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The U.S. 3rd Rifle Regiment in Virginia - 1814-15

Why was the 3rd Rifle Regiment detained in Virginia during late 1814? Until recently I had referred to the following two accounts to conclude that most of the regiment, made up of southern recruits, was enroute Washington (after its burning in August) for assignment further north. While this is substantively correct, the source documents are vastly more illuminating.

First, here are the two general accounts mentioned above:

North Carolina - The War of 1812 The Known Military Units from North Carolina, 2007
"US Army Major William S. Hamilton was appointed to the rank of *Colonel and placed in charge of recruiting in the state of North Carolina. He considered the War of 1812 to be a golden opportunity for those with "a pure spirit and a sacred impulse." He promised to equip volunteers in "Rifle dress and give you your favorite weapon, and ... you will cover youselves with glory." The pay ranged from $8-$12 per month, plus a $124 bounty for enlisting and 160 acres of free land when the war was over. Newspapers across the state printed reports of volunteers on their way to a rendezvous prior to marching off to war..In January of 1815, Colonel Hamilton was at last released from recruiting duties in North Carolina and stationed in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to winter before going north in the spring. His troops were not needed, however, since the treaty of peace had just been signed."
* Actually Hamilton was appointed the 3rd Rifle Regiment's Lieutenant Colonel on 21 February, 1814. The Colonel and Commander of the 3rd Rifles was William King; who was also appointed on 21 February, 1814 shortly after the Regiment was authorized; along with the 2nd and 4th Rifle Regiments.

A Stranger and a Sojourner: Peter Caulder, Free Black Frontiersman in Antebellum Arkansas
by Billy D. Higgins, University of Arkansas Press, 2005
Higgin's traces the 1814 route of elements of the 3rd Rifle Regiment through Virginia in November 1814 with halts at *Bottoms Bridge and Fredericksburg, Virginia, finally arriving in Washington D.C. where it encamped at Greenleaf Point (today's Fort McNair) before the war ended in February 1815.
Higgins' states that "...Threats by Adm. Alexander **Cochrane, nicknamed "the Goth" by terrorized seaboard residents, to burn "every assailable city" on the east coast may have forced the riflemen to remain longer in southeast Virginia in order to defend *Norfolk. In mid-November the regiment, now beefed up with two hundred additional infantrymen, moved north to Fredericksburg where Peter Caulder spent his first Christmas away....the ***Regiment stayed along the Rappahannock for the month of January because of the general ill health of a number of riflemen and because of British threats to the Potomac estuary." p.21

RG notes on Higgin's narrative:
* Bottom's Bridge, 16 miles east of Richmond, is some considerable distance, 75 plus miles, and across the Hampton Roads, from Norfolk. Defense of Norfolk proper would not, therefore, have been facilitated.
** By December, Cochrane was far away leading the British fleet in the attack against New Orleans. Instead, it was the equally infamous British Admiral George Cockburn, who after the failure to take Baltimore, continued raiding in the Chesapeake area until the end of the war. Interestingly, because he eventually settled in Louisiana, Lieutenant Colonel William S. Hamilton's uniform coat ended up on display at the nearby Cabildo...
***Not all of the regiment.  Authorised strength was 1060 for a Rifle Regiment - and was never reached for most units during the war (post-war strength for an RR was set at 840). Presumably, another 500 or so were to be collected at the various recruiting depots or encampments in NC, SC, VA and TN. One of the 3rd Rifle's two Regimental Majors, Walter H. Overton, was in command at Fort St. Philip as of 15 December, which guarded the passage of the Mississippi River from its mouth to New Orleans; he "gallantly" and successfully defended it. From available documents, it does not appear that he was accompanied by a detachment from the 3rd Rifles. Overton had been a Captain in the 7th Infantry Regiment before being promoted to Major in the Rifles; the 7th and its fellow regular 44th Infantry Regiment fought at New Orleans.
see below for further information gleaned on why Major Overton of the Rifles was in Louisiana Territory at this time.

