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Miscellaneous numbered records (The Manuscript File) in the War Department collection of Revolutionary War records, 1775-1790's

Manuscript/Manuscript on Film
English
Washington, D.C. : National Archives & Records Administration, 1970
125 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.
National Archives microfilm publications; M859

Notes

Microfilm of original records in The National Archives, Washington, District of Columbia.

This microfilm publication reproduces "about 35,500 'miscellaneous' numbered records (The Manuscript File), originals and copies, pertaining to Revolutionary War military operations, service of individuals, pay and settlement of accounts, and supplies. Most of the original records are dated from 1775 to the early 1790's, but some were created in the 19th century, generally in connection with settling accounts and granting pensions to former servicemen and their heirs. Most copies of records were made by the War Department in the 1890's"--Introd.

"The first and largest part of the Manuscript File was arranged in 1898 and 1899 and consists of miscellaneous numbered records 1-30074. The plan of arrangement seems to have provided for four major categories of records based mainly on the states and organizations to which the records pertained. Records judged to relate to troops of particular states, whether in Continental Army or militia units, were arranged in alphabetical order by name of state and thereunder by kinds of records, such as commissions or pay receipts, and then numbered. Records relating to Continental troops at large (those not raised by any one state) were arranged and numbered next. These records, too, were filed somewhat by kinds of records but in no further discernible order. Records pertaining to the activities of Continental Army staff departments--the Commissary General of Military Stores Department, the Commissary General of Issues Department, the Paymaster General's Department, and the Quartermaster General's Department--were formed into a third record category arranged by name of department, thereunder generally by bodies of records of the same kind, and numbered. The remaining records were arranged and numbered as 'miscellaneous' records, even though all records placed in the Manuscript File were, by definition, supposed to be of a miscellaneous character"--Introd.

"Many of the records in the Manuscript File that were arranged as pertaining to a particular state or organization were not actually created by that state or organization. For example, miscellaneous numbered records 1-1080, arranged as records pertaining to Connecticut troops, include commissions issued by the Continental Congress to Connecticut officers, resignations of individual Connecticut officers addressed to George Washington, and letters received by the Paymaster General concerning the accounts of Connecticut officers and enlisted men"--Introd.

"When additional records were added to the Manuscript File after 1899, they were given higher numbers and placed at the end of the file rather than interfiled among related records filed earlier. An attempt was made to repeat the rudimentary arrangement scheme followed in 1898 and in 1899, but that scheme was only imperfectly duplicated, partly because the additional records were added piecemeal over several decades instead of being accumulated, systematically arranged, and filed all at one time as were the first 30,000 records"--Introd.

"Although the Manuscript File includes records numbered from 1 to 50208, it actually contains only about 35,500 discrete numbered items. Miscellaneous numbered records 31756-31862 were transferred to the Navy Department on November 2, 1906, as naval records. Numbers 35501- 49983 in the filing scheme were reserved for the photographic copies of records made by the War Department in several states in 1914 and 1915. These records were kept apart from the Manuscript File and constitute a separate series not reproduced in this microfilm publication"--Introd.

In order to locate names of persons mentioned in the numbered records-- mainly military officers and enlisted men, Continental and State government officials and civilians, the name must be known and located thru the use of an index.

"Generally, each discrete paper or volume placed in the Manuscript File was given a separate file number and its pages, if more than one, were paginated. Occasionally, discrete but closely related papers such as lists of pensioners were all given the same file file number and each sheet consecutively numbered as if it were a page in a volume. File numbers were stamped or written directly on the records or on the heavy paper sheets on which many records were mounted. In preparing the records for microfilming, many had to be removed from the paper sheets to which they were attached because the latter covered writing on the backs of the records. In such cases the part of the mounting sheet containing the file number was preserved and filmed with the record to identify it. A few records at the end of the Manuscript File, mainly fragments, are not numbered"--Introd.

"The records in the Manuscript File are varied in both physical character and subject matter. Physically, most of the records are unbound papers, but there are also a few paper-covered bound volumes. Many of the papers were once part of bound bolumes that were unbound before being added to the Manuscript File. About a third of the documents in the file consist of handwritten and printed copies of records, mainly records of soldiers of particular states. The remaining items are original records"--Introd.

"The subject matter of the records in the Manuscript File mainly concerns services performed by individual military officers and enlisted men, the settlement of their pay and other accounts, the operations of several large staff departments of the Continental Army responsible for supplying and paying troops, and military operations. Certain kinds of records predominate. These include pay accounts of officers and enlisted men; accounts of supplies received and delivered; assignments of pay; certificates of nonindebtedness; commissions; correspondence between military officers about military operations; letters sent and received by heads of Continental Army staff departments to and from subordinates and other military officers, civil officers, and private citizens about departmental matters (such as supplies, transportation, pay, and settlement of accounts); enlistment papers; letters of administration; military orders; oaths of allegiance and of office; pay orders and orders for the delivery of supplies; powers of attorney; receipts for supplies, pay and other sums of money; resignations; returns of supplies and personnel; and statements of service performed by individuals. There are usually hundreds of each of these kinds of records"--Introd.

"Among the kinds of records existing in smaller quantities (generally from two to three documents to dozens in each category) are abstracts of payrolls; abstracts of records of issuance of supplies; pay accounts of civilians; books showing receipt and delivery of supplies; contracts for supplies; personal letters sent and received by Army staff officers; courts-martial proceedings; military discharges; estimates of needed supplies; final settlement certificates; inspection reports; inventories and invoices of supplies; lists of supplies, military organizations, and pensioners; minutes of councils of war; muster rolls and payrolls; pension certificates; petitions to State legislatures; recommendations concerning the discharge of officers; registers of certificates issued in settlement of accounts; and resolutions of State legislatures and the Continental Congress concerning military matters"--Introd.

The library has an index (on microfilm) to these miscellaneous numbered records (The Manuscript File) in the War Department Collection. See entry in the Author/Title catalog: United States. Record and Pension Office. Special index to numbered records in the War Department collection of Revolutionary War records, 1775-1783.

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