Your ancestor's name may be held in these index cards from the Battalions and Line and the Associated Battalions and Militia from Pennsylvania, fighting on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
These index cards were created from the four volumes of the Pennsylvania militia, as found in Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution: Battalions and Line, 1775 – 1783 (published in 1880) and Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution: Associated Battalions and Militia, 1775 – 1783 (published in 1890). The cards are a name index that list names, sometimes rank, and a reference to the original volume. They are a tremendous starting point for learning more about your Pennsylvania Revolutionary War ancestor.
While these cards are very helpful in determining if your revolutionary ancestor was directly involved in the fighting of the war, they are also essential for determining how they were involved. During this period, the American colonies did not have a standing army in place – nor did they want one. They relied on the British “red coats” for protection and assumed that if problems were to arise, more units would be sent from overseas. The local militia was seen as a temporary solution to handle any quick engagement that was needed for protection, but they did not stray too far from home nor did they expect to serve for long periods of time.
As a result, when independence was declared and the Patriot organizers rushed to form military forces, each state had to organize their own system and policies. There were numerous types of troops during the Revolutionary War era, and in Pennsylvania, these included associations, militia, and line troops. Associations were locally organized and came together voluntarily. These were replaced by the state militia in 1777. Pennsylvania required all white men between 18 and 53 years to enroll in the militia. The Continental Army held the line troops, who were enlistees and were committed to long-term service.
While records vary from card to card, you will often learn:
Name of the soldier
Reference note to the volume and page number in the original text
Their type of involvement, listed as “associators and militia” or “battalions and line”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Copyright Findmypast; images courtesy Historical Society of Pennsylvania