Bounty Land Applications

In the United States military bounty lands were offered as an inducement to serve in the military or as a reward for military service. Britain offered bounty lands of varying acreage in North America during the colonial period, however, when the colonist prevailed in the Revolutionary War, the offer of bounty land was made to veterans who served in the Continental Line units (federal troops).

Military Bounty Lands were offered for the following US wars between 1776-1855:

  1. Revolutionary War
  2. War of 1812
  3. Mexican-American War
  4. Indian Wars 1790-1850

The laws governing bounty land awards constantly changed, with Congress expanding the quantity of land awarded, the minimum length of service to qualify for bounty lands, and adjustments frequently impacted service more than 50 years after the qualifying service!  The majority of bounty lands were awarded based upon the Congressional Acts of 1850, 1852 and 1855.  These three acts resulted in 464,237 awards of bounty lands to either veterans or their families, compared to approximately 134,000 for all prior acts!

What might you find in a bounty land application?  Many bounty lands were awarded after the death of the veteran they are a genealogical goldmine and may contain

  1. Affidavits — veteran, widow, children
  2. Bible records
  3. Birth dates and places
  4. Death Dates & places
  5. Marriage information including maiden name
  6. FAN Club members affidavits
  7. Migration history of the family
  8. Names & ages of children (heirs)
  9. Personal narratives about military service
  10. Physical descriptions of the veteran

The key takeaway when exploring bounty lands indexes is to remember that lands for service in 1792 might not have been awarded to the veteran (heirs) until 1855 or later!

Where are the finding aids for bounty land service?  There are several resources available for federally awarded bounty lands. 

  1. M804, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, on as Revolutionary War Pensions, which though labeled pensions, also includes bounty-land warrant application files.
  2. (Partially Indexed) Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index, 1812-1855, available on The index is currently available for veterans whose last names begin with the letters A-L as of August 2021.  Check back with the index as it is updated, the collection is not 100% in alpabetical order, so your veteran whose last name begins with letter C may show up when the index is completed.
  3. War of 1812 Pension Files on Some War of 1812 pension application packets may also contain bounty land applications!  If the pension is available on fold3, only last names beginning A – St have been digitized, check the pension to see if the pension packet contains the bounty land application.
  4. General Land Office (GLO) Records hosted at the Bureau of Land Management website.  Due to fire, partial indexes, and record loss the General Land Office records are an invaluable resource in determining if your ancestor received bounty lands!  The GLO Records tracked the issuance of the patent, or the exchange of the bounty land warrant for physical land.  Even if the bounty land application (held by the military) was lost, the GLO holdings are extremely likely to hold the warrant exchange file!  Additional information about the GLO file is found here.

All of the information required to retrieve your ancestors’ bounty land application is located in any of the above listed indexes! To order a bounty land application, please fill out this form, and email it to, along with a digital copy of the bounty land finding aid for your ancestor, and RumbleSoft will schedule your retrieval. Details on how our record retrieval process works are outlined here