Thursday, November 24, 2011

War of 1812 Enlistment Papers

> When a young man enlisted in the army in 1812, was he required to give the name of his parents and their residence?

There are at least two kinds of forces in the Army in 1812. The
militia and the Regular Army. The basic document of enlistment in the
U.S. Army is the enlistment paper. The enlistment paper gives the
name, place of enlistment, date of enlistment, by whom enlisted, age
occupation, personal description, and regimental assignment, usually.
If they exist they are either found in the compiled military service
record or in RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office. If in RG
94 they could be in a number of different entries, but entry 91,
Enlistment Papers, 1798 - 1912 is the place to start. Entry 94,
Personal Papers might have them if they were moved from Entry 91.

There is no requirement to give names of parents or guardians unless
the soldier is under age. I have personally only seen this information
on Civil War and after enlistment papers.

Another place to look is the Register of Enlistments. A description is found at:

There is further information on this subject at:

And here is my most favorite spot for 1812 and the Archives:

This document is helpful in researching soldiers in this period. The
Register of Enlistments is also available on the subscription service, They sometimes have free periods during military
holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

The militia is a different story and there you can only rely on muster
and payrolls for most of the information and it does not relate to
parents or guardians. However, by knowing the makeup of the company
you can usually recreate the neighborhood that the soldier lived in as
most of his comrades were neighbors.

> There seems to have been no application form for entry into the US armed
> forces, or at least, so I am told.

An enlistment paper is not an application form, but a contract between
the U.S. government and the soldier.

> I've wondered if full personnel
> folders don't exist somewhere, but if they do, no one in the Archives
> wants to admit it.

There are no personnel folders for officers or enlisteds during this
time period. Officer personnel records are not kept until 1863.
Enlisted personnel jackets do not come into being until World War I.
These personnel jackets are located at the National Personnel Records
Center for the WWI and after periods. More information can be found

> They know they haven't the manpower to find and copy the files.

Since they would be coping the records for a fee, I am sure that if
they had the records they would be glad to copy them, if you ordered
them. In the more than forty years that I have been going to the
Archives (some years it was three days a week; now it is more like
three times a year) I have not ever encountered an issue of having the
archives staff hide records from me because they did not have the
manpower or did not want to copy the files. They have always been
helpful and I have looked for some very esoteric military things.

On a different light, those people interested in the prisoners at
Quebec Prison, Eric Johnson has put a book together on the POWs. He
follows in the footsteps of Harrison Scott Baker who did the prior
volumes on other prisons, but died before Quebec could be done.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Memorial Hill, Blanford Cemetery

I have a question about a Blandford Cemetery which is located in Petersburg, VA. A client of mine has a ancestor who
is buried in Memorial Hill there. I contacted the cemetery by email explaining that I was trying to find more information
but was told that all they knew was online and that Memorial Hill was a mass burial.

You can search the listing for the cemetery at which I did for my client.
My question is what does everything else mean on the page and and where did the cemetery get the parent information.
Under other information it lists both supposed parents. There is also grave information which could perhaps indicate
there is a memorial stone but the person would not state this.

Things that I know about Memorial Hill:

It was created in 1868 and was designed by Henry D. Bird, a local civil engineer. The Bird Plan depicts sections of varying size for each of the Confederate States. The sections were separated by long curving paths. A map made at the time contained a list of soldiers buried in the New Burial Ground up to August 1, 1867.

It was used by the Ladies Memorial Association to commemorate the dead specifically in 1875. Such a big deal it was that in 1877 the keeper forbade their entrance to the cemetery.

Nearly 20,000 Confederates are buried at Blandford. 12,000 were interred by the Ladies Association on Memorial Hill after the close of the war; the others being buried by friends and family within the old cemetery limits. These interred soldiers came from many battles, not just those around Petersburg. Of these 20,000 fewer that 3,000 have been identified.

This information comes from my copy of John O. Peters, Blandford Cemetery: Death and Life at Petersburg, Virginia.

Military records would vary rarely contain the names of both parents, and rarely the name of one parent. Without knowing the circumstances of death it is hard to evaluate the situation. It is apparent that no soldier died in battle and was originally interred at Blandford since the first burial is not until 1868. So they either were killed in battle and later moved to Blandford or they died after 1868. If that was the case and it was in Virginia, the names of parents are part of the death register in the county of death and it is possible that Library of Virginia would have the death register on film.

Hope this helps.


Friday, October 14, 2011

A soldier in the French and Indian War

In fact I do have one re Wolfe's Storming of Quebec. Supposedly Jeremiah Newberry (possibly age 15 or 18 at the time) was with Wolfe. Jeremiah was born probably 1743 in New London, CT (Barbour's records) and moved with his family to Westerly, Rhode Island. Is there a reliable way to confirm or refute this?

