Source Information

Ancestry.com. U.S., Confederate Army Payrolls for Enslaved Labor, 1840-1883 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2021.
Original data:

Confederate Slave Payrolls, 1874 - 1899. NAID: 7194477; War Department Collection of Confederate Records, 1825 - 1927, Record Group Number 109; The National Archives at Washington, DC. Washington, DC. USA

About U.S., Confederate Army Payrolls for Enslaved Labor, 1840-1883

General Collection Information

This collection contains payroll records for enslaved people working on Confederate military defenses. Documents date between 1840 and 1833. Records from the following states are represented in the collection:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Documents are arranged by payroll number. The registry information includes the following:

  • Name
  • Occupation
  • Pay rate
  • Gender
  • Number of days worked
  • Place of service
  • County of residence
  • Name of person from whom the enslaved were hired
  • Name of supervising Confederate officer
  • Signature of person receiving pay
  • Using this Collection

    This collection is searchable by any of the recorded details. When using the "Browse this collection" function, you may come across blank pages in the registry. Clicking on the arrow to the right of the image will bring up the index images in chronological order.

    While most of the records in this collection are those of enslaved people, the payrolls may include others forced into military service. If you're researching an ancestor who may have been enslaved, there are many ways to determine their status. Most enslaved people won't be listed with a last name, or they may be listed by a nickname. Checking your ancestor's occupation can also offer clues, as enslaved people are often classified as laborers; however, some may have had specialized jobs. Lastly, check the signature of the person receiving pay. Enslaved people weren't able to accept their own pay. If you come across someone listed as "FPC," it stands for "free person of color." Free people of color were forced to work but were paid for their labor.

    History of the Collection

    During the American Civil War, the Union Army captured a variety of records from the Confederacy, including the documents in this collection. Initially created by the Confederate Quartermaster Department, the collection provides information on the distribution of pay for work done by enslaved people. The war created a labor shortage, leading the Confederacy to force enslaved people into service. Payment was made to the owners of the enslaved.

    You may notice records on various colors of paper. Unlike other collections, paper color denotes nothing significant, except for the need to make paper from whatever supplies were available at the time.

    The collection was numbered and arranged between 1874 and 1899 by the Federal War Records Office.

    Bibliography

    DeCredico, Mary. "Confederate Impressment During the Civil War." Encyclopedia Virginia. Last modified February 22, 2018. https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/confederate_impressment_during_the_civil_war#start_entry

    Kluskens, Claire Prechtel. "Civil War Confederate Slave Payroll Records." Twelvekey.com Last modified June 2019. https://twelvekey.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/ngsmagazine-2019-04.pdf

    Macchi, Victoria. "Confederate Slave Payrolls Shed Light on Lives of 19th-Century African American Families." Archives.gov. Last modified March 4, 2020. https://www.archives.gov/news/articles/confederate-slave-payrolls-digitized#:~:text=Archives%20Operating%20Status-,Confederate%20Slave%20Payrolls%20Shed%20Light%20on,19th%2DCentury%20African%20American%20Families&text=The%20Confederate%20Quartermaster%20Department%20created,indexed%2C%20and%20numbered%20the%20documents

    National Archives. "Confederate Slave Payrolls,1874-1899." Last modified 2020. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/719477