A map of the 8th Virginia's recruiting counties shows that the regiment was largely composed of frontiersmen and pioneers. No Tidewater counties and only one Piedmont county raised companies. Instead, the regiment was instructed to raise its ten companies in the westernmost settled areas of the province (Virginia wasn't a state, yet). This made the regiment unique in several ways. The regions beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains were ethnically and religiously different from the rest of Virginia. Soldiers, some of whom were occasional subsistence hunters, were typically better marksmen than the average soldier. Consequently, the used rifles instead of muskets (for the first year). Their motives for fighting were less focused on taxes and trade and more focused on their desire to head west--something the King had forbidden since 1763.
Political geography has changed. All of these counties were later divided, some within months of the regiment's formation. West Virginia, which is not shown, was created in 1863 and would occupy the left-center of the map. The disputed northeast part of the Augusta District is now southwest Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh. Western Fincastle County became Kentucky County in 1776 and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1792. Most Americans are unaware that beginning in 1774, Ohio and lands west of it were pulled into the Province of Quebec. This, technically at least, extended holdover French civil institutions to the border of settled Virginia. Quebec had no elected legislature and had been allowed to keep its Catholic institutions. Both facts were seen by Virginians as sure signs of creeping tyranny.
The West Augusta District and Dunmore County each raised two companies. Augusta, Berkeley, Culpeper, Fincastle, Frederick, and Hampshire counties each contributed one. Initially called the "German Regiment" and long remembered that way, the map also shows how wide-ranging and diverse the zone of recruitment actually was. The lower (northern) Shenandoah Valley counties of Berkeley, Frederick, and Dunmore had significant German populations and all three field officers were from that area. Hampshire had a smaller German population. Culpeper, the only Piedmont county, had a smaller German population that descended from the Germanna Colony. The other counties were predominantly Scotch-Irish and English.
To learn more about the individual companies, visit the Soldiers page.
[Revised and Reposted from 9/1/19]
More from The 8th Virginia Regiment
is researching the history of the Revolutionary War's 8th Virginia Regiment. Its ten companies formed on the frontier, from the Cumberland Gap to Pittsburgh.
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