Alden's Sixth Massachusetts Regiment



Alden's Sixth Massachusetts Regiment was born during the general reorganization of the Continental Army during late 1776 and early 1777. The state of Massachusetts established the cores of its regiments through the work of two committees, one with the main army under General Washington and the other with the Northern Army at Ticonderoga. Alden's Regiment was born from the remnants of the Northern Army at Ticonderoga. By the close of the war's second year of campaigning the Continental Congress authorized the enlistment of soldiers for terms of three years or the duration of the war. The vast majority of the enlistments in the regiment were for three years. In spite of the fact that a cash bounty was paid and a land bounty was promised for enlistment for the duration of the war.


The core of the officer corps had begun service with the Lexington Alarm in April of 1775. Colonel Alden had been Lieutenant-Colonel in Cotton's Massachusetts Regiment in 1775, and Lieutenant-Colonel of the Twenty fifth Continental Regiment in 1776. Lieutenant-Colonel Stacey had been Major of Woodbridge's Massachusetts Regiment in 1775. Major Whiting had been a lieutenant later captain in 1775, and a Captain in the Sixth Continental Regiment in 1776. The core of officers for Alden's was appointed in November of 1776, though all their commissions with the exception of Colonel Alden's are dated from January first 1777. This is also when the balance of the officers were commissioned. Many of the junior officers had also been in service since April of 1775.


At the beginning of the 1777 campaign the regiment was stationed at Peekskill New York, in an incomplete form with recruiting still going on in Massachusetts. The bulk of the rank and file were recruited in the first half of 1777. The regiment was a member of General Nixon's Brigade which was ordered north to reinforce the Northern Army in the early days of July. By the time they arrived at Fort Edward on July twelveth the British Army under General Burgoyne was at Skenesborough. General Philip Schuyler command the four thousand men opposing Burgoyne. His opinion of the New England troops was not high, and the troops generally felt the same of him. Through the retreat down the Hudson River Valley the regiment was part of the rear guard. They destroyed bridges, roads, felled obstructing trees to delay the British advance. The regiment also saw its first combat fighting off the screen of Indians and Tories which harried them through the retreat.


After the tide in the north had turned the regiment helped to construct the defensive works at Bemis Heights. The regiment was held in reserve during the First Battle of Saratoga, but did suffer some casualties in that days fighting in its detached troops. On October seventh the regiment was part of the frontal assault that lead to the storming of the German redoubt known as Breymann's redoubt. The taking of this redoubt triggered the retreat of Burgoyne's army. The regiment suffered seventeen killed and wounded in this days fighting. A couple of weeks later the regiment witnessed the march of Burgoyne's army into captivity.


The winter of 1777-1778 was spent in garrisoning Albany.