Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783
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.
The original service records and the earliest pension records of the Revolutionary War were destroyed in fires in 1800 and 1814. Substitute records were used to make the compiled service records. These records are in Record Group 93 at the National Archives. A description of the holdings for this record group is:
Beutrich, Mabel E., and Howard N. Wehmann. War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records. Revised edition. PI 144. Washington, D.C.: 1970.
Service Records[edit | edit source]
The following service records are available on microfilm at the Family History Library:
General Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors, and Members of Army Staff Departments. National Archives Microfilm Publication M860. (FHL films 88284–98.) Alphabetical index including soldiers, sailors, members of Army staff departments, and civilian employees of the Army and Navy, such as teamsters, carpenters, laundresses, and cooks. For each soldier or civilian, the index lists the name, rank, unit, and profession or office.
White, Virgil D. Index to Revolutionary War Service Records. Four Volumes. Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing Company, 1995. (FHL book 973 M22wv.) This is a transcription from film M860 listed above. Entries include name, unit, and rank.
Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War. National Archives Microfilm Publication M881. (On 1,096 FHL films beginning with 1485281.) Contains the service records of soldiers in the Continental Army and other units that fought with them.
Indexes and digital images of the compiled service records are available at Footnote.com on the Internet. See http://www.footnote.com ($)
Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775–1783. National Archives Microfilm Publication M246. (FHL films 830281–417.) These are original company rolls, muster rolls, payrolls, and strength returns of Continental Army, militia, and state volunteer units. They are arranged by unit in folders called “jackets.” Use the index to the compiled service records to find the name of the regimental commander, then use the index (FHL film 0830280) to determine the jacket number.
Compiled Service Records of American Naval Personnel and Members of the Departments of the Quartermaster General and the Commissary General of Military Stores Who Served during the Revolutionary War. National Archives Microfilm Publication M880. (FHL films 1025081–83.) These abstracts, made from original records, are similar to the compiled service records of soldiers. The records are arranged by department and then alphabetically by name. To find specific microfilm numbers, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
UNITED STATES ‑ MILITARY RECORDS -REVOLUTION, 1775-1783
The Family History Library’s state research outlines describe published rosters of Revolutionary War soldiers from each colony. The following are additional books listing officers and others:
American Chaplains of the Revolution. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, 1991. (FHL 973 Al no. 311.) This is an alphabetical list of chaplains in the Continental Line, State Militia, and Continental Navy. It includes information such as birth, death, marriage, where lived, and service information, both ecclesiastical and military.
Claghorn, Charles E. Women Patriots of the American Revolution: A Biographical Dictionary. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1991. (FHL 973 H26c.) Identifies over 5,000 women who rendered patriot service with brief biographical sketches on 600 women.
Claghorn, Charles E. Naval Officers of the American Revolution: A Concise Biographical Dictionary. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1988. (FHL book 973 M3c.) Lists 3,500 naval officers and privateers.
Greene, Robert Ewell. Black Courage, 1775–1783: Documentation of Black Participation in the American Revolution. Washington, D.C.: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1984. (FHL 973 M2gb.) Contains biographical sketches which include soldier’s military unit; physical description; when enlisted; battles fought; pensioned; birth, marriage, and death dates and places; names of wives and children; and if the soldier was free or slave. An additional list of soldiers, pensioners, and prisoners of war with military unit and state is included.
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April 1775 to December 1783. 1914. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967. (FHL book 973 M23h.) Lists 14,000 officers compiled from governmental and other sources. Includes militia and state troops. Some death dates are listed.
Kaminkow, Marion, and Jack Kaminkow, compilers. Mariners of the American Revolution. Baltimore, Maryland: Magna Carta Book Company, 1967. (FHL book 973 M25k.) An alphabetical list of seamen who were captured and imprisoned in England.
Neagles, James C. Summer Soldiers. A Survey and Index of Revolutionary War Courts‑Martial. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry, Incorporated, 1986. (FHL book 973 M2ns.) An alphabetical list of 3,315 cases of soldiers who were court martialed that lists the offense, verdict, punishment, if applicable, and the source of information. Often provides military rank and unit.
Toner, Joseph M. 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. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Collins, printer, 1876. (FHL film 1703658.) Contains a list of physicians and surgeons with state and type of service rendered.
Williams, Eugene Franklin. Soldiers of God: the Chaplains of the Revolutionary War. New York, New York: Carlton Press, 1975. (FHL 973 D3wil.) A history of chaplains’ service during the Revolution. Contains biographical sketches, including military unit and dates served and other genealogical data.
