Revolutionary Commanders

Biographies of commanders throughout
the American Revolution

Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot

Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot (1711 – 31 January 1794) was a British admiral, who commanded the Royal Navy’s North American station during the American War for Independence. A native of Weymouth, England, Arbuthnot was the son of Robert Arbuthnot and Sarah, née Bury. The father was the son of the Rev. Robert Arbuthnot, minister of Crichton & Cranston….

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Banastre Tarleton

General Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet, GCB (21 August 1754 – 16 January 1833) was a British soldier and politician. He is today probably best remembered for his military service during the American War of Independence. He became the focal point of a propaganda campaign claiming that he had fired upon surrendering Continental Army troops at…

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Benedict Arnold

Overview Benedict Arnold V was a general during the American Revolutionary War who originally fought for the American Continental Army but switched sides to the British Empire. While he was still a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fort at West Point, New York, and plotted unsuccessfully to surrender it to…

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Benjamin Lincoln

Benjamin Lincoln (January 24, 1733 – May 9, 1810) was an American army officer. He served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is notable for overseeing the largest US surrender of the war at Siege of Charleston and for being the officer who formally accepted the British surrender…

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Charles Mawhood

Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood was the British commander at The Battle of Princeton. Born 23 December 1729 Military service began with purchase of a cornetcy in 1st Dragoon Guards (1 August 1752). Served in the Seven Years War (1756-1763), initially as a Captain in 15th Light Dragoons, then transferred to 18th Light Dragoons. Subsequently saw…

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Chief Joseph Brant

Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant(1743 – 24 November 1807) was a Mohawk military and political leader who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known North American Indian of his generation. He met many of the most significant people of the age, including George Washington and…

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Colonel Archibald Campbell

General Sir Archibald Campbell, KB (21 August 1739 – 31 March 1791) was a British Army officer who fought in the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War and later served as a colonial governor in Jamaica and Madras. When the revolution came to fruition Campbell was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and the duty…

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Colonel James Barrett

Colonel James Barrett was one of the primary figures in the events surrounding the first battle of the American Revolution. The chief objective of the British march through Middlesex County on April 19, 1775, was to seize military supplies stored on Colonel Barrett’s farm in Concord. However, the townspeople had received advance warning of the…

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Colonel John Buttrick

History is not always as simple and factual as it often appears. Such is the case of North Bridge hero John Buttrick and his epochal role on 19 April 1775. By October 1774, the Provincial Congress ordained that militias reorganize as an Army of Observation and to defend against sorties out of Boston by the…

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Daniel Morgan

Overview Daniel Morgan (c. 1736 – July 6, 1802) was an American pioneer, soldier, and United States Representative from Virginia. One of the most gifted battlefield tacticians of the American Revolutionary War, he later commanded the troops that suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion. Early Years Daniel Morgan was born of Welsh parents in 1736. Because he…

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Dr. Joseph Warren

Dr. Joseph Warren (June 11, 1741 – June 17, 1775) was an American doctor and soldier, remembered for playing a leading role in American Patriot organizations in Boston and for his death as a volunteer private soldier while also serving as chief executive of the revolutionary Massachusetts government. Life and career Warren was born in Roxbury,…

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Ethan Allen

Overview Ethan Allen was a farmer, businessman, land speculator, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, hero, and politician. Allen was an early American revolutionary and guerrilla leader who, before the war, fought against the Province of New York’s attempts to take control of the New Hampshire Grants. He is probably most widely known for…

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Francis Rawdon-Hastings

Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings KG PC (9 December 1754 – 28 November 1826), styled The Honourable Francis Rawdon from birth until 1762 and as The Lord Rawdon between 1762 and 1783 and known as The Earl of Moira between 1793 and 1816, was a British politician and military officer who served as Governor-General…

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Friedrich Baum

Brunswick Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum (1727–1777) was a Brunswick dragoon Lieutenant Colonel in British service during the American Revolutionary War. Baum served under Major General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel commanding the Dragoon Regiment Prinz Ludwig in support of General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to attack the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor, which ended in Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga on…

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General John Burgoyne

General John Burgoyne (24 February 1722 – 4 August 1792) was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years’ War when he participated in several battles, mostly notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762. Burgoyne is best known for his role in the American War of Independence. During…

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George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) served as the first President of the United States of America, (1789–1797), and led the Continental Army to victory over the Kingdom of Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). The Continental Congress appointed Washington commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. The following year,…

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Israel Putnam

Early life Putnam was born in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts, to Joseph and Elizabeth Putnam, a prosperous farming family of Salem witch trials fame. His birthplace, Putnam House, still exists. In 1740, at the age of 22, he moved to Mortlake (now Pomfret) in northeastern Connecticut where land was cheaper and easier to obtain….

