Military Records

Court-Martial Case Files, 1809-1917

The National Archives houses historical records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Army in Record Group 153. These records relate to the administration of military justice in the United States Army.

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses U.S. Army court-martial case files from 1809 to 1917. These records are found in Entry PC-29 15 of Record Group 153.

Contents of Court-Martial Case Files

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Union soldiers from the Army of the Cumberland awaiting court-martial (National Archives Identifier 526923)

Court-martial case files may include any or all of the following:

  • Documents describing the organization and personnel of military courts
  • Charges and specifications against defendants
  • Pleas and arraignments of defendants
  • Papers and exhibits submitted for the consideration of the courts
  • Proceedings, findings, and sentences of the courts
  • Reports of reviewing authorities
  • Statements of action by the Secretary of War and the President
  • Related correspondence

Prior to 1812, records are fragmentary and incomplete.

Accessing Court-Martial Case Files

Court-martial case files at Archives 1 are arranged in two parts by time period:

  • Case files for 1809 to 1894 (National Archives Identifier 301659)  
  • Case files for 1894 to 1917 (National Archives Identifier 5916762)

Within these chronological segments, case files are first arranged alphabetically by key letters that were arbitrarily assigned by the Army.

Thereunder, the case files are arranged strictly numerically for the 1809–1894 period and numerically by the date of the filing number for the 1894–1917 period.

Identifying Case File Numbers

Multiple finding aids to the court-martial case files are available in the Consultation Room (Room G-24) at Archives 1. On-site researchers may search the finding aids by the service member's name. Court-martial case files from the Civil War era (1861–1865) can also be searched by regiment.

Off-site researchers may search NARA's online catalog for a service member's name and then email our staff at for additional assistance.