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Contributions by Chris Milne

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A Light Company History

"The Light Company" was the original name of the organization the portrayed the a Light Infantry Company. We chose to preserve the original article, but you may substitute "The Light Infantry" in place of "The Light Company"

By Chris Milne

THE LIGHT COMPANY honors the Light Infantry by re-creating the allotment of men picked from the 2nd New Jersey Brigade for the Corp of Light Infantry in 1780. In 1780, the 2nd NJ Brigade drew 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 3 Sergeants, 20 privates, 1 fifer and 1 drummer to issue to the Corp. THE LIGHT COMPANY currently has near the exact compliment of men. Backed by supporting documentation, THE LIGHT COMPANY tries to portray the NJ Light troops as accurately as possible.

The men of THE LIGHT COMPANY are dressed in blue regimental coats with buff facings, collars and cuffs, sporting the distinctive "USA" buttons. These were issued to New Jersey troops in late 1780. The caps were, and are fashioned by the individual soldiers by cutting off the brims from their regular military cocked hats and fastening pieces of them to the front, as miters, emulating British helmets of the time. The leather hatband and hair "roach" serve both as decoration and protection from possible sword cuts. The hair roaches are cow’s tails as described in a diary of a Light Infantry soldier. Some caps are "jappanned" or lacquered for stiffness and increased protection

Light infantry were often the best trained and best equipped troops in the army.  The soldiers of THE LIGHT COMPANY handle their French Charleville muskets with a precision that we hope would have made the old drillmaster General Von Steuben, proud.  The first 3,000 Charlevilles had arrived in the spring of 1777 and the .69 caliber Model 1763 was lighter, sturdier and more accurate than the .75 caliber Brown Bess used by the British and most Americans at the time.  Non-commisioned officers were encouraged to wear a strong sword at their side, but an occasional tomehawk also appeared.  The officers of THE LIGHT COMPANY are currently working on obtaining swords matching the patterns of the swords La Fayette presented his officers.  Equipment also included the bayonet, with which the light infantry excelled, cartridge box, a haversack or "war bag" with enough provisions for several days, and a variety of water containers.  The distinctive "new-invented" combination knapsack-haversack used only by the New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylania and Virginia troops might also be seen, but light infantry probably would have left them with the regimental baggage for greater mobility when on detached service.  Extra wagons were sometimes provided for light infantry equipment that a soldier of the line would have carried himself.

The women of the army who appear with THE LIGHT COMPANY portray the soldiers' wives who followed their husbands into the field to cook, mend, nurse as support the men away from home.  Only married women and dependents were permitted with the Continental Army, and they were issued two-thirds of a man's daily ration of food.

SOURCES:
The New Jersey Soldier
Jerseymen in the American Revolution
The New Jersey Continental Line in the Indian Campaign of 1779
The New Jersey Continental Line at Yorktown
The Forgotten Victory: The battles of Springfield and Connecticut Farms
Discipline and Bayonets: The Armies and Leaders in the War of the American Revolution
The Life of Timothy Pickering
Rebels and Redcoats
From Lexington to Liberty
Victory at Yorktown
Other sources to numerous to mention

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