Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783

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The Revolutionary War pension files for all 80,000 pension and bounty-land warrant applications are now available online at ($). Fold3 is available free at some libraries.

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Did You Know?

In 1775, when the American Revolution began, there was no regular army. Instead each colony defended itself with a militia made up of local men. With few exceptions, any male 16 or older was expected to participate in the milita. By 1776 Washington had an army of 20,000 men. About one-third came from colonial militia groups, and two-thirds were regular army.


The American Revolutionary War was fought from 1775 to 1783. It was also known as the American War of Independence. The Revolutionary War began with the confrontation between British troops and local militia at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, on 19 April 1775. Throughout the war, state troops and local militias supplemented the Continental (Federal) Army. The total number of men who served is not known. Men between the ages of 16 and 60 may have served during the war in either the Continental Army, State Line Troops, or local militia mustered to help the Continental Troops.

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Original British Colonies[edit | edit source]

New England

Middle Colonies

Southern Colonies

Canada Remained Loyal to Britain

State Revolutionary War Records[edit | edit source]

The Revolutionary War was fought before these states existed. However, many of these states have information specific to their area on individuals that served in the war and later lived in these states.

Online Collections[edit | edit source]

Chronology of Major Events[edit | edit source]

18 Mar 1774 British occupied Boston, Massachusetts until evacuated 7 March 1776.
5 Sep 1774 First Continental Congress convened.
19 Apr 1775 Battle at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
17 Jun 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, Massachusetts.
4 Jul 1776 Declaration of Independence adopted.
15 Sep 1776 New York City occupied by the British until 26 November 1783.
26 Dec 1776 Attack at Trenton, New Jersey.
3 Jan 1777 Attack at Princeton, New Jersey.
11 Sep 1777 Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania.
19 Dec 1777 Washington's army established headquarters at Valley Forge.
6 Feb 1778 U.S. and France entered a military alliance.
28 Jun 1778 Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey.
29 Dec 1778 Capture of Savannah, Georgia by the British. It was occupied until 11 July 1782.
23 Feb 1779 George Rogers Clark and his men took Vincennes, Indiana from the British.
21 June 1779 Spain declared war against the British.
21 Sep 1779 Spain wins the Battle of Baton Rouge, thus keeping the British out of the Mississippi valley.
12 May 1780 Charleston, South Carolina was captured by the British and
occupied until 14 December 1782.
16 Aug 1780 Battle near Camden, South Carolina.
7 Oct 1780 Patriots defeated a group of Loyalists at Kings Mountain, South Carolina.
17 Jan 1781 Battle at Cowpens near the Broad River in South Carolina.
15 Mar 1781 Battle at Guilford Co., North Carolina courthouse.
10 May 1781 British lost the Battle of Pensacola Florida.
19 Oct 1781 Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia.
30 Nov 1782 A preliminary peace treaty was signed in Paris, France.
3 Sep 1783 The final peace treaty was signed in Paris.

Peckham, Howard, ed. The Toll of independence : engagements & battle casualties of the American Revolution. Chicago, Illinois : University of Chicago Press, 1974. FHL973 M2ti

Continental Army[edit | edit source]

Continental Soldier


Prisoners of War

Naval Sources[edit | edit source]

Additional Research Guides[edit | edit source]

Archives and Libraries[edit | edit source]

National Park Service[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War Sources[edit | edit source]

Continental Congress[edit | edit source]

Sources for Further Reading[edit | edit source]



  • Alden, John Richard. The American Revolution: 1775-1783. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1954.
  • Ferguson, E. James. The American Revolution: A General History, 1763-1790.rev. ed. Homewood, Illinois: The Dorsey Press, 1979.
  • Gibson, Lawrence Henry. The Coming of the Revolution: 1763-1775. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1954.
  • Jensen, Merrill. The Founding of a Nation: A History of the American Revolution 1763-1776. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
  • Lowell, Edward J. The Hessians In The Revolution: Williamstown, Massachusetts, Corner House Publishers. 1970. reprint edition.
  • Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution 1763-1789. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • Miller, John C. Origins of The American Revolution. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1943.
  • Miller, John C. Triumph of Freedom: 1775-1783. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1948.
  • Morgan, Edmund S. The birth of the Republic: 1763-89. rev. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
  • Peckham, Howard. The War for Independence: A Military History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958. 973 M2ti
  • Resch, John and Walter Sargent, eds. War and society in the American Revolution : mobilization and home fronts. DeKalb, Illinois : Northern Illinois University Press, 2007. FHL 973 M2rjs
  • Shy, John. A People Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
  • American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

Additional Websites[edit | edit source]