In medieval times it was a matter of law that common folk must purchase
at their own expense and keep ready in their homes some basic weapons to serve
and protect their king and state. The rulers expected the peasants to have acquired
certain skills with their weapons prior to deployment, although they failed to
provide any sort of funding for training. The English Assize of Arms (1181),
promulgated by Henry II, required that each man keep at his own expense in his
home a weapon appropriate to his rank and position.(1) The American use of militia
was, in reality, a return to traditional practices of this earlier age. In medieval
Europe the law defined a militia as "the whole body of freemen" between the ages
of fifteen and forty years, who were required by law to keep weapons in defense
of their nation.(2) In the later Middle Ages the militia was the whole body of
"citizens, burgesses, free tenants, villeins [serfs] and others from 15 to 60 years of
age" who were obliged by the law to be armed.(3)
Trained Bands (or Trainbands) are found primarily in Elizabethan and
Stuart England. The concept and term may be found as early as the reign of Alfred
the Great (849-899). "For greater security, certain men in or near each settlement
or City, who volunteered or were selected otherwise, were given, or agreed to
procure, arms in advance of any emergency."(4) These men became the mainstay of
Cromwell's army during the Puritan Revolution and these units developed from the
broader militia. The term is occasionally encountered referring to select militia in
the American colonies, especially in New England.
Most European nations had abandoned the militia system by the sixteenth
century.(5) Americans chided the English for abandoning the militia system which
had worked so well here. The militia, alone, had served as a check on the native
aborigine in the colonial period of American history. For instances, when General
Braddock was defeated near Pittsburgh, then Fort DuQuesne, the Virginia militia
under Colonel George Washington's command stood against the French and
Indians. The British army fled to the eastern seaboard. During the colonial period
Americans came to trust the militia to a far greater extent than they trusted the
regular royal army. The fancy uniforms and European battle formations may have
served the British well in wars in the old world, but they were ill suited for
America's colonial citizen-soldier citizens soldier had their counterparts
throughout history, as in ancient and medieval times when the peasants were
conscripted to fight as foot soldiers. After the wars were over the peasants, too,
returned to their fields. Tradesmen, farmers, men in all walks and vocations of life,
had one thing in common: they stood as brothers in arms against the enemy as part
of the citizen-soldiery.
The citizen-soldier stands in marked contrast to the professional soldier
whose vocation is war. The citizen-soldier does not enter war for pay or booty. He
goes to war only reluctantly, spurred on by notions of patriotism, nationalism and
duty. He deplores war. He fights only as a last recourse when his nation is threatened and not in imperialistic adventures. There is no human institution any where
more fundamental than the militia. As we shall show in this and the ensuing four
volumes, excepting only religious dissenters, the true, traditional citizens owned
firearms, less as a privilege than as a matter of duty. They came to equate firearms
ownership with freedom. A free man is armed; a slave is dispossessed of his arms.
No man can trust a government that seeks to disarm him. Those who claim the
right to bear arms over and against tyrannical government stand arm in arm with his
ancestors who refused to give up their arms at Lexington, Concord, and on a
thousand other locations.
A recent article concluded that the Second Amendment to the Constitution
was adopted "as a declaration that the Federal Government can never fully
nationalize all the military forces of this nation" because the masses of men with
their own guns constitute "an essentially civilian-manned and oriented set of
military forces" who can "inveigh against federal professionalization of the state
militia."(6) The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence listed as two
grievances against King George III that "[h]e has kept among us, in times of peace,
standing armies without the consent of our legislatures [and]. . . [h]e has affected
to render the military independent of and superior to the Civil power."(7)
Reverend Samuel McClintock (1732-1804) was commissioned to deliver
a sermon on 3 June 1784, the occasion being the adoption of the newly adopted
New Hampshire state constitution. He had served as a militia chaplain in both the
French and Indian War and the American Revolution, and was thus well acquainted
with the concept, organization and purpose of a militia system. His comments on
that portion of the new basic document of the New Hampshire state government
read like a passionate and patriotic definition of militia. "An army of freemen,
voluntarily assembling at the alarm of danger -- men who had been nurtured in the
bosom of liberty, and unused to slavish restraints . . . willing to submit to the
severity of military government, for the safety of their country, and patiently endure
hardships that would have overcome the fortitude of veterans, following their
illustrious leader in the depths of winter, through the cold and snow, in nakedness
and perils, when every step they took was marked with the blood that issued from
their swollen feet, and when they could not be animated to such patience and
perseverance by any mercenary motives . . . ."(8)
A recent author(9) distinguished among army, trained bands and the various
types of militia. An army is any armed land force that is organized and controlled
by a clear chain of command. A militia which derived from the Latin miles and the
old English and French milice indicated "the obligation of every able bodied
Englishman to defend his country." It implies the obligation that all citizens and
perhaps resident aliens have to serve in the armed forces of their nation. In the
American colonies the transition was made from English common law to the law
of the colonies. The federal Constitution made certain that any national obligation
did not preclude service to the state which was primary and original. Initially the
enrolled militia (or organized militia) included those select or specially trained
militia enlisted by the colonies or states. Early select and enrolled militia were
occasionally called Trained Bands. The minutemen of New England were select
or enrolled militia.
Theoretically, a naval militia may be authorized by letters of marque and
reprisal. During the Revolution a few states, notably Pennsylvania, had state navies
manned by militia. President Thomas Jefferson toyed with the idea of protecting
our shores with large row boats armed with smaller cannon and manned by militia.
In 1889 Massachusetts created a naval militia as a counterpart to the regular, land-based state militia, and a very few other states followed.
Partisans are intended to supplement the regular army and even the
militia, carrying out such duties as security, reconnaissance, intelligence gathering,
scouting, and transportation. Partisans generally operate in wartime, especially
when a nation is occupied by hostile forces. They may disrupt a wide variety of
enemy activities, including transportation and communications. Parisans may or
may not be officially authorized. The Norwegian Home Guard, for example,
operated as an authorized partisan band during the nazi occupation and the reign
of the collaborationist government of Vikung Quisling. The government, before
leaving for exile in England ordered it to prevent or delay enemy transport of men
and supplies by operations behind the enemy lines. The guard was instructed to
attack enemy transport and supply convoys and offer armed resistance in occupied
territories. The Norwegian Home Guard is a part of the regular army and is always
prepared to perform its functions any time the nation is invaded. As a legal entity
it would function best in occupied areas, but before the nation had surrendered.
Theoretically, the Home Guard could be disarmed as a part of a surrender, for
surrender ordinarily implies the end of hostilities with, and disarmament of, all
armed forces of a nation.(10)
Most partisan operations may be termed guerrilla. Because guerrilla or
partisan forces are not subject to formal government controls, they differ
substantially from home guards.(11) Another term that applies to "the military
organization of the entire nation" is levees en masse. This force "must be recruited
from men . . . women, children and the aged." It stands quite a part from the
regular army, and even the militia. Its combattants commonly have no uniforms or
military discipline or training. These men fight only in their home areas, along ill-defined battle lines. Levees en masse may stage an uprising of all the people, or of
a significant portion thereof. Usually, it is called forth by a general call to resist the
enemy, rather than a muster call; or it may simply issue forth spontaneously. It
never fights abroad. Its weapons are whatever is available from among the people.
While it most frequently occurs immediately after the local area is attacked, the
term might apply to a popular uprising that occurs after an area is occupied.(12)
The United States Supreme Court discussed the meaning of the militia in
a 1939 decision which was based on traditional views expressed in state court
decisions. "The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the
debates in the Constitutional Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies
and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly
enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert
for the common defense. "A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline." And
further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected bearing
arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time. . . . In all
the colonies, as in England, the militia system was based on the principle of the
assize of arms. This implied the general obligation of all adult males inhabitants
to possess arms, and, with certain exceptions, to cooperate in the work of defense.
The possession of arms also implied the possession of ammunition, and the
authorities paid quite as much attention to the latter as to the former."(13)
The sentimental role of the citizen-soldier is found in the parallel to the
Roman Cincinnatus who left his plow in the field to answer his country's call.(14)
The Supreme Court in one of the very few rulings rendered on the right to keep and
bear arms, looked at the historical context in which forces consisting of citizen-soldiers had developed. "It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing
arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States
as well as of the States; and, in view of this prerogative of the general government,
as well as of its general powers, the States cannot, even laying the constitutional
provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing
arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource from maintaining
the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general
Most of the political writers of the colonial and federal periods were
intimately familiar with the liberal political writings of the Enlightenment. One of
the most writers who exercised great influence on the development of the American
mind was James Harrington (1611-1677), the philosopher of property rights and
economic determinism. Harrington called the militia, "the vast body of citizens in
arms, both elders and youth."(16) Harrington also noted that the militia consisted of
"Men accustomed to their arms and their liberties."(17) Commenting on Harrington's
thought, Sir Henry Vance the Younger wrote that the militia comprised those who
"have deserved to be trusted with the keeping or bearing Their own Armes in
A more contemporary writer was the first great economic philosopher,
Adam Smith (1723-1790), author of the influential treatise, The Wealth of Nations,
published in 1776. Smith defined the term militia as, "either all the citizens of
military age, or a certain number of them, to join in some measure the trade of a
soldier to whatever other trade or profession they may happen to carry on. If this
is found to be the policy of a nation, its military force is then said to consist of a
A French contemporary of Smith's, Hilliard d'Auberteuil, observed that
"a well regulated militia [is] drawn from the body of the people." It is "accustomed
to arms" and "is the proper, natural and sure defense of a free state." He cautioned
his readers that a standing army, on the other hand, was destructive of liberty.(20)
French military theorist Comte de Guibert expressed little admiration for
militiamen who were not well disciplined. Having witnessed American militiamen
in action, he described the citizen-soldier a as "real barbarian" who is
terrible when angered, he will carry flame and fire to the enemy. He will terrify, with his
vengeance, any people who may be tempted to trouble his repose. And let no one call
barbarous these reprisals based on laws of nature [although] they may be violations of so-called laws of war. . . . He arises, leaves his fireside, he will perish, in the end, if necessary;
but he will obtain satisfaction, he will avenge himself, he will assure himself, by the
magnificence of this vengeance, of his future tranquility.(21)
Sir James A. H. Murray in his New English Dictionary of Historical
Principles, defined the militia as, "a military force, especially the body of soldiers
in the service of the sovereign of the state, [who are] the whole body of men
amenable to military service, without enlistment, whether drilled or not . . . . A
citizen army as distinguished from a body of mercenaries or professional
Simeon Howard (1733-1804), writing in Boston in 1773, said that a militia
was "the power of defense in the body of the people . . . [that is], a well-regulated
and well-disciplined militia. This is placing the sword in hands that will not be
likely to betray their trust, and who will have the strongest motives to act their part
well, in defence of their country."(23)
Justice Story in his Commentaries defended the militia system. He wrote,
"The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign
invasions, domestic usurpation of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for
a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time
of peace, both from the enormous expense with which they afford ambitious and
unprincipled rulers to subvert the government, or trammel upon the rights of the
people. The rights of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered
as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check
against the usurpation and arbitrary powers of rulers; and will generally, even if
these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph
Benjamin Franklin defined the militia as a voluntary association of extra-governmental armed troops acting under their own authority. Franklin wrote that
a militia is a "voluntary Assembling of great Bodies of armed Men, from different
Parts of the Province, on occasional Alarm, whether true or false, . . . without Call
or Authority from the Government, and without due Order and Direction among
themselves . . . which cannot be done where compulsive Means are used to force
Men into Military Service. . . . "(25)
Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote concerning the minutemen of Massachusetts,
Among the grievous wrongs of which [the Americans] complained in the Declaration of
Independence were that the King had subordinated the civil power to the military, that he
had quartered troops among them in times of peace, and that through his mercenaries, he had
committed other cruelties. Our War of the Revolution was, in good measure, fought as a
protest against standing armies. Moreover, it was fought largely with a civilian army, the
militia, and its great Commander-in-Chief was a civilian at heart. . . . [Fears of despotism]
were uppermost in the minds of the Founding Fathers when they drafted the Constitution.
