Berne Military

Organization and Structure of the Continental line (Infantry)

The exact structure changed a number of times during the revolution (mainly in regimental staff positions, number of companies and enlisted numbers). The speed of implementing the reorganizations varied, so that inevitably similar units would have slightly different compositions. The NY militia probably adopted a similar structure, though it was likely resisted when it cut across lines already established with other units.

Commissioned Officer ranks:

Major General, commanded a Division consisting of two Brigades (in practice the number varied, with probably 2-5 bde's in a Division depending on it's mission)
Brigadier General, commanded a Brigade, consisting of six Regiments or Battalions
Colonel, commanded a Battalion or Regiment consisting of a headquarters and eight to ten companies.
Lieutenant Colonel (Regimental staff, or a commander of a Regiment)
Major (Regimental staff)
Captain, commanded a Company (has could a Regimental field officer)
1st Lieutenant (in absence of a Captain would command the company, "Captain-Lieutenant")
2nd Lieutenant (0-1, authorization varied)
Ensign (possibly filling a Lieutenants position)

Enlisted ranks:

Sergeant Major (1 at Regiment)
First Sergeant (1 at company--created in 1781)
Sergeants (3-4 at a company)
Corporals (3-4 at a company)
Private (the number varied over the years with 50 to 76 authorized per company)


Regimental staff (varied with different reorganizations), one:

Adjutant (at times filled by a company Lieutenant)
Quartermaster (at times filled by a company Lieutenant)
Quartermaster Sergeant
Paymaster (at times filled by a company Lieutenant)
Surgeon's mate
Chaplin (one per Brigade, later one per Regiment)
Drum Major
Fife Major


Congress and Washington established the basic organization for the Continental line in Sep 1775 with an Infantry Regiment consisting of 728 men. A full strength company would have 95 soldiers comprised of 4 squads.

In Sep 1776, General grade officers were appointed by the Continental Congress for the line, with all other officers appointed by the colonies.

28 May 1777, a new Table of Organization was created for the Continental line, replacing a number of company commanders (Captains) with field grade officers from the regiment. The companies also lost one Lieutenant position. In the absence of the field grade officer the company could be commanded by a Captain-Lieutenant.

1 Jan 1781, another Table of Organization was implemented returning command of most companies to Captains.

Sergeant Majors, Quarter Master Sergeants, Drum Majors and Fife Majors were all appointed by the Regimental commander. Sergeants and Corporals were appointed by company commanders.

Wright, Robert K. Jr. "The Continental Army," Center of Military History, United States Army; GPO Wash DC, 1983.

Sullivan, James and Alexander C. Flick, eds., "Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence, 1775-1778", 2 vols., Albany: University of the State of New York, 1923-25.