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The Continental Army, Chapter V

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artillery regiment of state troops to take over the burden of local defense and, at Congress’ request, added two separate Continental companies to protect the frontier. This effort exhausted the state’s manpower, and for the first time officers had difficulty finding recruits.44

Unlike the south, the middle states were faced with a situation in which most existing enlistments expired on 31 December 1776 or shortly thereafter, and one in which regiments were on active duty outside the state. They turned to legislative liaison committees, establishing new arrangements which retained, through reenlistment, the 1776 regiments and added new ones as necessary. The new regiments depended on veterans of militia or state service, particularly with the Flying Camp, for their cadres. While this expedient created turmoil in some lines because of arguments over relative rank, it allowed each of the 1777 regiments to start with an experienced core.

Delaware’s reorganization was the simplest. It merely filled vacancies in its single regiment through promotions.45 Maryland’s problems were more complex. That state argued that its quota was based on misleading total population figures and made an effort to raise only seven of its assigned eight regiments. The original 1776 regiment and attached separate companies became the 1st and 2d Maryland Regiments. The 4th through 7th formed around cadres from the four regiments sent to the Flying Camp, and the 3d assembled its officers from a variety of sources.46

Despite great enthusiasm among their officers for remaining in service, New Jersey and Pennsylvania took longer than Maryland to accomplish their reorganizations. Regiments at Ticonderoga got a later start in recruiting than those serving with the Main Army. New Jersey refilled its three regiments from 1776 and added a fourth built around militiamen. To free the Continental officers for recruiting duties, the state raised four temporary battalions of state troops to take up defensive responsibilities during the winter.47 Pennsylvania also retained existing units by reenlisting the men. The 1st Continental Regiment became the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment by virtue of its seniority, with the 1st through 6th Pennsylvania Battalions becoming the 2d through 7th Pennsylvania Regiments. Col. Aneas Mackay’s frontier regiment became the 8th. Sufficient personnel of the 3d and 5th battalions had escaped capture at Fort Washington to allow them to re-form as the 4th and 6th Regiments through additional recruiting. Two of the three new regiments, the 9th and 10th, drew officers from the state troops of 1776; the 11th drew its officers from various sources. William Cook’s six-company frontier regiment had not yet made any substantial progress in organizing; it added two more companies and became the 12th.48 The state also con-

44. Henning, Statutes at Large, 9:179-84, 192-98, 210-11, 213-14; McIlwaine, Journals of the Council of State, 1:250, 270-71, 310, 321, 325, 337-40, 368; James Wood, “Correspondence of Col. James Wood,” Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine 3 (1921):38-40.
45. Fitzpatrick, writings, 6:485; Robert Kirkwood, The Journal and Order Book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware Regiment of the Continental Line, ed. Joseph Brown Turner (Wilmington: Historical Society of Delaware, 1910), pp. 4-6; Anderson. Personal Recollections, pp. 7, 26-29.
46. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 3:120-1, 125, 132, 163-64, 182; Archives of Maryland, 18:76-292; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:397.
47. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:1258-59; 3:1316, 1449, 1474-75; Fitzpatrick, 6:81-82; 7:27, 200-201; Gates Papers (Schuyler to Gates, 13 Nov 76).
48. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 9:90; Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:92, 94; 3:195-200; Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 5:40-41, 51, 176-77, 522-23, 545; 7:583-85; 2d ser., 1:41-42, 51-52, 717-18; 10:106-7; 4th ser., 3:656-57; Charles J. Stille, Major-General Anthony Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line in the Continental Army (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1893), pp. 39-40, 43-48, 54; Gates Papers (Francis Johnston to Gates, 20 Feb 77).

