Article compiled by Flora L. VerStraten

Many researchers send for pension files and military records from the Archives and when the files arrive, we examine and extract the pertinent facts from the records and then we file them away.  We sometimes assume that we have received all that is available because what else could there be?

Could the states that formed its units have additional records that we are unaware of?  The office that was responsible for the record keeping of these units, the creator of valuable records was the state Adjutant General. In some states this office is referred to as the Office of Military Affairs and it was responsible for military forces for their state. The records from this office are one of the largest and most complete groups of Civil War-era records on the state government level. 

  • Muster Rolls- These rolls were created at the time of a unit’s organization and disbandment.  These rolls were created (usually) bimonthly.  Muster rolls list the members of a unit arranged by rank, beginning of course with the officers. You can learn various spellings of surnames, middle names, assignments and other items they may not have been included in the soldier’s military file.
  • Draft Records- Draft records were created by draft boards that covered areas such as a county or city ward.  These records proved to be controversial due to the fact that the draftees could pay into a bounty fund or directly provide a substitute to go in his place.
  • Correspondence- These files are poorly indexed but could contain important information.  Many letters included in these files include details of claims, and some detail relationships.
  • Descriptive Rolls-Descriptive rolls include physical traits recorded such as; height, eye & hair color, complexion etc. 
  • Personnel Records- These records include individual soldiers within entire regiments.  Some states offered medals and other forms of recognition as well as furlough records, court martial records including charges and any punishments. 
  • Home Guard & Militia- Records of these units are not always complete due to the fact the soldiers weren’t called up to national service.  These records include name, county and sometimes-other information such as age, personnel records and resignations.
  • When the War Was Over-These records did not immediately end when Lee surrendered.  As with other state records, the information will vary from state to state and year to year.  The basic information will be listed.  Also be sure to check post Civil War “state pension” records.  In post war, especially after the formation of patriotic organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), Ohio and other states became aware of the medical needs of their veterans.  Veteran homes and hospital records can provide information about much needed services to veterans and their families. Check for admission records and death records that exist for these institutions. 
  • Locating Civil War Records-Check the state archives for records first.  Many of the archives contain published catalogs and other aids for their Adjutant General collections.  Some may even be listed online.  Some records are available on microfilm from the LDS Family History Centers.

At the LDS Web Site
You can search for Civil War, Civil War Registers and Indexes

In Conclusion- The records found at the state Adjutants General’s office can be very helpful in searching for genealogical information.  These records are easier to find with the proliferation of catalogs, finding aids, and online resources.

NOTE: If a link listed below is outdated, changed or needs a correction, please submit any changes or updates to Flora at 

Quick Links-Civil War

American Civil War Research Database:

American Civil War Home Page:

United States Civil War Center:

The Valley of the Shadow:

Ohio in the Civil War:

Union Army-National Archives:

How to Order Military Records:

Resources for the Civil War abound on the Internet.  The researcher will find tons of historical information, regimental records and histories as well as indexes, web site societies, chat rooms, and mailing lists on the Civil War.  There are many useful and numerous tutorials and how-to articles that will aid you in locating records regarding your own Civil War ancestors.

…but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather then let it perish, and the war came.
Abraham Lincoln, 4 March 1865