Pre-World War I Army Medals
The only medal that the War Department officially awarded during the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, and Philippine Insurrection was the Medal of Honor.
However, between 1905 and 1919, the War Department authorized several campaign medals for U.S. Army service between 1861 and 1902.
The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives 1), houses correspondence related to pre-World War I recipients of the Medal of Honor and recipients of Army campaign medals.
Archives 1 does not have consolidated files related to Medal of Honor recipients. However, documentation of award recipients can be found interspersed among multiple correspondence series in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office.
For example, a letter from Medal of Honor recipient William Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry to General Fred C. Ainsworth is found among the letters received by the U.S. Colored Troops Division between 1863 and 1894.
An index to Medal of Honor listings within Record Group 94 correspondence is available in the Archives 1 Consultation Room and as a PDF. The index is arranged alphabetically by the soldier's name. Index entries include the file number(s) to correspondence about soldiers' awards.
These file numbers often contain abbreviations that indicate the correspondence series in Record Group 94. These series are listed below, along with their entry number in the Record Group 94 preliminary inventory (PI-17) and their National Archives Identifier (NAID).
- ACP: "Appointment, Commission and Personal Branch Files, 1871–1894" (Entry PI-17 297; NAID: 602140)
- CB: "Commission Branch Files, 1863–1870" (Entry PI-17 297-I; NAID: 300360)
- AG: Adjutant General's Office "Document Files, 1890–1917" (Entry PI-17 27; NAID: 300367)
- R & P: Records and Pension Office "Document Files, 1889–1904" (Entry PI-17 501; NAID: 300385)
- VS (or No Letter): Volunteer Service Division "Letters Received, 1861–1889" (Entry PI-17 496; NAID: 596127)
- Alphanumeric files are for the period 1861–1870.
- Numeric files are for the period 1871–1889.
- EB: Enlisted Branch "Letters Received, 1862–1889" (Entry PI-17 409; NAID: 607910)
- CT: U.S. Colored Troop Division "Letters Received, 1863–1894" (Entry PI-17 360; NAID: 593342)
- AGO: Adjutant General's Office "Letters Received, 1805–1889" (Entry PI-17 12; NAID: 300368)
Additional information about Medal of Honor recipients can be found in George Lang et al.'s Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1994, 2 vols (New York, 1995), and in the Prologue article, "I Am Entitled to the Medal of Honor and I Want It."
Between 1905 and 1919, the War Department issued several campaign medals for U.S. Army service between 1861 and 1902. These medals included:
- Civil War Medal
- Indian Wars Medal
- Spanish War Campaign Medal
- China Campaign Medal (China Relief Expedition)
- Philippine Campaign Medal
- Philippine Congressional Medal
- Mexican Service Medal
- Mexican Border Service Medal
- Army of Cuban Occupation Medal
- Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal
- Cuban Pacification Medal
Correspondence related to the issuance of Army campaign medals can be found in multiple series in Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General.
The series, "Decorations and Awards Index, 1898–1926" (Entry NM-81 256; National Archives Identifier 601682), provides file numbers for relevant correspondence series in Record Group 92. The index is arranged alphabetically by the soldier's name. The series is currently being digitized.
Please note that the U.S. Army no longer manufactures, stocks, or issues the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, or other campaign medals.
As there are no known living veterans who qualify for these awards, there are no plans to manufacture more of these medals.