Records of the Civil War online

It was the second most deadly battle of the Civil War.

The Battle of Chickamauga, fought 18-20 September 1863, resulted in roughly 34,000 casualties — second only to the Battle of Gettysburg.1

And it cost two Union generals their commands.

On this day in 1863, Generals Alexander M. McCook and Thomas Crittenden were relieved from duty and directed to report to Indiana to face courts of inquiry for their roles in the collapse of the Union line at Chickamauga.2

And that’s exactly the kind of thing The Legal Genealogist loves to run into, poking around in records online — a court of inquiry! You know what that means, right? It means records! And there’s nothing a genealogist loves more than records, especially court records, especially published court records.

And, like much of the history of that most bloody of wars, the records of this court of inquiry are available, digitized, online.

That’s because, on the 19th of May 1864, Congress adopted a resolution directing the Secretary of War to

furnish the superintendent of public printing with copies of all such correspondence, by telegraph or otherwise, reports of commanding officers, and documents of every description in relation to the existing rebellion, to be found in the archives of his department since the first day of December, eighteen hundred and sixty, to the present time, and during the continuance of said rebellion, which may be, in his opinion, proper to be published, [which] said correspondence, reports, and documents shall be arranged in their proper chronological order.3

The result was a set of 127 volumes plus a General Index and accompanying Atlas officially titled The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published by the Government Printing Office between 1880 and 1901.4 Its plan of publication — “never departed from”5 — was to divide the set into four series:

The 1st Series will embrace the formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the Southern States, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders, and returns relating specially thereto, and, as proposed, is to be accompanied by an Atlas.

 

In this series the reports will be arranged according to the campaigns and several theaters of operations (in the chronological order of events), and the Union reports of any event will, as a rule, be immediately followed by the Confederate accounts. The correspondence, &c, not embraced in the “reports” proper will follow (first Union and next Confederate) in chronological order.

 

The 2d Series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns, Union and Confederate, relating to prisoners of war, and (so far as the military authorities were concerned) to State or political prisoners.

 

The 3d Series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Union authorities (embracing their correspondence with the Confederate officials) not relating specially to the subjects of the first and second series. It will set forth the annual and special reports of the Secretary of War, of the General-in-Chief, and of the chiefs of the several staff corps and departments; the calls for troops, and the correspondence between the National and the several State authorities.

 

The 4th Series will exhibit the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Confederate authorities, similar to that indicated for the Union officials, as of the third series, but excluding the correspondence between the Union and Confederate authorities given in that series.6

And every last one of them is online.

Official Records

You can find these volumes on any of the digitized book services — Google Books, Internet Archive or HathiTrust. The problem is that, on each of those services, finding all of the volumes can be tough. Even on HathiTrust, which has a great collections feature, making sure you have them all can be problematic, though it appears that this collection may have them all (often more than one copy).

Fortunately, there’s another option — at least one other — that I was able to find: the Cornell University Library has an online collection called The Making of America, which is as of March 2018 available in its entirety on HathiTrust. In that online collection is the entire run of The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies — and on its own website Cornell has a collection guide that provides click-through links to every single volume as it appears on HathiTrust.7

All of the volumes can be found easily using the links on that collection guide — including volume 30, part 1, of series I, that includes the court of inquiry for Generals McCook and Crittenden, starting at page 930 for McCook and page 971 for Crittenden.

Both were cleared, by the way… but you can read more about that yourself… in The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.


SOURCES

  1. See Keith S. Bohannon, “Battle of Chickamauga,” New Georgia Encyclopedia (https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/ : accessed 28 Sep 2018).
  2. See “Union generals blamed for Chickamauga defeat,” This Day in History, History.com (https://www.history.com/ : accessed 28 Sep 2018).
  3. “A Resolution to provide for the Printing of official Reports of the Operations of the Armies of the United States,” 13 Stat. 406 (19 May 1864).
  4. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I-IV, 128 vols. (Washington, D.C. : Govt. Printing Office, 1880-1901).
  5. Preface, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series IV: Index (1901), at ix-x.
  6. Preface, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I:1 (1880), at iii-iv.
  7. Collection Guide, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, The Making of America, Cornell University Library (http://collections.library.cornell.edu/ : accessed 29 Sep 2018).
Print Friendly, PDF & Email