Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783
|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.
Chronology of Major Events
|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.|
- Robert K. Wright. The Continental Army.Washington, D.C. : Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1983. FHL 973 M2wr Digital Images
- Continental Army
- Continental Army Units
- Berg, Fred Anderson. Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiments and Independent Corps. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Stackpole Company, 1972. FHL 973 M2be
- Joseph M. Toner.The medical men of the revolution : with a brief history of the medical department of the continental army. Containing the names of nearly twelve hundred physicians. An address before the alumni association of Jefferson medical college, March 11, 1876.Philadelphia : Collins Printer, 1876. FHL Digital Images
- Francis B. Heitman. Historical register of officers of the Continental Army : during the War of the Revolution, April 1775 to December 1783.Washington, D.C. : The Rare Book Shop Pub. Co., Inc.,1914. FHL Digital Book
- John Pierce. Pierce's register : register of the certificates issued by John Pierce, Esquire, Paymaster General and Commissioner of Army accounts for the United States, to officers and soldiers of the Continental Army under act of July 4, 1783 ; seventeenth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.Reprint. Originally published as Senate Documents, v. 9, no 988, 63rd Congress, 3rd Session, Washington, D.C., 1915.Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, 1973, 1984, 1987. FHL 973 M2up
- Harry M. Ward.George Washington's Enforcers. Policing the Continental Army. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press,2009.
- Oscar Reiss. Medicine and the American Revolution. How Diseases and Their Treatments Affected the Colonial Army. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1998.
- Caroline Cox. A Proper Sense of Honor. Service and Sacrifice in George Washington's Army. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,2007.
- William Bell Clark, ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. vol. 1. Washington, 1964.
- William Bell Clark, ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. vol. 3. Washington, 1968.
- William James Morgan, ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. vol. 7. Washington, 1976.
- William James Morgan, ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. vol. 8. Washington, 1980.
Original British Colonies
Canada Remained Loyal to Britain
State Revolutionary War Records
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.
- US Military Basic Search Strategies
- US Military Records at the FHL
- Finding Your Revolutionary War Ancestor
- Neagles, James C. and Neagles Lila L. Locating Your Revolutionary War Ancestor: A Guide to the military Records. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, Inc., 1983. FHL 973 D27ne
- Schweitzer, George K. Revolutionary War Genealogy. Knoxville, Tennessee: The author, 1982. FHL 973 M2sg 1997
- Schluz, Constance B. "Revolutionary War Pension Applications: A Neglected Source for Social and Family History." Prologue 15(Summer 1983): 103-114.
- Theodore J. Crackel. Revolutionary War Pension Records and Patters of American Mobility, 1780-1830. Prologue 16 #3 (Fall 1984)
- Jean Nudd. Using Revolutionary War Pension Files to Find Family Information. Prologue 47 #2 (Summer, 2015)
- David Allen Lambert. Strategies for Tracing Revolutionary War Veterans. American Ancestors 11 (Summer 2010): 21-24. FHL 974 D25nea.
- Military Records: Revolutionary War (34 minute online video)
Archives and Libraries
- David Library of the American Revolution
- National Archives Military Resources: American Revolution
- National Archives - War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records. Record Group 93
- Library of Congress Web Guide to the American Revolution
- The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, Time Line: The American Revolution
- Museum of the American Revolution: Collections and Resources
National Park Service
Revolutionary War Sources
- Records of the British Colonial Office, Class 5, FamilySearch Catalog
- William Saffell. Records of the revolutionary war : containing the military and financial correspondence of distinguished officers ; names of the officers and privates of regiments, companies, and corps, with the dates of their commissions and enlistments ; general orders of Washington, Lee, and Greene, at Germantown and Valley Forge ; with a list of distinguished prisoners of war ; the time of their capture, exchange, etc. To which is added the half-pay acts of the Continental congress ; the revolutionary pension laws ; and a list of the officers of the Continental army who acquired the right to half-pay, commutation, and lands.New York : Pudney and Russell, 1858. FHL Digital Book
- Larry G. Bowman. Captive Americans : prisoners during the American Revolution.Athens, Ohio : Ohio University Press, 1976. FHL973 M2bow
- Danske Bedinger Danbridge. American Prisoners of the Revolution."Charlottesville, Virginia : Michie Co., 1911. FHL Digital Book
- Charles H. Metzer. The prisoner in the American Revolution.Chicago, Illinois : Loyola University Press, 1971. FHL 973 M2met
- Henry R. Stiles. Account of the interment of the remains of American patriots who perished on board the British prison ships : during the American Revolution, with notes and an appendix. New York : Privately reprinted, 1865. FHL fiche 6078236
- Prison ship Jersey
FamilySearch Historical Records
- Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, 1800-1900
- Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783
- Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783
- Rosters of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors, 1775-1783
- United States. French Combatants in the Revolutionary War, 1778-1783 at FamilySearch — index and images
Sources for Further Reading
- Richard L. Blanco, ed. The American Revolution, 1775-1783 : an encyclopedia. 2 vols. New York, New York : Garland Pub. Co., 1993. FHL 973 M2amr
- Mark M. Boatner. III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution.Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania : Stackpole Books, 1994. FHL 973 M26be
- Jack P. Grene, ed. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution.Cambridge, Massachusetts : Basil Blackwell, 1991. FHL 973 M2ben
- Alden, John Richard. The American Revolution: 1775-1783. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1954.
- Bolton, Charles Knowles. The Private Soldier Under Washington. Port Washington, New York: Kenniket Press, Inc. 1964. reprint edition.
- 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.
- Elias Brewster Hillard, FamilySearch Digital Library. The last men of the Revolution : a photograph of each from life, together with views of their homes printed in colors; accompanied by brief biographical sketches of the men. Hartford: N.A. & R.A. Moore, 1864. FamilySearch Digital Book.
- 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.
- 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)