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Private Jeremiah McGowan of the 2nd New York Regiment received this discharge, signed by General George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, on June 7, 1783. He served for six years, including the Valley Forge Winter of 1777-1778.

As noted at the bottom of the discharge, McGowan was awarded the “Badge of Merit,” also known as the “Badge of Distinction.” General Washington created this award on August 7, 1782, to honor soldiers and non-commissioned officers of the Continental Army who served for more than three years “with bravery, fidelity and good conduct…” In recognition of his award, McGowan was entitled to wear a double chevron (representing his six years of service) on his left uniform sleeve. This is not to be confused with the Badge of Military Merit, a purple, heart-shaped cloth badge that inspired the later Purple Heart military decoration, which was awarded for a “singularly meritorious action.”

Continental Army veterans often kept their discharges and used them to prove their military service when they applied for pensions from the Federal Government in the 1800s.

Object Details

  • Discharge
    United States of America
    June 7, 1783
    Paper, Ink
    Museum of the American Revolution

Image 120220 Collections Continental Army Descriptive List

Continental Army Descriptive List

This “descriptive list” for a Continental Army company of the 7th Massachusetts Regiment was taken at West Point, New York, in 1782.
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Image 092320 16x9 Continental Currency Collection 1776 Continentalcurrency

Continental Currency (3 Dollars)

This example of paper currency from the American Revolution was issued under the authority of the Continental Congress in 1776.
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Image 092420 16x9 Baron Von Steuben Regulations Collection Vonsteubensregulations

Baron von Steuben's Regulations

This system of drills for soldiers was developed by officer Baron von Steuben during the American Revolution and was used through the War of 1812.
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