Distrust of a standing army was expressed by many. Recognition of the danger from Indians
and foreign nations caused them to authorize a national armed force begrudgingly.(26)
Award winning historian and former Librarian of Congress Daniel
Everywhere, Americans relied on an armed citizenry rather than a professional army. The
failure to distinguish between the "military man" and every other man was simply another
example of the dissolving of the monopolies and distinctions of European life . . . . In a
country inhabited by "Minute Men" why keep a standing army? . . . The fear of a standing
army which, by European hypotheses was the instrument of tyrants and the enslaver of
peoples, reenforced opposition to a professional body of men in arms.(27)
While the English Parliament and His Majesty's government argued that
the colonials ought to bear some part of the cost of the wars with the French and
Indians, the colonists disagreed. The colonial legislatures had appropriated money
to pay their militias. The British troops were useless in the woods. They had been
effective against the French armies in Canada, but that was of little concern to the
colonials. Let the English bear the cost of their wars with France. After all, the
wars here were only an extension of the greater wars in Europe.
Since the colonists' wars were generally brought on by England's massive
conflicts on the Continent the home country could rarely spare many of its
professional soldiers to defend the colonies against the French. In peacetime royal
troops were more numerous, but they were unpopular. They enforced the hated
smuggling laws and, later, Britain's policy against westward expansion for the
colonies. Such "tyranny," and the memory of the uses to which Cromwell and the
Stuarts had put standing armies, seemed to validate the truisms of classical political
philosophy: that an armed populace provides all the security necessary against
either foreign invasion or domestic tyranny, while a professional army allows rulers
to oppress their unarmed subjects.(28)
After the Revolution began, the British decided that victory would prevent
any future armed conflict with the colonists over the payment of taxes or for any
other cause. The British government had planned to disarm the Americans
completely, had they won the war of the American Revolution. In 1777 the British
cabinet, confident of impending victory, intended to abolish the militia. The
cabinet had planned that, "The Militia Laws should be repealed and none suffered
to be re-enacted and the Arms of All the People should be taken away . . . . nor
should any Foundry or Manufactory of Arms, Gunpowder or Warlike Stores, be
ever suffered in America, nor should any Gunpowder, Lead, Arms or Ordnance be
imported into it without Licence."(29)
In the late seventeenth century the militiamen, coming from the towns and
cities of New England, proved sadly deficient in the firearms skills and discipline
necessary to contain even the ragged, ill-clothed and underfed braves of King
Philip's army. The southern militia was all but nonexistent. Only in the middle
colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and, to a slightly lesser degree,
New York, were they really a formidable force.
During the Revolution George Washington decided that, however useful
the militia might be in harassing or quasi-guerrilla warfare, lasting victory could be
forged only with a regular army. But the militia concept had appealed to the
Founding Fathers because it accorded with their philosophical predispositions and
their own experience in warfare. From their inception the American colonies had
to rely upon an armed populace for defense. Many times the colonies simply could
not afford to maintain a sufficient standing military establishment. It also became
a matter of duty. One had to work and to be prepared to defend the colony if he
wished to live within its borders. Necessity, popular opinion and abstract
philosophy had combined to commit the Founding Fathers to a military system
based ultimately on what was then described as the "unorganized militia."
The New England Beginnings
It has become popular to say that the militia system developed in the New
World because the colonies were too poor to be able to devote a significant portion
of the able-bodied manpower to a permanent military establishment. There were
constant dangers from all sides, ranging from Britain's various traditional enemies,
such as Spain and France, to the native aborigine. Therefore, the colonies reverted
to the military organization of an earlier time, the militia system as used at the
beginning of modern Europe. While the European militias had atrophied and
could, at best, be considered a vestigial organ of the state, the American militias
had become vibrant military, social, and fraternal organizations necessary to the
very existence of the colonies. No king would attempt to stave off his enemies on
the continent, but the French and English kings depended almost exclusively upon
their North American colonial militias. Nowhere was the militia system as well
organized as in Puritan New England.(30)
When the Puritans landed in New England they wished to found their own
city on the hill, secular paradise, or land of the chosen people. Initially, the
Pilgrims courted the indigenous Amerindians and became friends with the
Wampanoags. The Massachusetts colony was wholly separatist and wanted
nothing more than to be left alone. In the earliest years there was virtually no need
for a strong military system. The friendship was short-lived, for the Europeans
never did quite master the skill of being good neighbors to the Amerindians and
leaving them alone. Within ten years the Puritans had come to regard themselves
as the new Zion and the Amerindians as Canaanites. They did not regard
themselves as interlopers, but as God's chosen people for whom the new land had
been prepared, and which they could develop without limitation. Like the Jews of
the Exodus, the Puritans did not spare the Canaanites. Within ten years after the
Puritans initially landed those at Boston had formed a mighty militia system.
Three separate, and often mutually distrustful, authorities vied for control
of the New England militias. First, each colony had its own militia organization
which was identical with, or responsible to, the colonial legislature and/or governor. Second, the New England colonies having created a unified military plan
known as the New England Confederation, placed their individual militias under
this regional authority. At various times the individual colonial authorities refused
to cooperate and release militiamen to assist the general authority. Massachusetts
refused to assist the other members in the first Narragansett War (1645-50) when
it was not especially threatened, but demanded assistance from the other colonies
when in 1675 in the second Narragansett War it was sacked and pillaged. Third,
the mother country was the ultimate sovereign authority that periodically intervened
in local militia affairs. As with most other aspects of colonial policy, England
generally neglected the colonies, but on occasion it attempted to impose its will on
its dependencies. The colonial militias usually provided for virtually all of their
own colonies' defense and this freed the English standing army for larger and, to
the mother nation, more important duties. In general, the colonies were delighted
to receive money, materials, equipment, and arms from England, but they disliked
the brutal discipline and elitist attitude of the professional officer corps and they
held the army in disdain for it was essentially useless in frontier warfare against
savages who did not follow the rules of European warfare. They especially
resented English intrusion into the appointment of militia officers.
The New England Puritans of c.1630 were displeased with the English
militia system for a variety of reasons.(31) Charles I had reorganized the English
militia, creating a far more elitist and disciplined organization than his father,
James I, had possessed. He brought veteran professional military men, many the
veterans of several continental European wars, to train and discipline the raw
militia recruits. He also introduced new weapons and required that existing
weapons, most long neglected and in a sad state of disrepair, be properly mended.
He angered the Puritans by requiring that, following church services on Sundays,
the train bands were to engage in such sports as "archery, running, wrestling,
leaping, football playing, casting the sledge hammer and playing at cudgels."(32) The
Puritans regarded this as a sacrilegious violation of the Sabbath which they argued
was to be a day of rest and not of praying and playing games. Thus, Charles added
a religious question to the existing legal and constitutional questions concerning his
reorganization of the militia. Charles I bragged that his reorganized train band
system was "the perfect militia."(33)
The English Puritan brethren had rejected the militia policies of Charles
I and in the bitter debate in the parliamentary session of 1628 railed hard against
the imposition of tyrannical standards on an essentially civilian body.(34) Those
Puritans who sailed with John Winthrop in 1630 had an idea of a militia constituted
in a way quite different from the Stuart train bands. There was no question that
they would create a militia, for they were well aware of the massacre of the ill-prepared Virginians at the hands of the Indians in 1622. But they did not agree
with Charles I that his idea of a train band was a perfect militia.(35)
The Charter of New England of 1620 created a militia primarily as an
instrument to contain "Rebellion, Insurrection and Mutiny" against the crown. The
militia was also to "encounter, expulse, repel and resist by Force of Arms" by "all
ways and meanes" whatever foreign or native forces might be directed against the
colony. The charter made the president the militia commander, although the assent
of council was needed to deploy the militia. Council was to make appropriate laws
for enrollment, training and discipline of the militia. The charter required the
president and council to supply arms, ammunition and other goods of war.(36)
The New England Puritans first hired professional military men to equip,
drill and train the militia, but these men were veteran soldiers who were not
Puritans and did not share the religious vision of the city on the hill. They had a
particular dislike for the demand the Puritan made that they be allowed to elect
officers, an idea inconceivable to professional military men. They were also
expensive, both in terms of pay and in terms of the discontent they fostered in the
colony. Jost Weillust, a German artillery specialist, left the Massachusetts Bay
Colony almost immediately, having acquired no love for the new land and perhaps
overcome by homesickness. Daniel Patrick and John Underhill lasted somewhat
longer, but they were never comfortable with the spartan life of New England
Puritanism. Both were accused of having committed adultery with young women
of the community and were asked to leave.(37) Underhill and the Puritans parted
company on less than friendly terms. He observed with disgust that the Puritans
were, at best, "soldiers not accustomed to war" who were "unexpert in the use of
their arms." The political authorities of New England decided that henceforth they
would hire only Puritans, whether they were military veterans or not.
There were many demands for money to fund various governmental
activities and the tax base was small. One of the larger items in the defense
budgets was the erection and maintenance of frontier fortifications. To save money
the militias were originally all volunteer organizations. Many militiamen objected
to their deployment in construction and maintenance of forts and places of refuge.
However, when the governments failed to recruit enough volunteers to complete
the work, they turned to the draft to fill out the quota of volunteer workmen. The
draft depleted the resources of many militia companies.(38)
Beginning with the Mayflower Compact of 11 November 1620 the New
England colony had been founded upon a social contract. The colonists believed
that the only way free men could be brought to obey the law was to base the law
upon a contract upon which all agreed. The New England Puritans had a strong
sense of democracy and they demanded broad based political participation in all
decision making. The social contract had a natural law, Scriptural base. Each man
agreed to give up his own interest and benefits voluntarily to the greater community
in exchange for protection and congeniality. Among free men no amount of
coercion could replace voluntary consent of the governed as the cornerstone of the
polity. The congregational churches, election of ministers and magistrates, creation
of state and town governments, and organization of the militia were all arranged
contractually. Thomas Hooker, one of the most important of the Puritan theorists,
argued that a man who desired to live a good life in a Christian polity must
"willingly binde and ingage himself to each member of that society . . . or else a
member actually he is not."(39) Each man under contract viewed himself as the
author of law and the creator of order.
