2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 20, 2018 2:54 PM by Joe Wasson

    Beale Wagon Road

    Joe Wasson Newbie

      Coming to D.C. to find the US War Department archives to research the Beale wagon road from Ft. Smith, AR to California constructed in the later 1850s. A series of 5 Whipple iron truss bridges were constructed starting at Fort Smith and heading west thru Indian Territory. The last was completed in 1860 just a few months before the start of the Civil War. Most were destroyed by the end of 1861. This project was undertaken under the auspices of the War Department with Lt. Edward Beale in charge. Where should I start digging for information that so far hasn't been found by anyone in my area?

       

      Thanks in advance,

      Joe Wasson

        • Re: Beale Wagon Road
          Katharine Seitz Adventurer

          Dear Mr. Wasson,

           

          Thank you for contacting the History Hub with your question!

           

          The best place for you to start, if you are visiting the National Archives at Washington, DC, is the Records of the office of the Chief of Engineers [OCE] (Record Group 77), 1789-1996. These contain an index called the DeGrange Index, compiled by a clerk and researcher within the OCE in the early 19th century. This index is the best way to find any records associated with the bridges in RG 77. I have attached relevant sections of the guide to the index so that you can see what you will be using before your visit - you will be able to consult it on microfilm publication M1703.

           

          If you need more information on paying a research visit to the National Archives, please consult our website’s “Information for Researchers.”

           

          We wish you all the best with your research!

           

          Sincerely,

           

          Katharine Seitz

           

          -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

           

          THE DeGRANGE INDEX

           

          Background:  In the early 20th century, Mr. J. William DeGrange, a clerk and research expert with the Office of the Chief of Engineers, created a name and subject index to the records in the custody of that office.  This index is now identified as The General Information Index to Names and Subjects, 1789-1889 (The “DeGrange Index”) and it provides access to myriad series of records in what is now identified as Record Group 77, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers. The DeGrange Index is available as National Archives microfilm publication M1703.

           

          Report:  The DeGrange Index is an essential tool when researching Engineer records in the custody of the National Archives. 

          • Although the series title gives a time range of 1789-1889, the DeGrange Index appears to actually cover the time period 1793 - 1925.
          • The DeGrange Index does not appear to cover all series of engineer records for the time period, but it does include the most heavily used.
          • The DeGrange Index chiefly covers multiple series of letters received, but it also provides access to field survey and other reports.
          • Researchers are advised to use multiple search terms when using the index, such as names of engineer officers; names of places and things; and types of work. 
          • The DeGrange Index includes typographical errors and occasional transposing of numbers.
          • The DeGrange Index, and most of the series of records cited therein, is available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

           

          The following charts are useful in determining the individual series of records to which a citation in the index refers:

           

          1793-1923: Diverse Records Series

           

          CITATION

          EXAMPLE

          ENTRY/

          MICRO

          TITLE

          Cupboard number, Shelf number, Item number, and Number of pieces

          3-2-2-15 or Cupboard 3, Shelf 2, Item 2, 15 books

          161

          Field Survey Records, 1793-1916

          Land Files

          See Land Files

          171

          Land Papers, 1794-1916

          Old Land Files

          See Old Land Files

          175

          Miscellaneous Papers Relating to the Acquisition of Land, 1820-1882

          58510 plus a number

          58510/19

          M417

          Buell Collection of Historical Documents Relating to the Corps of Engineers, 1801-1819

          Report Book plus page number

          Report Book page 362

          221

          Reports on Fortifications and Topographical Surveys, 1812-1823

          Case number and Drawer number

          Case 1 Drawer 3

          292A

          Unregistered Letters, Reports, Histories, Regulations, and Other Records, 1817-1894, aka “The Bulky File”[i]

          Int. Imp. plus date or year

          Int. Imp. 1831

          251

          Miscellaneous Reports on Internal Improvements, 1818-1831

          Int. Imp. Book number plus page number

          Int. Imp. Book 2 P 202

          250

          Reports on Internal Improvements, 1823-1839

          Prof. Papers plus a number

          Prof. Papers No. 28

          N/A[ii]

           

          Search File

          Search File

          293

          Historical Reference File, 1894-1923[iii]

          Roads and Canals plus a volume number

          Roads and Canals 19

          N/A[iv]

           

          Q.M.G.MIL. RESN BOOK 1904

          Q.M.G. MIL. RESN BOOK 1904

          N/A[v]

           

          M.F. or Map Files

          See Map Files

          N/A[vi]

           

           


           

          1801-1866:  Letters Received

           

          CITATION

          EXAMPLE

          ENTRY/

          MICRO

          TITLE

          S.W. plus file number plus year[vii]

          S.W. 1919 1834

          M2047

          Engineer Department Letters Received Relating to the United States Military Academy, 1819-1866

          M.A. plus file number plus year

          M.A. 36 1854

          M2047

          Engineer Department Letters Received Relating to the United States Military Academy, 1819-1866

          Date plus letter plus three dashes

          March 23, 1850 C ---

          M506

          Letters Received by the Topographical Bureau of the War Department, 1824-1865

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          R 63 Dec. 19, 1854

          M506

          Letters Received by the Topographical Bureau of the War Department, 1824-1865

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          P 87 Nov. 11, 1830

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries I [1826-1837] (Central Office Correspondence)

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          D 54 Feb. 25, 1864

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries II [1838-1866] (Central Office Correspondence)

          S.W. plus file number plus date[viii]

          S.W. 1992 Sept. 12, 1861

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries I [1826-1837] or Subseries II [1838-1866] (Central Office Correspondence)

           



          [i] The items in “The Bulky File” are no longer in order by their case and drawer numbers.  To locate the proper file, use The Bulky File Checklist which is available in the Consultation Room in the Old Army Finding Aids Collection.

