The Pennsylvania Line was a formation within the Continental Army. The term "Pennsylvania Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to Pennsylvania 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.
Early in 1777, Washington offered command of one of these additional regiments to Thomas Hartley of Pennsylvania, who accepted. Hartley had formerly been lieutenant colonel of the 6th Pennsylvania Battalion. Hartley's Additional Continental Regiment was allotted to the Pennsylvania Line on March 27, 1778. On January 13, 1779, it absorbed Patton's Regiment and was designated the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment. The latter was called the "New Eleventh Pennsylvania Regiment" as the original 11th Pennsylvania Regiment had been consolidated with the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment on July 1, 1778.
Still other Continental infantry regiments and smaller units, also unrelated to a state quota, were raised as needed for special or temporary service. Nelson's and Doyle's Independent Rifle Companies were examples of such "extra" units.