Virginia's Continentals, 1778-1783, Volume Two

Virginia's Continentals, 1778-1783, Volume Two
Michael Cecere

By 1778, enthusiasm among Virginians for the Revolutionary War had peaked as had the troop strength of the Virginia continental line. What began as two continental regiments in 1775, grew to sixteen regiments (and two state regiments attached to the continental line) as well as a regiment of artillery and two regiments of light dragoons by 1777. Thousands of volunteers from Virginia — enlisted for two and three-year terms — served in four Virginia brigades and played a crucial role at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Saratoga. By the winter of 1777-78, these troops were encamped at Valley Forge; the troop strength of their regiments just a fraction of what they had started at.

Efforts to replace the losses, exacerbated by war fatigue and the expiration of the two-year enlistments of the troops in the 1st thru 9th Virginia Regiments, proved disappointing. Despite the implementation of the first of several militia drafts and the transfer of two state regiments to continental service, the Virginia continental line would never again reach the troop strength of its 1777 peak. General Washington was forced in 1778 to make the first of several re-arrangements of the Virginia line, reducing the number of companies in the regiments from ten to eight and merging several understrength regiments, sending the supernumerary officers back to Virginia to recruit.

Virginians continued to serve at the battles of Monmouth, Stony Point and Powles Hook, but by the end of 1779, what was left of the Virginia continental line was sent South to reinforce the American southern army at Charleston. The surrender of this army to the British in May 1780 gutted the Virginia line, but leaders pressed on and formed new continental detachments, largely from 18-month draftees (levies). Virginia continentals thus continued to play a pivotal role in the American war for independence, fighting at Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk Hill, Ninety-Six, Eutaw Springs, and Yorktown, as well as in scores of smaller engagements. The story of the Virginia continental line’s service from 1778 until the end of the war is the focus of this book.

Maps, a bibliography, and an index to full-names, places and subjects add to the value of this work.

2022, paper, 302 pp.

ISBN: 9780788426865