Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NARA - Regular Army Enlistment Registers and Papers from the War of 1812

If a soldier's name does not appear in the index for volunteer soldiers, he might have served in the regular army. If the soldier served as an officer in the U.S. Army during this period, his name should be in Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army (1903). There are no consolidated "service records" for officers before 1863. Aside from entries in Heitman, one can examine the correspondence of the Adjutant General's Office for pertinent documentation relating to these officers. Most of the names of regular army soldiers who served during the War of 1812 appear in the fifteen volumes of enlistment registers that show the names of soldiers enlisting for the period 1798 - 1815. Despite the dates indicated, most of the names in these registers are for those who enlisted during the War of 1812 period. The initial letter of surname arranges the names alphabetically, and there under alphabetically by given name, e.g., the name of Aaron Atkins would come before George Abbott, regardless of when each enlisted. The registers are somewhat more useful to the genealogist than the information provided on the compiled service record because they can show the age, place of birth (either city, county, or state), physical description (to include height), occupation, place and date of enlistment. The registers also indicate when, where, and under what circumstances the soldier was discharged. 

These registers were compiled in the late nineteenth century by the Adjutant General and are based on a variety of original records such as muster and payrolls, inspection and descriptive rolls, and other miscellaneous records in the Adjutant General's Office. As with the compiled service records, the information on these original records was transferred to the register, so no additional information is available from rearranging the original records. Fortunately for the researcher, these registers have been microfilmed on Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798 - 1914 (M233, 81 rolls). Another series of records, the enlistment papers, may also be useful. Unfortunately, the original enlistment papers for the War of 1812 period are fragmentary and incomplete. The papers are arranged alphabetically for the period 1798 - 1894. Much of the same information, however, can be found in the registers of enlistments.