"Serg’t. Stephen A. Swails particularly distinguished himself for coolness and bravery; he is a man in every way competent to do credit in a higher position, and I with pleasure recommend him for a Second Lieutenancy in this Regt."
Letter from Colonel Edward Hallowell to the Governor of Massachusetts, 2/24/1864
Regimental and Company Books of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored) Regiment, 05/13/1863 - 09/01/1865. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office
Recognizing the abilities of Sgt. Stephen A. Swails, Col. E. N. Hallowell recommends that Swails be promoted to second lieutenant and Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew commissioned Swails on March 11, 1864. However, the War Department would deny this request because Swails is “of African descent.” Swails would eventually be granted his promotion in 1865 and his seniority adjusted to May 14, 1864—the day he was assigned duty as a second lieutenant.
Mission: Turkey! Thanksgiving Dinner and the U.S. Military
Are you ready for Thanksgiving? If it’s your turn to cook, no doubt the next few days will be stressful. But imagine trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner for an entire ship or regiment, or being a mess sergeant tasked with cooking and bringing the meal to troops in the field. Do you know how you’re cooking your turkey yet? According to a Navy chef in 1956, the best way to roast your turkey is upside down.
Learn more about the mission of providing Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. military, using examples from 111-DD, Filmed News Releases of the Department of Defense, recently digitized by our Motion Picture Preservation Lab and now on the U.S. National Archives’ YouTube Channel!
What’s your special turkey technique?
Johnson in Vietnam
After attending a summit in the Philippines with the Heads of State and Government of Australia, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, President Johnson traveled to Vietnam. He visited with U.S. military personnel in Cam Ranh Bay on October 26th.
President Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam: With General William Westmoreland and the fighting men, 10/26/1966
“Scott Levins, the Director of the National Personnel Records Center, recently received a letter of thanks from the folks at JPAC, mentioning the names of 32 men missing since the Korean War who had been identified, thanks to the efforts of this center, and could now be sent home for burial.
Some of the names listed were the names of young men whose records I had processed.
Sometimes, I take a quick look at the ages of the men and women whose records I am working on. I realize that most of them are less than half my age. I’ve had a good life so far. Sometimes, their lives ended just when it should have been beginning.”
—excerpt from Why I Do What I Do, by Michael Pierce, preservation technician at the National Archives at Saint Louis.
Our mission is to preserve, protect, and make available the records of the Federal government, and this includes the millions of files of veterans, living and deceased.These records are housed at the National Personnel Center in St. Louis, and can be accessed by veterans to received benefits, or by families and researchers.
To learn more about these records, watch this video.
Image: A grief-stricken American infantryman whose buddy has been killed in action is comforted by another soldier. In the background a corpsman methodically fills out casualty tags, Haktong-ni area, Korea. August 28, 1950. Sfc. Al Chang. (Army, 111-SC-347803)
Enlistment paper of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody from his compiled military service record, 7th Kansas Cavalry, Civil War., 02/19/1864
Photograph of Utah Battery on McCloud Hill , 02/05/1899
From the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer; Images Collected by Brigadier General Adolphus W. Greely, Chief Signal Officer (1887-1906)
Taken on the second day of the Battle of Manila, at the outbreak of the Philippine-American War.
Shortest tenure on record
Colonel P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of West Point and superintendency of the United States Military Academy on January 23, 1861. He resigned on January 28, 1861, after his native Louisiana seceded. Two days later, Colonel Richard Delafield, Beauregard’s predecessor and successor, sent this letter to Brigadier General Joseph G. Totten, about Beauregard’s resignation.
Letter from Colonel Richard Delafield Regarding His Assumption of Command of the United States Military Academy at West Point After the Resignation of Colonel P. G. T. Beauregard, 01/30/1861
On January 23, 1920 a message was sent to all units in the First Naval District announcing that the war in which the Central European powers and the United States were involved would now be known as the World War.
Circular Letter No. 20-20: The European War Shall be Designated as the World War, 01/23/1920
January 21 is National Hug Day
Have you hugged someone today?
A stern warning
Four days after President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, U.S. Brig. Gen. R. H. Milroy put the citizens of Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia, on notice with this order. It warned that all those who opposed the Proclamation would be treated as “rebels in arms.”
U.S. Brigadier General R. H. Milroy’s Order to Citizens of Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia in Reference to the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 01/05/1863
16 Inch Disappearing Carriage Model 1917 under Construction, 12/30/1920
Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance
A 16 inch Disappearing Carriage Model 1917 artillery piece under construction at the Watertown Arsenal in Watertown, Massachusetts. A major military arsenal since the early 1800s, the site of the Watertown Arsenal has since been converted to civilian use and now houses a shopping mall and office park.
Classics Restored: The Negro Soldier and Let There Be Light, November 7 at Archives I
In honor of Veterans Day, we premiere high-definition versions of two classic World War II–era documentaries, preserved and digitally restored by the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Team.
The Negro Soldier (1944; 43 minutes) was produced by Frank Capra’s Army motion picture unit to help unite white and black troops in the fight against the Axis. Let There Be Light (1946; 58 minutes), commissioned from Academy Award®-winning director John Huston by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, follows the treatment of emotionally traumatized GIs.
The screening will be introduced by Dr. David Culbert, author of Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History.
Wednesday, November 7, at 7 p.m. in the McGowan Theater at Archives I.