Pension Records and Bounty Land Warrants[edit | edit source]
The first pension law in 1776 granted half‑pay for life to soldiers disabled in the service and unable to earn a living. The first pension law based on service was passed in 1818, but it was later amended to make eligible only those soldiers unable to earn a living. The pension act of 1832 allowed pensions again based on service and made widows of veterans also eligible to receive pension benefits. Fires in 1800 destroyed the earliest Revolutionary War pension application records. As a result, pension application papers on file at the National Archives begin after 1800. Certain pension records predating 1800 survive in the form of Congressional reports and other legislation. Reports available are arranged by state; they give name, rank, regiment, description of wounds, and disability; they also give information regarding pension, place of residence, and physical fitness. (FHL film 0944495.)
Post-1800 pension files are located on the following films:
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800–1900. National Archives Microfilm Publication M804. (On 2,670 FHL films beginning with 0970001.) The files are alphabetically arranged.
Indexes and digital images of the pension files are available at Footnote.com on the Internet. See http://www.footnote.com ($)
Following is an index to these files:
Index to Revolutionary War Pension Applications in the National Archives. Special Publication Number 40. Revised. and enl. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 1976. (FHL book 973 M22ng.) This index contains the name of the veteran and or the widow with the state and pension or bounty land warrant number.
Abstracts of the files are found in the following source:
White, Virgil D. Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. Four Volumes. Waynesboro, Tennessee: National Historical Publishing, 1990–92. (FHL book 973 M28g.) Some entries in this work have cross-references to the Virginia half-pay claims, state pensions, and state bounty lands. Volume four indexes the abstracts. This includes an every-name index for 350,000 names.
The following are related manuscript collections:
Ledgers of Payments, 1818–1872, to U.S. Pensioners Under Acts of 1818 through 1858, from Records of the Third Auditor of the Treasury. National Archives Microfilm Publication T718. (FHL films 1319381–403.) These pension payment volumes record payments to Revolutionary War veterans and others. The records are arranged by pension act, then by pension agency, and then alphabetically by the first letter of the veterans’ surnames. Entries list name, pension agency, record of payments made, death date, and the date of the final payment made to heirs. To find specific microfilm numbers, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
UNITED STATES - MILITARY RECORDS - PENSIONS
U.S. Revolutionary War Bounty Land Warrants Used in the U.S. Military District of Ohio and Related Papers (Acts of 1788, 1803, 1806). National Archives Microfilm Publication M829. (FHL films 1025141–56.)
To find specific microfilm numbers, look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
OHIO - LAND AND PROPERTY
Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1996. (FHL 973 R2bo.) Index includes name, state of service, rank, date of record, and acreage.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Federal Land Series. Volume 2, 1799–1835. Federal Bounty Land Warrants of the American Revolution. Chicago, Illinois: American Library Association, 1973. (FHL 973 R23s, vol. 2; fiche 6087454.) Entries include name and rank of veteran, land warrant numbers, range and township, quarter township and lot numbers, date of register entry and source of information, and number of acres.
Virginia Half Pay and Other Related Revolutionary War Pension Application Files. National Archives Microfilm Publication M910. (FHL films 1024434–42.) Records include the name; rank; amount of pension; death date; widow and children, if any; pension file number; some dates for wife and children, especially date of death of wife, and so on. Contains 279 pension application files.
Below are published lists of pensioners:
Clark, Murtie June, compiler. The Pension Lists of 1792–1795. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. (FHL book 973 M2cmj.) Contains transcriptions of congressional reports for 1792 to 1795. Some entries list name, rank, regiment or company, and residence, and include remarks. Other pre-1800 pension-related records are also included.
The Pension Roll of 1835. Four Volumes. 1835. Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992. (FHL book 973 M24ua; fiche 6046995.) For a description look under “Pension Records,” in the “Types of Military Records” section of this.
United States War Department. Letter from the Secretary of War Transmitting a Report of . . . Every Person Placed on the Pension List of 1820. Reprinted with index as The Pension List of 1820. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. (FHL book 973 M2ulp; film 0874189 item 1; fiche 6046612.) Arranged by state, then alphabetically by name. Lists rank and service of the soldier.
Unit Histories[edit | edit source]
Knowing the history of your ancestor’s military unit can help you find a place of residence at the time of enlistment or help you find a death place. The following sources are helpful in identifying Revolutionary War regiments:
Berg, Fred Anderson. Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units, Battalions, Regiments, and Independent Corps. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1972. (FHL book 973 M2be.) Provides a brief organizational sketch of each unit in the Continental Army and lists the commanding officers.
