The North Carolina Line refers to North Carolina units within the Continental Army. The term "North Carolina Line" referred to the quota of infantry regiments assigned to North Carolina 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.
On June 17, 1777, the Continental Congress accepted the offer of North Carolina to furnish another regiment for the Continental Army. This regiment, under the command of Colonel Abraham Sheppard, was unofficially designated the “10th North Carolina Regiment.”
Still other Continental infantry regiments and smaller units, also unrelated to a state quota, were raised as needed for special or temporary service.
On June 26, 1775, less than ten weeks after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress voted to support 1,000 Continental troops in North Carolina. This force was organized in September of that year as two regiments of 500 men each.
Journals of the Continental Congress. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Available online at
Berg, Fred AndersonEncyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiments, and Independent Corps. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1972.
Fitzpatrick, John C. Editor. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources. Available  from the University of Virginia website.
Heitman, Francis B.Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April 1775 to December 1783. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967 (Originally published, 1914).
Lesser, Charles H. Editor. The Sinews of Independence: Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1976.