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.