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By Kenneth W. Munden

Henry Putney Beers

The National Archives
National Archives and Records Service

General Services Administration

Washington: 1962

CD 3023 .A43

no. 63-1


Library of Congress Catalog Card No. A 62-9432

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office

Washington 25, D.C. - Price $3.00



Students of the Civil War desiring to base their research in official archives have long felt the need for descriptive guides to the extant records of the two contending Governments in that war--the United States Government and the Government of the Confederate States of America.

This volume and the companion Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America, now being compiled, are intended to fill that need. As a part of its contribution to the centennial commemoration of the Civil War, this work is presented by the National Archives in the belief that it will meet one of the objectives of the national Civil War Centennial Commission stated by its Chairman, Allan Nevins--to "promote the publication of books and the collection of sources, which will stand as a permanent memorial of this commemoration.

Wayne C. Grover
Archivist of the United States




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A telegram written by President Lincoln to Lieutenant General Grant. After the message was dispatched by telegraph, the original telegram was retained by the War Department Telegraph Office. It is now in a volume of telegrams sent by President Lincoln, Mar. 10, 1864-Apr. 12, 1865, among the records of the Office of the Secretary of War (see page 249 of this Guide).


The compilers of this Guide proceeded on the initial assumption that the extant archives of all Federal agencies existing in the 1860's would yield information on the Civil War. As their investigation advanced they became more convinced of the validity of this assumption. The war went on for only half of the decade of the 1860's, but its aftermath brought to most agencies of the Federal Government so many new but war-related functions that postwar documentation, in its value for Civil War research, often transcends in importance the records of the war period.

This Guide, therefore, would hardly have met research needs had it described only the 1861-65 records. The structure of archives is such that they cannot in most cases be presented in terms of War and Reconstruction periods, and many series of records begun during the war continue in the postwar period. Moreover, a century's further accumulation of Federal archives has inevitably produced additional materials bearing on the Civil War. For the Government of the United States survived the Civil War and--through its judicial processes, its pensioning and memorializing programs, its investigative commissions and other boards seeking facts about the war, and its work in settling war-related claims of both domestic and foreign origin, in reestablishing relations with the Indians, and in restoring national unity--continued even into the present century to add to the documentary information about the war. This postwar documentation, indeed, serves also the purpose of resolving many questions about the Confederacy, which as a government had no opportunity to prepare final reports, settle administrative or other issues, or institute postwar inquiries.

The records of the U. S. Government are best described in terms of the agency of the Government that created them. Because most of the records with which this Guide is concerned were created during the decade of the Civil War, the information about them is presented in sections corresponding to the Government's organization in that period. The interrelationship of the functions, and consequently of the records, of the many agencies will be apparent to all who use this Guide. The general records of the Government pertinent to the investigation are described in the first section; the records of Congress, the Judiciary, the Presidency, and the executive departments and other offices are described in subsequent sections. Each section opens with a historical statement of the functions and responsibilities of the branch of the Government or the executive department or agency concerned, with emphasis on its wartime duties. Records of a general character are then described, and there follow separate descriptions of the records of component bureaus or other offices, each

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