Military Records and Where to find them

Iowa military records began about 1808, when Fort Madison was established.  Military service records such as enlistments, muster rolls, and discharges may include a person's age, birth date, birth place, physical description, previous residence, and occupation.

The National Guard was the first militia in Iowa.  This site has a wonderful overview of that history.

Iowa History Reference Guide, by William John Petersen, contains a list of books and articles (pgs 36-38) about the early forts and military expeditions in Iowa.

For a listing of veterans living in Iowa in 1886 see:  Iowa. Adjutant General's Office. List of Ex-Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, Living in Iowa. Des Moines, Iowa: G. E. Roberts, State Printer, 1886. (FHL book 97737 M22ig; film 982150; computer number 281796.) This book lists men living in Iowa in 1886 who served in the War of 1812 and later wars.  It also gives each man's name, rank, state from which he served, and sometimes, the company or regiment in which he served.

For the earliest Iowa military records, beginning about 1837 with muster rolls and military post records, see:  United States. Department of State.  Territorial Papers of Iowa, 1838-1852. Washington, D.C.: The National Archives, 1988. (FHL films 1601629-730; computer number 467370.) Many aspects of Iowa's state, local and family histories are treated in these records.  For example: military pension applications, military academy cadet applications, court records (1827-1845), land office records, Virginia warrant scrip, muster rolls giving enlistment town or city (1827-1857), military post records listing sick, wounded, and dead, Bureau of Indian Affairs records, Indian treaties, commissions for judges, marshals, attorneys, surveyors, and postmasters.

Location of Original Records

Records of Iowa Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I or the Iowa National Guard soldiers are at:

Records Center
7700 N. W. Beaver Dr.
Johnston, IA 50131

Copies of the records are at the State Historical Society in Des Moines.

Other Resources

For published rosters of those who served in the Mexican War, 1845-1848; Spanish - American War, 1898; and Philippine Insurrection, 1898-1902, see volume six of Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, mentioned above.

World War I, 1917-1918

World War I draft registration cards for men ages 18 to 45 may list address, birth date, birthplace, race, nationality, citizenship and next of kin.  It is important to note that, even though they may not have served in WWI, they may still have registered for the draft and would be listed.  For registration cards for Iowa see:

United States. Selective Service System. Iowa, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. National Archives Microfilm Publications; M1509.  Washington, D. C.: The National Archives, 1987-1988.  (On 96 FHL films beginning with 1642846; computer number 756743.) To find an individual's draft card, it helps to know his name and residences at the time of registration.  The cards are arranged by county, by draft board within the county, and alphabetically.  Most counties had only one board; large cities had several.

Military Discharge Records, 1860s-1950s

The Family History Library has microfilms of county military discharge records for men and women who served in the Civil War and in later wars.  These records are filed by the county where the soldier took the papers to be recorded.

Militia Records, 1860s-1900s

The Iowa Adjutant General's Office kept lists of men between the ages of 18 and about 50 from each county, who were subject to military service.  The lists are available for each county and are often arranged by township.  The original lists are at the State Historical Society in Des Moines.  Microfilm copies are at the Family History Library:

Iowa. Adjutant-General's Office.  Persons Subject to Military Duty, ca. 1862-1910. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. On 94 FHL films beginning with 1024847; computer number 185691.  The records are arranged by county and then by year.

National Guard Application Forms, 1870-1920

The Iowa Genealogical Society is preparing an index to National Guard application forms.  These forms contain the members name, birthplace, birth date or age, residence and physical description.  

VA Offers Nationwide Gravesite Locator

The VA has made it easier and faster for the public to get answers about family history, old war buddies or famous war heroes. The agency has put on the Web 3.2 million records for veterans buried at 120 national cemeteries since the Civil War. The VA's Nationwide Gravesite Locator also has records for some state veterans cemeteries and burials in Arlington National Cemetery since 1999 ( The navigator includes names, dates of birth and death, military service dates, service branch and rank if known, cemetery information and grave location in the cemetery. The VA will withhold some information, such as next of kin, for privacy purposes. For more on military death and burial programs, see the Death & Burial Overview page. (source; net)stions

The followining information comes from pages 241-242 of "U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present" by James C. Neagles (Copyright 1994, Ancestry Inc., ISBN # 0-916489-55-8)

State Historical Society of Iowa
Centennial Bldg., 402 Iowa Ave., Iowa City, IA 52240 

Library/Archives Bureau, State Historical Bldg., 600 E. Locust, Des Moines, IA 50319 PH: (515) 281-6200

Except for the Grand Army of the Republic records, which are housed in both of the above facilities, all of the records listed below are housed in the Des Moines facility.  



