New York State Funeral Directors Association

The Fourth of July is typically a fun-filled day off of work that often entails fireworks, barbecues and American Flags.

But mostly hidden from this holiday’s promotion are thousands of people who died to make it happen – people for whom there is no national monument or memorial. 

Engraving of British Prison Ship The Jersey, by engraver Edward Bookhout. From the Library of Congress.

It isn’t very common to take time to pay respects to the thousands who went to battle to see America turned from a group of colonies into one nation.

In New York State, one doesn’t have to travel far to pay respects to those who risked their lives – or lost their lives – to see the Declaration of Independence enforced.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates between 184,000 and 250,000 people were involved in the American Revolutionary War.

From records of battles, the CRS estimates American battle losses at 4,435 people. Another 6,188 were wounded but survived.

The American Battlefield Trust (Battledields.org) says that approximately 17,000 died of disease, with between 8,000 and 12,000 dying as prisoners of war.

From what the American Battlefield Trust describes as “unreliable imperial data,” British fighter losses are estimated at 24,000 including battlefield deaths, death by disease, those captured and those missing in action.

ANIMATED MAP OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION FROM CIVIL WAR TRUST

 

With losses in the thousands, it may be surprising to learn there are only 11 Revolutionary War soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Declaration Of IndependenceThose who weren’t buried in unmarked graves on the battlefields were interred in local cemeteries – including private family burial grounds – throughout New York State.

Many are in New York State – where nearly one third of the battles took place.

There isn’t one single source to go to and learn if you have an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War, much less if they are buried in New York State.

The information of many who served in the American Revolution has been recorded, but not for all. There are a few sources that might help someone learn if their ancestor was in the American Revolution:

  • New Horizons Genealogy - This website compiles information from research of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and breaks down known burial sites of Revolutionary War soldiers by New York County.
  • The Sons of the American Revolution – An organization of descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers, maintains a Patriot Records Search where people can search for ancestors.
  • Family Search has a web page compiling a variety of links to sources where people can search their history and find out if they have an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution.
  • The website Fold3 has a Free Trial allowing folks to research more than 2 million records for Revolutionary War Soldiers.
  • New York in the Revolution as Colony and State - This book, published in 1904 by J.B. Lyon Company, details the names of many New Yorkers who fought in the American Revolution. The book was digitized and can be found free from Google.

PAYING RESPECTS TO FALLEN PATRIOTS

Researchers say roughly one-third of the Revolutionary War battles took place in New York State. Interested in walking the hallowed grounds where many died for American freedom? Here are some websites detailing many of these places you can visit:

  • New York State’s Path Through History Project website provides more than 100 pages detailing sites throughout the state with monuments or remnants of the Revolutionary War.
  • A New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation webpage details important sites and provides information and links to various aspects of the state’s role in the American Revolution.
  • There are four Revolutionary War Memorials in New York City, detailed by the city Parks Department’s website, they include Memorials to the Battle of Brooklyn, the Battle of Harlem Heights, to George Washington and the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Green Park – it’s believed to be the burial ground of thousands of people held by the British on prison ships and later buried on the shore. Some were moved to Fort Greene Park, according to the city.
  • The website Waymarking provides a growing list of Revolutionary War Memorials and their locations situated throughout the U.S.
  • There is a large monument in Washington Square, Philadelphia, which serves as a burial site, called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • The National Park Service website lists 16 sites of remembrance for the Revolutionary War, including two in New York State; Fort Stanwix National Monument and Saratoga National Historical Park.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association