How old was the patriot and Revolutionary War commander Aaron Burr on July 4, 1776? The veteran of Quebec, Valley Forge and Monmouth was just 20 when his nation declared its independence from Great Britain.
What about the Continental artillery chief Henry Knox? He was only 25 years old.
And John Paul Jones? America’s most famous swashbuckler was 28 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The Journal of the American Revolution recently offered this imaginative and fascinating list of the ages of these and other notable figures from the revolutionary era at the moment of America’s founding. And as one examines the list of nearly 150 of the war’s most revered and reviled, it becomes clear just how young so many of these legendary individuals actually were at the time. The author of the piece and founding editor of the journal, Todd Andrlik goes so far as to characterize the Founding Fathers much more accurately as the “founding teenagers… or twenty somethings.” And he’s quite right to do so, according to the list. Consider these:
Nathan Hale, the legendary Continental spy who lamented on the gallows that he had but one life to give for his country was just 21 in 1776. Surprisingly, so was the much hated and feared British cavalry commander “Bloody” Banastre Tarleton. Similarly, the supposed sewer of the first Star Spangled Banner, Betsy Ross, was just 24, while the leader of the France’s forces in America, Marquis de Lafayette, was a mere 18-year-old in 1776.
To check out the full article (and you really should), click here.
MORE REVOLUTIONARY AGE-RELATED FACTS
Andrlik’s piece piqued our curiosity, so we hit the web to uncover some other facts related to the soldiers of the American Revolution and their ages. Here’s what we found.
- Enlistment age in the Continental Army was 16 (15 with parental consent) but volunteers could sign on up to the age of 55. The British army drew recruits that ranged from 18 to 45.
- According to this exhaustive study of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, the average age of Washington’s soldiers in 1777 was between 20 and 25.
- The last verified surviving American veteran of the war was John Gray of Virginia. He joined the Continental Army at 16 in 1780 and fought at the Battle of Yorktown. He died in 1868 in Ohio at the age of 104. There were no details available about the oldest British, French or Aboriginal veterans of the conflict.
- This past summer, Britain’s Daily Mail published a collection of early photographs and Daguerreotypes of aged veterans of the American Revolution. Check them out here.