Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Continental Army Record Book, 1778-1783

Finding aid created by
Catherine Emery and Shannon Wait, July 2010

Summary Information
Title: Continental Army record book
Creator: United States. Continental Army
Inclusive dates: 1778-1783
Extent: 98 leaves (1 volume)
The United States Continental Army record book contains weekly and monthly military returns for various Continental Army brigades and regiments between March 1778 and August 1783.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1925. M-2148.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Continental Army Record Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Second Continental Congress voted to create the post of Adjutant General of the Continental Army on June 16, 1775. The first adjutant general, Major General Horatio Gates, was given the task of creating and maintaining the records of the Continental Army, including statistics on soldiers. After Gates received a field command in June 1776, eight men served successively as adjutant general during the Revolutionary War, including Colonel Alexander Scrammell, (January 5, 1778, to January 1, 1781) and Brigadier General Edward Hand (January 8, 1781, to November 3, 1783), who initiated use of the United States Continental Army record book.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The United States Continental Army record book is an elephant folio with 98 leaves, containing military returns for March 1778 to August 1783. The volume begins with returns for March 7, 1778, for brigades "under the immediate command" of George Washington stationed at Valley Forge. The regular weekly and monthly reports document the number and types of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, staff, and "rank and file members" at the brigade and regimental level. Also present are records of any alterations since the last return, including the number of soldiers killed, injured, deserted, transferred, and promoted. Various functions within the Continental Army, including artillery, cavalry, and "sappers and miners" are represented periodically within their own tables, as are invalids. After the Continental Army left Valley Forge, the adjutant general produced statistics on brigades and regiments encamped at White Plains, New York (August 1778); Fredericksburg, Virginia (October 1778); Middlebrook, New Jersey (March 1779); and New Windsor, New York (January 1781).

On December 8, 1780, the adjutant general recorded the returns of the Southern Army, commanded by Nathanael Greene. Also included are returns for regiments under General Heath in March 1781 and for Sheldon's Legion in May 1782. The volume ends with returns for August 16, 1783, and Adjutant General Edward Hand signed the final page.

Subject Terms

    • United States. Adjutant-General's Office.
    • United States. Continental Army.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Registers.
    Genre Terms:
    • Military documents.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    United States Continental Army record book,  March 7, 1778-August 16, 1783 [series]