An act approved February 26, 1861 (Prov. Cong. C.S.A. Stat. 38), established the Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General's Office. This Office was headed, with the exception of a brief period in March 1861, by Gen. Samuel Cooper, and it became the custodian of records concerning officer and enlisted personnel of the Army. Such records included orders for the assignment and transfer of officers, reports of deaths with inventories of personal effects, applications for leave, certificates of disability signed by surgeons, resignations of officers, copies of orders issued by Army commands, muster rolls and payrolls, returns of prisoners, and inspection reports.
AIGO Special Order 46 1/2 of February 26, 1864, authorized a number of subordinate offices. One of these was the Office of Orders, under Lt. Col. John Withers, which recorded general and special orders; actions on applications for leaves of absence, furloughs, transfers, details, discharges, and reports of soldiers; and the resignation and assignment of officers. The Adjutant General's Office acted upon matters that could not be handled by other offices and prepared general orders. The Secretary of War and other Government officials recommended the preparation of the orders, which were issued through the Adjutant and Inspector General's Department and signed by General Cooper.
When the Confederate Government offices were evacuated from Richmond in April 1865, some of the records of the Office of the Adjutant and Inspector General were removed to Charlotte, N.C., where they were captured by Union forces. The records, which included this series of general orders and circulars, were shipped to the War Department in Washington and became part of the War Department collection. This collection was transferred to the National Archives in 1938.
Some of the general orders and circulars were considered but not necessarily selected for publication in The War of the Rebellion; A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901), a publication that has also been reproduced on microfilm by the National Archives (M262). The documents bear the distinguishing circular stamp: "Copied, War Records, 1861-65."