Every effective fighting force must be organized, and the United States Army is no exception. In war or peace, the army has to manage a complex array of soldiers, supplies and facilities. This requires bureaucrats and their paperwork. Once Jonathan M. Clark joined the Army in September, 1833, his federal paper trail began.
To find Jonathan among all the other recruits and their paperwork, and to follow him through his army years, we need some kind of guide or index and thankfully, since 1798 the army has maintained just what we need, its Register of Enlistments. Here’s JMC’s entry in the volume covering enlistments from January 1828 through 1835, organized alphabetically by surname. He’s near the bottom—look for enlistee number 189:
Click image to open at full size in a new window.
Each soldier’s record fills a single, double-page line in the register. The information on the left-hand page appears to have been copied directly from JMC’s enlistment papers: name, physical description, birthplace, occupation, where and when enlisted. On the right-hand page, after two columns of additional information from the enlistment document (“By Whom” [recruited] and “For what Period”), we find essential information about what happened to the recruit after he took the oath, namely:
Click each image, above, to open at full size in a new window.
Translated into civilian English, we learn that Jonathan M. Clark served in the U. S. Army’s Fifth Regiment of Infantry, Company K, and was discharged on September 19, 1836, at the expiration of his three-year term of service. He neither died, deserted nor was apprehended (following desertion) during his service, and he was discharged “at Camp Hamilton.”
For three years, during his early-twenties, Jonathan M. Clark served with Co. K of the Fifth Infantry. Where was he stationed? What did he do as a soldier? Where is “Camp Hamilton?” More on this in future posts.
Revised May 5, 2016, adding links that open full-sized images in new windows and removing the now-redundant transcription.