This contractual model extended to the founding and operation of the
militia. The major application of the contractual principle extended to recruiting
and training a militia in New England and with the popular election of militia
officers. The New England militia was a contractual or covenanted organization,
based on the principle of voluntary collectivism. A contractual militia was no
threat to civil liberties, freedom or civil rights, especially when tied to Scripture.
The contract limited deployment of troops and militiamen argued that no
governmental power could force them to serve beyond the boundaries of their own
colony, and only rarely beyond their own region.(40)
In times of trials and external threats the Puritans frequently called for
fasting among the entire community as a means of supporting their militiamen.
Fasting served as communal expiation for their un-Christian divisiveness within the
ranks of the faithful. It also served to assist in communal re-dedication to their
sacred covenant.(41) As late as the 1760s, while Boston was under the yoke of
British occupation forces who were being quartered in private homes, Governor
Bernard called for "a general fast, to be kept the sixth of April next" offered up so
that "God would be graciously pleased to continue us, the enjoyment of all our
invaluable privileges, of a civil and religious nature."(42)
The British authorities intensely disliked this democratic practice. When
Sir Charles Hardy in 1756 was raising troops for his attack on the French fort at
Crown Point he complained bitterly about the practice of the militiamen electing
their own officers.
Pray, my Lord, where have these men come from? Under the vote for raising the Men . . .
the Men have it in their own Choice & are supported in it by a law of the Colony from
whence they came, and the Consequence is plain . . . . The present Method is attendant with
great Delays . . . . Captains of the Regulars will think it hard to be commanded by Field
Officers of the Provincials & the Field Officers will likewise think so in having them on
equal foot . . . . All Men raised in the Provinces for his Majesty's Service should be raised
by the Commander in Chief who may give blank Commissions in such Numbers he thinks
proper, to the several Governors, to fill up with the Names of such Persons as may be
qualified . . . .(43)
In the other colonies the officers were appointed by the governors, proprietors or legislature. In practice it made little difference because the New
Englanders were generally much persuaded to recruit officers from among the
better class, which frequently translated to the religious hierarchy. There was no
discernable difference between the military and the social structure of the
As early as 1632 Governor Winthrop noted that the people had demanded
the right of free men to select their own officers.(44) He was able to delay the grant
of this right temporarily, for the Puritans had long since decided that free men who
could elect their own ministers and political leaders could certainly be entrusted
with the selection of militia officers. Besides, it was their very lives, and not the
life of the governor, they were entrusting to their elected officers. The legislature
bided its time, waiting to force the governor's hand at the first opportunity. That
opportunity came in 1636 as the colony prepared for war with the Pequot Indians.
The Massachusetts General Court enacted legislation allowing each regiment and
company to nominate its own officers, subject to ratification by the council. In
practice, this confirmation was ordinarily automatic. The militia units responded
immediately by holding elections and sending in the names for approval. The
requirements for becoming an officer, in addition to election, were correct church
membership and status as freemen.(45) In a few cases, the militia units would send
up more names than were actually needed, or additional names after council had
questioned a name, but frequently these additional names were found to be
disqualified on some ground.(46) In 1643 the general court fully yielded its power
to appoint militia offices, although it still appointed sergeant major general, the
highest office in the New England colonies. However, the company sergeant-majors, were made elective.
As late as the American Revolution the practice of election of officers
came under criticism of several experienced military and some legislators from the
middle and southern colonies. General George Washington, for example, disliked
the practice of electing officers because he believed that it was misplaced
democracy, was wholly inappropriate to the martial spirit, and that it subverted
attempts to foster military temperament. During the war Washington cashiered
several officers because they had fraternized too much with their men. Such
fraternal relations, Washington reasoned, would subvert discipline, while doing
nothing to create a spirit of command. He argued that the only way to select
officers was to test the military prowess and competence and learning in the art of
While the English regarded the Puritans as hopelessly democratic, the
colony of Massachusetts Bay still had a rigid class structure, seen nowhere better
than in its militia organization. The wealthy citizens who could afford the
equipment organized as cavalry, which became the elite units within the militia.
The underclass, on the other hand, supplied the foot soldiers. These were men for
the most part who could barely afford to buy the most basic weapons that the law
required them to supply. The many men who were so poor that they could not
otherwise afford arms were provided guns at public expense, but only in exchange
for performing public service. John Shy likened their obligation to labor to pay for
their arms to the English working class which had to labor in the working-houses
to compensate for charitable support.(48)
The chief military commanders ordinarily held the position of colonial
governor, a title well established in England. His military deputies carried the title
of councillors. In time of actual war in New England the governors frequently
asked for and received the support of various town and city officials, men who
often doubled as militia officers. Together, these men constituted the council of
By 1641 both the home government and various local authorities in New
England had come to the conclusion that a militia was indispensable for the
protection of the inhabitants. A publication entitled An Abstract of the Laws of
New England as They are Now Established(50) concluded that for the best protection
of the county, "First, a law [is] to be made for the training of all the men in the
country fit to bear arms, unto the exercise of military discipline. . . ." The only
other measure suggested for colonial defense was "and withal, another law to be
made for the maintenance of military officers and forts."
The New England Confederation, formed in 1643, was a primarily
military organization consisting of New Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Haven, Cornwall [Maine], and King's Province [a disputed area in
southern New England]. This was essentially the same area as James II reorganized in 1686-89 as the Dominion of New England. It was devised as for "mutual
safety and welfare," a self-defense program based on the colonial militias of these
member provinces. Delegates met in Boston and adopted a written constitution
which formed The United Colonies of New England. Each colony retained its own
system of managing internal affairs. Questions of war and peace were decided by
eight commissioners representing Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New
Haven. Any six commissioners constituted a working majority. The commissioners met at least once a year and more frequently if there were problems brewing
within its area of design.
Expenses for the defensive system were borne by the colonies in
proportion to the male population between ages 16 and 60, that is, of men of the
proper age to serve in the militia. Massachusetts certainly bore the bulk of the
expenses and had the vast majority of men subject to militia service, yet its
commissioners carried no greater weight than the smaller colonies. The confederation would make, or at least approve, all appointments of officers and designate an
overall commander-in-chief. Ordinarily, confederation troops were to be under the
command of the ranking officer of the colony in which the troops were presently
In 1653 the council met at Boston to consider "what number of soldiers
might be requisite, if God called the Collonies to make warr against the Dutch."
It named as captain commander John Leverett of Boston and apportioned its force
of 500 as follows: Massachusetts Bay, 333; Plymouth, 60; Connecticut, 65; and
New Haven, 42.
A major problem occurred for the confederation in 1653 when Massachusetts Bay refused to approve a war against the Dutch. Without its men and
monetary contributions the union could not operate effectively. Initially,
Massachusetts opposed the admission of Narragansett Bay [Rhode Island] and
Cornwall [Maine] because the inhabitants held heterodox religious views. After
1664, when New Haven was annexed to Connecticut, the quotas and representation
of the two confederation members was combined. At that point the constitution
was amended to allow for meetings once ever three years instead of annually. The
federation simultaneously went into a precipitous declined, but it revived briefly
after a major threat from the native aborigine appeared. Between 1645 and 1650,
and again in 1675, it waged war on the Narragansetts.(52) It operated most successfully during King Philip's War (1675-76), coordinating the defense of the region.
In 1684 the charter of Massachusetts Bay was withdrawn and the confederation
came to an end.
The Confederation had assumed the power to negotiate arms and
gunpowder contracts, and to contract for maintenance and repair of the confederation's arms. Arms and supplies were to be stored in several convenient locations,
with access to these materials of war granted to all members. It had sought the
authority to declare war on Amerindian tribes on behalf of all members and to
regulate the Indian trade and license Indian traders. It had sought the power to
negotiate alliances with the various Amerindian tribes and to send negotiators to
settle inter-tribal disputes. The confederation legally could take no action until at
least six members approved, although this was not always the actual case.(53)
New England was more than sufficiently rich to sustain its militia. When
it deployed men on the frontier it found that a town could feed, house, and
otherwise provide for a considerable number of men. Most towns could contribute
a company or two of militia to the general effort while retaining sufficient strength
to defend themselves. Most towns had one or more fortified buildings that served
as a base of operations when the militia was deployed in the area; and as places of
refuge if the town came under Amerindian attack.
New England frequently offered its militiamen various incentives for
performing their duties well. Although these colonies did not have large blocks of
land to donate (as Virginia did) but they did offer occasional bounties in land,
notably in Maine. The colonies generally did not have to offer scalp bounties in
order to mobilize militiamen, but again, on occasion, they did so. Too, there were
possibilities of militiamen obtaining plunder; and others obtained money from the
sales of Amerindian captives as slaves.
In 1688 the King James II was expelled, nominally because he kept a
standing army in violation of Parliament's orders and for being sympathetic to
Roman Catholics and to the French. Parliament passed a Mutiny Act, setting up
courts-martial and imposing military law for periods of up to six months. There
was no appeal to either the courts or Parliament and we may view this action as the
beginning of true, sovereign parliamentary supremacy.
The Glorious Revolution brought a Bill of Rights, that, among other
things, provided that the king could not keep a standing army in the time of peace.
