The 5th New York Regiment of the Continental Line
Preliminary Report of Unit Documentation
Welcome to the 5th New York Regiment history page! Here you can learn about our colorful past as well as the rebirth of the regiment. Below is our official history as created by unit historian and 5th NY Private, Rich M.
Our unit will portray the 5th New York Regiment of the Continental Line during the period 1776 to 1777. This is a preliminary report of findings based on research to date. The report will be used to inform the unit members of our findings and to comply with BAR documentation requirements.
Brief Regimental History
The regiment originally began in June 1776 when the Continental Congress promoted Major Lewis Dubois of Nicholson’s Regiment to colonel with instructions to raise a regiment of eight companies in New York. A dispute between the New York Provincial and the Continental Congress over who had authority to promote New York officers delayed the official authorization of the regiment until November 21, 1776. The men were mainly raised in Orange and Ulster counties “for the war”. The regiment included many veterans of General Richard Montgomery’s invasion of Canada. The regiment garrisoned Fort Montgomery in the Hudson Highlands early in 1777. The British killed or captured 98 out of 312 present on October 6, 1777 when they stormed Forts Montgomery and Clinton. Together with about 300 ulster and orange county militia, the 5th held off multiple British attacks causing many casualties to the British and Loyalist forces, especially from their officers. After skirmishing, ambushing, and then beating back these assaults the Forts finally fell after a combined assault of about 2,100 enemy.
The survivors joined Brigadier General George Clinton in pursuit of the British up the Hudson but were too late to prevent the British from burning Kingston on October 16. After Burgoyne’s surrender the 5th wintered in Fishkill supply depot and healed its wounds. The regiment camped at White Plains in the summer of 1778 and took part in the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779 against Tories and Indians in western New York. After the successful campaign they were reviewed in Pompton NJ with the rest of the New York Brigade by General Baron de Steuben and General Washington. Winter 1779 – 1780 was spent at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ. The 5th was again assigned to garrison duty when they arrived at West Point in 1780. The New York Line was consolidated in January 1781 and the 5th New York was merged into the 2nd New York. Members of the original 5th New York were present at Yorktown. They avenged the loss of the Highland Forts when they comprised part of the second wave at the storming of Redoubt #10.
Supply records for the regiment in 1776 and 1777 are fragmentary at best. Certain records of Captain Philip D Bevier’s 4th Company have survived. A record of clothing received indicates receipt of 28 “full suits” in March and April of 1777. Each suit consisted of one hat, one coat, two frocks, two shirts, two overalls, one breeches, two stockings and two shoes. A total of 35 coats were received in March and April 1777. Undated clothing return “beginning” February 1777 shows the entire company fully clothed except for coats. Only 19 out of 48 men had coats. Perhaps these 19 coats were issued prior the March and April shipments. Alan Amoine of the West Point Library and an author of several articles on equipping New York troops during the revolution believes the term “full suites” includes a regimental coat. Steve Gilbert, a well-known researcher of New York clothing, arms and accoutrements concurs with Mr. Amoine. Mr. Amoine believes the coats would have been a dark brown faced with blue. He believes the coats would have been supplied out of Albany or Fishkill. The other four New York regiments were all supplied coats of varying description out of Albany in early 1777.
A memorandum dated Fort Montgomery August 6, 1777 of cash and clothing left by Jacob Davis, deceased, included 1 coat, 1 waistcoat, 1 pair leather breeches, 1 shirt, 2 frocks, 1 pr stockings, 1 pr shoes, and 1 Castor hat.
There are three 5th New York deserter descriptions from March and July 1777 as described by Lefferts in his classic work. One wore “Continent Cloaths”, one wore a brown coat faced blue and the other wore a blue coat with white laced buttonholes. The deserter with the brown coat faced blue was James Persons, a private in Captain Philip Bevier’s 4th company. He deserted in July and may well have received one of the 35 coats shipped to the 4th company in March/April 1777. Persons does not have a coat on the February 1777 clothing return. Mr. Amoine believes the brown coat faced blue is the most logical choice for a regimental. He chose dark brown because brown was easier and cheaper to dye than blue. The dark brown would have differentiated the 5th from other New York regiments that had light brown and chocolate brown coats. Mr. Amoine also contends that the regiment was issued captured British coats dyed brown and that the resulting color would have been a very dark brown. Trailside Museums of Bear Mountain State Park located on the former site of Fort Clinton houses an exhibit on the battle for the Highland Forts. The exhibit includes a rendition of a 5th New York soldier wearing a brown coat with blue facing. Jack Meade who was director of Trailside Museums in the 1960’s painted the image. We are trying to locate his research for this exhibit. Another image of a 5th New Yorker appears in Mollo and McGregor’s Uniforms of the American Revolution published in 1974. The soldier is wearing a dark brown coat with blue facing.
