In my last blog post I explained how to decipher the information contained on a volunteer soldier’s compiled military service record envelope or “jacket.” Those jackets also indicate whether or not the service record includes any personal papers. Personal papers are individual documents such as an original enlistment paper, a casualty sheet, discharge certificate, or an inventory of personal effects. War Department clerks filed these papers with their respective service records when the information in the document clearly pertained to one specific soldier.
The example shown here is an inventory of personal effects from the compiled service record of Pvt. Robert Martindale, Co. B, 20th Connecticut Volunteers. If you watched the recent TV program “Who Do You Think You Are?” you would have seen this document featured on the episode with Matthew Broderick. Martindale was Broderick’s great-great-grandfather, and this document produced Matthew’s “wow” moment onscreen when it revealed that his ancestor died in the war from a “musket ball through the head.” Personal papers in compiled military service records thus offer important details about a soldier’s experience that might not be documented elsewhere.