Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Paul W Mapp

Committee Member

Carol Sheriff

Committee Member

Guillaume Aubert

Committee Member

Mark E Lender


This paper investigates the Continental Army’s junior leaders (sergeants, ensigns, lieutenants, and captains) who moved westward postwar and used the abilities acquired during military training in their new communities in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. This skill set included leading diverse individuals under arduous conditions, functioning within a bureaucracy, performing managerial tasks, and maintaining law and order in nascent communities. The Continental Army’s leadership development program for junior leaders centered on Baron von Steuben’s Regulations for the order and discipline of the troops of the United States, better known as the Blue Book. Unlike other contemporary military manuals, the Blue Book had instructions on how to be a leader. The unit’s orderly books contained lessons that continually reinforced Steuben’s tenets on leadership: officers had a responsibility for their soldiers and were expected to be actively involved in their unit’s daily operations. The army’s encampments included military and civilians, men and women, free and enslaved, and Euro-Americans, African-Americans, and Native-Americans. While acquired and honed in the encampment’s diverse environment, these veterans applied the same skills in civilian vocations. Of the approximately 14,168 Revolutionary War soldiers who moved to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, only 180 junior leaders were identified who lived and died in these states. Of this cohort, fifty-eight percent held positions of authority such as law enforcement personnel, local politicians, businessmen, and religious leaders. Historians have long overlooked the effect of junior officers’ and sergeants’ hard-won wisdom and experience. The veterans’ important institution building does not generally appear in pension applications, tax records, or wills, but it was vital to the early Republic’s expansion. The results of my research challenge the current narrative which concentrates on soldiers’ resentment at their treatment during the war and their poverty in later life. Instead, I argue, the benefits of Continental Army service were seen for many decades afterwards.



© The Author