25297Re: American Light Infantry
- Jun 1, 2005Dave,
Thanks for the prompt reply, very helpful.
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "md5_yager" <md5_yager@y...> wrote:
> I'd hazard that an answer to your question could almost fill a
> book. But to take a very general overview, here are some personal
> As for light infantry companies in regular US regiments, I'll
> that for rep's/historians of those recreated units.
> As for State militias up to the War of 1812, I offer some
> observations from personal study. The short answer is that
> one could make a claim that all of the state militias were "light"
> infantry, in that their military training (drill, maneuver
> evolutions, etc.), where there was any, was never on a par with
> regular infantry. State militia service traced back to the
> colonial periods, being a requirement for able-bodied males in the
> designated age range, which varied over time, but often from 16-
> For the vast majority, this meant nothing more than being a name
> the company commander's muster role, and maybe showing up at
> infrequent drills.
> Virginia for a time used militia districts to determine who was in
> company, based on census location. The numbers I have seen in
> Virginia the post-RevWar period suggested a variable 60-80 men per
> company. If a militia draft occurred, it usually did not mean
> everyone reported due to hardship that would result in agrarian
> culture. Attempts were made to get enough of the company to
> volunteer, to meet quotas. And there was a process for substitutes.
> No companies in southwest Virginia or western North Carolina, for
> example were designated 'light infantry', since many of these were
> (for historical and weapons reasons) designated rifle companies.
> was economical, as a hunting frock was often the official State
> uniform. And it capitalized on long-standing familiarity with
> and hunting dress. (I know some may think this sounds like its
> Davy Crockett movie script, but know that there were small Indian
> party raids in east Tennessee, albeit infrequent, into the mid
> In most areas, it appears that men were also free to constitute
> own independent, uniformed companies. Incredibly, there was no
> fear or shock at the sight of organized groups of men carrying and
> drilling with guns in public in those times. People actually
> it. But I digress... Uniformed companies could be found in
> Maryland, and some other cities. Maryland had companies which
> retained the name "Light Infantry" from the RevWar period right up
> the time of the War of 1812. Baltimore also had a
> company. (you Prussian fans spelled it as "Jager" or "Jaeger"). At
> the battle of North Point, Baltimore, Maryland in 1814, historical
> records show they functioned as skirmishers, although evidently
> with muskets. There was a independent, uniformed "First Baltimore
> Light Infantry Company" at the same battle, that traced back to
> Revolutionary War. But I have not yet seen evidence they fought
> independently from other line infantry companies in the 5th
> Maryland Militia they were attached to. Local military commanders
> attached rifle units to at least a couple of the infantry
> at that battle. But organizationally, a Rifle Battalion was a
> separate entity.
> ... This only gives a few details about variation from State to
> State, and within each State. (As I said, you could fill a small
> book.) US law mandated State militias, but their organization,
> uniforms, training, and fighting quality was a
> quilt'. The War of 1812 certainly brought to light many of the
> organizational and political management problems of the US
> relying on augmenting US forces with State militias.
> Dave Welch
> Sadtler's Baltimore Yagers Company
> 5th Reg't, Maryland Militia
> --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "dan_055" <dan_055@y...> wrote:
> > This may be a dumb question, but did the American
> > regular regiments have light companies? How about
> > the State or militia regiments?
> > If not, what happened to all the light infantry
> > made famous during the revolution?
> > Thanks,
> > Dan
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