It has been 133 years since the first shots were fired signaling the start of the bloodiest battles that this nation has ever known, the Civil War. Although Colorado was only a dream to some, a few visionaries were successful in convincing Congress in 1861 to organize a new western territory in the Pikes Peak region to protect the newly discovered gold fields. The significance of this Congressional action was unknown at the time, and only later was it to demonstrate the national and strategic interests this decision was to play in later battles between the Union and Confederate sources.
During the ensuing four years of this nation’s most divisive period, the Territory of Colorado was instrumental in providing soldiers for the Union forces. These soldiers, most of whom were volunteers, were made up of many miners who had come West seeking their fortune and rainbow in the Rocky Mountains, only to see their hopes and dreams shattered and dashed by the hard reality of the good claims already taken and the cold despair of an unproductive hole in the ground.
The onset of the war gave these men an opportunity to at least be sheltered, clothed and fed, even though it meant risking their lives to an enemy few probably understood or knew. Times were tough and the territorial government had few dollars to spend to adequately supply these volunteer soldiers with all they needed. As a consequence, the Colorado militia commanders ordered detailed records to be kept and maintained about each soldier as to his date of first issue of clothing, rank, company, enlistment/discharge dates, last issues and names of witnesses. This precise record would help preserve these precious and scarce supplies in the newly created territory.
This book provides a birds-eye view into the names of the men who served in the Colorado Volunteers during the Civil War era. The dedication, time and effort of the extractors and proof readers from the Columbine Genealogical and Historical Society was extraordinary in compiling the nearly three thousand names from entries in twelve volumes of Clothing Record books.
One would suppose by this time nearly all has been said and written about Colorado’s participation in the Civil War. Yet this book provides valuable personal information and insight about those men who served which heretofore had not been published or readily available for research. The chance of discovery awaits each historian, genealogist and researcher who uses this book for that long sought clue each hopes to find.
Colorado State Archivist