Which American generals lived the longest? Which generals died the youngest? Some generals had quite a long life while others died young and in their prime. Here’s what I discovered regarding the longevity (and lack of longevity) of some of the Revolutionary War generals on the American side.
Which American Revolutionary War general lived the longest?
Among Continental Army generals, the longest-lived was Brig. Gen. John Stark of New Hampshire. While brigadier general, he commanded the Northern Department three times, was a judge in the John André court martial, and commanded a brigade at the Battle of Springfield. Stark died at the age of ninety-three.
Brig. Gen. John Nixon of Massachusetts, who fought at the Battle of Harlem Heights and at Saratoga, was the second-oldest, dying at eighty-eight.
Which American Revolutionary War general died the youngest?
The shortest-lived Continental Army general was Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski. The Polish nobleman, known for forming a cavalry legion, was wounded at the Battle of Savannah and died two days later at age thirty-four.
The second-shortest-living general was Major General Frederick William, Baron de Woedtke, a Seven Years’ War veteran from Prussia whose military career in America lasted a whopping three months before he reportedly died of alcoholism at age thirty-five or thirty-six. De Woedtke was buried in an unmarked grave in what is today the Lake George Battlefield Park.
Richard Montgomery (killed at the Battle of Quebec) and Philippe Charles Tronson du Coudray (drowned) also died young. Both major generals died before their fortieth birthdays.
Which state militia general lived the longest?
South Carolina’s Thomas Sumter was the longest-lived militia general. He is best known for his partisan campaign in South Carolina in 1780 and 1781. His early life is also interesting: Born near Charlottesville, Virginia, he served in the French and Indian War as a Virginia provincial soldier. He accompanied a Cherokee delegation to London at the end of the French and Indian War. He was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator in later life.
Sumter, Brigadier General of the 1st Brigade of South Carolina militia, died at age ninety-seven!
John Stark was the second-longest-living militia general. Before he was a general in the Continental Army, he was a brigadier general in the New Hampshire militia and distinguished himself at the Battle of Bennington.
I know of only one general—Continental Army or state militia—who died after Sumter (albeit at a much younger age), and that’s Jeremiah McLene. McLene, a major general in the Pennsylvania militia, died in 1837 while a Member of Congress from Ohio. It appears that McLene—who was born in 1767, was, at age sixteen, the youngest general in the American Revolution.
Which militia general died the youngest?
The shortest-lived militia general appears to be William Caswell, son of North Carolina governor Richard Caswell. William Caswell a brigadier general of the North Carolina militia at the Battle of Brier Creek and the Battle of Rockfish Creek. He died in 1785 at age thirty at his plantation near Kinston.
Joseph Warren of Massachusetts and William Lee Davidson of North Carolina were both militia generals of state militias during the American Revolution. Both died very young. Warren, a Boston doctor and friend of John and Abigail Adams, is one of the most-memorialized generals of the Revolutionary War. He died in battle at Breed’s Hill/Bunker Hill, just three days after being appointed a major general. He had just turned thirty-four. Davidson, the thirty-five-year-old brigadier general pro tempore of the Salisbury District Brigade of North Carolina militia, died in battle in 1781 at Cowan’s Ford.