The Virginia Line of Arizona
Along with our Patriot Militia and other Friends & Allies of George
Washington's Army 1775-1783
Welcome to the home page of George Washington's
Army. We are the Revolutionary War era living history facet of
We Make History representing the
patriot cause and together with our other "half", the
Royal Welch Fusiliers of
the British Army, we are the only
War reenacting group active in Arizona and the Southwestern United States. Our purpose is to utilize
living history or "historical reenacting" as an educational tool to increase awareness and appreciation
of our American Heritage of the era of the Founding Fathers. Along these lines
we serve public schools, private schools, homeschool organizations and
families of all ages in bringing history to life in a way that is engaging,
creative, interactive, inspirational and memorable. At our 18th century
educational events such as the
Festival and American
Liberty Festival, young people and indeed people of all ages have the
opportunity for diverse and unique learning experiences such as interacting
with historic characters, learning of historic lifestyles, occupations,
beliefs and practices, watching a skirmish, being taught military drill or
perhaps even having the opportunity to dress historically, carry a flag or
engage in 18th century arts, crafts or dance. We are
family friendly and
committed to a wholesome and positive presentation with not only
historic soldiers of the American Revolution but many
roles for ladies, children and civilian men as well. Activities we take part in include the annual
American Heritage Festival,
18th century social gatherings and a variety of educational programs. Many of
in "first person" or "in character" portrayals. On the
battlefield we proudly work together with friends representing the forces of
Spain to provide an excellent, multi-faceted educational program
centered on the American Revolution that is suitable for all ages.
George Washington's Army has four facets which
work together as per the Revolutionary War. Each of these facets includes not
only soldiers but appropriate civilian involvement as well.
THE VIRGINIA LINE of THE
Regular United States Infantry were known as
"Continentals" or the "Continental Line." Contrary to common perception the
American Revolution was not ultimately won merely by brave but undisciplined
volunteers. To win the war it was necessary to train an army with the
requisite discipline to go "toe to toe" with the British in open battle - thus
George Washington's Continental Line. We do have specific uniform standards
for this portrayal. (See below.)
MILITIA "The Patriot Volunteers"
The Patriot Volunteers are Arizona's
Revolutionary War militia company. The majority of those who fought for the patriot cause during the
Revolutionary War were civilian men, sometimes with minimal or no training who
turned out when needed, usually to defend their home area. These men were from
every type of occupation, social level and background imaginable. Those
portraying gentlemen, shopkeepers, mechanics, ministers, merchants, traders,
peddlers, sailors, fishermen, trappers and frontier settlers are all welcome
in the militia. Those portraying farmers are especially welcome as this class
made up the majority of Americans at the time. Our Patriot Volunteers
primarily represent militia of the American Revolution but are also able (with
small adjustments) to portray the French & Indian War and other aspects of the
These were men from the western areas of
Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and even the regions that would
become Tennessee and Kentucky. (Those from the area that is now eastern
Tennessee were known as "Over the Mountain Men.") They were expert with the rifle, a weapon
virtually unused in the more settled areas. In military terms they had unique
strengths and vulnerabilities which meant that their role on a tactical level
was different from that of the Continental Line or the militia.
There are Indian allies among them.
Included here are soldiers and advisors from among
America's allies, particularly
France but also including
Spain (which sent
troops to fight in Florida and Louisiana) and volunteers from other European
nations as well.
As all of the above...
We proudly participate in the
American Heritage Festival
being held each November in Queen Creek,
Arizona. For this event we currently field soldiers of the Continental Line, an ad hoc Revolutionary
War patriot militia unit, a company of riflemen,
General George Washington and a French officer sent over as an advisor
courtesy of Benjamin Franklin and our ally King Louis
XVI. We also field the Royal
Welch Fusiliers representing the forces of Great Britain. We are active in The Southwest and have traveled to provide educational
opportunities as far distant as the East Coast as well. We enjoy taking
part in numerous civilian oriented activities such as
historic balls, school
& civic presentations and period style social events.
are actively seeking new recruits for our
Revolutionary War era
presentations for our American
American Liberty Festival
and other upcoming events as well.
