In my previous blog I mentioned compiled military service records for volunteer soldiers. While CMSRs are generally recognized as the official record of a volunteer’s military career, did you know they were NOT created at the time the soldier served? The War Department first created compiled service records in the early 1890s to help verify military service information for the thousands of Union veterans who were applying for pension benefits. The idea was to consolidate or “compile” all information about an individual soldier from other available sources–including wartime muster rolls, casualty sheets, regimental descriptive books, hospital and prison records–onto a single carded record. After they finished the project for Union soldiers, the Department went back and created compiled service records for volunteer soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection. From 1903 to 1927 they also compiled service records for Confederate soldiers.
As I mentioned previously, the War Department did not create compiled service records for soldiers in the Regular Army since their military service was already documented in the Register of Enlistments.