Continental & Militia forces in the Saratoga Campaign

CONTINENTAL & MILITIA FORCES IN THE SARATOGA CAMPAIGN

By Brendan Morrissey

[The author would like to express his unbounded gratitude to Eric Schnitzer, Senior Interpretive Ranger/Historian at Saratoga National Park, who has not only generously permitted the author to use so much of his own material on the subject of the Saratoga forces, but who also spent a great deal of time perusing the manuscript and suggesting some additions.]

At the start of the American War of Independence, Congress could only call on the standing militias of each Colony/State. The limitations of using militia to fight a prolonged campaign had been known to the Colonists since the late 1600s and, in spite of the blind determination of some politicians to rely on the “civic purity” of the militia, wiser heads eventually prevailed and the Continental Army was created in June 1775. However, this organisation also had its limitations – not least that it was initially no better trained or led than the militia, from whom its officers and rank-andfile were drawn (either voluntarily via one-year enlistments, or forcibly via levies required to serve for anything from 90 days to nine months). It was not until the autumn of 1776 that Washington and Congress decided to improve the Continental Army and to avoid the problems generated by simply allowing enlistments to expire and then re-organise the army “on the hoof”.

Aware that most Continental enlistments expired on December 31, 1776, Congress and Washington began planning a number of reforms in September of that year. The most important of these was to extend enlistments beyond one year, as the impact of the defeats of that summer around New York City sunk in. However, the late victories at Trenton and Princeton prompted more modifications, as the Continental Army’s experience of field actions began to match that of defending fixed positions. The extension of enlistments, in particular, represented a complete about-face from the philosophy that had exemplified Congress’s view of the war for its first 18 months – fear of a standing army and total reliance on a citizen militia. During the summer of 1776, several units were raised based around three-year enlistments, whilst the string of defeats persuaded even the most virulent opponents of a standing army that a welltrained and disciplined force was the only way to oppose, much less overcome, the professional forces of the Crown.

On September 16, Congress formally adopted the amended proposals of the Board of War, known as “the 88 battalion resolve” (although there would eventually be 119 separate corps), which called for quotas of regiments from each State, based on Congressional estimates of their populations. These ranged from 15 regiments from Massachusetts and Virginia, to a single one each from Delaware and Georgia. Where possible, existing regiments were retained and new ones were only created in order to match a State’s Line with its quota. Congress would issue all commissions, whilst accepting that each State would nominate its own officers up to the rank of Colonel, as well as being responsible for clothing, arming and otherwise equipping its own men (for which it was also granted the power to deduct money from each man’s pay).

At the same time, Congress – at Washington’s request – also modified the Articles of War, adding much material from the British Articles of War that had not been included in the initial version, and increasing both the number of capital offences, and the level of flogging available to courts-martial from 39 to 100 lashes. This version of the Articles remained in force across the Continental Army for the remainder of the war. After further representations from Washington, Congress also increased officers’ pay and approved an annual uniform allowance for the rank-and-file (essentially a free issue of clothing each year). However, both Washington and Congress opposed an innovation proposed by Massachusetts to allow each State to set the pay of the men, as it would unbalance recruiting and promote jealousy between men of different States. Finally, in order to boost recruitment – or at the very least not hinder it – Congress decided to have enlistments last for three years, rather than for the duration of the war, as the Board had originally proposed. Finally, Congress ordered each State to send a delegation to both Washington’s headquarters, and to Fort Ticonderoga (headquarters of the Northern Army), to discuss the retention of high quality officers, many of whom had been considering returning home. Unfortunately, these delegates did not appear quickly enough and Congress grasped the nettle and instructed Washington and Schuyler to make the appropriate decisions on behalf of those States not represented. In addition, Washington had ordered each general to compile lists, by State, of all officers, indicating which of them were worthy of retention, or even promotion. The Northern Army Created at the end of 1776, from the remnants of the forces that had been chased out of Canada and the bulk of the New England contingents, the Northern Army was, perhaps surprisingly, not quite the “poor cousin” of Washington’s Main Army, in terms of supplies, manpower, commanders, and uniforms. Unlike the contingents from the Middle and Southern States, those regiments from New England and New York had seen two full seasons of campaigning. As a result, losses from battle and other forms of attrition, resignations of senior officers, and reduced quotas made it harder to maintain existing units. New York in particular was reduced from seven regiments to four (later five), having also lost two of its most fertile recruiting areas of Manhattan and Long Island. Whilst Connecticut retained its eight-regiment quota, its Assembly completely re-organised the State’s officer corps, with the aim of placing the best officers in the most advantageous posts, irrespective of prior service or unit continuity. The creation of considerable formations of State troops (essentially full-time troops raised for service within the State’s borders – much like Fencible regiments in Great Britain) in both Connecticut and neighbouring Rhode Island also hindered Continental recruitment. New Hampshire disbanded two of its five regiments, bringing in veteran militia officers with French & Indian War experience to fill out its new, three-regiment quota. And finally, Massachusetts also lost two regiments, reducing from 17 to 15, with seven based in New York, five at Ticonderoga, and the other three scattered around the State. Despite Congressional objections to its proposal to offer extra pay, the State’s legislature asserted its independence by authorising a draft for when recruiting reduced to a trickle. By the spring of 1777, the contingents from these four States had coalesced around Crown Point/Fort Ticonderoga and at Peekskill in the Hudson Highlands. Both locations were of strategic importance denying the use of the entire length of the Hudson River to Crown forces in Canada and New York, but were also logistical hubs, which made supplying them somewhat easier. It was against this background that the Continental component of the Northern Army, initially under Philip Schuyler, and then later under Horatio Gates, was eventually assembled, comprising two cavalry units, an artillery battalion, some engineers, 21 infantry regiments, and two composite infantry battalions, composed of chosen men and serving as a unified “advance guard”.

