The 1st Pennsylvania Regiment

  • Authorized on June 14, 1775 in the Continental Army as 6 separate companies of Pennsylvania Riflemen and assigned to the Main Army.
  • Redesignated on June 22, 1775 as the Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment.
  • Organized between June 25- July 20, 1775 to consist of 9 companies from Cumberland, Lancaster, Northumberland, Northampton, Bedford, Berks and York Counties.
  • Redesignated on January 1, 1776 as the 1st Continental Regiment.
  • Assigned on April 24, 1776 to Sullivan's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on April 29, 1776 from Sullivan's Brigade and assigned to Greene's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on August 12, 1776 from Greene's Brigade and assigned to Nixon's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Relieved on August 31, 1776 from assignment to Nixon's Brigade and to Mifflin's Brigade (redesignated on October 8, 1776 as Stirling's Brigade), an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Reorganized and redesignated on January 1, 1777 as the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, to consist of 8 companies.
  • Relieved on May 22, 1777 from Stirling's Brigade and assigned to the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.
  • Reorganized on July 1, 1778 to consist of 9 companies.
  • Consolidated on January 17, 1781 with the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment and redesignated as the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment; concurrently furloughed at Trenton, New Jersey and relieved from the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade.
  • Reorganized on January 1, 1783 at Ashley Hills, South Carolina, to consist of 9 companies, and assigned to the Southern Department.
  • Relieved on June 1, 1783 from Southern Department and assigned to the Middle Department.
  • Furloughed on June 11, 1783 at Philadelphia.
  • Disbanded on November 15, 1783.


Capt. William Hendrick's and Mathew Smith's companies each additionally served in:


On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for the raising of six companies of expert riflement from Pennsylvania, two from Maryland, and two from Virginia. Eight days later, Pennsylvania was directed to raise two additional companies, followed by a third. These nine companies were to form a battalion to be commanded by Col. William Thompson of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Following the British practice of calling a regiment after its commander, this battalion came to be called Thompson's Rifle Battalion. When the army was reorganized on January 1, 1776, the Battalion was renamed the 1st Continental Regiment of Foot.

On July 1, 1776, the army reorganized yet again with each state directed to supply a quota of line regiments for Continental service. Pennsylvania claimed the 1st Continental Regiment as its own and renamed the regiment as the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment.

As Thompson's Rifle Battalion, the regiment participated in the siege of Boston. Two companies also accompanied Benedict Arnold's attack on Quebec. After the British attacked at Long Island, the 1st Continental Regiment covered the retreat the American army. It was the last regiment to leave Long Island. The 1st Continentals also participated in the battles at Fort Washington, Harlem Heights, and White Plains. At Trenton, it was the 1st Continental Regiment (now known as the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment) that cut off the Hessian retreat from Trenton, causing them to surrender. Shortly afterward, the Regiment helped delay Cornwallis before the Battle of Princeton.

In the spring of 1777, the Regiment was assigned to Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne's Division. The 1st Pennsylvania was considered an elite unit and was given the post of honor on the right of the line. During the 1777 campaign, the regiment split, with the smaller rifle corps joining Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates at Saratoga. The majority of the Regiment fought with the main army at Brandywine, covered the American retreat at Paoli, attacked at Germantown, and skirmished at Whitemarsh.

After camping at Valley Forge, the First Pennsylvania saw limited action at Monmouth. In 1779, a detachment accompanied light infantry troops in the storming of Stoney Point. They also fought at Bergen Neck. A detachment of riflemen served with Brig. Gen. ?? Sullivan in his campaign against the Iroquois in western Pennsylvania.

In January 1780, the Regiment after suffering long and hard service with pay in arrears, poorly fed, and poorly equipped, joined the other Pennsylvania regiments in a mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line at Morristown, New Jersey. The mutiny failed and resulted in many of the soldiers receiving their discharges. As a result of declining numbers, the Pennsylvania Regiments were reorganized into three provisional battalions. For all intents the Regiment ceased to exist. Men who served with Regiment and continued their service saw action at Yorktown and mopping up operations in South Carolina.
On November 3, 1783, after a distinguished career, the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment was officially mustered out in Philadelphia, then capital of the United States of America.

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