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solidated its enlisted state troops into a regiment with ten 100-man companies. These men were still under their original enlistments (which lasted until 1 January 1778), but on 10 June 1777 the regiment willingly transferred to the Continental Army as the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment.49

New York and New England units had served for two full campaigns, longer than any units from the southern or middle states. Casualties, normal attrition, and reduced quotas made it harder for these northern states to sustain the continuity of their regiments. New York faced a reduction from seven to five regiments and the loss of Manhattan and Long Island, fertile recruiting grounds. The old 1st from New York City was disbanded, and its veterans were used to fill vacancies in other units. The two Albany-area regiments, the 4th and Van Schaick’s, were merged as the new 1st New York Regiment, and the old 2d and 3d were reorganized as the new 4th and 2d, respectively, reflecting the relative seniority of their new commanders. John Nicholson’s regiment, which had been formed for service in Canada, disbanded, and Lewis Dubois’ regiment provided the nucleus for the new 3d, although Colonel Dubois himself commanded a new 5th New York Regiment which Congress accepted on 30 November 1776.50

Connecticut had furnished eight regiments in 1776, and its quota in 1777 was the same. The legislature, however, completely regrouped the officer corps. Its aim was to place the best veteran officers in the most appropriate positions; it was willing to disregard prior service or considerations of unit continuity. The Connecticut Assembly made every effort to recruit rapidly, offering extra land grants and recruiting by geographical districts, but most regiments did not obtain substantial numbers until April or May.51 Rhode Island dropped from four to two regiments by using the same device that it had employed in the 1776 reorganization. The 9th and 11th Continental Regiments became, through reenlistment, the 1st and 2d Rhode Island Regiments. The best officers from the two disbanded regiments and some of their men filled vacancies. The state also created a brigade of state troops; this effort conflicted with the work of Continental recruiters although the brigade then helped to contain the British forces in Newport.52 New Hampshire similarly used its three existing Continental regiments as the core of its three 1777 regiments. Col. Timothy Bedel’s regiment disbanded during the winter and Col. Nicholas Long’s in July of 1777 when its 1776 enlistments expired. The state commissioned various veteran militia officers to fill out the three new regiments.53

49. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:80-81, 92-94; Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 5:103-4, 107, 112-13, 318, 357; JCC, 8:482-83; Gates Papers (Pa. Council of Safety to Gates, 4 Mar 77, with enclosure).
50. JCC, 6:994; 8:710-11; Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 3:206-11; 247-49, 312-20, 366-67; Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, Relating to the war of the Revolution, in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, New York, 2 vols., (Albany: Weed, Parsons, and Co., 1863-68), 2:31-53; William M. Willett, A Narrative of the Military Actions of Colonel Marinus Willett, Taken Chiefly From his own Manuscript (New York: C. & C. & H. Carvill, 1831), p. 39.
51. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:957-61; 3:799, 899-900, 1433; Hoadley et al., Public Records of the State of Connecticut, 1:12-16, 26, 65-70, 165-68; Charles S. Hall, Life and Letters of Samuel Holden Parsons (Binghamton, N.Y.: Otseningo Publishing Co., 1905), pp. 92-93; Samuel Blatchley Webb, Correspondence and Journals of Samuel Blatchley Webb, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, 3 vols. (New York: privately pub., 1893-94), 1:189-211.
52. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 6:200-202, 274; 7:42-44, 349-51; Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, 6:175, 183-85; R. I. Records, 8:10-11, 20, 30-33, 103-4, 126-27, 140-41, 172-73, 192-93; Greene, Papers, 1:307-8, 317, 360-64.
53. Sullivan, Letters and Papers, 1:317-22; Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:1175-77; 3:624-25, 646-47, 796-98, 1125.

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JOHN EAGER HOWARD (1752-1827) of Maryland is typical of the excellent regimental commanders serving in the Continental Army during the latter stages of the Revolution. He played a key role in the battle of Cowpens and went on to become a governor, congressman, and senator. (Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, 1782.)

Massachusetts’ quota of fifteen regiments reduced by two the number in service during 1776. One legislative committee traveled to New York to form seven regiments from the men on duty there in October 1776; a second went to Ticonderoga to arrange five regiments. Three others were organized within the state. Although the legislature’s idea of offering additional pay was rejected by Congress, it exerted itself fully, and in April 1777 the legislature passed a bill authorizing a draft when recruiting tapered off. These efforts raised 7,816 men, mostly for the line regiments, by early July. The average number of recruits for each regiment was 470, with four above the 600-man level and only four below 400.54

The reorganized regiments assembled at three primary locations in the spring of 1777. Ticonderoga and Peekskill in the Hudson Highlands had obvious strategic importance. The troops at these places protected important fortifications, denied the Hudson River to British troops in Canada and New York City, and enjoyed substantial logistical support. Morristown, Washington’s headquarters, sewed as the other rendezvous because it protected Philadelphia from British troops in New Jersey. Once the regiments reached these locations, Washington and the commanders of the Northern and Highlands Departments assembled them into brigades and divisions, the primary formations used in 1777 to maneuver the Continental Army.

