United States Army

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United States Army - Introduction[edit | edit source]

The United States Army was created when Congress created a permanent military under the Act of 29 September 1789. The Army has participated in every war the United States has entered.

The following books discuss the Army’s history and development.

Army Records[edit | edit source]

Service Records[edit | edit source]

Compiled service records were never created for all enlisted personnel, but enlistment papers and other records are available at the National Archives and elsewhere.

Army Enlistments, 1798-1914[edit | edit source]

Online Resources

Digital Images of Microfilm

  • Registers of enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914 on FamilySearch Catalog, digital copies of 81 microfilms; Registers from 1798 to 30 June 1821 are arranged in alphabetical order. Those for later years are arranged by the initial letter of the soldier’s surname, then chronologically by month and year of enlistment.

Information about the Records
The "Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914" (NARA M233) consists of U.S. Army registers that recorded the name and other information on soldiers that enlisted between 1798 and 1914.

The registers do not specifically indicate which wars a soldier may have served in. However, they often give information indicating where the soldier was stationed and when and how he was discharged as well as other information in the remarks section of the registers.

Content available in registers varies by year. Information that can generally be found includes:

  • Name
  • When and where enlisted
  • Where stationed
  • Term of enlistment
  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Physical description: height, weight, eye color, hair, complexion,
  • Regiment and company
  • Company commander
  • Rank
  • Date of discharge
  • Additional remarks

Volunteer Army Service Records, 1784-1811[edit | edit source]

An act of Congress in 1784 reduced the standing army to 20 men. Since the Revolution was over by that time, military units were mainly needed to quell Indian raids and disturbances. State and local militias usually handled the local problems. Enlistment in the standing army was commonly for short periods of time, the average being about 90 days.

The service records may contain:

Abstracts of payrolls
Abstracts of muster rolls
Provision and clothing receipts
Receipts for pay
Accounts for rations

Discharge Certificates[edit | edit source]

Discharge certificates cover some of the soldiers discharged from those serving from the Army. Not all soldiers are found in these records

Pension Records[edit | edit source]

Online Pension Indexes[edit | edit source]

Also available through Indiana Society of War of 1812 (Free) and at

Online Copies of Pension Records[edit | edit source]

A large portion of pension records are digitized and online:

Order Copies from National Archives[edit | edit source]

Copies of military pension application files can be obtained three ways from the National Archives (NARA):

  • Ordered online from NARA
  • Ordered by mail using the NATF Form 86.
  • Visiting the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. in person and request to see the original compiled military service records.

Pension files are available for Army enlisted men and officers. Check for evidence of a pension application in the previously described microfilm indexes for the War of 1812 through the Philippine Insurrection. Refer to the article of the specific war served, then look under the heading “Pension Records.”

Old War Pension Files[edit | edit source]

An index to pensions awarded to soldiers based on army service between 1783 and 1861, including the Indian wars, is listed below:

  • The "Old War Index to Pension Files, 1815-1926" (NARA T316) includes pensioners of the U.S. Army. The records are available online. They relate mainly to pensions based on death or disability incurred in service between the years of 1816-1861 and cover regular army, navy and volunteer soldiers.
  • White, Virgil D.Index to Old Wars Pension Files 1815–1926. 2 vols. Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing, 1987. (FHL book 973 M22wh.)

Historical Registers or Dictionaries of the Army[edit | edit source]

  • 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 as well as a chronological list of battles, actions, etc., in which troops of the Regular Army have participated. This book is the work of Francis B. Heitman, a private compiler, purchased and published under an act of Congress approved March 2, 1903.

African American Army Servicemen[edit | edit source]

Additional Collections[edit | edit source]

National Archives

FamilySearch Catalog - United States. Adjutant General's Office

Other Record Types

Libraries, Archives, and Museums[edit | edit source]

  • U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center  (USAHEC)
    950 Soldiers Drive
    Carlisle, PA 17013-5021
    Information desk: (717) 245-3972
    Email: usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.ahec-ves@mail.mil
    Hours: See their website. They have winter and summer hours
    Online collections

    The Military History Institute is the United States Army's preeminent museum and research complex dedicated to educating and preserving the legacy of the men and women who have served their nation as soldiers. Its holdings include, books, clissified and unclassified government documents, photographs, letters, and diaries. Other offerings include exhibits as well as historical and educational programs: lecture series, workshops, school programs, historical demonstrations, and several annual and special living history events. All USAHEC sponsored events are free to the public. The site has a number of online digital collections.

National Archives - Related Collections[edit | edit source]

Order of Battle

Further Reading[edit | edit source]