I ran across the following more specific mention of the 3rd's whereabouts during this period:

"Lt. Col. Hamilton's orders to proceed to the Northern Neck with five hundred men of the 3rd Rifle Regiment (1814 Nov. 3);"

A Guide to the Governor James Barbour Executive Papers, 1812-1814 A Collection in the Library of Virginia, Accession Number 41557

Following this "lead" resulted in the subsequent tidbits:

Calendar of Virginia State papers and other manuscripts: ... preserved in the Capitol at Richmond (Google eBook) Virginia, Henry W. Flournoy, R.F. Walker, 1892

Nov. 3
War Department

James Monroe To The Governor.

Your Excellency's letters of October 22nd and 31st have been received.

My letter to General Porter of October 25th, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, will supercede the necessity for any further requisitions on Virginia at this time for the defence of Norfolk.

Lt.-Col. Hamilton is ordered with 500 men of the 3rd Rifle Regiment to the Northern Neck of Virginia, and will be stationed there during the winter, until those troops arrive from North Carolina. Gen'l Scott will provide for the defence of that part of his district by posting 500 detached militia in that quarter.

I am, &c.

 pp. 412-13

Nov 7, 1814
W. Scott (Gen'l U. S. A.) To The Governor.

By authority invested, as the commander of this district, I have the honor to request that your Excellency will cause to be detached from the militia under your command, four complete companies of Infantry and one of Artillery, to be organized into a battalion for the defence of that part of the State of Virginia (within my district), lying between the Potomac and the Rappahannock rivers. This battalion will be accepted as a part of the Virginia quota under the requisition of the War Department, bearing date the 4th of July, 1814, and it is desirable that it rendezvous as early as possible at Cox's house, near Yeocomico church, Westmoreland county. Your Excellency will oblige me by instructing your Adjutant-General to furnish me with the name of the oflicer who may be detailed for this command.

It may be satisfactory to add that Lieut-Colonel Hamilton, an excellent officer, with a battalion of U. S. Riflemen, is now in march from North Carolina for the same rendezvous in Westmoreland. He may be expected to reach his destination by the first of next month, when the Virginia battalion will be discharged.

I am, &c.

W.A. Scott


Then, on November 30, 1814, Admiral Cockburn sailed up the Rappahannock River, shelled and occupied Tappahannock from November 30-December 2nd with a principal force of eight schooners and upwards of 15 reported barges.. pp. 401-403

The threat was real and this indeed was the reasoning behind the 3rd Rifle Regiment's extended stay near Fredericksburg as relayed by:

Jas. Monroe (sect'y) To The Governor.

Jan. 4, 1815
War Department

"Col. Hamilton's Corps, stationed at present at Fredericksburg, will, it is hoped, afford some protection to a part of the Northern neck, and as the Spring opens, and our means are enlarged, other measures must be taken for the protection of the lower end. In the meantime you are hereby authorized to detail a force not exceeding 500 men, of which 250 may be mounted for the defence of Gloucester and Williamsburg. It is deeply to be regretted that against an enemy who violates every principle of humanity and civilized warfare, it is not in the power of the Government to extend protection to every part which is exposed to his incursions."


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 7 - Saturday, January 14, 1815, p. 319
A fine company of U. S. riflemen left their encampment near Rogersville, Ten. on the 29th ult. for Hagerstown, Md. we presume on their way to the northern frontier....
The court martial met at Utica the 3d inst. and adjourned to the 8th, to suit gen. Wilkinson's convenience, who was not prepared for the trial....
[next sentence omitted]
Seven hundred regulars, five hundred riflemen and two hundred infantry, recruited in North and South Carolina, have reached Richmond on their way to the northern army in the spring; but to remain for the present about Fredericksburg, subject to the orders of major-general Scott."


