Bounty Land Warrants

Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant
Illustrated family record (Fraktur) found in Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application File. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration /Wikimedia Commons

Bounty land warrants were grants of free land issued to veterans in return for military service from the time of the ​​Revolutionary War through 1855 in the United States. They contained the surrendered warrant, a letter of assignment if the warrant was transferred to another individual, and other papers pertaining to the transaction.

What Are Bounty Land Warrants in Detail

Bounty land is a grant of free land from a government given to citizens as a reward for service to their country, generally for military-related service.

Most bounty-land warrants in the United States were given to veterans or their survivors for wartime military service performed between 1775 and 3 March 1855. This includes veterans who served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the ​Mexican War.

Bounty land warrants weren't automatically issued to every veteran who served. The veteran first had to apply for a warrant and then, if the warrant was granted, he could use the warrant to apply for a land patent. The land patent is the document which granted him ownership of the land. Bounty land warrants could also be transferred or sold to other individuals. 

They were also used as a way to provide evidence of military service, especially in cases where a veteran or his widow did not apply for a pension

How They Were Awarded

Revolutionary War bounty land warrants were first awarded through an act of Congress on 16 September 1776. They were last awarded for military service in 1858, although the ability to claim bounty land previously earned extended until 1863.

A few claims that were tied up in the courts caused lands to be granted as late as 1912.

What You Can Learn From Bounty Land Warrants

A bounty land warrant application for a veteran of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 or the Mexican War will include the individual's rank, military unit and period of service.

It will also generally provide his age and place of residence at the time of application. If the application was made by the surviving widow, it will usually include her age, place of residence, the date and place of marriage, and her maiden name.

Accessing Bounty Land Warrants

Federal bounty land warrants are kept at the National Archives in Washington D.C. and can be requested through the mail on NATF Form 85 ("Military Pension/Bounty Land Warrant Applications") or ordered online.