Pennsylvania Military Records

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

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Because of the Quaker influence, Pennsylvania had no formal militia until the French and Indian War, when it became necessary to defend its citizens on the western frontier. Most original state military records up through the Vietnam War are in the Pennsylvania State Archives. Information from the time of World War II is restricted.

Many names of soldiers and sailors, from the time of the French and Indian War through the Mexican War, are found in the volumes of Pennsylvania Archives, particularly in the 2d, 5th, and 6th series, although research in these should be supplemented by records at the state archives and the National Archives. For the specific Pennsylvania Archives volumes, consult the guides listed under Background Sources. For this period, the following should also be mentioned:

  • Cope, Harry E., comp. List of Soldiers and Widows of Soldiers Granted Revolutionary War Pensions by Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, edited by Mrs. Daniel L. Whitehead. Greensburg, Pa.: Phoebe Bayard Chapter DAR, 1976. Indexes acts of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
  • Laverty, Bruce. Colonial Muster Rolls at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1983. Reproduces copies of original rolls with name index.
  • Muster Rolls of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of 1812'1814. Reprinted from Pennsylvania Archives. 2d series, vol. 12. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967. Only officers are indexed.
  • Stevens, S. K. and others. The Papers of Henry Bouquet (1755'65). 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1951'94. Volume 7 is in preparation.

The following should be consulted for background reading:

  • Jackson, John W. The Pennsylvania Navy, 1775'1781. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1974.
  • Kent, Donald H. The French Invasion of Western Pennsylvania. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1981.
  • Roach, Hannah Benner. "The Pennsylvania Militia in 1777,' The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 23 (1964): 161-229. Reprinted as pamphlets with name index, 1975.
  • Sipe, C. Hale. The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania. 2d ed., with A Supplement. Harrisburg, Pa.: Telegraph Press, 1931.
  • Trussell, John B. B., Jr. The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations, 1775'1783. Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977.
  • Waddell, Louis M. and Bruce D. Bomberger. The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, 1753'1763: Fortification and Struggle During the War for Empire (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1996).

Much interesting material is located at the David Library of the American Revolution, River Rd., Box 48, Washington Crossing, PA 18977'0048 which has a guide to its microform holdings: David J. Fowler, Guide to the Sol Feinstone Collection of the David Library of the American Revolution (Washington Crossing, Pa.: David Library, 1994).

Like the other Mid-Atlantic colonies, there were Loyalists in Pennsylvania, mostly in the southeastern part of the colony, many of whom left for England or Canada. Some are identified in Anne M. Ousterhouk, 'Opponents of the Revolution Whose Pennsylvania Estates Were Confiscated,' Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 30 (1978): 237-53. See also 'Forfeited Estates Accounts' in Pennsylvania Archives, 6th series, vols. 12-13. For a detailed study, see Wilbur H. Siebert, 'The Loyalists of Pennsylvania,' Ohio State University Bulletin 24 (1920; reprint, Boston: Gregg, 1972). Copies of muster rolls of the Pennsylvania Loyalist Regiment are at the Public Archives of Canada and the Library of Congress.

Samuel P. Bates, History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861'65, 5 vols. (Harrisburg, Pa.: B. Singerly, 1869'71) was reprinted by Broadfoot Publishing Company (Wilmington, Del., 1994) to include an every-name index. Also consult the National Archives microfilm Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers in Pennsylvania Organizations, available at the National Archives'Mid-Atlantic Region and the Pennsylvania State Library. There is also a separate, every-name index in the state archives.

Antoinette J. Segraves compiled 'A Guide to Pennsylvania Soldiers in the Mexican War,' published in The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, vols. 36-38 (1986'94).

Record of Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898, 2d ed. (Philadelphia: Wm. Stanley Ray, 1901) was compiled by the Pennsylvania Adjutant General's Office. The state archives has many records of the American Revolution, Civil War, Spanish-American War, and other military matters on its website.

The original cards for the fourth registration of the World War II draft, providing information on men ages forty-five through sixty-four in April 1942, are at the National Archives'Mid-Atlantic Region.

Soldier discharges since the Civil War are usually in the office of the county recorder of deeds, but are restricted. Veterans' grave and burial records are kept in the Office of the Director of Veterans' Affairs at the county courthouses, with copies at the state archives.