Virginia in the Revolutionary War

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Organization[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

"The Convention ... passed an ordinance July 17, 1775, for raising two regiments of regulars and for organizing the militia. The first regiment was to consist of 544 rank and file, with a colonel, lieutenant- colonel, major, 8 captains, 16 lieutenants, and 8 ensigns; and the second of 476 rank and file, with seven companies and corresponding officers. The field officers were appointed by the Convention - Patrick Henry to command the first regiment, and Colonel Woodford the second. The companies were to consist of 68 men each, to be enlisted in districts, and to serve one year. ... The company officers were appointed by the members of the Convention from the district.

"The whole state was divided into military districts, and the militia were ordered to be embodied as minute-men. ... Each district was to raise a battalion of 500 men, rank and file, from the age of 16 to that of 50, to be divided into ten companies of 50 men each. The officers were to be appointed by committees, selected by the various county committees. The battalion was required to be kept in training at some convenient place for twelve days, twice a year; and the several companies to be mustered four days in each month, except December, January and February, in their respective counties.

"Every man so enlisted was required to 'furnish himself with a good rifle, if to be had, otherwise a tomahawk, common firelock bayonet, pouch, or cartouch box, and three charges of powder and ball.' Upon affidavit that the minute-man was not able to furnish his arms, &c., they were to be supplied at public expense. The officers were required to equip themselves, and officers and men were liable to a fine for failure in this respect.

"In December, 1775, the Convention passed another ordinance for raising additional troops. It provided for augmenting the two regiments already raised, by the addition of two companies to the first, and three to the second; and also for raising six additional regiments, of ten companies each, and sixty-eight men to a company. ... Captains and other company officers were to be appointed by the committees of the counties in which companies were raised, respectively.

"Arms, &c., for the new companies were to be furnished by the public; but until muskets could be procured, the men were to bring the best guns they had - riflemen to bring rifles and tomahawks. ...

"The same ordinance provided for raising a Ninth regiment of seven companies, sixty-eight men to a company, for the protection of Accomac and Northampton counties. ...

"The Legislature elected under the State Constitution met for the first time October 7, 1776, and soon thereafter passed an act for raising six additional battalions 'on the continental establishment...'"[1]

"In September, 1778, the number of Virginia regiments were reduced from fifteen to eleven and designated as follows: The Ninth was incorporated with the First; the Sixth with the Second; the Fifth with the Third, and the Eighth with the Fourth; the Seventh was designated the Fifth; Tenth the Sixth; Eleventh the Seventh; Twelfth the Eighth; Thirteenth the Ninth; Fourteenth the Tenth, and Fifteenth the Eleventh." [2]

Virginia Military Units[edit | edit source]

Most units were numbered. Some were named. See the list below for links to more detailed information.

Virginia regiments typically consisted of 8 to 10 companies recruited from specific areas of Virginia.

Regiments[edit | edit source]

State Regiments[edit | edit source]

Militia[edit | edit source]

link to digitized book called Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War By J. T. McAllister

  • Amherst County Militia. Captain Samuel Higginbotham of Amherst County.[3]
  • Bedford County Militia
  • Culpeper Minutemen
  • Ethiopian Regiment
  • Fluvanna County Militia
  • Lee's Legion. Lt.-Col. Commandant Henry Lee; Captain Patrick Carnes; Captain Lieutenant William Epps; Captain Churchill Jones[2]
  • Artillery, Colonel Charles Harrison; Colonel Nathaniel Gist; Captain Nathan Burwell; Captain-Lt. Lewis Booker; Captain Lt. Ambrose Bohanner; Captain-Lt. Fleming William Gaines; Captain Lt. Thomas Fenn; Captain Lt. Richard Walters; Captain Whitehead Coleman; Captain Champe John Carter; Lt. Col. Edward Carrington; Captain John Dandrige; Captain Lieutenant Thomas Dix; Captain Samuel Eddins; Captain William Meredith; Captain and Aide-de-Camp William Pearce; Captain Drury Ragsdale; Captain Anthony Singleton[2]
  • 1st Dragoons, Colonel Walton Anthony White; Captain James Gunn; Captain John Hughes; Captain Andrew Nixon; Captain Thomas Pemberton; Captain John Watts; Captain Robert Yancey[2]
  • 3rd Dragoons, Captain William Barrett; Captain Peregrine Fitzhugh, Captain John Kiltey, Captain Robert Morrow; Captain William Parsons[2]
  • 4th Dragoons, Captain Erasmus Gill, Captain Lawrence Trant; Lt. Col. Benjamin Temple[2]
  • Infantry, Captain Samuel Lapsley; Captain Lt. Arthur Lind, Captain Francis Minnis; Captain Francis Muir[2]
  • Posey's, Lt. Colonel Thomas Posey; Captain Alexander Parker; Captain Thomas Parker; Captain Beverly Roy; Captain Joseph Scott; Captain Clough Shelton[2]