Wright, Robert K. The Continental Army. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1983. (FHL book 973 M2wr.) Includes extensive bibliographies, maps, and brief histories of every permanent unit in the Continental Army.
Census Records[edit | edit source]
The following source lists living pensioners of the Revolutionary War and other military service:
Federal Population Decennial Census Schedule: Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. National Archives Microfilm Publication M704. (FHL 580 films.)
These names are published in the following:
A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Service. . . . 1841. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967. (FHL book 973 X2pc 1967; film 816370; fiche 6046771.) It lists the name, age, and residence of the pensioner and the name of the head of household with whom the pensioner lived.
The following is an index to the above source:
The Genealogical Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints. A General Index to a Census of Pensioners For Revolutionary or Military Service. 1840. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1965. (FHL book 973 X2pc index 1965; film 0899835; fiche 6046771.) The index lists alphabetically both the veteran and the head of the family with whom the pensioner resided. Names with asterisks are heads of families. Page numbers refer to the published list.
Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]
The Daughters of the American Revolution has published the grave locations of Revolutionary War soldiers in the following source:
DAR Annual Report to the Smithsonian Institution, 1900–1974. These lists have been continued in the DAR Magazine. (FHL book 973 B2dar) beginning with the October 1969 issue. The lists give name, birth date, death date, burial place, rank, and state and regiment of service if known. There are more than 58,500 identified graves.
The lists published in the DAR Magazine between 1974 and 1982 were reprinted as the following:
Located Graves of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1977–1982. (FHL book 973 V3l.) Includes the name of the soldier, birth and death dates, where he was buried, and dates of service.
The following source indexes the DAR Annual Reports to the Smithsonian Institution for 1900 and 1915 through 1986:
Hatcher, Patricia Law. Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots. Four Volumes. Dallas, Texas: Pioneer Heritage Press, 1987–88. (FHL book 973 V38h.) Alphabetical entries listing the name, cemetery, place the cemetery is located, and reporting year.
A card file of located graves is maintained at the DAR Library in the Office of the Historian General. A similar card file abstracting burial and service information from the DAR reports is in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University and at the Family History Library. It is called:
DAR Revolutionary War Burial Index. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1993. (FHL films 1307675–83.) Includes name; birth date; death date; burial place, including state, county, and town, and name of cemetery; service, and so on.
Also available from the Sons of the American Revolution are:
War Graves Registration Forms. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Genealogical Society of Utah, 1996. (On eight FHL films beginning with 2032073.) These records are alphabetically arranged, and contain forms received by the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution up to mid-1993.
Listed below are additional sources of information on Revolutionary War deaths:
Brakebill, Clovis H., editor and compiler. Revolutionary War Graves Register. Louisville, Kentucky: Wolfe City, Texas: National Society Sons of the American Revolution; Henington Publishing, 1993. (FHL 973 V3br.) Includes the name, birth and death year, cemetery, place where cemetery is located, rank, and state of service. This book is also available at some libraries on compact disc.
Peterson, Clarence Stewart. Known Military Dead during the American Revolutionary War, 1775–1783. 1959. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967. (FHL book 973 M23pb; fiche 6051243.) Lists soldiers and sailors who were killed or died during the war, giving name, rank, unit, and death date.
Many states, associations, and individuals have compiled cemetery listings of Revolutionary War soldiers and veterans. The Family History Library has the following lists available:
Veterans’ and Lineage Society Records[edit | edit source]
The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This society was organized in 1890. The following DAR sources are helpful to researchers:
DAR Patriot Index. Three volumes. Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 2003 (FHL 973 C42da 2003.) An alphabetical list of over 100,000 patriots whose service has been established by the Daughters of the American Revolution between October 1890 and October 2003. The information was compiled from extracted data of membership applications and other sources.
DAR Patriot Index. An Index to the Spouses of the DAR Patriots. Volume 3. Washington, D.C.: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, 1986. (FHL book 973 C42da V.3.) An alphabetical list of the wives of patriots named in the first two volumes of the 1986 edition of the Patriot Index.
Lineage Books. . . . 166 Volumes. Washington, D.C.: DAR, 1895–1939. (FHL book 973 D2d; fiche 6051226.) Compiled lineages taken from membership applications with national numbers between 1 and 166,000.
