Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NARA - Naval and Marine Corps Records War of 1812

Records of naval officers' service are more numerous than those for enlisted personnel. The names of naval officers are printed in a useful work by R. W. Callahan, List of Officers of the Navy of the U.S. and the Marine Corps From 1775 to 1900 (1901). The basic National Archives record showing naval and Marine Corps officer service in the War of 1812 can be found in Abstracts Of Service Records of Naval Officers ("Records of Officers"), 1798 - 1893 (M330, 19 rolls, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Record Group 24). Of the fifteen volumes filmed in this series, volumes D and E show officers' records of service for the War of 1812. The entries are arranged chronologically and indicate the dates of acceptance, resignation, appointment, assignment, transfer, promotion, and ships on which the officer served. Other records containing additional information about navy and Marine Corps officers can be found in Records of the Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Record Group 45). There are several series of records for the War of 1812 period that show letters of resignation (three volumes), letters indicating receipt of commissions and enclosing oaths of allegiance "acceptances" (five volumes), and letters from midshipmen accepting commissions and enclosing oaths of allegiance (one volume). There are no such compiled summaries to show service for naval enlisted men for this period. If the ship on which a seaman served is known, the muster and payrolls for that vessel can be examined to determine the dates of enlistment and service. If the ship is not known, then the research becomes laborious because the muster and payrolls of all ships operating at that time must be searched, and the names on the rolls are not necessarily arranged alphabetically. The best sources, however, for ascertaining naval service are the pension and bounty land application files. If a seaman applied for one of these benefits, the ship's name and dates of service will be indicated on the application, making the search for pertinent muster rolls less time-consuming.

Records of the U.S. Marine Corps (Record Group 127) include comprehensive card indexes listing all officers and enlisted men who served before 1900. The information is slim, but they do show the dates of appointment and enlistment. There are, however, service records for enlisted Marine Corps personnel for the period 1798 - 1895. These papers are arranged by year of enlistment, there under by initial letter of surname, and consist of enlistment and other papers that might establish date of service, age, place of birth, and occupation. The size rolls (similar to muster rolls) for the period 1798 - 1906 supply much the same information as the army enlistment registers, but one must know the approximate date of service to use them. The record group also contains card indexes showing names of Marine Corps casualties for the War of 1812 period.