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25297Re: American Light Infantry

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  • dan_055
    Jun 1, 2005
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      Dave,

      Thanks for the prompt reply, very helpful.

      Dan



      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "md5_yager" <md5_yager@y...> wrote:
      > Dan,
      > I'd hazard that an answer to your question could almost fill a
      small
      > book. But to take a very general overview, here are some personal
      > opinions.
      >
      > As for light infantry companies in regular US regiments, I'll
      leave
      > 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
      earliest
      > colonial periods, being a requirement for able-bodied males in the
      > designated age range, which varied over time, but often from 16-
      50.
      > For the vast majority, this meant nothing more than being a name
      on
      > 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
      a
      > 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.
      This
      > was economical, as a hunting frock was often the official State
      > uniform. And it capitalized on long-standing familiarity with
      rifles,
      > and hunting dress. (I know some may think this sounds like its
      from a
      > Davy Crockett movie script, but know that there were small Indian
      war-
      > party raids in east Tennessee, albeit infrequent, into the mid
      1790s.)
      >
      > In most areas, it appears that men were also free to constitute
      their
      > own independent, uniformed companies. Incredibly, there was no
      public
      > fear or shock at the sight of organized groups of men carrying and
      > drilling with guns in public in those times. People actually
      welcomed
      > it. But I digress... Uniformed companies could be found in
      Baltimore,
      > Maryland, and some other cities. Maryland had companies which
      > retained the name "Light Infantry" from the RevWar period right up
      to
      > the time of the War of 1812. Baltimore also had a
      independent "Yager"
      > 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
      armed
      > with muskets. There was a independent, uniformed "First Baltimore
      > Light Infantry Company" at the same battle, that traced back to
      the
      > Revolutionary War. But I have not yet seen evidence they fought
      > independently from other line infantry companies in the 5th
      Regiment,
      > Maryland Militia they were attached to. Local military commanders
      > attached rifle units to at least a couple of the infantry
      regiments
      > 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
      proverbial 'patchwork-
      > quilt'. The War of 1812 certainly brought to light many of the
      > organizational and political management problems of the US
      Government
      > 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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