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Provisional and Territorial Records Guide

Military Department

Oregon's provisional government passed the first militia law on July 5, 1843. It authorized the formation of a battalion of mounted riflemen, composed of the male inhabitants of Oregon between the ages of sixteen and sixty who wished to be recognized as citizens by the new government. The law provided for the annual election of officers who would inspect their volunteer troops once a year and could assemble them at any time in the case of invasion or local insurrection. The troops were also subject to call, with governmental consent, by any authorized agent of the US government. In reality, while officers were commissioned, militia units were never formed. The large population of French-Canadians and Hudson's Bay officials and employees did not recognize the government and distrusted the formation of any organized military unit in the disputed territory.

A second military bill passed on March 9, 1844. It called for the organization of militia companies to combat hostile Indians. The bill led to the formation of the Oregon Rangers on March 11, 1844. This fifteen man force drilled at the Oregon Institute, but saw no action. That summer, the legislative assembly again amended the militia law. Worries over defense continued, and in 1845 a legislative committee made up of one representative from each county was appointed to draft a comprehensive bill "for the protection of this colony." This would include building blockhouses and arms magazines and further revision of the militia law. The decision to form a coalition government with British citizens and limited funds doomed these plans.

The situation did not change after the 1846 treaty which gave the US territorial jurisdiction over Oregon. No organized militia existed until December, 1847, when the Cayuse attacked the Whitman mission at Waiilatpu. On December 8, the legislature authorized the formation of a fifty man rifle company to relieve the mission and protect survivors. Forty five men quickly volunteered and left Oregon City on boats for Fort Vancouver the next day, even as the legislative assembly voted to raise a regiment for a campaign against the Indians. On December 28, the office of adjutant general was created to oversee administrative and logistical control over the troops.

Territorial status brought Oregon arms for its arsenals, money to pay the volunteers who fought the Cayuse, and federal troops to assist in fighting future Indian wars. Bills passed by the legislative assembly in 1854, 1855, and 1856 reorganized the militia and allowed occupational and religious exemptions from military service. The Oregon Constitution, passed in 1857, summarized the existing laws. Its provisions defined enlistment in the militia, listed exemptions, made the governor ex officio commander in chief of the military and naval forces of the state, allowed for the executive appointment of an adjutant general and general staff officers, and authorized the legislative assembly to provide necessary rules and regulations for governing the militia.

Series Descriptions for the Military Department

Adjutant General's Correspondence
Adjutant General's Reports
Cayuse Indian War Bonds
Cayuse Indian War Claim Records
Company Officers Election Returns
Enlistment and Service Records
General Orders
Governor's Correspondence
Governor's Proclamations
Jacksonville Oregon Volunteers Hospital Patient Record
Legislative Assembly Records
Muster Rolls
Petitions
Public Auction Sale Reports
Quartermaster's Correspondence
Rogue River Indian War Claim Records
Rogue River Indian War Enlistment Rosters
Rogue River Indian War Maps
Rogue River Indian War Supply Records
Special Orders
Surgeon General's Correspondence
US Comptroller's Correspondence
Unit Activity Reports
Unit Organization Records

QUICK LINK to the records inventories!

285. Adjutant General's Correspondence (MILITAR062)

1847-1859
2.0 cubic feet
Microfilm Reels 30-34 and Calendar Microfilm

Series documents communications between the Oregon Military Department and state, local, and federal agencies. Records include letters, memos, telegrams, routine reports, and attachments. The correspondence covers most military activities in which the Oregon Military Department participated, including the Cayuse, Rogue River, and Yakima Indian Wars and the Mexican War. The records also describe military conditions, the formation of units and organizations, development of weapons and material, military intelligence and investigations, and the relationship of the Oregon Military Department with the US Armed Forces. Series is arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

 

286. Adjutant General's Reports (MILITAR060)

1848-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents reports prepared by or for the Oregon Military Department concerning procedures and policies. Reports include title, date, and text of report. Subjects include military regulations, unit reorganization, and Grave Creek Battle casualties (Rogue River Indian War, 1855). Series is arranged alphabetically by title or subject of report.

