Biographies of the Continental Army Major Generals

A good introduction to the lives and contributions of the twenty-nine major generals of the Continental Army are several collections of biographical essays. Here are some good examples:

Overview Biographies

Billias, George Athan, ed. George Washington’s Generals and Opponents: Their Exploits and Leadership. 1st Da Capo Press ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.

Blanchard, Amos. The American Biography : Containing Biographical Sketches of the Officers of the Revolution, and of the Principal Statesmen of That Period, to Which Are Added the Life and Character of Benedict Arnold, and the Narrative of Major Andre. Wheeling, WV: Kenyon, 1833.

Broadwater, Robert P. American Generals of the Revolutionary War: A Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson: McFarland, 2012.

Griswold, Rufus, William Gilmore Simms, and Edward D Ingraham. Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1847.

Headley, J.T. Washington and His Generals. Home Library. New York: A. L. Burt Company, n.d.

However, full-length biographies of the twenty-nine major generals are relatively few. For each of the major generals, I have compiled a list of the published biographies as well as repository sources for memoirs and papers. In addition to the sources cited, researchers should consult with the David library of the American Revolution, the George Washington papers, and Founders on line for additional documents.

Artemus Ward

Biographies

Martyn, Charles. . Kennikat American Bicentennial Series. Port Washington, N.Y: Kennikat Press, 1970.

Martyn, Charles. The Life of Artemas Ward, the First Commander-in-Chief of the American Revolution. Kennikat American Bicentennial Series. Port Washington, N.Y: Kennikat Press, 1970.

Memoirs and Papers

Artemas Ward House and Ward family papers digital collection. Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University

Charles Lee

Biography

Papas, Phillip. Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee. New York: New York University Press, 2014.

Langworthy, Edward, ed. The Life and Memoirs of the Late Major General Lee, Second in Command to General Washington during the American Revolution to Which Are Added, Political and Military Essays and Letters. New York: Richard Scott, 1813.

Mazzagetti, Dominick A. Charles Lee: Self before Country, 2013. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1562499

Memoirs and Papers

Charles Lee Papers, 1759-1782. Accession 24716. Personal papers collection. The Library of Virginia. Richmond, Virginia.

Lee, Charles. The Lee Papers. 4 volumes New York: New York Historical Society, 1871-4.

Philip Schuyler

Biography

Gerlach, Don R. Proud Patriot: Philip Schuyler and the War of Independence, 1775-1783. 1st ed. A New York State Study. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1987.

Memoirs and Papers

Schuyler papers are located in multiple locations including the New York Public Library, the New York State Library, the New York Historical Society, the Henry Huntington Library and the Albany Institute of History and Art.

Israel Putnam

Biographies

Bates, Albert C, ed. The Two Putnams: Israel and Rufus in the Havana Expedition 1762 and in the Mississippi River Exploration 1772-73 with Some Account of The Company of Military Adventurers. Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1931.

Cruson, Daniel. Putnam’s Revolutionary War Winter Encampment: The History and Archaeology of Putnam Memorial State Park. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

Cutter, William. The Life of Gen. Putnam. 4th ed. Boston: John Philbrick, 1854.

Dean, Leon W. Old Wolf:  The Story of Israel Putnam. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1942.

Dwight, Allan. Soldier and Patriot:  The Life of General Israel Putnam. New York: Ives Washburn, Inc., 1965.

Fellows, John. The Veil Removed or Reflections on David Humphrey’s Essay on the Life of Israel Putnam. Reprinted. New York: James D. Lockwood, 1843.

Hill, George Canning. The Life of Israel Putnam. New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1903.

Hubbard, Robert Ernest. Major General Israel Putnam: Hero of the American Revolution. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2017.

Humphreys, David. An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam: Addressed to the State Society of the Cincinnati in Connecticut and Published by Their Order. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000.

Livingston, William Farrand. Israel Putnam:  Pioneer, Ranger and Major General. New York: G. P. Putnan’s Sons, 1901.

Niven, John. Connecticut Hero, Israel Putnam. Connecticut Bicentennial Series 22. Hartford: American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Connecticut, 1977.

Peabody, Oliver W. B. Life of Israel Putnam. Reprinted. Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb, 1839.

Procknow, Eugene. “GENERAL ISRAEL PUTNAM: REPUTATION REVISITED.” Journal of the American Revolution, August 11, 2016. https://allthingsliberty.com/2016/08/general-israel-putnam-reputation-revisited/.