Wanted: Men who will stand for
freedom as Patriot Militia, Frontier Riflemen, European allies,
or Regular United States Line Infantry of George Washington's Continental
Army. Each of these components were involved together in many Revolutionary
Contact us to volunteer!
The "Patriot Volunteers" Militia
By the outbreak of the American Revolution,
militia groups had been utilized in some of the colonies for 150 years and
more. Thus, some militia groups had long traditions while others had been
formed shortly before or at various points during the war. Some militia
groups were well trained and had deep roots in their local communities.
Others (the majority) had some basic degree of training. Still others were
ad hoc groups formed in time of emergency with little or no training.
There were militia groups that were well
uniformed and well armed. These tended to be groups with long histories,
generous patrons and /or affluent communities. Many other militia groups
were partly uniformed or at least attempted certain guidelines such as
wearing coats or hunting frocks of the same colour. Still others had no
formal or regulated commonality in dress.
It would have been common in the early part of
the war for militia to be mostly in civilian clothing such as was the case
with most of the famous minutemen companies of Massachusetts. In
settled areas citizens in the militia would have mostly worn frock coats of
wool or linen. In the backcountry linen hunting shirts were often preferred,
a style which was encouraged by George Washington and which caught on even
with some militia from settled areas and to a degree with regulars as well.
As the years went by it would not have been uncommon to see soldiers
discharged from the Continental army turning out with the militia and still
wearing their regular uniforms. By the middle years of the war it would not
have been uncommon to see militia with a mix of civilian coats, hunting
frocks and a few men in regular military uniforms as well.
Most militia were armed with whatever muskets
or fowling pieces they brought from home. Some would have military muskets
such as the Brown Bess. Rifles would have been rare in the settled eastern
areas but common in the backcountry.
The performance of militia was mixed. At
Concord, Bunker Hill and Cowpens (to name just three examples) they fought
very well. In some other actions they were unreliable and performed poorly.
Both sides employed militia though far more served on the Patriot side. The
Battle of King's Mountain was fought entirely by by Patriot militia vs.
Loyalist militia as were many smaller actions. As many of our militia dress as civilians we are able to divide into
Patriots and Loyalists when the occasion may call for it.
We are recruiting!
Though we have those who portray gentlemen, we are looking primarily for those who will
shoulder muskets as "middle class" farmers, townsmen, mechanics, tradesmen,
etc. and thus the following clothing list. It emphasizes versatility,
utility and commonality.
Coat: This may
have a collar or be collarless. A civilian style common to the 1750s to 1760s
would be suitable for an older man though 1770s styles are preferred. Current
styles of the 1770s should always be the choice for younger men. The cloth should be wool or
linen and of a "basic" color such as blue, brown, grey, green or black. The buttons should
be self-fabric covered or pewter or possibly even brass or copper. Despite what you might have seen in movies,
most men didn't typically go about in public without a coat. (Alternative to a
Coat: Period style jacket aka sleeved weskit)
Waistcoat (Weskit): For the 1750s & '60s this may go as low as
nearly the knee. During the 1770s it
became fashionable as high as nearly the natural waist. A middle class person who
isn't necessarily up with the very latest cuts from Paris could get by for
both Rev. War and F&I War with one coming perhaps to the middle or upper thigh.
Alternately, have two waistcoats of different lengths - one for each time
and wool are excellent choices for a typical civilian miltiaman. Most should
stay away from silks. Pewter or fabric
covered would be good choices for buttons.
Linen Frock: This is an alternative to a
coat and waistcoat. Many Virginia militia units wore a caped frock of purple
linen. Other militia groups wore green. Brown, blue and natural linen colour
were used as well.
Breeches: For the Revolutionary
War drop-front is by far the more common style though fly-front is still
occasionally used. For
F&I War fly front is by far more common though the drop-front style is proven
to date to the early 1750s. Breeches should be of wool, heavy linen, heavy
cotton or a linen/cotton blend. Leather breeches are also acceptable and were
quite common at the time. Choose white or basic,
muted colors such as brown, tan, black, dark blue, forest green, grey, etc. Buttons may be pewter or
fabric covered. (Alternative: Period style trousers or sailor slops if
appropriate to your character.)