Parliament would fund the military on an annual basis through the conventional
budgetary process. In April 1689 the colonists of New England decided to endorse
in the change of government by ousting royalist and reactionary Governor Edmund
Andros. The provincial authorities also ordered the arrest of royalist officers
serving in Andros's army. Without their leaders, the army dissolved. A popular
leader, Jacob Leisler, declared himself to be acting lieutenant-governor, to serve
until the pleasure of Parliament become known. Dutch settlers in Albany (who
were also under Andros's control) refused to recognize Leisler's dubious claim,
choosing to rule themselves through a popularly elected town assembly. Only a
militia remained to protect the borders, restrain and pacify the Amerindians and
The Dominion of New England "fulfilled the expectations of the Lords of
Trade as a solution of the colonial problem of defense." It checked Indian
encroachments and strengthened the alliance with the Iroquois. Andros's
garrisoning of the frontier and his aggressive military ventures "made New England
formidable to its enemies."(54) When the Dominion of New England collapsed, the
new government in England delayed the formulation of imperial policy for the
defense of the colonies. The Lords of Trade were insisting on reestablishing a
consolidated government over the northern colonies, which they interpreted to
include New England, New York, and New Jersey, under a single governor-general. However, this plan of reconsolidation was left unresolved because of the
effective opposition led by the New England agents in London.(55) The New
England Puritans could claim victory only to the extent that they had succeeded in
maintaining their status as a separate colonies. Still, for a variety of good reasons,
substantial opinion existed for re-establishing the Dominion. There was general
agreement that any new dominion must shed its autocratic features. On 25 January
1691, a group of forty-five of the leading citizens of Massachusetts petitioned the
King to appoint "a Governor and Council over us to administer the Government
with an elected Assembly . . . and as many of the little provinces as seem good to
you may be united under one Governor for mutual defence and security."(56) In July
1691 New York Governor Henry Sloughter, claiming that he had the backing of the
council and General Assembly, expressed the same desire.(57) On 14 May 1692
William Phips (1651-1695) arrived at Boston carrying a parliamentary commission
naming him as captain-general, governor and commander in chief of the militia for
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the KIng's Province,
Massachusetts and New Hampshire estates. This was a plan the New England
colonies opposed with great vigor because these provinces claimed that they alone
controlled their own militias. They claimed there was no legal provision for
subordinating the provincial militias to any exterior authority.(58)
Meanwhile, the colonists sought to create a military union on their own,
prompted by the French and Indian hostilities along the New York and Maine
frontiers in 1689. These incursions caught the northern colonies unprepared. To
meet the emergency, attempts were made to reinstate a regional military union of
much the same sort as the New England Confederation. Mutual military support
was the theme of the times. In July 1689 Massachusetts Governor Bradstreet
requested that Connecticut authorities to "be ready to yield all necessary assistance
when desired according to the rules of our ancient union and confederation."(59)
But the Confederation was not revitalized. Robert Livingston, writing from
Hartford, speaking for many, argued that "it will be very requisite that the united
Colonies take Inspection of all affairs with us, since their interest and ours are so
inseparable . . . "(60)
Connecticut and Rhode Island would not allow Phips to recruit volunteers,
let alone draft men, from their militia on grounds that their charters granted them
exclusive and inviolable rights to control and deploy their own militias. Phips
appealed to the king, arguing that "you will not be soe unmindfull of your old
neighbours." This failed to yield any results. The Rhode Island Assembly refused
to recognize Phips as commander over the colony's militia and petitioned the crown
for recognition of its charter rights. The Attorney General and Committee of Trade
agreed to uphold Rhode Island's constitutional stand, but reaffirmed the Attorney
General's opinion of 1690 that the crown retained the power to appoint a
commander in chief over any part of a colony's militia. Thus, in time of invasion
the king or his delegate could take charge of whatever forces required. Phips made
no overt move to assume command over the militia of the colonies.(61)
In May 1693, the crown ordered Benjamin Fletcher, governor of
Pennsylvania, West Jersey, and New York, to take command of the Connecticut
militia for an expedition against Canada. It told Phips to "consult and advise" with
Fletcher. East Jersey and Pennsylvania refused to respond to Fletcher's demands
for money and troops.(62) In October 1693 Fletcher, accompanied by two members
of the New York Council, traveled to Hartford to establish his commission as
commander of the Connecticut militia. Having learned of Fletcher's intentions
earlier, the Connecticut General Court dispatched Fitz-John Winthrop to England
to secure confirmation of the charter. The General Court took the position that
Fletcher's commission could not supersede the powers that the Connecticut Charter
granted to the colony over its own over the militia. "We are still willing to doe our
proportion with our neighbours in such public charge wherein we are equally
concerned," the Connecticut General Court informed Fletcher, but other colonies
must do their share. Connecticut argued that it had already done more than its part
by contributing to the garrisons at Albany and Deerfield.(63)
Fletcher, in a letter to the Lords of Trade, warned that Connecticut's
obstinacy would lead to a French victory in North America. "These People of
Connecticut are in a greate fright the noise of a Quo Warranto or A sharp Letter
from theire Majesties will reduce Them the wisest and Richest of them Desire to
bee under the Kings imediate Government."(64) Fletcher called a general conference
of the governors to obtain pledges of troops and financial aid from each colony.
The Board of Trade authorized to Fletcher to issue a call for troops from New
York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
Moreover, the crown authorized the appointment of a chief commander to order the
combined provincial militias in time of war. The crown also ordered the colonies
to contribute troops or other assistance upon request of the governor of New York.
Several of the colonies were outraged at this assertion of English power
over the colonial militias. The Rhode Island Assembly resolved that "in time of
peace, and when the danger is over, the militia within each of the said provinces
ought, as we humbly conceive, to be under the government and disposition of the
respective Governors of the Colonies, according to their Charters."(65) Another
negative provincial reaction was financial. For example, the Maryland House of
Delegates only reluctantly voted a small appropriation and elusively talked of the
possibility of future free will donations.(66) The London Board of Trade
considered the establishment of a colonial military union to be of paramount
On 30 September 1696 the Board considered various proposals along that
line from the colonies. John Nelson, Governor Fletcher of New York and
Governor Nicholson of Maryland offered plans that, while intriguing, were also
insufficient or unacceptable. The Board concluded that in wartime all provincial
militia should be placed under one a single authority who would bear the title of
captain general, who would be invested with the powers of a royal governor.
American colonial representatives then appeared before the Board of
Trade, but they were unable to agree on a united front that they would present
before the board. Edmund Harrison, Henry Ashurst, William Phips, representing
New England and Daniel Coxe of New York argued for the creation of a governor
general with civil as well as well as military jurisdiction. Fitz-John Winthrop
reiterated Connecticut's position based upon the charter rights it held that precluded
tampering with its militia. Chidley Brooke and William Nicoll of New York
favored a stronger union than any yet proposed. The Board of Trade feared the
consequences of voiding the charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut without due
legal process. Thus, the Board decided to recommend a military union superimposed by the Crown. In February 1697 an order by the king-in-council directed the
establishment of a military union of the four New England colonies, New York,
and West New Jersey under a captain-general.(67)
The first appointment of captain-general went to Richard Coote, first Earl
of Bellomont in the Irish peerage. Bellomont had powerful support, for among
those backing him were William III, Lord Shrewsbury and Sir Henry Ashurst. It
was a good appointment for Bellomont was acceptable to the New England and
New York. While his political title was Governor of New York, Massachusetts
and New Hampshire, in reality Bellomont received command over all the militia
of the northern colonies. That command could be exercised only during wartime.
Bellomont did not reach New York until April 1698 and did not take over the reins
of the Massachusetts government until May 1699. Unfortunately, his first great
commitment was not military but criminal. He arrived just in time to become
embroiled in the Captain Kidd affair.(68) He had no success in gaining recognition
of his military powers in Rhode Island. Whatever chance he may have had to
succeed there initially was soon lost as he became obsessed with enforcement of
the highly unpopular Navigation Acts.(69) More destructive yet, he became entangled
in the complex politics, largely of New York, that had also undone his predecessor,
Benjamin Fletcher. Bellomont died suddenly in March 1701, and with him died
also the plan for military unity.
Renewed call for a central military authority for New England came as the
colonies prepared to enter Queen Anne's War. Joseph Dudley had received his
commission in 1702 as Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. With this
was his appointment as captain general with authority over all the New England
militia in time of war. He was also vice-admiral of Rhode Island.(70) Dudley found
it impossible to weld together an inter-colonial military system. New England had
two objections to his appointment. First, there had objections to his previous
service as the first governor of the Dominion of New England. He was also closely
tied to the established high church party in England. Rhode Island and Connecticut
remained recalcitrant concerning their charter privileges. Connecticut refused to
send troops beyond the frontier of the Connecticut Valley during the early phase
of Queen Anne's War. Connecticut disbanded its militia in 1704 without Dudley's
authorization. When told to obey the orders of the Massachusetts Governor,
Connecticut refused. In late 1706 and early 17077 Dudley appealed to Fitz-John
Winthrop, begging him to use his powers of persuasion to enlist the support of
Connecticut in the combined provincial expedition being assembled to capture Port
Royal in Acadia. Winthrop replied that the Connecticut Assembly would not
cooperate because there was nothing about that expedition that would benefit the
colony. Rhode Island also denied Dudley's military authority over its militia.(71)
Professor John Shy, a leading critic of the American colonial militia
system, observed that, about 1710, "it would be wrong to idealize the New England
militia, but it would be equally mistaken not to recognize that there the institution
had retained its vitality."(72) Toward the end of Queen Anne's War (1702-1713)
Governor Joseph Dudley could boast that his militia system had achieved two
goals. First, it successfully defended its own frontiers and most settlements from
French and Amerindian attack. Second, it had supplied significant troop strength
to assist the English expeditions against French Canada.
Plans for a Unified Military Command
We may think of the Albany Plan as the first attempt to create a politico-military union among the colonies, but before the Albany Plan was proposed there
were several schemes for colonial union proposed between 1643 and 1754. Most
of these were schemes for regional integration, rather than plans for full inter-colonial military, political, economic and social cooperation. The separate
founding of the colonies, coupled with difficulties of travel, prevented effective
Union until the Revolution. However, many proposals for union had grown out of
the many common problems faced by the Colonies. The most continually
aggravating problem was that of frontier defense against Amerindian attack.
Rivalry with the Swedes, Dutch Spanish and French exacerbated this problem.
Trade and boundary disputes emphasized the need for a common arbitrator. A
common culture, mores, folkways, customs, religion, ethnic origin, traditions and
allegiance provided a reasonable basis for unity. Moreover, the English home
government, desiring to make the colonies a more effective unit for imperial trade
and defense, in some cases, encouraged several plans for union. These plans varied
widely in origin and design. There was no common agreement on the number of
the American colonies to be included.
Colonial military policy had developed along relatively simplistic lines.
The colonial militias would take on the responsibility of guarding the frontiers
against the Amerindians. There would be no standing armies within the colonies.
Ordinarily, colonists or their legislatures attended to the selection of colonial
officers. Militia funding was the responsibility of colonial legislatures. Military
units existed only as long as a crisis existed; permanent military systems were
unacceptable. When there was a larger operation, British naval and military power
would be brought to bear. In larger campaigns the militia would be merged with
regular British forces. Militia might come under British command at any point.
While militia need not serve beyond the boundaries of the colonies, British
authorities could draft militiamen into service abroad.
The United Colonies of New England was a practical plan which actually
existed between 1643 and 1684. Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and
New Haven were united in a league largely for frontier defense. It was replaced
by the Dominion of New England in 1688. The British Crown superimposed this
plan upon the members by making Sir Edmund Andros Governor-general of all the
New England colonies, New York, East and West Jersey. New England
maintained for a period of forty years its "Confederation." Between 1643 and 1662
the members were Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven.
Between 1662 and 1684 New Haven, having been incorporated into Connecticut,
disappeared from the records as a partner. This early system had functioned fairly
effectively under the acknowledged primacy of the government of Massachusetts
Bay, in the requisitioning of men and money upon the member colonies when
action was required. Moreover, the Plan adhered scrupulously to the requisition
principle and in its scope scarcely went beyond the New England concert of King
George's War, which under the primacy of Massachusetts Bay had to its credit the
capture of the great fortress of Louisbourg.
The Inter-colonial Congress, which existed between 1689-91, included
New York, Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut. These colonies entered into
a temporary military league for frontier defense.
William Penn's Briefe and Plaine Scheam for union was written in 1697.
Penn's proposal for a loose confederation grew out of the conditions prevailing
during King William's War. This was an odd work especially considering the
general opposition to war and military establishment espoused by the Society of
Friends; and in view of the Quaker opposition to the passage of a militia act.
Another plan of union was proposed under the Earl of Bellomont.
Bellomont served between 1698 and 1701 as governor of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He was also commander of the military forces of those
colonies and of the forces of the provinces of Connecticut, Rhode Island and the
Jerseys. The Crown appointed Bellomont to this large command because of
colonial failure to co-operate in defense. It hoped that a strong over-lord might
superimpose military union and full cooperation among the several militias in
defense of the frontiers.
