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Revolutionary War 1778-1783: Pensions

The American Revolutionary War began in Massachusettson April 19, 1775. Thedate of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia was July 4, 177

General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, with the peacetreaty being signed in 1783.

After the war ended, provisions for benefits to veterans were established, in 1789. Many of thefirst applications, however, were destroyed by fire in 1800 and again in 1814. A partial record ofearlier pensioners does exist for 1792, 1794 and 1795, in Reports to Congress. Here is how thepensions went:

1. Invalid pensioners who were disabled prior to 8/26/1776 (and since 4/19/1775). The Act of1782 extending the provisions found that there were 1500 (invalid) pensioners on the rolls.

2. Half-pay for life went to officers, and widows of those officers. This began in 1780; then in1788 Congress granted seven years half-pay to officers who served at the end of the war.

3. 2,480 officers received Commutation Certificates, however, delayed payments existed.

4. The Law of 1818 provided that every indigent person who had served to the war's close, or fornine months or longer, would receive a pensions. When the law was rewritten in 1820, manynames were removed from the pension rolls because they were not indigent.

5. In 1832 most of the benefits were stripped.

By 1867 most of the pensioners on the rolls were dead, even though two names went on the rollsthereafter. The last old soldier to die was Daniel F. Bakeman, who died 4/15/1869, at the age of109 years. In 1869, there were 887 widows on the rolls. And, believe it or not, in 1906, there wasstill one widow on the pension list. She was Esther S. Damon, who died 11/11/1906.

Estimates are that 20,485 soldiers were granted pensions in 1818, and 1,200 in 1828, and 33,425in 1832.

In 1789 the Federal Government assumed responsibility of the State's invalid pensions forsoldiers on the Continental Line, and in 1804 they assumed all S. C. Invalid pensions,Continental Line.

Sources of Research at Family History Centers:

Family History Centers have on microfilm "Miscellaneous Numbered Records (the ManuscriptFile) of the Revolutionary War. This includes 35,000 documents such as letters, pay accounts,oaths of allegiance, pensions, and enlisted papers. 125 reels of microfilm. The index is on 39reels of microfilm.American Prisoners of the Revolution by Dandridge, film #0844970

Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the RevolutionaryWar in Organizations from the State of North Carolina, A-Q, film #0821595. R-Z, film#0821596

Index to the Names of the Braunschweig Corps Who Remained in America, 1776-1783, film#1036138

Index to the Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, by John P. Buter, Vol. 1-3, film#1035704. Vol. 4-5, film #1035705.

Pension Books at most Archives:

The Pension Index, alphabetical by surname, lists State, pension no., etc. If the soldier appliedand receive a pension his pension number was prefixed by "S". If his widow received hispension, prefix was "W", and if the pension was rejected, prefix was "R". It is worthwhilereading the rejected pensions, because this provides genealogical data, as well as all theapplications.

Pensions are great sources of information - they contain

1. Soldier's name, rank, where enlisted, battles fought in, etc.

2. Wife's name (or widow), date and place of marriage.

3. Bible records of family members, as sometimes indigent "children" took up the pension.

4. Place of residence of soldier, when enlisting, when applying, and other family members.

5. Date of death of soldier (widow's pension).

All of the Revolutionary War Pensions have been abstracted and are at most Archives.These are large books and include a number of volumes. Also, the Federal Archives havethe original pensions on microfilm....reading these (as opposed to the abstracts) is quiteinteresting, because of details of exciting battles, and personal information.

This article may be freely reprinted or distributed if you include a byline of my websitehttp://www.georgiapioneers.com

Submitted by:

Jeannette Austin

Jeannette Austin

I have traced personal genealogies for over 40 years, mostly on those ancestors from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. As a result, huge databases emerged. Additionally, in order to share the information, I have written over 75 books pertaining to family genealogies and research. These books may be found in regional libraries and State Archives in the United States. My current websites also house tons of genealogical data. www.georgiapioneers.com, a subscriber website, houses millions of pages of genealogies, notes, county records, bible records, births, deaths, marriages....simply a growing collection from my continuing files. My ultimate purpose is to provide the ultimate website for Georgia research.

During 2006, I offer FREE genealogical research on Georgia families to "subscribers" of www.georgiapioneers.comThe data from this effort will be sent to the subscriber as well as be placed on the website





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