Terminology used in the Adjutant Generals Report

Every State of the United States had a state militia under the authority of its Governor. During the Civil War, the National Government made calls for troops apportioning the request for troops among the states on the basis of population. The Adjutant General for each State was responsible for recruiting and initially equipping the troops until they were mustered into service. As the war proceeded and more troops were needed, the Adjutant General kept records of the number of their states citizens who had served. When the calls for troops finally exceeded the number of volunteers (which only occurred for Illinois late in the war), the Adjutant General was responsible for organizing and equitably administering a draft.

Following the war, the Office of Adjutant General was responsible for maintaining the records of service of all state citizens for the purposes of pensions. The Adjutant Generalís report was prepared as a record of the activities of the office as well as to produce an index of all soldiers who served in Illinois regiments. The Adjutant Generals Report (AGR) is a transcription from muster rolls taken throughout the war. Frequently, names are not spelled consistently in the AGR. This sometimes is the result of a printing error; however, it can also be a result of misspellings on the muster rolls.

The AGR is a military report and sometimes uses a language all its own. Many of the terms used in the report are very precise and have meanings that are not the same as in common usage. Terms below are broken into three categories:

General Terms, Terms of Rank, and Organization of the Army.

Below is a list of some of these terms along with other terms that may be of use.

BREVET An appointment to a higher rank for command purposes without the corresponding increase in pay.
CONSOLIDATION Regiments were frequently reduced in size by battle or disease. When too many men had been lost to effectively operate with the original command structure, the regiment was consolidated. The men were reorganized into as many full-strength companies as could be made. The best officers were selected to lead the reorganized companies. Any officers left over from the old regiment were declared to be supernumerary and discharged from the service. The consolidated regiment retained the regiment number of the original regiment, but was often referred to as a battalion, unless recruits filled the organization out to a full-strength regiment.
DATE OF RANK The date at which an officers commission is issued. This date is used for determining seniority. When the commander of an organization (i.e., Regiment, Brigade) was wounded or killed, command would initially pass to the most senior officer of the highest rank in that organization.
COMMISSION A formal warrant confering the rank and authority to command men in the army. Officers recieved a commission and were required to take an oath of allegience.
OFFICER A Leader holding a formal commission from the Governor of the State. This includes General Officers, Field Officers, Staff Officers, and Line Officers.
VETERAN RESERVE CORPS See Invalid Corps. Abbreviation: Vet. Res. Corps. Or V.R.C.
INVALID CORPS In 1862, the Invalid Corps was created to utilize wounded or somewhat incapacitated soldiers who could perform limited service such as guard duty, but who were not able to withstand the rigors of service with the armies in the field. A secondary benefit was that it allowed injured soldiers to continue to provide service rather than being a drain on their local areas, and it freed up able-bodied soldiers for field duty. The Invalid Corps was organized nationally with troops from all states. It was later renamed the Veteran Reserve Corps. (more information) Abbreviation: Inv. Corps.
RESIGNATION Officers in volunteer regiments held commissions from their Governor. Officers were allowed to resign their commissions if they no longer wished to serve. In the early part of the war, a number of commissions were given for political reasons and to others who were not suited for combat commands. By 1862, review boards were set up and all volunteer officers were examined to weed out those not suited for command positions. Those not suited were allowed to resign their commissions honorably. Abbreviation: Res.
ENLISTED Soldiers in the army who do not hold Officers Commissions. This includes both non-commissioned officers, privates, veterans, and recruits. Enlisted soldiers may not resign and are in the army until their term of enlistment is up, they can no longer fulfill the duties of a soldier, or until the government doesn't need them any more.
RANK The term given to the position of a soldier in the army (e.g., Major or Private)
RANKS Common term for privates in the army. As in rank and file.
REDUCED Term used for returning a non-commissioned officer to the ranks. Abbreviation: Red.
DISCHARGED Term used for a soldier leaving the regiment before the term of service has expired. Discharges could be for many reasons, most notably wounds or disability. Abbreviated: Dis. or Disch.
KILLED This term was used for those soldiers who died in battle. Occasionally, it was used for those who died of wounds received in battle.
DIED This term was used for soldiers who died for any reason while in the service except for those who died on the battlefield. This would include any soldier who died of disease or non-battle injuries. Occasionally, the AGR will note that a soldier died of wounds (This would be considered battle wounds and would be referred to as being mortally wounded or MW).
MUSTER The process of taking roll and determining fitness for service. Muster was performed every two months and the results kept on a muster roll. It was used by the army to determine the precise number of soldiers in each rank in a unit. Twice each year at muster, the Articles of War were also read to all the troops. See also Mustering In and Mustering Out. (more information)
MUSTERING IN The first muster for a regiment. By completing the mustering in process, soldiers are accepted for service in the army and are considered under military law for their term of service. Also know as Date of Muster in the AGR.
MUSTERING OUT The last muster for a regiment after which the soldiers are released from the army. This is abbreviated as M.O. in the AGR.
SUBSTITUTE When drafting of troops was initiated, the regulations allowed for the draftees to send a suitable subsitute in their place. Substitutes were generally paid by draftees in order to avoid army service. Abbreviation: Sub.

