Century-old documents of over 22,000 missing Civil War soldiers


1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Mar 16, 2016
Century-old documents of over 22,000 missing Civil War soldiers

The digitized documents are now more accessible than ever

By: Jasmine Pelaez

FREDERICK, Md - For more than 2 years, historians at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick have been digitizing information on missing Civil War soldiers based on the century-old work of Clara Barton.

"She jumps into action helping with wounded soldiers, she gets the nickname 'Angel of the Battlefield' at Antietam as a result of going on to the field and assisting wounded soldiers, nursing them," explained National Civil War Medicine Program Coordinator, Jake Wynn.

After the end of the war in 1865, thousands of soldiers were unidentified, leaving many families wondering what happened to their loved ones.

"We think of World War I, World War II, the government would actually send a telegram or send someone to say 'Your loved one is missing in action,' or unfortunately in many cases, ‘killed in action’. In the Civil War there's no one to do that," Wynn said.

That was until Barton established the Missing Soldiers office, and with the help of staff, was able to compile five paper rolls of information on over 22,000 union soldiers.

"We have a volunteer effort to go through and take all of those names, put it into a spread sheet, take all of the regiments put them into a spreadsheet. All of that data is connected," Wynn explained.

Barton's rolls of missing men has been uploaded on the museum's website as more than 6,000 entries.

"Maybe it can help get the name of those soldiers out there and even help families today trace back to their ancestors and see what happened to some of them,” said visitor to the museum, Joanna Colgan.

Even though Barton’s rolls are published in their entirety, the museum still isn't done searching and is now accepting digital volunteers to help continue the search for the Civil War's missing men.

"If we can engage visitors, and engage the community to actually come in and help us, it means we can accomplish so much more together,” Wynn said.

You can find more information about the Clara Barton’s Rolls of Missing Soldiers Database on the museum’s webs



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NH Civil War Gal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Feb 5, 2017
This is one of my favorite museums! I've been twice and each time spent about 4 hours. I'm joining as a member to help support them. The knowledge the docents have is amazing. The last time I was there in December, the docent was a retired pharmacist of the old school - compounding medicines by hand - and he gave fabulous insight into the medicine chest and drugs they had back then and how soldiers would have been treated on the field with them. He also showed me which medical instrument packs were used on Mercy Street on PBS. They were one of the major consultants for the show and provided a lot of the medical stuff that was shown. They really need support and do so much on a rather small budget.

He also had detailed information on Clara Barton's office and how it was almost destroyed but wasn't and they have her original traveling stuff and have set it up so you can see how she traveled and slept in a fold out trunk (looks rather uncomfortable) with sticks that form a framework for netting to keep insects away. They have a pair of stockings (looks kind of like big knee socks) that are covered in a lot of dry blood and her original stretcher, also with dry blood. You really get a picture of how men suffered.


Sergeant Major
Jul 4, 2016
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Some how I read the word "Confederate" in the originak post.

Wishful thinking, I guess.
I think many of the Confederate records are lost forever. Fires, theft, even the "putting in a safe place". I suppose like the records of this thread, it IS possible to one day uncover some previously thought lost forever records. New artifacts, & documents seem to show up from time to time... we can always hope :smile:

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