How to Search for Revolutionary War Ancestors Using Battles as Keywords

As a descendant of a long line of American patriots, I have many relatives who played important roles in events such as the settling of America and the War of Independence. One of these relatives is my sixth-great-grandfather Peter Brier (1738- ).

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, New York, from Mount Defiance
Photo: Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, New York, from Mount Defiance. Credit: Mwanner; Wikimedia Commons.

According to my notes, Peter served at Valley Forge in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment. I wanted to learn more about Peter and his military service, so I decided to search for him in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

I began by doing a general search for “Peter Brier,” but the results were too broad, so I narrowed them down by searching only in New Hampshire newspapers.

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Peter Brier
Source: GenealogyBank

This search led me to an 1853 edition of the Weekly Union that contained a list of New Hampshire Battalion members.

An article about the First New Hampshire Batallion during the American Revolutionary War, Weekly Union newspaper article 22 June 1853
Source: GenealogyBank, Weekly Union (Manchester, New Hampshire), 22 June 1853, page 3

Further down the article, I find Peter’s name and dates of enlistment, confirming that he served in the First New Hampshire Battalion under Captain Amos Emerson.

An article about the First New Hampshire Batallion during the American Revolutionary War, Weekly Union newspaper article 22 June 1853
Source: GenealogyBank, Weekly Union (Manchester, New Hampshire), 22 June 1853, page 3

According to the article, this company also participated in the march on Ticonderoga. Next, I turned to History.com to learn a bit more about the capture of Ticonderoga:

“Located on Lake Champlain in northeastern New York, Fort Ticonderoga served as a key point of access to both Canada and the Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War. On May 10, 1775, Benedict Arnold of Massachusetts joined Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in a dawn attack on the fort, surprising and capturing the sleeping British garrison. Although it was a small-scale conflict, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga was the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, and would give the Continental Army much-needed artillery to be used in future battles.”

–Source: History.com

The Weekly Union article had mentioned that Peter served under Col. Joseph Cilley, so I turned back to GenealogyBank and searched for the name “Cilley” with the keyword “Ticonderoga.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Cilley and "Ticonderoga"
Source: GenealogyBank

This search led me to an article about a celebration marking the 118th anniversary of the capture of Ticonderoga.

An article about the 118th anniversary celebration of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolutionary War, Evening Star newspaper article 10 May 1893
Source: GenealogyBank, Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 10 May 1893, page 12

At the celebration, both the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution retold the story of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and celebrated this important victory that contributed to the American victory in the War of Independence. In addition to the descendants of many of the soldiers who fought in the battle, a descendant of Col. Cilley himself was also in attendance.

Because Peter Brier’s death date is unknown, it’s unclear what other military action he was in during the war. Regardless, I am grateful to be a descendant of American heroes like Peter Brier and many other relatives who helped build the America we love today.

Genealogy Tip: When researching ancestors who participated in the American Revolution, it can sometimes be difficult to find specific information. Instead, try searching GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for the name of their military commander with the name of the battle as a keyword to find more information about the historical events that your ancestors participated in.

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