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers serving with the United States Colored Troops have been microfilmed by the National Archives for the following military units.

  • 1st through 5th United States Colored Cavalry; 5th Massachusetts Cavalry (Colored); 6th United States Colored Cavalry, M1817, 107 rolls
  • Artillery Organizations, M1818, 299 rolls
  • 1st U.S. Colored Infantry, 1st South Carolina Volunteers (Colored) Company A, 1st U.S. Colored Infantry, M1819, 19 rolls
  • 2nd through 7th Colored Infantry including 3d Tennessee Volunteers (African Descent), 6th Louisiana Infantry ( African Descent), and 7th Louisiana Infantry (African Descent), M1820, 116 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 8th through 13th including the 11(new). M1821, 109 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 14th through 19th, M1822, 105 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 20th through 25th, M1823, 98 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 26th through 30th, Including the 29th Connecticut (Colored), M1824, 108 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 31st through 35th, M1922, 86 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 36th through 40th, M1993, 116 rolls NARA Microfilm Pamphlet M1993
  • Infantry Organizations, 41st through 46th, M1994, 113 rolls
  • Infantry Organizations, 47th through 55th, M2000, 183 rolls
  • 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored), M1898, 20 rolls
  • 55th Massachusetts Infantry (Colored), M1801, 16 rolls

After the war, many veterans received assistance from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, in applying for and receiving pensions. Pension claims may be found among the Bureau’s records. Additions to this index will be included as they become available.

Collection Content

The records are in individual files and usually include the following:

  • A jacket-envelope for each soldier, labeled with his name, rank, and the unit in which he served
  • A card (or cards) with abstracts of entries from original muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, appointment books, hospital registers, parole rolls, and inspection reports
  • The originals of any papers relating only to the particular soldier

The index to these records contains the following:

  • Jacket name
  • Soldier’s full name
  • Year
  • Age (often estimated)
  • Military unit served in
  • Type of records in file
  • NARA publication number, title, and roll number

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you need to know

  • The name of your ancestor
  • Other identifying information such as age or military unit where served

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. 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.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

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 service 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. For example:

  • Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
  • Use the age and location of the military unit to find the soldier’s family in census, church, and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Continue to search the index and records to identify other relatives.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

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.

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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, Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780-1917, RG 94. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com.

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, Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865.