Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Hazen's Regiment (1776-1783)

The regiment was named after its commander, Brigadier General Moses Hazen (1733 –1803). It was also known as Congress’s Own or 2nd Canadian Regiment, because it was authorized by Congress, and not by one of the colonies, in January 1776, and raised in the province of Quebec. So originally it consisted mostly of Franco-Canadians. Later the cultural differences between the original Quebec enlistees and new recruits from the Thirteen Colonies, mainly Pennsylvanians, became a source of trouble within the regiment, and Hazen kept the French speaking soldiers in separate companies.

The regiment was to have an authorized maximum strength of 1,000 men, and was to consist of four battalions of five companies each. It was to be the only such over-sized regiment in the Continental Army. But it never reached that strength, starting with 250 men (1st April 1776), and varying between 200 (August - October 1781) and 720 (Spring 1778).

The regiment or parts of it saw action in the Battle of Staten Island (22nd August 1777), the Battle of Brandywine (11th September 1777), the Battle of Germantown (4th October 1777), and the Siege of Yorktown (September – October 1781). There the regiment took part in the decisive storming of redoubts 9 and 10. According to Lafayette's own account the Americans storming Redoubt 10 did not fire a gun, but used the bayonet. The brigades of light infantry under Generals Peter Muhlenberg and Hazen "advanced with perfect discipline and wonderful steadiness. The battalion of Colonel Vose deployed on the left. The remainder of the division and the rear-guard successively took their positions, under the fire of the enemy, without replying, in perfect order and silence." Obviously Hazen’s soldiers were a crack unit.

The uniform coat was brown faced with white until 1779, and after that the facings were changed to red. The buttons were silver (pewter). Drummers wore reversed colours, i.e. white uniform coats with brown facings, as was the custom for drums and fifes of that period. The small clothes were white. However worn-out breeches or coats were necessarily replaced by other garments, although this regiment was usually more fully and well equipped than other Continental units.

The battalion companies wore black cocked-up felt hats trimmed with white braid. The light infantry company of the regiment was given black leather skull caps with peaked front shields decorated with the painted white cipher "COR" and the golden motto "Pro Aris et Focis" (for the house altars and hearths) over them. The Regimental Cipher "COR" and the motto also appeared on the drum shell (in a red field) and on the canteens.

The regimental colours were white, with the outlined black cipher “COR” in the centre, the word “Liberty” in outlined black letters above, and a red banner with the words “2nd Canadian” in white letters below. My flag is hand-painted.

The figures for my regiment are a mixture of Redoubt and Dixon miniatures with a slightly converted light infantry company; and my Colonel Hazen (in case you don’t recognize it) is a converted SYW Prussian dragoon officer by Front Rank. Though most of the figures are a bit dwarfy in appearance they match my idea of this regiment of disciplined and courageous soldiers well. I chose the uniform of 1776-79 because red facings would have been too similar to my 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.

The lead regiment consists of 24 figures which are separately based. As the bases have got some magnetic tape underneath the troop may be arranged on a piece of iron sheet-metal as needed. Only for Yorktown the necessary 10 figures (ratio 1:20) ought to have red facings. Perhaps I will paint an extra 10 figures for that, one day.


Harlentropolis said...

Nice work! My ancestor fought in this regiment and its nice to see them done well.

Anonymous said...

My ancestor also fought in this regiment. Thank you for the information you presented and for the pictures of your miniature regiment. You are very gifted. Would please tell me the source of your information so I can document it in my family records?