During the election of 1864, 19 Union states, including Pennsylvania, allowed soldiers in the field to cast their votes by absentee ballot. In Pennsylvania, absentee elections were conducted on October 11, 1864, and election officials recorded the votes of various companies of soldiers in pollbooks. This collection contains the pollbooks for residents of Westmoreland County within Company C, 11th Pennsylvania Infantry; one inhabitant of Wyoming County within a detachment near Camp Biddle in Pennsylvania; and residents of Philadelphia and Delaware Counties within Company E, 198th Pennsylvania Infantry.
The 11th Pennsylvania Infantry was organized at Harrisburg and in Westmoreland County in August 1861. The regiment fought in many important battles, including Cedar Mountain, Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Appomattox Court House.
The 198th Pennsylvania Infantry was organized at Philadelphia on September 9, 1864. The regiment participated in the Siege of Petersburg, and saw action in the battles of Poplar Springs Church, Boydton Plank Road, Hatchers's Run, Dabney's Mill, White Oak Road, Five Forks, and Appomattox Court House.