History of Captain Thomas Armstrong’s Company of Light Infantry

The 64th Regiment of Foot began as the Second Battalion of the 11th Regiment of Foot and was formed as such in 1756. King George II determined that he preferred to have single battalions and authorized the 64th Regiment of Foot into being in 1758.

The Regiment eventually was ordered to the North American Colonies and arrived in Boston in 1768. Unrest in the Colonies was on the increase through the early 1770’s and in February 1775 Lt. Col. Alexander Leslie was ordered to Salem, Mass with some of his own 64th Regiment to confiscate arms and military stores reported to be held there. During the course of events that day one Soldier from the 64th pricked a townsman in Salem thus shedding the ‘first blood’ of the American Revolution. The 64th returned to Boston and was then stationed on Castle Island (today this is known as Fort Independence on the Boston waterline but at that time an island quite far out into Boston Harbor). The 64th did not take part in the events of April 1775 at Lexington or Concord. It was not part of the action on Breed’s (Bunker’s) Hill. The 64th Regiment was one of the last to leave Boston when the city was evacuated.

The Regiment then went to Halifax, Nova Scotia but would return to be part of the New York Garrison.

In the 64th Regiment of Foot the Company was commanded during the first part of the American Revolution by Captain Thomas Armstrong. Captain Armstrong would leave the Company and Regiment in 1778 to become Major in the 17th Regiment of Foot. The Company was then commanded for the balance of the war by Captain William Snow.

Detached to serve with the Second Battalion of Light Infantry the Company saw numerous engagements, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth, Paoli, Old Tappan and others. It is difficult to establish whether the Company surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. While there is some evidence which suggests it may very well have, there is just as much evidence which seemed to place it back in the New York City area at the time. The Company participated in numerous battles as part of the Second Battalion of Light Infantry and saw heavy action throughout the New York and Pennsylvania campaigns. There is some evidence which suggests it may have been involved in various engagements in the New York City and Westchester County area’s during the last stages of the war. The recreated Light Company is fortunate to have the muster rolls of it which were taken from December 1774 through war’s end and thus can track individuals in it to some degree. We are also fortunate that among the George Washington papers was found the Orderly Book for the Company for the period which includes the battle of Brandywine as well as the action at Paoli Tavern.

Click HERE to see the Orderly Book Of Captain Thomas Armstrong's Light Infantry Company, 64th Regiment Of Foot, (2nd Battalion Of Light Infantry) 14 September - 3 October 1777.

The Recreated Regiment and Light Company

“your augmentation shall be a tenth Company ………” With these few words the Light Infantry was added to each marching Regiment of Foot in the British army of the 18th Century. Light Companys had existed off and on at different times. Occasionally called ‘picket’ Companys they really began to show the need for such a Company during what has been called the French and Indian War. While they did exist they did not become a formal part of the British army until 1772.

In the early 1960’s the White Plains Monument Committee began hosting an annual Celebration of the Battle of White Plains. Part of that effort resulted in the Westchester (New York) County Milita coming into being. This unit served as the Host Unit for the Annual ‘Battle of White Plains’ each October. It soon developed that there were plenty Of Milita Units that wanted to be involved, however, there was a lack of recreated British Regiments. The Westchester County Militia filled that need by portraying a British Regiment. The ‘new’ British Regiment soon attracted enough members so that it could provide two Company’s. These were designated as Company “A” and Company “B”. Eventually Company “A” would become the Light Infantry Company and Company “B” was to become the Grenadier Company.

