Notes from the past…


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About that NARA packet

To start off with, I’m a bit slow sometimes…

I know that Footnote.com has the Confederate Civil War records for several states and also for their officers “at large”, those men “who did not belong to any particular regiment, separate company or comparable unit, or special corps.” But I thought that these databases where only indexes. So yesterday I was just wandering around Footnote and decided to see if they had the indexes for a couple of my surgeon ancestors. Well, guess what: Footnote has the entire files of these men, not just the indexes! So I found the files for Dr John F Kennedy and for Dr Sydney P Kennedy. Sydney’s file only contains 9 documents, but John’s has 51 documents! I am is hog heaven…again!

But I got to thinkin’: What about Dr Nathan B Kennedy, the 3rd of the Kennedy physicians? A couple of years ago, I ordered and received his file from the National Archives, a total of 37 documents. But what if they missed one? What if Footnote had a document that I didn’t get? Everybody makes mistakes, right?

So I put his name in the search box (which is a vast, vast, vast improvement over the old search!), and up his documents popped. So I got my file out and compared mine against Footnote’s, one document at a time.

The result:

  • Footnote has 6 more documents than I had gotten from NARA!- now 4 were basically the outside of folders or envelopes, containing usually Dr Kennedy’s name only
  • 1 was a pay voucher
  • and 1, the most important, was a letter explaining the civilian contract that Dr Kennedy had signed to offer his services to the Confederate Army! (Dr Kennedy had signed the contract, which I got from NARA, but it was canceled after just one month. Why? I didn’t know.) This new letter explained that at the time the contract was signed, the Confederate hospital in Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi was overrun with casualties and desperately short of physicians. Apparently as soon as that situation was resolved, then the contract was canceled.

By the way, the original contract is not in Footnotes’s database!

So if anyone has received the Confederate service records of their ancestors from The National Archives and Records Administration, I would recommend that you check Footnote and compare the two versions of the file. You might get lucky!