Reuben Blanchard - Revolutionary War Soldier

Reuben Blanchard - Revolutionary War Soldier

Date published
April 24, 2023

A client recently discovered that his ancestor, Reuben Blanchard, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Intrigued by this piece of family history, he wanted to learn more about what life was like for soldiers during that time. We began the research with basic details, including Reuben's name, birth and death years, and the states where he lived.

Reuben Blanchard was the son of a plantation owner and was born in 1758 in Chowan County, British Colonial America, which is now a part of North Carolina. In pursuit of an opportunity, he relocated to the Province of Georgia in 1775, as King George III was issuing land grants to settlers. Reuben was granted one hundred and fifty acres in what was then called the Parish of Saint Paul.


Ruben Blanchard - Land Grant

Two years later, in 1777 at age 19, Reuben married Sara Cartledge, age 15. Shortly after their wedding, he enlisted in the Georgia Continental Line, and served in the American Revolutionary War. It is said that he left for six years of battle without returning home but a letter which he signed in 1781 suggests he did return home at some point.

Reuben was a Patriot or a Whig, standing firmly against British rule and supporting the American War of Independence. But what was life really like for a soldier in the Continental Army? Let's take a look.

Prior to 1777, the Continental Army's enlistment periods varied, but typically lasted for a year. After 1778, Congress revised the regulations, and soldiers were required to serve either for three years or until the end of the war. In some cases, rewards were given to encourage people to join or continue their service, which could include extra money, clothing, or the promise of land in the western territories beyond the Ohio River, where numerous veterans chose to settle post-war. The monthly salary of a Continental Army private was $6.23 in 1777, which is equivalent to $177 in 2023. Advancements in rank often brought higher pay and, in some situations, more food rations or money.

Life as a soldier in the Continental Army was anything but easy. Soldiers spent most of their time engaged in manual labor, such as digging latrines or building fortifications, and standing guard. When they weren't on duty, they spent their time drilling with their musket and practicing marching formations. Meals were cooked once per day and consisted of meager rations that were determined by Congress. A soldier's daily ration included 1.5 pounds of beef, bone, and fat, one pound of bread, or 1.5 pounds of flour to make firecakes. Soldiers also received two ounces of spirits per day, which they added to their water to kill any bacteria or vermin.

The typical Continental Army soldier carried 45 pounds of gear while marching. This included a weapon, haversack, knapsack, a bayonet, tin cup, bowl, spoon, cartridge box, canteen, and if lucky an extra blanket, shirt, writing paper and a pen. Supply problems constantly plagued the Continental Army and often times men brought equipment from home. Despite these hardships, soldiers managed to keep in touch with their loved ones by writing letters when they had a quiet moment.


The image above is a 1909 watercolor painting, by Charles M. Lefferts depicting a variety of Continental Army uniforms worn during the American Revolutionary War.


Above is an example of currency used in Georgia in 1777

The image below is a powder horn. During the Revolutionary War, soldiers sometimes kept their gunpowder dry by storing it in hollow cow horns, called powder horns. This particular horn belonged to William Waller. He carved his name and "Liberty or Death" into it.


Most men who served were between the ages of fifteen and thirty. They included merchants, mechanics and farmers. The Continental Army included men from all 13 colonies. Between 1775 and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783, a total of 231,000 men who served. However, at any given time, no more than 48,000 men were in service, and no more than 13,000 were stationed in a single location.

After the Revolutionary War, Reuben and his wife settled in Richmond County, Georgia. In 1790, shortly after Reuben died, the county split and their land became part of Columbia County, Georgia.

According to information found on an application for membership to the Daughter's of the American Revolution, Reuben was a private in the North Carolina militia, serving as a soldier under General Nathanael Greene's regiment. Nathanael Greene was a major general of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and emerged from the war with a reputation as General George Washington's most talented and dependable officer. He is also known for his successful command in the southern battlegrounds.


Reuben Blanchard was awarded a citizen bounty of two hundred and fifty acres of land for his military service. The following item is transcribed in the way it was written.

I Reuben Blanchard of the State of Georgia and county of Rich[mond] County. I do hereby appoint Capt. Thomas Bush to be my lawful attorney to take a citizen bounty amount out of the land office for me and sign my name to a receipt for the writing of my hand. This 19 May 1784. Reuben Blanchard

His Land Certificate states the following, State of Georgia, Richmond County. This is to certify that Ruben Blanchard has steadfastly done his duty, from the time of passing an act in Augusta, to wit, on the 20th of August, 1781, until the total expulsion of the British from this state; and the said Ruben Blanchard cannot, to my knowledge or belief, be convicted of plundering or drifting in the country; and is therefore, under the said Act, entitled to a Bounty of Two Hundred and Fifty Acres of good land, free from taxes for ten years. Given under my hand at Augusta the 11 day of March 1784 C G Lee


Ruben Blanchard died young, passing in 1790 at the age of 32. His grave is marked as a Georgia Revolutionary War grave and he is buried at the Damascus Baptist Church Cemetery in Columbia County, Georgia.

About the author:

Wendy Werner is a family history researcher with a passion for helping others locate their roots. She has eighteen years of genealogy research experience.

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