1865 death record of former soldier from investigated death circumstances in Nashville


I’m doing some research on my 3x great grandfather William Henry Wilson.

He was born in New York and later lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He served in the Wisconsin 1st Inf. Co. G during the Civil War and after mustering out, went back to Nashville to start a carpentering business with the intention of moving his family to Nashville.

Late on 14 Sep 1865, he was mortally wounded on or near the Chattanooga railroad tracks in Nashville and was taken to the military railroad hospital.   He died the next day on 15 Sep 1865.  His death was initially thought to have been under mysterious circumstances.  A man named Edward Otter was arrested and “lodged” in jail, but later cleared.  The coroner empaneled a jury to investigate.  The jury’s verdict was that the cause of Williams death was unknown.  See Milwaukee Sentinel article from 21 Sep 1865 below. They got their information from the Nashville Daily Press, a paper that I’ve not been able to find.

So, at the time of his death he was a civilian but was taken to the military railroad hospital. Not sure why, perhaps it was simply the closest hospital or perhaps because he fell/landed on the railroad tracks, they had some kind of medical jurisdiction?

I realize that no official state or local death records were required or kept during this timeframe.  However, due to the nature and circumstances of his death (i.e. an investigation and jury were involved), I’m wondering if the Army would have some kind of record(s), especially the military railroad hospital (name of which I don't have).

I'm looking at the National Archives site at the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917 and wondering how I could order a search into these records:

94.12.3 Cards containing medical records and vital statistics
("Carded Records")

94.12.5 Other medical records

I would like to avoid having to purchase an entire microfilm roll for several hundred dollars.

Is there a way to place an order with the Archives eServices for less than an entire microfilm?



    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

    We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Carded Medical Records of the Regular Army, 1894 - 1912 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94) that may  include a file for William Henry Wilson. The card contains the name; rank; organization; age; race; birthplace; date entered service; reference to original record; date of admission; source of admission; hospital to which admitted; cause of admission; whether in line of duty; complications; disposition of the case; and date of disposition. Some of the cards have been digitized and are available using the Catalog. For more information about the non-digitized records, please email the National Archives in Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RR1R) at archives1reference@nara.gov.

    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

    Textual Reference Archives II Branch (RR2RR)
    RR2RR 23-35005-LR
  • Hello,

    Thank you for the reply and contact information regarding where I might find any related records.  I appreciate your help!

  • I inquired on this topic via archives1reference@nara.gov as recommended and got the following response from the National Archives.  I'm sharing it here for the benefit of anyone that might have a similar question:

    This is in response to your request which we received on May 2, 2023, concerning records relating to civilians that died in Civil War-era military hospitals.

    The series Record Group 94 Records of the Adjutant General's Office Entry 529 Carded Medical Records of the Regular Army, 1894-1912 does not contain records of civilians being treated at and/or dying in Civil War-era hospitals. It only covers soldiers who were in the Regular Army between 1894 and 1912. There are carded medical records for civilians in other series in RG 94, but these only cover the years between 1884 and 1912.

    It is possible that a civilian could be listed in the miscellaneous boxes that are located near the end of RG 94 Entry 534 Carded Medical Records of Volunteer Soldiers in the Mexican War and Civil War. These miscellaneous boxes are arranged by the last name of the individual, and may not contain much identifying information.

    There is also RG 94 UD 267 Records of the Death and Internment of Civilians, 1862-1866. This single box is arranged by the year. It is not available on microfilm or in digital form.

    If you know the hospital in which the individual died, it is possible that they could be listed in the registers of patients that are in RG 94 Entry 544 Field Records of Hospitals. There is no overall index to this series, and it is unlikely that the individual volumes themselves are indexed.
  • Thank you very much for sharing this information, I really appreciate it!  It sounds promising and I'll follow up with requests to search those other record groups.

    With gratitude.