Originally the Uniform that these two Company’s were a far cry from what the 64th Regiment of today wears. At the onset, grenadier helmets were bathroom rugs shaped Into the form of a grenadier helmet. Light Infantry helmets were brimless baseball caps with a heavy metal plate on the front. “Coats’ were red flannel shirts with wide white tape criss-crossed in front of them. Breeches were simply white jeans tucked into long stockings. Gaiters were US Army Surplus dyed black. Cartridge Boxes were nothing more than a piece of two by six lumber with a linoleum flap painted black over it. Towards the end of the 1960’s the Connecticut Governor’s Foot Guards were replacing their coats which happened to be red with black facings. Some of these were purchased and after looking for a regiment with Black Facings which served in the American War for Independence it was discovered that the 64th had been involved. It had been part of both the Boston and New York garrisons and had played some role in the battle of White Plains thus the recreated 64th Regiment of Foot was formed. In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s the recreated Regiment sought permission from the modern Staffordshire Regiment in England (a descendent of the 64th) for recognition to portray the 64th during the American Revolution which was granted. The recreated 64th then joined in ‘The Friends of the Staffordshire Regiment” as a local chapter. Today the recreated 64th is a registered Not-For-Profit Chartered organization in the United States which continues to maintain close ties with its modern British counterparts. It numbers over 125 members nationwide and has been reviewed by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 10th July 1976. At the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine, September 1977, Brigadier General and Colonel of the Staffordshire Regiment R.L. Hargroves CBE, formally presented the recreated 64th with both its King’s and Regimental Color’s in an 18th Century Color Presentation Ceremony. The recreated 64th was also honored to host Colonel J.C.A. Swynnerton OBE in June of 1978. Both Colonels reviewed the recreated Regiment and expressed great satisfaction for a job being well done by the recreated Regiment.

The recreated Regiment has visited, in uniform, the UK a number of times in order to participate in various tactical demonstrations or ceremonial events. It participated in the Regimental Color Presentation at Colchester Castle (UK) on 21st May 1983. In 1987 the Regiment, along with other re-enactment units, participated in a series of tactical demonstration held outside London under the sponsorship of English Heritage. In 2005 members of the recreated Regiment journeyed back to England to participate in the Staffordshire Regiment’s Tri-Centennial Anniversary Celebration at Litchfield Barracks in the U.K. Today, the titular Colonel of the Regiment is HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

The Recreated 64th recognizes the Colonel of the actual Regiment in the UK as its Senior-Most Officer/Colonel of the Re-Created Regiment thus it has been Commanded here in the U.S. by nothing higher than a Lieutenant-Colonel.

During most of the 200th Bicentennial/Anniversary events of the American War of Independence the recreated Regiment was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Fred J. Wahl. With his withdrawal from the Regiment, Major Larry Bradbury became the Regiments Commander. His untimely death left the Regiment without a Commanding Officer for a number of years. Today, the recreated Regiment is under the command of long time member, Brigadier General and Major Michael Grenier.

The decision to portray the Company as of October 1776 (Battle of White Plains) was made by the 64th Board of Officers at an Annual meeting in the late 1960’s and reaffirmed in the late 1990’s. Thus the Company uses Captain Thomas Armstrong’s Company of Light Infantry as its Official Designation and is the senior Company in the recreated Regiment...

Captain Thomas Armstrong’s Company has spent many hours researching and correcting the earlier uniform and equipment so that today it comes as closely as it has been able to document, to date, what the Company may’ve looked like when it served in the Colonies. We feel that that this effort will probably never truly be completed as new information is consistently being found which supports ever more changes to the Uniform or Equipment.

During the late 1990’s the recreated 64th Regiment established an Order of Merit, named for our late Major Larry Bradbury, to be presented, albeit rarely, to members of the recreated Regiment for outstanding service to the Regiment. This award is, as noted, not issued annually, but only on a rare occasion. We are very proud to have two of our members selected as recipients of this award. To date both Corporal Jim Carroll and Corporal Guy Morin (since promoted to Lieutenant) have been recognized in this manner.

Currently the Company is more or less situated in North Central Massachusetts but has members as far away as New Jersey and Maine. The Company today on the field is commanded by Michael Meyerdierks, one of the original members of the recreated Regiment, who serves as Captain. He is seconded by Guy Morin who is carried as a Lieutenant. The Company itself is a smaller group of people who come from various professions but join together many times each year to participate in re-enactments, demonstrations and educational programs. By and large, due to distance, the Company concentrates on the New England and eastern New York area to participate in events. It also picks one or two events each year (that look interesting to it’s members) which falls outside the New England/Eastern New York area.

Our "home site", the Artemas Ward House (Shrewsbury, MA), is our base of operations for meetings, drills, recruiting and local events.