  1. General comments on the technical and non-combatant “headquarters” troops:-
    • Department of Engineers, Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin
    • Composition – Between 1776 and 1777, as well as Baldwin, John Trumbull, Christopher Pelissier, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko served as engineer officers in the Northern Army, possibly assisted by a few seconded officers from combat formations. There were no enlisted men at this point in the war.
    • History – The plight of the Northern Army (and, indeed, Washington’s Main Army as well) in terms of engineers highlighted a major problem within the Continental Army. Most logistical roles could be filled by civilians with the same skills, but military engineering required specialist training that nobody in American had. While Congress had allocated a senior engineer and two assistants to each army, none of them was anything more than a talented amateur (if that), and much of the work was undertaken by officers detached from infantry units. After the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga and removal of its guns, and the subsequent withdrawal of Congressional forces from Canada, it was agreed that Ticonderoga should be fortified by Schuyler’s army. In his memoirs, Trumbull claimed credit for noticing that Sugar Loaf Hill/Mount Defiance dominated the entire position; he and the injured Arnold (recovering from a broken leg!) both climbed it and proved that not only could cannon mounted there render Ticonderoga untenable, but that fortifying it alone could save much time, money and effort. More importantly, such works would have been sufficiently small to be properly manned by the number of troops available. Unfortunately, Schuyler refused to accept Trumbull’s finding and work focused on the much more expensive and ineffectual repairs to the Ticonderoga lines, constructing a boom across the lake, and fortifying Mount Independence.
    • Uniform – Until 1778, the corps consisted entirely of officers and no uniform was prescribed until 1780. In July 1776, however, Baldwin was robbed of all his clothing and possessions, which included “a blue Coat….full trimmed with narrow gold lace”.
    • Quartermaster Department, Colonel Morgan Lewis
    • Composition – Exact numbers unknown, but they included all those involved in quartering, feeding and moving the army and most of its supplies, including waggoners and batteaux men. At some point in 1777, two companies of quartermaster artificers were formed, and assigned to Colonel Baldwin’s command.
    • History – The Quartermaster General’s Department had reorganised in May, forming new specialist groups to handle quarters, forage, baking and – most importantly of all – transportation.
    • Uniform – No official uniform recorded before the 1779 Clothing Regulations. However, coats of brown or grey were common for waggoners.
    • Hospital Department, Doctor Jonathan Potts
    • Composition – By 1777, each army had its own Physician & Surgeon General. Since the start of the war, each regiment had its surgeon who was appointed by the unit’s CO. In addition, a network of hospitals had been set up which were controlled by the various Departments, focussing on the main garrisons.
    • History – Congress had established the Medical Service of the Continental Army on July 27, 1775, and placed a "Chief physician & director general" of the Continental Army as its head. Congress had no idea about handling military medicine, and so from the start there was constant in-fighting as regimental surgeons (supported by many generals) tried to retain control over the care of the sick and wounded. However, by 1777 a proper chain of command had been established, whereby each regimental surgeon had to present his medical chests to the army Physician for inspection, and had been subordinated to the surgeons in charge of general hospitals, to which all sick and wounded were to be transferred once it was considered safe to move them. This also avoided potential mismanagement of resources by not issuing medicines at regimental level.
    • Uniform – No official uniform is recorded and it is assumed that all qualified medical practitioners wore civilian clothing.
    • Commissary departments (no overall commander)
    • Composition/History – As the war progressed, both Washington and Congress worked hard to increase the professionalism of the commissary departments, making them increasingly specialised. By 1777, the various departments dealt with purchasing, issuing, clothing, and prisoners-of-war.

  2. General comments on the infantry:-
    • African-Americans – Somewhere between 400 and 450 men, both free and enslaved, served in the Continental forces and Militia in this campaign, including up to 20 in Lincoln’s expedition against Fort Ticonderoga (another 20-30 served on the British side – much fewer than in other campaigns, but this was because there were fewer slaves in the northern colonies who could run away to join them). This represented around 5% of the 8,000 troops available to Gates at the start of the main battles, but obviously became considerably smaller as his forces built up to the 17,000 present by the time of the Convention. The men were scattered across the various contingents and whilst there was officially no segregation, it does seem to have been common for all or at least most black enlistees in a unit to serve in the same company, as there was no segregation. Except in South Carolina and Georgia units, both free men of colour and slaves were paid the same as white soldiers (although owners often “appropriated” the pay of their own slaves) and free men could be promoted. Both groups were promised pensions – which they subsequently found as hard to collect as white veterans did – and slaves were promised their freedom in return for service (several had fought at Battle Road and Bunker Hill and are the subject of an NPS article). [Note: it is usually claimed that 5,000 African-Americans served Congress over the course of the entire war. However, as with the numbers of white soldiers (estimated at around 200- 250,000), it would be more accurate to say that these figures represented enlistments, rather than different individuals. The simple reality is that the annual number of soldiers in the Continental Army includes many men who had re-enlisted, and quite a few did so several times over the course of the war (a “keen” soldier could have enlisted up to five times – 1775, 1776, 1777-79, 1780-82 and 1783). This was much more common with African-American soldiers – free or enslaved – who often had few, if any, prospects to return to in civilian life and, like many poor whites, found that the military life offered them something more.

