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     A Guide to Research Resources

Confederate Navy & Marine Research

  USS Shenandoah 1864-1865

The Confederate Navy Department was established in February 1861, and Stephen R. Mallory served as the first Secretary of the Navy. The following month, the Confederate Congress authorized the creation of a Confederate States Navy and Marine Corps. These forces were charged with protecting southern harbors and coastlines. Both the Confederate Navy and Marine Corps ceased to exist after the end of the Civil War.

Unfortunately, many of the Confederate Marine corps records were destroyed in order to prevent capture by the Federal forces.   A few fragmentary records are held by the National Archives.  These records include muster rolls, shipping articles, clothing receipts, descriptive rolls, and payrolls. 

National Archives Sources

To research service of Confederate Navy enlisted men and officers, four NARA Microfilm Publications will be of interest:

M260 - Records Relating to Confederate Naval and Marine Personnel

M1091 - Subject File of the Confederate States Navy, 1861 – 1865

M909 - Papers Pertaining to Vessels of or Involved with the
Confederate States of America: "Vessel Papers"

M598 - Selected Records of the War Department Relating to
Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861 – 1865

M260 - Records Relating to CSA Naval & Marine Personnel
The first four rolls contain hospital and prison records of Confederate sailors and marines.  Rolls 5-7 contain reference cards and papers relating to a particular sailor or marine, arranged alphabetically by surname.  These cards provide the name and rank of naval personnel and refer to other records in record Group 109, (War Department Collection of Confederate Records) such as vessel papers, payrolls, muster rolls, and volumes in which information related to the marine or sailor can be found. Original records such as correspondence and paymaster requisitions are sometimes found in this series filed with the cards.

M1091 - Subject File of the C. S. Navy
Originally part of the Subject File of the United States Navy, the Confederate records were removed and consolidated into a separate record series in 1963. Many of these records have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication M1091, Subject File of the Confederate States Navy, 1861 - 1865.

This series is arranged by primary and secondary subjects. The primary subjects include: naval ships (design, construction, etc.), ordnance, communications, engineering, battles and casualties to ships, instructions, nautical technology and science, medical, personnel, operations of naval ships and fleet units, bases (naval bases— including navy yards and stations), prisoners and prisons, merchant ships and commerce, governmental relationships, supplies, and pensions.

Rolls 16-22 contain Category N (Personnel) of the Subject File.  Records in this category are arranged chronologically (unless otherwise noted) under the following subtopics:

NA – Complements, Rolls, List of Persons Serving in or with Vessels or Stations (Rolls 16-18)
NF - Distribution and Transfers – arranged alphabetically by name of vessel (Roll 19)There are two series of muster rolls and payrolls in RG 45 that are not reproduced on M1091.
NH – Heroic Acts, Commendations, Honors and Medals (Roll 19)
NI – Promotions and Privileges, Rank, Retirement, and Reinstatement, arranged alphabetically by name of vessel (Roll 19)
NK – Technical and Professional Examinations of Individuals (Roll 19)
NN – Acceptances, Applications, Appointments, Discharges, Dismissals, Oaths of Office, Resignations, Revoked Commissions, arranged alphabetically by surname (Roll 19-20)
NO – Courts-Martial, individual cases arranged alphabetically by surname (Roll 21)
NP – Pilots, arranged alphabetically by surname (Roll 21)
NR – Recruiting and Enlistments, Shipping Articles (Roll 21)
NV – Miscellaneous Lists (Roll 22)
NZ – Desertions and Straggling, individual cases arranged alphabetically by surname (Roll 22)

M909 - Papers Pertaining to Vessels of or Involved with the Confederate States of America:  "Vessel Papers” - 32 Rolls
These records are arranged by name of vessel or subject. This series includes records such as vouchers, voucher abstracts, correspondence, accounts, receipts, invoices, requisitions, claims, contracts, agreements, receipts, bills of lading, passenger and crew lists, shipping articles, muster rolls and pay rolls. The personnel cards reproduced on M260 refer researchers to these papers.

M598 - Selected Records of the War Department Relating to
Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861- 1865 -
1145 Rolls
If a Confederate sailor was captured during the war, there may be information in the prisoner-of-war records found on NARA Microfilm Publication M598, Selected Records of the War Department Relating to Confederate Prisoners of War, 1861 - 1865. There you will find lists and registers of prisoners-of-war and records relating to individual prisons or stations.

Prisons and stations include: Alton, Illinois; Bowling Green, Virginia; Camp Butler, Illinois; Camp Chase, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Fort Columbus, New York; Department of the Cumberland; Fort Delaware, Delaware; Camp Douglas, Illinois; Elmira, New York; Gratiot and Myrtle Streets Prisons, St. Louis, Missouri; Department of the Gulf; Hart Island, New York; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Johnson's Island, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee; Fort Lafayette, New York; Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Fort McHenry, Maryland; McLean Barracks, Cincinnati, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; Department of the Missouri; Camp Morton, Indiana; New Orleans, Louisiana; Newport News, Virginia; Department of the Ohio; Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D.C.; Point Lookout, Maryland; Richmond, Virginia; Rock Island Barracks, Illinois; Ship Island, Mississippi; Fort Warren, Massachusetts; Division of West Mississippi; and District of West Tennessee.

Also consult Record Group 92, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, entries 699 and 700, "Register of Confederate Soldiers and Sailors who Died in Federal Prisons and Military Hospitals in the North." Both entries are arranged alphabetically by city where death occurred and thereunder by name of deceased.

Published Sources

United States Naval War Records OfficeRegister of Officers of the Confederate States Navy, 1861 – 1865.  Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931.  This volume identifies Confederate naval officers alphabetically by surname.

United States Navy Department.  Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.  Washington:  U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968.
This title is available from AbeBooks.com
Also online: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Consult volume II for brief histories of Confederate vessels. Appendix II provides information on "Confederate Forces Afloat." After descriptions of the several major classes and types of vessels in the Confederate navy, you will find an alphabetic listing of ships. The ship list gives a brief history of each Confederate vessel and provides statistics such as type or classification, tonnage or displacement, length, beam, draft, speed, complement, armament, and class.

United States Navy Department.  Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.  Washington:  U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894-1922. 
Series II, Vol. 1, Part I contains statistical data of Confederate vessels.  Part II contains muster rolls of Confederate vessels.

Both the ORN and the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships are available at many large reference and university libraries.

Want your own copy?



The Diplomats Who Sank a Fleet:  The Confederacy's Undelivered European Fleet and the Union Consular Service
By Kevin J. Foster
From Prologue, Fall 2001, Vol. 33, No. 3
Naval Historical Center
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
Index for Confederate Forces Afloat
From Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

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