Find your Ancestors through Revolutionary Military War Records
Are you trying to find your ancestors that were born between 1725 and 1767? Records
of birth, death, and marriage are scarce for people during this time. With no mandated
government documentation during this time, most information was recorded by churches
and families who kept journals or bibles to recount important family genealogy data like
birth, marriage and death events. Since these records are hard to find, you might
try looking for clues in military records, land grants, and pension applications
to help fill in important ancestry details.
Could this be my Ancestor?
Before you delve into any military material, learn as much as you can about your
relatives. In order to find records, you need to have a good idea of where your
ancestor lived, approximate age, and who their immediate family was. If they were
married, find out about their spouse and don’t forget to include known neighbors.
This can help you to narrow down your search results and hopefully lead you to the
right historical document. Don’t assume if you find a source with your ancestor’s
name, that the details are about your relative, it could be someone else. Names
are common, so finding a person with the same name who lived in the same area can
lead to mistaken identity. Analyze all your collected data before drawing any rash
conclusions or adding genealogy data to your tree.
The Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783)
Life in general was hard for everyone. No electricity or modern amenities. The
military personnel faced many challenges with this war, which also included a small
pox epidemic. Each colony provided its own defenses with local militiamen who were
lightly armed and had little to no training. The units served for only a few weeks
or months at a time and stayed close to home. The Militiamen, Continental Army,
Marines, and Navy were served by about 250,000 men.
Revolutionary War Records through CMSRs
Complied Military Service Records (CMSRs) might help you with discovering military
unit information along with date and place of enlistment. This may help confirm
where a person was living and add other genealogy data to your ancestry. CMSRs can
be ordered online through the National Archives.
Pensions for Military Service, Disabled, and Surviving Widows
Pension Applications were granted to individuals who served for a specified period
of time, or were disabled from military service, and to widows and surviving children.
These files generally have more family data than the (CMSR) which could include
medical information, where the person lived after the war, and may include birth
genealogy information . For the widow, the application usually included
details of supporting documents of marriage and depositions from neighbors, family
members, and affidavits from fellow military men.
Bounty-Land Warrant Applications
The federal government granted land as a reward for those who served wartime between
1775 and 1855. The bounty could be claimed by veterans or their heirs. The application
typically provided service data, but also may include family genealogy information
Compiling your Ancestors Military Story
Use as many archives as possible to create your ancestry and military genealogy.
You may find multiple pension applications, service or movement records and more.
If you are not successful, think about your ancestor’s siblings, cousins,
known relatives, or close friends. Their information may end up helping you to locate
your ancestor and help with building your
You can do your own in person research through a family history center, your local
genealogical society, state library, or the National Archives which has 16 locations.
Also try using the WorldCat to find what you are looking for. You may be able to
borrow books or microfilms through the inter-library loan process if what you are
looking for is owned by a library far from where you live. To the right we have
provided a few online genealogy sources to help with your research.