    • First Nations – Small contingents of Iroquois (Oneida, Tuscarora and Onondaga) arrived at Albany in mid-September, along with the Rev. Samuel Kirkland who was principal missionary to the Oneida Nation. Schuyler persuaded just over 100 of them to join Gates, whom they served mainly as scouts or spies, but by the end of the month almost all had returned home, according to Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin. Another 30 or so Algonquin (Mohican/Stockbridge) served in the Massachusetts Line, principally in Jackson’s and Wesson’s regiments. Other Oneida and Onondaga served as scouts with Herkimer’s force. It is hoped to cover these troops in more detail in a fourth article on Loyalists and Canadians.
    • Brigades –Early in the war, Washington had put forward the idea that all units of the Continental Army would themselves be truly continental – i.e. the men would be drawn from several States. However, whether through inertia, or opposition from State representatives in Congress, this never came to pass and with a few notable exceptions (mainly the technical corps which had higher entry requirements), all regiments were drawn from either one State, or from two or three with common borders. On a similar basis, line brigades were largely drawn from one State, with the very small contingents, such as the Canadian regiments, either being brigaded with troops from neighbouring States or used in isolation. By 1777, a brigade would consist of 3-4 regiments of infantry and a company of artillery; however, that organisation had not yet permeated through to the Northern Army, and its brigades consisted initially of 3-4 regiments of Continentals, later augmented by regiments of militia.
    • Regiments/Battalions – As with most British Line regiments, a regiment had only one battalion, consisting of 8 companies according to the structure authorised by Congress in November 1775. Again, Congress adopted a system similar to the British, and each regiment had a Colonel, a Lieutenant Colonel, a Major, and ten “staff” – a chaplain, an adjutant and the sergeantmajor who acted as his assistant, a quartermaster and a quartermaster sergeant, a pay-master, a drum-major and a fife-major, a surgeon, and a surgeon’s mate – and eight companies, all commanded by a captain. In theory at least, there were no “duplications” of command (eg field officers commanding a company with no captain) and Hospital staff screened all the surgical applicants.

      [Note: for the purposes of this article, State Line units will be referred to as “regiments” to distinguish them from the “selected” units, such as those formed under Morgan and Dearborn.]

    • Companies – A regiment had eight companies, each comprising 1 captain, 1 first lieutenant, 1 second lieutenant, 1 ensign, 4 sergeants (one of whom was the “first sergeant” for the company), 4 corporals, 1 drummer, 1 fifer, and 76 privates. The NCOs and rank-and-file were split into four squads, each of 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 19 privates.
    • Platoons – The basic tactical unit on the battlefield was supposed to be the “platoon” of which each company was supposed to have two, although (as with their opponents) shortages of manpower meant that there was usually only enough men for one and so the two institutions became synonymous.
    • Officers – Political influence seems to have played a large role in the distribution of commissions at the start of the war; however, the disastrous campaigns around New York and in Canada, and disciplinary problems with units that had elected their company officers (in 1776, a fight broke out between two State contingents at Fort Ticonderoga when one officer was found mending his men’s shoes), had led to a more sensible approach. By 1777, Washington had asked his generals to prepare assessments of all officers, by State, listing those whom they felt should be retained or promoted.
    • Sergeants/Corporals – These ranks had also been appointed by the men at the start of the war, but by 1777 were being promoted by their own senior officers, according to merit.
    • Colours – Whilst Washington would later attempt (and fail) to introduce a British-style system of a “national” and a “regimental” colour, as part of the 1779 clothing regulations, by 1777, many units had adopted the scheme put forward by Charles Lee at the start of the war. This involved a single, facingcolour regimental flag, and four “grand-division” (ie pair of companies) flags of plain red, blue, buff and white material. It is not known which system (if any) was adopted by the Northern Army, and almost all of the flags attributed to units involved in the 1777 campaign in New York were either adopted later in the war, or were restricted to marking forts (eg the Stanwix flag), or (like the Bennington flag) have been shown to be anachronisms.

  3. Some general comments on the uniforms and equipment:
    • General – In June 1776, Congress had resolved to recommend to each State Assembly that it provide its troops with a minimum of “a suit of clothes (ie a regimental coat, waistcoat and breeches, the last two items to be made of deer leather if available), a blanket, a felt hat, and two pairs each of hose and shoes. In October that same year, Congress voted an annual clothing allowance to any soldier who would enlist for the duration of the war, of two linen hunting shirts, two pair of overalls and one of breeches, a leather or wool sleeved waistcoat, a felt hat or leather cap, two shirts, two pair each of hose and shoes. Troops in the Northern Department were to be supplied from the stores set up initially at Albany, New York, and then later also at Fishkill and Peekskill in the same State. However, because of the general lack of supplies, and the late distribution of the (supposedly) annual clothing issues in both 1776 and 1777, it is quite likely that the a substantial portion of the enlisted men wore civilian clothing during the major battles (the militia would have done so anyway). However, at least at the start of the campaign, there may also have been a few men who had re-enlisted in January 1777 and who could still possibly have been sporting all or part of their 1776 uniforms, so details of these have been included for interest.
    • New Hampshire – Generally considered the poorest of the Northern States, and with no indigenous clothing industry, NH struggled to clothe its troops and had to rely on items bought (at above market rates!) from Massachusetts. In February 1777, its Committee of Safety reported: “This State, nor no one Individual in it, has been so fortunate as to Import any woollen [sic] goods since the commencement of the war, neither is there any for sale therein….”
    • Massachusetts – There appears to be no single document surviving that lists what Massachusetts soldiers were to be given as part of their “signing on” bounty. In 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress had ordered the manufacture of 13,000 short coats, with collar (cape) and cuffs but no lapels, and the regimental number to be impressed on the pewter buttons. It took some time for these coats to be ready and most were issued to the Continental regiments of 1776, along with two shirts, two pair of stockings and two pair of summer breeches. A few coats might have survived into 1777 if the wearers had re-enlisted, but the majority must have been worn out by the end of 1776. It is perhaps telling that the next “mass issue” of clothing by the Provincial Congress was not until the arrival of the 1778 French lottery coats.
    • Connecticut – Since the contribution of this State to the Northern Army, apart from Long’s short-lived regiment, consisted almost entirely of rangers, who tended to wear civilian dress anyway, and drafted militia who would have not bothered with pre-war uniforms (if they existed), it may seem pointless to examine its issues of clothing. However, it does perhaps put the difficulties of clothing the Continental Army into perspective to consider that, in stark contrast to New Hampshire, Connecticut troops were reputedly the best supplied in the Continental Army over the course of the entire war – and yet, even this State issued no clothing to its troops in 1775 or 1776! Only in September 1777 did the Assembly put in place a system whereby every town became responsible for providing at least one shirt (linen or flannel), one hunting shirt/frock, one pair of woollen overalls, one or two pair of stockings and a pair of good shoes, to each soldier it provided to the State Line as part of its assigned quota.
    • New York – On December 15, 1776, the State ordered that each NY soldier was to receive “A Bounty of Cloathing allowd (sic) for a Year” namely two linen hunting shirts, one pair of breeches, two pair each of shoes, hose, and overalls, one leather or woollen waistcoat with sleeves, and one hat or leathern cap.

      Some general comments on the individual items of clothing:-

    • Headgear – This generally consisted of a black felt round hat, which could be cocked on three sides, on one (the left to avoid fouling the musket on the march) or left completely uncocked. Some contingents would reduce the brim for a smarter appearance. Where available, black or white tape would be attached to the edges to prevent fraying.
    • Legwear – Breeches, stockings and shoes (often the man’s civilian clothing) were the most common combination; occasionally these would be supplemented with half-gaiters. Eventually, one-piece gaitered overalls were adopted when available, but “trowsers” (ie with open-ended legs) were still considered just work-wear for men in maritime service, and a few land-based trades requiring freedom of movement. Increasingly, breeches became seen as summer wear, and the warmer overalls more appropriate for the other seasons.
    • Regimental coats – Preferred in the cooler seasons because of their greater warmth and capacity to be buttoned over, these were of similar cut and style to their British equivalents (captured examples of which were frequently issued as either musicians’ attire, or occasionally to an entire unit – usually, but not always, after being dyed to a muddy brown colour).
    • Hunting shirts or frocks – Having realised that the initial proposal to clothe the entire army in brown coats with coloured facings was never going to happen, this was Washington’s second preference for a “national uniform”. Whilst there is some evidence that it was associated with riflemen in the minds of some British officers early on in the war, the 1776 campaigns around New York City had largely dispelled that myth.
    • Equipment – Belts were predominantly of leather, and usually white or buff; troops such as riflemen might leave theirs a natural colour for concealement.
    • Weapons – Washington’s Main Army had adopted the French Charleville musket as its weapon of choice for various reasons, but things being what they were, British Long and Short Land Patterns, and Dutch muskets, were often also pressed into service (the British patterns would have been familiar to any men who had come from the militia). Rifles were predominantly hand-made (usually by German gunsmiths, hence their preponderance in the mid-Atlantic States) for the owner/user, which could create logistical problems in terms of reserves of ammunition. They also could not take a bayonet and this, plus the longer loading time, led to the creation of a “light infantry corps” to protect them.
    • Rank distinctions – The system ordered by Washington when he took command at the start of the war, essentially a mix of coloured cockades and sashes, was still being used in 1777. However, by this time, officers from some States were already also wearing epaulettes, hence their inclusion, but these were not officially adopted until after the Saratoga campaign. Officers had brass-hilted swords, NCOs iron-hilted ones.:-

      Commander-in-Chief: light blue sash worn over the right shoulder, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Major General: light purple sash worn over the right shoulder, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Brigadier General: pink sash worn over the right shoulder, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Colonel: red or pink hat cockade and a red waist sash, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Lieutenant Colonel: red or pink cockade and a red waist sash, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Major: red or pink cockade and a red waist sash, later augmented by a gold lace epaulette on each shoulder.
      Captain: yellow, white or buff cockade and a red waist sash, later augmented by a single gold lace epaulette on the right shoulder only.
      Subaltern: a green hat cockade and a red waist sash, later augmented by a single gold epaulette on the left shoulder only; subalterns uniquely among officers, had a brass hilt sword.
      Sergeants: red cloth epaulet on the right shoulder only, red waist sash.
      Corporals: green cloth epaulet on the right shoulder only, red waist sash.

THE CONTINENTAL FORCES

The individual Continental units of the Northern Army are described below. Headquarters units – cavalry and artillery – are listed first, followed by the line infantry; the latter are listed by State in the order of precedence laid down by Washington (ie geographically running from north to south), with the 1st Canadian Regiment taking overall precedence in the infantry, being a Congressional unit.

2nd Continental Light Dragoon Regiment (detachment – 2nd Troop)

  • Commander – Captain Jean-Louis De Vernejoux (to October 15); then Lieutenant Thomas Seymour (from October 20).
  • Composition – 1 troop, approximately 40 all ranks. [In 1777, on Washington’s orders, troops of this regiment differed slightly from the standard establishment, having 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 cornet, 1 quartermaster, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 trumpeter, 1 farrier, and 34 privates.]
  • History – Authorised December 12, 1776; raised and organised between December 16, 1776 and June 21, 1777 with personnel from Connecticut (4 troops), Massachusetts (1 troop) and New Jersey (1 troop). The regiment was also known as Sheldon’s Horse (interestingly, the two English officers listed in Lauzun’s Legion at Yorktown were also Sheldons – uncle and nephew).
  • Service – present throughout the campaign in various capacities and took part in a skirmish in the Schoharie Valley in August against Loyalists and Iroquois that is generally regarded as the first charge by American cavalry (known as the Battle of the Flockey). Something obviously went wrong at that point, as De Vernejoux never joined the unit at Bemis Heights and was placed under house arrest in Albany by his Colonel (on Gates’ orders), before going AWOL in mid-October; he was officially dismissed in absentia, after which nothing more was heard of him.
  • Uniforms – Described at the time as “very nicely uniformed” unfortunately, there are no details of what they actually wore; it is possible that this troop was chosen to “go north” as it was the best (or possibly the only) uniformed and equipped troop at that time. The brass helmets and blue coats faced buff show in the Trumbull painting are known to be from no earlier than 1778.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Equipment – Officers – sword, 2 pistols; Trumpeters – sword only; NCOs/Troopers – sword, 2 pistols and a carbine/musketoon.
  • Colours – None known for this period; the well-known standards used by this corps are thought to have been issued in 1778, or 1779.

Connecticut Light Horse – Major Elijah Hyde

  • Composition – Often referred to as the 2nd Connecticut Light Horse (and hence sometimes confused with the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons). In fact this was merely the unit that Hyde had originally belonged to and the unit was actually formed by drafting men from each of the light horse troops attached to each Connecticut militia regiment. Light horse “battalions” were usually commanded by a major.
  • History – Raised during the first quarter of 1777 on the orders of Schuyler. [Note: Whilst this was not the same unit that had served with Washington’s Main Army at New York City in 1776, it was formed in the same manner, and it is highly likely that a substantial proportion of the officers and men had also served in that unit.]
  • Service – No details known, other than it saw action (Hyde being wounded).
  • Uniforms – Lefferts shows one troop (Captain James Green’s) wearing a plain uniform of brown-faced-buff, with white small clothes and a black tricorne covering an iron skull cap (known as a “secret”). http://www.srcalifornia.com/uniforms/p6.htm
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Independent Continental Artillery Battalion - Major Ebenezer Stevens

  • Composition – 3 companies of gunners (Captains Stephen Buckland, Nathaniel Donnell and John Winslow) and 1 company of artificers (Captain Noah Nichols), for a total of 248 all ranks, manning 22 guns of various calibres – one 9-pounder, four 6-pounders, fifteen 4-pounders, two 3- pounders. The battalion also contained at least one detachment from Colonel John Crane’s 3rd Continental Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant James Hall, and the unit was subsequently absorbed into Crane’s regiment in 1778.
  • History – Authorised on November 9, 1776 and organised in early 1777 at Boston, Albany and Ticonderoga.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniforms – The first official issue of clothing to the Continental Artillery (blue coats faced red, black hats laced yellow) was not published until October 1779; prior to that some regiments had taken to wearing black coats faced red, but the earliest reports of such clothing are only found in reports of deserters from mid-1778. Clothing noted for 1776 (for the single regiment of artillery under Knox) was blue coats faced red, white waistcoats, buff leather breeches, blue stockings, black half-gaiters, black hats with black cockades, and gilt buttons; musicians wore scarlet coats faced dark blue (most likely captured British items).
  • The only clothing issue recorded for Stevens’ battalion in 1777 (October 3) contained no items of regimental uniform, only small clothes, shirts, shoes, mittens etc. It is possible that each company had a slightly different uniform, but more likely that the men wore either their own clothes, or the uniform of whichever units (infantry and artillery) that they had been drafted from – assuming, of course, that those units themselves had actually received any clothing! Round hats (ie hats, possibly with narrow or cut-down brims, that were either completely “uncocked” or cocked on the left only) are thought to have been worn by at least one company.
  • Deserters – Two men in brown surtouts and one in a short brown coat turned up with green, two of them had leather breeches and one a fur hat (February 1777); a blue coat and leather breeches (March 1777); a plain blue coat (June 1777); a blue coat faced white, red waistcoat, leather breeches and white stockings (October 1777).
  • Colours – As an artillery unit, this corps would not have been issued colours.

[ Note: there was also a section of two guns, commanded by Captain-Lieutenant James Furnival, which is often included in Stevens’ Battalion, but actually served independently of it. Composed of either Massachusetts militia or State troops, this section served with one of the Massachusetts militia brigades. ]

Rifle Corps – Colonel Daniel Morgan (11th Virginia Regiment); Lieutenant Colonel Richard Butler (1st Pennsylvania Regiment); Major Joseph Morris (1st New Jersey Regiment)

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies (5 from Virginia, 3 from Pennsylvania); formed from detachments of several regiments, including 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Virginia; 5th, 8th, and 12th Pennsylvania, and possibly others.
  • History – Authorised on November 9, 1776 and organised on June 13, 1777; despatched to join the Northern Army later that summer because Washington considered that: "The people in the Northern Army seem so intimidated by the Indians…[the Corps of Rifle Men] will fight them in their own way." Originally assigned to Arnold’s division, but from September 22 was serving independently of any higher formation.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniforms – There is no record of any clothing being issued to this unit, or its component parts, when serving in the north. Sadly, whilst detailed clothing issues for 1777 from the Continental Clothier General, listed by item, are known for all of these Virginia and Pennsylvania regiments, no colours are given. Whilst it is tempting to think of this corps wearing hunting shirts, it is interesting to note that, despite deserters from several of the above regiments being recorded wearing hunting shirts from late 1776 through to April 1777, virtually no issues of hunting shirts were made to either contingent in 1777, so either the appropriate material had become scarce, or perhaps the 1776 issues were expected to last longer than one year. Two Virginia regiments (7th and 9th) are known to have worn brown coats faced red, whilst the 7th also originally wore black hunting shirts in 1776; however, there is no record of Morgan’s own regiment (11th) wearing hunting shirts at all, instead having a winter uniform of blue coats faced white. Several deserters from one Pennsylvania regiment (5th) wore blue coats faced white, but others wore yellow or purple hunting shirts, or long brown coats. Yellow and brown (as well as unspecified) hunting shirts, and brown coats faced brown, were worn by another regiment (8th).
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – As a provisional unit, no colours would have been issued.

Light Infantry – Major Henry Dearborn (theoretically, Dearborn was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel from September 20; however, this was not ratified by New Hampshire until 1778 and he should be considered a Major for this entire campaign)

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 5 companies.
  • History – Created September 11, by drafting 1 officer, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 15 men from each of the Continental Regiments of the Northern Army. Each company consisted of all the detachments from one of the four Massachusetts brigades or the single New Hampshire brigade. On October 2, detachments from the 2nd and 4th New York regiments joined, but were soon returned to their respective regiments.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniforms – All officers and men would have been wearing either the uniform of their parent unit, or appropriate civilian clothing.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – As a provisional unit, no colours would have been issued.

1st Canadian Regiment – Colonel James Livingston

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies; also known as the “Battalion of Forces in the Service of the United States of America”.
  • History – Authorised by Congress on November 19, 1775 and designated The Canadian Regiment; raised in Canada and upper New York, and originally assigned to the New York quota. Transferred to the Canadian Department and re-designated 1st Canadian Regiment in January, 1776; transferred to the Northern Department on July 2, 1776 and assigned to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade on December 28, 1776. The unit was never more than a few hundred strong at its largest, and shrank after leaving Canada.
  • Service – Invasion of Canada (1775-76); Arnold’s expedition to relieve Fort Stanwix; Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – No definite record, but believed to have been blue coat faced red.
  • Deserters – Red British soldier’s coat (possibly a musician); lightish coloured coat; blue coat faced red; light brow coat faced white [all February 1777].
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Warner’s Extra-Continental Regiment – Colonel Seth Warner

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies; the unit was often commanded in action by its Lieutenant Colonel, Samuel Safford.
  • History – The original “Green Mountain Boys” corps was authorised by Congress in June 1775, but was largely destroyed during the Canadian campaign, with the survivors’ enlistments expiring in early 1776. On July 5, 1776, Congress promoted Seth Warner to Colonel and ordered him to re-raise the regiment, which he did later that month. It was considered a distinct corps, similar to the two Canadian regiments, and was never an Additional regiment.
  • Service – Surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, Bennington, attack on Fort Ticonderoga.
  • Uniform – Green coats faced red (possibly only collar and cuffs); narrowbrimmed round hats, or “jockey caps”.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known

1st New Hampshire Regiment – Colonel Joseph Cilley

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Re-organised and consolidated from the 5th Continental Regiment of 1776 on January 1, 1777; transferred from the Main Army to the Northern Department on February 14, 1777; assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade on April 28, 1777.
  • Service – Hubbardton (2 companies), Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this unit, nor for the 5th Continental Regiment. [Note: the well-known uniform of green coat faced red, was issued in 1778.]
  • Deserters – brown clothes (May 1777); a suit of white clothing, bound with black ferret, and buttons (July 1777); a sailor’s jacket and long trousers (July 1777); and blanket coat and blanket overalls (July 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

2nd New Hampshire Regiment – Colonel Nathan Hale*

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Re-organised and consolidated from the 8th Continental Regiment of 1776 on January 1, 1777; transferred from the Main Army to the Northern Department on February 14, 1777; assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade on April 28, 1777.
  • Service – Hubbardton (3 companies), Fort Ann, Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Inter alia light blue coat faced red, red waistcoat, blue overalls, black hat. [Note: this uniform was probably only worn by2 or 3 companies.]
  • Deserters – No reports.
  • Colours – A flag reportedly captured in the engagement at Fort Ann, the day after Hubbardton, comprised a blue field, with a red shield in the centre carrying the inscription “N.H. 2d REGt.”, below a gold scroll with the legend “The Glory Not The Prey”; in the upper fly canton, a red upright cross outlined in gold and a gold diagonal cross outlined in red, also on a blue field. It is quite possible that this was a divisional colour, hence its presence with a detachment. Another flag, also said to be from the 2nd NH, is more likely from Francis’s Massachusetts regiment and is described under that unit’s section. [Note: By the time of the October 7 action, this regiment was commanded by its 6th Captain, John Drew. Hale had been captured at Hubbardton, Lt Col Winborn Adams was killed on September 19, Major Benjamin Titcomb was already wounded and furloughed; Captains Norris, Robinson and Carr had also been captured at Hubbardton, Captain Blodget was recovering from wounds, and Captain Bell had been mortally wounded on September 19.]

3rd New Hampshire Regiment – Colonel Alexander Scammel

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Re-organised and consolidated from the 2nd Continental Regiment of 1776 on January 1, 1777; transferred from the Main Army to the Northern Department on February 14, 1777; assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade on April 28, 1777.
  • Service – Hubbardton (2 companies), Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Possibly blue coats, faced white, with white metal buttons.
  • Deserters – No reports.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Long’s New Hampshire Regiment- Colonel Pearce Long

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Authorised on May 14, 1776 and organised between August 16 and September 25 that year. Initially assigned to the Eastern Department, but then transferred to the Northern Department on November 22, 1776, and assigned to the garrison of Fort Ticonderoga/Mount Independence. Disbanded at the end of July 1777, due to the expiry of all enlistments; some officers (including Long) and men transferred to the other NH regiments.
  • Service – Fort Ann
  • Uniform – Nothing known.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Whitcomb’s Rangers – Captain (later Major) Benjamin Whitcomb

  • Composition – 2 companies of 50 men each
  • History – Authorised October 15, 1776, and organised at Fort Ticonderoga in November, with (then) Lieutenant Whitcomb of Bedel’s Regiment (also rangers) as captain-commandant and with authority to appoint all officers.
  • Service – Hubbardton, Bennington, Brown’s assault on Fort Ticonderoga, Freeman’s Farm (thereafter watching Burgoyne’s left flank for Stark)
  • Uniform – Nothing known.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known; presumably as a “light corps” none were issued.

Vose’s (later 1st) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Joseph Vose

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Organised and consolidated with personnel from the 15th Continental Regiment, and 2 companies each from the 6th and 18th Continental Regiments, on January 1, 1777. Assigned to the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade on July 10, 1777; transferred from the Highlands Department to the Northern Department on July 24.
  • Service – Bemis Heights
  • Uniforms – Probably brown coat faced red (based on stolen officer’s clothing). The units from which the regiment was formed wore: brown faced white and/or red (6th Continental), blue faced white (15th Continental), and stone faced buff/yellow (18th Continental).
  • Deserters – Green coat and jacket, white shirt, long white trousers (August 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known

Bailey’s (later 2nd) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel John Bailey

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Organised and consolidated with personnel from the 23rd Continental Regiment and 7th Continental Regiment, and one company each from the 13th and 21st Continental Regiments on January 1, 1777. Transferred to the Northern Department on February 9, 1777; and assigned to the 4th Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Arnold’s relief of Fort Stanwix, Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniforms – Nothing known; the unit’s first uniform was apparently issued from Albany in December 1777. The 7th Continental was recorded wearing “sailor’s dress”.
  • Deserters – Red coat and waistcoat (March 1777); blue short jacket, light coloured waistcoat, striped flannel drawers, silver shoe buckles (June 1777); brown kersey jacket, striped flannel drawers, brass shoe buckles (June 1777); short blue jacket, plaid waistcoat, wash-leather breeches, white hose (June 1777); and blue coat, green jacket, small brimmed hat (June 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Greaton’s (later 3rd) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel John Greaton

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Organised and consolidated with personnel from the 24th Continental Regiment and the 25th Continental Regiment, on January 1, 1777. Assigned to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade on June 12, 1777; transferred from the Highlands Department to the Northern Department on July 1.
  • Service – Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform - Nothing known; the 25th Continental was issued over 600 coats, but their colour is not recorded.
  • Deserters - brown surtout, light waistcoat, brown breeches, white stockings (February 1777); light coloured coat, striped jacket, linen breeches (June 1777); brown coat and vest (waistcoat), black(/white?) striped trousers (June 1777); brown “mixed colour” coat and vest, striped velvet breeches (June 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Shephard’s (later 4th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel William Shepard

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies.
  • History – Organised and consolidated with personnel from the 3rd Continental Regiment, and the 21st Continental Regiment, on January 1, 1777. Assigned to the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade on June 15, 1777; transferred to the Northern Department on July 24.
  • Service – Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Believed to be blue coats faced white.
  • Deserters – brown homemade coat and jacket, leather breeches (April 1777); light brown coat and waistcoat with leather breeches (April 1777); blue coat faced buff or white (April 1777); gray linen cap, grey surtout, sky coloured coat (April 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Putnam’s (later 5th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Rufus Putnam

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Organised and consolidated with personnel from the 27th Continental Regiments and 1 company from the 13th Continental Regiment, on January 1, 1777. Assigned to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade on June 15, 1777; transferred to the Northern Department on July 1.
  • Service – Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Nixon’s (later 6th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Thomas Nixon

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Consolidated on January 1, 1777 and organised from personnel of the 4th Continental Regiment. Assigned to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade on June 12, 1777 and transferred to the Northern Department on July 1
  • Service – Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – blue coat and small brimmed hat (July 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Alden’s (later 7th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Ichabod Alden

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Authorised on September 16, 1776 and raised in Boston; augmented with 1 company of the 25th Continental Regiment. The regiment was assigned to the Northern Department on February 9, 1777, but was reassigned to the Highland's Department on March 13. On June 12, it became part of the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade, but was redirected to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade on June 15. The brigade was reassigned to the Northern Department on July 1.
  • Service – Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – Old red greatcoat (June 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Jackson’s (later 8th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Michael Jackson [In Jackson’s absence, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Brooks.]

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Consolidated on January1, 1777 and organised with personnel from the 16th Continental Regiment. Transferred to the Northern Department on February 9, 1777 and assigned to the 4th Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – The regiment received 238 hunting shirts, 238 jackets, 60 coats and 60 waistcoats (the last two most likely issued to NCOs) and 116 hats or caps, between February and August 1777; unfortunately, the colour(s) of these garments are not recorded in any extant document.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Wesson’s (later 9th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel James Wesson

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies.
  • History – Consolidated on January 1, 1777 and organised with personnel from the 26th Continental Regiment, augmented by personnel from the 21st Continental Regiment. Transferred to the Northern Department on February 9, 1777 and assigned to the 4th Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Arnold’s expedition to Fort Stanwix, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – The regiment received 18 complete sets of clothing (most likely for the sergeants) between February and August, 1777. No coat/facing colours are known.
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Marshall’s (later 10th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Thomas Marshall

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies (2 raised in what is now Maine).
  • History – Authorised on September 16, 1776 and raised in Boston in Spring, 1777, with 7 companies (including the two mentioned above) from Massachusetts and 1 from New Hampshire. Transferred to the Northern Department and assigned to the 3rd Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – blue surtout (March 1777); light coloured surtout (March 1777); light coloured coat faced red, brown waistcoat, leather breeches, half boots (March 1777); blue coat faced red, white waistcoat/breeches, black stockings (September 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Francis’s (later 11th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel John Francis
[Francis died at Hubbardton and was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tupper, who was later re-assigned to Bailey’s Regiment; Tupper did not receive his promotion to full Colonel until after Burgoyne’s surrender.]

