About This Collection
This collection consists of descriptive lists for black volunteers recruited for the army from the State of Missouri, 1863-1865. The original records, held at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland consist of 55 descriptive recruitment books and 3 bound indexes. The records are part of the records of the Colored Troops Division, 1863-1865 within Record Group (RG) 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917 and were taken from the National Archives microfilm publication M1894. For more information about these records, please see the descriptive pamphlet prepared by the National Archives.
Information in This Collection
For each recruit, information includes:
- color of eyes and hair
- place of birth
- date and place of enlistment
- name of slaveholder
This collection is remarkable because most of the records identify the former slaveholder of the recruit. There are very few record sets that in and of themselves break through the 1870 brick wall, so this collection is one to celebrate!
The History Behind the Records
Missouri was one of several “border states,” states that supported slavery but did not secede from the Union during the Civil War.
On November 14, 1863, Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield, commander of the Department of Missouri, issued General Orders Number 135, authorizing recruitment of African American volunteers for service in the United States Colored Troops (USCT). Because Missouri was a border state that did not secede from the Union, Schofield’s order provided for compensation of as much as $300 for loyal slaveholders who lost enslaved people to military service.
Recruitment stations were set up in county or military district seats, and more than 8,000 African Americans, most from Missouri, enlisted in four Missouri regiments (18th, 60th, 62nd, 65th, and 68th USCT) between November of 1863 and March of 1865.
Provost marshals who recruited volunteers maintained descriptive lists of African American recruits from Missouri.
After the war, the War Department established a commission to adjudicate claims of loyal slaveholders in Missouri “whom a black volunteer or drafted man may have owed service at the time of his enlistment.” One of the first orders of business for the commission was to establish claim procedures and advertise the formation of the commission. Advertisements were placed in the newspapers St. Joseph Herald, Kansas City Journal of Commerce and the St. Louis Republican.
Researching From This Collection
You can use the information in the descriptive list to search for other records to document your ancestor’s service in the United States Colored Troops. You can also search for your ancestor in other Reconstruction era records.
Because the majority of the records in this collection identify the slaveholder, you can search for records for the slaveholder to see if your ancestor is documented within them.
Example: Walker Bibb, 62nd U.S.C.T.
Let’s look at example from this collection for Walker Bibb, who enlisted in Missouri and served in the 62nd United States Colored Troops.
The descriptive register for Walker Bibb lists the following information:
- No.: 88 v.14
- Name: Bibb, Walker
- Years of Age: 18
- Eyes: Blk
- Hair: Blk
- Complexion: Dark
- Feet: 5
- Inches: 5
- Where Born: Howard, Missouri
- Occupation: Farmer
- Enlisted When: Decr. 7, 1863
- Enlisted Where: Macon City
- Enlisted by Whom: Capt. Reed
- Enlistment Period: 3 Years
- Claimed to Have Been the Slave of: John Bibb
- Citizen of: Howard
- Examining Surgeon: A.B. Castle
- Provost Marshal and Recruiting Officer: Thomas B. Reed
- Station: Macon City
- Date: Nov. 30, 1863
Let’s start by searching for Walker Bibb in other Reconstruction era records.
Freedmen’s Bureau Records
We can search for Freedmen’s Bureau records by searching for Walker Bibb or slaveholder John Bibb at discoverfreedmen.org. Our search for Walker Bibb and John Bibb produced no results, but your search for your ancestor and the slaveholder may yield meaningful results.
The Wiki page African American Freedmen’s Bureau Records informs us that there are some Freedmen’s Bureau records in Image Browse collections on FamilySearch that we can also check. These collections consist of digitized microfilms that you can browse frame by frame. Some of the digitized volumes have a name index in the front of the volume. To learn more about navigating Image Browse collections on FamilySearch, please see our article Has FamilySearch Digitized the Records You Need? Here’s How to Check.
We navigated to the Image Browse collection Missouri, Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1865-1872 to see which records are there.
When we clicked on “Browse through 24,504 images,” we found three selections.
We clicked on “Office of the disbursing officer (correspondence)” and found 24 microfilms there that we can browse (please click on the image to view larger):
We first chose to browse the microfilm “Roll 24 Register of Bounty Claims” to see if Walker Bibb was listed there. We found Walker Bibb listed on the 4th frame of that microfilm:
Bounties were financial or land rewards paid to veterans for their service. Here we see that Walker Bibb was eligible for a military bounty of $193.30.