Virginia Districts[edit | edit source]

In July 1775, Virginia was divided into 16 military districts for the purpose of raising battalions. Each district encompassed multiple counties. The 16 districts were:[4]

  1. District (Accomack and Northampton counties)
  2. District (Princess Anne, Norfolk, Nansemond and Isle of Wight counties and Norfolk Borough)
  3. District (Southampton, Sussex, Surry, Brunswick, Prince George, and Dinwiddie counties)
  4. District (Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Charlotte, Halifax, and Prince Edward counties)
  5. District (Amelia, Chesterfield, and Cumberland counties)
  6. District (Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, and Louisa counties)
  7. District (Pittsylvania, Fincastle, Bedford, and Botetourt counties)
  8. District (Buckingham, Amherst, Albemarle, and Augusta counties)
  9. District (Elizabeth City, Warwick, York, James City, Charles City, New Kent counties, and the City of Williamsburg)
  10. District (Gloucester, Middlesex, Essex, King and Queen, and King William counties)
  11. District (Lancaster, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Richmond counties)
  12. District (Culpeper, Orange, and Fauquier counties)
  13. District (Caroline, Spotsylvania, King George, and Stafford counties)
  14. District (Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties)
  15. District (Berkeley, Frederick, Dunmore, and Hampshire counties)
  16. District (West Augusta District)

Battles Fought in Virginia[edit | edit source]

  • 1775 Oct 26 - Hampton, Va.
  • 1775 Nov 14 - Kemp's Landing, Va.
  • 1775 Dec 9 - Great Bridge, Va.
  • 1776 Jan 1; 9 May 1779 - Norfolk, Va.
  • 1776 Jul 8-10 - Gwynn's Island, Va.
  • 1777 Sep 1; 26-28 Feb 1778 - Fort Henry, Va.
  • 1777 Sep 1; 26-28 Sep 1778 - Wheeling, Va.
  • 1779 May 9 - Fort Nelson, Va.
  • 1781 Jan 5 - Richmond, Va.
  • 1781 Jan 8 - Charles City Courthouse, Va.
  • 1781 Apr 25 - Petersburg, Va.
  • 1781 Apr 27 - Osborne's, Va.
  • 1781 Jun 26 - Spencer's Tavern, Va.
  • 1781 Jul 6 - Green Springs, Va.
  • 1781 Jul 6 - Jamestown Ford, Va.
  • 1781 Sep 25; 19 Oct 1781 - Yorktown, Va.

Source: "Alphabetical List of Engagements," Appendix in John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution. Soldiers. Sailors. Marines. 1775-1783 (1938; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979), 864-868.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Service Records[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library and the National Archives have the:

Pension Records[edit | edit source]

1840 Census[edit | edit source]

Regimental Rosters[edit | edit source]

Regimental rosters with biographical information of Virginia soldiers are published in:

Committees of Safety[edit | edit source]

Guides to Military Units[edit | edit source]

For guidebooks to Virginia's military units for the Revolutionary War, the following sources are helpful:

Internet Sites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Joseph A. Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Wm. Ellis Jones, Book and Job Printer, 1886), 156-158.
  2. F.B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783 (Washington, D.C.: W.H. Lowdermilk and Co., 1893), 474-478. Digitized by Internet Archive.
  3. William Montgomery Sweeny, "Higginbotham Family of Virginia," The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Apr. 1918):269. Digital version at JSTOR ($).
  4. "An ordinance for raising and embodying a sufficient force, for the defense and protection of this colony," July 1775, in William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (Richmond, Va.: J. and G. Cochran, Printers, 1821), Vol. 10:16. Digitized by VAGenWeb.