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.
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
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.