Revolutionary War Research in Maryland
Essential Starting Sources at the Maryland State Archives
To locate Revolutionary War records for a specific individual, start with the following resources:
- MARYLAND INDEX (Pension Records, Revolutionary War, Index), 1778-1861. Index 48, MSA S1421
- MARYLAND INDEX (Oaths of Fidelity, Index), 1778. Index 47, MSA S1420
- MARYLAND INDEX (Census, Index), 1776 and 1778. Index 46, MSA S1419
- MARYLAND INDEX (Revolutionary War Records, Index), 1776-1798. Index 50, MSA S1423
- MARYLAND INDEX (Revolutionary War Papers, Index), 1775-1789. Index 49, MSA S1422
- MARYLAND INDEX (Maryland State Papers). An Inventory of Maryland State Papers: The Revolutionary War Era, 1775-1789, Papenfuse et. al. (REF A-1-3), includes several series pertaining to the Revolutionary War. For instance, the Red Books contain many lists of Oaths of Fidelity; there are papers of the various Conventions and Committees, enlistment papers, and other documents pertaining to the period 1775-1783. Many of these State Papers are available online or in book form in the Library. The descriptions of each item can be searched either by using the Advanced Google tool from "Search the Archives", or by using the "Find in Page" function on the various item inventories appearing in each series description. When using the Advanced Google Search, remember to enter the web address: msa.maryland.gov on the Domains Line. LIBRARY, Archives of Maryland, Maryland Historical Society, Volumes 11 and 18, REF-E-3. These records are available online as part of the Archives of Maryland Online.
- LIBRARY, Maryland Militia in the Revolutionary War, Clements, S. Eugene and F. Edward Wright, REF-A-1-4.
- LIBRARY, Revolutionary Patriots of... Series, Peden, Henry C., REF-A-1-4.
The Revolutionary War and Its Records
Beginning with the Revolutionary War, it should be remembered that records of service and records of veterans' benefits may be found at both the federal and state level. The National Archives in Washington contains records taken from muster rolls. Each soldier's records are on 3½ x 8 cards showing his name, rank, military organization, name of state from which he served, the date or dates his name appears on one or more of the rolls, and occasionally the dates of his enlistment and/or discharge. There is a card index to service records of individual soldiers, which have been compiled from many different sources. The best guide for military records is Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, published by the National Archives in 1982. (Location: REF D-1-1)
Each state has its own collection of records pertaining to the Revolutionary War.
- In Maryland, the records of the Governor and Council include Applications, 1781-1783 MSA S1084 and a Commission Record, 1726-1837, MSA S1080.
- The Office of the Auditor General created Muster Rolls MSA S152 for the years 1776-1780.
- The Maryland State Archives has a card index to many Revolutionary War Papers MSA S1422.
- Free white males over the age of 18 were required to take an Oath of Fidelity MSA S1420.
In addition to the military records, there are the records of veteran's benefits, which often have more genealogical information, because most of the laws providing such benefits were enacted years after the Revolution. These often contain biographical information telling what happened to the soldier between the war and the time of application for benefits.
There are two types of records of veteran's benefits: Pensions and Bounty Land. Pension records include the application of the soldier or his widow. Pension rolls may help to trace the migration of families. All papers in each soldier's folder have been microfilmed, and can be seen at the National Archives, or may be purchased from the National Archives.
In the early days of the War for Independence, the Continental Congress authorized the granting of 50 acres of land to each prIvate and to each non-commissioned officer. Some states also promised to grant land to veterans of the Revolutionary War (See The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, by Val D. Greenwood, Baltimore: The Genealogical Publishing Company, pp. 330-331).
- In Maryland, the Land Office compiled a Military Lots Ledger MSA S4.
- There is also an Index to Pensions MSA S1421 granted by the State of Maryland to veterans and/or their widows.
Some Federal Laws pertaining to Revolutionary Pensions:
- Act of 1792 paid pensions for disability. Some claims found in "War Office Letter Book, 1791-1794," were published in volume 46 (1958) of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.
- The Act of 1818 granted pensions to Revolutionary War veterans who were not disabled. A minimum of nine month's service was required, and there had to be some evidence that the veteran was in need.
- An Act passed in 1832 gave a pension for 6 months' service in any branch of the military.
- The Act of 1836 allowed the veteran's widow to apply for a pension if she had been married to him before the end of the Revolution. The Applications of the widows contain a great deal of family information and may even include pages from Family Bibles.
- Soldiers were also granted pensions or other financial relief by the State Governments.
Other kinds of records pertaining to this period are:
- Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence and Safety.
- Lists of those who took the Oath of Allegiance.
- State Papers, which may show: lists of delegates, appointments to the various committees, petitions of militia and army members, accounts of civil disorders, and petitions from civilians.
- There may also be records of loyalists and non-jurors (those who did not take the Oath of Allegiance), and records of the sufferings of Friends. (Members of the religious Society of Friends were not permitted to bear arms, or swear oaths of allegiance, and as a result, were often forced to pay triple taxes, in addition to having their livestock commandeered or confiscated)
Greenwood (p. 511) states that many genealogists do not consult Revolutionary records because they do not consider the possibility that an ancestor actually served in the War. Greenwood goes on to suggest some times when you should consult these records:
- Any time you are working on a line that was in America before the Revolution, you should check not only for direct ancestors but for possible collateral lines: pension applications may contain depositions, family references, or even Family Bibles.