Many buttons were found during archeological digs at Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton some of which are on display at Trailside Museum. The buttons have a raised NY cipher and are waistcoat size (17mm). Don Troiani in his Buttons of The American Revolution shows the waistcoat buttons and a coat sized button (23mm) all with the joined NY cipher. Mr. Troiani indicates that all the buttons were discovered in the Hudson Highlands.
We have two skimpy leads on materials for the clothing. Transcripts from a British Court Martial of Loyalist Officer Capt. Joshua Barnes refer to a chest of rebel cloathing found in the barracks of Fort Montgomery containing 60 pair of buckskin breeches. The other lead is a March 1778 order from Brigadier General George Clinton to John Henry, a commissary of clothing in New York, to furnish Col. Lewis Dubois’s regiment in Fishkill with two pieces of “oznibrig” to make pockets and linings, etc. Unfortunately John Henry’s account books burned in a fire at Albany in 1911. I have found numerous references to clothing in the Journals and Correspondence of the New York Provincial Congress. Several of these references even mention Colonel Dubois’s regiment but nothing conclusive about types or styles. Steve Gilbert has offered to search his extensive database on clothing and equipment issues during 1777 for anything relating to the 5th New York.
Arms and Accoutrements
We have several returns of arms, ammunition and accoutrements for 1777 all of which are for Captain Bevier’s 4th Company. The return shows all 44 men receiving guns and cartridge boxes and 29 receiving bayonets. The average price of the guns is listed at 3 pounds 10 shillings. Captain Bevier’s account book reports receipt of 25 stand of arms, bayonets and belts on April 10, 1777 and 8 more stand of arms on April 11. The October 1896 issue of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record contains an account of “French” arms and accoutrements delivered out to his company. We are searching for the original return to confirm whether the arms delivered were actually French. The NYG & BR return shows each man receiving scabbards and belts in addition to guns, bayonets and cartouche boxes.
Captain Bevier’s papers includes a document entitled “An Account of Napsacks Delivered out to my Company Coll Lewis Dubois Regt. Fort Montgomery 1777” The column headings, however, are titled “Haversacks” We are unsure whether the company was issued napsacks or haversacks. There is also an undated return of “numbered” blankets issued to the company.
We intend to present the unit in a brown regimental coat with blue facings. More research is needed to determine the extent of facing (collars, cuffs and/or lapels). The coat will be a short length, certainly no longer than mid-thigh and be cut from appropriate weight and texture wool. Lining material might be linen. The coats and waistcoats could have pewter buttons with the raised pattern. The fatigue uniform would be a pullover smock/frock and overalls of dyed or undyed linen. Breeches could be linen or leather. The hats would be simple black cocked hats, uniformly cocked and trimmed. Shirts would be plain linen or checked.
We have two different arms returns one of which indicates “French” arms. This is supported by Joe Thatcher who reports that some parts for Charleville muskets were found at Fort Montgomery. At present the unit is supplied with Brown Bess muskets, bayonets with black leather scabbards and white leather shoulder belts with plain double D buckles.
We will refine our impression as more information comes in.
There’s more but that’s all for now.
The Modern 5th New York Regiment
The Modern 5th New York was organized in 2001. Member Jim Johnson and Joe Ryan discussed creating the regiment that tried to defend Fort Montgomery while speeding in a car at 70 mph…the idea being neither could escape and get out until it was agreed upon. Needless to say they both consented with eachother’s help to get the 5th Started. An inactive unit, the Shore Guard was slowly transformed into the 5th New York. With the help of Ed Burr and other old Shore Guard members, the bank account and membership were changed over to the new regiment. New members joined and the 5th grew and grew. The 5th N.Y. joined the Brigade of the American Revolution and the Continental Line (These are the two biggest revolutionary war organizations) and gained access to bigger more intense events. The regiment became a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2011. The rest is history in the making!
The unit is also partners with the Living History Foundation and the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association (FMBSA).
Also, please take a moment to view the story of the Battle of Fort Montgomery, a very nicely done video from the Palisades Park commission. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t9iXAVBrl0