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 7 - Saturday, February 25, 1815, p. 410

"Compliment to Americans.—A letter from a person of distinction in Canada is published in a Halifax paper, in defence of Sir George Prevost. The following is an extract:
"The principal cause of lamentation appears to be, that we have lost more men (in proportion) here, than in Spain. Is the commander of the forces to be blamed because the Americans fight obstinately and well; and that this is the real cause of the disproportionate slaughter that has roused the morbid sensibility and peevishness of some, no one here will doubt.
The officers of the army from Spain, who have been engaged in Upper Canada, have acknowledged, that they never saw such determined charges as were made by the Americans in the late actions.
"An officer who has been in all the actions on the peninsula, told me the otlier day, that he never witnessed such obstinate courage as they shewed. His singular, but forcible expression was, "they do not know, sir, when they are beaten, they do not know when they ought to go away."
In the action on the 25th July, the Americans charged to the very muzzles of our cannon, and actually bayonetted the artillerymen who were at their guns. Their cliarges were not once or twice only, but repeated and long, and the steadiness of British soldiers alone could have withstood them. This, added to the woody nature of the country in which the war has been carried on, and which gave the enemy great advantage in using riflemen (a description of force little used in our army,) will sufficiently account for the slaughter that has taken place in our ranks."

Related Timeline

July 20-26, 1814: British Raids along Nomini Creek, Westmoreland County
1,200 British troops raid Westmoreland County and plunder homes. British burn neighboring plantations and remove slaves. Admiral Cockburn declares that poison has been given to his troops.

August 7, 1814: British Occupy Wicomico Church, Northumberland County
Historical Marker: Ten British ships and smaller vessels appeared on the Coan River and sent three barges to capture three American schooners situated within two miles of Northumberland Court House. The Lancaster County militia repulsed the attack until British reinforcements arrived. Before leaving, the British seized the schooners and destroyed property at Northumberland Court House.

August 24, 1814: The Burning of Washington D.C.
With troop numbers swollen with newly arrived Napoleonic War veterans, the British capture and burn the new capital, Washington D.C. following the American loss at the Battle of Bladensburg.

September 12, 1814: Attack on Fort McHenry, Maryland The British begin an attack on Baltimore at Fort McHenry and North Point but are repelled by the American forces and withdraw. Francis Scott Key pens the "Star Spangled Banner."

October 4, 1814: British Invade Northumberland County
Historical Marker: Two British detachments of 3,000 infantry invade Northumberland County from the Coan River. After initially resisting, the outnumbered militia retreated. The British captured ammunition, arms, and personal property before debarking

November 30, 1814: British Occupy Tappahannock, Essex County
Admiral Cockburn shelled Tappahannock from November 30-December 2nd with a force of eight schooners, outnumbering the Essex Militia who possessed a single cannon. The British force thereafter attacked plantations along both sides of the Rappahannock River.
"On November 30 1814, a force of eight schooners along with thirteen troop and supply ships were sighted off Middlessex. The heavily outnumbered Essex Militia with one cannon was no match for this force and a short naval barrage of the town left no doubt about who had the upper hand. During their three days of occupation, nearly all the homes were pillaged and even some Ritchie family graves were desecrated.
Thomas Ritchie was a well-known critic of England in his role as editor of the Richmond Enquirer. Afterwards, the British force continued to strike individual plantations along both sides of the Rappahannock.
Local militia, however, effectively ambushed a detachment of British at Jones' Point and learned from deserters that Urbanna was the next target. Brigadier General John Cocke ordered all militia units in the area to Urbanna. The sizeable show of force deterred the British and the Rappahannock remained safe for the remainder of the war." - from the Essex County Museum and Historical Society

December 6, 1814: British Engagement at North Farnham Church, Richmond County
The British land by Sharp's Landing and march to North Farnham Church in a plan to occupy Warsaw. They are met by Virginia militia who engage the British troops. One militiaman is killed and the captain of the regiment, Captain Shackleford is wounded and captured. The British return to their ships and twelve intoxicated British soldiers are taken as prisoners.


"This letter is taken from the original, which exists in the Jackson MSS. A copy also exists in the hand of a clerk, evidently made when the original was sent, and which, it is interesting to see, contains misspellings not in the original."

