Native American Heritage

header image

Indian Companies

Records of the U.S. Regular Army

The U.S. Regular Army began enlisting American Indians as scouts a year after the Civil War ended. On March 9, 1891, the War Department issued General Order No. 28 authorizing the Regular Army to enlist American Indians to serve in Indian companies within infantry and cavalry regiments. Collectively, these companies often acted as scouts for their regiments. The last company to muster out was Company L of the Seventh Cavalry, which served until 1895.

The National Archives in Washington, DC, houses records related to Indian companies, including descriptive books and muster rolls.

Please note: these records have not yet been digitized. For access information, please contact the Archives 1 Reference Branch in Washington, DC.

Descriptive Books of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units

Descriptive books contain rolls and lists of noncommissioned officers, men discharged, and deaths during the reporting period. The records can show an Indian scout's name, age, physical description, birthplace, enlistment date and location, and payroll information.


  • "Descriptive Books for Companies A–C and F of Indian Scouts, 1872–1886" (National Archives Identifier 3098724)

  • "Descriptive Lists for a Battalion Consisting of Companies A–D of Indian Scouts, 1882–1884" (National Archives Identifier 3099478)

  • "Descriptive Rolls of Warm Spring and Chiricahua Indian Bands, 1884–1885" (National Archives Identifier 3103751)

  • "Descriptive Book for a Detachment of Seminole Indian Scouts, 1889–1893" (National Archives Identifier 3103753)

Regular Army Muster Rolls, 1866–1912

Regular Army muster rolls include Indian companies. These records provide the company's locations during the reporting period as well as names of individuals who had deserted, died, or been discharged.

Knowing the state or territory in which a scout served, and preferably their company or military post, can make the research process easier.

Visit the National Archives Catalog for the full archival records description: National Archives Identifier 654583.


For other records related to Indian companies, see the 2009 Prologue article "Lead the Way: Researching U.S. Army Indian Scouts, 1866–1914"