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Madison County Genealogical Society

Minutes of the Meeting - September 8, 2011

The September 2011 meeting of the Madison County Genealogical Society was held at the Edwardsville Public Library on Thursday, September 8, at 7:00 pm.

President, Robert Ridenour, called the meeting to order.

The following reports were presented.

Financial report for the month of August 2011, as follows:



Do you have a family member that is interested in (or even obsessed with) genealogy? A membership in the Madison County Genealogical Society would be a very thoughtful gift. A gift card will be sent to the recipient of any gift membership.

The following memberships are available:
Individual/Family Annual Membership $20.00
Patron Annual Membership $30.00
Life Membership $250.00

Contact our Secretary, Barbara Hitch, at, about a gift membership.

September Meeting

On September 8, 2011, the Madison County Genealogical Society held its regular meeting at the Edwardsville Public Library. A program titled Citizen Soldiers: Researching Your Revolutionary War Ancestors was presented by Tom Pearson of the Special Collections Department of the St. Louis Public Library.

Tom started the program with an explanation of the makeup and organization of the Revolutionary War Army and the problems facing the Continental Congress and the Army.

Revolutionary War Armies
The American Army in the Revolutionary War consisted of: Troops of the Continental Line, State Militia troops, and French troops temporarily attached to Washington's army.

The Continental Army
Continental Congress initially (1775-1776) authorized 26 regiments of 728 men each, for a total of 20,384 men. Regiments to be raised would also include one regiment of riflemen and one regiment of artillery. General Washington only managed to enlist about 9,000 of the 20,384 men authorized. He was ultimately authorized to enlist 88 battalions totaling 60,000 men; (8 companies to a battalion). Washington rarely, however, had more than 30,000 men available for service, and often had 15,000 or less in the field and ready for action.

Organization of the Continental Army
The Continental Army was divided into a Northern Army (New England and the Middle Colonies) and a Southern Army (the Carolinas and Georgia). Both armies were nominally under the command of General Washington, but army commanders also reported directly to the Continental Congress.

Problems Facing the Continental Congress and Its Armies
Numerous restrictions on federal powers: cannot tax directly or directly raise an army (must make request to the various colonies).
Roads in colonies in uniformly poor shape.
Weak navy handicaps efforts to supply army with weapons, ammunition, and other equipment, and allows relatively free movement of British soldiers and supplies from occupied port to port.
Unable to manufacture some essential items in North America.
Feuding colonial governors.
General mistrust of central authority.
Little uniformity in militia training methods.
Farmers reluctant to enlist in army for extended periods of service.

Tom talked about the different records available to search for information on your Revolutionary War ancestor.

NARA Revolutionary War Record Sets

Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783
Personnel, pay, and supply records of American Army units in the Revolutionary War NARA Series M246 (138 rolls)

The records reproduced in this microfilm publication are arranged by numbered folders ("jackets") under three broad categories:

1. Individual State Listings (alphabetically by state)
Units arranged under individual States include regular units of the Continental Army raised in one State plus elements of its militia and other volunteer units.

Within each State grouping, numbered units (arranged numerically) generally precede named units (usually arranged alphabetically).

2. Continental Troops
Units arranged under "Continental Troops" consist primarily of: specialized units created by the Continental Congress, infantry regiments organized as a result of the Continental Congress resolutions of 1776, and continental units raised in more than one State.

Continental Troops are arranged in three parts: cavalry, artillery, and artificer units, arranged by type, with numbered units usually preceding named units; numbered infantry regiments of 1776, arranged numerically; and "additional regiments," arranged alphabetically (e.g., Commander in Chief's Guard, the German Regiment, the company of Delaware Indians).

3. Miscellaneous
The section designated "Miscellaneous" is reserved for the returns of units larger than a regiment and special returns not easily classified under another designation.

They include returns of the French Army under Count Rochambeau, arranged chronologically; brigade, division, and army returns, arranged by organization and thereunder chronologically; and general returns of Washington's Army, also arranged chronologically.

Special returns include: Hospital and Quartermaster General's Departments, arranged by department and there under chronologically; Guard reports; and Prisoner-of-war lists.

A typical pay roll can include: Name, Rank, Time of engagement, Time of discharge, Time of service, Rate per month, Amount of wages, Compensation for miles traveled plus officers' rations, Total of wages, rations, travel, Provisions drawn, Balance due, and Signature of recipient.

