Historic Valley Forge

American Lighthorse

Q.I am seeking information on the American Lighthorse.
Anonymous, Pennsylvania

A.The Lighthorse regiments were organized directly under Continental authority rather than that of the states and therefore were placed completely under the control of Washington. March 14, 1777 Congress approved Washington's regimental organization for the Light Dragoons. He believed their primary mission was reconnaissance, not combat and its members should be made of native-born Americans as opposed to immigrants whose loyalty was uncertain. Troopers were instructed to use dark, inconspicuous horses. Training was hard and intensive. The regiments came mainly from Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Some of the Commanders of Light Dragoons: Elisha Sheldon; Theodrick Bland; George Baylor; Stephen Moylan

By late 1778 Washington was forced to disperse the light dragoon regiments due to forage problems — they never assembled as a brigade again.

Makeup of a Light Dragoon Regiment (One of each position except as noted):

    • Colonel
    • Lieutenant Colonel
    • Major
    • Chaplain
    • Quartermaster
    • Surgeon
    • Surgeon's Mate
    • Paymaster
    • Riding Master
    • Saddler
    • Trumpet Major
    • Adjutant
    • Supernumeraries: 4 (cadets in training)
    • Captain
    • Lieutenant
    • Cornet
    • Sergeant (orderly or drill)
    • Quartermaster Sergeant
    • Corporals: 4
    • Trumpeter
    • Farrier
    • Armorer
    • Privates: 32


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