1st Regiment of light dragoons 5th Troop NWTA


To Arms in Defense of Liberty

 Welcome to the First Regiment of Light Dragoons, 5th Troop. We are a non-profit, educationally based, living history group devoted to the accurate portrayal of the congressional cavalry troops  during the American War of Independence.  Based in the Chicago area, we have members from Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.  The unit's purpose is to present to the public a re-creation of the soldiers and civilians associated with the first dragoons during the Summer of 1777, with an emphasis on research, education, authenticity, fellowship and family. The First Regiment is a member of an umbrella organization, The North West Territory Alliance (NWTA), which is a non-profit educational organization that studies and recreates the culture, lifestyle, and arts during  the time of the American Revolution, 1775-1783. The First Dragoons welcome participation by singles, couples and families. 


On June 13, 1776, the Convention of Delegates appointed 

Theodoric Bland, captain of the First Troop of Horse;
Benjamin Temple captain of the Second Troop of Horse;
John Jameson captain of the Third Troop of Horse;
Llewellyn Jones captain of the Fourth Troop of Horse; 

Henry Lee, captain of the Fifth Troop of Horse;
John Nelson captain of the Sixth Troop of Horse.

In June 1776 Captain Bland is promoted to Colonel of the Light Dragoons and remains until ill health forces him to retire in 1779.

The regiment saw action at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Guilford Courthouse. 

At Brandywine, Bland's report on General Howe's flanking maneuver allows Washington enough time to react.

After Monmouth in 1778 dragoons under Maj Talmadge are used to track and harass the British movements.

Col Theodoric Bland's Papers https://archive.org/details/blandpapersbein00campgoog 


Each Dragoon with a helmet of leather with white horse-hair crest... blue coats faced with red, with gilt or yellow-metal buttons; red waistcoats with gilt buttons; black belts, black stocks, leather breeches, and black top boots. Lt. Lefferts. 

The Uniform varied throughout the war with some troops uniformed in regimental coats of brown faced green wool and some later issued metal helmets. American cavalry forces went through many reorganizations under Pulaski. The 5th Troop became Lee's Legion. Other troops were combined due to heavy losses fighting the British.  

On April 28, 1778, the Virginia Commissary of Stores was instructed to "furnish those Gentlemen, of the City of Williamsburg who have engaged to serve as Volunteer Cavalry agreeable to the recommendation of Congress, with such necessary Cloathing as they may want not exceeding Cloth sufficient to make a Horsemans Cloak, Coat & Waistcoat; Linen for two Shirts and two pair of Stockings for each Voluntier they paying for the same."


July 5, 1776, The Virginia Gazette "WANTED for the first troop of HORSE, about 30 geldings from 14 hands and a half to 15 hands high, and from 4 to 6 years old, well formed and active. Bays will be most suitable, or the colours nearest to bay. Apply to the subscriber at the rendezvous at Blandford, in Prince George county; to lieutenant Call, near Petersburg; or to cornet Henry in Hanover.


Swords: While Potter swords from New York were favored (he was a loyalist cuteler) many types of swords were used. Rapahannock Forge swords were procured during the last years of the war.

Pistols: Each trooper carried 1-2 pistols as a secondary weapon in fur covered holster mounted on the front of the saddle.

Carbines were short muskets which became available later in the war.

Horse Tack: Simple leather tack of was produced in the colonies with saddlers being mentioned in Maryland and Virginia


Saddles: Captain Lee reports purchasing saddles in Charleston at the head of the Elk. English dragoons are using Elliot Light Dragoon Saddles during the war. Towards the end of the war French cavalry saddles are shipped to the states.

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HIA Foundation, Inc