Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783
Updated March 18, 2016
Pay Roll of Capt William Johnsons Compy in the Seventh Virga Regt Commanded by Colo Danl Morgan for the month of January 1779
From the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 to its termination in 1783, several units bore the designation of the Seventh Virginia regiment. This was due to the fact that the army of the United States was reorganized several times. At each reorganization, Virginia regiments were shuffled and given different numerical designations. In the reorganization of September 1778, for example, the Eleventh Virginia regiment was re-designated the Seventh regiment. The original Seventh, on the other hand, became the Fifth regiment.
Prior to September 1778 the men of the Seventh Virginia had been designated the Eleventh Virginia. Their commander was none other than Daniel Morgan, perhaps the most famous "rifleman" of the American Revolution. Morgan and many of his men had taken part in the heroic march through present-day Maine and subsequent failed American assault on Quebec in 1775. Morgan and several of his subordinates, including Captain Charles Porterfield, the future commander of the (1779) Seventh's rifle company, were captured in that fight, and later exchanged.
After his exchange, Morgan was appointed Commander of the Eleventh Virginia. But he was soon asked by General Washington to form a special Light Infantry Corps of select riflemen. Morgan scoured the army and selected 500 of the best marksmen for his corps. Many of the men he chose, such as Captain Thomas Posey, would later serve under him in the (1779) Seventh Virginia.
Before Morgan's Corps could be utilized by Washington, however, its presence was urgently requested to help fight Burgoyne's army which was invading New York from Canada. Morgan's riflemen were seen as the perfect antidote for Burgoyne's Indian scouts. And indeed they were. But Morgan's men not only ended the activities of Burgoyne's Indian allies, they also played a pivotal role in the defeat of the British army at Saratoga. After this, they rejoined Washington's army in Pennsylvania, shortly before Valley Forge.
During the Philadelphia campaign of 1777, the men of the Eleventh Virginia were in Woodford's brigade. They fought at both Brandywine, where they barely escaped annihilation in an advanced position on the extreme right wing, and also at Germantown, where they and the rest of the Virginia the winter of 1777 - 1778, the regiment camped at Valley Forge. Morgan and his Rifle Corps, however, held advanced positions between the British and American armies, where they watched British movements.
Due to sketchy records, we do not know whether the Eleventh Virginia fought at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. We do know, however, that Morgan was again detached from the Eleventh and that his Rifle Corps harassed the British on their retreat from Philadelphia into New Jersey.
In September 1778, the Virginia Line was rearranged by reducing the fifteen regiments to eleven. The reorganization saw the Eleventh Virginia Regiment (of 1776) redesignated the Seventh Virginia. The Commander of the "new" Seventh was Daniel Morgan. For the most part, this is the Seventh Virginia we represent. At this point in the war, General Washington had finally ordered units of the Continental Line to adopt a consistent uniform. As can be seen from the photos accompanying this text, Virginia Continental Line troops dressed in blue regimentals faced with red lapels and turned-back red cuffs.
During 1778 and 1779, the Seventh Virginia remained with the main American army under George Washington in New York. Some of the members of its light infantry company probably participated in the brilliant surprise assault on the fortress at Stoney Point in July of 1779. For the most part, however, the army engaged in no large battles, as the British found it unprofitable to leave the safety of their camps.
By the end of 1779, however, the British had launched a major invasion of the southern states of South and North Carolina. Washington ordered most of the Virginia regiments, including the Seventh, south as reinforcements.
Unfortunately, these regiments were surrounded and forced to surrender at Charleston, South Carolina in May 1780.
In spite of this disaster, various members of the Seventh continued to fight. Captain Thomas Posey had received a furlough to visit his orphan children and was not with the Seventh in Charleston. He raised another battalion and commanded it at Yorktown and in the south until the end of the war. Captain Charles Porterfield resigned from the Seventh in 1779 and became a Colonel in the Virginia State Forces. In August of 1780, he lead a special detachment of riflemen as scouts before Gate's army at Camden, and was mortally wounded when the American and British armies collided the night before that battle. Another of the Seventh's company commanders, Captain Peter Bryan Bruin, was appointed to command one of the three light infantry companies formed in North Carolina by Gates after Camden. Perhaps most famous all was Dan Morgan, who joined General Nathaniel Greene's army in 1780 and engineered the brilliant American victory at Cowpens.
John Mc Mullan
Robt Mc Nelly