17th Regt. of Foot
Light Infantry

The Light Company
of the 17th Foot

The Regiment left its garrison station in Ireland in the fall of 1775 as part of the
reinforcement destined for the British forces besieged in Boston Massachusetts. Upon arrival the Light Company was detached and formed part of the Corps of Light Infantry established under Major Musgrave. With the evacuation of Boston in March in 1776, the Regiment sailed with the main army to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was here, in the reorganization of the British forces, that all of the Grenadier and Light Infantry Companies were officially detached from their respective regiments and placed in composite battalions for service in North American. The Light Company of the 17th was placed in the First Battalion of Light Infantry and served with this organization for the remainder of the war. It is generally accepted that during the stay in Halifax the Light Infantry Battalions were instructed in the new “Light Infantry Drill” as developed by General Howe and published in 1774. It is possible that the whole army was trained in this open order drill for use in North America, but most certainly the Light Infantry was expected to make use of this new system of maneuver.

The First Battalion of Light Infantry participated in almost all of the major engagements in the middle colonies and the most major battles of the southern campaign. Throughout the war, the Light Company’s participation was mirrored by the 17th’s Grenadier Company, which served in the First Battalion of Grenadiers.

The Light Infantry Company’s fought in the following engagements, Long Island 1776, White Plains 1776, Trenton-Princeton Campaign 1776-1777, Brandywine 1777, Germantown 1777, Monmouth 1778, Siege of Charleston 1780, Virginia Campaign 1781.

During the war it was a standard practice to keep the Light and Grenadier Companies of the respective regiments at full strength through drafts from the battalion companies and first call on replacements from Britain. As such, the remainder of the Regiment served as an often under strength battalion throughout the remainder of the war. This did not hinder the battalion companies of the 17th from also participating in most major actions. The majority of the 17th, represented by the battalion companies, distinguished itself at the battle of Princeton in 1777 where its determination and bravery was remarked upon by friend and foe alike. The 17th also holds the distinction as the only British regiment in the American Revolution to be captured twice. Once at Stony Point in 1779 and following its exchange, again at Yorktown in 1781.