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The First Virginia Regiment was authorized by the Virginia Convention of July 17, 1775, as a provincial defense unit composed of six musket and two rifle companies under the command of Patrick Henry. Each company was to consist of 68 enlisted men, with officers to include a captain, lieutenant and ensign (second lieutenant). Six of the companies were armed with muskets, and two with rifles.

In September the companies began arriving in Williamsburg from the surrounding counties where each was recruited. The regiment encamped behind the College of William and Mary where the men were trained in military drill and maneuvers. On December 28, 1775, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia recommended that each regiment should have 10 companies, and the First Virginia soon raised two more musket companies.

The First, along with the Second Regiment saw service in the Tidewater area fighting the troops of Virginia's Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore. Dunmore raised two Loyalists regiments and a small unit made up of runaway slaves to reclaim the wayward government of the colony. Two British Grenadier companies soon augmented his force. Members of the First Virginia engaged Dunmore's troops at Hampton, Jamestown and Norfolk. On December 9th, 1775, three companies from the First joined the Second Virginia Regiment in defeating Dunmore's troops at the Battle of Great Bridge near Norfolk. Dunmore made several more attempts to gain a stronghold on the colony but in August 1776 he abandoned Virginia.


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