Mobile, August 28, 1814.;7 oclock a m.

TO COLONEL ROBERT BUTLER [Adjutant General of the U.S. Army]
 Refeerring you to instructions Contained in my letter of the 27th instant, I have to request that you will notify the contractor with out loss of time to forward to the differrent Posts therein named the Quantity of previsions therein required. Major Pier speaking the French and spanish Tongue is much wanted, must be ordered on to Join me without loss of time. Capt William O Butler is enterprising, and such services will be much wanted here. Rifle men will be of great use in harrassing the enemy. I want all recruits of this Description within the M Distric, and Majr Overton may be of great use in commanding this description of Troops. But should there be a senior officer of Rifle corps, whoes experience is equal to majr. Overton-;it is not intended that he should be overlooked, altho I have a high opinion of the sprightly Talents of the majr. expidetion must be the order of the day-;the watchword Victory or death, or [A]merica will be apportioned amonghst the powers of [E]urope.
I have enclosed to Governor Blount a short account of the information recd. last evening, the grater part if not the whole may be relied on as facts. you can see and judge for yourself. I wish you would see Majr Jack Reid, now Captain in the 44th know of him wheather he is coming on, if not advise me thereof that I may appoint another aid de, camp the labour is too severe for Capt. Butlar, and I have been rather indisposed for a few days. as soon as the duty pointed out in this and mine of the 27th is acted upon by you, you will repair hither without loosing a moment.
I leave you to Judge how many of the Officers of the U States army you will order on, not withstanding the rules laid down in the register, under present appearances and prospects of danger, no officer would hesitate in obaying the order. still I do not wish any officer ordered on that might tend to Injure the recruting service. All I want is a sufficient number to aid in commanding the Militia. I shall expect to here from you often and I will keep you constantly advised of the positions and strength of the enemy.
I am respectfully yr mo [o]bt. sevt
Colo John Williams of the 39th would be of great benefit to me. I have enclosed an open note for your perusal, and wish you to inclose it to him with any further remarks. I inclose three lines to Mrs. Jackson please deliver...."

Elsewhere in these manuscripts, Bassett makes note that: Jackson and Judge John Overton, W.H. Overton's uncle,  were "most intimate" friends.  

Correspondence of Andrew Jackson. Edited by John Spencer Bassett

[Note - I had to save this file from the Library of Congress as a text file to read and piece together!]

John Overton succeeded Jackson upon the bench of the Superior Court of Tennessee and the "records of the Cypress Land Company, an Alabama Company in which a number of Tennesseans had an interest. Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester purchased the John Rice grant on which Memphis was founded."
Claybrooke and Overton Papers, 1747-1894 -


"Dec. 18th...Major Waltie H. Overton of one of the Rifle Corps, arrived about this time from Nashville, Tennessee, on furlough. On discovering the situation of the country, he solicited an immediate command, which was granted him by placing him as commanding Officer at Fort St. Philips, to which place he repaired without delay. This proved to be a judicious situation to the command of that important post...."
Major Howell Tatum's journal while acting topographical engineer (1814) to General Jackson, commanding the Seventh military district, Volumes 7-8, by Howell Tatum, Dept. of history of Smith college, 1922
 One might speculate then, in view of Jackson expressed intent to acquire the services of "Rifle men" under a senior Rifle Corps officer, that the 3rd Rifles, having been formed in the southeast, would have been a possible candidate for deployment.  Moreover, it's commander, William King was on friendly relations with Jackson dating from the battle of Horseshoe Bend and might have been the type of "senior Rifle Corps" officer Jackson had desired. (Later, in 1818, Jackson was to install King as Military Governor of occupied West Florida when he ousted the Spanish.) However, as events would conspire, actions in and around the Chesapeake Bay dictated other uses for the 3rd Rifles by the Secretary of War and Army leadership in Washington.  Concurrently, the 2nd Rifles, recruited in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky, might also have seemed a potential choice, coming as they did from Jackson's own "neck of the woods" and with access to faster river transportation or even cross-country movement down to New Orleans (both modes used by the Tennessee and Kentucky reinforcements).  However, the 2nd Rifles had only mustered 187 riflemen by November of 1814.  Jackson, meanwhile, got his "rifle men," in the form of the Tennessee and Kentucky volunteers, just in time for the big battle he would fight and win.  Nevertheless, a regular Rifle Regiment's participation in the great victory to come would have been a battle honor, to rank alongside those earned at The Capture of York, Fort George, Sandy Creek, Conjockta Creek, Fort Erie, and Plattsburgh, and others not mentioned. It is certain that, if they had fought there, it would have been their most famous, and likely only remembered action, in the minds of an enlightened and concerned citizenry.

