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Introduction - On lost lineages and legacies

As I read the 1895 article, ESPRIT DE CORPS by Captain Charles King, I was reminded again not only of the Army's long and colorful history, it's varied and shifting nature but also, sadly, how much has been lost!

King contrasted the British [see Esprit de Corps in the English Army Charles E. Pascoe, pp. 333-334,
Appletons' journal: a magazine of general literature. Volume 9, Issue: 207, Mar 8, 1873] and German focus on heritage and tradition with American indifference but was inspired by current attempts as evidenced by the work to which he contributed.

King's eloquent observations on the need for fostering Esprit de Corps - to preserve regimental tradition - still echoes.

Undoubtedly confused would he have been in witnessing the next 100 years, the ebb and flow of buildup, drawdown, reorganization and experimentation, seemingly every decade, but moreso dismayed by the erosion of the regimental spirit and indifference to tradition.

Echoing King, I too decry the short shrift and lack of integrative coverage given to lineage, especially in the cases of various regular army "rifle" units provided short "official" mention and study if any - the "Ranger or Rifle Corps" under Daniel Morgan, the US Rangers during the War of 1812, the US Rifle Regiments (1808-1821), the US Voltigeur & Foot Riflemen Regiment (1847-48), and, to a lesser extent, the US Sharpshooter Regiments (1861-65).

For example, if a recent popular Ranger history author can offer (and make a buck or two on) a "complete" history which includes two non-U.S. Army units - His Majesty's Independent Company of Rangers (e.g.Rogers Rangers) and the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry of the former Confederate States of America!?? - then surely a case OUGHT and can be made, on a sounder organizational, tactical and uniform basis for remembering, including and integrating the aforementioned "forgotten," "overlooked," or conveniently dismissed units by "military historians" who make claim to such a title.

The how and why will hopefully be apparent as I add to this blog, however, much of the information and discussion is duplicated (with images) at my website:

The original purpose I had in mind for this blog and the earlier website, was to pull together the various strands of research I have conducted in my spare time over many years of interest in these and related topics.

A few students also made use of the information, yet the website posed certain bandwidth limitations.

Readers stumbling across this site are welcomed to comment, dispute, debunk, etc - opinions and arguments, where I offer them are mine, and open to revision as new facts or interpretation - or maybe not - as I'm getting long in the teeth.

As to motivation - I'd like to think that in bringing old, obscure, lost or overlooked information to light, I am contributing in a small way to honoring those now unremembered souls who marched before, and those who payed the price or made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation - no matter the causes or merits of the conflict. Director
John Ford captured the sentiment best:

"They aren't forgotten because they haven't died. They're living, right out there...and they'll keep on living as long as the regiment lives....The faces may change. Names. But they're there.
They're the regiment -- the regular Army -- now and 50 years from now."

- Frank S. Nugent (1908-1965), screenwriter for Fort Apache (1948) - based on the story "Massacre" by James Warner Bellah.

I am a long retired active duty Army officer; served in my share of fine units, including stints in a Mech then Ranger battalion, on several Mech, Regular and Light Infantry Division and Brigade staffs; infantry line, intelligence staff, instructor and joint staff duty experience; still gainfully employed and teaching part-time with an online university (MAs in History and Education).
I once considered myself a student of my profession. Nonetheless, I was untested by combat, the ultimate crucible - when career and time ran out - unlike my ancestors, deceased father and father-in-law, but thankfully, still living uncle and son.

Therefore, this blog is dedicated to those who did pay the price

background unit lineage info:



Part I: Regular Army
by John K. Mahon and Romana Danysh

pp. 13-16

"...(President) Jefferson's administration had only a brief chance to test its convictions regarding a strong militia and a small standing army, for war clouds were gathering once more. The United States almost began the second war with England when the British warship Leopard attacked the American Chesapeake in 1807. This aggression caused Congress to add five Regular infantry regiments in 1808, the 3d through the 7th, and also to constitute the Regiment of Riflemen. The latter was a product of the Revolutionary experience and the first rifle unit since the end of the Legion in 1796. Rifle elements re-entered the service through the agency of Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson, commanding the army, and Henry Dearborn, Secretary of War, both of whom had had firsthand experience with them in the last war.

Aside from the augmentation of April 1808 there was no further preparation for a fight until just six months before the second war with England. At that time, that is, in January 1812, Congress constituted ten new regiments of Regular infantry. The act of 11 January 1812 which created them was remarkable in at least two ways: first, it provided for the largest regiments and battalions authorized in the United States before the Civil War and, second, it established an organization that was at variance with the seven existing regiments. As a result, in the first six months of 1812 there were three different-sized infantry regiments, besides one of riflemen. The 1st and 2d regiments made up the infantry of the "military peace establishment," and they had ten companies in them of seventy-six enlisted men. The 3d through the 7th regiments, authorized in 1808, were called the infantry of the "additional force," and comprised ten companies with two more officers and two more enlisted men each than the 1st and 2d had. The 8th through the 17th in no way resembled the others, for they had eighteen companies of 110 enlisted men, arranged in two battalions.

Although some of the bulky eighteen-company regiments were raised, several never acquired their second battalions. Recruiting was so difficult that they lacked the time to raise many men before Congress voted a fresh reorganization. Late in June 1812, the legislators changed the law. According to the new arrangement there were to be twenty-five regiments of infantry, exclusive of the rifle regiment, each containing ten companies of 102 men. Thus all the infantry regiments were made uniform on paper, and a standard of organization was established that persisted throughout the conflict. This standard was more often than not honored in the breach. Once constituted, all the twenty-five regiments organized and recruited actively, but during the first two years of the struggle their efforts brought in less than half of the total number of infantrymen authorized.

Regulars at first could only enlist for five years, but late in 1812 newcomers were given a chance to enroll "during the war." All the while the states competed with the Federal government for soldiers, and the shorter "hitches" they offered drew men into their service. To combat this Congress directed the creation, in January 1813, of twenty new infantry regiments enlisted for just one year. Nineteen of them were raised and designated as the 26th through the 44th Infantry. Later, they were converted into long-term outfits (five years or the duration) , but all the units constituted after 1811 had men in them enlisted for different terms. For example, there were in a single regiment one-year regulars, eighteenmonth men, three- and five-year men, and some in for "during the war."

Early in 1814 four more infantry regiments and three more regiments of riflemen were constituted. Finally, therefore, forty-eight infantry regiments, numbered from the 1st to the 48th, came into being, plus four rifle regiments, the 1st through the 4th. This was the greatest number of infantry units included in the Regular Army until the world wars of the twentieth century. A mighty effort was made in 1814 to raise the Army to strength, and nearly 27,000 men came in, but in spite of this, four of the regiments had to be consolidated because they were too small. The 17th, 19th, 26th, and 27th were joined to form a new 17th and a new 19th, while the two highest numbered, the 47th and 48th, were redesignated the 27th and 26th, respectively.

No sooner was war over than Congress scrambled to rid itself of its more than 30,000 infantrymen. An act of 3 March 1815 set the peace establishment at 10,000 men, divided among infantry, rifle; and artillery regiments. Cavalry was eliminated, and eight infantry regiments and one rifle regiment arose from the ruins of the forty-six and four in existence. The rifles were consolidated and the infantry, after many rearrangements, settled as follows:

1st Infantry formed by consolidation of the 2d, 3d, 7th, and 44th
2d Infantry formed by consolidation of the 6th, 16th, 22d, 23d, and 32d
3d Infantry formed by consolidation of the 1st, 5th, 17th, 19th, and 28th
4th Infantry formed by consolidation of the 14th, 18th, 20th, 36th, and 38th
5th Infantry formed by consolidation of the 4th, 9th, 13th, 21st, 40th, and 46th
6th Infantry formed by consolidation of the 11th, 25th, 27th, 29th, and 37th
7th Infantry formed by consolidation of the 8th, 24th, and 39th
8th Infantry formed by consolidation of the 10th and 12th

* RAG note: the 35th 45th, 47th & 48th Infantry regiments are
not listed in the mergers above?

