The First Continental Congress met in September 1774, in Philadelphia. On November 17, 1774, three members of a citizens’ committee asked to determine the most effective means of resisting the British, together with twenty-five other gentlemen formed the Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia. The name was later changed to First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. Many of the original members were businessmen and merchants who supplied their own uniforms, military equipment and horses. The flag originally had the British Union in the corner but the artist was instructed to paint thirteen stripes to represent the united colonies.
The Troop escorted General Washington from Philadelphia to take command of the Continental Army, assembled outside of Boston in June 1775. The Light Horse Troop later carried their flag in the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Princeton and Trenton. Yorktown surrendered on October 19, 1781 and the captured British standards were placed in the care of the Troop.
As a unit, First City Troop was the only volunteer cavalry organization accepted under President Lincoln’s first ninety-day call up of state militia units in April 1861. The Troop saw duty at Bunker Hill, Charlestown, Harper’s Ferry, Key’s Ferry and Sandy Hook, Maryland. In 1865 First City Troop served as escort and honor guard for the funeral procession of the slain President Abraham Lincoln.
Today the Troop is certainly the oldest mounted military unit and quite possibly the oldest military unit of any kind that has been in continuous service to the Country. The Troop operates as a National Guard unit and although a cavalry unit, now serve on tanks and Humvees, not on horseback. The Troop recently returned from a six-month peacekeeping deployment in Bosnia, the first time the Troop had been called to active duty in fifty years.