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About the War of the Rebellion

This site contains links to volumes of the War of the Rebellion in the Internet Archive. The War of the Rebellion is a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies that were published by order of Congress by the Government Printing Office between 1881 and 1901. Early volumes were titled The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, however the collection was later titled The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. In addition to Army Records, a separate set of volumes containing the records of the Union and Confederate Navies were collected and published between 1894 and 1922 as the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.

The War of the Rebellion volumes are primary source materials; they contain records that were written at the time the events described were taking place. The volumes contain reports of battles, military operations, correspondence, orders, reports and "returns" (responses) of both the Union and Confederate Armies and Navies. The records of the Armies were divided into four series:

    • Series I - Contains reports dealing with Union and Confederate Military Operations in addition to correspondence, orders and returns related to those operations.
    • Series II - Contains correspondence, orders, reports and returns related to prisoners of war, State and political prisoners.
    • Series III - Contains correspondence, orders, reports and returns of Union authorities that are not related to military operations and prisoners.
    • Series IV - Contains correspondence, orders, reports and returns of Confederate authorities that are not included in the previous series.

An index to the volumes was published in 1901. The National Archives published a more comprehensive index in multiple volumes from 1968 to 1980. This index, Military Operations of the Civil War: A Guide Index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, is available in print in Government Publications, 4th Floor, Malpass Library (GOVPUBS. GS 4.21:). All of the indexes to the Army and Navy record that have been digitized have been linked to a separate page (titled Indexes).

Organization of this Site

The site is divided into four parts: Indexes, Army Records, Navy Records and other U.S. Government Reports. The Army records are divided into separate pages for each Series; Series I is subdivided into two separate pages for Volumes 1 - 29 (Serials 1 - 49) and Volumes 30 - 53 (Serials 50 - 111), respectively. Three volumes (Volume XXX, Parts I and III and Volume XX, Part I) could not be found in the Internet Archive (we hope to digitize them in the future). Each page contains a list of the volumes from each set or series by volume and title. Volume information is transcribed directly from the title page of the volume; individual titles are transcribed from the first page of text in the digitized volume. Entries are followed by links to volume(s) available in the Internet Archive, which has a user-friendly interface allowing volumes to be browsed and searched. Volumes in the Internet Archive can also be downloaded in a variety of formats. When more than one digital edition for a volume exists, links to each volume are given after the entry.

All of the volumes in this guide were digitized from collections at other libraries, including Cornell University, the University of California, Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Harvard University and others. In addition to this site, which is a linked bibliography of volumes available in the Internet Archive, two university libraries have developed web sites related to the collection:

Cornell University Libraries, Making of America
In addition to the War of the Rebellion, this site also contains other publications about the Civil War.
Oklahoma State University e-History
This site includes an index and search engine.

The WIU Libraries also provides library users with access to the digital U.S. Congressional Serial Set, which also includes volumes from the War of the Rebellion.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set
(WIU Users Only) - to find the War of the Rebellion volumes, browse by subject by selecting Armed Forces and Conflicts and then U.S. Civil War 1861-1865.

Using this Site

To find information on a particular battle, activities in an area or the name of an officer who may have participated in activities in an area, use the index to the volumes, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. General Index and Additions and Corrections (Serial 130), which is listed in Bold text on the Indexes page. Find an entry for a battle, campaign or person and note the serial numbers that include information. Then find that serial in the Army Records pages (serial numbers are listed last in the bibliographic entry for each volume). Use the link(s) below that entry to connect to the volume in the Internet Archive. Consult the index for the individual volumes to find the entries for the person or topic of interest.

The National Archives published a more comprehensive index in multiple volumes from 1968 to 1980. This index, Military Operations of the Civil War: A Guide Index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, is only available in print in Government Publications, 4th Floor, Malpass Library (GOVPUBS Reference GS 4.21:).

In some cases, Army activities related to the Siege of Vicksburg are included in the Naval Records, especially the volumes dealing with Naval Operations on Western Waters. There is no comprehensive index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.