After The Victory at New Orleans:

Jackson's desires, insofar as unit composition are explicitly revealed in this letter to the War Department - he wanted "reliable regulars" - 5000 of them - with 1000 to be Riflemen!


This letter is in the War Dept. files, and a draft of it is in the Jackson MSS.

New Orleans,
January 25, 1815.


 I advised you on the 20th that the enemy had two nights before, decamped and returned to his flotilla. No circumstances have since transpired to make it certain whether he intends to abandon his original purpose altogether or to exert his efforts for its accomplishment at some other point. I am perswaded however that the discomfiture he has met with has left him without the means of prosecuting it for the present with any hopes of success; But having manifested, by bringing with him all the preparations for the immediate establishment of colonial government, not only the facility with which he calculated on attaining his object, but the high value which he set upon it, it is not improbable that though disappointed in his hopes of easy success he may not have finally relinquished his intention. The interval of his absence ought therefore to be industriously employed in providing the most effectual means against his possible return. My opinion is that for the effectual defence of this District, should the enemy meditate a renewal of his attempts, not less than 5000 regular troops are necessary; and for defence, that is the only description of troops upon which reliance can be placed. It is true, the militia who were sent hither from the Country above, on the
late emergency have approved themselves worthy the high confidence we had in them, and shewn indeed, that for such a purpose they are inferior to no troops in the world; but it is only for purposes thus temporary that they can be considered as valuable. The short periods of their engagements, not more than their habits of life by which when they have made one excursion or fought one battle, they are so strongly recalled to their famil[i]es and home render them a very unequal match, in continued warfare, for men who following arms as a profession, are scarcely entitled to merit for perseverance.

The secrecy and expedition with which the enemy was enabled to approach us with so powerful a force, is also a proof that that by which his future designs must be resisted ought not to depend upon accident in its arrival or be subject to delay in its application. As composing a part of the force which may be necessary for the defence of this country I would beg leave to recommend 6 companies of Light Artillery, and 1000 riflemen as peculiarly suitable; and permit me also to remark that an able engineer is greatly wanted here, and cannot be sent too soon. Officers are greatly wanted to complete the 3d, 7th, and 44th Regts which are very deficient.

The innumerable bayous and outlets from the Lakes which had hitherto been so little known, or regarded, gave to the enemy on his late incursion facilities of which it will be my duty to deprive him hereafter; and when I shall have succeeded in that, the force which would otherwise be necessary for the defence of this country, will bear considerable diminution.

I will further take the liberty to suggest that the Block ship, now lying on lake Ponchartrain in an unfinished state ought immediately to be completed; why she has been thus left I am quite at a loss to conjecture; as she is peculiarly adapted to the defence of the lakes. What makes it the more remarkable is that the covering which has been provided for her has probably cost the government more than it would to have completed her. Col Haynes to whom this is entrusted will be enabled from the opportunities he has had, and his accuracy of observation to afford much useful information on the several points to which I have referred as well as on others relative to the situation and the proper defences of this Country.

