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Military Records for Genealogy Research: Spanish American War / Philippine Insurrection

Overview

Spanish American War SoldiersThe Spanish-American War was fought between May and August 1898. Although relatively few (less than 300,000) served in this short war, it occurred at significant time for many family historians, during the peak period of mass migration. As a result, for many Americans, this is the first conflict in which family members may be represented.

American forces included both regular army and volunteer soldiers, the latter coming mainly from New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio. As a result of the Spanish-American War, Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States.

Having fought with the U.S. against Spain, when the war ended Filipino revolutionaries expected their country's independence. Instead, the U.S. annexed the Philippines as an American territory, and war broke out between the two countries. Variously known as the Philippine Insurrection, Philippine-American War, Filipino-American War, Fil-American War and the Philippine War, this conflict lasted from 1899 to 1902. 

American volunteers participating in the recently-ended Spanish-American War enlisted only for the duration of that war, so the U.S. had to recruit additional volunteers for the Philippine Insurrection. Approximately 125,000 troops served in the Philippines during the war.

FEDERAL MILITARY RECORDS (NARA)

The 1900 and 1930 census records can provide a useful starting point to determine if any ancestors alive at those times participated in the Spanish-American War and/or Philippine Insurrection.

  • 1900 Federal Census -- military personnel stationed overseas in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were enumerated on Schedule 1, Population, Military and Naval Population (included in the searchable 1900 census databases on Ancestry and FamilySearch).  The schedule gives the soldier’s name, rank, place of residence in the United States, birth date and place, company, regiment, and branch of service.
    • To browse the schedule on Ancestry,  select "Military and Naval Forces" under "State" in the "Browse this Collection" box on the right-hand side of the page.
    • To browse the schedule on FamilySearch, click on the "Browse through images" link at the bottom of the search page, and select "Armed Forces -- Foreign Countries"  
  • 1930 Federal Census -- asks if person was "A veteran of the U.S. military or naval forces mobilized for any war or expedition" and "What war or expedition" they served in

Some volunteers who served in the Spanish-American War re-enlisted for the Philippine Insurrection; the  Compiled Military Service Records for these soldiers will be found in records of the earlier conflict (M1087 and M871). Volunteer units for the two conflicts can be distinguished by their names: in the Spanish-American War, volunteer units were designated by state (for example, Tenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry), while those in the Philippine Insurrection were designated as "U.S. Volunteer" units. African American volunteers served in the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth U.S. Volunteer Infantry.

Another quirk of these records: the CMSR's for soldiers of the Puerto Rican Regiment of U.S. Volunteers during the Philippine Insurrection (which are not digitized or microfilmed), are included in the index to the CMSR's for the Spanish-American War (M871).

The Philippine Insurrection is the last conflict in which the War Department compiled military service records for volunteers.

COMPILED MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS (CMSR'S): SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VOLUNTEERS

1. Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War, 1899 - 1927 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Microfilm Publication M1087)

  • Description of Records
    • Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR's) for Volunteer Soldiers serving in the war with Spain
    • from the NARA catalog record: "This series consists of jackets giving name of soldier, his organization and rank, and cards on which information from original records, such as muster rolls, returns, and descriptive books, relating to the military service of the individual has been copied. Jackets containing the "record of events" for the regiment and for each company are filed at the beginning of the records for each regiment. Personal papers are generally filed in the main jacket for the individual. There is also a small quantity of miscellaneous personal papers filed at the end of each state file. Included in the main jacket are the carded medical records (taken from medical registers, prescription books, reports of sick and wounded, and other documents), which give name, organization, rank, date of enlistment, age, birthplace, years of service, date of admission to hospital, source of admission, cause of admission, and disposition of patient, together with the description of the record from which the information was obtained."
  • Digitized Records available online -- NOT ALL RECORDS HAVE BEEN DIGITIZED

2.  Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Microfilm Publication M871)

 

COMPILED MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS (CMSR'S): PHILIPPINE INSURRECTION VOLUNTEERS

1.  Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1984, not microfilmed)

  • Description of Records:
    • Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR's) for Volunteer Soldiers serving in the Philippine Insurrection
  • Records have not been microfilmed or digitized but the index is available online (see below)

2. Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Philippine Insurrection, 1899 - 1927 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1984, Microfilm Publication M872)

3. Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Served in the Puerto Rican Regiment of U.S. Volunteers During the Philippine Insurrection, 1899 - 1927 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, not microfilmed)

  • Description of Records:
    • Compiled military service records of the Puerto Rican Regiment, U.S. Volunteers (see NARA catalog record)
  • Digitized Records available online
    • Not digitized or microfilmed, but these records are included in the index to CMSR's for the Spanish-American War described above (M871)

 

COMPILED MILITARY SERVICE RECORDS (CMSR'S): VOLUNTEER OFFICERS OF BOTH CONFLICTS

1. Carded Records Relating to Staff Officers of Volunteers in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, 1899 - 1927 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1984, not microfilmed)

