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November 16, 2019

CIC 475

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Briefing

The Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands

One of the most unusual, and little known, military organizations in the United States is “The Centennial Legion of Historic Military Command,” composed of some 100 military units – ranging from active elements of the National Guard to veterans’ associations – that have been in existence for a century of more.

The formation of the Legion came about as a consequence of the celebration of the Centennial of the American Revolution. At the commemorative observances in Massachusetts in 1875, Maj. George W. McLean, Commander of the Old Guard of the City of New York, chanced to meet Capt. Robert C. Gilchrist, of Charleston’s Washington Light Infantry. From this meeting grew the notion of forming an organization of historic military units from the original thirteen states to honor the memory of the Revolutionary past, and, not incidentally, to help heal the wounds of the only recently concluded Civil War. Moving with surprising speed, the Legion was organized on July 4, 1876, at Philadelphia, in conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence, inaugurating its existence with a great parade that included not only the member units of the newly formed Legion, but also many other militia units– including two companies of black men – from all over the country, as well as the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy and a battalion of Marines.

Since that first parade, the Centennial Legion has grown considerably. To qualify for membership, a unit has to be at least 100 years old, and to have originated in the one of the thirteen original states.

Some units are still on active duty as members of the National Guard. Other units are active in the state guard. Still others remain active under state militia laws, or are privately chartered non-profit making organizations. Many of them perform ceremonial functions. The foot and horse guard units in Connecticut, for example, which are the governor’s formal escort, as is New York’s Veteran Corps of Artillery, while that state’s Old Guard – City of New York is the mayor’s official escort. And such ceremonial units have often played roles in the nation’s wars, supplying cadres for state defense force units during both world wars, sending members into active duty, and so forth.

Units of the Centennial Legion
YearsStateUnit (Formerly) **
1636 Mass. 1st/182nd Inf. (North Regiment of Massachusetts)
* 1638 Mass. Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts
1652 Va. 1st/176th Inf. (1st Va. Regiment)
1672 Conn. HQ-1st/169th Inf. (1st Connecticut Regiment of Militia)
1672 Conn. 1st/192nd FA (Regiment of Fairfield County)
1726 Mass. 125th Signal Bn.(First Corps of Cadets)
1736 Mass. Massachusetts National Lancers
1739 Conn. 102nd Inf. (2nd Connecticut Regiment of Militia)
*1741 R.I. Artillery Company of Newport, R.I.M.
* 1747 Pa. Veteran Guard, 3rd Infantry, Pennsylvania
*1747 Pa. Veteran Corps, 1st Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania
* 1771 Conn. 1st Company, Governor’s Foot Guards
1773 Mass. Lexington Minutemen
* 1774 Md. 1st/175th Inf. (5th Maryland)
1774 Pa. 1st Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry
1774 R.I. Gloucester Light Infantry, R.I.M.
* 1774 R.I. Kentish Guards, R.I.M.
1774 R.I. Pawtuxet Rangers, R.I.M.
1775 Mass. Acton Minutemen
1775 Mass. Bedford Minutemen
1775 Mass. 1st/101st FA (Second Corps of Cadets)
*1775 N.H. 2nd Co., 1st New Hampshire Regt.
1775 R.I. Varnum Continentals (1st Co., James M. Varnum’s Regt.)
*1775 Conn. 2nd Company, Governor’s Foot Guards
1776 Conn. Shelton’s Co., 1st Continental Light Dragoons
1776 Del. H.Q., 198th Signal Bn. (1st Delaware Regt, American Rifles Association)
*1776 R.I. Bristol Train of Artillery, R.I.M.
1777 Conn. 3rd Connecticut Regt., Continental Line
1777 Pa. 103rd Engr. Bn, Colonial Company
*1778 Conn. 1st Company, Governor’s Horse Guards
1785 Mass. Second Corps of Cadets Veterans’ Company
*1786 Ga. Chatham Artillery Corporation
1787 Mass. Fusilier Veterans’ Corps
1786 N.Y. 9th Regt, New York Guard
*1789 Va. 183rd Armor (Richmond Light Artillery Blues)
*1790 N.Y. Veteran Corps of Artillery
1790 R.I. Cranston Blues, R.I.M.
1792 Pa. Washington Infantry of Pittsburgh
1793 N.C. Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Company
1797 -- Ship’s Company, U.S.S. Constitution
1797 -- Marine Detachment, U.S.S., Constitution
1798 Mass. Boston Light Infantry
1798 R.I. Federal Blues, R.I.M.
1802 Ga. Savannah Volunteer Guards
*1807 S.C. Washington Light Infantry
1808 Conn. 2nd Company, Governor’s Horse Guards
1808 N.Y. Utica Citizens’ Corps
1809 N.Y. 258th FA (Washington Grays)
1813 Pa. State Fencibles Infantry
1816 Conn. New Haven Grays
1818 R.I. 1st Light Infantry Regiment, R.I.M.
1819 Pa. Old Guard State Fencibles
1819 S.C. Sumter Guards of Charleston
*1826N.Y. Old Guard of the City of New York
1828 Va. Norfolk Light Artillery Blues
1833 N.J. Pulaski Cadets of America
1833 N.Y. Pulaski Militia of America
1840 Pa. 108th Combat Support Hospital (2nd Pennsylvania)
1846 N.Y. 69th Infantry (165th Inf., 69th New York)
1847 N.Y. 1st/187th FA
1848 N.Y. 187th Signal Bde (Columbian Rifles)
1852 Ga. Clinch Rifles
1853 Mass. Boston Light Artillery
1854 Ga. Old Guard Battalion of the Gate City Guard
*1854 N.H. Amoskrag Veterans
*1855 Ga. Gate City Guard
*1856 Pa. Old Guard of the City of Philadelphia
1857 Mass. Veteran Association of the Lawrence Light Guard of Medford
1858 Conn. Putnam Phalanx
1859 N.Y. Veterans of the 7th Regiment, N.Y.N.G.
1860 Ga. 1st Volunteer Regiment of Georgia
1861 Conn. 1st Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry
1861 Mass. 5th Massachusetts Battery, Light Artillery, Army of the Potomac
1862 N.Y. 1st/47th New York Guard (47th N.Y.S.M.)
1866 Mass. 2nd Corps of Cadets Veterans’ Association
1867 N.Y. 2nd/104th FA
1868 N.J. Phil Kearny Guards
1869 N.Y. Veteran Association of the 71st Regiment, N.G.S.N.Y.
1871 N.Y. Veterans of the 9th Regiment
1874 N.Y. Veteran Association of the 13th Regiment, 59th FA, 245th CA, N.Y.N.G.
1874 N.Y. Veterans’ Association, 8th Regt, Infantry, N.Y.N.G.
1874 N.Y. Veterans’ Corps, 69th Regt.
1876 Conn. Co. A, 1st/102nd Inf. (New Haven Grays)
1876 Mass. Veteran Association, 1st Corps of Cadets
1876 Mass. Worcester Continentals
1883 N.J. Pulaski Cadets
1883 N.Y. Veterans’ Association of the 12th Infantry, N.Y.N.G.
1884 N.Y. 101st Cavalry Veterans Association
1885 N.Y. Squadron A Association [101st Cavalry]
1886 N.Y. 101st Signal Bn.
1887 N.J. Morris Guard
1888 Md. Veteran Corps, 5th Regt. of Infantry
1890 N.J. Essex Troop
1895 N.Y. Squadron C Cavalry Association [101st Cavalry]
* Charter Members
** Most member units are known by their traditional name.

 

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