American Enlistment Papers
During the American Revolution (1775-1783), enlisting and keeping men in the continental Army was a constant problem. The Americans faced harsh conditions, lack of pay, infrequent food, and lack of regular clothing supplies. These conditions caused may a soldier to leave when his term of enlistment was over. At the beginning of the war, a soldier in the Continental army enlisted only for a calendar year. But this meant that the entire army could leave at the end of the year. This policy was changed in 1777 to a three year enlistment, and included the addition of a ten dollar bounty. Congress also insisted that an oath of loyalty to the United States be included as part of the enlistment. This packet contains four or these enlistment forms that were used by Washington’s American Army.
- Early 1776 Enlistment - This form, not much larger than a dollar bill, was used around New England and New York.
- Later 1776 Enlistment - This form is one of the earliest examples of a government with the words United States of America on it. The original that it is copies from was used to enlist a man on July 18, 1776, just 14 days after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
- 1777 Enlistment - This form contains three paragraphs, showing the new congressional policy of three year enlistments, a bounty, and a loyalty oath.
- 1778 Enlistment - This form, similar to the 1777 form, is for a specific organization the Marechaussee Corps of Light Dragoons. This unit, whose name incidentally was misspelled on the form by the printer, was the Provost, or the Military Police of the Continental Army.