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Land Office Warrant

  • Land Office Military Warrant, Issued to Moses Wade, June 12, 1783
This land warrant, made out to Moses Wade, was received by him as a bounty for his military service during the American Revolution.
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    Commission to George Washington as Commander in Chief, June 19, 1775
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    William Woodford Letter about the Battle of Great Bridge, December 9, 1775
  • Act for Raising Army Volunteers
    Act for Raising Volunteers to Join the Grand Army, May 1778
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Land Office Military Warrant, Issued to Moses Wade, June 12, 1783

During the Revolutionary War, each of the states recruited soldiers for regiments that served in the Continental army and in many cases created state armies that were drawn from troops (distinct from the common militia) who were raised for local defense. These troops were eventually were called into Continental service, however. In Virginia, after an initial period of patriotic enthusiasm, the General Assembly found that in order to keep regiments up to strength the government had to extend rewards, or bounties, of lands to induce men to enlist for longer terms of service. As a result the Virginia Land Office, which was formed by an act of the General Assembly in 1779, offered parcels of land in what became the states of Kentucky and Ohio for soldiers or sailors who had served at least three years or until the end of the war in the State or Continental Line or the State Navy.

The length of service and soldiers' rank determined the amount of land received by the veteran or his heirs. Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont responded to recruitment problems in different ways, but because Virginia claimed an abundance of land in the west, north of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi, one of the most effective ways to entice men to extend their service was to provide them opportunities to own land in those unclaimed territories. This land office military warrant was issued to Moses Wade for one hundred acres for his service in the Virginia Continental Line. The Wade warrant was assigned to the veteran's heirs or sold to others before being redeemed, as was the case with many warrants issued to veterans of the Revolutionary War.

For Educators


1. What is a land warrant?

2. What was the reason that land warrants were offered in Virginia?

3. How much land was awarded to Moses Wade for his service?

Further Discussion

1. Consider the founding fathers' decision to draft the Declaration of Independence. Did every colonist in America hold the same views of separation as did these founding fathers? What were some reasons why the colonists did or did not feel it was necessary to separate from Great Britain? How did these reasons affect the formation of the Continental army?


This standard printed form contained blank spaces for officials to fill in with the name of the soldier and the length of his service. This document has been folded to fit into a pocket.
 The Library of Virginia acquired the Moses Wade warrant as part of the Richard Clough Anderson–Allen Latham Collection of personal papers, purchased to augment the information in the Land Office and other record groups. Richard C. Anderson, with headquarters near Louisville, had served as the principal surveyor of bounty lands in Ohio and Kentucky until 1819. His son-in-law, Allen Latham, arrived in Chillicothe about 1816 and thereafter established an agency to handle claims for lands in Ohio. The approximately 2,500 items in the collection includes about 140 warrants. The collection also contains correspondence, court records, and surveys.

Suggested Reading

Cecere, Michael. They Behaved Like Soldiers: Captain John Chilton and the Third Virginia Regiment, 1775–1778. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 2004.

Neimeyer, Charles P. American Soldiers' Lives: The Revolutionary War. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007.

Teipe, Emily J. America's First Veterans and the Revolutionary War Pensions. Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2002.

Wilson, Samuel M. Catalogue of Revolutionary Soldiers and Sailors of the Commonwealth of Virginia to Whom Land Bounty Warrants were Granted by Virginia for Military Services in the War for Independence. Baltimore, Md.: Southern Book Company, 1953.

E. M. Sanchez-Saavedra, A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations in the American  Revolution, 1774–1787. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1978.

Land Office Military WARRANT, No. 795
To the principal SURVEYOR of the Lands set apart for the Officers and Soldiers of the Commonwealth of VIRGINIA.
THIS shall be your WARRANT to survey and lay off in one or more Surveys, for Moses Wade his Heirs or Assigns, the Quantity of one Hundred Acres of Land, due unto the said Moses Wade
In consideration of his services for three years as a soldier in the Virginia Continental Line agreeable to a Certificate from the Governour and Council received into the Land Office. GIVEN under my Hand, and the Seal of the said Office, this 12th Day of June in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and 83.

*The writer of this document used the long or leading s, a character that looks similar to an “f” but is used as an “s.”