(Note: For civilian suits the coat, waistcoat and
breeches may all be of the same cloth ... or the coat and breeches may match
with the waistcoat contrasting ... or the waistcoat and breeches may be of the
same cloth with the coat contrasting. All three combinations are known to have
Shirt: Ideally, this should
be linen (though we will permit cotton) and for most it should be without ruffles. It may have a common style shirt
collar or a band collar. White, "natural," brown and blue are good choices.
Neck Stock or Neck Cloth: The best choices would be white
or black linen. Cotton and silk are also acceptable.
may be cotton or wool of any basic color.
Shoes: A simple
18th century style civilian shoe with plain pewter or brass buckles is best.
"Hi-Lo" boots made by Fugawee work too. Black is the preferred
roundhats with one side cocked up and toucques (knit caps, Liberty caps,
Monmouth Caps) are all acceptable. Militia hats may be
untrimmed or have plain, simple trim - commonly of black or white.
worn, these should be of a period style.
belts with period style "double D" buckles may be used.
Clothing Patterns: Avoid "commercial" patterns from the lines found in fabric stores. They may be
fine for school plays but are not suitable for reenacting. If you need
recommendations as to historic reproduction patterns or where you may have
clothing made for you please email us. Don't waste your money. Do your
research and commit to a quality result.
Wigs: The majority
of militia would not have worn wigs but there may be a few.
Facial Hair: 18th
century men did not wear beards, goatees, soul patches or long sideburns.
(Yes, some German troops did sport waxed moustaches and Edward Teach, the
infamous pirate wore a trademark black beard early in the century - but
these are unusual exceptions which had purpose in what they did.) Whatever
you may have seen in movies - or even on reenactors - men simply didn't wear
beards during this era. (Yes, we are aware that there is some facial hair pictured
on this very page. Authenticity is a "work in progress" for us all. ;o)
Accessories: Haversacks, pouches, powderhorns, etc. were all commonly used. Make sure they
are of period materials and design.
could be a British "Brown Bess" musket, a French "Charleville" musket, an older military model or
a civilian article such as a fowling piece.
All would be flintlocks. Quality reproductions of the Brown Bess and Charleville are available
from certain suppliers along with the necessary
accoutrements. A period style bayonet is optional for militia. The typical militia member
would not carry a sword or pistols though there may be a few. Ditto for
Our company of Riflemen portray frontiersmen (“longhunters” or "over the
mountain men") who fought in an organized manner for American
Independence, generally as marksmen who were able to move quickly and harass
the enemy from a distance. They dressed in a variety of attire appropriate to a
setting of the 1770s-'80s though the well known linen frock and hunting shirt
seem to have been very common. Our riflemen serve primarily as scouts and skirmishers.
There could possibly be Indians serving among them as well.
The Uniforms of the United States Continental Line Infantry
American uniforms during the War for Independence covered a great deal of
territory in terms of colors and combinations as well as details. As early as
1775 the Continental Congress made an attempt at a degree of uniformity with
the choice of brown coats with facing colors to vary by regiment.
Lacking supplies and cohesion and with many regiments already outfitted as
they pleased, this directive never seems to have made much progress. After
all, very early in the war the majority of officers had already shown a
proclivity toward blue coats, an attraction shared by a large number of the
men as well, and it appears that blue had already become the predominant colour.
Washington personally favoured a frontier style uniform of hunting frock and
leggings but again a combination of lack of supply and other interests made
for little progress.
But in 1779 General
George Washington, as Commander in Chief
and with the permission of Congress, issued definitive orders
regarding the regulation of army uniforms.
Regarding infantry, dark blue regimental coats of wool lined with white linen
became standard. This reflected a trend that had already become somewhat
evident. Buttons would be of pewter. The color of the facings would be
determined by region. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and
Connecticut regiments would have white facings. New York and New Jersey would
have buff facings. Regiments from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and
Pennsylvania would have red facings. North Carolina, South Carolina, and
Georgia would have blue facings and buttonholes edged with narrow white tape.
The small clothes (drop-front breeches and waistcoats) were of white linen or
white wool. Though Washington came to favor the use of “overalls” (not to be
confused with the modern article) and some regiments and individuals had them, it is apparent that
most soldiers served in breeches and stockings though some of these also had
black linen half-gaiters to protect the lower leg. Washington’s Life Guards
(who were undoubtedly among the best equipped soldiers in the army) are
described near the end of the war as wearing breeches, stockings
and half-gaiters – not overalls.