GENERAL OFFICER Officers in command of multiple regiments. General Officers were appointed by the President. A further distinction was whether the commission was in the Regular Army or the Volunteer Forces. The commission of a Major General of Volunteers would end and the end of the war. The highest rank (General) did not exist in the Union Army during the Civil War. Corresponding positions in the Confederate Army were usually one grade higher than the Union position. These include by decreasing rank:

See also Organization of the Army, Brevet
FIELD OFFICERS Officers at the regimental level in charge of multiple companies. These include by decreasing rank:
  • COLONEL                            (Abbreviated as Col.)
  • LIEUTENANT COLONEL   (Abbreviated as Lt. Col. or Lt. Colonel)
  • MAJOR                                 (Appreviated as Maj.)
STAFF OFFICERS Officers at the regimental level who are responsible for logistical and administrative duties rather than in command of men in the ranks. These include:
  • ADJUTANT         (responsible for administrative details of the regiment)
  • QUARTERMASTER     (responsible for logistics and supply)
LINE OFFICERS Leaders in command of a company of men. These include in decreasing rank:

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER (NCO) Leaders of groups of men smaller than company size who did not hold a formal commission. NCOs existed at both the regimental level and at the company level. These include:

Regimental NCOs

Company NCOs (in decreasing rank)
PRIVATE The basic rank in the infantry. The main purpose of the infantry was to get as many privates on the line of battle.
VETERAN Prior to the expiration of their term of service, soldiers were encouraged to re-enlist for an addition period of time. When they re-enlisted, they were usually sent back to Illinois and given a 30-day furlough. When they reassembled, they were called Veterans. Occasionally, the term Veteran was included in the regimental name (i.e., 14th and 15th Veteran Battalion) as a term of honor.
RECRUIT This term was used for privates who joined the regiment after it had initially mustered in to US Service. At certain times during the war, the State of Illinois was instructed by the War Department to stop organizing regiments and to use recruits to refill existing regiments that had been reduced in size from battle or disease. Later in the war, the term was also applied to drafted and substitute recruits, but still basically meant soldiers joining a regiment after its initial muster.

COMPANY The smallest organization in a volunteer regiment. It was commanded by a Captain, assisted by a First Lieutenant and a Second Lieutenant. At organization, it would have a First Sergeant, four Sergeants, and eight Corporals, two Musicians, a Wagoner, and between 64 and 80 privates. Companies were labeled by a single letter. Infantry Regiments had 10 Companies and Cavalry Regiments had 12 Companies. Infantry Companies were labeled A through K (the letter J was not used to avoid confusion). Cavalry Companies were labeled A through M. The equivalent of companies for Artillery Regiments were batteries. (more information)
BATTALION This term refers to an organization of less than full-regimental strength. For volunteer regiments that had been reduced in size due to losses from battle or disease, the remaining troops were sometimes consolidated into full-strength companies. The organization of these companies was referred to as a battalion using the same regimental number. As recruits were added to refill older regiments or battalions, the name of the unit could be changed back to regiment to indicate it had ten companies. A Battalion would usually have between three and six companies.

Regiments of the US Regular Army were organized into 3 battalions of 6 companies each.
REGIMENT The largest organization allowed to be raised by the states during the war. Regiments could be either Infantry, Cavalry, or Artillery. Infantry Regiments contained 10 Companies (Cavalry had 12) and was commanded by a Colonel, assisted by a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major. At organization, a regiment number approximately 1100 men, though the numbers dropped significantly due to losses from battle and disease. At various times throughout the war, Illinois regiments were strengthened by the addition of new recruits. The term of service for soldiers in a regiment was set at its initial muster, but was most often three years. (more information)
BRIGADE An organization of infantry regiments that was the basic fighting unit during the Civil War. It usually numbered approximately 2000 men. Early in the war, brigades existed with only two regiments. As the war dragged on and regiments shrank in size from losses due to battle or disease, the number of regiments in a brigade increased to keep the number of men about the same. For example, in early 1862, what would become the "Illinois Brigade" included only the 22nd and the 51st regiments. At Stones River at the end of 1862, the Brigade included 4 regiments as well as a battery of artillery. At Chattanooga (Nov 1863), the Brigade had 9 regiments. Brigades were normally commanded by Colonel or Brigadier General. The Union Army number Brigades within Divisions, but battle reports often refer to them by the name of their commander (i.e. Harkerís Brigade).
DIVISION An organization of several Brigades (normally three) under the command of either a Major General or a Brigadier General. Before the Corps structure developed, Divisions were numbered sequentially regardless of how they were grouped. By mid-1862, Divisions were numbered sequentially within Corps.
WING A group of Divisions that was used in the Western theater before the Corps structure developed. The Wing structure was used by the Army of the Cumberland at Stones River.
CORPS A group of more than one Division (normally three) under the command of a Major General. Later in the war, Corps developed distinctive badges to tell one from another (see example). Unfortunately, the same Corps Number was sometimes used in both the eastern and western theaters of the war. In the AGR, this was sometimes abbreviated as A.C. (Army Corps).
ARMY A group of more than one Corps under the command of a Major General. Union Armies were named after their Department and thus were named after rivers (Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Potomac, Army of the Tennessee, etc.). Confederate Armies were named after states. The Army of Tennessee was a Confederate Army. The Army of the Tennessee was a Union Army.
DEPARTMENT The Union divided responsibilty geographically into Departments. The Commander was responsible for all troops and supplies within the Department, in addition to leading those troops against the enemy.
MILITARY DIVISION In 1864, Lincoln consolidated the command of all Union Armies under Lt. General U.S. Grant. The Western armies into the Military Division of the Mississippi under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. The Military Division of the Mississippi consisted of the Armies of the Cumberland, Ohio, and Tennessee. Today, this would be considered an Army Group.
DISTRICT A subdivision of a military Department.

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