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The Civil War was the single greatest conflict in America’s history and involved hundreds of thousands of soldiers in both the north and the south. Scarcely any family was untouched as soldiers joined forces from every state on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line.
More than 200,000 men served from the state of Indiana, and Indianapolis became a major staging center for the training and organization of troops. In 1862 the State Fairgrounds was transformed into a prison camp for Confederate soldiers, further involving Hoosier residents.
The Index to the Civil War Muster rolls is now available on our Indiana Digital Archives!
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. For more information on planned commemorations and events please visit the Indiana Historical Bureau's Sesquicentennial page.
The Indiana State Archives hosts numerous collections available to researchers, some of which are listed below.
Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, a political leader of tremendous energy and acumen, kept close tabs on every aspect of Indiana's participation in the war. He enjoyed enormous influence with national leaders such as President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, as well as with military leaders in the field.
Extensive documentation of Morton's administration can be found in the Indiana State Archives. The Governor Morton Papers include thousands of letters to the Governor and his staff from persons in every walk of life. Of singular importance for Civil War scholars are the seventeen volumes of telegraphic correspondence between Morton and Lincoln, Stanton, Grant, Sherman, and many others. The Governor and his staff kept in close contact with Indiana troops in the field, many of whom wired reports to him. The Morton Papers are available on microfilm. The telegraph books, along with thousands of individual telegrams received by the Governor’s Office, are available online as digital images free of charge through the Digital Collections of IUPUI University Library.
Records from the Adjutant General of Indiana provide a wealth of information on Indiana's role in the Civil War. Individual regimental correspondence is available for order on microfilm.
The Index to the Muster Rolls in now searchable online! Read on for more information. Shortly after the turn of the century, the Adjutant General’s office hired several clerks to index the deteriorating original muster rolls, in an effort to more readily locate the records of soldiers who had served with Indiana regiments. The soldiers, now elderly and infirm, needed confirmation of their service to apply for military pensions. Nearly a century later archivists still use this index on a daily basis. The cards have been microfilmed and are available for copying. The cards may contain information about the individual’s service, including regiment and company, and in many instances the soldier’s age and physical description, former occupation, nativity and any notes found in the rolls, including promotions, medical conditions, and dates of death if during service. Volunteers have entered a portion of the information from the cards into a searchable database now available on our Indiana Digital Archives. Patrons may still request a copy of the index card from the Archives.Hospital Records
During the war the Adjutant General of Indiana documented the efforts of the Indiana Military Agency/Indiana Sanitary Commission to provide medical care for Indiana troops in the field. Among these records are the hospital registers for individual regiments and for army general hospitals. The registers are not indexed, but are typically arranged by regiment and date.
Records of the Quartermaster General of Indiana include details on the issuance of camp supplies and ordnance to the volunteer and militia troops. Ordnance records unfortunately do not record the serial numbers of specific weapons nor to whom they were assigned.The Indiana Legion
The records of the Indiana Legion-the state militia or “Home Guard” during the Civil War-include muster rolls and correspondence for units in most counties. They contain many wonderful details about the effects of the war on the home front, as well as the significant role played by the Legion.1862 Draft Records
Enrollment records of the 1862 state-administered draft are available on microfilm. Draft records provide detailed information on all white males 18 to 45 years of age in each township, by county, in the state. At the end of each township is a separate list of volunteers already enrolled in service and the name or number of the individual’s unit.
Records for Indiana Civil War veterans abound in the Indiana State Archives. The primary resource is the Enrollment of Soldiers, Widows and Orphans, three statewide registrations of veterans and their survivors taken in 1886, 1890 and 1894. Each enrollment lists alphabetically the name of the veteran, unit he served in, war he fought in (Mexican or Civil), number of children under 16, and wounds and illness contracted in service. There is an alphabetical card index to the 1886 enrollment available at the State Library, but the records can be searched at the State Archives by county and township.
The Indiana State Soldiers’ Home opened in 1896 in Lafayette. Today it is known as the Indiana Veterans’ Home. The State Archives hosts more than 10,000 files of the men and women who resided there. The Home cared for honorably discharged veterans and their wives or widows. A database has been created of the residents of the Home and will soon be available on line. These records-ranging from 1896 through 1964-include applications for admission and often information regarding the death of the soldier.
Other sources of information about veterans are the 1939 WPA Veterans' Graves Registration (51 counties only) and the records of the Indiana Department of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).
Since 1867 the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home has operated in Knightstown, Indiana, caring for the children and grandchildren of Veterans. Genealogists will appreciate the family information included in the admission and discharge books and early applications for admissions, or the later admission and discharge cards. A searchable database is available online.
Camp Morton, the Civil War Prison for captured Confederate soldiers, enjoyed a better reputation than it deserved. During the early part of the war in 1862, Richard Owen, son of New Harmony founder Robert Owen, would earn a commendable standing for the Indianapolis prison. Owen only remained in charge for a few months. A series of new commandants would begin to tarnish that standing.
A small collection of letters written by prisoners to Governor Morton asking for release are available in the State Archives. Additional microfilm from the National Archives is temporarily on loan and available for use in the Reading Room.
A list of claims made against the state for damages incurred during Confederate General John H. Morgan's 1863 raid into Indiana is available on microfilm. Listed county by county, the name of each claimant and the type and value of goods lost are given.
The Indiana State Archives does not hold information concerning pension files for Mexican or Civil War Veterans. The Indiana State Library does have the Index to the Pension Files available on microfilm in their Genealogy Division. Pension Files and other military records can be ordered through the National Archives online. Footnote.com is currently in the process of scanning the Widows' Pension Files, but a paid subscription is required. At just over a million images, the project in only two percent complete as of March 2011.