List of Continental Army units (1776)

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The Continental Army was the army raised by the Second Continental Congress to oppose the British Army during the American Revolutionary War. The army went through three major establishments: the first in 1775, the second in 1776, and the third from 1777 until after the end of the war. The 1776 differed in some significant ways from both the 1775 establishment and the 1777 establishment.


Second establishment

The Continental Army was established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, which is also recognized as the founding date of its successor, the United States Army. On that day, the Continental Congress assumed responsibility for militia regiments that had been raised by the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. These units and others authorized by Congress served in the Siege of Boston and the invasion of Quebec launched in September 1775. With these operations ongoing, Congress voted to authorize a second establishment of the army for 1776.

The enlistments of most soldiers in the Continental Army of 1775 expired on the last day of the year. On January 1, 1776, a new army was established. General George Washington had submitted recommendations for reorganization to the Continental Congress almost immediately after accepting the position of Commander-in-Chief, but these took time to consider and implement. Despite attempts to broaden the recruiting base beyond New England, the 1776 army remained skewed toward the Northeast both in terms of its composition and geographical focus.

The bulk of the newly organized Main Army consisted of 27 infantry regiments, numbered in order of the seniority of the colonel of each regiment. These regiments were created by reorganizing existing units and by encouraging soldiers to reenlist for another year. Each new regiment comprised eight companies, which at full strength fielded a total of 728 men. Of these, 640 provided the firepower (privates and corporals with muskets); the remaining were officers and staff, including three field officers (a colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major), a captain for each company, a surgeon, a quartermaster, drummers, etc.[1] Other units were also authorized.

Main Army units

Numbered infantry regiments
Other infantry units

Canadian Department units

Initial infantry units
Continental Regiments authorized by Washington on January 19, 1776 after Montgomery's defeat at the Battle of Quebec (December 31, 1775)
Reinforcements dispatched from New York City on April 15, 1776 under Brigadier General William Thompson
Reinforcements dispatched from New York City on April 27, 1776 under Brigadier General John Sullivan
Additional units raised later in the year

Northern Department units

Artillery units

Eastern Department units

Rhode Island Garrison Regiments.

Two regiments of Rhode Island state troops which served with the Continental Army in 1776, but were not placed on the Continental establishment.[3]

Middle Department units

The Middle Department was created on February 27, 1776,[4] as a military administrative district embracing New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. When the Main Army moved from Boston to New York in April 1776 and Washington opened his headquarters in New York City, he assumed direct command of the department. As a result the Main Army became, for the remainder of the war, the field army associated with the Middle Department.[5] At the same time New York and the Northern Department became practically coextensive; only the Hudson Highlands and parts of New York to the south remained in the Middle Department.[6] These changes left Washington holding three posts at once: Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Commanding General of the field army under his immediate command, the Main Army, and Commanding General of the Middle Department.

Infantry units

Southern Department units

The Continental Congress established the Southern Department on February 27, 1776.[4] The department was the organizing unit for regiments raised in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia.

Virginia infantry
North Carolina infantry
South Carolina infantry
Georgia infantry
Cavalry units
Artillery units


  1. ^ Wright, Continental Army, 47, 50.
  2. ^ Lesser, Sinews, 12.
  3. ^ Berg, Encyclopedia, 106.
  4. ^ a b Wright, Continental Army, 82.
  5. ^ Wright, Continetnal Army, 84.
  6. ^ Wright, Continental Army, 83-84.
  7. ^ Wright, Continental Army, 72.
  8. ^ Wright, Continental Army, 108.
  9. ^ a b Wright, Continental Army, 70-71.