Revolutionary War Service Records
Most of the records of the American Army from the Revolutionary War era that were in the custody of the War Department were destroyed by fire in 1800 or in 1814. The War Department's Collection of Revolutionary War Records was begun in 1873 by means of purchase, gifts, or transfers from other agencies.
Compiled Service Records
The compilation of military service records was begun in 1894, under the direction of the War Department's Record and Pension Office. Information about individual soldiers was meticulously copied onto cards as a means of consolidating information about individuals, as well as preserving the original source documents, including muster rolls, pay rolls, returns, and other records. Notations in the lower left corner of the card abstracts indicate the file or volume number of the original record. The original records and copies of records are available on "Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783" (M246), mentioned below, and "Numbered Record Books Concerning Military Operations and Service, Pay and Settlement of Accounts, and Supplies in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records" (M853).
Other notations on card abstracts sometimes refer to numbers preceded by the letters "R" or "P". These references are to file citations in the general correspondence of the Records and Pension Office of the War Department. The index to it is available as "Index to General Correspondence of the Record and Pension Office, 1889-1904" (M686).
The "Revolutionary War Service Records" or "Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War" (NARA M881) (1096 rolls) collection consists of one or more jacket envelopes for each soldier that contain card abstracts of entries relating to that soldier from original records. It contains the service records of soldiers in the Continental Army and other units that fought with them.
See the official 74 page NARA pamphlet explaining these records in detail at M881.pdf.
- Revolutionary War Service Records (Fold3) ($)
- United States, Revolutionary War Compiled Service Records, 1775-1783 (FamilySearch) - Index only
- U.S. Compiled Revolutionary War Military Service Records, 1775-1783 (Ancestry) ($) Note: Records on Ancestry are not indexed by name. See the index mentioned below under indexes or use Fold3 or FamilySearch to first determine what state the individual fought under, then use the browse option on Ancestry to locate an individual in the records. Additional note: The collection on Ancestry also includes records of M880.
- A wiki article describing the above Familysearch collection is found at:
- Locate these records at a library using Worldcat.
The "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" (NARA M880) (4 rolls). The records are arranged by department and then alphabetically by name.
- Revolutionary War Service Records - Navy (Fold3) ($)
- U.S. Compiled Revolutionary War Military Service Records, 1775-1783 (Ancestry) ($) Note: Records on Ancestry are not indexed by name. See the index mentioned below under indexes or use Fold3 to search for a name, make a note of the military unit, then use the browse option on Ancestry to locate an individual in the records. Additional note: The collection on Ancestry also includes records of M881.
Revolutionary War Rolls
The "Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783" (NARA M246) collection is made up of muster rolls, payrolls, strength returns, and other miscellaneous personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units from 1775-83. To learn more about the Revolutionary War Rolls see an explanation of the records at Fold3.
See the official 28 page NARA pamphlet explaining these records in detail at M246.pdf.
- Locate these records at a library using Worldcat.
- General Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors, and Members of Army Staff Departments. NARA M860. (FHL films 88284–98) (Worldcat) 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.
- Index to Revolutionary War Service Records (four volumes) by Virgil D. White (FHL book 973 M22wv) (Worldcat). This is a transcription from film M860 listed above. Entries include name, unit, and rank.
State "Military Records" Wiki articles describe published rosters of Revolutionary War soldiers from each colony. The following are additional books listing officers and others:
- 1720-1960 Grandparent Gealogical Forms of the Daughters of the American Revolution Index and forms which are supplements to the DAR lineage books. FHL film 887589 (first of 367 films) Index FHL film 1473279 (first of 8 films)
- American Chaplains of the Revolution. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, 1991. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 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. (Family History Library 973 D3wil.) A history of chaplains’ service during the Revolution. Contains biographical sketches, including military unit and dates served and other genealogical data.
- United States. National Archives Microfilm Publications. Pamphlet Describing M881: Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War. Washington, National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1976.
- United States. National Archives Microfilm Publications. Pamphlet Describing M880: 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. Washington, National Archives and Records Service, 1975.
- United States. National Archives and Records Service. Pamphlet Describing M246: Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783. Washington, D.C., National Archives And Record Service, 1980.