I consulted William A. Ganoe's refreshingly readable (and often acerbically witty), The History of the United States Army, and found that his research and tracking appears much more complete than the later Army historians!

Ganoe writes:

Jan 1812 - "To help in the protection of these frontiers Congress authorized the enlistment of 6 companies of "Rangers" for twelve months. Then, because of threatening war with England, it added to the regular troops 10 regiments of infantry of 18 companies each, 3 regiments of artillery of 20 companies each and a regiment of light dragoons of 12 companies. After the increase, the army theoretically consisted of 17 regiments of infantry, 4 of artillery, 2 of dragoons, and 1 of rifles." p.117
May 1813 - "The Army register appeared also. It contained a complete list of regular and volunteer officers and showed a conglomerate mixture of elements making up the army: 1 regiment of artillery; 2 regiments of dragoons; 1st, 2nd and 3rd regiments of light artillery; 25 regiments of regular infantry; a rifle regiment; 14 regiments on one-year infantry; 5 regiments of volunteer infantry for the war; 12 companies of rangers; 4 regiments, 1 battalion and 1 company of "United States volunteers" and 5 companies of "sea fencibles." It also showed the country to be divided for military administration into nine districts with a brigadier general in charge in each." p.130

Jan 1814- "By way of increase, 3 regiments of riflemen, consisting of 10 companies (each company having 1 captain, 1 first, 1 second, and 1 third lieutenant, 1 ensign, 5 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 musicians and 90 privates) were also authorized." p.136

April 1814 - "Theoretically, the army at this time consisted of 44 regiments of infantry, the corps of artillery, 1 regiment of dragoons, 4 regiments of rifles, the corps of engineers, the rangers, the sea fencible." p.137
Feb 1815 - "After the peace was generally known to exist, the army began to fall off in numbers until it totaled 33,424 out of a possible 62,773. Several attempts by Congress and the army were made to overcome by quality the lack of quantity." p.143

March 1815 - "In the war just passed the army had played its part in burlesque and tragedy. It had been more pitiful than in the Revolution. Yet when the affair was over, the country did not absurdly disband its entire force, principally because there was the fresh memory of a sound spanking. Instead a law was passed limiting the army to 10,000 men and a corps of engineers....Some sinister effort must have been at work to deprive all the old regiments of their traditions and spirit. For no plan could have more shrewdly dammed any existing pride and affiliations than the following:

The old 1st Infantry went into the new 3rd Infantry;
the old 2nd went into the new 1st;
the old 3rd, into the new 1st;
the old 4th, into the new 5th;
the old 5th, into the new 8th;
the old 6th, into the new 2nd;
the old 7th, into the new 1st; and
the old 8th, into the new 7th.

The new 1st was then made up of the old 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 44th;
the new 2nd, of the old 6th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd, and 32nd;
the new 3rd, of the old 1st, 17th, 19th, and 28th;
the new 4th, of the old 12th, 14th, 18th, 20th, 36th, and 38th;
the new 5th, of the old 4th, 9th, 13th, 21st, 40th, and 46th (revised correction in 1949?)
the new 6th, of the old 11th, 25th, 27th, 29th, and 37th;
the new 7th, of the old 8th, 24th, and 39th;
and the new 8th, of the 5th, 10th, 15th, 31st, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 39th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 45th.

The eight remaining infantry regiments were smaller than their war predecessors because, although the number of companies in each remained at ten, every company contained 78 men instead of 103. There was no effort to preserve the honors or traditional numbers of any of ,the prewar regiments. The 1st was merged with other regiments and re designated the 3d, and the old 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th were likewise lost in the remains of disbanded regiments. The new numbers were founded on the seniority of the colonels, the senior colonel commanding the 1st, and so forth. As a consequence of the reduction, 25,000 infantrymen were separated from the service. Another consequence was that the form of the infantry establishment was set roughly for the next thirty years. Not until the Mexican War, thirty-one years later, was it substantially expanded.
Not only were the units of the army diabolically jumbled but its size had to shrink to about one-sixth its former self. Officers and men had to be ejected and the remainder readjusted with a natural wrecking of ambition and spirit. Neither was their any solace to the remnants in being sent in small scattered fractions to lonely frontier posts and seacoast fortifications" p.147

