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State Archives Holdings

Military Records

RG 101 – Adjutant General

The office of Adjutant General was created by legislation on January 4, 1839. While the Governor is commander-in-chief of all Iowa military forces (except when they are placed in federal service), the Adjutant General is responsible for the administration, organization, equipping, and training of Iowa military forces. Records of the Adjutant General in the State Archives begin in the territorial period and go through 1950, including military records of Iowa regiments mustered into U.S. service during the Mexican War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. These records not only document Iowa's involvement in these wars, but also may provide limited information on the military service of individual soldiers. The following is a partial list of the records of the Adjutant General in our holdings – a complete list of these record series is available in our Library and Archives Reading Room.

  • Militia (includes militia during Civil War)
    • Correspondence, Spirit Lake Massacre, 1857-1865, 1 archives box
    • Letter Books, Militia, Copies, 1863-1865, 1 archives box
      Arranged chronologically; each volume has an alphabetical name index. This series consists of letters sent by the Adjutant General's Office that were originally entered in a letter-press book. Due to their fragile faded condition they were later copied into this series.
    • Letter Books, Militia and Quartermaster General, Copies, 1864-1865, 1 archives box
    • Oaths of Office, Militia, 1861-1865, 4 archives boxes
      Arranged by county; and within each county alphabetically by name. This series consists of oaths of militia officers swearing allegiance to both the federal and state constitutions. Each oath includes name, rank, and company and the signature of the officer swearing allegiance. Oaths also include the certification on the county clerk of district court and the date of certification.
    • Militia Reports, 1855-1876, 4 archives boxes
    • Register of Militia Captains, c. 1865, 2 archives boxes
    • Registers of Militia Commissions, 1863-1872, 3 archives boxes
    • Registers of Militia Companies and Officers, 1847-c.1866, 1 archives box Roster Books, Militia, 1862-1864, 1 archives box
    • Roster Books of Militia Officers, 1871-1879, 1 archives box
  • Mexican War
    • General Correspondence, Mexican War, 1883-1916, 1 folder
    • Muster Rolls, Mexican War, 1847-1848, 1 archives box
  • Civil War (Iowa regiments in U.S. service)
    • Brigade Reports, Civil War Battles and Campaigns, 1862-1865, 1 archives box
    • Civil War Soldiers Buried in Iowa, 1862-1868, 1 volume
      Arranged by county and then alphabetically within county. This series is a partial listing of Civil War soldiers who died between 1862 and 1868 buried in Iowa. In all 709 soldiers are included in this list; most served in Iowa regiments. Information to be recorded for each solder includes: name, rank, company, regiment (number, and state), date of death, and county burial.
    • Clothing Books, 1861-1866, 120 archives boxes, 48 mfm
    • Consolidated Morning Reports, Civil War, 1861-1866, 42 archives boxes, 48 mfm
      Arranged by regiment. This series consists of morning reports compiled daily and filed by regiment and company. The reports include the number of officers and men available for duty, on special duty, on extra duty, or on daily duty. The report also lists the number of officers and men who are sick or confined and generally indicates the location of the regiment. The daily report may also include in the remarks column for each company changes which have taken place on that date, such as the names of men transferred, taken ill or who have died, etc. Most importantly, this series for some regiments includes detailed information on the purchase of arms, ordnance, and ordnance stores furnished each regiment.
    • Correspondence, Civil War, 1861-1917, 68 archives boxes
      Arranged by regiment; and within each regiment, alphabetically by name. Incoming correspondence received from or pertaining to men who served in Iowa regiments. Letters cover a variety of subjects including election of officers, appointments, promotions, illnesses and injuries, and those killed or missing. Series also includes many requests received from soldiers after the war for military service records, pensions or pension information or other assistance.
    • Correspondence, Disloyal Sentiment, 1861-1866, 1 archives box
    • General Correspondence, Civil War, 1861-1917, 47 archives boxes
      Arranged by year; and within each year alphabetically by name. Incoming correspondence concerning the war, but not pertaining to men who served in Iowa military units. Most of the series consists of correspondence with recruiters, military suppliers and transporters, U.S. Army, hospitals, state and federal officials, and men seeking military appointments in Iowa regiments.
    • General Orders, 1861-1867, 2 archives boxes
    • Hospital Reports, Civil War, 1861-1865, 2 archives boxes
