Michigan Military Records

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This entry was originally written by Arleigh P. Helfer, Jr. and Carol L. Maki for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Michigan Family History Research series.
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Michigan Military Records
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The State Archives of Michigan is the repository for military records in the state. Mail and e-mail <archives@michigan.gov> inquiries are answered. The Descriptive Rolls of Michigan Units (1838'1919) are available for certain individuals serving in a Michigan unit during that time period. Their files also include records of fraternal organizations for veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Muster rolls of these organizations include names of members and their military history. A census taken of Civil War veterans in 1888 includes county, name of soldier, rank, military unit, and post office address. The state archives has extensive information on the Veterans' Facility, initially called the Soldier and Sailors' Home. It was established for Civil War veterans, but now serves veterans of all wars in which the United States has been involved. Records, many of which are indexed, span a period of 1885 to 1986. Individuals in those records were inhabitants of the facility: wives, widows, and mothers of veterans, and ex-nurses. The case files may include complete application forms with military and family information.

The State Archives of Michigan has no pension records for Civil War veterans (see National Archives holdings). It does have, however, a file of grave registrations gathered by the Civil War Centennial Observance Commission. The forms, filed by county and by name of soldier, include name, enlistment and service records, place and date of birth and death, name and location of cemetery, and additional remarks. They also have Muster Rolls of the Grand Army of the Republic Posts in Michigan. The archives has portraits of Civil War Soldiers, indexed by unit and by surname.

In the state archives' collection classified as Civil War Manuscripts, certificates, diaries, discharges, journals, letters, and miscellaneous documents can be found. The following published finding aids can be obtained from the state archives for their military collections: Archival 1, Records of the Michigan Military Establishment, 1838'1941; Archival 15, Records of the Grand Army of the Republic, Michigan Department; Archival 17, Records of the Michigan Veteran's Facility; Circular No. 20, Civil War Manuscripts. Check for online State Archive indexes at its website.

The Burton Historical Collection holds extensive records for Civil War soldiers, but they are not cross indexed. One group of their records is for U.S. General Hospital (1864'65), which includes a register of sick and wounded soldiers taken to Harper, St. Mary's, and the Post Hospital in Detroit.

George H. Brown, as Adjutant General, published Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861'1865, often referred to as Michigan Soldiers and Sailors (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Ihling Brothers and Everard, 1903'15). This forty-six volume set includes an alphabetical index. An index compiled by Colman C. Vaughn lists Michigan individuals who served in the Civil War: Alphabetical General Index to Public Library Sets of 85,271 Names of Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Individual Records (Lansing, Mich.: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck, Crawford, Co., 1915).

The state archives also has unpublished indexes for the Spanish-American War and World War I.