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The compiled service records of volunteer soldiers who served in the Mexican War consist of a jacket-envelope for each soldier, labeled with his name and rank and the unit in which he served. A jacket-envelope typically contains: (1) card abstracts of entries relating to the individual soldier as found in original muster rolls, returns, payrolls, company and regimental books, hospital registers, and lists of deserters; (2) originals of any papers relating solely to the soldier, such as correspondence and requests for leaves of absence; and (3) notation cards giving supplemental information not found on the card abstracts. There are also cross-reference jacket-envelopes to indicate soldiers' names that appear in the records under more than one spelling. These compiled service records are part of the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, Record Group 94.
This description and much of the remaining information on this page is taken directly from the descriptive pamphlets prepared by NARA for each title. Links to the descriptive pamphlets are provided below.
Compilation of service records of volunteer soldiers who served in the Mexican War began in 1891 under the direction of Major Fred C. Ainsworth, head of the Record and Pension Division of the War Department. This operation was designed to permit more rapid and efficient checking of military and medical records in connection with Army pension claims and other veteran benefits. It also sought to preserve heavily used records from further damage. Card abstracts were made from the original records in the custody of the War Department and from other records borrowed from the Second Auditor of the Treasury. The abstracts made from these original records were verified by a separate operation of comparison, and great care was taken to ensure that the abstracts and indexes were accurate.
Using the records
The compiled service records are arranged according to regimental number and then alphabetically by each soldier's surname. Preceding the jacket-envelopes for the individual soldiers in each regiment are envelopes containing record-of-events cards and caption cards. The former contain abstracts of information found on muster rolls and returns indicating the stations, movements, and activities of the regiment or a part of it. The latter show exact captions from the muster-out rolls. These cards generally show the name of the commanding officer, by whose order and what authority the troops were called into service, date of muster in, length of service, date of discharge, and a statement by the mustering officer verifying the accuracy of the regimental records.
The card abstracts show the soldier's presence or absence on certain days as well as his rank, military organization, term of service, promotions or demotions, and death or disability incurred in service. Card abstracts taken from descriptive books generally provide a physical description of each soldier, his age, his occupation prior to enlistment, his place of birth, and the date and place of his enlistment.
The compiled service record of a Mexican War soldier might not appear in this microfilm publication for several reasons. First, the individual may have served either in a unit from another state or in the Regular Army. Second, he may have served under a different name or used a different spelling of his name. Third, proper records of his military service may never have been made, or, if made, they may have been lost or even destroyed in the confusion that often accompanied the initial mobilization, subsequent military operations, and final demobilization. Fourth, references to a soldier in the original records may be so vague that it is impracticable to determine his correct name or the unit in which he served.
- Descriptive pamphlets, if available, can be viewed or downloaded by clicking on the publication number.
- Each title links to the main search/browse page for that title.
- Record group (RG) numbers link to another Fold3 description where more titles from that record group are listed.