      Arranged alphabetically by city (of location): then chronologically. This series consists of lists of men from Iowa regiments hospitalized. Data usually recorded includes name, regiment and company, date admitted, specific illness or injury, and date of discharge or death.
    • Letter Books, Copies, 1861-1872, 13 archives boxes
      Arranged chronologically; each volume has an alphabetically name index. This series consists of letters sent by the Adjutant General's Office that were originally entered in letter-press books. Due to their fragile faded condition they were later copied into this series of bound volumes.
    • Iowa Soldiers Buried in National Cemeteries (Civil War Survey), c. 1865, 1 archives box
    • Medical Exemptions from Military Duty, 1862-1865, 1 archives box
      Arranged by county; and within each county alphabetically by name. Series contains certified statements of physicians stating that a person is unfit for military service. Information includes name and medical reason for the exemption. Each document is dated and signed by the physician and a notary public.
    • Military Reports, Civil War, 1861-1867, 79 archives boxes
      Arranged by regiment and company. This series contains a variety of different reports including battle and campaign reports, casualty reports (wounded, dead and missing), regimental and company strength, changes in military personnel (both officers and enlisted men), appointments and resignations of officers, promotions, furloughs, discharges, desertions, muster-outs, military inspections, and expenditures (ordnance and ordnance stores and clothing, camp, and garrison equipage). Some of the reports contain statistical data, while others include information on individuals.
    • Oaths of Office, Civil War, 1861-1865, 6 archives boxes
      Arranged by regiment and company. This series consists of the signed oaths of officers. Contents include name, residence, birthplace, military office and unit, signature of officer, county and state where the oath was given, and statement of notary.
    • Personal Effects and Final Statement Inventories, 1861-1865, 11 archives boxes
      Arranged by regiment and company; and within each company alphabetically by name. This series consists of inventories of final effects of deceased soldiers. Data generally includes name, age, birthplace, residence, regiment and company, date and place of enlistment, date and place mustered, date and place of death, inventory of personal possessions including clothes, diaries, bibles, photographs, and accounts due or owed. Each final statement is signed by the company commander.
    • Recruiting Reports, 1862-1864, 1 archives box
      Arranged by year; and within each year alphabetically by name of recruiter. This series contains correspondence with recruiters concerning their recruiting commissions and reports detailing their activities to recruit volunteers and the number of recruits. Sometimes they include the names of the volunteers and other related information.
    • Roster Books, Civil War, 1861-1865, 2 archives boxes, 67 volumes, 34 mfm
      Arranged by regiment and company. Recorded in volumes this series lists the non-commissioned officers and men belonging to each company when the company was mustered into service by U.S. mustering officer as well as the men rejected for service by the mustering officer and the men who later joined the company. Information entered for each soldier includes name, age, place of enlistment or residence, nativity, rank, date ordered into quarters, date of muster, date of commission or warrant, promotions, date left U.S. service (where and why), casualties (nature, when and where), and remarks.
    • Sanitary Agents Reports, Civil War, 1861-1865, 1 archives box
      Arranged chronologically. This series consists of reports of sanitary agents on the conditions of hospitals in which Iowa men were confined and related correspondence with the hospitals. There is also an 1863 list of Iowa soldiers in Memphis area camp hospitals.
    • Soldiers Furnished by County and/or Congressional District, Civil War, 1861-1865, 13 folders
    • Special Orders, 1861-1889, 6 archives boxes
    • Volunteer Enlistments, 1862-1865, 32 archives boxes, 40 mfm
      Arranged by regiment and company; within each company alphabetically by name. No records exist for soldiers who enlisted prior to August 1862. Contents include name of soldier, county and state (or country) of birth, age, occupation, date, county and state of enlistment, physical description (height and color of eyes, hair and complexion), term of service, and signatures of soldier, recruiting officer, and if a minor, the person giving consent.
  • Spanish American War
    • Claims, Spanish-American War, 1898-1899, 2 archives boxes
    • Correspondence, Spanish-American War, 1897-1900, 5 archives boxes
      Arranged by regiment; and within each regiment, alphabetically by name. This series consist of incoming correspondence received from or pertaining to men who served in Iowa regiments. Letters cover a variety of subjects including election of officers, appointments, promotions, illnesses and injuries.
    • General Correspondence, Spanish American War, 1898-1917, 4 archives boxes