Persons Subject to Military Duty, 1861-ca. 1916.  Lists arranged by county and township.

Clothing Books.  Records of clothing and equipment issued and amount charged to each soldier's account.

Reports of Military Units.  Document when and where various units were engaged in battle and names of injured, sick, and killed.  Correspondence pertaining to some units is also available.

Mexican War (1846-48)

Muster Rolls.  Arranged by regiment and company; name, rank, muster dates, nativity, and remarks.

Civil War (1861-65)


Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Iowa. (M542)


Muster Rolls.  Arranged by regiment and company; name, rank, muster dates, nativity, and remarks.

Certificates of Service.  Name, nativity, residence, physical description, rank, when and where enlisted, by whom enlisted, when and where mustered into service, and date of termination of service.

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post Minutes and Roster Books.  These include rosters of members.

Spanish-American War (1898-99)

Muster Rolls.  Arranged by regiment and company; name, rank, muster dates, nativity, and remarks.

World War I (1917-18)

Casualty File.  Contains information about servicemen and some photographs.

Published Sources


Iowa.  Adjutant General's Office.  Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in Miscellaneous Organizations of the Mexican War, Indian Campaigns, War of the Rebellion, Spanish-American, and Philippine Wars. Vol. 6. Des Moines: 1914

_____. Persons Subject to Military Duty, ca 1862-1910.  Available on microfilm.

1775-83 (American Revolution)

Revolutionary War Soldiers and Patriots Buried in Iowa. Marceline, Mo.; Walsworth Publishing Co., 1978. Published for the Iowa Society, DAR by the Abigail Adams Chapter, Des Moines, Iowa.

1861-65 (Civil War)

Byers, S. H. M. Iowa in War Times. Des Moines: W. D. Condit & Co., 1888.

Ingersoll, Lurton D. Iowa and the Rebellion. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1867. Lists officers by unit.

Iowa. Adjutant General's Office. List of Ex-soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Living in Iowa. Des Moines: G. E. Roberts, 1886.

_____. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion: Together with Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, 1861-1866. 6 Vols. Des Moines: E. H. English, 1908-11. Vol. 6 also includes miscellaneous units of Iowa soldiers in the Mexican War.

_____. Reports, 1861-1867. 9 Vols. Des Moines: state printer, 1861-88.

Stuart, Addison A. Iowa Colonels and Regiments....Des Moines: Mills & Co., 1865.

1916 (Mexican Border Campaign)

Dreyer, Richard H. Iowa Troops in Mexican Border Service, 1916-17. Iowa City: the author, 1917 (?)


Military records at the State Archives, a division of the State Historical Society of Iowa, include --

  • The State Adjutant General's records of Iowa volunteers in the Mexican War, Civil War, and Spanish American War. Included among those records are regimental muster rolls, enlistment papers, roster books, reports, pay books, and correspondence. There are indexes for some of these records. Index entries can be copied for a fee. There are no pension records for Iowa volunteer units. 
  • Records of the Grand Army of the Republic posts for many Iowa communities are available at the state archives. 
  • Casualty files for World War I and II have information, and sometimes photographs, of individual servicemen. 
  • Published sources include: 
    • Iowa Adjutant General's Office. Persons Subject to Military Duty, ca. 1862—1920. 94 microfilm reels. 
    • Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. Iowa Adjutant General's Office. Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion: Together with Historical Sketches of Volunteer Organizations, 1861—1866. 6 volumes. 
    • Des Moines: E. H. English, State Printer, 1908—11. 
    • Snedden, Howard E. "A Unique Iowa Resource: The G.A.R. Card Index File." Hawkeye Heritage 21 (Summer 1986): 70:1.

At the United States Adjutant General's Office: Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Iowa. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1964.

Source: Neagles, James C. U.S. Military Records: A Guide to Federal and State Sources. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1994.










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Clinton County History Books

Many books have been written that include information about Clinton County; indeed, they are still being published today.  Below are some that we have info from online: