Timeline of the Delaware Regiment or Delaware Continentals with Major Engagements indicated with a *:
December 9th 1775 – Per Congress the Delaware Regiment is established.
January 21st 1776 – The Delaware Council of Safety completes its list of commissioned officers for the 1st Delaware Regiment – comprised of 8 companies with Colonel John Haslet leading the regiment.
December 1775 – March 1776 – The 8 captains of the newly created Delaware Regiment recruit to fill their ranks. The ranks swell up to 725+. Each company is to consist of 1 Captain, 1 1st Lieutenant, 1 2nd Lieutenant, 1 Ensign, 4 Sergeants, 4 Corporals, 1 Drummer, 1 Fifer, and at least 68+ Privates. Companies in early 1776 show an excess of Privates in each company – typically 76 Privates. In addition, the officers and other appointed positions were a Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Surgeon, Surgeon’s Mate, and Chaplain.
April 3rd 1776 – Colonel Haslet organizes the Delaware Regiment and parts of the Delaware Regiment are sent to Lewes, Delaware. There they are assisted by Henry Fisher, protector of the Lewes lighthouse and a Delaware militia Major. British warships, in particular, led by the HMS Roebuck, commanded by Captain Hammond, lurk in the Delaware River and Bay. A skirmish ensues south of Lewes where a merchant ship is being attacked by one of the HMS Roebuck’s tenders. Gunfire from the Delaware Regiment and cannonfire from the merchant ship help keep the Roebuck’s tender and crew from any further attempts. Approximately 100 men under the leadership (and cost) of Henry Fisher are kept at Lewes or the False Cape (Indian River Inlet) intermittently for the duration of the war.
May 2nd 1776 – The HMS Roebuck is seen headed up the Delaware River and a possible confrontation is averted at Port Penn, Delaware due to the presence of the Delaware Regiment. Two of the Delaware Regiment’s companies are stationed at Wilmington at this time and one is kept at Lewes for now to keep the British warships and Tories at rest.
July 20th 1776 – The Delaware Regiment is ordered by Congress to Philadelphia. The one company that was left at Lewes and begins to head northward. By August 3rd the entire regiment was in Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, the Delaware Regiment was fully equipped and armed with lately imported muskets. It is not certain how armed they were prior to this time but moving forward it appears that the regiment was very well equipped for the campaign of 1776. At a minimum they had 188 muskets on hand coming into Philadelphia. Upon leaving Philadelphia to New York, the Delaware Regiment is a fully armed regiment of approximately 800 men. The largest regiment in camp!
August 8th 1776 – The Delaware Regiment is ordered to march to Amboy, New Jersey.
*August 27th 1776 – Battle of Long Island, New York. 2 private soldiers are killed and 2 officers and 23 soldiers are missing. 3 officers are wounded. The Delaware Regiment captures 23+ Royal Marines! Also, preceding this battle, some stories have Captain Caldwell and the Delaware’s up all night and engaged in cockfights with other American units and well, drinking, carousing, howling at the moon, etc. Caldwell is definitively where the legend of the Blue Hen begins. He was known to be a raiser of fighting gamecocks and, as the story goes, he brought them, in particular, a brood of a Blue Hen, when the 1st Delaware Regiment headed north. We believe that these gamecocks were the basis of the lore of the Blue Hens. Whether they existed any further is much a mystery but the Delaware Blues did continue to distinguish themselves, again and again, and very much showed the ferocity of a gamecock in battle. Many years later, the first known time documented (pen to paper that is) is in the 1830s, they were recalled being the Delaware chicken’s or the Blue Hens.
*September 16th 1776 – Battle of Harlem Heights, New York.
October 22nd 1776 – Skirmish at Mamaroneck, New York. Colonel John Haslet leads a night attack against the Queen’s Rangers (who are led by Robert Rogers of French & Indian War fame). 3 soldiers are killed and 12 wounded – of these 12 wounded, 2 are officers. 36 Queen’s Rangers are taken prisoner and 1 pair of their colors and 60 of their arms and blankets are also taken! Rogers, though, escapes.
*October 28th 1776 – Battle of White Plains, New York. Report on November 3rd that 15 were killed including 1 officer. 15 wounded including 3 officers. The Delaware Regiment helps defend Chatterton’s Hill from the British.
*December 26th 1776 – Battle of Trenton, New Jersey. Approximately 100 of the Delawares join General Washington in the crossing of the Delaware River and march 12 miles on in snow to Trenton, surprising the Hessians that are stationed there. No casualties reported for the Delaware Regiment in this engagement! Just prior to this unforeseen battle, Colonel Haslet had ordered many of his officers to go back to Delaware and begin the recruitment process since enlistments were to run out at the end of the year.
*January 3rd 1777 – Battle of Princeton, New Jersey. With only a handful present at this battle due to many having been permitted to return to Delaware, Colonel (or should we say General) John Haslet is killed, shot in the head, after taking command once General Mercer was left for dead from bayonet wounds. Haslet is then shot while rallying the troops after Mercer goes down. It is indicated that General Washington paused over Haslet after being just shot fatally. Washington will later acknowledge the victory but despite small losses in numbers he acknowledges he has lost important leaders – Mercer and Haslet.
January 1st to April 30th 1777 – The Delaware Regiment is reorganized and raised to replace the one led by Colonel John Haslet. David Hall is promoted to Colonel and the ranks are replenished to reform with 8 companies again though the overall rank and file is just under half strength at ~320.
August 21st /22nd 1777 – Raid on Staten Island, New York. The Delaware Regiment is one of a handful of units that partake in a daring night raid on Staten Island. Prisoners are taken as well as much needed supplies.
September 3rd 1777 – Battle at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. The Delaware Regiment was not at this engagement as a unit. They were still travelling from the New York City area after the raid on Staten Island. However, there is some speculation & conjecture (we did say some) that those soldiers of the Delaware Regiment that were either detached and were in New Castle County may have participated alongside or as part of the Delaware militia. Considering that the Delaware Regiment soldiers came from the Delaware militia ranks in early 1776 it is a strong bet that any nearby (and there were many – especially many that fought in the ’76 campaign – AND this was also Delaware soil) helped in hindering in any way General Howe and his army. Also – the Delaware militia, along with the Pennsylvania militia, augmented the Light Infantry unit that participated in this battle. Huzzah! Important Note: Upon entering Delaware, General Howe made a strong left and proceeded to leave Delaware and not attack General Washington who was encamped with earthworks along the Red Clay Creek. This would have been the direct route to Wilmington and New Castle and then up toward Philadelphia.
*September 11th 1777 – Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania. Here, the Delaware Regiment was assigned to defend Painter’s Ford, north of Chadd’s ford and ferry. In a repeat of the Battle of Long Island, General Howe used a frontal assault feint to keep the Americans in position while going with General Cornwallis and making a large flanking maneuver. The Delaware Regiment, as part of the American right flank, helped keep the British at bay as they came over Osborne’s Hill and up near Birmingham Meeting House. The Delaware Regiment retreats with General Washington towards Chester, Pennsylvania.
September 12th 1777 – Wilmington, Delaware is occupied by the 71st Regiment, Fraser’s Highlanders, of the British army. British wounded, including Hessians, are sent to Wilmington and a hospital is quickly setup as well as a ring of entrenchments and a redoubt. Delawareans are caught off guard including State of Delaware President John McKinly. It is a very scary time in New Castle County. The state capitol is moved temporarily from New Castle to Newark. The occupation of Wilmington would last until October 15th. Meanwhile, the Delaware Regiment is with General Washington’s army up along the Schuylkill River just outside of Philadelphia. Hard times all around.
*October 4th 1777 – Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania. 3 killed including 1 officer. 26 wounded including 4 officers. 9 soldiers missing. Captain Thomas Holland, the adjutant for the Delaware Regiment, and credited along with Colonel John Haslet of bringing the regiment into an elite well-trained fighting unit, is killed. Formerly of the British Army’s 23rd Regiment, also known as the Royal Welch Fusiliers, prior to joining the Patriotic cause, Holland was a seasoned officer and was beloved by the other officers, in particular, Captain Enoch Anderson, who visited Holland prior to him succumbing to his fatal battle wounds at Germantown. Colonel Hall is also severely wounded and spends the rest of the war recovering from his wounds. Lieutenant Colonel Vaughn takes over command of the Delaware Regiment in the field.
*September 26 to November 16th 1777 – Siege of Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Detachments of the Delaware Regiment were sent to Fort Mifflin to assist in the defense of the Delaware River.
December 21st 1777 to April 1778 – Wilmington, Delaware occupied by American General Smallwood. Also during this timeframe Captain Enoch Anderson, under orders of General Smallwood, helps defend the Wilmington area and south along the Delaware River from British warships. He actually assists even on board a rebel vessel in the river! Outstanding!
*June 27th 1778 – Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. There does not appear to be any casualties to the Delawares in this engagement. Neither the sun, 100 degree heat, nor the British Army are able to inflict any injury to the regiment.
July 16th 1779 – Raid on Stony Point, New York. Prior to this raid, Captain Allen McLane is selected to visit Stony Point on July 2nd, disguised as a “simple countryman” accompanying a Mrs. Smith to see her sons. McLane takes note of the fortifications and strength of the garrison. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, along with 1,350 men, including men from the Delaware Regiment, attacks Stony Point in a night raid. The raid is a great victory. The British suffer 63 killed, 70 wounded, and 543 captured. American losses were 15 killed and 80 wounded. 15 artillery pieces were also taken and many other military supplies and stores.
August 19th 1779 – Raid on Paulus Hook, New Jersey. In a similar plan as at Stony Point, Paulus Hook is raided by General Lee, including Captain Allen McLane’s company of dismounted dragoons from Delaware. British losses were 50 killed and 158 captured. American losses were very light with 2 killed and 3 wounded.
*August 16th 1780 – Battle of Camden, South Carolina. The Delaware Regiment suffers greatly as one of the veteran Continental units that stands their ground and fights at the Battle of Camden as much of General Gates’ army retreats precipitously. Going into battle with approximately 275 men, the Delaware Regiment suffers heavy casualties with about 70 killed and 70 wounded. 10 officers and about 60 soldiers are captured (possibly some of the wounded). About half of those captured are soon rescued by “The Swamp Fox” Francis Marion. As a result of this engagement the Delaware Regiment is splintered into 2 units. One unit is designated as a light infantry unit and is led by Captain Robert Kirkwood. The other soldiers of the Delaware Regiment augment the Maryland Brigade infantry, with Captain Jaquett leading this company assigned to work with the 1st Maryland Regiment. So at this point we have 2 different units with members of the Delaware Regiment continuing to serve. Severely wounded and invalid soldiers and a handful of officers are sent back to Delaware to help with recruiting to refill the ranks of the Delaware Regiment.
*January 17th 1781 – Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina. Captain Kirkwood, already a veteran of 5 years of service, leads his light infantry company and assists in a tremendous victory over Banastre Tarlton’s Loyalist Legion and British regulars. Robert Kirkwood is 1 of 2 Continental officers to race ahead and secure a British 3 pounder cannon! There is an annual race called the Race to the Grasshoppers (nickname for this type of cannon as it would jump like a grasshopper when fired)! 1 private is killed in this battle. 13 are also wounded – 5 eventually fatally.
*March 15th 1781 – Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina. The Delaware and Maryland Regiments are the backbone of the Continental Army at Guilford Court House. The Delaware’s are in 2 different units at this time. Captain Robert Kirkwood is leading his men, now as light infantry on one flank, and Captain Jacquett’s company is with the Maryland Line. Kirkwood suffers 3 killed and 6 wounded.
*April 25th 1781 – Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, South Carolina. Kirkwood’s company has 5 wounded and 3 (2 of the wounded) are captured.
*May 22nd to June 19th 1781 – Siege of Fort 96, South Carolina.
*September 8th 1781 – Battle of Eutaw Springs, South Carolina. The Delaware’s suffer 3 killed, 6 wounded. 5 (including 2 of the wounded) are captured.
*September 28th to October 19th 1781 – Siege of Yorktown, Virginia. Captains McKennan and Quenoualt participate in the siege of Yorktown. These 2 newly recruited companies with 85 men, 75 new recruits and 10 veterans, are assigned to duties at the American artillery park.
*August 26th 1782 – Battle of Combahee River – Beaufort, South Carolina. Here, the Delaware Regiment has its last engagement of the war. Colonel John Laurens is killed in this action. The Delaware’s do not appear to suffer any casualties in this action.
January 17th 1783 – The last of the 1st Delaware Regiment in active service on campaign return to Christiana Bridge, Delaware.
April 15th 1783 – Peace Celebration in New Castle, Delaware. A Mr. John Lyon of White Clay Creek Hundred supplies at the request of the President of the State of Delaware the following: 41 gallons of maderia wine, 49 gallons of port, 21 gallons of rum, sugar and fruit (120), and 212 dinners in New Castle for a celebration. Nicholas Van Dyke – President of the State of Delaware, Samuel Patterson – Treasurer, David Finney, and Joseph Tatlow are among those that attend this celebration that was held principally for the Officers and Soldiers of the Delaware Regiment then stationed in New Castle. Huzzah! What a way to celebrate the Peace and honor the Delaware Regiment!
As you can see from above the 1st Delaware Regiment served from approximately April 1776 to January 1783. In each of these years the 1st Delaware Regiment was involved in at least one engagement every year. In chapter 54 of Chris Ward’s book “The Delaware Continentals” he best sums up the services of the 1st Delaware Regiment:
“For four years in the North and three years in the South these men had marched in broken shoes or shoeless, on rutted roads and where there were no roads at all, through mud and sand, through swamps and streams, in Summer’s heat and Winter’s cold, thousands of weary miles. They had slept, or tried to sleep, in tents in zero weather, or without tents or any shelter, without blankets or any covering, on the bare ground in rain and snow. They had gone without clothing, food and drink, without pay for years on end. And they had fought in every battle, except Princeton, in which Washington’s army in the North and Gate’s and Greene’s in the South had been engaged; on Long Island, at White Plains, Mamaroneck, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Fort Mifflin, Monmouth, Stony Point, Paulus Hook, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford, Hobkirk’s Hill, Ninety-Six, Eutaw Springs, Yorktown, and in skirmishes and minor engagements without number. The had met on the field of battle, bayonet to bayonet, the veterans of Great Britain and of Germany, the best soldiers the world could furnish.
…Forged on the anvil of hardship under the hammer of experience, the Delaware Regiment was a weapon which any of the great captains of history would have been glad to launch at his foe. It is not too much to say that no other single regiment in the American army had a longer and more continuous term of service, marched more miles, suffered greater hardships, fought in more battles or achieved greater distinction than this one of Delaware.”
Sons of the Blue Hen &…as the history shows…Game to the End! Huzzah!