Military Records

Pre-1917 Army Records at the National Archives

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses records relating to soldiers and military units from the Revolutionary War up to (but not including) World War I. Other records cover administrative aspects of the War Department, military departments and commands, and veterans’ benefits. We also house records of the Freedmen's Bureau.

Military Service:

We house military service records for:

  • Soldiers of the Continental and Regular Army from 1775 to 1916
  • State volunteers raised for federal service (Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection)

We also house regimental records for:

  • Regular Army units (Mexican War through the Philippine Insurrection)
  • State volunteer units (Mexican War through the Philippine Insurrection)

Pensions:

We house historical records of the Veterans Administration, including:

  • Pension and bounty-land applications for Army veterans from 1775 to 1916 (and their widows and dependents)
  • Registers of residents of national soldiers’ homes
  • Registers of residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (formerly the U.S. Soldier’s Home) in Washington, DC

We also house settled accounts of the War Department for claims from various wars.

Military Departments and Commands:

We house the following records related to military departments and commands:

  • Administrative records of the Secretary of War and War Department
  • Administrative and operational records of geographical military departments, districts, sub-districts, commands, and installations (camps and forts)
  • Operational records of overseas commands (Spanish-American War to the Mexican Punitive Expedition)

We also house the Papers of the Continental Congress and captured records of the former Confederate government.

Freedmen's Bureau:

We house records of the Freedmen's Bureau, the post-Civil War military agency that managed abandoned lands and dealt with refugees and freedmen in the South.

These records contain information about former slaves, including:

  • Educational opportunities,
  • Employment,
  • Marriages, and
  • Claims.

Many of these records have been digitized and made available online.

Commonly Requested Series: 

Accordion
  • Record Group 15: Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Record Group 77: Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers

  • Record Group 92: Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General

  • Record Group 93: War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records

  • Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s–1917

  • Record Group 98: Records of United States Army Commands, 1784–1821

  • Record Group 99: Records of the Office of the Paymaster General

  • Record Group 105: Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands

  • Record Group 107: Records of the Office of the Secretary of War

  • Record Group 108: Records of the Headquarters of the Army

  • Record Group 109: War Department Collection of Confederate Records

  • Record Group 110: Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War)

  • Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer

  • Record Group 112: Records of the Office of the Surgeon General (Army)

  • Record Group 153: Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army)

  • Record Group 156: Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance

  • Record Group 159: Records of the Office of the Inspector General (Army)

  • Record Group 192: Records of the Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence

  • Record Group 203: Records of the Office of the Chief of Finance (Army)

  • Record Group 217: Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury

  • Record Group 231: Records of the Armed Forces Retirement Home

  • Record Group 249: Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners

  • Record Group 360: Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention

  • Record Group 365: Treasury Department Collection of Confederate Records

  • Record Group 391: Records of United States Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821–1942

  • Record Group 392: Records of U.S. Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses

  • Record Group 393: Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920

  • Record Group 395: Records of United States Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898–1942​

Research Online:

Partner Sites

Some pre-World War I Army records are available online through Ancestry, Fold3, and FamilySearch. These records include:

  • Revolutionary War Service and Pension Files
  • Confederate Service Records
  • Civil War Draft Registration Lists
  • Applications for Military Headstones

National Archives Catalog

You can search the National Archives Catalog to find descriptions and digitized images of some pre-World War I Army records.

 

Search the National Archives Catalog

 

Looking for WWI and Later Army Records?

For  U.S. Army personnel files for World War I or later:

For  World War I or later unit-level records for the U.S. Army:

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