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A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE CIVIL WAR CD-ROM
THE WAR OF THE REBELLION
This CD is available for use in the Harrington Library - Genealogy Section
by Myrna Wells

The Civil War CD-Rom, The War of the Rebellion, published by Guild Press of Indiana and developed by Phillip Oliver, is an electronic version of printed publications. The addition of an every word index and search engine tremendously improves the ability to use this major reference on Civil War military history. Each publication will be discussed later.

The CD can be used to research battles and skirmishes, military units, places, officers, and military activities in geographical locations as armies moved through the countryside. It is not a database of individual soldiers although a few special cases are included. Many individual officers and some of their battles and activities may be found among the reports and correspondence. An officer's correspondence may reveal some of his personality. Family information is not included.

The War of The Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, referred to as the "OR-Armies" or "OR" is a compilation of selected Union and, to a lesser extent, Confederate army records. It is considered to be the most complete, available, and objective documentation of the Civil War. Policy demanded that only documents written during the War and without later revision be included. The process of printing the documents began in 1864 and was completed almost forty years later after several changes in management, procedures, fund shortages, and many years of work by both ex-Union and ex-Confederate officers. A more comprehensive explanation of the records, process, and limitations can be found in A User's Guide to The Official Records of The Civil War included on the CD.

The Civil War was the first war when paper was used on a large scale. The Union material was selected from the massive number of copies of reports, orders, and communications the U.S. Government required to be made and collected. The Confederate records posed special problems and are in smaller quantities. Many Confederate records were destroyed or lost. The existing records were scattered around the South and many of them were in private individuals who considered them personal property and did not want to relinquish them. Some persons provided copies of the records they held.

Documents were not edited for accuracy although some were inconsistently edited and excerpts published to conserve space. Correspondence may be taken out of context. Dates of some conflicts may be incorrect. About a third of the operations have not been included, especially activities in Arkansas and Louisiana. Additional sources should be used for research. The User's Guide contains a bibliography of sources and further explanation of source limitations.

The OR-Armies is arranged topically into 127 books and divided into the following four separate series:

Series I - 53 volumes, book 1-111 - Battle reports arranged chronologically by campaign and theater with the Union first followed by the Confederate.

Series II - 8 volumes, 8 books - Contains correspondence, reports, orders, and returns regardingprisoners of war or political prisoners. Volume 8 contains material of prominent post war trials.

Series III - 5 volumes, 5 books - Union documents not in Series I or II such as annual and special reports, calls for troops, and communications between National and State officials.

Series IV - 3 volumes, 3 books - Confederate documents similar to Series III, but excluding communication between Union and Confederate officials.

A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick H. Dyer, consists of mostly Union regimental information and thousands of military activities. A database compatible with Microsoft Access or Dbase IV is in the "Extras" directory.

Regimental Losses in The American Civil War (1861-1865), by William F. Fox, is filled with Union, and some Confederate, regimental statistics. A database is in the "Extras" directory.

A User's Guide to the Official Records of the American Civil War, by Alan and Barbara A. Aimone is an overview of the history, organization, and limitations of the Official Records including finding aids for the OR-Armies, Or-Navies, and Atlas. The OR-Navies and Atlas are not included on the CD version. A bibliography and several appendix are included.

Military Records of the Civil War: A Guide Index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies is a re-indexing of the one made by the National Archives including an index of operations by theater and state with cross references. Guild Press has added a hypertext that jumps to the referenced Official Record.

Understanding the screen contents and search methods will make using this CD more efficient. Additional online help is available by clicking on the HELP button or pressing "F1". When using the Windows 95 version, the opening screen and the research screen should both be maximized. The screen is divided into three sections and their uses:

1. DIRECTORY - The left section is a directory. The size can be increased or decreased by using the mouse to drag the border to the right or left. The top section lists each book on the CD in tree form. A tree can be expanded by clicking on the "+" before each book. A book can be browsed by single clicking an item in the top section to display topics in the bottom window. Double clicking an item in the bottom window will display the item in the text window.

2. TEXT OR TOPIC SECTION -This is section to the right of the Directory and is in two parts. The top, less defined section, contains identifying information used in citations such as the book, serial number and volume. It does not scroll but will change automatically as the topic changes. The topic, or scrolling section, is immediately below it.

Movement in the topic section is via the commonly used keys such as the arrow keys, scroll bars, page up or down, etc. To go to the next search hit press TAB or click on >>Hit. Go to the previous hit press SHIFT and TAB at the same time or click on <> or << respectively. Additional explanation of hot keys can be found in HELP under the subject "What's A Topic?".

Text can be printed by highlighting it with the mouse. (Hold the left button down while dragging the highlight to cover the text to be printed then releasing it.) Then go to the menu and click on FILE then PRINT TOPIC. Do not highlight the top area with the source identification as it will automatically print. Unless the desired text is highlighted, the whole topic will print resulting in 25-50 pages. Footnotes do not print. Print size is the same as shown on the text screen. This can be adjusted by using the " %mag." buttons in the control section.

Page numbers shown in the text in red in the form of are the same as in the original publication. This would be read as Army Records serial number 59 page 313. Similar numbers are shown for each book.

3. CONTROLS - The section above the text controls the search and font size. Additional information can be found in "Using the Controls" of the HELP section.

Do a search by choosing either a simple or complex search. A simple search looks for a phrase or group of words separated by a space, such as, "John Smith." The complex search permits the use of operators AND, OR, NOT, or NEAR and further defines the search. Entering "GEORGIA NEAR VICKSBURG" will return hits with Georgia and Vicksburg in a topic, usually within 25 words of each other. Enter or click on the QRY button to display the hits in the bottom tree area or choose one of the hits in the tree and double click on it to display the text. A common word such as "Corinth" may result in too many hits. Narrow the search by adding words such as "Corinth, Mississippi."

Union and Confederates used different names for the same battle and skirmish. Confederates usually named battles after the nearest town. The Union generally named battles after streams or bodies of water. A search for one name

SAMPLE SEARCH:

1. Maximize the page size.

2. Choose simply or complex search.

3. Click on the search box and enter a word or phrase. Then ENTER or click on QRY

4. Manipulate the screen by using arrow keys, scroll bar, TAB, or SHIFT - TAB, <>Hit, PAGE UP or Down, << or >>.

5. Print by highlighting the chosen text then clicking on FILE then PRINT TOPIC.

Sources: Guild Press of Indiana and Phillip Oliver, The Civil War: The War of The Rebellion, CD-ROM and booklet, The Guild Press of Indiana, (435 Gradle Drive, Carmel, IN; 1996)

Aimone, Alan C. and Barbara A., A User's Guide to The Official Records of The American Civil War, White Mane Publishing Co., Inc., (Shippensburg, PA, 1993)

(c)Copyright 1998 Myrna Wells