Research Methodology

The veteran names and regiment information were collected from two databases at 

  • Operations, Inc., 2012, U.S, Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865, Original data: Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union soldiers. Public domain, The National Archives at Washington, D.C. These data were sorted by “birthplace”, “Delaware” (exact). This sort target included general terms like “Delaware” and also County, (e.g., “Sussex”), Town, (e.g., “Smyrna”), and Hundred names (e.g., Duck Creek Hundred). Each record listed Delaware as the native state. This sort resulted in over 1,500 names whose military service cards document a Delaware birthplace.

  • Operations, Inc., 2012, U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, sorted by all military pension records that were applied for in Delaware. This sort resulted in over 5,000 pension records filed in Delaware. Each of the 5,000 pension records was examined to determine if the regiment was associated with a U.S. Colored Regiment. This resulted in the collection of 695 pension cards of African American veterans.

Copies or images of these public domain records are not a part of this Directory. Names, company, and regiment listed in this Directory were manually extracted to form the Directory list. Other data listed in the Directory text are research data gathered through examination of original records. Pension card images are also not a part of this Directory.

The original sorted data contained some duplicate names. All the military records with similar first and last names were examined and corrected to avoid duplicate names. Duplicate names are very difficult to tabulate. While, for example, two “Albert Dennys” were easy to find and correct, some were difficult. Data such as age, height, weight, and date/location of enlistment had to be correlated to confirm a duplicate or alias. Notwithstanding the diligence, there may still be a few duplicate names.

Individual pension cards were compared to the list of native-born service members. This identified 269 duplicates of those who already had military records, resulting in 422 “new” Delaware veterans added to the Directory.

Only the primary regiment is listed for each soldier. Readers should be aware that many soldiers may have a service record in other additional regiments.

The names of native Delawareans are the names recorded on the service records. The pension applications reveal some who used alias names during service. The pension database was used to identify alias names. Identified alias surnames were changed to ‘real’ surnames in the Directory. This was done because it is assumed historians would search for real surnames rather than a singular military alias. Since not all veterans filed for pension some of the surnames in the Directory may still be alias names.

The following data was transcribed from all 695 African American pensions in the original sort: First name; middle initial; last name; company; regiment; name of widow or dependent (where applicable); year filed for widow application (a proxy for death year); whether “native” or “new”; if an invalid application was filed; invalid application approved or disapproved; date of invalid application; and finally, any comments. The database of all pension information on the total 695 Delaware African Americans will be available separately. This future database will provide extensive research material.

This amount of collected pension data will also provide useful and important future research data on such information as the number of disabilities associated with military service versus general disabilities; the percentage of approval versus disapproval for widow and invalid applications; native resident versus newcomer approval/disapproval; and other associated data relationships. Eventually, all of the over 5,000 pension records will be recorded providing another research dimension: comparison results of approval/denial and other data of African American pensions versus all the other 5,000 veteran pensions.

There are some potential record viability issues. The Ancestry place of birth scan sometimes incorrectly tags a military record with a Delaware birth. Many of these were identified and removed, however, some may still be in the Directory. For example, Cornelius Anderson’s record documents he was born in “Cann County, Del.” The Delaware designation is quite clear and “Cann Co.” is probably Kent County, nonetheless, the location is not conclusive.[1] Another example is Jeremiah Willis, whose record shows a birth location of “Buck Co., Delaware”. Researchers should check and confirm birth location data.

There is no indication, if a record lists a Delaware birth location, that the soldier’s family did not, for example, leave the state just after the child’s birth. Such a case would be a strong candidate for exclusion from the Directory. The Directory’s research did not allow for that depth of analysis.

As mentioned previously, there are other similar situations with desertions, court-martials, and discharges that might be candidates for exclusion. Also, in some records, there are obscure notations that a soldier has been removed from regimental records. These require specific individual research and are not within the scope of this Directory.

Concerning this type of record discretion, the research methodology favored inclusion so that historians are provided maximum opportunity to scrutinize these types of individual records.

Finally, researchers are strongly encouraged to examine individual military records to determine if the soldier was present at any of the engagements listed in the regimental histories. A significant number of soldiers were sick or on other detail during the time of a specific engagement. For example, Jeremiah Willis with Company B of the 54th Massachusetts was on Quartermaster duty during the famous first attack on Ft. Wagner.

[1] C. Anderson’s other records show he enlisted in Wilmington, Del. This strongly supports his birth location.

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