In addition to the North Carolina and Virginia regiments drawn north from the Southern Department, Washington used regiments from the middle states to furnish most of the other troops for the Main Army. The infantry regiments arrived throughout the spring in company-sized increments and by May achieved operational strength. On 11 May, excluding artillery and light dragoons, the Main Army’s 38 regiments of infantry (line and additional regiments from Virginia, Maryland, Dela-

54. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 3:399-400, 414-15, 494-96, 507-8, 711-13, 1030, 1083-84, 1170; Gardiner, Warren-Gerry Correspondence, pp. 59-60; Gates Papers (Joseph Avery’s Return of Men Enlisted by Massachusetts, 10 Jul 77).

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ware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), plus detachments, included 50 field, 532 company, and 91 staff officers; 708 sergeants; 241 drummers and fifers; and 8,378 rank and file. Two thousand men were sick, about half in hospitals, and another 400 were absent on detached duties. Only about a third of the regiments were over half strength, but recruits continued to arrive in numbers.55

Washington’s January 1777 plans called for a brigade to have three full infantry regiments (over 2,200 men) and for a division to have three brigades. When he asked Congress to appoint additional general officers to command these formations, he also requested the appointment of three lieutenant generals as senior commanders. Many delegates considered the new rank a threat to republican virtue, and Congress rejected the idea. After considerable maneuvering by delegates to advance favorite sons, Congress eventually created six new major and fourteen new brigadier generals.56 Washington adjusted his plans to the available number of officers and to the actual strength of the regiments, and between 11 and 22 May 1777 he established ten permanent brigades in the Main Army. Each contained four or five regiments, from the same state when possible. For example, the 3d Virginia Brigade consisted of the 3d, 7th, 11th, and 15th Virginia Regiments. Brig. Gens. Peter Muhlenberg, George Weedon, William Woodford, and Charles Scott commanded the 1st through 4th Virginia Brigades; Brig. Gens. Anthony Wayne, John DeHaas, and Thomas Conway, the 1st through 3d Pennsylvania Brigades; Brig. Gens. William Smallwood and Philippe-Hubert, Chevalier de Preudhomme de Borre, the 1st and 2d Maryland Brigades; and Brig. Gen. William Maxwell, the New Jersey Brigade. Two brigades formed a division.57 In addition to aides, the brigade staff included a brigade major, a brigade quartermaster, and a chaplain (who replaced the regimental chaplains). The division staff included a quartermaster officer and a conductor of military stores who repaired small arms and prepared ammunition.58

This formation of the Main Army allowed Washington great flexibility. During the summer of 1777, divisions shifted along the main roads between Morristown and Philadelphia as the British threatened either the Hudson Highlands or the capital. He expected a division in a detached role to harass the enemy advance and to buy time for the rest of the army to concentrate.59 In formal battle the Main Army deployed in a double line. The First Line consisted of two or more divisions in line abreast. The Second Line, or reserve, was deployed to the rear and provided depth to absorb shock. The Left Wing and Right Wing each contained portions of both lines. By December the Order of Battle of the larger Main Army had become more complex. Ten brigades deployed as the First Line and six as the Second. One additional brigade remained in

55. RG 93, National Archives (Weekly Return, Main Army, 21 May 77; a version of this return is printed in Lesser, Sinews, p. 46; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:236, 278-79, 396-97, 451-52; 8:49-50.
56. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:49-51; JCC, 7:90, 133, 141-42, 203, 213, 256, 323; 8:624; 9:823; Burnett, Letters, 2:261-63, 269-75, 287-88, 291-92, 299-301, 311-12. Robert Howe and Alexander McDougall exercised department commands during the year as brigadier generals and advanced to major generals in October.
57. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:447-48; 8:40-41, 88-89, 97-101, 170-72; 9:103-4, 149. The senior colonel commanded in the brigadier general’s absence.
58. Ibid., 8:203-4, 337; JCC, 8:390, 609; Sullivan, Letters and Papers, 1:352.
59. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:62-64. There is a distinct similarity between Washington’s use of the division as a force capable of limited independent action and Napoleon’s use of the corps as described in Steven T. Ross, “The Development of the Combat Division in Eighteenth-Century French Armies,” French Historical Studies, 4 (1965):84-94.