      Arranged by year; and within each year alphabetically by name. Incoming correspondence concerning the war, but not pertaining to individuals who served in Iowa military units. Much of the series consists of correspondence from individual wishing to volunteer their services, organize companies, and enroll recruits, and seeking appointments as surgeons or assistant surgeons in Iowa regiments.
    • General Orders, Spanish-American War, 1898-1899, 1 archives box
    • Hospital Reports, Spanish-American War, 1899, 1 archives box
    • Military Reports, Spanish-American War, 1898-1901, 11 archives boxes and 2 folders
    • Muster Rolls, Spanish-American War, 1898-1899
    • Roster Books, Spanish-American War, 1898-1899, 5 volumes, 3 mfm
      Arranged by regiment and company. Recorded in volumes this series lists the non-commissioned officers and men belonging to each company when the company was mustered into service by U.S. mustering officer as well as the men rejected for service by the mustering officer and the men who later joined the company. Information entered for each soldier includes name, age, place of enlistment or residence, nativity, rank, date ordered into quarters, date of muster, date of commission or warrant, promotions, date left U.S. service (where and why), casualties (nature, when and where), and remarks.
    • Special Orders, Spanish-American War, 1898-1899, 1 archives box
  • Iowa National Guard
    • Inventories, Iowa National Guard, 1878-1911, 9 archives boxes
    • Military Personnel Files, Iowa National Guard, c.1876-c.1951, 185 cartons
      Arranged into two chronological sequences (c.1876-c.1925 and c.1925-1941); and within each alphabetically by name. This series consists primarily of Iowa National Guard enlistment records. There is an overlap of records between the two chronological sequences making it sometimes necessary to check both sequences. The earlier enlistment records include the name of the enlistee, age, state of birth, current residence, company and regiment, and period of years covered by enlistment. Each enlistment is signed and dated by enlistee and enlisting officer. Later enlistments also include physical descriptions of soldiers (color of eyes, hair, complexion, and height) as well as information pertaining to a physical examination of the soldier at the time of enlistment. In addition, later enlistments may include other service related records such as applications for life insurance, special training received, etc.
    • Military Reports, Iowa National Guard, c.1876-1917, 151 archives boxes Miscellaneous, Iowa National Guard, 1876-1916, 1921, 11 archives boxes
    • Miscellaneous Correspondence, Iowa National Guard, 1876-1910, 18 archives boxes
    • Miscellaneous Reports, Iowa National Guard, c. 1900-1921, 8 archives boxes
    • Oaths of Office, Iowa National Guard, 1878-1911, 7 archives boxes
    • Register of Company Captains, Iowa National Guard, 1878-1879, 1 archives box
    • Register of Iowa National Guard Commissions, 1881-1897, 1 archives box
    • Requisitions, Iowa National Guard, 1874-1917, 49 archives boxes
    • Roster Books, Iowa National Guard, 1882-1905, 8 volumes, 4 mfm
      Arranged by regiment and company. This series consists of roster books of regiments of the Iowa National Guard. Field and Staff Commissioned officers were listed first in each volume, followed by Non-Commissioned staff and the men. Information recorded for each individual includes name, age, nativity, occupation, residence, rank, date of enlistment, term (in years) of enlistment, date of commission or warrant, and remarks which include transfers, discharges, promotions, resignations, etc.
    • Roster of Officers, Civil War, 1861-1862, 2 archives boxes
    • Special Orders Record Book, Iowa National Guard, 1892-1900, 1 archives box
  • Other Adjutant General records
    • County Auditors Returns of Ex-Servicemen, 1885, 5 archives boxes
      Arranged by county; and within county by the state from which the person served, and regiment and company. In 1884 legislation was enacted providing for the publication of the names of ex-servicemen living in Iowa. The data was to be gathered by county auditors and forwarded to the Adjutant General. Information to be recorded for each ex-serviceman included his name, regiment, company, current residence, and the war in which he served. In order to locate an individual in this series you will need to know his county of residence in 1885. The county lists were compiled into a statewide listing and published in 1886 as the List of Ex-Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, Living in Iowa. This publication is available in the Library and Archives Reading Room.
    • Disaster Relief in Northwest Iowa, 1872-1876, 5 archives box
      Arranged by record type into three subseries (correspondence, letter books/ledgers and scrapbooks. This series pertains to the grasshopper plagues that occurred in northwest Iowa in 1873 and 1874, destroying crops, and threatening the existence of the recently arrived homesteaders. Through first hand accounts in letters and contemporary newspaper clippings the crisis shows Iowa at its best in terms of civic duty and charity. Adjutant General Nathaniel B. Baker took the lead in a statewide relief effort to provide disaster relief assistance.

