WONDERFUL ARCHIVE OF CIVIL WAR MILITARY DOCUMENTS, 1865, RELATED TO THE 137TH UNITED STATES COLORED INFANTRY REGIMENT, COMPRISING A MUSTER ROLL, A QUARTERLY RETURN OF ORDNANCE, AND A CLOTHING REGISTER
(CIVIL WAR) ARCHER, Martin R. Archive related to the 137th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, comprising muster roll, quarterly return of ornance, and clothing register. Macon, Georgia, 1865. Three United States military forms filled out by hand, measuring 20-1/2 by 21 inches (muster roll); 19 by 10-1/2 inches (quarterly return), and 13-3/4 by 28 inches (clothing register). $2600.
Exceptional archive of Civil War documents related to the organization of Company "D" of the 137th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, one of the last units to be mustered into the U.S. Army under the Bureau of Colored Troops, comprising a muster roll listing 94 men as well as Captain Charles Hankins, 1st Lieutenant Max Marbach, and 2nd Lieutenant George H. Smith; a quarterly return of ordnance and ordnance stores completed by the regiment commander, Colonel Martin R. Archer; and a register of clothing allotted to the troops such as caps, bootees, and blankets, under the oversight of Captain Hankins.
The 137th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, organized in April of 1865, was one of the last units to be mustered into the Union Army under the Bureau of Colored Troops. Organized in the Deep South (Selma, Alabama), its recruits were primarily ex-slaves working as farmers or unskilled laborers. Commanded by Colonel Martin R. Archer, the unit that these documents related to, Company "D", was also overseen by several white military officers: Captain Charles Hankins, 1st Lieutenant Max Marbach, and 2nd Lieutenant George H. Smith. However, by the time the regiment was organized, the war was nearly over. In fact, General Lee surrendered at Appomattox just one day after the regiment became an official entity. According to scholar Bennie J. McRae, Jr., the Unit was transferred to Macon, Georgia, and then finally mustered into service on June 1, 1865. In light of the Confederate surrender, the unit was primarily assigned to labor tasks, specifically burying the dead and cleaning up at the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville, where 13,000 Union prisoners died from starvation, injury, and contagious diseases. Their work completed, the entire regiment was mustered out on January 15, 1866 after just a half-year of service. This archives includes three important pieces of military forms filled out during Company "D"'s service. The muster roll, which spans from June 1865 to August 31, 185, offers the names of all troops, as well as where, when, and by whom they were enrolled/mustered in. A section for remarks contains notations such as "sick in Genl Hospital, Macon GA, "In Confinement for Desertion," "Deserted," and "Died in Regimental Hospital" (an astonishing six troops out of 83 died in three months, despite the cessation of the conflict). The Quarterly Return (dated for the quarter ending September 30th 1865) of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores received, issued, and remaining on hand in the company lists the withdrawal of 91 muskets with bayonets, as well as the same number of bayonet scabbards, cartridge boxes, and other essentials. The officers are shown to have withdrawn sword belts and special waist belts. Finally, the clothing register—essential to Civil War recruits who were often lacking proper attire—leans heavily toward the acquisition of caps, hats (hand-corrected from the original "cap covers"), bootees, and blankets, which a few drawers, flannel shirts, and trousers also allotted.
Light soiling, stray ink marks, a few small holes to page creases, and light wear to folds and extremities. Near-fine condition.