  • Description of Records
    • From NARA catalog record: "This series contains cards which list the name of the staff officer, his rank and any other information relating to the individual that was found on the original document carded. These records were copied from original records such as muster rolls, returns, descriptive books, and morning reports."
  • Not microfilmed or digitized -- as of March, 2021, only available on-site at NARA

 

REGULAR ARMY SERVICE RECORDS

1. Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914 (Record Group 94, Microfilm Publication M233)

2. Enlistment Papers, 1798 -1912 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Microfilm Publication M2031)

  • Description of Records
    • records are arranged in two series, the first covering 1798 - July 14, 1894, and the second covering July 15, 1894 - October 1912. Information varies by series, but generally includes the soldier's name, place of enlistment, date of enlistment, by whom enlisted, age, occupation, a personal description, regimental assignment, and certifications of the examining surgeon and recruiting officer. 
    • For more information, see the NARA catalog record and the article U.S. Regular Army Registers of Enlistment and enlistment papers, 1798–1914
  • NOT DIGITIZED

NAVY SERVICE RECORDS

1. Records Relating to Enlisted Men Who Served in the Navy Between 1842 and 1885, 1885 - 1941 (Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, not microfilmed)

  • Description of Records
    • From NARA catalog record: "This series contains collected records of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting as well as correspondence of the Bureau of Navigation, particularly of the Muster Roll and Record Section of the Enlisted Personnel Division.
    • For the years of these conflicts, only includes sailors who applied for a pension, filed a claim, or requested verification documents. 
  • Not digitized or microfilmed -- currently available only on-site at NARA

2. Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers, 1798 - 1924, (Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Microfilm Publications M330 and M1328)

 

The pension files for veterans of these conflicts were not microfilmed and most have not yet been digitized, but there are multiple online and print indexes that can help you determine whether a veteran or widow applied for a pension:

  • T288 is a comprehensive index arranged by the veteran's name
  • T289 is a comprehensive index arranged by the unit/organization in which the veteran served
  • A1158 is a numerical index which can be used for cross-reference
  • M1784 is a special index to the names of re-married widows who applied for the renewal of their pensions after their second marriage had been dissolved.

To better understand the differences, and determine which one(s) you should use, consult the useful NARA blog Pension Indexes Examined. Keep in mind that to make sure you've identified the correct person, it’s helpful to know the soldier’s unit, state and widow’s name.

PENSION INDEXES

1. General Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files, ca. 1949 - ca. 1949 (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication T288)

2. Organization Index to Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900, 1949 - 1949 (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication T289)

3. Numerical Index to Pensions (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication A1158)

  • Description of Records
    • Numerical index used as cross-reference for other two indexes
    • From NARA catalog record: "This index serves as a finding aid to pension files, primarily of Civil War veterans and their dependents, but also to veterans and their dependents of the War of 1812, Old War, Mexican War, and Indian Wars. For the purposes of this index, Civil War and later service was designated either as “Army” or “Navy.” Navy pension file numbers also relates to service that predates and postdates the Civil War."
  • Digitized Records available online

4. Remarried Widows Index for Pensions Based on Service in the Civil War and Later Wars and in the Regular Army after the Civil War, 1861 - 1942 (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication M1785)

General Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files, ca. 1949 - ca. 1949 (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication T288)

  • Description of Records
    • Index of pension applications relating primarily to Civil War service of Army, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel. performed between 1861 and 1916. Most of the records relate to Civil War service; some relate to earlier service by Civil War veterans; others relate to service in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Regular Establishment. There are no Federal pension records for service in Confederate forces.

PENISON APPLICATION FILES

As noted above, most of the pension files for veterans of these conflicts have not yet been digitized. The few application files that have been digitized are available through the applicable NARA catalog record:

Non-digitized pension files can be ordered from NARA online

PAYMENT RECORDS

1. Pension Payment Cards, 1907 - 1933 (Record Group 15, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Microfilm Publication M850)

​​​​PENSION CORRESPONDENCE

 1. Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889–1904 (Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, Microfilm Publication M686)

NAVY

1. Navy Casualty Reports, 1776-1941 (reports compiled by Casualty Branch, U.S. Bureau of Naval Personnel, and held by Navy Department Library)

2. Area File of the Naval Records Collection, 1775-1910 (Record Group 45, Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library, Microfilm Publication M625)

State Records

ONLINE GUIDES

NEW YORK STATE ARCHIVES

 

NEW YORK STATE MILITARY MUSEUM AND VETERANS RESEARCH CENTER

  • Primarily secondary source materials, digitized and usefully arranged, including unit histories and muster rolls
  • Also include photographs and some object collections such as New York Battle Flags
  • Use their online catalog to search for relevant material

 

NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Holds records of several patriotic societies:

PRINT SOURCES AT NYPL

INDEXES AND ABSTRACTS AT NYPL

PRIMARY RECORDS

Links to some additional digitized state records are available at Online Spanish American War Indexes and Records. You can also check this list of Spanish-American War records available on Ancestry. Be aware that many of the state military "records" digitized on Ancestry are actually reproductions of printed indexes and histories, rather than collections of original documents.

INDEXES AND ABSTRACTS AT NYPL