Putnam, Daniel. Colonel Daniel Putnam’s Letter Relative to the Battle of Bunker Hill And. Place of publication not identified: Nabu Press, 2010.

Smith, Fredrika Shumay. Old Put:  The Story of Major General Israel Putnam. Rand McNally & Company, 1967.

Tarbox, Increase N. Life of Israel Putnam (“Old Put”), Major-General in the Continental Army. Boston, MA: Lockwood, Brooks, and Company, 1876.

Memoirs and Papers

Israel Putnam papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library

Herbert Putnam Papers, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division

“‘Curnul Putnum Com & Ordered Us Down.’” Accessed May 29, 2017. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2017/05/curnul-putnum-com-ordered-us-down.html.

“Founders Online: To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 20 January….” Accessed January 31, 2017. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-13-02-0251.\

Sabin, Joseph, ed. “Memoirs of the Life, Adventures and Military Exploits of Israel Putnam, Senior Major-General in the Revolutionary Army of the United States, and next in Rank to General Washington.” In Bibliotecha Americana, Reprinted., 119. Ithaca, N.Y: Mack & Andrus, 1834.

United States, and Israel Putnam, eds. General Orders Issued by Major-General Israel Putnam, When in Command of the Highlands, in the Summer and Fall of 1777. The American Revolutionary Series. American and French Accounts of the American Revolution. Boston: Gregg Press, 1972.

John Thomas

Biographical Essays

Coffin, Charles. The Life and Services of Major General John Thomas. First. New York: Egbert, Hovey & King, 1844.

Broadwater, Robert P. American Generals of the Revolutionary War: A Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson: McFarland, 2012.

Headley, J.T. Washington and His Generals. Home Library. New York: A. L. Burt Company, n.d.

Memoirs and Papers

John Thomas papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Richard Montgomery

Biographies

Shelton, Hal T. General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution: From Redcoat to Rebel. New York: New York University Press, 1994.

Memoirs and Papers

Philip Schuyler papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Horatio Gates

Biographies

Nelson, Paul David. General Horatio Gates: A Biography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976.

Patterson, Samuel White. Horatio Gates Defender of American Liberties. First. New York: Columbia University Press, 1941.

Memoirs and Papers

Horatio Gates papers, MS240, New York Historical Society.

Horatio Gates papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Saltzman, Martin and Dege, Barbara. The Horatio Gates Papers: A Guide to the Microfilm Edition. Sanford, South Carolina: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1979.

William Heath

Biographies

Heath, William, and Sean M. Heuvel. The Revolutionary War Memoirs of Major General William Heath. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2014.

Memoirs and Papers

William Heath papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

William Heath papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Joseph Spencer

Biographies

Whittelsey, Charles Barney. Historical Sketch of Joseph Spencer, Major-General of the Continental Troops, Member of the Council of Safety, Congressman, Judge, Deputy, Deacon and Farmer. First. Hartford: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., 1904.

Sons of the Revolution. Connecticut Society. Decennial Register of the Society of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of Connecticut. 1893-1913. Hartford, CT: The Society, 1913.

Memoirs and Papers

No assembled collection. Researchers must investigate Spencer’s correspondents.

John Sullivan

Biography

Stephens, Karl F. Neither the Charm nor the Luck: Major-General John Sullivan. Denver: Outskirts Press, 2009.

Memoirs and Papers

Hammond, Otis G. Letters and Papers of Major General John Sullivan Continental Army. 3 vols. Concord, New Hampshire: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1931.

Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 with Records of Centennial Celebrations. Auburn, NY: State of New York, 1887.

Nathaniel Greene

Biographies

Caldwell, Charles. Memoirs of the Life and Campaigns of the Hon. Nathaneil Green, Major General in the Army of the United States, and Commander of the Southern Department in the War of the Revolution. Philadelphia: Robert Desilver, 1819.

Carbone, Gerald M. Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Golway, Terry. Washington’s General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution. 1st ed. New York: H. Holt, 2005.

Greene, Francis Vinton. General Greene. Great Commanders. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1893.

Thane, Elswyth. The Fighting Quaker:  Nathanael Greene. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1972.

Memoirs and Papers

Showman, Richard K, Margaret Cobb, and Robert E. McCarthy, eds. The Papers of Nathanael Greene. Vol. I. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1976.

Benedict Arnold

Biographies

Flexner, James Thomas. The Traitor and the Spy. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1953.

Martin, James Kirby. Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Nelson, James L. Benedict Arnold’s Navy: The Ragtag Fleet That Lost the Battle of Lake Champlain but Won the American Revolution. Camden, Me.: International Marine/McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. New York, New York: Viking, 2016.

