1 Reply Latest reply on Nov 1, 2019 2:43 PM by Marene Baker

    u s government land records civil war era


      Union forces captured and occupied Port Royal / Beaufort area islands in Nov 1861. The Govt entity which had responsibility for these lands was known as the Dept of the South. Its first governor was Brig Gen Rufus Saxton. In 1862 Govt / military surveyors surveyed inter alia St. Helena Island's (former) cotton plantations. Such lands were either (1) preempted for Govt use (2) preempted for distribution and/ or sale to Freedmen (3) or were put up for sale by auction to the public. I am seeking the surveys conducted for these purposes and believe they are archived, perhaps as maps, in Washington DC. Please direct me in conducting this search. Thank you.

        • Re: u s government land records civil war era

          Thank you for your great question.  I consulted with several of my colleagues throughout NARA and we all agree the records could be held in a variety of Record Groups at the National Archives.  Record Groups are the way we organized the collection. They reflect the Federal Agency that created the record.  Because the surveys occurred in the South during the Civil War and then the land was distributed through a mixture of ways there are numerous agencies that would be involved. 


          The first place to start is with the Department of the South, RG 393.  A search in our Catalog shows a variety of maps held at the National Archives in Washington, DC and in the Cartographic Section at the National Archives in College Park, MD.  You can see the list of series here.  I also found a series of records regarding Hilton Head, SC that might be of interest to you. It is described in the catalog here.  A larger listing of the RG 393 for South Carolina can be found here as well.


          Additionally records might be held under the Army Corp of Engineers (RG 77), the Freedman’s Bureau (RG 105), The Quartermaster General (RG 92), or the General Land Office (RG 49) just to name a few. 


          My suggestion is that you spend some time looking at the links I sent you from the catalog.  If you find a specific document or series that you are interested contact the office that holds it directly.  If you cannot find a specific document or series please contact the Archivist in Carto and at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  You can reach them at carto@nara.gov  or Archives1reference@nara.gov.  Please make sure you include the topic of your research in the subject head of your email to make sure it gets to the correct office in a timely manner.  Best of luck with your research project.

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