U.S. Army

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United States  >  Military Records  >  U.S. Army

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.

Service Records

Compiled service records were never created for enlisted personnel, but enlistment papers and other records are available at the National Archives. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of the following:

  • Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798–1914. National Archives Microfilm Publication M233. (On 81 FHL films beginning with 350307.) These give the soldier’s name, rank, regiment, company commander, height, weight, eye color, hair, complexion, age, occupation, county and state of birth, and enlistment date and place. The 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.A helpful source for African-American soldiers is:
  • Schubert, Frank N. On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier: Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866–1917. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1995. (FHL book 973 Sch78o.) Contains short biographical sketches listing rank and unit served with; few contain birth and other personal data. The source of the original information is cited.
  • Many records may no longer be available because of a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center.

Pension 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.”

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

  • Old Wars Index to Pension Files, 1815–1926 National Archives Microfilm Publication T316. (FHL films 821603-9) The index gives name; name and class of dependents (if any); service unit; application, file, and certificate file numbers; and state from which the claim was made. To find specific microfilm numbers, look in the Locality search of the Family History Library Catalog under:


The following is a published version of the same index:

Sources for Further Reading