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.
- Coffman, Edward M. The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784–1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. (FHL book 973 M2cof.)
- Ganoe, William A. The History of the United States Army. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1942. (FHL book 973 M2gw.)
- Jacobs, James Ripley. The Beginning of the U.S. Army, 1783–1812. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947.
- Weigley, Russel F. History of the United States Army. New York: Macmillan. 1967. (FHL book 973 M25we.)
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 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:
UNITED STATES - MILITARY RECORDS - PENSIONS - INDEXES
The following is a published version of the same index:
- White, Virgil D.Index to Old Wars Pension Files 1815–1926. 2 vols. Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing, 1987. (FHL book 973 M22wh.)
Sources for Further Reading
- Dawson, Joseph G. III. The Late Nineteenth Century U.S. Army, 1865–1898: A Research Guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1990. (FHL book 973 M23ln.) A comprehensive bibliography of sources for the Indian Wars, Reconstruction, forts, and the Army on the western frontier.
- Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903. 2 vols. 1903. Reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1994. (FHL book 973 M2hh, 1994.) (1903 edition FHL film 002237.) The first volume has brief sketches of commissioned officers; the second has lists of battles and skirmishes, forts, military hospitals, and national cemeteries, as well as brief organizational chronologies of U.S. Army units.