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.
For a comparison of the prior military experience of the British generals as compared with the Patriot generals, see an article entitled Revolutionary Rookies in the Journal of the American Revolution.
Major Generals Comparative Data
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, theGeorge Washington papers, and Founders on line for additional documents.
The major generals are listed in order of senority. The major generals highly coveted seniority and jealously guarded its priviledges.
Rank and Promotion Information
The average number of years served as a major general is 3.7 years with 5.3 total years of service. The dates of service by rank for the twenty-nine Continental Army major generals are found in the link below.
Not counting George Washington, there were twenty-nine major generals, of which twenty-three lived before or after the war in the United States. Over half of these major generals owned slaves, which is a bit lower in proportion to the slave owning signers of the Declaration of Independence. While certainly a much lower percentage, it is less certain the proportions of the major generals who advocated ending slavery.
|Major General||State||Slave Owner||No of Slaves||Anti Slavery Views||Last Will and Testament|
|Charles Lee||VA||Yes||?||Yes, sold|
|Israel Putnam||CT||No||Bought freedom for a slave encountered in 1763|
|Richard Montgomery||NY||Yes||?||Left slaves to heirs|
|Horatio Gates||VA||Yes||?||May have had a change of heart after the war||Sold with some manumission|
|John Sullivan||NH||Yes||1||Slaves not mentioned in his final inventory|
|Nathaniel Greene||RI||Yes||?||No mention of slaves, just property|
|William Alexander||NJ||Indentured||No mention of slavery|
|Arthus St. Clair||PA||No||Yes|
|Adam Stephen||VA||Yes||30||Left to heirs|
|Benjamin Lincoln||MA||Yes||1||May have had a change of heart after the war|
|Robert Howe||NC||Yes||30||Destitude at death|
|Frederick W. A. Steuben||NY||No||No mention of Slavery|
|William Smallwood||MD||Yes||56||Destitude at death|
|William Moultrie||SC||Yes||200||Destutude at death|
|Foreign Volunteers who returned home or died in service|
|Paul J. G. de M. Lafayette|
|Philip De Coudray|
|John De Kalb|
|Louis L. Duportail|