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James Johnston

Colonel James Johnston was born (ca.1742 and died on July 23, 1805) in North Carolina. He was the son of Henry Johnston of Scottish descent. He was married to Jane Eward, the daughter of Robert Ewart. James Johnston was an early patriot of Tryon County, North Carolina. Later Lincoln County, North Carolina. James first entered the service…

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Johann de Kalb

Johann von Robaii, Baron de Kalb (June 19, 1721 – August 19, 1780), born Johann Kalb, was a German soldier who served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Not unlike other Europeans who were inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment, the Revolutionary War also gave Johann de Kalb an opportunity…

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Johann Rall

Early life and career Rall was probably born as a so-called “soldier child” ca. 1725. He was a son of Captain Joachim Rall from Stralsund, who served in the regiment of Major General Donop. The first mention of Johann Rall was as a new cadet of the same regiment on 1 March 1740, commanded at…

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John Butler

John was born to Walter Butler and Deborah Ely, née Dennison, in New London, Connecticut in 1728.[1] His family soon moved to the frontier in the Mohawk Valley near modern Fonda, New York. In 1752, he married Catherine Bradt, and the couple raised five children. He knew several Indian languages and was employed as an…

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John Parker

John Parker (July 13, 1729 – September 17, 1775) was an American farmer, mechanic, and soldier, who commanded the Lexington militia at the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. Parker was born in Lexington to Josiah Parker and Anne Stone. His experience as a soldier in the French and Indian War (Seven Years War)…

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John Sevier

John Sevier (23 September 1745 – 25 September 1815) served four years (1785–1789) as the only governor of the State of Franklin and twelve years (1796–1801 and 1803–1809) as Governor of Tennessee, and as a U.S. Representative from Tennessee from 1811 until his death. He also served as the commander of the Washington County, Tennessee, contingent…

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Lieutenant-General Hugh Percy

Lieutenant-General Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, FRS (14 August 1742 – 10 July 1817), born Hugh Smithson, was the eldest son of the 1st Duke of Northumberland. He assumed the surname of Percy by Act of Parliament along with his father in 1750 and was styled Lord Warkworth from 1750 until 1766. In 1759,…

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Lord Charles Cornwallis

Overview Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (31 December 1738 – 5 October 1805) was a British military commander and colonial governor. In the United States, he is best remembered as one of the leading British generals in the American Revolutionary War. His 1781 defeat by a combined American-French force at the Siege of Yorktown is…

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Major John Pitcairn

John Pitcairn (December 28, 1722 – June 17, 1775) was a British Marine who was stationed in Boston, Massachusetts at the start of the American Revolutionary War. Pitcairn was born in late 1722 in Dysart, a port town in Fife, Scotland. His parents were the Reverend David and Katherine (Hamilton) Pitcairn. He entered the Marines…

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Major-General Francis Smith

Major-General Francis Smith (1723-1791), was the British commander during most of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. The battle ignited the Revolutionary War that would see America become a separate nation. Smith was lieutenant colonel of His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot (its descendant is the Royal Anglian Regiment in…

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Marquis de la Rouerie

Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouërie (April 1751 – January 1793), also known in the United States as Colonel Armand, was a Breton cavalry officer who served under the American flag during the American War of Independence where he was promoted to brigadier general after the Battle of Yorktown. He is also known as one…

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Patrick Ferguson

Major Patrick Ferguson (1744 – October 7, 1780) was a Scottish officer in the British Army, early advocate of light infantry and designer of the Ferguson rifle. Patrick Ferguson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 25 (Old Style)/June 4 (New Style) 1744, the second son and fourth child of advocate James Ferguson of Pitfour (who…

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Richard Montgomery

Early life Montgomery was born in Swords, Ireland. His father, Thomas Montgomery, was a former British Army Officer and a representative of Irish Parliament. He spent most of his childhood near Donegal, where he learned to hunt, ride, shoot, and fence.[2] Thomas Montgomery made sure that Richard received a good education; he learned French, Latin,…

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Robert Magaw

Robert Magaw (1738-1790) was a lawyer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania who served as a colonel in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Robert was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland and brought to Maryland by his father. He settled at Carlisle in Pennsylvania, and practiced law there. His brother was the Rev. Samuel Magaw….