The best place to confirm the involvement of a French and Indian War participant from CT or RI is in the local county history.

For CT there are books originally published by the CT Historical Society from the records of the CT State Library. The one you are looking for is the two volume "Rolls of Connecticut Men in the French and Indian War, 1755 - 1764." The volume you really need is the second volume which covers 1758-1762. Heritage Books has this book for sale (the first volume is out of print, but should be back this year), so I looked for you and there is no mention of him in the index. I don't trust indexes, personally. It is also on Google Bookshelf as a limited view, but nothing appeared there.

For Rhode Island there is "Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars: A List of Rhode Island Soldiers & Sailors in the Old French and Indian War, 1755-1762" which I have never seen. According to World Cat the closest places to you where you can find it are the Library of Congress and the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia (one of my very favorite libraries, I used to be on the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library of about ten years or so (or at least it seemed that long)

Hope this helps.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pennsylvania Depreciaton Lands

That is good news, indeed, as I am trying to prove two people. Is there a place you would recommend to read more about this type of record? Do you know if the originals are indeed at the PA State Library?

There is a good article in The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volumes 1 - 3. Google Bookshelf has it.

Don't forget the 1790 and 1800 Depreciation Tract Censuses.

I believe that the records are in the Pennsylvania State Archives in RG 17.


Pennsylvania Depreciaton Lands

I am working on a problem that has to do with Revolutionary War service. I find the subject in the published PA Archives receiving “Depreciation Pay as per canceled certificates on file in the Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania State Library.” Actually I find two people listed who could be him, one a lieut. and one a private. Do you know if this list was taken over time and perhaps the private became the lieut. or was taken at the same time and they are two people? Or …?

My sense is that they would be two different people. If you look at the introduction to Bockstruck's Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments (which does not index these depreciation grants as he does not consider them to be truly bounty land grants) it says that these lands were intended for compensation for the depreciation in Continental currency (Not Worth a Continental), script in the form of certificates of depreciation were accepted as payments for lands in the Depreciation Tract. I don't believe that it had anything to do with rank.

Hope this helps.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

S O #s in Military Records

At the recent FGS conference I sat next to you at the Geneabloggers get together Thurs. night at Bennigan’s. I barely remember the evening because I was so tired, but I do remember you talking about your “Stump Craig” among other things. After I returned home I was working on some of my files for ancestors from the Civil War and the Spanish American War when I realized that you might be able to help me with a question that has frustrated me.

How/where can I find out what behavior or issue S.O. #’s refer to? I assume that this could change from unit to unit??? I also asked about this when I was at the state archives in Springfield and they didn’t know.

An S.O. is a Special Order; the number refers to the which Special Order it might be. It does vary from unit to unit. Probably the most famous of the Special Orders is one issued by the Army of Northern Virginia; Special Order 191 which detailed General Lee's plans for the forthcoming invasion of Maryland. A copy of that Special Order was lost and found by Union soldiers. The battles of South Mountain and Antietam were the result. What is important to know about a Special Order is its number and what organization issued it. A regiment (like the 13th Kansas Infantry) can receive a special order from a variety of different organizations above it in the chain of command.
1st- my gr. grandfather, David B. Walker was in the 13th Kansas Infantry, Company G. He was discharged 24 Nov 1863 when he was injured at the battle of Pea Ridge but his muster out record states that in addition to the injury, he was also discharged per S.O. #302.

In 1963 the 13th Kansas Infantry was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of the Frontier, Department of Missouri, until February 1863. District of Southwest Missouri, Department of Missouri, to June 1863. District of the Frontier, Department of Missouri, to December 1863. Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion is the best place to find this information.

So it is possible that S.O. #302 was issued by the District of the Frontier, or the Department of the Missouri or the U.S. Army itself.

2nd – John W. O’Connor was in the 7th Infantry, Company K during the Spanish American War. In the muster out remarks it states: June 1, 1898 reduced from Sergeant to private per paragraph No. 1, per S.O. No. 10:July 1, 1898 appointed Sergeant from private per S.O. 21. Sick in quarter July 31.

Special Orders exist for a variety of reasons, to combine units together to create one, to move units from one place to another, to create parades and to report the results of courts-martial to name a few. So O'Connor could only go from sergeant to private as a result of a courts-martial. You ought to track that down. If it was a General Courts-Martial there is a microfilm index at NARA. Although the results of those are usually G.O (General Orders), so it might have been a lower military court. And apparently a month later, a reviewing authority disagreed with the findings of the court-martial and reinstated him to sergeant. If you are able to find the courts-martial transcript there should be a copy of the S.O. in the file. In the absence of any other information, that is my first assumption (aka guess). Sick in quarters has nothing to do with a Special Order. He just is not sick enough to be in a hospital.

Hope is helps.