The military records used in this article, referred to as muster rolls or descriptive lists, are predominantly from the years of the French and Indian War (1756–1763) and the American Revolution (1775–1783), and pertain to the soldiers of the American Colonies. Such lists were compiled for most colonial military forces, typically by individual companies or regiments, and provided the basis for distributing supplies and payments, as well as for aiding in the identification of deserters. Since there was no standard format, the information appearing in the muster rolls varies widely. Lists have been retrieved that included for each soldier some, but never all, of the following information: place of birth, age, place of residence, occupation, height, hair color, eye color, complexion, place and date of enlistment, military rank, by whom enlisted, language spoken, term of service, pay scale, and assorted remarks relevant to military service. We have also colected a sample of U.S. Army muster rolls for those recruits who enlisted during the period 1815–1820. These lists are of a similar lature to those of the earlier era, except that they are much more uniform with regard to the information included. Very few individuals under the age of 16 enlisted in the military, making it difficult to utilize these data for studying adolescent growth spurts. Accordingly, the analysis of the height-by-age data in this article will focus on the terminal heights achieved.
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