An index to these is:
Index of the Rolls of Honor in the Lineage Books. . . . Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1988. (FHL book 973 D2d index; fiche 6051293, 1980 edition.) Contains the name of the soldier and the volume and page number of the lineage book where the soldier’s information can be located.
Copies of membership applications can be obtained for a fee from the national headquarters:
National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution
1776 D Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
This web site links to information about headquarters buildings, membership requirements, work of the society, state chapters, overseas units, their genealogy library (including an online library catalog search), museum, and news.
National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. This society was organized in 1889. For this society, the Family History Library has the following:
SAR Membership Information, 1776–1996; Catalog of Members; Index of Ancestors, Application nos. 1-146101; and Membership Application Documentation. (On 1,087 FHL films).
You can also obtain microfilm numbers for the above sources using the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under
UNITED STATES ‑ SOCIETIES
The society’s address is:
National Society, Sons of the American Revolution
1000 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40203
This web site has information about the society’s patriotic, historical, and educational efforts, links to state chapter web sites, and their online genealogical library catalog search.
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published in 1998 a Patriot Index on compact disc with over 450,000 records. The 1999 edition will contain an additional 140,000 records.
The Society of the Cincinnati was organized in 1783 by officers of the Continental Army. Hereditary membership is through the eldest male and his posterity. Published lists of society members include:
Thomas, William Sturgis. Members of the Society of the Cincinnati. Original, Hereditary and Honorary: with a Brief Account of the Society’s History and Aims. New York, New York: Tobias A. Wright. 1929. ( FHL book 973 C4sct.) Lists original hereditary and honorary members in the United States, with a separate list for members in France. Includes name, rank, whether or not an original member, and state society of the member.
Metcalf, Bryce. Original Members and Other Officers Eligible to the Society of the Cincinnati, 1783–1938. Strasburg, Virginia: Shenandoah Publishing House, Incorporated, 1938. (FHL book 973 C44mb.) A list of original members and the years they served in the society. It lists their descendants eligible for the society and includes rules of eligibility and admission and officers of state societies.
The society’s address is:
Society of the Cincinnati
2118 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008-2810
Cincinnati Fourteen is the Society’s newsletter (FHL book 975.3 C45.)
Daughters of the Cincinnati was established in 1894 by female descendants of Revolutionary War officers. The society’s address is:
Daughters of the Cincinnati
122 East 58th Street
New York, NY 10022
The following sources are available at the Family History Library:
- Ancestor index file, A–Z. (FHL film 0915852.) Index lists ancestor’s name, regiment and rank, with name of applicant.
- Eligible ancestors index, A–Z. (FHL film 0915853 item 1.)
- Membership list and ancestors roster. (FHL film 0915853 item 2.)
- Application packets. (FHL film 0915854–67.)
For details about records of American Loyalists (United Empire Loyalists), see the Canada Research Outline. For records of German mercenary troops known as “Hessians,” many of whom settled in the United States, see the Germany Research Outline. For records of British forces who served in the American Revolution, see the England Research Outline, the Ireland Research Outline, and the Scotland Research Outline. For records of French forces who fought as United States allies, see the France Research Outline.
Other Websites[edit | edit source]
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have gathered and preserved many records and many lineages related to people who served in the Revolutionary War:
- http://www.dar.org/natsociety/pi_lookup.cfm is the site for Patriot Index Lookup Service.
- http://www.dar.org/library/onlinlib.cfm is the DAR library site and online catalog.
- http://grc.dar.org/dar/darnet/grc/grc.cfm?Action=overview Some of the Genealogical Records Committee Reports of the DAR is searchable online in the GRC National Index. Not all states have been indexed yet, but presently the online index contains more than 18 million names and is continually growing. Once names of interest have been found in the index, you can order copies of the pages from the DAR Library’s Search Service.
- www.colonialhall.com This site has biographies of the founding fathers and the signers of the Declaration of Independence and some of their wives.
- http://genealogy.about.com/cs/revolution/ht/Military_Record.htm Article on how to get copies of your Revolutionary War patriot's military records.
- http://www.archives.gov/ Site of the National Archives and Records Administration and home to many military records.
- http://www.rootsweb.com/~ars/index.htm These pages contain the email and/or URL addresses of descendants or persons who can give you some background on the revolutionary soldier that is listed with each email address.
- http://www.dar.org/natsociety/pi_lookup.cfm is the site for Patriot Index Lookup Service where you can find your ancestor in the DAR archives.
- www.heritagequestonline.com Search selected records from the Revolutionary war era pension and bounty land warrant application files. ($)