 

287. Cayuse Indian War Bonds (MILITAR029)

1847-1850
.25 cubic feet

Series documents the purchase of bonds to finance the Cayuse Indian War. Bonds show bond number, face value, interest rate, bondholder's name, date purchased, signatures of the Cayuse War Claims Commissioners and the governor, and date redeemed. Series is arranged alphabetically by bond holder's name.

 

288. Cayuse Indian War Claim Records (MILITAR019)

1847-1858
2.5 cubic feet

Series documents claims filed with the provisional and territorial governments for supplies and services provided to the military and for property destroyed during the Cayuse Indian War. Records include receipts, affidavits, account statements, orders, and certificates of work performed. Series also includes the final determinations of the Cayuse War Claims Commission. Series is arranged chronologically by date of record.

 

289. Company Officers Election Returns (MILITAR055)

1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34

Series documents Oregon Mounted Volunteer company officer elections. Returns show company name, voter's name, rank of contested position, names of nominated officers, election summary, and commanding officer's signature. Series is arranged alphabetically by company commander's name.

 

290. Enlistment and Service Records (MILITAR065)

1847-1859
.1 cubic feet

Series documents personnel actions recorded for each member of the Oregon Military Department. Records include enlistment statements, recruit examinations, oaths of office, physical descriptions, appointments, recruit declarations, correspondence, and re enlistment applications. Series is arranged alphabetically by member's name.

 

291. General Orders (MILITAR067)

1856-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34 and Calendar Microfilm

Series documents administrative directives issued to set department policies. Orders show order number, date, originating unit, adjutant general's signature. and text of order. Subjects include the formation and organization of military units, musters, inspections, uniform regulations, Indian war maneuvers, and troop assignments. Series is arranged chronologically by order date.

 

292. Governor's Correspondence (MILITAR048)

1855-1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34 and Calendar Microfilm

Series documents communications between the governor and the Oregon Militia during the Rogue River and Yakima Indian wars. Letters show correspondent's name, the date, and discussions of troop movements, supplies, military engagements, arms, inter tribal politics, and the formation of military units. Series is arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

 

293. Governor's Proclamations (MILITAR047)

1854-1855
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34

Series documents the governor's formal communications to the residents of Oregon about declarations of war against the Yakima, Rogue River, and Snake Indian tribes. Three proclamations are manuscript copies, one is a newspaper clipping, and one is a printed broadside. Series is not arranged.

 

294. Jacksonville Oregon Volunteers Hospital Patient Record (MILITAR049)

1855-1856
.25 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34

Series documents the care of Rogue River Indian War volunteers at the hospital. Entries show patient's name, rank, unit, age, medical condition, date admitted, date discharged, daily symptom record, and treatment record. Series also includes an alphabetical index by patient's surname. Series is arranged chronologically by date of admission.

 

295. Legislative Assembly Records (MILITAR046)

1847-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34

Series documents actions of the Oregon Legislative Assembly relating to the Military Department. Records include legislative bills, reports to the legislature, amendments, resolutions, memorials to Congress, committee reports, and a Constitutional Convention (1857) delegate certificate. Series is arranged chronologically by date of record.

 

296. Muster Rolls (MILITAR064)

1850-1859
2.0 cubic feet

Series documents enlistment and discharge dates for members of Oregon military units. Rolls show company name, commanding officer's name, dates covered by roll, member's name, rank, place and date of muster, remarks, roll summary, and certification. Rolls for the Cayuse, Rogue River, and Yakima Indian Wars are included. Series is arranged chronologically by date of roll.

 

297. Petitions (MILITAR045)

1855-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 34

Series documents citizen requests for military assistance. Petitions show date, text of request, and petitioners' signatures. Most petitions are requests for protection from attacks by Indians. Series is arranged chronologically by date of petition.

