June 14,1775 is the date when Congress adopted "the American continental army" after reaching a consensus position in The Committee of the Whole. This procedure and the desire for secrecy account for the sparseness of the official journal entries for the day. The record indicates only that Congress undertook to raise ten companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form for them, and appointed a committee to draft rules and regulations for the government of the army. The delegates' correspondence, diaries, and subsequent actions make it clear that they really did much more. They also accepted responsibility for the existing New England troops and forces requested for the defense of the various points in New York. The former were believed to total 10,000 men; the latter, both New Yorkers and Connecticut men, another 5,000.
The "expert riflemen" authorized on 14 June were the first units raised directly as Continentals. Congress intended to have the ten companies serve as a light infantry force for the Boston siege. At the same time it symbolically extended military participation beyond New England by allocating 6 of the companies to Pennsylvania, 2 to Maryland, and 2 to Virginia. Each company would have a captain, 3 lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, a drummer (or horn player), and 68 privates. The enlistment period was set at one year, the norm for the earlier Provincials, a period that would expire on 1 July 1776.
Responsibility for recruiting the companies was given to the three colonies' delegates, who in turn relied on the county committees of those areas noted for skilled marksmen. The response in Pennsylvania's western and northern frontier counties was so great that on 22 June the colony's quota was increased from six to eight companies, organized as a regiment. On 25 June the Pennsylvania delegates, with authority from the Pennsylvania Assembly, appointed field officers for the regiment. Since there was no staff organization, company officers and volunteers performed the necessary duties. On 11 July delegate George Read secured the adoption of a ninth company that his wife's nephew had organized in Lancaster County. In Virginia Daniel Morgan raised one company in Frederick County, and Hugh Stephenson raised another in Berkeley County. Michael Cresap's and Thomas Price's Maryland companies were both from Frederick County. All thirteen companies were organized during late June and early July. They then raced to Boston, where their frontier attitudes created disciplinary problems.
The inclusion of troops from outside New England gave a continental flavor to the army at Boston. A desire to broaden the base of support for the war also led John Adams to work for the appointment of a southerner as the commander of all the continental forces, raised, or to be raised, for the defense of American liberty. On 15 June Congress unanimously chose George Washington. Washington had been active in the military planning committees of Congress and by late May had taken to wearing his old uniform. His colleagues believed that his modesty and competence qualified him to adjust to the "Temper & Genius" of the New England troops. Washington was given the rank of General and Commander in Chief.
The Continental Army by Robert Wright
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