To Col. A. P. Hayne, Jackson gave written instructions in a letter of Jan. 25, and in them he embodied his recommendations for the reward by promotion of the officers who had distinguished themselves during the campaign. See Parton (II. 275), where the letter of instructions is given. In writing to Hayne, Jackson said that he did not make his suggestions to the Secretary of War himself because he was “prevented by motives of delicacy and other causes”. But he might have saved himself trouble in this respect, for on March 27, 1815, he received from the War Department a request for his suggestions of promotions;to be forwarded by mail, if Jackson found himself unable to go to Washington in person."
Correspondence of Andrew Jackson. Edited by John Spencer Bassett

Jackson and "The Rifle Corps" - postwar:

After the war, when Jackson became the Major General in command of the Southern Division (MG Jacob Brown commanded the Northern Division) he was still desirous of gaining the complete services of the now consolidated Rifle Regiment. He wrote to the Secretary of War W H Crawford requesting him to
"enable me to bring to the support of the Lower Country, at the shortest possible notice, the 8th. Regiment & the Rifle Corps"
The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1816-1820, Andrew Jackson, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, Harold D. Moser, Univ. of Tennessee Press, Aug 14, 1994 - 700 pages - p. 61

By January 1817, Jackson's request had been realized; with two companies of riflemen from Natchitoches moved to St Louis (replaced by the 8th Infantry) and two companies of riflemen at Green Bay in the Northern Division transferred to the Southern Division's 9th Department, commanded by Brigadier General (brevet) Thomas A. Smith, on the Mississippi.

For more on the Rifle Regiment during the period 1816-1821 see
Report Of Inspection Of The Ninth Military Department, 1819
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review
By Mississippi Valley Historical Association
Published by Mississippi Valley Historical Association, 1921
Item notes: v. 7

or at my May 2009 posting

Report Of Inspection Of The Ninth Military Department, 1819


The Rifle Regiment, as the force of choice for the"western" frontier missions of force projection, presence and deterrence, in which they performed "useful service," missed out on the brief First Seminole War (1818-19) conducted by Jackson, who used, again, the Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia militia as well as a small force of regulars from the 4th Infantry (King) and 7th Infantry Regiments to seize Florida - where once stationed detachments of the First Rifle Regiment, in 1812 and 1815, had played a key if not decisive role.

Both regiments were initially commanded by former War of 1812 Rifle officers in the reorganization of 1815; William King (4th) and James McDonald (7th).  Indeed, my next post, Army of the United States - 1853 Organizational Review - Gardner
reveals how the four wartime Rifle Regiment commanders and other key subordinates figured disproportionately and prominently in the selection of Regimental Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels for the post-war eight Infantry and one Rifle Regiments (downsized from nearly 50 wartime regiments of infantry and rifles).
However, James McDonald, Colonel of the 7th resigned in April 1817 (replaced by David Brearley).  Daniel Appling was the Major of the 7th until his untimely death in March 1817. Original 1st Rifles and post-war Regimental commander, T.A Smith, resigned in Nov 1818. William King (2nd Rifles) would face court-martial in 1820. Talbot Chambers (4th Rifles), last Colonel of the post-war Rifle Regiment, was cashiered for drunkenness in 1826. Colonel Anthony Butler (2nd Rifles) would be reduced; and later became Jackson's chargĂ© d'affaires in Mexico City although Jackson would come to consider him a "scamp" for his swashbuckling, unprincipaled dealings, and scandalous conduct. Lieutenant Colonel George Croghan (2nd Rifles), who initially resigned, later rejoined the Army and rose to prominence as an Inspector General.

Jackson's own plan for the reduction of the Army in 1820 would have left the Rifle Regiment intact.

The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1816-1820, Andrew Jackson, Sam B. Smith, Harriet Fason Chappell Owsley, Harold D. Moser, Univ. of Tennessee Press, Aug 14, 1994 - 700 pages - p. 387

Nevertheless, as it came to pass, with its disbandment in 1821, and with its original stalwarts and legends all killed (Benjamin Forsyth, Ludowick Morgan, and James Gibson), deceased (Daniel Appling) or resigned (T.A. Smith), the deeds of the Rifle Regiments, together with the passing of each rifleman, receded into relative obscurity - a largely forgotten corps from a largely Forgotten War.

A compilation of registers of the army of the United States, from 1815 to 1837 (inclusive.), United States. War Office, William A. Gordon

List of officers of the army of the United States from 1779 to 1900, by William Henry Powell, 1900

Complete regular army register of the United States for one hundred years (1779 to 1879) : Hamersly, Thomas Holdup Stevens (Volume yr.1881)

The Seminole Wars 1818-58, By Ron Field
Osprey Publishing, Aug 18, 2009 - 48 pages - preview

The United States Army in the War of 1812: concise biographies of commanders and operational histories of regiments, with bibliographies of published and primary resources, by John C. Fredriksen, McFarland & Co, 2009, p. 286

As part of my continuing homage to the Rifle Regiments and Rangers of the War of 1812, I've recently been having fun posting tidbits to the Historical Marker database

Three markers I have added info to are:
Fort Russell
Fort Atkinson
Benjamin Forsyth

I also recently became aware of a new book on Forsyth entitled "The Insolent Enemy." From what I've read online it looks to be a good read.

However, the google entry I find for the author's book is somewhat misleading "The life and times of Benjamin Forsyth, War of 1812 hero and 1st US Rifle Regiment Commander." While he was one of the best - perhaps the "ultimate partisan soldier" as is claimed - he was NOT the Regimental Commander.  That honor belonged to Colonel, later Brigadier General Thomas A. Smith.  Forsyth was only one of  ten Company Commanders of the First US Regiment of Riflemen (the "national color" of the Rifle Regiment completed in 1808, ...bore the inscription "1st Rifle Regt.).

See my post Rifle Regiments - officer sketches for more on the deeds of Smith, Forsyth, Appling, Morgan and many others.

Thinking about Smith and his exploits in the Patriot War in East Florida in 1812, leads me as well to the First Rifle Regiment elements left behind under Captain Abraham Massias to face the last "Forgotten Invasion of the War of 1812," at Point Peter, near St Mary's Georgia, in 1815.  Recently, family members scouted out the Cumberland Island Museum for me - and to look for my friend "Rudy" the rifleman

A wonderful mannequin-rifleman is on display - although the hat cap plate is dated for 1815...still, I will have to pay my respects!
For more accurate information on Riflemen Cap Plates see:

The Project Gutenberg EBook of American Military Insignia 1800-1851, 
by J. Duncan Campbell, 1963 
or the same book - U.S. National Museum; nos. 34- Smithsonian Institution
American Military Insignia 1800-1851 by J. Duncan Campbell and Edgar M. Howell 


Niles Weekly Register - Volume 6 - Saturday, April 16, 1814, p 115


Washington, March 17, 1814.
The uniform of the non-commissioned officers, privates and musicians of the rifle regiments, will,
hereafter, be as follows, viz.
A short coat of grey cloth, single breasted, flat yellow buttons, which shall exhibit a bugle surrounded
by stars, with the number of the regiment within the curve of the bugle; one row of ten buttons
in front, three on each sleeve, and three on each skirl, lengthwise, with blind button holes of
black twist or braid in herring bone form.
A waistcoat of grey cloth with sleeves of the same. Pantaloons of grey cloth. The Jefferson
shoe, rising two inches above the ankle joint, and not higher.
Leather caps, with a plate and design similar to that of the button, and a short green pompon in
For field or active service the officers will wear uniforms like those of the privates, excepting as to
On other occasions they are permitted to wear the uniform of the artillery; except as to the buttons,
the position of them, &c. which shall be the same with the field coat.
Epaulets of gold.
Yellow mounted sabres for officers and non commissioned officers.
By order of secretary of war,
J. B. WALBACH, Ad'j. gen.


see also
for more Niles Weekly Register Volumes with articles containing Rifle Regiment / Rifle Corps / Riflemen accounts


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