The Regiment of Light Dragoons was organized on April 12, 1808 under the act of congress of the same date. It consisted of a regimental headquarters and eight troops. The regiment was never completely organized or mounted and served as light infantry. An act on January 11, 1812 creating a second regiment resulted in the regiment being re-designated as the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons. A further act of March 30, 1814 resulted in the two regiments being consolidated, on May 12, 1814, into one Regiment of Light Dragoons with eight troops. An act of March 3, 1815 reducing the size of the army led to the regiment being consolidated with the Corps of Artillery on May 17, 1815. Officers whose services were no longer required were discharged on June 15, 1815.
Neither the 1st Regiment nor the 2nd Regiment were used as consolidated units during the War of 1812. Generals frequently used their assigned dragoons as escorts, couriers and scouts rather than fighting men.
At the Second Battle of Sacket's Harbor May 29, 1813, Lieutenant Colonel Electus Backus rallied troops of the regiment and of other Regular Army units to counterattack a British breakthrough. The British force was defeated, but Backus was mortally wounded. Backus died of his wounds on June 7.
At the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, Lieutenant Colonel Jacint Laval led 140 men of the regiment. Laval's troops were placed in support of infantrymen who later broke and ran. Many of the dragoons joined the disorderly retreat. Laval led his remaining troops in an orderly retreat toward Georgetown.