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Determining what a Revolutionary War Bounty Coat was.

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David Allen Lambert

David Allen Lambert
NEHGS Online Genealogist

Question: I have noticed that my ancestors during the Revolutionary War received a "Bounty Coat". Hope you can assist me with this query.


Answer: This reference is to a physical coat that was given to a soldier in lieu of money in 1775. The following passage explains:

"On the 5th of July, 1775, a resolve was passed to provide each of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army authorized to be raised under resolve of April 23, 1775, with a coat, and 13,000 were ordered to be provided by the towns and districts, in accordance with a regular apportionment. This gift of a coat was considered in the nature of a bounty, and later, at the time of their distribution, the men in service were permitted to choose between acceptance of the coat or a sum of money in lieu thereof." [Source: Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War (Boston: Wright and Potter, 1896) 1:xvi].

Posted by David Lambert at 02/16/2012 05:01:25 PM | 

That is in line with my understanding. My GGGgrandfather, Eli Holcomb (at Breed's Hill with Putnam in 1775) was given a bounty coat. He was also promoted to Capt.

My understanding is the the coats were the same as were worn by farmers and others at the time, and not of a particular military pattern. Probably mainly or all were blue with 5 buttons down the front. Not as long as a great coat nor as heavy. The Mass. Bounty Coat was given in spring of 1775 as an inducement to enlist for 8 months. The name has been used a great deal, in error as far as I know.
Posted by: John Humbert ( Email ) at 3/16/2012 5:38 PM

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