What’s a CMSR?
Revolutionary War CMSR
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Citation for this record: “Revolutionary War Service Records,” digital images, Fold3 (http://www.fold3.com : accessed 7 January 2016), compiled service record of Joseph Campbell, Pvt., Topham’s Reg., Rhode Island; citing NARA microfilm publication M881, roll 874.
Clues in a CMSR
- date and place he enlisted
- age at enlistment
- place of birth
- physical description
- term of enlistment
- date and location he mustered into (joined) the unit
- name of his commanding officer
- his presence at regular musters
- notations about illness, wounds, or desertion
- date he mustered out (left) the company or died
- Company muster-in roll identifies rank, age, date and place of enlistment, term of enlistment, and date and place of mustering in
- Company descriptive book gives enlistment information; color of eyes, hair and complexion; birthplace and occupation
- Company muster rolls tell whether the soldier was present for the period of time specified on the card (generally two months), along with any remarks
- Company muster-out roll identifies rank, age, date and place of the roll, date of mustering out, date last paid, and balances owed or due for clothing, equipment and bounties.
- Depending on the soldier’s experiences, you also could find cards regarding hospitalization, special returns, desertion or other events. Some files contain additional papers, such as enlistment forms or casualty reports. The cards inside the jacket usually aren’t in any particular order.
Civil War CMSR
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Citation for this record: Compiled service record, Newel King, Pvt., Co. B, 91st Ohio Infantry; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1782-1917, National Archives, Washington, DC.
Ordering a CMSR
- create a NARA account, or log in if you already have one
- enter the veteran’s name (birth and death are optional)
- for Kind of Service, select Volunteer
- select the war he served in
- select the state he served from
- if you know his company or regiment, indicate it
- provide payment and delivery information
- expect your file to take two to three months to arrive
Using CMSRs and Indexes
Records end: 1902
Key details: Soldier’s name, age, rank, military unit, dates and places of enlistment and musters, date and place of discharge; sometimes place of birth, physical description, and occupation
Where to find: National Archives and Records Administration, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20408, (202) 357-5000, <archives.gov>
How to order from NARA: Use NATF Form 86, available at <archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html>
Online availability: Fold3, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch
Search terms: Military service records, name of war
Associated records: State rosters and adjutant generals’ reports, unit histories, draft records, pension records, payrolls and ledgers, lineage society applications, bounty land grants, soldiers’ home records, 1890 special census of veterans and widows
- Ancestry.com: Military Records <search.ancestry.com/search/category.aspx?cat=39>
- Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database <www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm>
- Cyndi’s List: US Military Records <cyndislist.com/us/military/records>
- FamilySearch Wiki: US Military Service Records <www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/US_Military_Service_Records>
- FamilySearch.org: US Military Records <www.familysearch.org/search/collection/list?page=1®ion=UNITED_STATES&recordType=Military >
- Findmypast <www.findmypast.com>
- Fold3 <www.fold3.com>
- Mocavo: Military Records <www.mocavo.com/records/Military-Records>
- MyHeritage: Military Records <www.myheritage.com/research/category-3000/military?s=320531021>
- National Archives NARAtions blog: Volunteer vs. Regular Army Service <narations.blogs.archives.gov/2010/01/01/family-tree-friday-volunteer-vs-regular-army-service-was-documented-differently>
- National Archives: Research Military Records <archives.gov/research/military>
- Online Military Databases and Records <www.militaryindexes.com>
- Genealogical Resources of the Civil War Era: Online and Published Military or Civilian Name Lists, 1861-1869, and Post-War Veteran Lists by William Dollarhide (Family Roots Publishing)
- Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, 3rd Ed., by Anne Eales and Robert Kvasnicka (NARA)
- Index to Revolutionary War Service Records by Virgil D. White (National Historical Publishing)
- Military Service Records at the National Archives by Trevor Plante (NARA)
- Military Service Records: A Select Catalog of Microfilm Publications (NARA)
- US Military Records: A Guide to Federal & State Sources, Colonial America to the Present by James Neagles (Ancestry, Inc.)
- True or False: A man who enlisted more than once or changed companies might have two separate Compiled Military Service Records.
- Which of the following types of information are you NOT likely to find in a CMSR?
a. the soldier’s age when he enlisted
b. where he was born
c. the name of his father
d. how long he served
- What is the last war for which compiled military service records were created?
a. Civil War
b. Spanish-American War
c. Philippine Insurrection
d. World War I
- What company did Robert serve in?
- What were his ranks during the war?
- How would you obtain his service record?
- Write a citation for this record. (Hint: click on the arrow below the image that says “Information”)
Exercise B: Choose an ancestor who might have served in a pre-20th century war. Search for him in the service record databases on Fold3, Ancestry.com or FamilySearch discussed in this article. If you find an entry for his name, determine if it’s a good match for your ancestor.
- Company C, 1st Texas Cavalry
- Private and Lance Corporal
- Go to <archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1-records.html> and scroll down to order online using Form Number NATF 86.
- “United States Index to Service Records, War with Spain, 1898,” database with images, FamilySearch ( http://www.familysearch.org: accessed [day] [month] [year] ), index card for Robert L. Presley (Co. C, 1st Texas Cavalry), Pow-Pz image 945; citing NARA microfilm publication M871.
Free Web Content
- Military research guide <familytreemagazine.com/
- Military Records at the National Archives <familytreemagazine.com/article/military-records-at-nara>
- Revolutionary War websites <familytreemagazine.com/article/revolutionary-war-web-resources>
- Verifying military service <familytreemagazine.com/article/brick-wall-busters-basic-training>
- Civil War muster cards <familytreemagazine.com/article/document-detective-civil-war-muster-cards>
- Online military records <familytreemagazine.com/article/operation-online-records>
- US Military Records Independent Study Course <shopfamilytree.com/us-military-records-download>
- Online Military Records: Document Your Family’s Service on-demand webinar <shopfamilytree.com/online-military-records-webinar>
- Fold3 Web Guide <shopfamilytree.com/fold3-web-guide>