Compiled Military Service Records
U.S. Adjutant-General Office General Index to Compiled Military Service Records of Revolutionary War Soldiers.
 Roll Contents
 1  A- Ange
2  Angi - Ballan
3  Ballar - Bearne
4  Bearnh - Biso
5  Biss - Box
6  Boy - Brown, Joh
7  Brown, Jon - Bur
8  Bus - Cartel
9  Carter - Chp
10  Chr - Cold

Revolutionary War Pension Files
Revolutionary War veterans were granted pensions based on specific acts of Congress. The act of 18 March 1818 granted a pension to veterans of the Navy and Continental Line with a minimum of nine months service. There was also a financial need requirement (prior to this date, applicants had to be physically disabled to receive a Revolutionary War pension). The act of 1 May 1820 required applicants to submit property schedules proving their financial neediness. The act of 7 June 1832 granted a pension to any Revolutionary War vet who could prove at least six months service, without a requirement to prove financial need. The act of 4 July 1836 allowed pensions to Revolutionary War widows who had been married to the vet while he was in service. The act of 29 July 1836 allowed pensions to widows who had married the Revolutionary War vet prior to 2 January 1800. The Acts of 1853 and 1855 finally removed all restrictions on widows' pensions relating to date of marriage.

Revolutionary War pension files average thirty pages in length, but can be as long as two hundred pages. As part of a project completed in 1912, pension application papers of a survivor and widow were consolidated in a single envelope if the claims seemed to be based on the service of the same person. Approved Revolutionary War bounty-land warrant application papers were also flattened and consolidated with pension application papers at that time.

Revolutionary War pension application files have headings normally consisting of the name of the State or organization for which a veteran served, his name, and either the letter: "S" for survivor, "W" for widow, or "R" for rejected, followed by a file number.

There is also a "No Papers" file for Revolutionary War pension application files that were destroyed in the 1800 War Department fire or the 1814 British burning of Washington, DC.

"BLW" files (Bounty Land Warrant application files) are normally combined with the "S", "W", or "R" Revolutionary War pension application files.

Veteran Pension Application Information
A veteran's Revolutionary War pension application normally provides: rank, unit, period of service, age or date of birth, residence, sometimes birthplace. Property schedules sometimes also provide names and ages of a veteran's wife and children.

Widow's Pension Application Information
The application of a widow seeking a pension or a bounty land warrant may provide: her age, residence, maiden name, date and place of marriage, date and place of death of her husband, and names and birth dates of children still at home.

Bounty Land
Bounty land acts (state and federal) entitling Revolutionary War veterans to bounty land were issued during the time period 1775-1855.

Revolutionary War Army privates who served in the Continental Line and Navy sailors were entitled to 100 acres. Later acts of Congress made Revolutionary War vets eligible to receive 160 acres (a quarter-section). Those who had earlier been awarded 100 acres could select more public domain land to make up the difference (60 acres). Bounty land warrants were initially redeemable only in special military districts. Beginning in 1847, bounty land warrants could be used to claim any public domain federal land.

Most Revolutionary War military bounty land (state and federal) was located in the present-day states of: Maine, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Most military bounty land was awarded by the federal government, although some states also did including: Georgia, Massachusetts (in Maine), New York, North Carolina (in Tennessee), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia (in Ohio).

State Bounty Land Grants are covered in Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants: Awarded by State Governments by Bockstruck, Lloyd Dewitt. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996.

Less than 1 in 10 ex-soldiers actually settled on the bounty land awarded to them by Congress; most sold their warrants to speculators.

Most Revolutionary War soldiers claimed bounty lands in the Virginia Military District (4 million acres) and the U.S. Military District of Ohio (2.5 million acres).

The U.S. Military District in Ohio
Bounty warrants for land in this district were issued to men who served in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Line from any state. Land entries in this district ended in 1832.

Bounty Land Scrip
Scrip was issued for outstanding U.S. Military District of Ohio warrants when available land there ran out. Scrip (which was issued in acreage denominations) could only be redeemed at General Land Offices in: Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1842, scrip was declared redeemable at any GLO office.

Acts of 1850, 1852, and 1855
The acts of 1850, 1852, and 1855 were unique in that they were not passed in order to encourage enlistment, but rather to reward men who had previously served and been awarded no bounty land at that time, or had served but had been awarded less than 160 acres of land for their service.

Navy Personnel and Privateers
If your ancestor was a privateer, you should check the microfilm The Revolutionary War Prize Cases: Records of the Court of Appeal in Cases of Capture, 1776-1787. M162. 15 rolls.

Information about Revolutionary War veterans, units, equipment, etc. may be found in the following Lists and Archives:

Cyndi's List: American Revolution
Delaware Public Archives Guide To Revolutionary War Records
Worldcat.Org Search For State Soldier Lists In Books

Library Subject Headings Of Interest

American loyalists--Registers.
Bounties, Military--Tennessee.
Land grants--Tennessee.
Maryland--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Registers.
Maryland. Militia--History--18th century.
Military pensions--United States--Revolution, 1775-1783.
Soldiers--United States--Registers.
United States. Continental Army--History--Registers.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--British forces.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Campaigns.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Registers.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Registers of dead.
United States--History --Revolution, 1775-1783--Regimental histories.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783 --Regimental histories-- American loyalists.

Revolutionary War Web Sites of Interest

Cyndi's List
DAR Library
American Revolution Resources
General Land Office Records
Library of Congress
Google Books

If you have any questions, Mr. Pearson can be reached at

This presentation was well received and generated quite a few questions.