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State Lines of the Continental Army

The New Jersey Line was a formation within the Continental Army. The term "New Jersey Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to New Jersey at various times by the Continental Congress. These, together with similar contingents from the other twelve states, formed the Continental Line. The concept was particularly important in relation to the promotion of commissioned officers. Officers of the Continental Army below the rank of brigadier general were ordinarily ineligible for promotion except in the line of their own state.

Not all Continental infantry regiments raised in a state were part of a state quota, however. On December 27, 1776, the Continental Congress gave Washington temporary control over certain military decisions that the Congress ordinarily regarded as its own prerogative. These “dictatorial powers” included the authority to raise sixteen additional Continental infantry regiments at large.

Early in 1777, Washington offered command of one of these additional regiments to David Forman of New Jersey, who accepted. Forman had formerly been a New Jersey militia leader.

Washington also offered command of an additional regiment to Oliver Spencer of New Jersey, who accepted. In 1776, Spencer had also served in the New Jersey militia. Spencer’s Regiment was unofficially designated the “5th New Jersey Regiment.” One company was recruited in Pennsylvania, however.

Patton’s Regiment was also partially drawn from New Jersey.[1]

Still other Continental infantry regiments and smaller units, also unrelated to a state quota, were raised as needed for special or temporary service.

Under the command of Brigadier General William Maxwell, it was also known as "Maxwell's brigade" or simply, the "Jersey Line." As with preceding military units from New Jersey, the regiments that comprised the New Jersey Line were often referred to as the "Jersey Blues."

New Jersey Line, 1776

The first two regiments were authorized by Congress on October 9, 1775. The Third New Jersey Regiment was authorized on January 1, 1776.

New Jersey Line, 1777

The Fourth New Jersey Regiment, under the command of Colonel David Forman, was authorized on September 16, 1776. An additional unit, known formally as Spencer's Additional Regiment, under the command of Colonel Oliver Spencer, was sometimes referred to as the Fifth New Jersey Regiment.

List of the regiments of the New Jersey Line:


  1. ^ Wright, Continental Army, 323.
  • Wright, Robert K. The Continental Army. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1983. Available, in part, online.

See also



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