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies (1 raised in Connecticut)
  • History – Authorised on September 16, 1776 and raised in Boston in the spring of 1777, recruiting in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Assigned to the 3rd Massachusetts Brigade from August 13.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – short blue coat, white breeches (April 1777); white jacket, blue waistcoat, leather breeches (May 1777); tow frock and mooseskin breeches (May 1777).
  • Colours – Buff field, gold central disk formed from interlinked rings, each bearing the name of one of the 13 States, the disk bearing the legend “We Are One”; the canton is divided into eight segments, alternately blue and red. This flag has been ascribed to the 2nd New Hampshire, but the circumstances of its capture make it quite likely that it was actually from Francis’s Regiment.

Brewer’s (later 12th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Samuel Brewer

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Originally the 18th Continental Regiment, it was reorganised and redesignated on January 1, 1777 (less two companies). Assigned to the 3rd Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period in terms of coat/facing colours; 15 coats and sets of clothing were issued (probably to senior NCOs).
  • Deserters – No records.
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Wigglesworth’s (later 13th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Edward Wigglesworth (commanded by Major John Porter in both battles)

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Consolidated and redesignated January 1, 1777 with men from the 6th Continental Regiment (less two companies) and two companies of the 24th Continental Regiment. Originally assigned to the Northern Department, but transferred to the Highlands Department on March 13. Assigned June 12, to the 1st Massachusetts Brigade, then transferred to the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade on June 15. Re-assigned to the Northern Department on July 24.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – Light coloured greatcoat (April 1777); short green jacket, leather breeches (April 1777).
  • Colours – No record.

Bradford’s (later 14th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Gamaliel Bradford

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies
  • History – Authorised September 16, 1776 and organised in Boston in the spring of 1777. Assigned to the Northern Department on February 9, and sent to the 3rd Massachusetts Brigade on August 13.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Possibly light brown coat faced blue.
  • Deserters – two men in sailors’ clothing (January 1777); drummer in red coat faced black, leather breeches, white shoes, beaver hat (February 1777); two men in sailors’ clothing (February 1777); cloth coloured – i.e. undyed – coat (February 1777); an old soldiers’ habit (February 1777); an old soldiers’ coat, faced white (February 1777); an old coat (February 1777); a pale blue suit of clothes (February 1777); an old surtout (February 1777); a brown coat (February 1777); dark brown coat faced light blue, red-brown waistcoat, peach blossom coloured trousers (October 1777); blue coat faced white, dark waistcoat, long trousers (October 1777); reddish coat, striped jacket, black velvet breeches (October 1777).
  • Colours – No record.

Bigelow’s (later 15th) Massachusetts Bay Regiment – Colonel Timothy Bigelow (actually commanded by Major John Bradish at Freeman’s Farm)

  • Composition – 1 battalion of 8 companies; however, only 4 were present.
  • History – Authorised September 16, 1776 and organised in the spring of 1777 at Boston. Assigned to the 2nd Massachusetts Brigade on June 12, as part of the Highlands Department; transferred to the Northern Department on July 24.
  • Service – Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights.
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period.
  • Deserters – blue waistcoat, check linen shirt, white breeches, white stockings (August 1777); striped waistcoat, white tow shirt and trousers (August 1777).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

2nd New York Regiment – Colonel Philip van Cortlandt

  • Composition – 8 companies
  • History – Organised between November 1776 and the spring of 1777 around remnants of the 3rd New York Regiment of 1776; transferred from the Highlands Department to the Northern Department on August 16; assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade on August 22.
  • Service – Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this period; the uniform of the former 3rd New York appears to have been a mix of brown, dark blue and light blue coats, all faced green.
  • Deserters – No reports for 2nd New York (3rd New York of 1776 had two deserters in blue frock coats and coarse hats bound with white tape, another wore a captured British coat and a striped jacket; all wore leather breeches).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

3rd New York Regiment – Colonel Peter Gansevoort

  • Composition – 8 companies
  • History – Organised between November 1776 and early 1777; possibly it was created from Dubois’ Regiment of 1776 (itself formed primarily from veterans of Nicholson’s Regiment that took part in the fighting in Canada), but it seems much more likely that the 3rd was a completely new corps with no antecedents. Originally assigned to the Northern Department, it was transferred to the Highlands Department on January 26, 1777, then returned to the Northern Department on May 12, and served exclusively in the Mohawk valley.
  • Service – Siege of Fort Stanwix.
  • Uniform – Nothing known; a surviving uniform attributed to Gansevoort is a blue coat faced red, but it is unclear how contemporary this is to the campaign.
  • Deserters – No reports for this regiment prior to June 1778
  • Colours – Nothing known.

4th New York Regiment – Colonel Henry Livingston

  • Composition – 8 companies
  • History – Organised between November 1776 and the spring of 1777 around the remnants of the 2nd New York Regiment of 1776; transferred from the Highlands Department to the Northern Department on August 16, 1777, and assigned to the New Hampshire Brigade on August 22, 1777.
  • Service – Bemis Heights
  • Uniform – Nothing known for this unit during this period; similarly nothing is known of the uniform of the former 2nd New York of 1776. [Note: the 4th New York’s well-known uniform of white coat faced red, was not issued until 1778.]
  • Deserters – No reports for 4th New York (2nd New York of 1776 had one deserter in a light blue coat faced dark blue, and one in a brown suit of clothes).
  • Colours – Nothing known.

Continue to Appendices

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