- Any time a known male ancestor was in America at the time of the Revolution, the possibility of service must be considered. If a known ancestor was born in America anytime between the beginning of the year and the twenty years following, bear in mind that his or her father may have served. The index to pensioners and books about Revolutionary soldiers in your state may provide helpful clues.
Bibliography: The Revolutionary War
Please note, not all of these sources are available in the Archives library. If available, locations are noted in the citation.
Abbreviations Used for Periodicals:
- HT: History Trails (pub. by the Baltimore County Historical Society)
- MDG: Maryland and Delaware Genealogist
- MGB: Maryland Bulletin (published by Robert Hayes)
- MGSB: Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin
- MHM: Maryland Historical Magazine
- NB: The Notebook (published by the Baltimore County Genealogical Society)
Books and Articles:
- "Baltimore Artificers Company, 1777." MHM 2:367., Location: REF E-1
- "Baltimore Independent Cadets, 1774." MHM 4:372., Location: REF E-1
- "Baltimore Town Battalion and Militia, 1779." MGB 6:4.
- Barrens, Robert. "Obituaries of Revolutionary Soldiers from Baltimore Newspapers.." MGSB 6 (1) 6-7, (2) 34-35, (3) 52-53, (4) 96-98, 10 (2) 55-57., Location: REF E-2-3
- Clark, Murtie June. Index to U. S. Invalid Pension Records, 1801-1815. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1991., Location: REF A-1-1
- Clark, Murtie June. Pension Lists of 1792-1795 With Other Revolutionary Pension Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1991., Location: REF A-1-1
- Clark, Murtie June. Pension Roll of 1835. Indexed Edition in Four Volumes. 4 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992., Location: REF A-1-1
- Clements, S. Eugene Clements and F. Edward Wright. Maryland Militia in the Revolutionary War. Silver Spring: Family Line, 1987., Location: REF A-1-1, 2-3-2
- Cook, Eleanor M. V. “A List of 20 Recruits Raised in Montgomery County Pursuant to the Act of Assembly Entitled 'An Act to Procure Recruits'” Anno 1781. MGSB 33 (1) 155-156., Location: REF E-2-3
- Culver, Francis B. "Last Bloodshed of the Revolution." MHM 5:329-338., Location: REF E-1
- Meyer, Mary K. "Captain John Fulford's Company, February 13, 1776 to May 21, 1777." MHM 69:93-97., Location: REF E-1
- Meyer, Mary K. "Revolutionary War Soldiers Granted Pensions by the State of Maryland." pub. serially in the MGSB 4 (4) 32-33 through 7 (1) 21., Location: REF E-2-3
- Meyer, Mary K. Westward of Fort Cumberland, Military Lots Set Off For Maryland's Revolutionary Soldiers. 1994, Location: REF A-4-1
- "Militia, 1779," MHM , 7:90., Location: REF E-1
- “Militia Company Enrollment, Cecil County, Captain Stephen Hyland MSA c1775,” MGSB 33 (02) 340., Location: REF E-2-3
- Miller, Richard E. "Some Little Known Data Regarding Maryland Signers of the Oath of Fidelity." MGSB 27 (1) 101-124., Location: REF E-2-3
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications, 1992., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Baltimore Town and Baltimore County, 1775-1783. Silver Spring: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4, Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Calvert and St. Mary's Counties, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Caroline County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Charles County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Dorchester County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Harford County, 1775-1783. Bel Air: The Author, 1985., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Kent and Queen Anne's Counties, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Montgomery County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Prince George's County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publications., Location: REF A-1-4
- Peden, Henry C., Jr. Revolutionary Patriots of Talbot County, Maryland, 1775-1783. Westminster: Family Line Publication., Location: REF A-1-4
- Pension List of 1820. Repr.: Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1991., Location: REF A-1-4
- "Proceedings of the Baltimore Town and Baltimore County Committee of Observation, 1774-1776," MS., MHS
- Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Repr.: Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 1991.
- “Recruits for the Maryland Line,” MGSB 33 (2) 353., Location: REF E-2-3
- Retzer, Henry J. The German Regiment of Maryland and Pennsylvania in the Continental Army, 1776-1781. Westminster: Family Line Pubs., 1991., Location: 8-3-3
- "Revolutionary Militia, Baltimore," MGB, 15:12.
- "Revolutionary Pensioners of Baltimore, Maryland, 1840," MGB 2:28.
- Skipper, William T. "Pay Roll of the Revolutionary War." NB 1 (27) 2.
- Steuart, Rieman. A History of the Maryland Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783. Towson: Metropolitan Press, 1969., Location: REF A-1-4
- Wright, F. Edward. "Revolutionary War Papers of the Maryland Historical Society: Manuscript Ms. 1814, a Genealogical View." MGSB 33 (2) 358-374., Location: REF E-2-3
For more information on Maryland and the Revolutionary War, please search our library catalog.
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