Randall, Willard Sterne. Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor. 1st ed. New York: Morrow, 1990.

Young Adult book

Fritz, Jean. Traitor, the Case of Benedict Arnold: The Case of Benedict Arnold. New York: Putnam & Grosset Group, 1997

Memoirs and Papers

Benedict Arnold Papers, 1765-1886 (MS Am 1446). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Benedict Arnold Papers, relating to the Major John Andre’s apprehension, 1780. Library of Congress.

Stimson, F.J. My Story:  Being the Memoirs of Benedict Arnold:  Late Major-General in the Continental Army and Brigadier-General in that of His Britannic Majesty. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917.

William Alexander, Lord Sterling

Biographies

Danford, George H. The Rebel Earl, unpublished dissertation. Columbia University, 1955.

Ditmas, Charles A., The Life and Service of Major-General William Alexander also called Lord Sterling. Brooklyn, NY, 1929.

Duer, William Alexander. William Alexander, Earl of Sterling. Major General in the Army of the United States During the Revolution. First Edition. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1847.

Nelson, Paul David. William Alexander, Lord Stirling. University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 2004.

Schumacher, Ludwig, Major-General William Alexander. New York, 1847.

Valentine, Alan, Lord Sterling. New York, 1969

Memoirs and Papers

William Alexander papers, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library.

Thomas Mifflin

Biographies

Rawle, William. “Sketch of the Life of Thomas Mifflin.” Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, II, no. Part 2 (1830): 107–27.

Rossman, Kenneth R. Thomas Mifflin and the Politics of the American Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1952.

Rossman, Kenneth R. “Thomas Mifflin – Revolutionary Patriot.” Pennsylvania History:  A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Pennsylvania State University Press, 15, no. 1 (January 1948): 9–23.

Memoirs and Papers

Limited number of manuscripts and papers in the Library of Congress, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and The Morgan Library.

Arthur St. Clair

Biographies

Phillips, R. W. Dick, Arthur St. Clair: The Invisible Patriot, Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. 2014.

Rorison, Arda Bates, and John Newton Boucher. Major-General Arthur St. Clair:  A Brief Sketch. New York: Cornell University Press, 1910.

Memoirs and Papers

Smith, William Henry, ed. The St. Clair Papers.  The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair  Soldier of the Revolutionary War, President of the Continental Congress and Governor of the North-Western Territory with His Correspondence and Other Papers. 2 vols. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1882.

Adam Stephen

Biographies

Ward, Harry M. Major General Adam Stephen and the Cause of American Liberty. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989.

Memoirs and Papers

Stephen, Adam. “Letters of General Adam Stephen to R. H. Lee.” Historical Magazine, First, no. 9 (1865): 118–22.

Benjamin Lincoln

Biographies

Mattern, David B. Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.

Memoirs and Papers

Benjamin Lincoln papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

Benjamin Lincoln papers, 1778-1806. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Paul J. G. de M. Lafayette

Biographies

Auricchio, Laura. The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered. First Edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier. Memoirs of General Lafayette Embracing Details of His Public and Private Life, Sketches of the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Down Fall of Bonaparte, and the Restoration of the Bourbons, with Biographical Notices of Individuals Who Have Been Distinguished Actors in These Events. First. New York: Russell Robins, 1825.

Unger, Harlow G. Lafayette. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

Vowell, Sarah. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015.

Memoirs and Papers

Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, Stanley J. Idzerda, and Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier Lafayette.

Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776-1790. 5 vols. The Papers of the Marquis de Lafayette. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1977.

Philippe du Coudray

Biographies

No full-length biography. For an overview of his life see:

Broadwater, Robert P. American Generals of the Revolutionary War: A Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson: McFarland, 2012.

For information on Du Coudray’s participation in the American Revolution, see:

Ferreiro, Larrie D. Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France & Spain Who Saved It. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

Memoirs and Papers

No assembled collection available.

Johann de Kalb

Biographies

Fitzhugh, Percy K. The Story of General Johann DeKalb. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1906.

Smith. Memoir of Baron De Kalb:  Read at the Meeting of the Maryland Historical Society. Baltimore: John D. Toy, 1858.

Kapp, Friedrich. The Life Of John Kalb, Major General in the Revolutionary Army. New York: Holt, 1884.

Zucker, Adolf Eduard. General De Kalb:  Lafayette’s Mentor. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1966.

