2nd Continental Light Dragoons
|2nd Continental Light Dragoons
2nd Legionary Corps
|Active||1776–1783; reestablished 1978 by State of Connecticut|
|Size||regiment of six troops
120 men in 1780
|Part of||Continental Army|
|Colors||blue coat with buff facings|
|Engagements||Battle of Brandywine,
Battle of Germantown,
Battle of Yorktown.
The 2nd Continental Light Dragoons, also known as Sheldon's Horse after Colonel Elisha Sheldon, was commissioned by the Continental Congress on December 12, 1776, and was first mustered at Wethersfield, Connecticut, in March 1777 for service with the Continental Army. The regiment consisted of four troops from Connecticut, one troop each largely from Massachusetts and New Jersey, and two companies of light infantry.
The regiment saw action at the Battle of Woodbridge, Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Kingston, Battle of Schoharie, The Battle of The Flocky (site of the first cavalry charge on American soil), Battle of Paoli, Battle of Whitemarsh, Battle of Morrisania, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Germantown, and the Battle of Yorktown.
The unit almost never served as a whole. Usually individual troops were assigned as necessary. The regiment also performed numerous raids from whaleboats against British and Loyalist installations on Long Island. Some of the successful raids captured Fort St. George, Ft. Slongo and Lloyd's Neck, Long Island. Elements from the unit comprised Washington's personal bodyguard. In 1778, when Loyalist agents and a crack British commando team shadowed Washington for weeks with the intention of kidnapping him, they had to abandon the operation because, according to the British Intelligence Dispatches, "The 2nd Dragoons are (always) with him." The 2nd Dragoons also guarded John Andre during his incarceration, trial and subsequent execution in Nyack, New York.
The regiments main patrol areas during the war were in Southern Connecticut and New York, where they intercepted British supplies and fought off bands of Loyalist partisans who preyed on local citizens. This duty earned them the nickname "Watchdogs of the Highlands". They also earned the sobriquet "Washington's Eyes", likely because of their spy work. Major Benjamin Tallmadge became a spy master who ran one of the most successful spy rings of the war, able to infiltrate the British military command in New York city.
After the War
On January 1, 1781, the regiment was reorganized by the dismounting of two of its six troops and re-designated the 2nd Legionary Corps. The regiment was furloughed June 9, 1783, at Newburgh, New York and discharged on November 20, 1783, by proclamation of General Washington. The 2nd Light Dragoons are prominent in Colonel John Trumbull's paintings of the American Revolution.
- The regimental national colors of the 2nd was taken by Banastre Tarleton in 1779; on June 14, 2006, it was sold at auction.
- Sgt. Elijah Churchill was awarded the Badge of Military Merit.
- The last surviving member of the 2nd Dragoons Lemuel Cook died 1866.
- "Our Past: 2nd Continental Light Dragoons". 2nd Continental Light Dragoons. Second Continental Light Dragoons Official Website. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- http://www.dragoons.info/ (Official web site of the Second Continental Light Dragoons)
- http://www.2dragoon.org/ (Web site of The Second Regiment Light Dragoons, Tallmadge's Troop reenactment group)
- Bibliography of Continental Army Dragoons compiled by the United States Army Center of Military History