5th Troop Captain "Lighthorse" Henry Lee
History of the 1st Dragoons, 5th Troop
A Dragoon is a light infantry soldier who used a horse for transportation. Because a horse has the ability to travel faster that a man on foot, dragoons were extremely valuable for reconnaissance, spying, guarding prisoners, foraging, raiding enemy camps, relaying messages, guard duty, defending against enemy dragoon attacks and numerous other duties.
The 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons were originally the Virginia Light Horse and were raised by the state of Virginia in 1776. The 6 troops of lighthorse were commanded by Colonel Theodorick Bland who gave his cousin, Captain "Lighthorse" Henry Lee, command of the 5th troop.
Lee's troop contained 30 men and joined the continental army under General George Washington in New Jersey in December of 1776. The 5th troop under Lee's command was very successful in the early years of the war and was highly praised by both George Washington and the local press for their meritorious service. As proof of their tenacity, Lee's troop served as Washington's body guard in the Battle of Germantown and later in the war it was designated as a new unit unto themselves, Lee's Legion, serving in the southern campaign until the end of the war.