Memoirs and Papers

Johann de Kalb correspondence, New York Historical Society.

Robert Howe

Biographies

Bennett, Charles E, and Donald R Lennon. Quest for Glory:  Major General Robert Howe and the American Revolution. Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Memoirs and Papers

Robert Howe Papers, #358, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Robert Howe Orderly Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

Alexander McDougall

Biographies

MacDougall, William L. American Revolutionary: A Biography of General Alexander McDougall. Contributions in American History, no. 57. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1977.

Memoirs and Papers

Guide to Alexander McDougall papers in the Biographical Directory of the US Congress, Alexander McDougall, 1731-1786, Guide to Research Collections which include manuscripts at the New York Historical Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Huntington Library, The Library of Congress, The Morgan Library, The New York State Library, The Rosenbach Museum and Library and the Yale University Library.

Thomas Conway

Biographical essays

Blanchard, Amos. The American Biography : Containing Biographical Sketches of the Officers of the Revolution, and of the Principal Statesmen of That Period, to Which Are Added the Life and Character of Benedict Arnold, and the Narrative of Major Andre. Wheeling, WV: Kenyon, 1833.

Memoirs and Papers

No single source – need to look at the manuscripts and papers of those persons who corresponded with Conway.

Friedrich “Baron” von Steuben

Biographies

Bowen, Francis. “Life of Baron Steuben.” In Library of American Biography, edited by Jared Sparks, Vol. 9. New York: Harper, 1848.

Chase, Philander Dean. “Baron von Steuben in the War of Independence.” Duke University, 1972.

Cronau, Rudolf, and Don Heinrich Tolzman. The Army of the American Revolution and Its Organizer. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2004.

Jones, Mary Helen Eppright, and Lorena Start Jersen. Steuben:  The Baron and the Town. Remsen, NY: Remsen-Steuben Historical Society, 1994.

Lockhart, Paul Douglas. The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army. 1st ed. [Washington, D.C.] : New York, NY: Smithsonian Books ; Collins, 2008.

North, William, and G. Martin Sleeman. Baron von Steuben:  Major General, Inspector General & Drillmaster, Continental Army. Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1990.

Palmer, John McAuley. General von Steuben. Port Washington, N.Y: Kennikat Press, 1966.

Richards, Augustus L., Mary Helen Eppright Jones, and Edward L Jones. Washington, Steuben and the Continental Army:  Servants of Democracy. Remsen, NY: Friends of Baron Steuben, 2000.

Memoirs and Papers

Steuben, Friedrich. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Papers  1778-1851 (bulk 1779-1781). 4 vols. New York Historical Society, n.d.

William Smallwood

Biographies

Kimmel, Ross M. In Perspective:  William Smallwood. The Smallwood Foundation, 2000.

Sons of the American Revolution, Maryland Society. The Ceremonies at the Unveiling of the Monument over the Remains of Major General William Smallwood. Baltimore: Friedenwald Co., 1898.

Memoirs and Papers

William Smallwood Collection, 1776-1791, Manuscripts Department, Maryland Historical Society Library.

William Smallwood, Governor of Maryland, 1785-1788. Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-1134.

Samuel Parsons

Biographies

Hall, Charles S. Life And Letters of Samuel Holden Parsons Major General in the Continental Army and Chief Judge of the Southwestern Territory 1787-1789. Binghamton, NY: Otseningo Publishing Col, 1905.

Loring, George B. A Vindication of General Samuel Holden Parsons against the Charge of Treasonable Correspondence during the Revolutionary War. Salem, MA: Salem Press, 1888.

Memoirs and Papers

Parsons Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Henry Knox

Biographies

Callahan, North. Henry Knox General Washington’s General. New York: Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1958.

Drake, Francis S. Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Major General in the American. Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1873.

Henry Knox, a Soldier of the Revolution:  Major General in the Continental Army, Washington’s Chief of Artillery, First Secretary of War Under the Constitution, Founder of the Society of Cincinnati:  1750-1806. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900.

Puls, Mark. Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Memoirs and Papers

Henry Knox papers II, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Henry Knox Papers, The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Henry Knox Museum, Searchable data base

Louis L. Duportail

Biographies

Kite, Elizabeth S. General Louis Lebegue Duportail, Commandant of Engineers in the Continental Army, 1777-1783. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1933.

La Pottier, Serge. Duportail, ou, Le génie de Washington. Paris: Economica, 2011.

Memoirs and Papers

None

William Moultrie

Biographies

Bragg, C. L. Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty. Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2013.

Memoirs and Papers

Moultrie

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