Revolutionary War Units
See Also The
State War Records
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Captain Bull's Troop additionally served in:
Captain de Vernejoux's Troop additionally served in:
Sheldon's Horse, the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons was formed under the command of Col. Elisha Sheldon in December of 1776 at the direct recommendation of Gen. George Washington. Sheldon first came to the attention of the Commander-in-Chief earlier that year when Sheldon lead a group of mounted Connecticut militia to Washington's New York headquarters to volunteer for army service. The offer was refused due to lack of sufficient forage for men and horses. However, after the October 1776 defeat at the Battle of White Plains, Washington came to recognize the value of a regular mounted establishment and the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons was born with Elisha Sheldon commissioned as Colonel-Commandant.
Consisting of four troops from Connecticut, one troop each largely from Massachusetts and New Jersey plus two companies of Light Infantry, the unit never served as a whole. First action occurred when Capt. Epaphras Bull and Lt. Thomas Young Seymour led a portion of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons at the Battles at Trenton and Princeton.
From formation through its reversion to State troop status, Sheldon's patrolled and skirmished its way through Connecticut, Westchester and Rockland Counties as well as northern New Jersey.
Numerous whaleboat raids against British and Loyalist installations on Long Island were conducted by Sheldon's troopers. It was acts of bravery on one such raid that earned Sgt. Elijah Churchill the Badge of Military Merit (the Purple Heart), precursor to the Congressional Medal of Honor and one of only three awarded for Revolutionary War service.
The regiment performed as the first "pony express" relaying messages along a string of express stations between Washington's headquarters and the northern colonies.
Sheldon's served as advance scouts for the American army and earned the sobriquet "Washington's Eyes". Under Maj. Benjamin Talmadge, Sheldon's also became Washington's ears as Talmadge operated his "Culper" spy ring on Long Island and in New York City.
Elements of the unit comprised Washington's personal bodyguard and men of the 2nd Light Dragoons guarded John Andre during his incarceration, trial and subsequent execution in Nyack, New York.
In 1781, Sheldon's Horse became the first American unit to conduct a combined combat operation with our French Allies in Tarrytown, New York. Rochambeau's staff considered Sheldon's Horse, 2nd Continental Light Dragoons as " . . . incontestably the best on the continent. . . ."
Sheldon's Horse was never officially disbanded, making this regiment unique among all Continental cavalry units. The majority of its numbers were furloughed after the cessation of hostilities; the regiment released from federal service and returned to the authority of the state.
Battles engaged in: Woodbridge; Brandywine; Germantown; Kingston; The Battles of Saratoga, where a portion of the regiment under Lt. Seymour not only fought as the sole Continental cavalry, but was assigned to escort Burgoyne to Boston after the British surrender; Schoharie, at The Battle of The Flockey where Sheldon's Horse performed the first cavalry charge on American soil; Paoli; Whitemarsh, where two troopers are buried. The barn which was utilized as the field hospital still stands; Morrisania; Yorktown.