      The 1st subseries consists the Adjutant General’s incoming correspondence both from those devastated by the disaster and those wishing to participate in the relief efforts. Arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender, the letters detail the drastic situation facing the settlers and their needs (immediate and long term). The correspondence also includes information on donations of funds, goods, and services and provides information on the logistics of the massive relief effort. The 2nd subseries includes a letter book of outgoing correspondence from the Adjutant from November 1873 as well as two ledgers from the Executive Committee on the General Relief Committee of the State of Iowa listing funds received. The 3rd subseries includes scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and appeals which provide numerous accounts of the grasshopper plagues and the disaster relief effort.
    • Flags, Military, 1861-1907, 1 archives box
    • Iowa Soldiers Buried in National Cemeteries, 1908 Survey, 1908, 32 folders
      Arranged alphabetically by cemetery and then by name. This series consists of a 1908 survey of Iowa soldiers buried in National Cemeteries. It lists each soldier’s name, regiment and company, date of death, burial plot number, and, if applicable, previous burial site.
    • Persons Subject to Military Duty, 1862-1915, 165 archives boxes, 93 mfm
      Arranged by county; and within each county chronologically. This series was created during the Civil War to identify all men in Iowa between the ages of 18 and 44. The lists were compiled annually by the city or township tax assessor who listed all in the men in his local area. Most lists merely include name and age; however, birthplace (county/state or province/county), occupation, and post office are occasionally entered. Additional data is most likely to be found in earlier lists. Duplicate lists were generated, one copy was kept in the county and the other was sent to the Adjutant General’s office. Sometimes county officials merely certified the number of men subject to military duty and did not create a yearly list.
    • Records of Military Commissions Issued, 1861-1868, 1898-1899, 2 boxes

