Georgia Continental Line Units in the American Revolution
During the American Revolution, the units authorized by the Continental Congress that made up the Continental Army were referred to as the “Continental Line”.
The term “Georgia Line” referred to the Continental regiments that were assigned to Georgia at various times by the Continental Congress. The Continental Line did not consist of State Troops or militia units but only units commissioned by the Continental Congress.
The Georgia Line originated with a request by the Continental Congress on November 4, 1775 for Georgia to raise a single Continental Regiment that would be responsible for defense of the Georgia-Florida border, the Georgia seacoast and that would keep watch on the frontier.
The Georgia Provincial Congress began to form the 1st Georgia Regiment of the Georgia Line on January 20, 1776 as part of the Southern Military Department. The Southern Military Department included Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and the western frontiers of those states.
On the January 24, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress approved the transfer to the Continental Army of Georgia’s four Troops of Horse and their expansion into the Georgia Regiment of Horse Rangers, also known as the Light Dragoon Regiment, that could serve on foot or mounted as the situation demanded.
In 1776, a small Georgia naval force was also created from the crews of a fleet of state-owned ships: the Lee, the Washington, the Congress and the Bulloch.
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress approved two additional Georgia Line Regiments, the 2nd Georgia Regiment and the 3rd Georgia Regiment. Due to the small population of Georgia, which was the newest colony and had the smallest population of any state, the Continental Congress approved the recruiting of the troops in 2nd and 3rd Georgia Regiments of the Georgia Line from other states.
The Georgia Line was unique within the Continental Army because the small population Georgia required that a large proportion of its recruits be obtained from outside of the state of Georgia. Georgia’s population in 1775 was estimated to be only 27,465 compared to the largest state, Virginia, with a population estimated to be 525,243.
On February 1, 1777, the Continental Congress added a final Georgia Line Regiment, the 4th Georgia Regiment, which was also made of recruits from outside of Georgia.
The five Regiments in the Georgia Line:
- 1st Georgia Regiment was recruited in Georgia
- Georgia Regiment of Horse Rangers/Georgia Light Dragoon Regiment was recruited in Georgia
- 2nd Georgia Regiment was recruited primarily in Virginia
- 3rd Georgia Regiment was recruited primarily in North Carolina
- 4th Georgia Regiment was recruited Primarily in Pennsylvania.
When two or more of the Georgia Regiments were grouped they formed part of what was known as the Georgia Brigade.
All five Georgia Line Regiments served exclusively in the south and all were captured at Charleston on May 12, 1780. All but the 1st Georgia Regiment were officially disbanded on 1 January 1781.
The 1st Georgia Regiment began reorganizing on July 4, 1782 as the British were preparing to evacuate Savannah on July 11, 1782. It became the three-company 1st Georgia Battalion. The 1st Georgia Battalion disbanded on November 15, 1783.
Regiments or Battalions?
Question:Why are the units in the Georgia Continental Line sometimes referred to as Regiments and sometimes as Battalions?
Answer: “For the Continental Army, and most or the British Army, regiment and battalion are interchangeable terms. Essentially, they were one-battalion regiments. Regiment was an administrative term, battalion is a tactical (i.e. on the battlefield) term.” Dr. Joe Stoltz – Military Historian, Mount Vernon
- “Morningstars of Liberty”: Volume Two
- Wikipedia – “Georgia Line”
- Society of the Cincinnati Exhibition – “Georgia in the American Revolution”
- Bureau of the Census: “Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970”