The chapter meeting scheduled to held on April 21 is cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I pray that none of you or your loved ones have contracted this deadly virus. The 145th CASSAR In Person Annual Spring Meeting scheduled to be held on April 16-19 at Murieta, CA was also cancelled and is being replaced by a Zoom.com telecommunications meeting on April 18th. Fortunately, the video teleconference technology has advanced a lot in the past few years which makes it possible to hold a virtual meeting. I plan on attending representing our chapter and will report out on the meeting next month.
Please stay hunkered down and do your part to contain the spread of the virus. I’m sure you share my desire for things to return to normal. The May 19 monthly chapter meeting is a remote possibility and we will advise you whether the meeting will be cancelled.
Diseases such as Smallpox, Dysentery, and Malaria, were commonly suffered by Colonial and British soldiers alike, during the American Revolution. In the first years of the Revolutionary War, George Washington and the Continental Army faced a threat that proved deadlier than the British: a smallpox epidemic, lasting from 1775-1782. After heavy losses due to disease in Boston and Quebec, Washington implemented the first mass immunization policy in American history. You can be certain that the medical and academic communities are working feverishly to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
As mentioned in prior communications our chapter is still seeking a volunteer to lead our ROTC committee. The chapter intends to follow through with making awards to the worthy cadets in the ROTC programs at the six (6) schools supported by our chapter. Due to the need to avoid group meetings in the current environment the chapter will be mailing the medal, certificate, and cash award to the ROTC instructor to give to the cadet. It is hoped that one of our members will respond to this calling and volunteer to fill this important position.
R. Scott Whitman
March Dinner Meeting: This meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
JROTC/ROTC Chairman: We are in urgent need of a JROTC/ROTC Chairman. Minimum effort is required in this position. The Chairman needs to contact the JROTC/ROTC Commanders at each school (1 college and 6 high schools) to obtain their recommendation of a cadet to receive our medal and certificate.
We normally have volunteers that present the medals and certificates and if a volunteer is not available, the certificate/medal is mailed to the JROTC/ROTC Commander for presentation to the cadet. All presentations are normally done in the April to early June time frame but that is unlikely this year since the schools are all closed for the remainder of the school year. If you can volunteer for this important position, please contact Chapter President Scott Whitman.
State and National SAR News
California Society Annual Meeting
The 145th Annual Meeting of the California Society, scheduled to be held April 17-18, 2020 at The Murieta Inn and Spa in Rancho Murieta, is cancelled. This year’s meeting will be conducted by remote teleconference on zoom.com.
Upcoming Dates and Events
Currently all public events in California have been suspended until further notice by the Governor’s order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dinner Meeting – Tuesday, May 19
This is our scheduled meeting for May which has not yet been cancelled but there is a distinct possibility that it will be.
Currently volunteers are in the process of entering the lineages on SAR applications into the website so that they can be viewed online. There are four members of the South Coast Chapter participating in this effort. At the latest tally, we have entered the data on 187 of the 363 applications for our chapter or 51.5%. If you want to join our volunteer effort please contact me and I will put you in touch with the compatriots running this project.
The Massachusetts Line – America’s Early Army
Submitted by Kevin Forrest
In the immediate aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress raised 27 regiments as a provincial army. These units, which were mostly organized by mid-May, were adopted into the first establishment of the Continental Army in June 1775. Typically, the units were referred to by the names of their colonels, and were numbered one way by the state and another by the Continental Army.
At the end of 1776 the army was again reorganized, restoring a state-based regimental numbering scheme which was retained until the end of the war. At this time Washington’s General Order formalized the uniforms of the Continental army as a Blue Coat with the facing & lining to be used to identify the State/Regional Regiments. The Massachusetts regiments were designated by white facing and lining of their coats, this applied to all regiments from the “New England” states (New Hampshire, Rhode Island & Connecticut)
1775 Birth of the Line
On April 23, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress voted to raise a volunteer force of 13,600 men, and it called upon the other New England colonies for assistance in raising an army of 30,000 men. The Massachusetts provincials were raised in the spring of 1775 and were eventually formed into 26 infantry regiments. Massachusetts also took responsibility for a 27th regiment, originally raised in New Hampshire.
Massachusetts regiments consisted of 599 officers and men in ten companies, five regiments had an additional eleventh company. The troops enlisted to serve until December 31, 1775 with the commissions of all Massachusetts officers dated May 19, 1775. While the regiments of the Line were numbered, the Massachusetts regiments were commonly identified by the name of its commanding Colonel.
