What is a CMSR?

If you’re new to genealogy or don’t do genealogy at all, you may not be familiar with a CMSR…Compiled Military Service Record.

I have a CMSR for two ancestors, one on my mom’s side (John Dunahoo) and one on my dad’s (Andrew Bothell). John’s packet is taking a while to look through because it is over 100 pages long. Andrew’s is much shorter at 15 pages. He was the husband of Susanna Krewson, the couple I wrote about last week.

According to the National Archives, “beginning in the 1890s, the War Department created the Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) to document the military service of Volunteer soldiers. Transcribed from original muster and pay rolls, regimental returns, descriptive books, hospital rolls, and other records, the CMSRs were intended to permit more rapid and efficient checking of military and medical records in connection with claims for pensions and other veterans’ benefits. The War Department initially created CMSRs for Union veterans of the Civil War and later expanded the records to include state Volunteers from other conflicts. As a result, the National Archives now holds CMSRs for Volunteer soldiers from the Revolutionary War through the Philippine Insurrection.”1

Andrew’s record shows he was a Corporal in Company H, 138th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Infantry. He enlisted on 16 August 1862 in Yardleyville, Bucks County, PA; mustered in on 26 August 1862 in Harrisburg, PA; and mustered out on 23 June 1865 near Washington, D.C.

Civil War Veterans Card for Andrew Bothel
Civil War Veterans Card File2

Wikipedia has an enlightening article documenting the battles this regiment participated in during their years of service. This included the Battle of Cold Harbor, a fight that occurred near Mechanicsville, Virginia from 31 May to 12 June 1864. I drive past this exit every week on my travels around Richmond, Virginia, and can’t imagine the horrors he witnessed.

This particular battle was significant in Andrew Bothel’s life because it was where he was wounded.

Casualty Sheet for Andrew Bothel for being wounded in Civil War.
Casualty Sheet3

On June 1st, 1864 Andrew was hit with a musket ball and on June 6th he was transferred from a field hospital to an Army hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. To see a map of where Andrew’s unit was positioned on that day, take a look at the image here.

Below is a hospital card detailing his battle wounds and vital information about his nearest relative…his wife Susanna Bothel who lived in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This card provides one more piece of evidence of their marriage.

Hospital Card for Andrew Bothel.
Hospital Card4

His muster roll cards have him listed as a patient at a general hospital in Alexandria until January/February 1865 when he was admitted to Haddington Hospital in Philadelphia. According to the website Civil War-Era Historical Sites in Philadelphia, the hospital was housed in the Bull’s Head Tavern Building with about 200 beds. When he mustered out in June 1865 near Washington, D.C. he was owed $14.06. At that point, he faced a trip home of over 150 miles to Newtown to rejoin his wife and children.

The National Archives lists medical records among the wonderful collections they have. That is where I will look next to see if they have anything further on Andrew.

Genealogy Tip: Military records can be ordered from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. There is a fee, but the information you gain can far outweigh the cost.

1 National Archives (https://www.archives.gov/research/military/army/compiled-military-service-records: accessed 22 October 2022).

2 “Pennsylvania, U.S., Veterans Card Files, 1775-1916,” images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/62200/images/3182_1784?pId=187135: accessed 31 October 2022), card for Andrew Bothel, image 2403 of 45794; citing Pennsylvania National Guard Veteran’s Card Files, 1867-1921, Series Number 19.135, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

3 Compiled service record, Andrew Bothel, Cpl., Co. H, Reg’t 138th PA Infantry; Carded Records, Civil War; Record Group 94: Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

4 Ibid.

5 thoughts on “What is a CMSR?

  1. Do you get more documentation from the National Archives than are available on Fold3 or other sites? I have plenty of veterans on my tree, including one wounded at Cold Harbor. Could get a bit pricey! I’ve retrieved pension, land entry, and bounty land files from NA, but not CMSR.

    1. Hi Eilene,
      Yes, the two packets I’ve received have had wonderful information that I did not get on Fold3. The CMSR is a flat $30 which I think is one of the cheaper items you can order from them. Isn’t the pension file $80? The CMSR did take 6 months to arrive. Thanks for checking out my blog!

      1. I think I paid $50 for up to 100 pages and for more than that paid extra. One took me more than two years and a bunch of email and phone calls to get – but totally worth the hassle! A couple other items I’ve requested either no longer exist or were lost forever. Those are such a letdown. I think I will look into getting some CMSRs. Thanks for writing about them!

  2. Yes, military records can be so helpful! I have yet to look into CMSR files from the National Archives, and I have only used records on Fold3 thus far, but I haven’t really looked into many military records, as of yet. Thanks for the info! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome! After I received the CMSR and discovered he went to a hospital, I discovered the National Archives also had hospital records. I wrote to them and they sent 4 hospital cards that gave further details on his injury. Such great information that I didn’t find on Fold3 (even though it’s a great site and I love it) 🙂 Gray

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