Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.

History

The regiment came into existence on October 12, 1775 as the “1st Pennsylvania Battalion” for service with the Continental Army. Its first commander was Colonel John Bull. When he got into trouble because of illegal financial transactions and “other degrading conduct", he was replaced by Colonel John Phillip De Haas in January 1776. Other commanders followed in the course of the years. In October 1776 the battalion was transformed into the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line –very much to the confusion of later collectors!

During the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops in 1781 the regiment at first refused to take part until being forced to join at bayonet points. After the end of the mutiny the Pennsylvania Line was completely reconstructed. There were now six regiments, among them again a 2nd Regiment. The men of the former 2nd were redistributed among the other units.

The regiment saw action during the ill-fated invasion of Canada and took part in the battles of Brooklyn, Valcour Island, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Springfield and Stony Point. The post-mutiny renewed 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment took part in the siege of Yorktown. Members of the original regiment were among the casualties at Yorktown, serving in other Pennsylvania regiments.

Uniform

1775-1776 the dress uniform of the 1st Pennsylvania Battalion consisted of a brown coat faced buff, a white flannel waistcoat, buff breeches, white yarn stockings with black garters, and black half-gaiters. The buttons were of pewter. Some of the companies had dress uniforms of brown faced with green, or blue faced with white or red, or whatever uniform coats they could procure. Later they wore hunting shirts and long overalls of linen or deerskin for service. So the regiment may have looked rather the opposite of “uniform”.

In 1777 the recognized uniform consisted of "a regimental brown coat faced with green...button-holes bound with red" (Maryland Journal 18 February 1777). In 1779 they were all dressed in blue faced with red, as Washington had ordered for the regiments of the Pennsylvania Line.

I furnished my 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment with the exceptional 1777 uniform, as this differentiated it nicely from my other regiments.

Colours /Flag

The colours of the regiment proved a puzzle. When scanning the internet I came across a note saying that a replica of the flag was at the Fraunces Tavern Museum in new York City. At their website I only found a rather poor photograph that only permitted a glimpse of it. But I could make out that it was white and had an indefinable emblem on it. Continuing with my web research I finally came across a Danish wargamers’ website (www.krigsspil.dk) where I found a nice picture of my regimental flag. Long live the Internet! And our Danish colleagues.

So my regiment carries a white flag with a rattlesnake symbol and a blue banner with the wide-spread motto "Don't tread on me" in yellow beneath. I “borrowed” it from the internet, but don’t ask me where. My printer did the rest, after I had sized and altered the thing to my needs. Looks very Pennsylvanian, indeed.

Strength

In the beginning the regiment consisted of eight companies, in 1778 there were 9 of them. So I composed my unit of altogether 25 figures, colonel inclusive.

The rank and file are a mixture of Foundry “Continental Infantry”, various Dixon types, and some whose origin I don’t remember. The command figures are again from Foundry, and Colonel De Haas is represented by Front Rank “AWC57 Mounted Colonel” (with appropriate standing horse). It has become a stately unit, I think, with its colonel on horseback, three officers, a standard bearer, drummer and fifer, and a corporal and a sergeant. The pride of war-god Fridericus.


Isn’t it a good thing that battle casualties need not be buried or sent back to their homes with missing arms or legs, but will resurrect from their boxes, un- or just slightly harmed next time to execute the will of the war-gods?