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FINDING YOUR REVOLUTIONARY WAR ANCESTOR, 1775–1783

The Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775 in Lexington, Massachusetts. Men between the ages of 16 and 60 may have served sometime during the war in either the Continental Army, State Line Troops, or local militia mustered to help the Continental Troops. Those who supported the rebellion may be mentioned in records as a rebel or patriot. Loyalists or Tories were those who opposed the rebellion.

Search Service records to find the military unit.

Military service records may give name, rank, dates of service, age, place of residence prior to enlistment, physical description, and date and place of discharge or death.

1. Search the General Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Revolutionary War Soldiers, Sailors, and Members of Army Staff Departments.

This National Archives index is available on microfilm at the Family History Library on the second floor. They have also been copied into books located on the U.S. and Canada floors.

 Search either the microfilm index or the book index.

• Microfilm Index. To find the film numbers, go to the Family History Library Catalog on computer. Using the Film/Fiche Search, type in the number 882841, which is the first film in this collection. Click on the General Index... and then the View Film Notes button. Scroll down until you find the film number that would contain the last name of your ancestor. The microfilm index will provide the soldier’s name, rank, company, and unit of service.

Film number _______________________________

□ Get the film, put it on a reader, and look for your ancestor’s name.

□ If your ancestor’s name is in the index, write his military unit below.

• Book Index. Find FHL Book 973 M22wv. Index to Revolutionary War Service Records. 4 vols. Virgil D. White. ed. Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing, 1995.

□ If your ancestor’s name is in the index, write the information below.

Military unit_________________________________

2. Search the Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War.

To find the film numbers, go to the Library Catalog on computer. Under the Film/Fiche Search, type in the film number 882841. Click on the title Compiled Service Records..., and then the View Film Notes button. Scroll past the index until you find the military unit you wrote above. You may have to scroll through several screens and click on the Next Film Notes button at the bottom of each screen to find the unit. Then look alphabetically for the person’s name.


Film number ________________________________

□ Get the film, put it on a reader, and look alphabetically for your ancestor’s name.

□ Make a copy of the documents, and record the results of the search on your Research Log.

Search for your ancestor’s pension and bounty land records.

Pension records may give information about a veteran’s military service, wife and children, and place of residence. The federal government issued pensions or bounty land to veteran’s who met eligibility requirements or to their widows. Pension and bounty land files are available on microfilm at the Family History Library.

1. Search Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files. Virgil D. White, ed., 4 vols. Waynesboro, Tenn.: National Historical Publishing, 1990 92. FHL Book 973 M28g.

Copies of these pension file abstracts are located in the reference areas on the U.S. and Canada floors.

□ If you find your ancestor, record the information for your files.

2. Search the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Application Files, 1800 1900.

These National Archives films are available at the Family History Library and are arranged alphabetically by the veteran’s name. They are also available for a fee at www.footnote.com. This site is free at the Family History Library. To locate film numbers, go to the Family History Library Catalog on computer. Using the Film/Fiche Search, type in film number 970001, which is the first film in this collection. Click on the title and the View Film Notes button. Scroll through the last names until you find the film number for your ancestor’s last name.


Film number _______________________________

□ Get the film, put it on a reader, and look alphabetically for your ancestor’s name.

□ Make copies of the documents, and record the results of the search on your Research Log.

Tips: Many soldiers fought for only a few days or weeks. Those with limited service may not have been eligible for a pension or bounty land, even though they may have fought in several battles.

Search other sources.

□ Consult the U.S. Military Records Research Outline (34118) pages 12 18 for further help in Revolutionary War records. If you have access to the Internet, read additional information on the FamilySearch Research Wiki https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/United_States_Military_Records

□ Consult the military records section of the research outline for the state in which your ancestor enlisted for additional state records of Revolutionary war service.

□ For information on Revolutionary ancestors compiled by lineage societies, see the half sheet guide DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and SAR (Sons of the American Revolution), found in the reference areas on the U.S. and Canada floors.

□ For information on Loyalists, or those who opposed the rebellion, see the half-sheet guide Loyalists in the U.S. Revolutionary War, found in the reference areas on the U.S. and Canada floors.

□ Look in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under the name of the state, county, and town and the topics: Military Records Military Records—Revolution, 1775–1783