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Samuel Graves

Samuel Graves was born into a distinguished naval family. he married Elizabeth Sedgwick, daughter of John Sedgwick of Staindrop (County Durham). After Elizabeth’s death in 1767 he married again in 1769, his second wife being Margaret Spinkes, daughter of Elmer Spinkes of Aldwinkle in Northamptonshire, and an elder sister of Elizabeth Simcoe. He had no…

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Sir Guy Carleton

Overview Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, KB (Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, September 3, 1722 – November 10, 1808 Stubbings, Maidenhead, Berkshire), known between 1776 and 1786 as Sir Guy Carleton, was an Irish-British soldier who twice served as Governor of the Province of Quebec, from 1768–1778 (concurrently serving as Governor General of British North America),…

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Sir Henry Clinton

Overview General Sir Henry Clinton KB (April 16, 1730 – December 23, 1795) was a British army officer and politician who is best known for his service as a general during the American Revolutionary War, during most of which he was the British Commander-in-Chief in North America. In addition to his military service, due to…

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Sir John Johnson

2nd Baronet of New York (5 November 1741 – 4 January 1830) was a loyalist leader during the American Revolution. He was the son of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, who had promoted the British settlement of the Mohawk Valley and founded the community of Johnstown in Tryon County in…

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Sir William Howe

Overview William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe, KB, PC (10 August 1729 – 12 July 1814) was a British General who was Commander-in-Chief of British forces during the American Revolutionary War, one of the three Howe brothers. He was knighted after his successes in 1775 and was henceforth Sir William, inheriting the viscountcy only upon his…

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Thomas Graves

Admiral Sir Thomas Graves KB RN (1747 – 1814), admiral, third son of The Rev. John Graves of Castle Dawson, County Londonderry, by his wife Jane Hudson. He was a nephew of Admiral Samuel Graves and a first cousin once removed of Admiral Thomas, Lord Graves. Graves’ three brothers all served as captains in the…

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Wilhelm von Knyphausen

Wilhelm Reichsfreiherr[1] zu Innhausen und Knyphausen (1716 – 1800) was a Hessian general during the American Revolutionary War. In the army of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel), Knyphausen was a lieutenant general. With 42 years of military experience, he traveled to North America in 1776 and led Hessian troops in the Battles of White Plains, Fort Washington,…

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William Alexander

Life Alexander was an educated, ambitious and bright young man and was proficient in mathematics and astronomy. He joined his mother in a successful provisioning business and, in 1747, married Sarah Livingston, the daughter of Philip Livingston (1686-1749) and sister of Governor William Livingston. The couple had two daughters. One of his daughters, Mary Alexander,…

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William Campbell

William Campbell (1745 – August 22, 1781) was a farmer, pioneer, and soldier in western Virginia. In 1775 he was one of the 13 signers of the Fincastle Resolutions, the earliest statement of armed resistance to the British Crown in the American Colonies. He was an important militia leader of the American Revolutionary War, and was…

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William Heath

William Heath (March 7, 1737 – January 24, 1814) was an American farmer, soldier, and political leader from Massachusetts who served as a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Heath made his home for his entire life at his family’s farm in Roxbury, Massachusetts (present day Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, part…

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William Prescott

Life Prescott was born in Groton, Massachusetts to Benjamin Prescott (1696–1738) and Abigail Oliver Prescott (1697–1765). He married Abigail Hale (1733–1821) on April 13, 1758, and they had one son, also named William, in 1762. Prescott owned a house in Pepperell, Massachusetts, on Prescott Street. Prescott served in the provincial militia in King George’s War…

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