New York Line

views updated

New York Line

NEW YORK LINE. New York was the first of the colonies outside of New England to face the idea of raising full-time troops, fearing exposure to British attacks from the sea or Canada. The Continental Congress recommended that it raise defensive garrisons on 25 May 1775. Six days later the Provincial Congress in New York City accepted the concept, although it did not decide on the composition of that force until 30 June. Meanwhile, on 14 June 1775 when it created the Continental Army, the Philadelphia body adopted the New York forces about to be raised as part of the national force. That summer the New York Line came into being with four regiments. In the first year of the war these units held New York City, began fortifying the Hudson Highlands, and deployed to Lake Champlain and Canada.

When enlistments expired, the New Yorkers went through a bit of a tangled reorganization. One unit, Nicholson's Regiment, was created in Canada from veterans of all four of the 1775 regiments who had agreed to remain on duty during the siege of Quebec. The First, Third, and Fourth New York Regiments of 1775 regrouped and became (respectively) the First, Second, and Third New York Regiments of 1776. The 1775 Second Regiment, which was the unit raised in the northern end of the state, reenlisted under its former colonel, Goose Van Schaick, and returned to Canada as Van Schaick's Regiment, while a new Fourth Regiment was recruited in the same geographical area. In June 1776 other veterans, especially from that part of the 1775 Third New York which had gone into Canada, regrouped in the north as Dubois's Regiment. Thus the state provided a total of seven infantry regiments during the year.

In 1777, Congress reduced New York's quota to five regiments, partially reflecting the loss of New York City and Long Island to the British. The old First New York, which was the city's regiment, was disbanded, as was Nicholson's statewide formation. The two Albany-area regiments, Van Schaick's and the Fourth, merged and reenlisted as the new First New York Regiment. The 1776 Second and Third New York Regiments became, respectively, the 1777 Fourth and Second Regiments, while Dubois's Regiment became the new Third. Finally, a new Fifth New York Regiment was recruited, although with a heavy veteran cadre drawn primarily from the downstate counties. On 1 January 1781 the quota dropped further, to just two regiments. This was achieved by consolidating the First and Third Regiments of 1777 to form a new First New York Regiment, and the combining the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Regiments of 1777 to form the new Second New York. Both of these units served until the end of the war.

New York also contributed several other Continental Army elements which did not form part of the Line: Warner's Extra Continental Regiment (the Green Mountain Boys—Vermont was still a part of New York); most of Malcolm's Additional Continental Regiment; and the majority of the Second Continental Artillery Regiment were all recruited from New York.

SEE ALSO Green Mountain Boys.


Clinton, George. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Edited by Hugh Hastings, 10 vols. Albany, N.Y.: State printers, 1899–1914.

Egly, Theodore W., Jr. History of the First New York Regiment 1775–1783. Hampton, N.H.: Peter E. Randall, 1981.

Fernow, Berthold, ed. New York in the Revolution. Albany, N.Y.: Weed, Parsons and Co., 1887.

Gardner, Asa Bird. "The New York Continental Line of the Army of the Revolution." Magazine of American History 7 (December 1887): 401-419.

Lauber, Almon W., ed. Orderly Books of The Fourth New York Regiment, 1778–1780; The Second New York Regiment, 1780–1783 by Samuel Tallmadge and Others with Diaries of Samuel Tallmadge, 1780–1782 and John Barr, 1779–1782. Albany, N.Y.: University of the State of New York, 1932.

Lobdell, L. S., ed. "The Four New York Regiments." Magazine of American History 26 (August 1891): 147-150.

New York (State) Secretary's Office. 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, N.Y.: Weed, Parsons, and Co., 1863–1868.

Roberts, James A., comp. New York in the Revolution as Colony and State. 2d ed. Albany, N.Y.: New York State, 1898.

Van Cortlandt, Philip. Philip Van Cortlandt's Revolutionary War Correspondence and Memoirs. Edited by Jacob Judd. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Sleepy Hollow Restorations, 1976.

Willett, William M. A Narrative of the Military Actions of Colonel Marinus Willett, Taken Chiefly from his own Manuscript. New York: G. & C. & H. Carvill, 1831.

About this article

New York Line

Updated About content Print Article


New York Line