Family Tree Friday: Artificers in the Revolutionary War

Continuing on the theme of (unusually-named) specialty units that served in the U.S. military, this time we look at the artificers who supported the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  Simply put, artificers were skilled artisans and mechanics who kept military equipment in good working order so the troops could operate effectively.  They typically served under the jurisdiction of the Chief Engineer in the Quartermaster General’s Department, but were separate from other engineer regiments.  In the Continental Army, George Washington established a Corps of Artificers that was  often organized into specialized companies reflecting specific skills.  The example below from the Corps of Artificers in the Revolutionary War Compiled Military Service Records (ARC ID 570910) shows the service of George Abbot in Capt. Jedidiah Thayer’s Company of Carpenters.  The Corps also included companies of blacksmiths and sadlers.  Other units in the Continental Line included artificers employed by Brigadier General James Clinton at Forts Constitution (Clinton) and Montgomery; Baldwin’s Regiment of Artificers; Patten’s Company of Artillery Artificers; Post’s Company of Artificers; and several independents companies of artificers, including carpenters and bakers.

George Abbot, Thayer's Co. of Carpenters, Corps of Artificers, 1777-78.
George Abbot, Thayer's Co. of Carpenters, Corps of Artificers, 1777-78.

In addition to the compiled service records, information about artificers can be located in the Revolutionary War rolls (ARC ID 602384) in Record Group 93, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records.  By using the search term artificers in ARC, you can also locate descriptions of individual items and files, including lists of officers and men in Flower’s and Baldwin’s Artificer Regiments (ARC ID 601003); a record of tools and equipment received and work performed by Capt. Stephen Clapp’s Company of Artificers (ARC ID 607222); and records of disbursements (ARC ID 607130) and monthly accounts settled (ARC ID 607369) from the Quartermaster General’s Department, both of which include artificers, blacksmiths, clerks, wagonmasters, and others.  The Revolutionary War rolls, of course, are also fully digitized on Ancestry and Footnote (the latter also has full images of the service records), so there is plenty to check out online!

3 thoughts on “Family Tree Friday: Artificers in the Revolutionary War

  1. been researching a William Potter who was reassigned from 10th Virginia Regiment to General Clinton at Forts Clinton and Montgomery for Oct/Nov/Dec 1777.

    1. Hi Bert,

      Sounds like an interesting subject to research! If you check William Potter’s compiled military service record for the 10th Virginia you’ll notice he is listed as an artificer on several company muster rolls. It would certainly be worthwhile to check out the service records and Revolutionary war rolls (mentioned in the blog post) online through Ancestry and Footnote, to see what additional information they might have.

      – John

  2. You just made my day! I’m research Stephen Clapp and hadn’t found any definitive information about which campaigns he served in during the American Revolution. Very exciting stuff.


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