Where New Yorkers’ participation in the American Revolution is concerned, the genealogical record is complex. By most experts’ accounts, the primary source on this subject is New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, by James A. Roberts and Frederick G. Mather, published in two stages by the New York State Comptroller’s Office in 1898 and 1901. New York in the Revolution as Colony and State, which is available in a reprint edition from Genealogical Publishing Company, lists 52,000 men as identified in muster rolls, pay rolls, and related sources in the custody of the State Comptroller’s Office and in the office of the old U.S. War Department. Notwithstanding the primacy of Roberts and Mather’s opus, it is not comprehensive, and its contents must be supplemented by Berthold Fernow’s New York in the Revolution, published originally as Volume XV of Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York in 1887, to render a complete accounting of New York’s participation in the American Revolution.
The Fernow volume is divided into four main sections which are followed, in turn, by an Appendix and an index to the non-alphabetically arranged contents of the book. The first part of the opus consists of transcriptions of the texts of hundreds of proceedings of the Provincial Congress, Committee of Safety, and the Convention of New York relating to military matters. Here we learn, for example, how New York was called upon to furnish four regiments for the Continental Army. Next come the members of the New York Line of the Continental Army, which is arranged by regiment and thereunder by company, giving the soldier’s name, date of enlistment, term of enlistment, and date discharged, deserted, deceased, etc. The New York Line is followed by listings of Levies and Militia, arranged by county and thereunder by regiment. In most instances these rosters indicate the date the regiment was formed and the names of its officers and enlisted men. By far the largest complement of the 40,000 soldiers listed by Fernow falls within the Alphabetical Roster of State Troops. This roster indicates the soldier’s name, rank, regiment, and company, though on occasion Fernow was able to append special circumstances, such as when/where enlisted, wounded, frostbitten, captured by Indians, and so on. Among the interesting items to be found in the Appendix are lists of wounded, invalid pension recipients, and accounts of the services of some Levies and Militia.
Any researcher or library hoping to own a complete record of New York’s role in the American Revolution should acquire this reprint edition.
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