The following is excerpted from the descriptive pamphlet for M347, published by NARA.
On the 442 rolls of this microfilm publication is reproduced an extensive series of papers arranged by surnames of soldiers. They were accumulated by the War Department to be interfiled with the regular series of compiled service records of Confederate soldiers but were not interfiled, for one reason or another. The types of items most commonly included are card abstracts and personal papers similar to those that are in the compiled service records of Confederate soldiers and that are arranged by State organizational units.
In general, papers were placed in this series when their proper filing was uncertain or there was no other place to file them. The usual reason was that the information was insufficient or contained discrepancies and could not be positively identified with any soldier for whom there was a compiled service record. Other reasons were that no compiled service record had been established on the basis of regular service records and that the item did not provide enough evidence to justify establishing one. In some cases a soldier may have served in a home guard unit or other state organization never called into the service of the central Government of the Confederate States. Some of the items are vague as to whether they refer to a soldier, a civilian employee, or a private citizen.
The card abstracts contain entries taken from original muster rolls, returns, rosters, payrolls, inspection reports, hospital registers, Union prison registers and rolls, and parole rolls. Also included are references to original records, letters, vouchers, requisitions, paroles, and oaths of allegiance. The personal papers are the originals of documents relating solely to the particular soldier.
The compilation of service records of Confederate soldiers was begun in 1903 under the direction of Brig. Gen. Fred C. Ainsworth, head of the Record and Pension Office of the War Department. Abstracts were made from documents in the War Department Collection of Confederate Records and from documents borrowed by the War Department in an effort to obtain as nearly complete military service records as possible. The abstracts made from the original records were carefully checked to ensure that the abstracts were accurate.
The records reproduced in this microcopy are arranged alphabetically by soldiers' surnames, including variant spellings of a name and often a grouping of names that sound alike. It may be necessary, therefore, to search for the name under the various ways in which it could have been entered. There are cross-references for names that appear in the records under more than on spelling as shown below:
Caywood filed with Cawood
Chadick filed with Chaddick
Freer filed with Frear
Hollus filed with Hollis
Ratleff filed with Ratcliff
There are also guide cards showing how similar-sounding names are placed together. A guide card for the name Barton, followed by the names Barten and Bartin, shows that the records for the last two names are with the name Barton in its alphabetical position in the file. Other examples of such combinations are as follows:
Alford: Alfred, Alferd, Allford
Barber: Barbour, Barbiere, Barbor, Barbia
Barry: Barrey, Barrie, Bary
Coleman: Collman, Colman, Colmon, Coalman
Holcomb: Holcombe, Holcom, Holcome, Holcum
Hughes: Hughs, Hues, Hewes, Hughe, Hughse, Huges
Mahoney: Mahony, Maheney
The records reproduced in this microcopy are a part of Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records.
The main records relating to Confederate soldiers are the compiled service records of Confederate soldiers arranged generally by state organizational units and the state indexes to them, which have been reproduced in other microfilm publications. There is also a "consolidated" or master index (M253), which contains the names of all Confederate soldiers found in compiling the service records, regardless of whether the service was with a unit furnished by a particular state, with a unit raised directly by the Confederate Government, or as a staff officer. This index duplicates the information contained in the state indexes. Sometimes supposed Confederate military service is shown by the records to have been service in a civilian capacity, as in the case of government employees. Evidence of such service, or of having aided the Confederate cause as a civilian in some other way, is sometimes contained in the series reproduced in this microcopy but may more often be obtained from a series of records in the National Archives known as the "Citizens File," consisting of Confederate documents each of which relates to a particular civilian (M346). (The "Citizens File" is available on Fold3.)
Other information about the activities of Confederate civilians is contained in a similar unindexed series of documents accumulated by Union provost marshals and known as the "Provost Marshal File." Some of these documents have been filmed under the title of Union Provost Marshal's File of One-Name Papers Relating to Citizens (M345).
The National Archives has still other Confederate records in its custody among which documents may possibly be found relating to particular Confederate civilians or soldiers. Among them are these two series (available on Fold3.com): (1) Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations Raised Directly by the Confederate Government (M258), and (2) Compiled Service Records of Generals and of Officers and Enlisted Men Who Served in Confederate Staff Organizations (M331).
Learn more at the Fold3 topic page for Confederate service records here: www.fold3.com/page/367_confederate_compiled_military_service.
The descriptive pamphlet for M347, published by NARA, can be viewed or downloaded from this link: M347, Unfiled Papers and Slips Belonging in Confederate Compiled Service Records.