Bounty Land Grants from military service

Billie Harris - Jan 17, 2011

Bounty Land Grants

By Jeannette Holland Austin

After the American Revolution, soldiers received bounty lands for their service. The Federal Archives has produced 2,670 reels of film which contain an estimated 80,000 pension and bounty?land?warrant applications based on the participation of American military, naval and marine officers and enlisted men in the Revolutionary War, dating between 1800 and 1900. These reels may be viewed at a National Archives Center. Ask to see the index of Revolutionary War and Pension Records. To locate the nearest regional center to you, go to

Actually, an index has been printed for the Pension Records, which is available in most Archives. However, besides the pensions, bounty land records provide more information than any other type of military service. The provisions setting forth various Bounty Land Acts may be found in the book,"Army and Navy Pension Laws, and Bounty Land Laws of the United States"by Robert Mayo, M. D. And Ferdinand Moulton (which also includes the resolutions of Congress from 1776 to 1854 inclusive).

The conditions for bounty grants were as follows:

1. REVOLUTIONARY WAR SERVICES. The resolution of 14 August 1776 was passed to induce foreigners to leave the service of Britain in America and join the American patriots, thus becoming American citizens. Lands were granted as a Colonel, 1000 acres, Lt. Colonel, 800 acres, Major, 600 acres, Captain, 400 acres, Lieutenant, 300 acres, Ensign, 200 acres, and to non?commissioned officerrs and to all others, 100 acres. By the resolutions of 23 April 1783 and 7 April 1798, the Canadian refugees, to those of first class, not exceeding 1000 acres; to those of immediate classes, according to the prescribed rules; and to those of the last class, not to exceed 100 acres. Also, designations were made for the Director of the Medical Department, 850 acres; Chief Physician and Purveyor, 500 acres; Physicians, Surgeons and apothecaries, 450 acres; to regimental surgeons and assistants, 400 acres, and to hospital and regimental surgeon mates, 300 acres.

2. MEXICAN WAR. To non?commissioned officers, musicians, marines, etc. who served during the Medican War, the Act of 11 February 1847, the grant was 160 acres of land or, in lieu of script of $100, bearing interest, was promised non?commissioned officers, musicians and privates who wojld enlist in the regular army or volunteer corps, to serve in the War of Mexico.

3. INDIAN WARS. For those who served in the various indian wars, dating from 1790, as well as the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico, the Act of 28 September 1850 provided bounty lands be granted to commissioned officers, etc., at the rate of 160 acres or 40 acres according to their respective period of service from one to nine months.

4. WAR OF 1812. To non?commissioned officers, also soldiers with enlistments of five years (or during the war), including Canadian refugrees, those honorably discharged and heirs of those who died or were killed in service, were promised 160 acres. Later, under the Act of December 1814, a double bounty of 320 acres was granted. The Act of March 1816 granted bounties (in land extra pay) to certain Canadian volunteers, viz: Colonel, 860 acres,Major, 800 acres, Captain, 640 acres, subaltern officer, 480 acres, and non?commissioned officers, musicians and privates, 320 acres. Also to the medical and othber staff members, according to their rank.


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Jeannette Holland Austin

Billie Harris - Jan 18, 2011

What makes this good information is that it tells how many acres each person serving in the military received for bounty land.   When we see our ancestor with, say 100 acres of bounty land for the revolutionary war, we know he was probably a non-commissioned officer or if he got 200 acres, he was an ensign, or 300 acres he was a lieutenant, etc.