The Library’s New Online Civil War Database Opens Vast Collection of Primary Sources

The new Library online resource Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals and the Union Army offers researchers the most comprehensive documentary picture available of the American Civil War.

Documents include courts-martial case files; papers related to courts of inquiry, and investigations by military commissions; manuscript records of spies, scouts, guides, and detectives; the papers of generals; the diaries and letters of soldiers and citizens; glimpses of the home front in the correspondence of mothers, wives, sisters, daughters; personal  stories of the war from the viewpoint of enlisted men, prisoners of war, medical officers, chaplains, lawyers, judges, diplomats, physicians, merchants, members of the state legislatures, the U.S. Congress, and the Congress of the Confederate States. Also included are the official and personal papers of Robert E. Lee, and documentation of the service of African Americans (enslaved and free) in both the Union and Confederate armies, and of Native Americans in the trans-Mississippi West.

Typing “Indian Territory” in the search box, for instance, yields information about the Civil War in present-day Oklahoma, including correspondence relating to Stand Watie, a Cherokee chief and Confederate General, the highest ranking Native American in either army.

The 4th United States “Colored Infantry”

Opening the database takes you first to the ProQuest History Vault. A box is checked next to “Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals,” meaning that all search queries will take you to material in that database. If you’d rather browse the holdings, click “Browse” on the navigation bar, scroll to the “Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals,” and, instead of clicking “Search,” click the link. The contents of the database drop down, grouped according to the archives from which the material was drawn, with summaries of what they contain. Click the link to an archive, then click “View all documents” to get a list of high-quality PDF scans waiting to be explored.

“Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals” is a treasure-trove for historians, student researchers, family history researchers, and anyone interested in the Civil War. The vast collection of primary resources assembled in one place from many collections—several published here for the first time—and covering many perspectives, gives the most complete picture yet of the conflict that continues to stir strong emotions a century and a half ater Appomattox.

Please remember to continue checking the Library’s guide to new online resources. It’s updated daily!

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