THE CONNECTICUT CONTINENTAL LINE
Color Guard of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
Regiments of the “Connecticut Line” – The experiences of the first two years of the war, especially the failure in Canada and the defeats in the campaign around New York in ’76, had demonstrated that the contest could not be successfully carried on with troops enlisted for short terms.
The need of a permanent, disciplined army to cope with the British “regulars” was recognized as urgent. Congress, accordingly, by resolutions of Sept. 16th, 20th, and Oct. 8th, 1776, provided for such a body. The “establishment” of the current year would disband on Dec. 31, leaving the country practically at the mercy of the enemy should they be disposed to push a vigorous winter campaign. To take the place of this out-going force it was enacted that eighty-eight infantry regiments be raised for continuous service to the end of the war unless otherwise ordered. They were proportioned among the States according to their population. Thus, Massachusetts and Virginia were to furnish each fifteen regiments, Pennsylvania twelve, New York four, Maryland and Connecticut each eight, and the rest in like ratio.
As a body they were to form a grand “Continental Line,” and would, so far, resemble the “Regiments of the Line” in the British establishment. They differed from the latter, however, in this respect, that instead of being numbered consecutively in the main line the regiments of each State formed a sub-division by themselves and were numbered from the “First” to the “Fifth”, or the “Eighth” or the “Fifteenth,” and so on, as the case might be. Each State quota thus became a “Line” in itself, which was designated by it’s State name. Hence, the “Massachusetts Line,” the “South Carolina Line,” the “Connecticut Line,” etc., – each being a distinct body, commanded by officers from its own State, and cared for by its own State, as well as by Congress.
Inspired by a common cause, and welded in homogeneous form under the leadership of Washington, it was these State “Lines,” facing the enemy as a single “Continental Line,” that were to bear the burden of the war for the next six years and bring it to a successful close.
– Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution, Adj. Gen., Hartford, 1889
Today, the Color Guard of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution portrays a “Connecticut Continental Line” unit, wearing the blue regimental coat with white facings as ordered in 1779 for New England troops. Prior to this regulation, the only Connecticut Continental Line unit to wear a blue coat faced white was the 6th Regiment. The other regiments wore as follows:
1st Regiment, Red Coat faced white;
2nd Regiment, dark brown faced white;
3rd Regiment, light brown faced red;
4th Regiment, brown faced red;
5th Regiment, blue turned up with scarlet;
7th Regiment, scarlet faced faced white;
8th Regiment, blue faced scarlet and scarlet and white.
Uniformity in regiments was more of an exception then a rule particularly in the early years of the war, and it was common to see hunting shirts and civilian clothing in the ranks. This diversity of clothing is evident in the Color Guard today.