Do you know how many of your great-grandfathers fought for America's independence in the American Revolution? I didn't know of any in my family when I began the quest for my heritage, I was very surprised to learn that at least twelve of my great-grandfathers are found in the muster rolls. I couldn't understand how that information was lost to my generation, though. It was only 250 years ago, so why was the information so far removed from me?
What I noticed is that nearly all my known grandfathers who were living in America during the 1770's fought in the war, and then it occurred to me that maybe no one talked about it because nearly all the men (of fighting age) in America at the time fought in the war and therefore it was common knowledge and not necessary to re-tell. Sadly, a few generations later, the information was lost and millions of us have no idea how personal the Revolutionary War was and is to us.
The fact is, if you have colonial American roots, hundreds of your grandfathers could have fought in the Revolution. I created the table below to put it into perspective. It depends on your generation, so first find your age bracket on the left. Then you can see how many generations back your patriot ancestors lived. Being that I was born in the 1970s, my timeline is shown next to "48-72" age bracket. I can see that the war took place when my great-grandfathers in generations 10 and 11 (my 7th and 8th great-grandfathers) lived. We each have 512 7th great-grandfathers and 1,024 8th great-grandfathers, so people in my generation could have up to 1,536 forefathers who fought in the war. Children born recently could have about 6,000 patriot forefathers if both of their parents have Colonial roots! If one parent's family immigrated after the war, but one parent's family was here, they could still have the blood of 3,000 patriots flowing through their veins. What an amazing legacy to possess but not realize!
Knowing that my own grandfathers were involved in the Revolution made it so much more personal for me. The DNA of these men is in every cell of my body! I suddenly became interested in the battles that seemed so far removed from me back when I learned about them in history class. I learned more about the war by reading their pension requests than I did through all my school years. The bloody battles were just a part of it. Our brave forefathers left their wives and children to march hundreds of miles, often in extreme weather, being cold, hungry, exhausted, and probably aching, they endured and most importantly, they won.
Some people say genealogy is worthless, but knowing my ancestors risked it all to provide millions of Americans with almost 250 years of freedom and independence is priceless.
If you haven't discovered any of our Revolutionary heroes in your roots yet, keep digging. When you find them it will give you and your family a sense of pride that money can't buy. It's not an arrogant pride or a racist pride, but inspirational and eye-opening pride. It doesn't mean we or they are any better than anyone but it means our ancestors made life better for billions of Americans over the past 250 years and hopefully for billions more in the future.
Check out my list of resources for military records here. One of my favorite resources is the Daughters of the American Revolution's Lineage Books, which you can find here. It wasn't until recently, however, that I learned about The DAR Patriot Index, which I discovered after finding the three volume set for sale. I was glad to see that the evolving index is now online at the NSDAR website where you can search for free and order copies of applications submitted in the past by other descendants of your ancestors, which could provide you with more valuable clues about your family. Also, proving your connection to confirmed patriots can be used to apply for DAR membership, if you are interested in joining the organization.
Use these links to search the DAR Patriot Index:
Disclaimer: MyGenealogyAddiction.com is not affiliated with DAR. I am just sharing this amazing resource with my readers.
If you want to know more about my military ancestors, check out the Wall of Honor.