Governor Hamilton's Plan of 1699 was based on the production of
supplies for the Royal Navy which would then guard against the designs of the
French. He also proposed the construction of many strong strategic fortified
positions and strong-holds along the frontier. These static fortifications would
prevent the incursion of large French, Indian or mixed forces. Military defensive
positions were to be planned, designed, executed and built under the direction of
British regular military engineers. Hamilton thought that previous fortified
positions had failed because colonials were poor engineers and builders and had
not the dedication, skill or will to build impregnable forts. Colonial log forts
deteriorated too quickly. Hamilton made his proposals while he was serving as
deputy-governor of Pennsylvania. His proposal included provision for an
inter-colonial assembly with the power to levy a poll tax to finance his several
A Virginian's Plan of Union of 1701, was an anonymous publication
issued in London which advocated abolishing all the proprietary governments and
uniting the colonies under an inter-colonial Congress and governor-general. This
plan was more political and administrative in conception than military, except that
a unified colonial administration would have a unified military command. Unified
command would include universal imposition of the Mutiny Act and brutal, but
highly effective, martial law and military discipline.
Robert Livingston's proposed his quite incomplete scheme for military
union in 1701. In a letter to the Lords of Trade, Livingston proposed that the
colonies be grouped into three military-administrative units, which would be
coordinated by the Council of Trade for frontier defense. Again, British discipline
and thorough administration would replace local discipline which nearly all agreed
was quite lax as compared with standard British discipline. Livingston was
principally concern¢d with the scarcity of militia training standards and armament.
Queen Anne's War provided an excellent opportunity for inter-colonial military
cooperation, as well as full cooperation between colonies and mother country.
Beginning in 1708 Governor Vetch and others thought that a major joint venture
against Quebec was being planned. But the home office changed its objective from
Quebec to Port Royal. Intercolonial cooperation was quickly abandoned. Vetch
called a conference at Rehoboth, Rhode Island, but New York declined to attend
and the delegates from Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut and
Rhode Island settled for the simple expedient of sending a petition to the queen
asking for an assault on Quebec. Five hundred British marines easily captured the
under-manned fort at Port Royal, with colonials have little role in the action. Vetch
assumed political control over the area and thoughts of formal military alliances
All plans for military cooperation and unity called for a centralized
authority and some sort of permanent military force. The colonists might have
tolerated a substantial British force in America, if the troops had been dispersed to
the distant frontiers. But the British government did not want to bear this added
expense. British troops permanently stationed in the American colonies during
Queen Anne's War consisted only of four companies of one hundred men each.
Their mission was to block the invasion routes along the Mohawk and Champlain
valleys. The British government under-supported, even neglected and ignored,
these troops. Professor John Shy noted that, at the end of Queen Anne's War, the
crown considered maintaining troops in the colonies, but only if three conditions
existed: (1) inability of a particular colony or cluster of colonies to offer sufficient
defense without outside help; (2) definite strategic or financial value accrued to the
crown; and (3) the colonial authorities would cooperate by paying part of the costs
of maintaining the garrisons.(73)
The importance of friendship between the English and the Indians of the
Six Nations, along with the Indians' dependence upon the Crown of Great Britain
were two important points in the Treaty of Utrecht of 11 April 1713. An effort was
made at this Treaty to have the Indians of the Six Nations acknowledged by French
to be subject to the Dominion of Great Britain. One provision of the treaty was that
"the French shall give no hindrance or molestation either to them, or the other
natives of America, who were friends of the English.(74) The Treaty further
stipulated that the subjects of both monarchies would be permitted to come and go
freely and to trade as they wished and that the natives should also have the same
freedom to move freely between the British and French colonies so as to promote
trade on both sides. Some of the colonists, having been aware of the arrangement
agreed to at the Treaty of Utrecht, became concerned when a considerable number
of French "settled on a Carrying Place, made use of by the several Indian Tribes
inhabiting that part of the country . . . which separated the Head of the Kennebeck
River from that of the River Chandiere . . . ."(75) Some colonists became even more
alarmed when they also learned that the Norredgwalk Indians "had given the new
French settlers upon the Carry-Place liberty to hunt any where in that Country."(76)
This gave rise for concern because it threatened "to disturb the tranquility of the
British Provinces."(77) Both Great Britain and the colonists wanted the Indians to
remain dependent upon the Crown, for such dependency was an effective
Not until 1721 did the crown send other regular army units to the colonies.
In that year the Board of Trade authorized the deployment of eight infantry
regiments on the frontier of New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The only other
regular British troops stationed in America on a permanent basis were a few
companies in the New York garrisons .Additionally, there were one hundred
"invalids" in South Carolina. Invalids were pensioners who had been relieved from
active duty because of infirmity, age or disability, and could be used only in case
of dire emergency.(78)
In reality, the principal factor mitigating against a general military
establishment was the establishment of a general overall authority in the person of
a captain general. Such an authority was designed to serve as commander in chief
of all militia forces, at least during war time, on a permanent basis. This concept
was anathema to the independent American colonists who loathed the idea of any
standing army existing in peacetime. Nevertheless, the English authorities secretly
harbored a plan for creating a captain-general with command over all the militias
of all the colonies. Governors Nicholson and Hunter offered their support and
endorsement to the plan. After Queen Anne's War this idea of centralized military
authority was repeated over and again in the recommendations of and to the Board
The Earl of Stair in 1721 submitted to the Board of Trade another plan for
administrative and military union. Stair's plan included all the continental colonies
and the British West Indies in a single military command under a single system of
military hierarchy, discipline and command. The system was to be chaired by a
governor-in-chief who was to be appointed by the crown. An advisory council of
two members from each colony was to assist this official. The governor and his
council could levy assessments against the colonies for defense purposes, although
the legislature in each colony was free to decide the exact type of tax which would
be levied to fulfill its assessed obligation. The scheme was to be established by
action of the British Parliament.
The Lords of Trade proposed their own plan in 1721 which was outlined
in a report given directly to the king. In its essentials, it was drawn from the Earl
of Stair's proposal.
Daniel Coxe's offered his plan in 1722 which appeared in a book on world
travel published in London. Coxe proposed a union of all the continental colonies
under one governor, although there would still be a lieutenant-governor representing the king in each colony. The principal obligations of the over-lord governor
would be military in nature. He would recruit, pay and train the basic standing
military force and provide standards for militia training and armament. A great
council composed of two delegates from each colony was to advise the governor.
It would also make decisions concerning the provisioning of the army and the
drafting of men needed for the standing colonial defense force.
The Kennedy-Franklin Plan of 1751, was the joint effort of Archibald
Kennedy, receiver-general of New York, and newspaper editor and statesman
Benjamin Franklin. In a pamphlet dealing with Indian trade and frontier defense,
they proposed a unified system of frontier defense. Doubtless, Franklin was
seeking a method of forcing Pennsylvania to pass a militia law and to form a militia
force. If the state legislature could not be convinced to act on its own in these
matters then superimposition from outside might present the only feasible
alternative to force the issue. The system was more oriented toward a militia
system than the other later plans which had a strong element of a standing army to
them. These military forces were to be directed by a superintendent to be assigned
to the colonies by commissioners representing the colonial assemblies. Benjamin
Franklin added some additional details in his later Albany Plan.
The following proposal, dated 1747, is one of the more practical as well
as feasible and complete plans offered before the Albany Plan.
At a meeting of the Commissioners of the Several Governments of the Massachusetts Bay
New York and Connecticut, at the City of New York, in order to concert and Agree upon
some general Measures for carrying on the war against the common Enemy and for the
Mutual defense and Security of his Majestys British Provinces and Colonys on ye Continent
in North America, it is Judged after Mature consideration had of the present distressing
circumstances of these three Colonys and thereupon the said Commissioners agree to Report
to their Respective Constituants that they Unanimously are of opinion
1. That an Expedition be formed and carryed on against ye French Fort at Crown Point for
the Reduction of that Fortress.
2. That it will be necessary that four thousand men (officers included) be raised (with as
many of ye Six Nations of Indians and their allies as can be Obtained) to carry on the Said
Expedition, and that it will be Necessary those troops be at Albany by the fifteenth of April
Next Ready to March for the aforesaid purpose.
3. That as the Engaging the six Nations and their Allies in this and other Services against the
Common Enemy, is of great importance to the British Governments, it is Judged Necessary
that such of ye Indians as shall Engage in the said Expedition and go into the Service be
Equipt Each with necessarys to ye value of five pounds New York currency, and be assured
of a present of ye like value on their Return in case of Success.
4. That as a further means of Securing and Engaging the said Indians in the Service of the
English and to prevent their being Seduced to Revolt to ye French, it is agreed that it be
proposed to Each of ye said Governments that a Gunsmith be Sent to Each of ye Tribes
following viz: the Oniades, Onandagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, and two men with Each
Gunsmith to continue with them untill the Next Spring and that ye said persons be instructed
to be as oblidging as may be to ye Indians with whom they live and converse and do all in
their power to Establish and increase ye interest of ye English with them and from time to
time Advise ye Governments of any thing they Shall observe Necessary or that ye Indians
may want or desire to be done for yt purpose and that there be purchased Suitable goods to
ye value of three hundred and Sixty pounds New York currency to be put into the hands of
said Smiths (or of one of ye men who go with them Respectively) to be given to the Several
Nations aforesaid (Except Sixty pounds thereof to be put into the hands of Some Suitable
person for the Mohawks) to be Distributed as follows viz. one hundred and twenty pounds
to the Senecas, Sixty pounds to the Oniades & Tuscarora's, Sixty pounds to the Cayuga's,
and Sixty pounds to ye Onandaga's and that ye Several persons Render an account upon
Oath of ye Disposition of ye Said goods to ye Respective Governments and that ye Charges
of ye Said Smiths and others attending them as also ye Said three hundred and Sixty pounds
be born and paid in the proportion following, viz., the Massachusetts Pay Nine twentyeth
parts, New York Eight twentyeths and Connecticut three twentyeths, but these proportions
not to be drawn into precedent upon any other occasion hereafter.
5. That (besides what Governour Clinton has Assured the Commissioners Shall be Supplyed
gratis of ye battoes cannon and warlike Stores and implements in the Province of New York
provided at his Majestys Expence) the General and common Expence Necessary for
Engaging and Rewarding the Indians paying the officers of ye Train of artiliry and for ye
Common Store of Shot gun powder and other Military preparations Necessary for ye
common Service be provided by and at the Charge of ye Governments Engaging in this
Service and that the proportions and Quotas of the Governments for these Services as well
as ye keeping and Supporting the Garrison (if Reduced) until his Majesty's pleasure be
known be as above mentioned & that whatsoever part or proportion either of men or money
any other Governments Shall undertake to bear and furnish Shall lessen the parts of these
three Governments according to the aforesaid proportion and that ye legislatures of Each
Government Engaging in this Enterprize Raise Equip provide for Subsist and pay their own
troops as also appoint Commissarys to take care of their own Stores. Saving that the
Govemment of New York be not oblidged to raise above twelve hundred men the
Massachusetts Commissioners agreeing to propose to their Constituants to Raise four
hundred men to compleat ye proportion of New York the officers to be Commissioned by
ye Governour of ye Said Government undertaking to provide the Same and both officers and
Souldiers of Said four hundred men to Receive ye Same bounty wages Subsistance and
Every other thing from ye Government of New York which Shall be given or paid by Said
Government of New York to a like proportion of the twelve hundred men they Shall raise
for said Expedition.
