Duties of a Union Sergeant?

Joined
May 28, 2015
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427
#1
I have read prior related posts and looked at the US Army regulations for 1861 and I still am not clear on this. I'm looking at two Captains who were brought to civilwartalk by @MajMarionPatterson, they are Marion Patterson, Capt. of a company of the 19th USC Inf and Enos B Wood, Capt of a company of the 2ND USC Cav. Our member has a file of records concerning Enos B Wood's service, which include some muster rolls he signed as Capt. They are pretty complicated in that they contain pay owed and received by the soldier and roll call information, dates of enlistmrnt, muster in and pertinent remarks.

Am I correct that the Captains did not have adjutants to help them with paperwork? Were the Captains responsible for all company reports containing such matters as duty assignments, presence or absence, any illness, infractions or discipline etc.? I assume the Civil War Captain could be assisted by his Lieutenants. Was the level of literacy and education of Captains and Lieutenants required to be high enough to perform such writing and record keeping with accuracy? How much of their time was involved in this kind of thing?

If you know of a general description of Captain's duties in the Union Army, I would appreciate a citation.

Thank you all for your patience and continuous help with elementary questions.
 

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#3
From reading different sources, the Company Commander (Captain) and the Company First Sergeant maintained the "Company Books" and records. The First Sergeant could have an assistant company clerk if available. They were somewhat divided on who handled what, but the Commander entered, compiled and maintained the records. The company (if at full strength) would have 1 Captain and 3 Lieutenants assigned.

Company Books: Morning Report Book, Sick Book, Descriptive Book, Clothing Book, Order Book, Account Book for Company Fund, Register of Articles Issued to Soldiers and Record Book of Target Practice.

This is what I could find without digging into the books:

The First Sergeant:
Keep and track clothing accounts, camp and garrison equipage, ordnance, consequences for the soldier (anything effecting the soldier). . Entered into company books.
Keeps company roster, takes daily roll, reports to Commander. Entered into company books.

Commander:
Entered, compiled and maintained the records.
Compiled required reports and sent to higher (battalion/regiment) command.

Reports: Daily, Monthly, Bi-Monthly, Quarterly, Quatro-Monthly and Annually

It was a handful to collect, enter, report and maintain the "Company Books" and fight a war. The Commander did most of the paper work at night after the company was bedded down. Records were maintained at all levels and reports sent up and down the chain of command. The basic infantry company had the Commander and First Sergeant bearing the brunt of the clerical work. The Commander's field desk was the repository for the company records.

Sources: August V. Kautz, Customs of Service for Officers
August V. Kautz, Customs of Service for Non- Commissioned Officers
August V. Kautz, The Company Clerk
US Army Regulations 1862, page 24, para 127 Company Books

Just a brief description. Much more information out there.
 
Joined
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#4
Am I correct that the Captains did not have adjutants to help them with paperwork?
The company 1st Sargent was usually required to do much of the clerical work, amongst his other duties. He was never far from his captain’s beck and call.

Were the Captains responsible for all company reports containing such matters as duty assignments, presence or absence, any illness, infractions or discipline etc.?
The Captain was ultimately responsible for everything in the company, so yes.

I assume the Civil War Captain could be assisted by his Lieutenants.
Yes, normally a 1st lieutenant who would serve as company 2nd in command as well as leading a 1st platoon, when so detached and a 2nd lieutenant who would lead a second platoon.

Was the level of literacy and education of Captains and Lieutenants required to be high enough to perform such writing and record keeping with accuracy? How much of their time was involved in this kind of thing?
Yes, but as I mentioned, a good company 1st sergeant should be literate enough to write reports, of course reviewed and approved by the company CO or lieutenants.
 

thomas aagaard

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#5
First of all, this was the same in the CSA armies. most of their procedures and regulations and similar was just copied word by word from the US regulations.


The first sergeant ran the company. The clerk was usually a private soldier who had experience with paperwork.
The advantage was that he would do paper work some of the time where the others did fatigue duty or guard duty and similar.
Officers had to be literate.

The exact divide in the who did the work between the 1st Sergeant the captain and the clerk properly depended on units, time and place.

In another topic someone mentioned that in the USCT it was not uncommon for the officers to use a number of privates as clerks as a tool to help teach them to read and write.


The place too look this like this up are the books by August V. Kautz (that Irish reb used above)

Kautz gathered all the relevant rules and regulations by rank.
So to see what a Captain have to do, his job and his rights simply look up the captain in the book.

August V. Kautz, Customs of Service for Officers
https://www.dropbox.com/s/7pzk8ayax67arni/1866 - Kautz_Officers.pdf?dl=0

August V. Kautz, Customs of Service for Non- Commissioned Officers
https://www.dropbox.com/s/p2h616yv1stm1kv/1864 - Kautz_NCOs.pdf?dl=0

August V. Kautz, The Company Clerk
https://www.dropbox.com/s/s3yct50sotytwbi/The_Company_Clerk.pdf?dl=0
 
Joined
May 28, 2015
Messages
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#6
Just doing the reports for 100 men + officers would be a full-time job for me with no computer or photocopier or typewriter. And if I were doing it, I would be puzzling over my math mistakes into the wee hours, with no calculator.

How did they accomplish this and do anything else?

So when the War Department created the Carded Compiled Civil War Service Records that we all use, they extracted information from these detailed reports or the Monthly Reports which I guess was a summaries? Obviously, quite a lot of information was omitted.

In some cases, but probably not many, these records must still exist in original form. I wonder if I were researching a particular soldier if I should try to obtain the Regimental Records for his unit from the DC National Archives and see what's in there? Has anyone done this?

An excellent staffer at the Archives in the Army dept. of the Consultation Room was taking me through some record collections and showed me the description of the boxes of regimental records on their shelves. I asked what was in those boxes and he said whatever the regiment gave them.

I have to thank @IrishReb1863, @Greyfalcon and @thomas aagaard for their most helpful and generous and all around just ideal answers here! I'm grateful for your efforts and expertise.
 

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