December 1820 - "..out there the army, having passed through its nameless period, was growing in quality while the government was looking with skeptical eyes at its size. It was too much to expect over 7,000,000 people to support 10,000 soldiers." p. 157

William A. Ganoe, The History of the United States Army, (Appleton­ Century Company, NY, 1942 )

The United States Army: A Chronology, 1775 to the Present, by John C. Fredriksen, 2010

The United States Army is a concise history covering all important events involving American ground troops ¿ both successes and failures  in wartime and in peace, from the Colonial era to the present day. In a chronological format anchored to specific dates, The United States Army reports on all significant military engagements ¿ major conflicts and isolated actions ¿ but goes well beyond the battlefield to include significant political and administrative changes affecting the military, notable events in the careers of generals and soldiers, significant military texts, the foundation of noted schools of instruction, and military minutiae such as pay scales and creation of a general staff. Coverage also extends beyond the regular army to include auxiliaries from the colonial militias, to today's National Guard, Reserves, Army Aviation, and Special Forces. -------------------
NARA Records
98.3.2 Records of infantry units
Textual Records:
Inspection return,
American Regiment of Foot, May 1784.
Company and order books,
1st Regiment, 1785-88;
3d Regiment, 1796-1802;
1st-7th Regiments, 1802-15;
9th-14th, 16th, 18th, 20th-23d, 25th-27th,30th-35th,
37th, 38th, 40th-43d, 45th, and 46th Regiments, 1812-15;

Maj. Zebulon M. Pike's Consolidated Regiment, 1805-11;
and 1st, 3d, 7th, and 8th Regiments, 1815-21.

For a bold, and original systematic and comprehensive look at a possible inclusive unit naming/reflagging and lineage remembrance scheme, necessitated by the Army transforms to Brigade Combat Teams, I recommend a reading of Karl Lowe's:

Reshaping America’s Army
"The reorganization of the Army calls for a comprehensive reflagging to revive and maintain historic division lineages and perpetuate the esprit de corps of proud units."
ARMY Magazine - March 2005 -03/01/2005- Volume 55, Number 3

An excellent focused site for research is at:


The Army Historical Foundation maintains a significant library, both on-line and in material form on many aspects of U.S. Army History. Below are links to articles, most of which have appeared in our quarterly magazine, On Point, The Journal of Army History. You are free to reproduce the contents of these pages, however, we request that you credit The Army Historical Foundation and this web site.

Another area of historical interest I have is
"Upon the fields of friendly strife"

Army Greats
Army Lore
Of Interest...

My Military History Web Pages at Bravenet

notice - my military history pages are intended for personal and academic use only (I am an adjunct professor with an online university) - any copyrighted material on any of these pages is used in "fair use," for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). No material benefit or profit is sought or gained. Titles are links to sites or documents.
web pages are graphic intensive - beware of accessibility issues due to bandwidth usage.

Unit/Individual pages:

Ranger History

British Ranger and Rifle Units

Light Infantry Units

US Rifle Regiments

Ranger and Riflemen Sketch & Note Book

War of 1812 - US Army Infantry, Rangers & Riflemen Order of Battle

Rangers in the War of 1812

US Army 1789-1820 documents

US Sharpshooter Regiments

Horse Soldiers

Backwoods Wisdom 1

Backwoods Wisdom 2

Backwoods Wisdom 3


Soldier vignettes-1

Soldier vignettes-2

Family military pages:

Military Heritage

A Military Tribute - PDG

LRRP - Grimm Files

Saturation Operations in Vietnam 1970

A Special Hero - Meredith Thompson - DEA Agent

my "home" site at rootsweb - genealogy etc.:

Grimm's Frontier includes
Family Military Heritage

Eyes Behind the Lines: US Army Long-range Reconnaissance and Surveillance Units by James F. Gebhardt
Published by DIANE Publishing, 2005
ISBN 1428916334, 9781428916333

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