16 Replies Latest reply on Apr 4, 2017 5:56 AM by cherkea

    Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?

      U.S. Returns from Regular Army Infantry Regiments, 1821-1916 indicate my great, great grandfather deserted from the 1st Infantry, Company 6, at Benton Barracks, MO on 21 Sep., 1861. Where might I search for more detailed information about this. I have received his military records from the NARA but they contain no information about this.

        • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
          Alan Walker

          Here is an article from the journal Prologue about Civil War Courts Martial records:

          The Shady Side of the Family Tree: Civil War Union Court-Martial Case Files

           

          Hope this helps!

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          • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
            Jonathan Deiss

            If he deserted but was not caught, then there would not be a Courts Martial proceeding.  If he was arrested but not tried, and returned to duty, that would be stated in the Company Muster Rolls in NARA RG94, entry 53 (I think).  Also check RG94, entry 529, Carded Medical Records (regulars), organized by regiment, then surname.  There may also be records in RG391 for the 1st Reg't US Infantry.

             

            What is his name? When asking a question like this, it i helpful to give as much data as possible; especially a name.  When you stated vaguely that you received his 'records from NARA', what exactly did you receive?  I ask because regular Army soldiers do not have Compiled Military Service Records. Did you just get an enlistment paper, or more?  If he received a pension, then he cleared his desertion charge and data should be in the pension.

             

            Did you verify that he served only in the 1st Regiment United States Infantry (regulars), and not also from a state (volunteers and militia)?  BTW - companies within regiments were lettered, not numbered, so which company was it besides "Company 6"?

             

            Hope this gets you to the next step.

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              • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?

                Very helpful! Thank you.

                 

                I did not provide details as this is my first day with the forum. I wasn't sure how specific to be.

                 

                His name was Charles Conrad Kraft (later Craft), alias Conrad Kraft. He served two enlistment periods with the Regular Army, First Regiment, Infantry. His signed on in 1852 with Company G--which he spent at various Texas forts. He reenlists in 1858, now with Company D. He is once again in Texas, but after the Civil War breaks out his company rapidly retracts northward and is first in Indian Territory (OK) and then Kansas, ending up at Ft. Leavenworth. From here he took part in the Battle of Wilson's Creek, August 10, 1861. A month later he is reported as deserted. He was caught/or returned as he does appear in the muster rolls. And it appears he is confined  for a period while his Company D took part in the next immediate actions., He serves out the remainder of his time, being discharged in 1863 at Vermillion Bayou, LA. Because he was a blacksmith he is actually identified by name in many of the post returns. He enlisted (in NY) not long after his arrival from Europe, and was not in a state militia.


                I have copies of his enlistment records and the pension applications for both himself and later (after his death in 1901) for his wife Maria Gannon Kraft (Craft). She, like many, served as a laundress while associated with him in Company D. There are also medical reports related to his request for pension, and affadavits filed on behalf of both himself and his wife by men who served with him, and her siblings attesting to her marriage to him.

                 

                I have no reason to believe he was court marshaled, but would like to know if he was just disciplined for desertion, and if there was a reason recorded as to why he deserted. I know many did--especially after their first experience in battle.

                 

                I will be in Washington, D.C. in July, so your suggestions to follow up at NARA are very welcome. I'd also like to know if there are any records pertaining to the wives and children of the enlisted men at this time. I know that several children were born to this couple in Texas, Kansas, and Missouri during his time in the service. They do not appear on any of the 1860 census records that I have been able to access thus far. I wondered if the families of Army units were not recorded.

                  • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?

                    Have you contacted the US Army Center for Military History at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.? A large number of regimental histories were written immediately after the Civil War, most by veterans of the units. The folks at Carlisle might be able to point you in the right direction regarding any histories of the 1st U.S. out West. Since the regiment spent the war essentially divided between the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Potomac, there could well be some scholarship specifically on the battalion of the 1st in the West.

                     

                    As for births, etc., search for post returns of various forts/barracks for the antebellum time period. These records would contain (or should) contain family information as dependents were almost always recorded.

                • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
                  •  

                    Another possible place to look is in the Records of the Provost Marshal General's Bureau, Record Group 110.  The National Archives at Kansas City has a number of series that list deserters.  These records generally list the name of the individual that deserted, the unit they deserted from, when and where they deserted, and when arrested if applicable.  Here is one possible series:  "List of Deserters Reported by the Provost Marshal General, 1861-1863" (NAID 2770214).  This is the only series that we have that goes as early as 1861.  It is possible that it could be recorded in a later volume as well.