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general reserve. Each wing additionally used two light dragoon regiments and some supporting infantry formations, both Continental and militia, for flank security.60

Improved arms and training reinforced the advantages inherent in the new tactical organization of 1777. The 1763-model French Army musket, known colloquially as the Charleville, became the standard infantry weapon. This .69-caliber smoothbore, which fired a 1-ounce ball, came with a metal ramrod and a 14-inch socket bayonet. It had greater range and was more durable, reliable, and accurate than the English Brown Bess. The Charleville was an ideal weapon for the Continental Army, in which the infantry regiment’s structure placed a premium on musketry rather than shock actions.61 Spring and summer training stressed battlefield maneuvers rather than the manual of arms. New standing regulations covered the proper methods of marching and saluting, the baggage train, and guard duty. Washington told officers to “be very attentive, that their men keep their ranks always dressed, and use their feet in concert, which are equally conducive to the order, beauty, strength and expedition of a marching body.”62

The Eastern Department did not face a serious threat from the British base at Newport and could rely, moreover, on New England’s strong militia forces. Washington left it with only the three Massachusetts additional regiments for a garrison. The bulk of the New York and New England infantry regiments were assigned either to Ticonderoga or to the Hudson Highlands. In his original plan Washington instructed eighteen New Hampshire and Massachusetts regiments to go to the former, and the fifteen New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut regiments, plus Samuel Blatchley Webb’s and Henry Sherburne’s additional regiments, to the latter. Slow recruiting and uncertainty over Howe’s plans led Washington in time to alter this arrangement substantially. Two of the New York regiments shifted to the Northern Department while eight Massachusetts units reported to Peekskill.63

The Highlands remained strategically important during 1777 because troops stationed there could rapidly reinforce either the Main Army or the Northern Department. By mid-May Brig. Gen. Alexander McDougall’s garrison had assumed respectable proportions. He had 18 infantry regiments: 3 from New York, 8 from Connecticut, 6 from Massachusetts, and Webb’s; plus the first detachment of Rhode Islanders. The continentals included 13 field, 119 company, and 24 staff officers; 197 sergeants; 94 drummers and fifers; and 2,502 rank and file. The 400 sick and 200 detached continentals were offset by about 700 New York militia. Like the Main Army’s regiments, McDougall’s were still arriving by detachment.64 Israel Putnam assumed command

60. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:296-97; 10:94-95, 138-39.
61. Arcadi Gluckman, United States Muskets, Rifles and Carbines (Harrisburg: The Stackpole Co., 1959), pp. 55-61, James E. Hicks and Fred Porter Todd, “United States Military Shoulder Arms, 1795-1935,” Part 2, Military Affairs 2 (1938):37-42, 75-76; Harold L. Peterson, Arms and Armor in Colonial America, 1526-1783 (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1956), pp. 170-78, 190-92; Rebecca and Philip Katcher, “The Pennsylvania Division, 1780,” Military Collector and Historian 27 (1975):120; Ernst Kipping and Samuel S. Smith, eds., At General Howe’s Side: The Diary of General Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen (Monmouth Beach, N. J.: Philip Freneau Press, 1974), p. 14.
62. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:255; see also pp. 227-31, 250-51, 256, 344-49; 9:79-80.
63. Ibid., 7:125, 272-78, 282-83, 424, 485-86; 8:6-7, 35, 43, 101-3; William Abbatt, ed., Memoirs of Major-General William Heath, new ed. (New York: William Abbatt, 1901), pp. 104-11; Gates Papers (to Hancock, 2 May 77).
64. Alexander McDougall Papers (Weekly Returns, Highlands Department, 17 and 24 May 77), New-York Historical Society. During this single week 700 continentals arrived.

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