Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who Was the Last Revolutionary War Soldier to Die?

I listened to the interview of Maureen Taylor (The Photo Detective) on Marian Pierre-Louis' Fieldstone Common blog talk radio show today (The Last Muster with Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective), and enjoyed it immensely.  You can listen to it also, here, at any time!

Maureen, of course, has written several books, including The Last Muster, which has photographs and stories of Revolutionary War soldiers and their families.  amazingly, some of these soldiers survived for over 80 years after the end of the war, and had their pictures, or portraits, taken and it is these photographs that Maureen has collected and printed in her book.  A second volume of The Last Muster will be published soon.

During the broadcast, Maureen noted that the "last" Revolutionary War soldiers lived well past 1860, which would mean an 18-year-old in 1783 would be age 95 in 1860, and 105 in 1870.

I did a search on Google using the search terms "last soldier" 'revolutionary war" and found several web sites that had pictures and descriptions of the "last soldier of the Revolutionary War, including:

1)  Wikipedia lists four:
  • Daniel Bakeman (1759–1869) — Claimed to be veteran and was awarded pension by Congress, though could not prove service.
  • John Gray (1764–1868) — Last verifiable veteran although service period was too short for pension qualification.
  • Samuel Downing (1764–1867)
  • Lemuel Cook (1759–1866) — Last official veteran.
Another man, George Fruits (supposedly 1762-1876) claimed to be the last surviving soldier, but he apparently was born in 1779, and his father's war service has been conflated with him.

2)  An article and picture of Lemuel Cook is available at

3)  A long sketch, including a photograph, of John Gray is in the book, Private Dalzell, his Autobiography, Poems and Comic War Papers, on Google Books (photo on page 188, sketch starts on page 189).

4)  A newspaper article about Daniel Frederick Beakman [the Bakeman above] appeared in the Bostom [Mass.] Journal newspaper on 20 April 1869, page 4 (accessed on titled "Death of the Last Soldier of the Revolution."  The last paragraph of the article says: 

"Mr. Beakman had voted at every Presidential election since the organization of the Government, casting his first vote for Washington and his last for Gen. Grant."

5)  The Cincinnati (Ohio) Commercial Tribune newspaper pubnlished an article on 12 June 1869 (accessed on on page 8, titled "The Last Soldiers of the American Revolution - At Least One Survivor to England."  A transcription of a portion of the article says:

"...a response appeared in the [London] Times from a gentleman in Bath, who stated that a drummer who served in the Sixty-Second British Regiment in the war of the Revolution, is still living in that town at the age of one hundred and five years, that he was very feeble and unable to feed himself, that his pension was only six pence a day, but no argument could persuade him to go to the Union or the poor house.... His name is Jonathan Reeves and whether he is the last surviving British soldier that served in the Revolutionary War is not yet certain, for others still living may be announced in the Times, as some interest seems to be excited by the subject."

I searched through GenealogyBank and the NewspaperARCHIVES collection on and did not see other newspaper articles dated after 1869.

During the radio broadcast, Maureen stated that the last soldier who served in the Revolutionary War died in 1872, but she did not provide the name.  Apparently, he will be included in the second volume of The Last Muster.  It will be interesting to see who she identifies as the last soldier who served in the Revolutionary War.

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


bgwiehle said...

Don't forget the "Hessians". I don't know how one would determine the last survivor in this group, but in March 2012, the Staatsarchiv Marburg announced they had digitized their collection of biographies and other documents related to Germans who fought in America.
Article at
Database at

The Photo Detective said...

Thank you Randy! The men you mentioned are in volume 1.

Anne said...

My 5th great-grandfather, James Barham, is reported to have been one of the last as well, at least in Missouri. He died in 1864 at age 101.