RG 99 - Grand Army of the Republic (GAR)

The Grand Army of the Republic was created in 1866 as a national fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. Shortly thereafter Iowa chartered a State Department of the GAR. By 1890, hundreds of local chapters of the GAR called posts were organized across the state. Iowa posts were numbered consecutively and each selected a post name honoring a deceased individual. To join the GAR men must have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue Cutter Service between April 9, 1861 and April 12, 1865, and have received an honorable discharge from the service. Click here for an Index to Iowa GAR Post Numbers and Names arranged by city or town.

GAR records provide information on Civil War military service not only for men who served in Iowa regiments but also for Union veterans who served in non-Iowa regiments and who later moved to Iowa and joined a GAR post. A microfilmed index to GAR members as well as microfilm of the GAR membership cards, compiled in the 1930s, is available in the Library and Archives Reading Room. The following is a partial list of the GAR record series in our holdings – a complete list of series is available in the Reading Room.

  • Grand Army of the Republic Civil War records:
    • Index to Membership Cards, 6 boxes, 18 mfm
    • Membership Cards, c.1866-c.1950, 61 archives boxes, 35 mfm
      Arranged by county; and then by post number. Information recorded on the front side of each membership card includes: name of veteran, residence, occupation, birth date and place, death date and place, cause of death, place of burial, rank, company, regiment, state, enlistment date and place, discharge date and place, battles, etc., name of father and nativity, name of mother and nativity, names of wife and children and sources cited Information recorded on the backside of each card includes: name of veteran, GAR post (name, number, town, and date joined), and membership dues paid (year and amount) as well as general comments. The amount of information actually recorded for each member varies greatly.
    • Combination Post Record (Reports of Rosters, Post Officers & Credentials), 1888-1936, 5 volumes
    • Correspondence, c.1866-c.1950, 3 archives boxes
    • General Orders from National Headquarters, 1868, 1882-1949, 2 archives boxes
    • Journals of National Encampments, 1888-1943, 8 archives boxes
    • Journals of State Encampments, 1888-1948, 4 archives boxes
    • Post Records, c.1866-c.1950, 229 archives boxes
      Arranged by post number; refer to index to post numbers. This series consists of records of the individual GAR posts. The content for each post varies. Among the records most often found in this series are minutes, descriptive books, ledgers and account books, reports, clippings, and scrapbooks. Other records frequently found are post by-laws and rules of order as well as various lists compiled by the post such as reunion registers, rolls of honor of deceased veterans, and cemetery listing of veterans.
    • Records of the Iowa Union Ex-Prisoners of War Association, c.1881-c.1900, 1 volume
      Arranged alphabetically by the name of ex-prisoner. This series consists of records relating to the organization of the association, election of officers and reunions held by the association. Most of the volume consists of a compilation of surviving Union prisoners of war, including name, post office, county, city and state, Civil War rank, company, regiment and state, name of prison, length of confinement and remarks.
    • Roll of Deaths of Members, 1875-1909, 1 volume
    • Subject Files, c.1866-c.1950, 12 archives boxes
      Arranged by subject alphabetically. Series consists of subject files created by the State GAR Department. Among the many subject files are the following: Camps in Iowa (Civil War), Celebrations, Encampments (National and State), GAR Rules and Regulations, History of Iowa GAR, Iowa Soldiers Home, Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home, Iowa State Fair (Old Soldiers Day), Memorial Day, Monuments in Iowa counties, Negro Membership, Pensions (Army Nurses), Prisons and Prisoners Ex-Prisoner Association and Relief for GAR Members. For a complete of listing subject files contact the State Archives.
  • Other records included in GAR records:
    • Miscellaneous Cards Indexed: Non-GAR Civil War Soldiers Who Lived in Iowa, c.1866-c.1950, 6 flat archives boxes
    • Reports of Deaths of United Spanish War Veterans, 1898-1976, 3 archives boxes
      Arranged alphabetically by name. The records in this series were created by the United Spanish War Veterans, a national fraternal organization formed by veterans. The organization included veterans from both the Spanish-American War (Apr. 1898 to Feb. 1899), and the Philippine Insurrection (Feb. 1899 to July 1902). In 1905, Iowa established a department of the national organization. Local camps were then created in the Iowa; each camp was assigned a camp number. This series consists of U.S.W.V Form 18 which developed to record the deaths of each veteran who belonged to the organization. Information to be entered included the veteran’s name, the member’s camp number, the regiment or the ship in which the veteran served, marital status, number of children, place of birth, date and place of death, and burial site. In Iowa, a copy of each document was to be sent to the Graves Registration Office of the Adjutant General’s Department.

RG 92 - Veterans Affairs

The Commission of Veteran Affairs was created in 1992. Chapter 35A, Code of Iowa, directs Veterans Affairs to maintain records concerning Iowa veterans, assist county Veteran Affairs commissioners, administer the War Orphan Educational Aid Fund, keep a military grave registry, operate the Iowa Veterans Cemetery and establish policy for the operation of the Iowa Veterans Home. Following the creation of the Commission, functions pertaining to veterans were transferred from the Office of Adjutant General to Veterans Affairs.

A complete list of Veterans Affairs records in our holdings is available in our Library and Archives Reading Room. Listed below are the three major records series.

