British and Colonial Unit Definitions for the Revolutionary War

The following table provides the basic guidelines for determining the sizes of British and American forces during the American Revolution.

Unit Definitions
BRITISH UNIT DEFINITION TOTAL
Regiment/Battalion 10 companies of 38 men :
8 line infantry companies,
1 light infantry and 1 grenadier company.
380 men
Dragoon Regiment 6 companies of 37 men :
6 Cavalry companies
222 men
AMERICAN UNIT DEFINITION TOTAL
Provincial / Minute Man 10 companies of 50 men :
10 infantry companies
500 men
Continental Line 8 companies of 86 men :
8 infantry companies
688 men
Continental Rifle Corps 10 companies of 68 men :
10 riflemen companies
680 men
American Dragoon Regiment 6 companies of 68 men :
6 cavalry companies
408 men

It is important to point out that these figures cannot be assumed to be exact for either side. The British forces numbered exactly as defined, but often their effective fighting force was reduced by illness, battle losses and desertion.

As for the Continental units, Baron von Steuben was quoted as stating:

"the words company, regiment, brigade, and division were so vague that they did not convey any idea upon which to form a calculation, either of a particular corps or of the army in general. They were so unequal in numbers that it would have been impossible to execute any maneuver."

However, he did institute standard definitions of unit compositions in the reorganization of the Continental Army in May of 1778.

Information taken from Johnson.

 
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