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Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865

About the Online Roster

During the service of an individual in the Civil War, many records were created (muster-in rolls, pay rolls, descriptive lists, etc.). In January 1885, Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk brought to the attention of the legislature the gradual destruction of original war records by overuse resulting from the increased need for verification of military history for the purposes of pensions, assistance, Grand Army of the Republic, etc.

"I invite your early and careful consideration to the necessity of making provision for compiling, perfecting and recopying the files and records of the Adjutant General's office pertaining to the war of the rebellion. When this important work has been completed so as to meet the requirements of the office, I recommend that a complete roster of Wisconsin volunteers, showing the material facts in the military history of each soldier, be prepared and printed by the state."

On April 15, 1885, Bill No. 163 A, having passed in both houses, was approved by the governor and published as chapter 244, Laws of 1885, resulting in the creation of these vital resources for historical research.

The Regimental and Descriptive Rolls, Series 1144 (Blue Books) were compiled in 1885 and the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 was published in two volumes in 1886. An index to the roster, Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865, was prepared by the office of the Adjutant General between 1895 and 1899 and published in 1914.

Some of the original records from which these sources are preserved in the Archives Division in Series 1200 (Wisconsin. Adjutant General's Office. Records of Civil War Regiments, 1861-1900).

Errors in the Roster You may discover errors or inconsistencies in the Civil War records you see here. They occur because the Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers on the Society's Web site appear exactly as they were published in 1886 and 1914. Those original volumes were based upon handwritten records created during the Civil War itself. Errors in spellings of names and inconsistencies for dates of service inevitably appear because of clerical errors in the original documents, the difficulty of reading written records that were created in haste, and errors in transcription when the publication was compiled. Errors and inconsistencies appear in all such records--passenger lists, the U.S. census, and so forth.

If you do not find the person you seek under one spelling of a name, please check alternate spellings or even under names that sound alike but are not spelled similarly.

We regret that we do not have the ability to change the documents to correct any errors and inconsistencies that you may spot.

Information about the Online Roster Project

The book was scanned by Northern Micrographics, Inc. of La Crosse, Wisconsin (NMI).  Each page was scanned at 600 dpi and saved as bitonal TIFF images. NMI converted the TIFF images to 256 color GIF images (740 pixels wide) and sent the GIF images to WHS.

Full OCR (optical character recognition) was not available for this project, so a database index was created to locate the first page of each Regiment and Company, as well as the first page of each section in the alphabetical index of names.

In early testing, we discovered that displaying and printing the Roster images was problematic.  Displaying the images at their original size rendered the images unreadable, but larger images could not be printed without cutting the image in half.  To solve the problem, each page was converted to Adobe Acrobat format and made available for downloading and printing.  Batch conversion from GIF to Acrobat was possible due to batch processing in Photoshop 5.5.

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