The American Revolution Revolutionary War Stafford Militia

Stafford Militia

On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution started at Lexington and Concord. On October 19, 1781, six years later, Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. On September 3, 1783 the final treaty recognizing American independence was signed in Paris. After eight long years, the Americans had won their independence.

Over 300 Staffordians are listed in rosters as supporting the American Revolution. The names of those who supported the Revolution through county or state government service or who performed a public service are known since this information was maintained outside of Stafford County. Substantiating military service for Staffordians in the American Revolution is virtually impossible as most of these records were lost in the Civil War. It is generally accepted that in 1776 Stafford County had approximately 400 men of military age, i.e. over 18 years and under 50 years of age.

Very few men of these men served in the Continental Army. Men recruited for the Continental Army were usually single and were very carefully selected. In October 1777, 20 men were selected from the Stafford militia to serve in the Continental Army. In May 1778, one lieutenant from the county was selected and in October 1780, an additional 45 men were selected from the county militia to serve in the Continental Army. Approximately 66 men from Stafford County served in the Continental Army. Fortunately, the names of these individuals have been preserved for posterity through Continental Army muster rolls, etc. and have been listed in several publications.

Most of the men served in the Stafford County militia. The names of officers who served in the county militia have been preserved. However, very few names of enlisted men who served in the county militia have been preserved.  By the time the militiamen became eligible for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832, most of the veterans were deceased. In addition, to qualify for a pension, a man had to be destitute. When Captain William Payne filed for a pension, he stated that all the men who had served in his company were dead.

The Stafford County militia was very active during the American Revolution. Records indicate that the militia was called up on numerous occasions to protect the Hunter Iron Works and protect the county from British raids along the Potomac. The Falmouth Blues, under Captain William Payne, participated in the attack on Redoubt #10 at Yorktown. The capture of Redoubt #10 participated the British surrender. Active participation by the Stafford County militia in the American Revolution is further substantiated by a letter, dated April 14, 1781, to Governor Thomas Jefferson requesting the Stafford militia be retained in Stafford County to protect against British raids. This letter was written when the militia was serving at Portsmouth and at Williamsburg.

The Virginia State Library has the records on Staffordians who performed Public Service and filed a Public Service Claim. Public service involved selling food supplies (grain, beeves, whiskey, etc.) to the Continental Army.     – Homer Musselman for