6. That the Governours of ye Massachusets bay New York and Connecticut be desired to
appoint and Commission the three General Officers for the Said Expedition.
7. That Each Government appoint a Committee of one or more persons to Meet at
Middletown in Connecticut on the Eleventh day of December Next or as Soon after as may
be in order to Determine and ascertain the particulars Necessary to be provided at ye
Common Charge of ye Governments and also to agree what particular Sorts or Species of
ye Said particulars Each Government Shall undertake to provide having Regard to Said
8. That ye Commissioners here present having made Report to their Respective Constituants
of what measures are hereby agreed upon the Governours of ye Massachusets bay, New York
and Connecticut be Desired by ye Respective Assemblys of these Governments to apply to
ye Governours of the Several other provinces and Colonys from Virginia to New Hampshire
inclusive to recommend it to their Several assemblys fully to Joyn according and in
proportion to their ability in this common undertaking against his Majestys Enemys and to
unite with these Governments in the Mutual Defence and Security of his Majestys Colonys
on the Continent in North America; and particularly Desiring them to Send their committee
to Meet at Middletown aforesd to Engage in this undertaking and to agree upon what part
they Respectively will provide of Men, Money and Common Stores necessary for the
Engaging and Encouraging the Indians and for ye Carrying on ye Said Expedition also
Requesting as Speedy an Answer as may be to ye Governours of these Governments
Respectively of what their Several Governments will undertake in this important Enterprize.
9. That in the mean time while ye preparations are making for ye proposed Expedition
application be made to his Majesty by ye Legislatures of Each of these Governments for
Such a Naval force as may be sufficient to go up ye River Saint Lawrance and either divert
or Subdue that part of ye Country and in case of an assurance of a Sufficiency to command
the river and attack ye fortresses there and that it be his Majestys pleasure the Expedition be
carryed on against Canada that then ye preparations and Necessarys designed more
immediately for an Expedition against Crown Point be imployed and carryed on against
Canada for the Reduction of the same with Such additional force as can be raised; and in that
case that application at ye Same time be made as aforesaid that ye Quotas of the Several
Governments be Setled and that those who are deficient be injoined to furnish the Same.
10. That in case the other Governments who have not Sent their Commissioners to this
meeting to Concert measures for ye common good of his Majestys Subjects Shall after
application made to them as before proposed and Notice of these conclusions and
approbation thereof by these Governments Shall neglect or refuse to Joyn them in these
important affairs for ye mutual defence and Security of his Majestys Subjects and interest
that then application be made as aforesaid for ye Royal injunctions to be laid on ye several
deficient Governments to furnish and provide their proportion and Quotas of Men & Money
necessary for ye future general defence and Security of his Majestys Colonys and for ye
Carrying on any proper Scheem for ye Annoyance of ye common Enemy.
11. That in case the proposed Expedition against Crown Point only go forward and no Ships
of war are Sent by his Majesty to go up the River St. Lawrance for ye purpose aforesaid then
a Diversion be made up said River with what vessels can be obtained from the several
Governments at ye charge of ye said Governments and in conjunction with such of his
Majestys Ships of war as can be procured at Lewisburgh or elsewhere and that a diversion
by land be made by the direction and under the conduct of ye general officers by such of ye
forces of Christians and Indians as Shall by said officers on proper encouragement be Sent
out for yt purpose.
12. That the vessels goods Stores and other things sent or that shall go thro any part of the
Government of New York for the forces imployed in the aforementioned and proposed
Service or in garrisoning the said Fortress be free and exempt from all toll, tribute, custom
and duty that is or might be imported on Such Materials by virtue of any act of ye
Government of New York.
13. That if it Shall happen that the proposed expeditions Shall neither of them be carryed on
the Next year or if by reason of any other Events it shall be found Necessary for the defence
of his Majestys Subjects and annoying the Enemy to Send out and Maintain Scouts or
Rangers that then the Governments of ye Massachusets bay, New York and Connecticut send
out on proper encouragement such a number of men respectively as they Shall Judge a
proportion for them in order to defend the borders of the Exposed Settlements and to annoy
and distress the French and Enemy Indians in their Settlements, and in this Service to Joyn
with such of ye Six Nations of Indians and their allies as will go on that design; and that ye
other Governments of New Jersey, Pensilvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and
Rhoad Island be applyed to, to furnish provide and bear their proportion in men, Money or
other Necessarys for the encouragement and Support of Such Scouts or Rangers and that
Each Government providing and sending out such Scouts or Rangers Receive the benefit of
such money or other necessarys as Shall be afforded by the other Governments not sending
men, in proportion to the number of men they shall Respectively imploy in said Service.
14. That in case any attack or invasion Shall be made by the Enemy on any one or more of
his Majestys Governments and application be made to any other Government for assistance,
that ye Same be Speedily afforded according to the necessity and Circumstances of the case;
the Subsistance only being provided by and at the Charge of the Government Requesting and
receiving Such Succors. And if either of the Governments receive any intelligence of an
Enemy approaching either by Sea or Land who may in danger any one or more of the other
Governments that they give them the earliest Notice possible thereof by Express.
15. That the Legislatures of these three Colonys be Desired to Determine upon this
agreement with all the dispatch possible and when done that each Government do signify the
same to the others as soon as may be.
16. The Large numbers of men and great charges consequent thereupon as above have been
come into by the Commissioners, by reason of the Distressing Circumstances of these
Governments, Notwithstanding the full perswasion of the Commissioners that these burdens
must be beyond the ability of said Governments if continued, they being almost constantly
harrassed by invasions or incursions in their borders from the French and their Indians for
Near five hundred miles an End and many of their Settlements already broken up and
destroyed and divers others in the most imminent danger the case being Such that if these
Governments do not lay these heavy burdens on themselves (under which, if they are not
relieved, they must Sink) they must be much Sooner destroyed by their inhuman Enemys
above said who are exceedingly Supported Spirited and advantaged by the abovesaid Crown
Point Fort. The Commissioners being Sensible that it is as truly unreason able and
Destructive to these Governments to Supply all the men and Money Necessary to defend his
Majestys Subjects and interest in North america as it would be for a Small part of ye Nation
to be at ye Expence of Defending the whole There being diverse more wealthy and populous
Governments than we are who have been and are
defended by us and therefore in all reason ought to bear their proportion of the common
defense both with men and Money.
17. The above articles we agree to recommend to and in all proper ways to Endeavour they
may be ratified by the Governments to which we respectively belong none of which Shall
be obligatory on any of the three Governments but Such as Shall be ratified by all. In
Testimony whereof we have Signed triplicates of these presents at ye City of New York this
twenty Eighth day of September in the twenty first year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord
George the Second of Great Britain, France and Ireland King &c; Annoque Domini, one
thousand Seven hundred and fourty Seven.(79)
The first Albany scheme for colonial union dates to 1750-51. Governor
George Clinton, in a circular letter of December 18, 1750 to all English colonial
governors, invited the them to a congress at Albany to meet with the Six Nations
at a major conference to be held in June 1751. On 13 April 1751 Clinton renewed
his proposal. He suggested that the commissioners draw up "a state of Indian
Affairs to be laid before His Majesty" and also possibly a representation to the
Governor General of Canada.(80) Clinton repeated his invitation in April when he
invited specifically Governors Wentworth, Phips, Hamilton, Glen, Johnson, Ogle,
Belcher, Wolcott, and the "President of Virginia."(81) Discussion ensued over the
proper meeting place. Glen favored a site in Virginia. Meanwhile, the various
governors expressed disgust over the dilatoriness of the assemblies to take action.
This political maneuvering delayed the opening of the conference. Most of the
assemblies probably balked because Clinton had requested that each colony
provide presents for the Indians at the conferences.(82) By June, Clinton announced
that governors of all the colonies, except Virginia which had not yet replied,
approved an intercolonial convention on Amerindian policy.
Meanwhile, French policy succeeded in igniting a war between the
Iroquois and their traditional enemies, the Catawba nation. Thomas Lee, the acting
Governor of Virginia, and Governor Glen of South Carolina laid the groundwork
for a peace treaty to be held at Fredericksburg in the summer of 1751. Governor
Hamilton of Pennsylvania agreed to attend this conference. Nonetheless, Clinton
proceeded to arrange his conference, to be held at the same time. The Iroquois
refused to go to Fredericksburg.(83) When the first Albany congress convened on
July 6, 1751, four colonies were represented: New York, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and South Carolina. William Bull and six Catawba Indians
represented South Carolina. Also attending were the mayor and corporation of
Albany and several officers of the Independent companies in New York. The
meeting opened with a pledge "to renew the Covenant Chain, to cleanse away all
Rust, to brighten it, and strengthen it so that it may forever endure . . . ." In reality,
nothing decisive emerged from the conference. Clinton offered the unusual
suggestion of sending missionaries among the Six Nations. The colonial emissaries
met this suggestion with icy silence since the implementation of the suggestion
required legislative funding.(84) The first Albany conference of 1751 did not result
in any great improvement in Indian affairs. Most significant was that, for the first
time, South Carolina was represented in a northern inter-colonial conference. Most
colonial governors favored the idea of having some unified agency to deal with the
Indians. In fact, the need to coordinate Indian policy was the primary reason for
the general participation in the second and principal Albany Congress. Jonathan
Belcher, Governor of New Jersey, had heretofore never shown much interest in
Indian affairs. However, Belcher indicated that "the Alliance and Friendship of the
Six Nations and their Dependance on the Crown of Great Britain must by every
thinking Man be looked upon as the greatest Security the Settlers on the Northern
Boundary of this Province can have to prevent the Incursions of those Nations of
Indians . . . ."(85) For his part, Governor William Shirley expressed optimism for the
outcome of an intercolonial Indian conference. "Such an Union of Councils,"
Shirley wrote, "besides the happy Effect it will probably have upon the Indians of
the Six Nations, may lay a Foundation for a general one among all his Majesty's
Colonies, for the mutual Support and Defence against the present dangerous
Enterprizes of the French on every Side of them.(86)
Virginia began building fortifications on the Forks of Ohio in order to
check this encroachment by the French and to protect the Indians in alliance with
Great Britain. Virginia felt the costs incurred in fortification should be borne by
all the colonies in proportion to the advantage they received.(87) Virginia felt
justified in making this request because of what had been conveyed upon the
colonies through the Earl of Holdernefs. The earl conveyed the sentiments of the
king and council "that . . . all his provinces in America should be aiding and
assisting each other [and] in case of invasion you should keep up . . . correspondence with all his Majesty's Governors . . and in case you shall be informed . . . of
any hostile attempts, you are . . . to assemble the general assembly within your
government, and lay before them the necessity of a mutual assistance, and . . . grant
such supplies as the exigency affairs may require."(88)
There was much dissension among the colonies regarding the prospect of
assisting one another. Most colonies were struggling financially as it was and then
the thought of having to raise funds was more than some representatives wanted to
require of their constituents. Governors began addressing their assemblies,
requesting aid and assistance be given to those colonies which were victims of
French encroachment. The encroachment continued and the king directed the
Governor of New York to hold an interview with the Six Nations, delivering
presents to the Indians at Albany on 14 June 1754. The Lords Commissioners for
Trade and Plantations wrote the governors of the colonies, informing them of this
conference and requested that this information be considered by their respective
assemblies and that they nominate Indian commissioners. They were also to
appropriate money for proper gifts to present to the Indians. Most governors
conveyed this message to their respective assemblies. The royal executives
reiterated the importance of the friendship between the colonies and the Indians,
and nearly all made "presents to them at proper times. . . and by observing all our
engagements with them.(89) Both the Council and House of Representatives of
Boston were of the opinion that even though the number of French inhabitants on
the continent at that time was considerably smaller than the English population,
there were still other circumstances that could have given the French the advantage.