On June 14, 1775, at the urging of the New England delegates to the Continental Congress, the Congress assumed responsibility for the provincial troops that were blockading Boston. This included troops from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. These troops were designated the as Continental Army. George Washington was selected as commander in chief of this force, with his command expanded to include all other troops the following day.
In an effort to create a single “Continental Army” from the separate New England armies, on August 5, 1775, General Washington ordered that a board be convened to determine the rank of the regiments at Boston. The task was completed on August 20, 1775, and the Continental Army regiments were numbered without reference to their colony of origin, resulting in thirty-nine “Regiments of Foot in the Army of the United Colonies”
1776 – Reorganization
On November 4, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that on January 1, 1776, the Continental Army, exclusive of extra “militia” regiments and artillery would consist of 27 infantry regiments with the troops enlisted to serve until December 31, 1776. The quota of regiments assigned to the states was Pennsylvania (1), New Hampshire (3), Massachusetts (16), Rhode Island (2), and Connecticut (5).
Each regiment was to consist of 728 officers and men in eight companies. The regiments were to receive numbers instead of names. For the campaign of 1776 Massachusetts provided the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th Continental Regiments. The reduction of the Massachusetts Line from 16,468 officers and men in 275 companies to 11,648 officers and men in 128 companies required a difficult reorganization.
The numbered regiments from Massachusetts were widely scattered in the campaign of 1776 and following the British evacuation of Boston in April, the 6th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 27th regiments were ordered to remain in Massachusetts, four of them occupying Boston. In July the 14th, 16th, and 27th joined the Main Army under Washington while the 6th and 18th Regiments joined the Northern Army in August. Of the eleven regiments that moved to New York City in April, the 15th, 24th, and 25th were ordered to Canada as reinforcements with the 15th rejoining the Main Army in November, serving at Trenton and Princeton. The 24th and 25th regiments also rejoined the Main Army in November, but marched directly to the army’s winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey.
1777 – Resetting the Lines
On September 16, 1776 the Continental Congress finally overcame its ideological objections to maintaining a standing army, and resolved that on January 1, 1777, the Continental Line was to consist of 88 infantry regiments, to be maintained for the duration of the war.
The Massachusetts regimental quota was reduced to 15 as the addition of regiments from outside the Northern states were now included in the Continental Army quotas.
Reorganizing Again – 1778-1779; 1781
On May 27, 1778 Congress resolved that the Main Army, the portion under Washington’s immediate command, would be reduced from 88 infantry regiments to 80, to improve tactical efficiency. Overall, the quota of regiments from the states was reduced while Massachusetts (15) was unchanged. Due to the late timing of the resolution, it wasn’t until March 9, 1779 that the reorganization would be completed.
The regiments were reduced to 582 officers and men with each regiment to consist of nine companies rather than eight. The 9th company was to be a company of light infantry, and was to be kept up to strength by drafting men from the regiments eight other companies. During the campaigning season, the light infantry companies of the regiments in a field army were to be combined into a special corps of light infantry.
Congress passed the last reorganization in October 1781 reducing the number of regiments from 80 to 50, reducing the Massachusetts quota to 10. Each regiment now would consist of 717 officers and men in 9 companies, including 1 company of light infantry. Additionally, each regiment would have a permanent recruiting party of 1 Lieutenant 1 drummer and 1 fifer. This final reorganization would last until the end of the war.
Peace and Going Home
After the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, Congress faced a financial dilemma of maintaining a standing army until a final armistice could be signed. On August 7, 1782 Congress resolved each state would reduce their lines on January 1, 1783 to not less than 500 rank and file troops.
In his General Order April 18, 1783 Washington announced the Armistice would go into effect the next day. After November 3, 1783 no troops of the Massachusetts Line remained in the field, and all troops of the Northern Army were disbanded November 5, 1783.
The last Regiment of the Continental Army in service after January 1, 1784 was under the command of Massachusetts Colonel Henry Jackson and was known as the 1st American Regiment, this regiment was formally disbanded at West Point, New York on June 2, 1784.
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- Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April 1775 to December 1783. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967 (Originally published, 1914).
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Plan of Battles of Lexington and Concord – from Boston, April 1775
From Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3764b.ar090000/