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Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment

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The Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment, most commonly known as Rawlings' Regiment in period documents, was organized in June 1776 as a specialized light infantry unit of riflemen in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The American rifle units complemented the predominant, musket-equipped, line infantry forces of the war with their long-range marksmanship capability and were typically deployed with the line infantry as forward skirmishers and flanking elements. Scouting, escort, and outpost duties were also routine. The rifle units' battle formation was not nearly as structured as that of the line infantry units, which employed short-range massed firing in ordered linear formations. The riflemen could therefore respond with more adaptability to changing battle conditions.

The Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment consisted of nine companies—four from Maryland and five from Virginia. The two-state composition of the new unit precluded it from being managed through a single state government, and it was therefore directly responsible to national authority as an Extra Continental regiment.

Because most of the newly formed regiment surrendered to British and German forces at the Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, the service history of the unit's surviving element is complex. Although modern and contemporaneous accounts of the battle convey the impression that it marked the end of the regiment as a combat entity, a significant portion of the unit continued to serve actively in the Continental Army throughout most of the remainder of the war. Elements of the regiment served with George Washington's Main Army and participated in the army's major engagements of late 1776 through 1778. Select members of the regiment were also attached to Col. Daniel Morgan's elite Provisional Rifle Corps at its inception in mid-1777. The Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment was reorganized in January 1779 and was initially stationed at Fort Pitt, headquarters of the Continental Army's Western Department, in present-day western Pennsylvania primarily to help in the defense of frontier settlements from Indian raids. The unit was disbanded with all other Additional and Extra Continental regiments during the reorganization of the Continental Army in January 1781. It was the longest serving Continental Army rifle unit of the war.[1]

Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment

Active: June 17, 1776 – January 1, 1781: organized June 17, 1776; reorganized January 23, 1779; disbanded January 1, 1781
Country: United States of America
Branch: Continental Army
Type: Light Infantry
Size: ~420 officers and enlisted men in late 1776, 52 officers and enlisted men in late 1780
Garrison/HQ: Fort Lee, Fort Washington, Fort Frederick, Fort Pitt
Nickname: Stephenson's Rifle Regiment, Rawlings' (or Rawlins') Regiment, Maryland Corps, Maryland Rifle Corps, Maryland Independent Corps


Battle of Fort Washington
Battle of Trenton
Battle of Princeton
Philadelphia Campaign
Battle of Brandywine
Battle of Germantown
Battle of Monmouth
Brodhead Campaign
Detached elements participated in the Battles of Saratoga, Butler Campaign, and Sullivan Campaign.


First Commander: Col. Hugh Stephenson (June – September 1776)
Second Commander: Lt. Col. Moses Rawlings (September 1776 – June 1779)
Final Commanders: Capt. Thomas Beall (June 1779 – October 1780), Capt. Adamson Tannehill (October 1780 – January 1781)


  • Fort Frederick near present-day Hagerstown, western Maryland, as it appeared during the American Revolution.
  • Fort Pitt during the American Revolution, located at what is now Pittsburgh, southwestern Pennsylvania

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