The records of enlisted men in service can include the following:
Enlistment papers: This was simply a contract required of enlisted men who served in the regular army. In National Archives, they are arranged into three series: 1784-1815; 1798-14 July 1894; and 15 July 1894 – 31 October 1912. The first series is arranged by the initial letter only of the surname. The 2nd and 3rd are arranged alphabetically by name of the soldier, then chronologically by date of enlistment. Information includes generally: soldier’s name, place of enlistment, date, by whom enlisted, age, occupation, personal description, regimental assignment and certification of the examining surgeon and recruiting officer. After 15 July 1894 it normally shows descriptive and assignment cards, prior service cards, certificates of disability, final statements, inventories of effects, records of death and interment if applicable.
Registers of enlistment: 1798-1913.These generally contain information as to the enlistment and termination of service of the enlisted personnel. From 1798-30 June 1821, there are 35 volumes and contain information about the officers too. The register for 1798-30 June 1821 also shows the soldier’s name, military organization, physical description, date and place of birth, enlistment information and remarks. The registers for 1 July 1821-1913 are 2-page entries which contain the same information as prior and also shows additional information. Also shown on the right hand page is shown the branch of service, company, separations dates. If discharged, the date, place and reason along with rank.
There were separate registers for mounted rangers, 1832-33; Indian scouts, 1866-1914; post quartermasters, 1884-90; sergeants appointed under an act of 5 July 1884; ordnance sergeants, 1832-90; commissary sergeants, 1873-91; Philippine scouts, Oct 1901-1913; Puerto Rican provisional infantry, 1901-14; hospital stewards, 1887-99.
From 1812-99, there are Certificates of Disability. These were issued by surgeons recommending discharge for soldiers. They show the type of disability, name, rank, organization, when, where and by whom enlisted, period of enlistment, age, place of birth, personal description and station.
Final Statements: 1862-99, there are papers relating to the deaths of soldiers. Each record shows a record of death and burial, an inventory of personal effects, and a final statement relating to the military service. This includes a personal description, cause and place of death, an account of the soldier’s financial affairs. They are arranged generally by organization for various groups of years.
Medical Examination of Recruits Reports: 1884-1912. These related to the sick and wounded in the medical records of the Record and Pension Office of the Adjutant General’s Office. They show name, residence, date and place of birth, occupation, race, marital status, previous employment, father’s nationality, citizenship status, previous military service, name and address of dependents, personal description and remarks, report of physical examination, date and place of acceptance and enlistment or rejection. These are arranged alphabetically by the name of the recruit and then by the date of enlistment.
Finally, the Correspondence Files of the Enlisted Branch: These consist of letters sent, 1851-52, 1860-62 and 1863-89; registers of letters received 1862-89; and letters received 1848-62 and 1863-89. Letters sent are arranged chronologically by the date sent and are indexed for 1863-90. Letters received are arranged chronologically by year and then by various other arrangements.