The French basically had only one objective upon which their policy and military
policies remained focused, whereas the English governments had different
interests, were disunited and when not immediately affected seemed unconcerned
about events taking place in their sister colonies. The French in North America
were well supported by the Crown and treasury of France, whereas the English
were obliged to carry on any defensive measures at their own expense.(90)
Most governors stressed the need for a union of all ten colonies and
believed that the colonists were far superior to the French. However, unless
properly articulated by a union among themselves "the colonies are in danger of
being swallowed up by an enemy otherwise much smaller in strength and
Although the governors conveyed the idea of a union and stressed its
importance, it was not always met with agreement by members of the Assemblies.
The New Jersey Assembly made it quite clear to Governor Belcher that they were
of tine opinion that there was not yet a concerted effort on the parts of either the
Maryland or Pennsylvania legislatures even though they were much nearer to the
French forts. Further, they pointed out that New Jersey "had never been parties
with the Five Nations and their Allies, nor have they benefited from Indian
New Jersey's Assembly was not alone in its opposition to union. Two
members from the Pennsylvania Assembly informed Governor Hamilton "that near
one-half of the members are for various reasons, against granting any money for
the King's use.(93) Hamilton was so distressed with the sentiments of his assembly
that he wrote Governor DeLancey stating that he wished he could send the
commissioners from his province under instructions that were agreeable to
DeLancey's plan, but "from the particular views of some and ignorance and
jealousy of others I have not been able to persuade them . . . ."(94) Benjamin Franklin
wholeheartedly agreed with the governors that a plan of union was of the utmost
importance and conveyed his sentiments In an editorial appearing in the Pennsylvania Gazette.(95) Franklin described the existing situation in the colonies, including
attacks by the French and the Indians. He sent messages to Pennsylvania and
Virginia, notifying them that the Six Nations were recruiting warriors to fight the
French before they fortified their gains. Franklin believed France's confidence was
"well grounded on the present disunited State of the British Colonies, and the
extreme difficulty of bringing so many different governments and assemblies to
agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our common defense and
security."(96) At the end of this editorial Franklin added what has become known as
his motto -- "Join or Die" -- with a wood-cut of a disjointed snake, symbolic of the
divided state of the colonies. Franklin wrote,
The Confidence of the French in this Undertaking seems well grounded in the present
disunited State of the British Colonies, and the extreme Difficulty of bringing so many
different Governments and Assembles to agree in any speedy and effectual measures for our
common defense and security; While our enemies have the very great advantage of being
under one direction, with one council and one Purse. Hence, and from the great Distance of
Britain, they presume that they may with Impunity violate the most solemn Treaties
subsisting between the two Crownes, kills, fence and imprison our Traders, and consfiscate
their Effects at Pleasure, as they have done for several Years past -- murder and scalp our
Farmers, with their Wives and Children, and take an early Possession of Such Parts of the
British Territory as they find most convenient for them which if they are permitted to do,
must end in the destruction of the British Interest, Trade and Plantations in American.(97)
The need for a plan of union could be attributed to the discontent that
existed among the colonies. The Indian Nations had become angry and went to war
against certain colonies when private traders had cheated them by getting them
drunk, debauching their women and taking advantages of them through crooked
land purchases. The French had gained an early with the Indian tribes through
intermarriages with daughters of tribal landers and through trading. In the opinion
of Franklin and others, Great Britain was in danger of losing its influence over the
By the spring of 1754 there were rumors that French troops were being
moved to America and the winds of war were blowing strong. Sir William Johnson
had argued the importance of Indian aid in a war with France, suggesting that the
coming war might be lost without their help, or at least their neutrality. Northern
political authorities had failed to secure the required pledges of assistance from the
Iroquois. In some quarters, pessimists discussed the possibility of their defection
to the French cause. Against this background, the London Board of Trade
supported the call for an intercolonial conference on Amerindian affairs, beginning
with a conference with the Six Nations. The Albany Congress of 1754, already
deep in the planning stage, was as good an instrument for the establishment of this
policy as any. Thomas Pownall stated that the Iroquois were now at a stage where
they were forming into a nation and therefore some "stateholder," who should be
a man of great influence, should be appointed by the crown over the Iroquois.
Pownall's paper was later forwarded to London with the proceedings of the
The Albany Congress, a meeting of most of the English colonies, was held
from June 19 to July 11, 1754. It was an intercolonial conference was held at
Albany, New York. Present were 23 delegates from New York, Pennsylvania,
New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maryland, along
with 150 members of the Iroquois Indian federation. The Albany Congress had
been called by the English Board of Trade to deal with two pressing issues:
grievances of the Iroquois against the colonies and the presence of hostile French
forces and their Indian allies to the west of the English colonies. The Indians
complained to the congress that land speculators were stealing their lands; that an
illegal English-French trade was bypassing them, thus preventing them from acting
as middlemen for profit; and that colonials were trading directly with other Indians
supposedly under the rule of the Iroquois. Another Amerindian complaint was
centered on the removal of Sir William Johnson from the management of their
affairs. This had aroused a dangerous spirit of disaffection among the Indians.
The congress had to placate the Iroquois, because they were needed as allies
against the French. Gifts and promises were bestowed and the alliance renewed,
but the Iroquois went away only half satisfied. The Indian phase of the Albany
Congress lasted June 18-29. The Indians were pleased with the presents they
received but demanded more effort of the English in establishing forts along the
frontier as the price for their assistance against the French. A treaty was signed,
mutually renewing the ancient friendship and for the first time recognizing the
independence of the Iroquois.(99)
More serious was the French threat from the north. To meet it, the
congress drew up a plan of colonial union. For the better defense of the colonies
and control of Indian affairs many far-sighted colonial leaders had long felt that a
closer union was needed. Thus far there were only occasional meetings of colonial
governors or commissioners. Discussion of such a union now became one of the
principal subjects of the congress. Massachusetts had granted her delegates
authority to "enter into articles of union . . . for the general defense of his majesty's
Principally written by Benjamin Franklin, the plan provided for one
general government for all the colonies to manage defense and Indian affairs, pass
laws, and raise taxes. The Albany Plan provided for a voluntary union of the
colonies with "one general government, each colony to retain its own separate
existence and government." The chief executive was to be a president general
appointed by the king of England. The legislature, or Grand Council, would
consist of representatives appointed by the colonial legislatures. This federal
government was given exclusive control of Indian affairs including the power to
make peace and declare war, regulate Indian trade, purchase Indian lands for the
crown, raise and pay soldiers, build forts, equip vessels, levy taxes and appropriate
The colonists could not agree on a proportioning the cost of erecting of
certain forts to guard the northern frontier. Some colonies offered no assistance
and watched and waited, while others were willing to defend their own frontier and
those of others. Few, in any, colonies were willing to do more than their share. It
was a belief shared by many that "unless there be a united and vigorous opposition
of the English colonies to them, the French were "laying a solid foundation for
being, some time or other, sole masters of this continent . . . ."(100) A plan of union
was necessary in order to maintain the territory they currently held. Many hoped
a union would come out of the conference with the Six Indian Nations at Albany
that was scheduled for 14 June 1754. The opening date of this conference was
delayed until 19 June 1754 so that representatives from all the colonies could be
present. As it was, Virginia and New Jersey both declined to send commissioners.
It was on 24 June 1754 that the Albany Congress(101) voted that a committee
consisting of one representative of each of the colonial delegations be selected "to
prepare and receive Plans or Schemes for the Union of the Colonies, and to digest
them into one general plan for the inspection of this Board."(102) The result was a
"Plan of a proposed Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New
Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jerseys, Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, for their mutual defence
and security, and for extending the British Settlements in North America, " the
precise title of the Albany Plan of Union.
Franklin's memoirs indicated that there were several people who read his
various pamphlets, drafts and proposals before the Albany Congress began.
Among these was doubtless his colleague, Proprietorial Secretary of Pennsylvania
Richard Peters, who had earlier prepared a scheme which carried the title "A Plan
for a General Union of the British Colonies of North America."(103) This provided
for the organization of a "Union regiment" to be formed by the contribution of a
company of one hundred men from each colony, to be supported by colonial excise
taxes and commanded by officers appointed by the Crown; according to this
project, likewise, there was to be not only a "Union Fund" but also a "Fort Fund";
it also visualized the grouping of the continental colonies into four unions for
defensive purposes, based upon geographical and other considerations. In
searching for light on other union proposals available for the Committee one must
omit, it would seem, that by Thomas Pownall, who was not a commissioner and
who only at the last session of the Congress submitted his "Considerations toward
a General Plan of Measures for the Colonies."(104)
There remain to be considered two surviving plans of union that are so
closely related that they may be considered as essentially one. That is, one is
clearly an amended form of the other. The first is entitled "Plan of a proposed
Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts-Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode-Island, New York & New Jersey, for their mutual Defence, & Security,
& for extending the British Settlements Northward & Westward of Said Colonies
in North-America." It proposed that the colonies ask Parliament for enabling
legislation, allowing the colonies to proceed with the plan. The president-general
would serve simultaneously as governor of Massachusetts and would be commander of all troops under the council's control; and in case of his death the lieutenant-governor of the same colony would serve. There would be a treasurer to
handle the organization's finances. The principal duty of the popularly elected
council would regulation of the Indian trade and the negotiation of war, peace and
treaties with the Amerindian tribes; and negotiate with the natives for all land
purchases made beyond the boundaries of the thirteen colonies. Council would
also offer protection to all new settlements until they were brought under some
more appropriate government. Each colony would retain its own militia and have
exclusive power to order it within the colony.(105)
The second is the "Plan of a Proposed Union of The Several Colonies of
Massachusetts-Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, & New York, for
their Mutual Defence & Security & for extending the British Settlements
Northward & Westward of Said Colonys in North America."(106) Outside of
inconsequential differences in a clause or two, capitalization and spelling, the
principal differences that distinguishes the two plans is that in the first, New Jersey
is included in the amendment of the text, and in the second, it is excluded.
