Sunday, May 4, 2008

US Army Enlistment Records, 1798-1914 has added a significant database to its fine collection of Military records - the U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914. The picture below shows the actual record for a page containing a certain Russell Smith (not the one I'm looking for, but this will do for illustrative purposes.

The headings across the top include (with the entries for this Russell Smith):

* NAMES - Smith, Russell
* AGE - 21
* EYES - blue
* HAIR - Light
* FEET - 5
* INCHES - 7-2/4
* WHERE BORN (State, Empire or Kingdom) - N.Y.
* WHERE BORN (Town, County or Province) - Washington
* ENLISTED When - 1833, Oct. 19
* ENLISTED Where - Rochester
* ENLISTED By Whom - Lt. Hetzel
* ENLISTED For What Period - 3 yrs
* FUTURE HISTORY Regiment and Company - 2 Inf. C
* FUTURE HISTORY Discharge, Date of - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Discharge, Cause of - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Died - blank
* FUTURE HISTORY, Deserted - 30 May 34
* FUTURE HISTORY, Apprehended - blank
* REMARKS - blank.

As you can see, there are quite a few interesting columns for these Army enlistees, including a physical description.

The citation for this database is:

" U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls); Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C."

The database description reads:

"This database contains a register of enlistments in the U.S. Army from 1798-1914. Data in these registers was compiled from a variety of other military records, including enlistment papers, muster rolls, and unit records. Information listed on these records includes:

* Name of enlistee
* Age at time of enlistment
* Birthplace
* Date of enlistment
* Enlistment place
* Occupation
* Physical description (eye color, hair color, complexion, and height)
* Rank, company, and regiment
* Date and cause of discharge
* Remarks

"Note: some of this information be only be obtained by viewing the register image. Also, the register images are usually two pages long. When viewing an image, be sure to scroll all the way to the right in order to see all pages that are part of that record.
"These records are arranged chronologically and alphabetically according to first letter of the surname."

I searched for many of my male ancestors but did not find one listed in this database. I don't know how many persons are listed in this database, nor if the database is completely online at this time.

UPDATE 5/5: Craig Manson posted about this database on Friday and did some investigation into the number of entries in the database. He searched by Country of birth in his post at Craig found that there are over 1 million entries in this database, which doesn't seem "high enough" to me for enlistments between 1798 and 1914. Thanks, Craig, for the research.


Craig Manson said...


I'm sure it's not a comprehensive database. I don't know whether that's because Ancestry hasn't put it all online or because the government didn't include very much. I tend to think the latter. I wrote about this on Friday.

Craig Manson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Manson said...


Boy, am I embarassed! I heard from Chad Milliner (who has a email address). Chad pointed out that the database only includes original enlistments in the federal Army, noting that in the 18th and 19th centuries, American wars were fought by citizen-soldiers raised by the States. The Regular Army was in fact very small. And I as a former National Guardsman should have known that!

jimr said...

I am confused by the date of discharge, in the column under that heading is one date and under the remarks column after Dis a different date. Can anyone assist.

Mallory Hall said...

I think the one with the heading is the date of "last discharge", as in the man had served before, left service and was reenlisting. Then the second date in the comments section was the discharge date for the second time he enlisted... that's what I gather.

CB Compton said...


I was fortunate in that I found who I was looking for, Lester M.Holladay. This fellow enlisted twice as far as can tell. I found him the first time in 1906 on page 190. The second was in 1910 on page 34. Some of the writing was and is hard to decipher. He enlisted at Jefferson Barracks and was sent to Fort McDowell CA where he reenlisted in 1910. Its mostly on the right page where its hard to tell what is being said.Under Regiment it looks like HC. Under Last Service under Co. it looks like I or J. Under Regiment 29 Inf. Date of Discharge 2/1/10. Under remarks Dis. Nov 9,1911 then Surrl? Sep 21, 1913, Dishon Dis Oct 28,13 At Ft. McDowell. Then GC MD. F48? ---- ---- the end I read h&f Oct 14,13 --- h&f (healthy and fit?) fit?

So its pretty hard to decipher the abreviations.