Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1822-1860
Records: 424,593 · Complete: 100%
Officially titled, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General Main Series, 1822-1860, these are unbound letters, with their enclosures, received by the Adjutant General during the period 1822-60. They are part of Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office. The images in this title were digitized from 636 rolls of the NARA microfilm publication M567. Contents of each roll, as well as a list of consolidated files and files with enclosures, are provided at the end of the descriptive pamphlet for M567. Much of the content on this page has been taken from the DP. It can be viewed or downloaded here.
On June 16, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that there should be an Adjutant General of the Continental Army and on the following day selected Horatio Gates for the position. Although there have been numerous organizational and functional changes and some variations in rank and title, an Adjutant General has been continuously in office since that date.
During the first half of the l9th century the Adjutant General's Department was the department of records, orders, and correspondence of the militia. Its major duties included recording, authenticating, and communicating to troops and individuals in the military service all orders, instructions, and regulations issued by the Secretary of War; preparing and distributing commissions and military decorations; managing the recruiting service; and consolidating the general returns of the Army.
The letters and enclosures here reproduced were received from officers and enlisted men of the Army, the Secretary of War, the President, officials of other Government departments, Members of Congress, Governors of States and Territories, private persons, and business firms. They relate to such topics as the appointment, recruitment, transfer, pay, promotion, leave, discharge, and other personnel actions affecting officers and enlisted men of the Army; orders, regulations, and other issuances of the War Department; military expeditions and campaigns; military installations and organizations; and Indian affairs.
The letters here reproduced encompass the years from 1822 to 1860, and are a part of the largest series of letters received by the Adjutant General's Office. The entire series extends to 1889.
Using the records
According to the record keeping practice of the time, letters received were entered in registers alphabetically by the initial letter of the surname or office of the writer and thereunder chronologically by date of receipt. The letters are arranged to correspond with the arrangement of entries in the registers and are numbered in a separation sequence under each letter of the alphabet for each year, except that for the period from 1822 to 1851 the "I" and ''J" letters are intermingled. The letters received are endorsed on the back or on a separate cover sheet with the name of the writer, the date of writing, the place of writing, the purport of the contents, the date received, and the file number assigned in the register. The file designation consists of the number, the initial letter of the correspondent's name or office, and the year the letter was received.
Because the letters were numbered and entered in the registers according to the dates of receipt rather than the dates of writing and because there often was a considerable lapse of time between the date of writing and the receipt of a letter in the Adjutant General's Office, there is some overlapping of dates covered by the registers. This overlapping is reflected in the filing arrangement of the letters.
Some of the letters bear file citations other than those of the Adjutant General's Office. These citations indicate that at one time or another the letters had been filed in some other office. Some letters received and related papers, for one reason or another, were not entered in the registers or numbered. They are arranged by initial letter of the name of the writer or the office and are filed by year at the end of the registered letters bearing the same initial letters. If the name of the writer is not known or cannot be identified the letter is usually filed at the end of all the letters for the year in which it was written; in a few instances it is filed by initial letter of the subject. Occasionally drafts of orders, replies to letters received and related working papers were filed in the series. (This is especially true for the working papers of Adj. Gen. Roger Jones during the 1830's.) These papers are arranged in the same manner as the letters that were not registered or numbered.
There are other variations in the arrangement pattern.
(1) Some years after the original filing of these letters the Adjutant General's Office attempted to bring together materials relating to certain subjects, which resulted in "consolidated files." For the 1822-60 period, these “consolidations" generally varied in quantity from two to a few hundred papers. Cross-reference slips appear throughout the file, some prepared by the Adjutant General's Office and others by the National Archives, indicating the file number under which the letters were consolidated. A list of some of the more significant consolidations and the rolls on which they have been reproduced is below. It is also available on the descriptive pamphlet.
(2) In some instances errors were made by the clerks when the letters were entered in the registers; sometimes registry numbers were omitted and at other times numbers were repeated. Where the numbers are repeated and different letters bear the same file designation, the National Archives has added, in brackets, "No 1" and "No. 2" to the file designation.
Some of the documents originally filed in this series are no longer in the series, others are incomplete, and some enclosures have been separated from their transmittal letters. Some of the registered communications were referred to other offices or agencies and eventually became incorporated in the files of those agencies. Others were removed and filed in different series of records of the Adjutant General's Office. Letters transmitting enclosures containing information that the Adjutant General was especially charged with keeping, such as muster rolls and returns of military organizations, departments, and posts were filed in the series, but the enclosures were removed and filed separately. In these instances no cross-references were placed in the files. Other removals frequently were documented by means of cross-references. In cases where cross references were missing but there were obvious clues as to where the letters were filed, the National Archives has inserted cross-references for the period from 1822 through 1849; thereafter such information has been placed in the entries in the registers.
