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  • Conflict:   War of 1812
  • Records:   132,135
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Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1805-1821


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Publication Title:
Letters Received by the Adjutant General, 1805-1821
Content Source:
The National Archives logo The National Archives
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Last Update:
October 20, 2011
NARA M566. Letters received by the Adjutant General's Office during the period 1805-21, including many relating to the War of 1812.

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These are letters received by the Adjutant General's Office during the period 1805-21. Included are a few letters dated after 1821. They are a part of Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office. The images in this title were digitized from 144 rolls of the NARA microfilm publication, M566. Contents of each roll, as well as a list of significant consolidations of letters under one file year are provided at the end of the descriptive pamphlet for M566. Much of the content on this page has been taken from the DP. It can be viewed or downloaded here.

The letters reproduced in this microcopy were received from officers and enlisted men of the Army, the Secretary of War, the President, officials of other Government departments, Members of Congress, private persons, and business firms. The letters deal with 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; Indian affairs; military organizations; military installations; and many other subjects.

Not all the letters in this series were received by the Adjutant General's Office. Many, including nearly all the letters dated between 1805 and 1810, were received by the Secretary of War and then referred or later transferred to the Adjutant General's Office. Others were received at the headquarters of the various military divisions, districts, and departments between 1813 and 1821 and later added to this series. Among these are a large number received during 1818 and 1819 at the headquarters of Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, commander of the Eastern Section of the Division of the South, and at the headquarters of the 7th and 8th Military Departments, which contain a considerable amount of information relating to the Seminole War, events in or near Spanish Florida, and conditions in the southeastern United States.

A small proportion of the series here reproduced consists of drafts of contemporaneously prepared replies to letters in the series; copies of replies—some dated as recently as the 1930's— to requests for historical or genealogical information that was searched for in the letters; office memoranda and notes documenting searches made in these records by War Department clerks; charge cards containing varying amounts of information that were left in place of records removed from the files; cross-reference slips indicating the name under which letters of recommendation were filed; and cross reference cards inserted by the National Archives staff indicating the present location of letters that once formed part of this series.


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 period covered by the letters here, this officer was known successively as the Adjutant and Inspector of the Army (1805-12), the Adjutant General (1812-13), the Adjutant and Inspector General (1813-21), and, again, the Adjutant General (1821).

During the first two decades of the 19th century the functions of the Adjutant General and his small staff increased in number and importance until, by 1821, the Adjutant General's Department had become the department of records, orders, and correspondence of the Army and 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 issuing commissions; managing the recruiting service; and consolidating the general returns of the Army.

Using the records

The general pattern of arrangement of the series of letters here reproduced is chronological by year and thereunder alphabetical by the name, office, or title of the person who wrote the letter or to whom the letter chiefly relates. A few of the letters are arranged alphabetically by subject. The letters comprising a file (generally the letters relating to a person for one year) are arranged chronologically, with undated letters and those with insufficient dates filed last. Enclosures filed with their covering letter bear the mark "Encl." and the file name and date of the covering letter. Enclosures that have become separated from their covering letters are filed in the same way as the regular letters. Scarcely any of the letters transmitting returns and muster rolls have enclosures because the returns and rolls were removed and filed in separate series in the Adjutant General's Office.

There are a number of variations and imperfections in the arrangement pattern.

(1) Letters relating to an individual that cover a span of two or more years have sometimes been filed together, usually under the earliest or latest year represented in the consolidation. Below is a list of the 52 more significant consolidations in this series, showing the name of the individual, the date coverage, and the year under which the consolidation has been filed. Less significant consolidations, which are not listed, consist of documents relating to applications for commissions or civilian positions, discharges, and other personnel matters.

(2) Names beginning with "Mc" are arranged before the regular "M's" in the files for 1807-9 and 1811-12 but follow the "Ma's" in other years.

(3) Names beginning with "Mac" are arranged as if spelled "Mc" in the 1806, 1808, 1811, and 1815 files.

(4) Letters relating to persons with official titles (for example, Callender Irvine, Commissary General of Purchases) are filed under surname in some years and under title in others.

(5) Letters filed under the various military divisions, districts, and departments are sometimes arranged under the letter "D" and other times under the letter "M" (for military).

(6) Letters of recommendation, of which there are many, may be filed under the name of either (a) the person recommended, (b) the first person mentioned in a letter recommending two or more individuals, (c) the person making the recommendation, or (d) the person transmitting the recommendation to the War Department.