We next browsed “Roll 24 Register of adjusted claims, Sep 1867 – Oct 1871 and found Walker Bibb in this register, which appears to be adjusted bounty claims. We see credits and fees for Walker Bibb, with the adjusted amount of $193.30 (the amount shown in the register of bounty claims above):
We next browsed “Roll 24, Proceedings of a Missouri commission to reward compensation, Oct 1866 – Apr 1867.”
We found that this volume contains descriptions of the daily activities of the compensation commission, but does not contain information about specific claims. In the example below, it is recorded that the commission chose regional newspapers to advertise the formation of the commission in (please click on image to view larger):
Documenting Walker Bibb’s USCT Service
Let’s search next for other records documenting Walker Bibb’s service in the United States Colored Troops. We searched for Walker Bibb’s Civil War service record on fold3.com. The card for the company descriptive books agrees substantially with the information in the FamilySearch collection descriptive register:
Pension File Index Card
We next searched the FamilySearch collection United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 to see if he applied for a military pension. We did find a pension file index card for Walker Bibb. The card shows that Walker Bibb filed for a pension on 14 Feb 1891. The a certificate number on the card below indicates that the pension was granted, and that Walker Bibb was issued a pension certificate:
Identifying Slaveholder John Bibb
Let’s search for records for the slaveholder John Bibb, who is identified in the descriptive register. We searched the FamilySearch collection United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860. John Q.A. Bibb appears in Chariton Township, Howard Missouri, holding five enslaved people:
Name: John Q A Bibb
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1860
Event Place: Chariton Township, Howard, Missouri, United States
Event Place (Original): Chariton, Howard, Missouri
Relationship to Owner: Owner
|John Q A Bibb|
Line Number: 24
GS Film Number: 000803662
Digital Folder Number: 005170243
Image Number: 00131
“United States Census (Slave Schedule), 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:WZYG-QVPZ : 16 October 2019), John Q A Bibb, 1860.
John Q.A. Bibb in Census Records
We next searched for John Q.A. Bibb in census records and located his household in the 1880 U.S. Census:
Name: John Q A Bibb
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1880
Event Place: Chariton, Howard, Missouri, United States
Marital Status: Married
Race (Original): W
Relationship to Head of Household: Self
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Self
Birth Year (Estimated): 1823
Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Father’s Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Mother’s Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Sheet Letter: B
Sheet Number: 338
Person Number: 0
|John Q A Bibb||Self||M||57||Virginia, United States|
|Elizeabeth Bibb||Wife||F||50||Missouri, United States|
|Lulella Bibb||Daughter||F||23||Missouri, United States|
|Bettie L Bibb||Daughter||F||21||Missouri, United States|
|Alexander Bibb||Son||M||19||Missouri, United States|
|Mattie Bibb||Daughter||F||13||Missouri, United States|
|William H Bibb||Son||M||7||Missouri, United States|
“United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M6X4-VW2 : 14 August 2017), William H Bibb in household of John Q A Bibb, Chariton, Howard, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district ED 100, sheet 338B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,691.
John Q.A. Bibb in Family Trees
The 1880 Census record search result indicated that there is a tree on FamilySearch for John Q.A. Bibb:
We clicked on the family tree icon and found a tree for John Quincy Adams Bibb who was married in Howard, Missouri:
The profile for Henry Bibb, John Quincy Adam’s father, states that he died in 1843 in Nelson, Virginia. We can use this information to locate Henry Bibb’s will and estate inventory if those records survive. Walker was about 18 years old when he joined the USCT in 1863, placing his birth date at about 1845. It is not likely that he would be listed in Henry Bibb’s will or estate inventory, but further research may help us to identify Walker’s parents and other family members who may be listed in probate files for Henry Bibb.
The Wiki page African American Freedmen’s Bureau Records provides an overview of the Freedmen’s Bureau records on FamilySearch. There you will also find links to the browse page for each state’s Freedmen Bureau records.
The wiki page African American Resources for Missouri contains links to other resources for further research.
The Missouri Digital Heritage collection from the Missouri State Library contains many more helpful resources for African American genealogy research in Missouri.
More Wiki Resources for African American Genealogy
Researching African American Genealogy provides step-by-step guidance for beginning your ancestor search, as well as links to online resources.
Quick Guide to African American Records contains information on beginning research tips, links to suggested guides for beginning your search for African American ancestors, overviews of major record sets, tips for finding the slaveholder, links to tutorials for African American genealogy in the FamilySearch Learning Center, and links to other online and offline resources.
Southern States Slavery and Bondage Collections will help you locate digitized searchable collections as well as digitized microfilms in the FamilySearch catalog related to slavery and bondage. The page is arranged by state
African American Genealogy provides links to Wiki pages for researching African Americans in each U.S. state.