Most regiments wore hats which were of the military cocked tricorn variety,
black with white trim being most common for Continental infantry, along with a
black cockade (before the French alliance) and a black and white “alliance” cockade
after France entered the war.
It is fair to say that not all regiments or all soldiers in all regiments were
all outfitted as per official regulations. Some regiments probably never
complied and many were likely in partial compliance. However, a very good degree of
progress seems to have been made as per Washington's orders, helped along by
improved local production and transport as well as large shipments of
uniforms sent from France.
Several researchers (including Charles Lefferts) have concluded that by far
the most popular and representative of all the American uniforms was that
which was “official” to the middle states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland
and Delaware. This blue regimental coat with red facings seems to have been used far
beyond just this region and was enjoying popularity even before the official orders
of 1779. After all, this color combination had been common among colonial
units earlier in the 18th century. During the Revolutionary War the
blue regimental coat with red facings made perhaps its first appearance in 1775 with the
Wethersfield militia company of Connecticut. They were the only American unit
to arrive in uniform for the Battle of Bunker Hill. Certain groups of Virginia
militia seem to have used this colour combination as early as 1775 as well.
The blue coat with white facings of the New England regiments was also common
while the “official” uniforms of the other regions seem to have been less
Uniformity was always a goal though even by the end of the war it had yet to
be fully realized. Some regiments went through a number of incarnations and
uniform changes. Even a unit as famous and well equipped as Washington’s Life
Guards seems to have gone through a uniform history that leaves the researcher
wondering. Washington’s original commissary request for this unit was blue
coats with buff facings (as per his own uniform and that of the Fairfax County
Virginia militia) and white small clothes. However, the
unit seems to have been initially provided with red waistcoats (not white)
from a captured British supply ship. These
troops were also initially given British style dragoon hats (also said to have been
captured from the British by a privateer) but later are apparently wearing the cocked hats
standard to the army. Very late in the war Washington’s Lifeguards are described
by a witness as
wearing blue coats with white facings. Perhaps these were New England men who
had not been reissued new uniforms (though this would seem unlikely as the
Life Guards was an elite unit and Washington was particular regarding their
appearance) or perhaps the uniform of the Life Guards had changed – as was common
with many regiments throughout the war. As the records of the Life Guards
were destroyed in a fire we are left to speculate.
Was the "Betsy Ross" style flag used in
battle during the American Revolution? Quite possibly!
Charles Wilson Peale was
one of the preeminent artists of colonial and revolutionary America. He
painted many of the founding fathers and actually painted George Washington
seven times. Peale's portrait of Washington called
Washington at Princeton
is regarded as one of the most accurate physical likenesses of Washington.
The painting depicts Washington after the Battle of Princeton, a battle at
which Peale was personally present, fighting in the front line at the climax
of the battle. The painting was made in 1778 and very clearly in the
background is a flag with the stars placed in a circle, as per the Betsy
Ross Flag. The battle took place on January 3, 1777, six months before the
Flag Resolution was passed by the Continental Congress which stipulated a
thirteen star design. However, numerous persons (including Betsy Ross)
indicated that 13 star designs had become common even before being made
official by Congress. Scholars point out many reasons that the painting can
be trusted. Peale was obviously familiar with the scene since he was there
personally and fought in the battle. He is also known to have been
meticulous in researching the settings for his paintings. He examined the
actual Hessian flags depicted at General Washington's feet so he could paint
them accurately. The flags had been captured and were still in the
possession of the Americans. He returned to the battlefield of Princeton to
examine the local landscape for the painting. His known adherence to
historical detail makes it seem likely that this was the actual flag flown
at the battle. Another very similar portrait of Washington called
George Washington at the Battle of Princeton
was commissioned by Princeton University in 1784, again to be painted by
Peale. Washington sat again for Peale's portrait and Peale again included
the Stars and Stripes with 13 stars in a circle. Eyewitnesses also describe
a stars and stripes flag in use at the Siege of Fort Stanwix in August of
1777 and Alfred B. Street
described the stars laid out in a circle on an American flag at the
surrender of General Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in October, 1777.
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