A quick search online shows confusing and contradictory information.
An article published in the Bangor Daily News five years ago claims that a nine-year-old sailor named John Barry served as a "powder monkey" aboard a ship commanded by American naval hero John Paul Jones. The article explains that the Navy in that era routinely used boys to take gunpowder from cramped spaces below deck to the cannons.
The story handed down over the generations claims that the youngster was killed during an attack on the ship and was buried back in his native Maine. However, very few details are provided in the newspaper story. For one thing, the article does not list dates or even the name of the ship.
John Paul Jones commanded several ships in the Revolution although he is best known for his battles while commanding the Ranger. The Ranger's battles were all off the coast of England and France. It is unlikely that anyone killed in battle there would have been brought back to the U.S. for burial since ships of that era did not have the capability to store bodies for the long trip home.
Jones also commanded several other ships, some of which were in battles off Maine as well as off Newfoundland. It seems more likely that the youngster would have been killed while serving on one of those, a ship that could easily return to a Maine port soon after a battle.
A search of the web is somewhat fruitless since the famous "Father of the American Navy" had the same name: John Barry. A search on Google or other search engines finds hundreds of "hits" of the name John Paul Jones alongside the name John Barry. However, all of them seem to be references to Irish immigrant Captain (and later Commodore) John Barry. None of the hits on Google referred to a nine-year-old of the same name from Maine.
Another story claims that Isaac Wheeler, Jr. (1768 - 1856), was the youngest soldier of the Revolutionary War. He reportedly was eight years old when he served as a fifer and served with his father, Isaac Wheeler. While I found several references to him online, none offered verifiable primary documentation of that claim.
Still other claims state that Archibald Smithson was the youngest. Smithson reportedly was born in 1765 aged 10 when the war started. He was later captured by the British and in a POW Camp in New York City along with 2 others from Harford County, Maryland. This reportedly is based on a record among the land records held at the Harford County Circuit Courthouse, Bel Air, Maryland.
Still others claim that Nathan Futrell was the youngest. He reportedly was a drummer boy in War of the Revolution, was born in North Carolina in 1773. He supposedly joined the North Carolina Continental Militia late in the war. Married in 1798, Futrell moved to Kentucky in 1799 and later settled on Ford's Creek, 1820, where he farmed. Futrell died in 1829. He and his wife, Charity, buried on adjacent hill.
All of these claims seem to be a bit weak in documentation so this still leaves the original question: Who was the youngest (verifiable) soldier or sailor of the American Revolution? If you have any information, please post that info at the end of this article.