Although some letters originally filed in this series are no longer in it, sometimes reports and other documents believed to be missing are in the series but are filed under the initial letter of an intermediate office or official. For example, a report by Capt. R. B. Marcy dated November 25, 1851, relating to exploration of the country between Fort Smith, Ark., and Dona Ana, N. Mex., was transmitted by Marcy directly to the Adjutant General. The report was entered in the register for 1851 under the "M's" and numbered 489. But an earlier report by Capt. Marcy on the same general subject was transmitted to the Adjutant General by Brig. Gen. M. Arbuckle and filed as A 13 1850. Another report by Capt. Marcy dated January 15, 1855, relating to Indians in Texas either was not entered in the register or became separated from its transmittal letter and is, therefore, filed after the registered "M" letters for 1855. Generally, if the reports or other communications were not submitted directly by the writer to the Adjutant General, they were transmitted by superior offices or officers. For example, Bvt. Maj. D. H. Rucker's report of December 23, 1849, relating to his activities in helping overland emigrants to California, was transmitted to the Adjutant General by Gen. B. F. Smith on January 12, 1850, and is filed as S 120 1850. On the other hand, a copy of Bvt. Col. H. Leavenworth's account of an expedition against the Arikara Indians in 1823 was transmitted to the Adjutant General's Office on February 1, 1824, by Lt. H. Smith, an aide-de-camp, and is, therefore, filed as S 14 1824. The original of the report, however, was transmitted by Gen. H. Atkinson and is filed as an enclosure to A 61 1823.
In the same record group are other related records. Among them are M565, Letters Sent by the Office of The Adjutant General (Main Series), 1800-90; and M566, Letters Received by the Office of The Adjutant General, 1805-1821. The latter is available on Fold3.
Selected list of consolidated files and files with enclosures
This list of some of the more significant consolidations and the rolls on which they have been reproduced is presented as:
File (Roll): Subject
A 104 1832 (66): Copies of orders and communications issued by Brig. Gen. Henry Atkinson to the Army of the Frontier in connection with the Black Hawk War. See also A 105 1832 on the same roll.
F Unreg. 1832 (70): Papers relating to the occupation of East Florida in 1812-13 collected in 1832 by the Adjutant General in response to an inquiry from the Secretary of the Treasury.
P Unreg. 1837 (150): Papers relating to the military activities along the Niagara Frontier during 1838-40 (Patriot war).
T 234 1839 (197): Report of Gen. Z. Taylor relating to operations in Florida, from the opening of the campaign in the fall of 1838 to May 1839, with enclosures.
B 69 1840 (202): Series of resolutions and related papers adopted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri relating to the conduct of the Missouri Volunteers during the Florida campaign of 1837-38 against the Seminole Indians.
W 26 1842 (260): Reports of Gen. W. J. Worth and other officers relating to the operations of the Army in Florida, Oct.-Dec. 1841.
B 136 1844 (282): Correspondence and reports relating to the uniform of the Army, ca. 1844-54.
K 209 1846 (319): Papers relating to the activities of Maj. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny and to the Army of the West, 1846-47.
S 677 1847 (359): Reports of operations by the Chief of Engineers, Chief of Ordnance, and the Inspector General at engagements near Mexico City, Contreras, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, and other places, Sept. 1847, forwarded by Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott.
S 726 1847 (359): Similar Sept. 1847 reports of subordinate officers forwarded by General Scott.
S 894 1847 (360): Reports of the engagement at Cerro Gordo, Mex., Apr. 1847.
T 38 1847 (361): Maj. Gen. Z. Taylor's report of the battle of Monterrey, Mex., Sept. 1846, together with reports of subordinate officers.
T 169 1847 (362): Maj. Gen. Z. Taylor's report of the battle of Buena Vista, Feb. 1847, together with related reports by other officers. 1847, together with related reports by other officers.
P 170 1848 (388): Brig. Gen. Sterling Price's report of the battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales, Mar. 1848, and related reports.
H 478 1853 (483): Reports relating to the Indians living on the west coast.
P 38 1857 (565): Claim by the editors of the Police Gazette, New York, for publishing information relating to Army deserters.
P 270 1858 (586): Records relating to an Indian war in Washington territory and to treaties of peace signed with the Indians.
G 128 1859 (601): Report of Lt. William H. Echols and related papers concerning a reconnaissance of the country between the San Antonio and E1 Paso road, and the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers.
I 83 1859 (603): Copy of a communication from the Postmaster General and correspondence relating to attacks on the overland mail route to Santa Fe by the Kiowa Indians.
L 53 1859 (604): Reports and correspondence relating to the system of military signals devised by Asst. Surg. A. J. Myer.
S 488 1859 (613): Papers relating to the occupation and owner ship of the San Juan Islands. See also 0 40 1860 and 0 62 1860 on Roll 629.
T 198 1859 (615): Communications relating to depredations by Mexican bandits in and around Brownsville, Tex.
W 386 1859 (618): Records relating to John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry in Oct. 1859.
B 123 1860 (620): Report and related correspondence concerning an expedition made with a detachment of recruits under the command of Mad. G. A. H. Blake from St. Louis, Mo., to Oregon via the Missouri River.