Connecticut Regiments, 1775
Organizations. -- The voluntary mustering in and Alarm of April 19th was followed immediately by the first authorized call for troops. On the 20th, upon the receipt of the Lexington news, Gov. Trumbull summoned the General Assembly to a special session at Hartford to convence the following Wednesday, April 26th. Publishing the call on his own views of the emergency he also received urgent appeals from the Massachusetts authorities for aid and support. Under date of April 20th the Committee of Safety at Cambridge wrote to him as follows: "As the troops have now commenced hostilities, we think it our duty to exert our utmost strength to save our country from absolute slavery. We pray your Honours would afford us all the assistance in your power, and shall be glad that our brethren who come to our aid may be supplied with military stores and provisions, as we have none of either more than is absolutely necessary for ourselves." Again on April 26th they wrote: "The distressed situation in which we are, and the danger to which the liberties of all America, and especially the New England Colonies are exposed, will be the best apology for the importunate application to you for immediate assistance. We pray as you regard the safety of your country, that as large a number of troops as you can spare may immediately march forward."
The Assembly met on the date indicated and held a ten days' session, adjourning Saturday noon, May 6th. While preparing for resistance it refrained from aggressive declarations. It recognized the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord as "Sundry acts of hostility and violence committed in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, by which many lives have been lost" and through a committee of two of its members, as bearers of a letter from the Governor, requested General Gage at Boston to explain his military preparations and late incursion. Its attitude is represented in these expressions in the Governor's letter: "The people of this Colony, you may rely upon it, abhor the idea of taking up arms against the troops of their sovereign and dread nothing so much as the horrors of a civil war. But, Sir, at the same time we beg leave to assure your Excellency, that as they apprehend themselves justified by the principle of self-defence, they are most firmly resolved to defend their rights and privileges to the last extremity; nor will they be restrained from giving aid to their brethren if any unjustifiable attack is made upon them."
The leading measure of the session was An Act for assembling, equipping, etc., a Number of the Inhabitants of this Colony for the Special Defence and Safety thereof. It provided that one fourth part of the Colony militia should be forthwith enlisted, accoutred, and assembled, to be led and conducted as the General Assembly should order. This apportionment represented about six thousand men, who were to be distributed in six regiments of tren companies each, with a full complement of field, staff and line officers. The entire body was to be commanded by one major-general and two brigadier-generals, each of whom was also to take compound of a regiment as colonel. Arms, equipments, pay, billeting, and bounty money were provided and "beating order" delivered to the officers to recruit their companies by voluntary enlistment. The term of service was not to exceed seven months.
At the third special session of the Assembly, convened July 1, 1775, two more regiments, somewhat smaller, were ordered, making eight in all, consisting of about seven thousand four hundred men. This included the entire number of troops called by authority of the Colony, for service which took them beyond its limits, in the year 1775. The officers were all appointed by the Assembly.
As Continental Troops. -- Accepting war as inevitable the Continental Congress at Philadelphia proceeded, as stated on page 34, to organize a Continental Army. The troops which had hurriedly gathered around Boston, including regiments from Massachusetts. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and two the Connecticut regiments referred to above, were already in the field as good material for the nucleus of such an army. Washington arrived in camp at Cambridge on July 3d, and the Colony troops having accepted his leadership and the regulations of Congress, the entire force was placed upon Continental establishment. This new relation was officially announced by Washington in General Order dated "Head Quarters, Cambridge, July 4, 1775," as follows:
The Continental Congress having now taken all the Troops of the Several Colonies, which have been raised, or which ---- hereafter raised for the support and defence of the Liberties of America into their Pay and Service; They are now the Troops of the United States Provinces of North America; and it is to be hoped that all Distinctions of Colonies will be laid aside; so that one and the ---- spirit may animate the whole, and the only contest be, who shall on this great and trying occasion, the most essential Service as the great and common cause in which we are all engaged.
Service. -- Of the eight Connecticut regiments organized as stated, five were ordered at different times during the summer to the Boston camps under Washington and three to the Northern Department under Schuyler. The five were those of Generals Spencer and Putnam and Colonels Parsons, Charles Webb and Huntington. With them also were four companies of the regiments under Schuyler, indicated in the rolls. These troops were engaged with the army in general in throwing up works around Boston and maintaining the siege of the place. Some disatisfaction occurred among the men and many returned home just before the expiration of their term of service. Their excuses were those of men who had enlisted provisionally and as yet had not learned the true meaning of military discipline. Desertion they disclaimed. The trouble proved to be temporary, as the regiments, upon the enlistment of troops in the next year, were recruited to the average strength.
The three regiments for the Northern Department were those of General Wooster and Colonel Hinman and Waterbury with one company of Colonel Parson' regiment. They took part in the operations under Schuyler and Montgomery looking to the secure possession of Lakes George and Champlain and the invasion of Canada. Much sickness prevailed among the men. The records show that these regiment at first declined to be mustered as Continental, the men preferring to remain during their term, which expired December 10, on the Colony establishment; but the matter coming before the Legislature at its October season, it resolved that all the Connecticut troops "then employed against the ministerial troops in Canada, shall be suject to the rules, orders, regulations and discipline of the Congress of the twelve United Colonies during the time of their enlistment." They thus became where they had been considered in the field -- Continental regiments.
Bunker Hill and Quebec. -- In a note appended to General Putnam's or the Third Regiment, some statements appear respecting the Connecticut detachment at Bunker Hill at the close of the record for 1775 (following Huntington's regiment) the record of Connecticut men in the Quebec Expedition is given.
The list of Staff Officers and rosters of the regiments for 1775, compiled from the records, State Library, Rev. War, Vols. II and III, and other original sources, are as follows: See General and Staff Officers from Connecticut, 1775.