  • Records series include:
    • Armed Services Grave Registrations, c.1835-1998, 106 cartons
      Arranged by name alphabetically. This series consists of grave registrations of U.S. soldiers buried in Iowa. Information recorded for each service man or woman includes name, date and place of birth, date and place of death, nearest relatives (father, mother, spouse and children), war served in, residence at enlistment, date and place mustered into U.S. service, date and place discharged, rank, foreign countries served in, burial place (township, city, and state), name of cemetery, description of lot, membership in veteran's organization, pension data, and the name of person or organization furnishing the information.
    • World War I Bonus Case Files, 161 cartons
      Arranged by bonus claim number. This series consists of Bonus Board Case Files which record military bonuses paid by the State Bonus Board for military service to Iowans who served in World War I. The World War I bonus was a monetary award, approved by general election in 1922, paid to veterans of the First World War from the State of Iowa. Files include bonus application forms showing military service in World War I to prove eligibility for the bonus - either by the veteran or by their beneficiary. Information includes the name and address of the soldier both at the time of enlistment as well at the time of the bonus. Dates of enlistment or drafts, location of service, draft board, mustering, date and place of birth, place of employment prior to the war, wounds suffered, dates of overseas service, rank, race, serial number and information regarding dependants can also be included. The additional information can also contain enlistment or discharge papers, birth certificates or marriage certificates. The documents are also signed and dated by the applicant. Index available.
    • World War II Bonus Case Files, 685 cartons
      Arranged by bonus claim number. In 1947, the General Assembly approved payment of a bonus for military service to Iowans who served during World War II. This series consists of the applications filed by the veterans to receive payment of the bonus and includes the veteran’s name, address, rank, dates and places of service and place of enlistment or draft. Sometimes a letter of explanation and a copy of discharge papers or other relevant proof of service are also included. If the soldier did not survive or died prior to payment of the bonus documentation includes the names and residences of the veteran's beneficiaries as well as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and other documents which establish kinship. Each bonus application is notarized and dated and shows whether the veteran was still on active duty and if they had received sea duty pay or a military bonus prior to the war. If the application was denied, there is often an explanation. The amount of information included in each file varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the claim. There is an alphabetically name index which provides the claim number for each solder.

RG 49 - State Historical Society of Iowa (Historical Department)

The Historical Department was created in 1892. Following WWI, the department added a War Records Division to document the participation of Iowans in wartime service and the state’s war effort.

  • War Records Division
    • World War I Casualty Files – Service Record and Index, 6 archives boxes (See also World War I Casualty Files, Boxed Photo Collection in Special Collection)
      Arranged into two subseries; the service record is arranged alphabetically first by county and then by name while the index is merely alphabetical by name. This series provides information on soldiers, who enlisted from Iowa, and who died during World War I. Each index card includes the name of the soldier, county of residence, names and addresses of parents, and the date and place of soldier’s death. The service record cards provide additional information including the soldier’s date of birth, place of enlistment or induction into service, branch of service (regiment and division), and marital status as well as a column for general information. Both indicate if a photo of the soldier is included in the Boxed Photograph Collection of World War I Casualty Files available in Special Collections.
    • World War II Files, 1941-1949. Arranged by subseries:
      • County WWII Casualty Lists, 6 archives boxes
      • Des Moines Ordnance Plant Files, 6 archives boxes
      • Religious Organizations, 1942-1947, 2 archives boxes
      • Subject Files, 5 archives boxes
      • WAAC News, Womens Army Auxiliary Corps, Fort Des Moines, 2 archives boxes
      • WAAC Photographs, Womens Army Auxiliary Corps, Fort Des Moines, 2 archives boxes
      • Waves, U.S. Training School, Cedar Falls, 1942-1945, 3 archives boxes
      • WWII County Newspaper Clippings, 1941-1946, 67 archives boxes
      • WWII Statewide Newspaper Clippings, 1941-1945, 2 archives boxes (1 cu.ft.)
      • See also World War II Casualty Files in Special Collections, Manuscripts.

Other military records of units, organizations, and individuals are available in our manuscripts and audio-visual collections.

For 20th Century military service records of individuals who enlisted from Iowa contact National Archives and Records Administration's National Personnel Records Center or write:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5 100

For pension records for federal military service contact the National Archives and Records Administration

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