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Marine Corps Records

ENLISTED MEN

Case Files
Most of the early Marine Corps records, including service records or “case files” for enlisted marines who served during the Civil War, are held by the National Archives in Washington, DC.   These records are found in Record Group 127, Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, entry 76.  Service records may include enlistment and reenlistment papers, descriptive lists, conduct records, notice of discharge, military history, and the issuance of campaign badges and awards.

The case files are arranged by date of enlistment or last reenlistment. If the enlistment date is unknown, researchers can use the card index found in NARA RG 127, entry 75, Alphabetical Card List of Enlisted Men of the Marine Corps, 1798 - 1941.

Muster Rolls
For information on a marine's service, consult the Marine Corps muster rolls. The muster rolls, 1798 - 1940, are arranged chronologically by year and month, and then by post, station, ship detachment, or unit. Most volumes contain indexes to the names of ships, stations, and units. A muster roll generally shows name of ship, station, or unit and provides name of officer or enlisted man, rank, date of enlistment or reenlistment, and if applicable, date of desertion or apprehension, sentence of court-martial, injuries sustained or illness and type of treatment, and date of death or discharge.  The researcher must know the vessel on which the marine served, the unit in which he served, or duty station.

Marine Corps muster rolls have been reproduced on NARA microfilm publication T1118, Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798 – 1902. 

Correspondence Files
Correspondence files in NARA Record Group 127 may also provide additional information.  Collections of letters received and general correspondence files may contain letters or reports of interest.

Consult NARA Inventory #2 (finding aid) for Record Group 127 for more information on related records.  The inventory guide can be viewed at the National Archives or you can purchase a copy of your own.

Inventory (2) Records of the United State Marine Corps, comp. by Maizie Johnson (1970), 90 pp. (RG 127)
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OFFICERS

A good source to verify service of a marine officer is the List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900, edited by Edward W. Callahan.  There are copies at the National Archives in Washington, DC, but you should also be able to find copies in many local and university libraries.

Note: This source is now available online thanks to the Naval Historical Center. Click Here!

Correspondence Files
Correspondence files in NARA Record Group 127, Records of the United States Marine Corps will also be of interest. Several series of letters received or general correspondence files covering the years 1799 to 1938 may contain letters or reports written by or about Marine Corps officers.

Consult NARA Inventory #2 (finding aid) for Record Group 127 for more information on related records.  The inventory guide can be viewed at the National Archives or you can purchase a copy of your own.

Inventory (2) Records of the United State Marine Corps, comp. by Maizie Johnson (1970), 90 pp. (RG 127)
To Order, Click Here!

SHIP RECORDS

Navy Deck Logs
U.S. Navy deck logs typically provide information on a ship's performance and location, weather conditions, personnel (names of officers, assignments, transfers, desertions, deaths, injuries, and courts-martial), supplies received, and miscellaneous observations. Consult the National Archives Special List 44, List of Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations, and Miscellaneous Units, 1801 - 1947.

Navy Vessel Histories
For brief histories of U.S. Navy vessels, consult the multivolume Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. In this publication you will find an alphabetical listing of navy ships that includes a brief history of each vessel and provides statistics such as type or classification, tonnage or displacement, length, beam, draft, speed, complement, armament, and class. Consulting the dictionary allows you to confirm that the ship was a U.S. Navy vessel and verify dates of service. Before starting your search in archival records, make sure you have information on the correct vessel. Because several ships served at different times under the same name, the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships can help you find the dates of service of the vessel you are looking for.

PUBLISHED SOURCES

Callahan, Edward W. List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900 New York: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1901.
Also available online, Click Here!

Hamersly, Lewis R.  General Register of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 1792-1892 (1900)

United States Dept. of the Navy. Navy Directory: Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps Washington, DC: Bureau of Navigation,1898-1986.

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.

These publications are available at the National Archives, and also at many large reference and university libraries.

Want a copy of your own? AbeBooks.com

RELATED LINKS

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
United States Marine Corps History Division
World Wide Web Virtual Library: Naval and Maritime
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