When this series of letters was transferred to the National Archives, the files were in jackets or envelopes on each of which was written information describing the file, such as the name, rank or title, and native State of the person to whom the letters relate, remarks about the contents of the letters, and references to other files containing related records. Other information given was the number of "enclosures" (documents) that had once been filed within the jacket; this information, however, is often inaccurate.

Because the jackets were very dilapidated and the information contained on them therefore was in danger of being lost, the National Archives placed the files into folders. The information on each old jacket was transcribed onto the folder containing the file and has been microfilmed ahead of the file. The folders were numbered in one continuous sequence from l to 15560. In the course of perfecting the arrangement many interpolations were made (8623 1/2 and 8261 2/5, for example). There are no folders bearing the following numbers: 10266, 10495, 11100, 11107, 13893, 14083, and 15557.

Some of the folders contain no documents but do contain information relating to the transfer of the documents once in the file to other series of records or to other divisions of the Adjutant General's Office. In addition there are about 15 other folders containing neither documents nor information as to their present location. None of the documents belonging in these folders have been found.

Related records

Beginning in 1812 the Adjutant General's Office began to record the receipt of letters in registers. These registers, which are also in Record Group 94, give such information as the name or office of the correspondent, date the letter was written, date it was received, and purport of the letter. The earliest extant register begins in November 1814. The entries in the registers are for letters initially received in the Adjutant General's Office; they therefore do not include letters received in other offices and added to the series of letters received at later dates. These registers are not yet microfilmed.

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 M567, Letters Received by the Office of The Adjutant General, 1822-1860. The latter is available on Fold3.

List of significant consolidations of letters under one file year

This list of some of the more significant consolidations showing the name of the individual, the date coverage, and the year under which the consolidation has been filed.

Name (File Year) Date Coverage

Archer, Samuel B. (1812) 1812,1814-15, 1818, 1821
Armistead, George (1818) 1812-18
Bender, George (1815) 1815-19, 1821
Brent, Robert (1809) 1809, 1815-17
Brown, Jacob (1814) 1814-21
Butler, Anthony (1813) 1813-15
Butler, John (1814) 1812-14
Campbell, John B. (1814) 1812-14
Champlain, Samuel (1813) 1813-16
Clark, Nathan (1814) 1815, 1818
Conway, Henry (1812) 1812,1815-16
Cumming, William (1813) 1813-14
Cutbush, James (1814) 1814-17, 1820-21
Darrinfgton, John (1834) 1813-14
Dorman, James (1813) 1813-15
Dubois, Isaac (1812) 1812, 1814-15
Fenwick, John R. (1812) 1812-21
Hamilton William S. (1813) 1813-16
Heald, Nathan (1814) 1813-14
Laval, Jacint (1812) 1812-17
Laval, Louis (1814) 1814-47
Lawson, Thomas (1813) 1813-15,1818-19
Leavenworth, Henry (1812) 1812-15,1817-22
LeBarron, Francis (1812) 1812-18
Lee, Richard H. (1814) 1814-15
Ligon, William B. (1813) 1813-15
McNeill William G. (1818) 1817-19, 1821
Manning, Lawrence (1813) 1812-13
Miller, John (1813) 1813-18
Moore, Thomas P. (1812) 1812-15
Muhlenberg, Peter (1816) 1816, 1818-19, 1821
Oliver, William G. (1813) 1813, 1815, 1818
Partridge, Allen (1813) 1813-18
Pike, Zebulon (1805) 1805-13
Purcell, Edward (1813) 1813-15, 1818, 1821
Purdy, Robert (1811) 1811-15
Sands, Richard M. (1813) 1813, 1815-16
Saunders, James (1813) 1813-15
Scott, Winfield S. (1808) 1810-21
Shipp, Edmund (1812) 1812, 1814-17
Shommo, Joseph (1812) 1812, 1815, 1819-20
Smith, Nathaniel (1813) 1813, 1815
Smith, Thomas (1813) 1812-13
Snelling, Joseph (1818) 1818-21
Stark, Horatio (1811) 1811-15
Swearingen, James S. (1813) 1813-15
Swift, Joseph G. (1811) 1811-18
Washburn, Samuel (1813) 1813, 1815-1816, 1821
Watts, John (1812) 1812-13
Whistler, John (1813) 1813-17
Whiting, Henry (1821) 1812, 1814-15, 1817-18, 1821
Wooley, Abram R. (1812) 1812, 1816-17, 1819

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