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An Overview

The Delaware Public Archives Civil War holdings are located within a number of different collections. The central group of military documents, including correspondence, executive papers, and muster rolls, comprise the greatest portion of the Civil War records. Fourteen other collections contain essential documentation for the researcher. For the regimental historian or the genealogist, cards and microfilm from the Adjutant General and the National Archives will prove indispensable. The political historian will want to investigate the executive papers. The economic historian will be interested in the expense accounts in farm diaries and the direct tax records. The social historian will find much valuable insight in the small manuscripts, the scrapbooks, and the newspaper clippings. Photographs, prints, and engravings add an essential illustrative aspect to the holdings.

Delaware in the Civil War

From the governor down to the freshest recruit, Delawareans played a varied and vital role in the Civil War. Principal political leaders, dedicated medical staffs, and tireless farm families kept the home fires burning for the brave soldiers and sailors at the front and at sea.

Military Records

Records include a wide variety of executive papers and correspondence; loose and bound muster rolls, service records, and clothing books; General Orders and Special Orders. Various documents relating to such topics as sick and wounded soldiers, all-black units identified as U.S. Colored Troops, and national cemeteries at Antietam and Gettysburg are also available.

Small Manuscripts

Housed in this collection are family papers, including numerous letters and diaries of soldiers and officers. Other diaries in the collection reveal daily life on Delaware farms during the war years. Cards from the Office of the Adjutant General of Delaware contain such information as a soldier's name, date of joining, date of muster, term of service, rank, and unit. The cards may also include information on the soldier's battle activities, payments, wounds, discharge, and death.

Executive Papers

Numerous papers and correspondence of Delaware wartime governor and Secretary of State are included in these records, which are similar to ones found in the military records of the Civil War. While the correspondence touches on all aspects of the war, much of it deals with the raising and dismissing of troops, as well as numerous requests for commissions and appointments.

Pamphlet Collection

The Civil War portion of the pamphlet collection contains dozens of pamphlets, booklets, newsletters, diaries, and miscellaneous papers.


The Archives' photograph collection includes various individual and group portraits of Union soldiers. Photographs of Fort Delaware, which had been a Union prison for Confederate soldiers, include interior and exterior views.

Military Service Records Index

These four microfilm rolls contain an index to the compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers from Delaware. The complete service records to which this collection serves as an index are located in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Reference Reels

The Archives has a copy of the information of film, but they do not have the original. These reels of microfilm hold a variety of personal documents, including diaries, letters, and papers.

Delaware Civil War Centennial Commission

Records of the Commission and newspaper clippings from 1961-1965 of the Centennial reflect both the mechanisms of the Commission itself and the public's view of Delaware's unique celebration of this milestone.

Keep in Mind

Preservation of historical documents is part of the mission of the Delaware Public Archives. Because ink may accidentally but permanently destroy a record, pens are prohibited in our facility. Pencils must be used by researchers for taking notes and recording references.