                     

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                  • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
                    Marcella Terry

                    Hi - I have the same question, different specifics, regarding my great-grandfather's possible desertion.

                     

                    My great-grandfather was David James Terry, but he mostly went by David Terry, or David J. Terry.

                     

                    According to the US Army, Register of Enlistements, he served with the 1st Art. E, which I assume is First Artillery, Company E. He enlisted in Boston on November 5, 1858, by someone of the last name "Van Vonst??" for a period of 5 years.

                     

                    I have no further records of his time with this company except on the same document, under the column "Deserted," it states, 18 Mch '59 (obi deserted March 18, 1859), and there is a check under the "Apprehended" column.  There are no further notes or info on him.  I am wondering:

                     

                    a.  Why he deserted?  Although I have heard stories about how poorly the Irish immigrants (he emigrated from Cork shortly before enlisting) were treated in the army, and it's kind of curious how he deserted the day after St. Patrick's Day.   I cannot locate the record of the muster rolls for this regiment, although I did locate a brief description of their military history here:  First Regiment of Artillery | Center of Military History .  It sounds as though they were stationed in the southern/gulf states just as the Civil War broke out. 

                     

                    The next military record I have states on May 14, 1861 he enlisted in the 42nd NY Infantry Regiment (The Tammany Regiment, Company E.  I have found records of him which are conflicting here, which leads me to my second question:

                     

                    b.  Was he discharged as a Corporal or Private?  In both the Civil War Muster Roll abstracts of 1863 and in the original Muster Roll of 1861, he is ranked 2nd Corporal; I know this is the same David Terry because he was transferred to the Invalid Corps in Washington, D.C., in the second of his three year term, in November 1863, and the record of his pension in 1890 reflects the same, except in the 1890 Veteran's Schedule pension he is listed as a private.  Same dates of enlistment, same Company though.

                     

                    c.  I would also like as detailed a record of his service as possible.  There is a Private Terry mentioned in the book, "The Tammany Regiment," by Fred C. Wexler, although it does not state his company, and he would have been a Corporal by then, as he is listed as one in the 1861 Muster Roll of James Lynch's company.

                     

                    It would seem, as his term in the 1st Art E was for 5 years, and began in 1858, that he had been allowed to serve his remaining time in the 42nd NY.  I don't know much about the military, but I doubt he would have been made 2nd Corporal if he were still being disciplined.  Additionally, it seems he was transferred to the Invalid corps for some sort of illness, not an injury.  There is more information regarding this on the 1890 Veteran's Schedule, but the handwriting is very difficult to decipher.  In the "Remarks" column, it says something like, "D______ Brigade?? sent to Invalid Corps _ unfit for duty _____ ____ ________ 1863"..if ever there were a candidate for PTSD, after reading the history of both of these regiments, I'd say maybe it was a mental thing?  The "Disability Incurred" column was left blank.

                     

                    Any suggestions or advice are greatly appreciated. 

                    • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
                      Megan Dwyre

                      For the Civil War period, the records would most likely be at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You may want to check out Trevor Plante's in-depth Prologue article, The Shady Side of the Family Tree: Civil War Union Court-Martial Case Files. In the article, he mentions that, "Desertion is a very common charge found in Civil War court-martial case files. Many of these cases are brief and provide little testimony. There are examples, however, of cases where the finding of the court resulted in a flurry of activity, including new information being brought to light after the trial ended." According to the article, the court-martial case files are arranged numerically and are not included in the registers reproduced on microfilm publication M1105. The only index to this series is in the Old Military and Civil Records Section at the National Archives in Washington, DC. You may e-mail the reference staff at archives1reference@nara.gov to request a search of the records. The index is arranged alphabetically by surname and is followed by brief descriptions of each case file including case number; the individual's name, rank, and unit; the trial date; charges; and a summary of findings.

                       

                      Hope this helps.

                      Megan Dwyre

                      Textual Reference Archives II Branch

                      National Archives at College Park, MD

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                      • Re: Where can I find military desertion records for my Great, great grandfather during the Civil War?
                        cherkea

                        At the National Archives in Washington DC, we have a number of finding aids for the Court Martial case files (RG 153).  They are located in the consultation room and they are organized according to time period. 

                         

                        These finding aids were searched for the names of the three service men discussed in this thread in the 1859-1868 and the 1894-1917 groups, according to service dates provided.  None of their names or the alternative spellings of their names were located in our indexes. 

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