 

298. Public Auction Sale Reports (MILITAR015)

1856
25 cubic feet

Series documents surplus and captured military property sold by public auction at the conclusion of the Rogue River Indian War. Reports show date and location of sale, lot number, purchaser's name and residence, lot description, amount of sale, and remarks. Series is arranged alphabetically by sale location.

 

299. Quartermaster's Correspondence (MILITAR042)

1855-1859
.75 cubic feet
Microfilm Reels 34-36

Series documents personal and official communications between Quartermaster J.W. Drew and other individuals and organizations. Correspondence shows date and names of senders and recipients. Subjects include politics, supplies, government property sales, military engagements, trials, the Constitutional Convention (1857), military pay, and the Grande Ronde Reservation. Series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's surname.

 

300. Rogue River Indian War Claim Records (MILITAR016)

1853-1859
.25 cubic feet 

Series documents claims filed with the territorial government for services and supplies provided to the Oregon Military Department during the Rogue River Indian War. Records include receipts, vouchers, account statements, claims, service certificates, affidavits, suspended claims lists, and correspondence. Series is arranged alphabetically by claimant's name.

 

301. Rogue River Indian War Enlistment Rosters (MILITAR028)

1854-1858
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 36

Series documents the enlistment of volunteers in the Oregon Militia during the Rogue River Indian War. Rosters show enlistment location, date, signatures of enlistees, and enlistment oath. Series is arranged alphabetically by county name.

 

302. Rogue River Indian War Maps (MILITAR026)

1855-1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 36 

Series documents campaign planning during the Rogue River Indian War. Series includes three maps: an 8"x 2" pencil drawing of south Umpqua County, a 9"x 4" pencil drawing of the upper Coquille River Valley; and an 8"x12" drawing of the upper Rogue River Valley. All maps show rivers, valleys, creeks, and dwellings. Series is not arranged.

 

303. Rogue River Indian War Supply Records (MILITAR017)

1853-1857
6.0 cubic feet

Series documents the Oregon Military Department's purchase and use of supplies during the Rogue River Indian War. Records include requisitions, account statements, vouchers, claims, receipts, supply reports, inventories, shipping bills, and appraisal reports. Supplies include clothing, ordinance, tools, building material, food, and livestock. Series is arranged alphabetically by claimant's surname.

 

304. Special Orders (MILITAR066)

1848-1859
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 36

Series documents administrative directives which prescribe personnel actions for specific members of the Oregon Military Department. Orders show order number, date, and action prescribed. Actions include transfers, discharges, assignments, appointments of officers, travel authorizations, promotions, and Rogue River and Cayuse Indian War assignments. Series is arranged chronologically by year of order.

 

305. Surgeon General's Correspondence (MILITAR033)

1856
.1 cubic feet
Microfilm Reel 36 

Series documents communications sent by M. C. Barkwell, territorial surgeon general. Series consists of a bound copybook showing date of correspondence, correspondent's name, and text of letter. Subjects include politics, appointment of surgeons in militia companies, hospital reports, and military campaigns in the Rogue River Indian War. Series is arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

 

306. US Comptroller's Correspondence (MILITAR041)

1852-1859
.25 cubic feet 

Series documents communications between the US Treasury Department Comptroller and the territorial governor. Letters deal primarily with Cayuse Indian War and Rogue River Indian War claims, but some also discuss territorial audits and finances. Series is arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

 

307. Unit Activity Reports (MILITAR038)

1847-1859
.1 cubic feet 

Series documents the activities of military units for the adjutant general. Reports show date, unit name or number, description of activities, and reporting officer's signature. Activities reported include maneuvers, training, military missions, roster changes, and combat. Subjects include the Cayuse Indian and Modoc Indian Wars. Series is arranged chronologically by date of report.

 

308. Unit Organization Records (MILITAR039)

1849-1859
.5 cubic feet
Calendar Microfilm

Series documents the formation of Oregon Militia units. Records include constitutions, by laws, citizen petitions for the formation of militia units, and correspondence. Series is arranged alphabetically by unit location.

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