I'm reading through my book on the 48th VA Infantry by John D. Chapla and interspersed throughout the book are these reports that I'm having a hard time making sense of.


I really don't know how to read these and there's no explanation in the book. The Present side, I'm guessing, is everyone that is there, but what's the difference between Off and EM? The breakdown further into For Duty and Extra Duty is also unclear, as is 'Det Svc' on the Absent side.

  • 6
    I would assume (with no context) that Off represents Officers & EM were Enlisted Men. Extra Duty is explained under punishment. Detached Service is defined here.
    – MCW
    Jun 9, 2019 at 18:58
  • 2
    The thought that Off is officers never crossed my mind but now it seems incredibly obvious in retrospect. I considered EM being enlisted men but I could only think of Off meaning Off Duty or some variant. And Det Svc I couldn't make sense of at all. Thanks!
    – Gremer
    Jun 9, 2019 at 19:02
  • Considering your problem with military abbreviations, you might be amused by the science fiction story "Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell. isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?55829
    – MAGolding
    Jun 10, 2019 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


A document here, CIVIL WAR ACCOUNTING PROCEDURES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON CURRENT COST ACCOUNTING PRACTICES ,by Darwin King and Carl Case, has information which explains most of what you are asking about.

(As pointed out in comments, Off is officers, and EM is enlisted men.) Some of the other terms are discussed here:

The Morning Report Book, in addition to listing the men available for duty, also listed any soldier who was under arrest, away with or without leave, killed in action, wounded, hospitalized, or sick.

This 'Morning Report' is the source for the information in your book, mentioned as 'the brigade morning report for January 10'.

Concerning the terms FOR Duty and Det Svc:

The Sick Book was updated every morning reporting the names of all ill soldiers. It included a statement by the surgeon as to whether they were excused from active duty or available for duty. “For duty” meant that the man was fit and able to perform all of the typical duties of a soldier including guard duty, drills, parades, and detached service (Kautz, Clerk, 15). Detached service was a situation where soldiers were sent away from their companies to perform duties at another post, camp, or garrison (Kautz, Customs, 43).

Extra duty is also explained in this report:

The Morning Report Book was prepared and sent to the regimental adjutant’s office after sick call but no later than 8 am daily. The book contained the duty status of each soldier in the company. It included a “Remarks” column that described the reason for every officer or soldier not being available for duty. This document also described the situation of any soldier on “special or extra duty.” Extra duty was a situation where soldiers were assigned to some continuous labor, in addition to their normal duties, for a period of ten days or longer (Kautz, Customs, 43). The most typical situations included employment in the Quartermaster’s department as mechanics, laborers, or teamsters.

  • Superb answer!!
    – MCW
    Jun 10, 2019 at 12:23

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