           

          [ii] This citation refers to a series of published reports entitled Professional Papers of the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army.  These should be available at the Library of the Corps of Engineers.

           

          [iii] This citation may also refer to entry 289, General Information Index, 1794-1918, in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office.

           

          [iv] The Roads and Canals volumes are compilations of published reports from Engineer Officers written between 1789-1890, and are available at the Library of the Corps of Engineers.

           

          [v] This refers to a publication by the Quartermaster Corps, Outline Description of Military Posts and Reservations in the United States and Alaska and of National Cemeteries (G.P.O. 1904).

           

          [vi] This citation refers to records that are now at the National Archives at College Park (Archives II) and are in the custody of the Cartographic and Architectural Branch.

          file:///C:/Users/kseitz/Downloads/RRA%2029%20DeGrange.docx#_ednref7

          [vii] S.W. = Secretary of War.  S.W. letters are filed at the end of series in which they appear.

           

          [viii] See Endnote vii.

           

          1793-1923: Diverse Records Series

           

                                                                                                                        

          CITATION

          EXAMPLE

          ENTRY/

          MICRO

          TITLE

          Cupboard number,   Shelf number, Item number, and Number of   pieces

          3-2-2-15 or Cupboard 3, Shelf 2, Item 2, 15 books

          161

          Field Survey Records, 1793-1916

          Land Files

          See Land Files

          171

          Land Papers, 1794-1916

          Old Land Files

          See Old Land Files

          175

          Miscellaneous Papers Relating to the Acquisition of Land,   1820-1882

          58510 plus a   number

          58510/19

          M417

          Buell Collection of Historical Documents Relating to the   Corps of Engineers, 1801-1819

          Report Book plus   page number

          Report Book page 362

          221

          Reports on Fortifications and Topographical Surveys,   1812-1823

          Case number and Drawer number

          Case 1 Drawer 3

          292A

          Unregistered Letters, Reports, Histories, Regulations, and   Other Records, 1817-1894, aka “The Bulky File”[i]

          Int. Imp. plus   date or year

          Int. Imp. 1831

          251

          Miscellaneous Reports on Internal Improvements, 1818-1831

          Int. Imp. Book number   plus page number

          Int. Imp. Book 2 P 202

          250

          Reports on Internal Improvements, 1823-1839

          Prof. Papers plus   a number

          Prof. Papers No. 28

          N/A[ii]

           

          Search File

          Search File

          293

          Historical Reference File, 1894-1923[iii]

          Roads and Canals plus   a volume number

          Roads and Canals 19

          N/A[iv]

           

          Q.M.G.MIL. RESN BOOK   1904

          Q.M.G. MIL. RESN BOOK 1904

          N/A[v]

           

          M.F. or Map Files

          See Map Files

          N/A[vi]

           

           


           

          1801-1866:  Letters Received

           

                                                                        

          CITATION

          EXAMPLE

          ENTRY/

          MICRO

          TITLE

          S.W. plus file   number plus year[vii]

          S.W. 1919 1834

          M2047

          Engineer Department Letters Received Relating to the   United States Military Academy, 1819-1866

          M.A. plus file   number plus year

          M.A. 36 1854

          M2047

          Engineer Department Letters Received Relating to the   United States Military Academy, 1819-1866

          Date plus letter plus three dashes

          March 23, 1850 C ---

          M506

          Letters Received by the Topographical Bureau of the War   Department, 1824-1865

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          R 63 Dec. 19, 1854

          M506

          Letters Received by the Topographical Bureau of the War   Department, 1824-1865

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          P 87 Nov. 11, 1830

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries I [1826-1837]   (Central Office Correspondence)

          Alpha-numeric plus date

          D 54 Feb. 25, 1864

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries II [1838-1866]   (Central Office Correspondence)

          S.W. plus file   number plus date[viii]

           

          S.W. 1992 Sept. 12, 1861

          18

          Letters Received, 1826-1866, Subseries I [1826-1837] or   Subseries II [1838-1866] (Central Office Correspondence)

           


           



          [i] The items in “The Bulky File” are no longer in order by their case and drawer numbers.  To locate the proper file, use The Bulky File Checklist which is available in the Consultation Room in the Old Army Finding Aids Collection.

           

          [ii] This citation refers to a series of published reports entitled Professional Papers of the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army.  These should be available at the Library of the Corps of Engineers.

           

          [iii] This citation may also refer to entry 289, General Information Index, 1794-1918, in Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. 

           

          [iv] The Roads and Canals volumes are compilations of published reports from Engineer Officers written between 1789-1890, and are available at the Library of the Corps of Engineers.

           

          [v] This refers to a publication by the Quartermaster Corps, Outline Description of Military Posts and Reservations in the United States and Alaska and of National Cemeteries (G.P.O. 1904).

           

          [vi] This citation refers to records that are now at the National Archives at College Park (Archives II) and are in the custody of the Cartographic and Architectural Branch.

          file:///C:/Users/kseitz/Downloads/RRA%2029%20DeGrange.docx#_ednref7

          [vii] S.W. = Secretary of War.  S.W. letters are filed at the end of series in which they appear.

           

          [viii] See Endnote vii.

           

          4 of 4 people found this helpful
          • Re: Beale Wagon Road
            Joe Wasson Newbie

            Thank you, Katharine Seitz, for this trove of information. I doubt I can make use of it on this trip but there will be other trips. I think History Hub is going to be a great resource in the future. I'll be glad to help anyone researching easter Oklahoma & western Arkansas.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful