Finding Philippine Insurrection Military Service Records

National Archives and Records Administration

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In March 1899, the United States Congress authorized the Secretary of War to recruit and enlist up to 35,000 volunteers to go to the Philippine Islands to put down an uprising. More than 125,000 soldiers from California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming were involved, and over 4,000 of them died in the conflict. Two battalions of Philippine scouts and a squadron of Philippine cavalry were also involved. Soldiers from the Regular Army also served.

The National Archives and Records Administration has an alphabetical card index to Philippine Insurrection volunteer soldiers’ compiled service records. The index entries give information about the soldier’s name, rank, and unit, or units he served with. The service records referred to by the index are organized by regiment and then by soldier’s name. Details about Regular Army soldiers who served in the Philippine Insurrection will be included in other records.

The records this index refers the user to include a jacket-envelope for each soldier, labeled with his name, containing

  • card abstracts of entries relating to the soldier as found primarily in original muster rolls and returns, but occasionally in other records such as pay vouchers, and
  • the originals of any papers relating solely to the particular soldier.

A separate group of personal papers follows the compiled service records. These may include personal papers referred to in the index. These papers were accumulated by the War Department to be filed with the regular series of compiled service records. The papers were not inter-filed for one reason or another. There are no compiled service records for soldiers whose index cards contain cross-references to the miscellaneous personal papers.

Pension application files may be available from the Veterans Administration.

Finding Names in the Index

The best thing to know about finding a soldier in this record group is to know the unit or units he served with. A volunteer soldier who served during the Philippine Insurrection may not be listed in the index because he

  • may have been in Regular Army unit
  • may have used a different name, alias, a different spelling
  • proper service records may not have been made
  • his service record may have been lost or destroyed
  • there may be only vague references to the soldier in the original records

Knowing any nicknames or other variations of the soldier’s name helps. Knowing the Soundex code variations on the name may also improve search results. Good sources of name variations include personal papers, other military records, newspaper accounts of the conflict, and local histories.

NARA has fact-sheets about these records

  • M872 – Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served during the Philippine Insurrection. 24 rolls.
  • T288 – General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. 544 rolls.

A microfilm copy of these indexes is located at NARA’s Pacific Alaska Region Seattle facility.