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  • Conflict:   Civil War
  • Records:   471,957
  • Complete:

Union Citizens File


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Publication Title:
Union Citizens File
Content Source:
The National Archives logo The National Archives
Publication Number:
Record Group:
Published on Fold3:
Last Update:
August 25, 2014
NARA M345. Documents relating to civilians who came into contact with the Army during the Civil War, including deserters, thieves, and spies.

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These documents relate to civilians, or "citizens” as they were called during the Civil War, who came in contact with the Army. They include correspondence, provost court papers, orders, passes, paroles, oaths of allegiance, transportation permits, and claims for compensation for property used or destroyed by military forces.

The provost marshals who served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps were military police. They sought out and arrested deserters, Confederate spies, and civilians suspected of disloyalty; investigated the theft of Government property; controlled the passage of civilians in military zones and those using Government transportation; confined prisoners; and maintained records of paroles and oaths allegiance. Provost courts were established in some territorial commands to try cases involving civilian violators of military orders, the laws of war, and other offenses arising under the military jurisdiction. They also tried cases involving military personnel accused of civil crimes.


The series was assembled in the War Department from documents that were extracted from the files of Union Army provost marshals and from other records of Army territorial commands. Similar documents referring to more than one civilian constitute the Union Provost Marshals' File of Papers Relating to Two or More Civilians, M416.


NARA's descriptive pamphlet for this title is available here.

Discoveries for Union Citizens File