Revolutionary War Pension Records and Bounty Land Warrants
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.)
Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications
"Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files" (NARA M804) cover abt. 80,000 pension and bounty land warrant application files. Most are dated between 1800 and 1900.
See the official NARA pamphlet explaining these records in detail at M804.pdf.
Where to Find the Records
The National Archives has pension applications and records of pension payments for veterans, their widows, and other heirs. The pension records are based on service in the armed forces of the United States between 1775 and 1916.
Categories of pension/bounty land files available using NATF Form 85:
- A complete Federal pre-Civil War military pension application based on Federal military service before 1861 (includes the Pension Documents Packet.)
- A pension document packet that contains reproductions of eight documents containing genealogical information about the pension applicant, to the extent these documents are present in the file.
- A complete military bounty land application file based on service 1775-1855 (includes only rejected Revolutionary War applications).
- Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files (FamilySearch) - index only
- A wiki article describing this collection is found at:
- Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (Ancestry) ($)
- Revolutionary War Pensions (Fold3) ($)
- Locate these records at a library using Worldcat.
- Family History Library (On 2,670 FHL films beginning with 0970001)
1835 Pension Roll
The 1835 Pension Roll (covers 27 states and one district) is available online. On June 5, 1834, the U.S. Senate required the Secretary of War to submit a statement showing the names of Revolutionary War pensioners who were on the pension rolls or had previously been on the pension rolls. The Secretary of War submitted the list of pensioners to the Senate in 1835.
The 1835 Pension Roll was published in three volumes. A 1992 reprint in four volumes (FHL 973 M24ua 1992) is also available.
Content of the Records
Where to Find the Records
- Volume I (Google Books) - Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont.
- Volume II (Google Books) - New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia.
- Volume III (Google Books) - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Territory of Michigan, Territory of Arkansas, Territory of Florida, District of Columbia.
1992 reprint in four volumes:
- Volume I (Ancestry) ($) - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.
- Volume II (Ancestry) ($) - Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.
- Volume III (Ancestry) ($)- District of Columbia, Maryland, Alabama, Territory of Arkansas, Territory of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia.
- Volume IV (Ancestry) ($) - Illinois, Indiana, Territory of Michigan, Missouri, Ohio.
A WeRelate page also lists various resources for these records.
- "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 1976) This index contains the name of the veteran and or the widow with the state and pension or bounty land warrant number.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Military Records: Pre-WWI Pension Applications (16 minute online video)
- FamilySearch Research Classes Online, .
- United States. National Archives and Records Service. Pamphlet Describing M804: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files. Washington, D.C., National Archives And Record Service, 1974.
- United States. Congress. Report from the Secretary of War, in Obedience to Resolutions of The Senate of the 5th and 30th of June,1834, and the 3rd of March, 1835, in Relation to the Pension Establishment of the United States: Volume One. Washington, Duff Green, 1835.