Unfortunately, one cannot be certain whether these two plans for a union of
northern continental colonies existed at the time that the Committee on a Union
was appointed. Thus, one does not know if either or both of these proposals was
laid before the Albany Congress. The only sure and certain thing that can be said
is that Franklin's "Short Hints" was written well before the Congress.(107)
By June 28 the Congress arrived at its first decision. It favored the
Franklin project of union as a basis for the final scheme. Therefore, in reporting
to the Congress, the Committee "presented short hints of a scheme for that purpose
of which copies were taken by the Commissioners of the respective Provinces."(108)
On June 29, according to the Journal of the proceedings of the Congress, "The
details of a scheme for the Union of the Colonies were debated on, but came to no
Peters presented a plan that was totally ignored by the Congress and, thus,
is not connected with its final proposals on a union. The two plans for a union of
northern continental colonies have a most important relation to the adopted Albany
Plan. In language and structure they are identical with it. There are two
possibilities. One is that these two plans were drafted in the course of the
proceedings of the work of the Committee on Colonial Union, or after its
termination, and were a by-product, of the logical expansion by Franklin of his
"Short Hints" in the direction of the finished Albany Union Plan finally adopted
by the Congress. The other possibility is that at least one, and possibility both, of
the plans existed prior to the time that the Committee began its work. Thus, at least
one of the plans had to be digested by the group in welding various union proposals
into a final harmonious scheme.
There were perhaps other plans prepared for the attention of the
Committee, but of these we have no knowledge. No mention was made in the
Journal of the Congress of other plans of union that were considered by the
Committee. The traditional view is that Benjamin Franklin, acting alone, was the
master architect of the Albany Plan. After the Congress commenced works only
a very few modifications in it were required, and these were the result of
discussions in Committee. Some delegates may have carried in suggestions or
requirements from their respective colonies. Franklin, for his part, at no time stated
that the Albany Plan was really a composite thing, and seemed to imply that the
Plan was entirely his own. Such modifications as the delegates offered at the
Congress were made against Franklin's better judgment. Writing to his New York
friend Cadwallader Colden on 14 July 1754, at the close of the Congress, Franklin
bragged, "The Commissioners agreed on a Plan of Union of 11 Colonies . . . the
same with that of which I sent you the Hints, some few Particulars excepted."(110)
In a letter to Peter Collinson, dated 29 December, Franklin enclosed a copy of the
famous "Motives," which he had drawn up in support of the Albany Plan, and with
reference to the latter stated, "For tho' I projected the Plan and drew it, I was
oblig'd to alter some Things contrary to my Judgment or should never have been
able to carry it through."(111) Again in that part of his Autobiography, written as late
as 1788, he referred to his own contribution to the Albany Congress.(112) "A
Committee was then appointed, one member, from each colony, to consider the
several plans and report. Mine happen'd to be preferr'd, and, with a few Amendments, was accordingly reported."(113)
Thomas Hutchinson reinforced Franklin's own testimony. Writing many
years later in his Diary about the work of the Congress, the Massachusetts Bay
delegate said Franklin had prepared the text long before he had any contact with
Hutchinson.(114) In his History of Massachusetts, Hutchinson summarized "the
capital parts of the plan." He wrote, "The plan for a general union was projected
by Benjamin Franklin, Esq., one of the Commissioners from the province of
Pensilvania, the heads where of he brought with him."(115)
Whatever other plans of union may have survived, they were but a
projection either of the final draft of the "Short Hints" or at least of an intermediate
draft made by Franklin. Jared Sparks' edition of Franklin's work contained a
document which referred to the introduction of a plan of union designed to
encompass only the colonies lying north of Pennsylvania. "Another plan was
proposed in the Convention, which included only New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey . . . . "(116) Franklin in an
early redraft of the "Short Hints," issued before Albany Congress, suggested the
idea of a general union of all the continental colonies but Nova Scotia and Georgia.
The Congress on 24 June created a committee to study the various
proposals and to formulate one of its own, if it chose to do so. The committee was
composed of Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts; Theodore Atkinson of New
Hampshire; William Pitkin of Connecticut; Stephen Hopkins of Rhode Island;
William Smith of New York; Benjamin Tasker of Maryland; and Franklin for
Pennsylvania.(117) Franklin noted that, in addition to his own plan, "several of the
commissioners had form'd plans of the same kind . . . . A committee was then
appointed . . . to consider the several plans and report."(118) The Journal of the
Congress clearly shows that when the Albany Congress voted to create a committee
"to prepare and receive Plans or Schemes for the Union of the Colonies, and to
digest them into one general plan for the inspection of this Board."(119)
Up until the evening of 29 June the Commissioners as a body engaged
only in discussing the merits of the original Franklin plan. The Journal records for
the afternoon of that day that, "The hints of a scheme for the Union of the Colonies
were debated on, but came to no conclusion."(120) The copies of "the short hints of
a scheme," distributed the afternoon of the preceding day, still had the attention of
the Congress. The Committee on the Union had as its single duty preparing a
unified draft of union. On 1 July the Congress determined to call upon the
committee to prepare a second document, known as, "a representation of the
present state of the Colonies." It then began to study "The Plan of Union of the
Colonies, which, although debated, "the Board came to no resolves upon it."(121)
One may be reasonably sure that if the two plans providing simply for a
union of the more northern colonies stemmed, in language and form, from the
Franklin drafting process, they must have come into existence sometime after July
1 and also after the debates that had already taken place in the Congress on June
29 and on July 1. Franklin either at Albany or soon after leaving that city, drew up
the "Reasons and Motives on Which the Plan of Union was Formed."(122) In the
section entitled "Reasons against Partial Unions," Franklin wrote, "It was proposed
by some of the Commissioners to form the colonies into two or three distinct
unions; but for these reasons [that is, those thereupon given which are six in
number] that proposal was dropped even by those who made it . . . ."(123)
The Plan of Union proposed at Albany in 1754 was an attempt to confront
two related problems. The first was the need for joint, united action by the
colonies, not only in times of war but as a matter of normal political practice. The
second was the need Franklin and the delegates to the Congress perceived to insert
a third governmental entity between the individual colonies and the British
government. The plan would have created the first American government. But the
delegates to the conference in Albany did not have the power to adopt the Plan of
Union, but only to propose it, both to Parliament and to each of the colonial
governments. In the end, not a single colonial government approved of the scheme.
The Albany Plan
The great plan for military union combined with a scheme to cooperate on
Amerindian policy was drawn up largely by Benjamin Franklin and considered at
the conference held at Albany, New York, between 19 June and 10 July 1754. The
home government had advised the colonists that it preferred to have a new treaty
concluded between the Iroquois Federation and the colonies in New England, New
York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Franklin's plan had been completed before 17
March and was formally laid before the delegates of the several states on 24 June.
It is likely that Thomas Hutchinson, representing Massachusetts, had corresponded
extensively with Franklin and had suggested some changes in Franklin's original
draft. As presented, only Nova Scotia and Georgia were excluded from the union.
The full text of Franklin's Plan of Union appears below.
It is proposed that humble application be made for an act of Parliament of Great
Britain, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including
all the said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present
constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said act, as
That the said general government be administered by a President-General, to be
appointed and supported by the crown; and a Grand Council, to be chosen by the
representatives of the people of the several Colonies met in their respective assemblies.
That within [---] months after the passing such act, the House of Representatives
that happen to be sitting within that time, or that shall be especially for that purpose
convened, may and shall choose members for the Grand Council, in the following
proportion, that is to say,
Massachusetts Bay 7
New Hampshire 2
Rhode Island 2
New York 4
New Jersey 3
North Carolina 4
South Carolina 4
[3.] -who shall meet for the first time at the city of Philadelphia, being called by the
President-General as soon as conveniently may be after his appointment.
[4.] That there shall be a new election of the members of the Grand Council every three
years; and, on the death or
resignation of any member, his place should be supplied by a new choice at the next sitting
of the Assembly of the Colony he represented.
[5.] That after the first three years, when the proportion of money arising out of each Colony
to the general treasury can
be known, the number of members to be chosen for each Colony shall, from time to time,
in all ensuing elections, be regulated by that proportion, yet so as that the number to be
chosen by any one Province be not more than seven, nor less than two.
[6.] That the Grand Council shall meet once in every year, and oftener if occasion require,
at such time and place as they shall adjourn to at the last preceding meeting, or as they shall
be called to meet at by the President-General on any emergency; he having first obtained in
writing the consent of seven of the members to such call, and sent duly and timely notice to
[7.] That the Grand Council have power to choose their speaker; and shall neither be
dissolved, prorogued, nor continued sitting longer than six weeks at one time, without their
own consent or the special command of the crown.
[8.] That the members of the Grand Council shall be allowed for their service 10 shillings
per diem, during their session and journey to and from the place of meeting; 20 miles to be
reckoned a day's journey.
[9.] That the assent of the President-General be requisite to all acts of the Grand Council,
and that it be his office and duty to cause them to be carried into execution.
[10.] That the President-General, with the advice of the Grand Council, hold or direct all
Indian treaties, in which the general interest of the Colonies may be concerned; and make
peace or declare war with Indian nations.
[11.] That they make such laws as they judge necessary for regulating all Indian trade.
[12.] That they make all purchases from Indians, for the crown, of lands not now within the
bounds of particular Colonies, or that shall not be within their bounds when some of them
are reduced to more convenient dimensions.
[13.] That they make new settlements on such purchases, by granting lands in the King's
name, reserving a quitrent to the crown for the use of the general treasury.
[14.] That they make laws for regulating and governing such new settlements, till the crown
shall think fit to form them into particular governments.
[15.] That they raise and pay soldiers and build forts for the defence of any of the Colonies,
and equip vessels of force to guard the coasts and protect the trade on the ocean, lakes, or
great rivers; but they shall not impress men in any Colony, without the consent of the
[16.] That for these purposes they have power to make laws, and lay and levy such general
duties, imposts, or taxes as to them shall appear most equal and just (considering the ability
and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several Colonies), and such as may be
collected with the least inconvenience to the people; rather discouraging luxury, than loading
industry with unnecessary burdens.
[17.] That they may appoint a General Treasurer and Particular Treasurer in each
government when necessary; and, from time to time, may order the sums in the treasuries of
each government into the general treasury; or draw on them for special payments, as they
find most convenient.
[18.] Yet no money to issue but by joint orders of the President-General and Grand Council;
except where sums have been appropriated to particular purposes, and the President-General
is previously empowered by an act to draw such sums. [19.] That the general accounts shall
be yearly settled and reported to the several Assemblies.
[20.] That a quorum of the Grand Council, empowered to act with the President-General, do
consist of twenty-five members; among whom there shall be one or more from a majority of
[21.] That the laws made by them for the purposes aforesaid shall not be repugnant, but, as
near as may be, agreeable to the laws of England, and shall be transmitted to the King in
Council for approbation, as soon as may be after their passing; and if not disapproved within
three years after presentation, to remain in force.
[22.] That, in the case of the death of the President-General, the Speaker of the Grand
Council for the time being shall succeed, and be vested with the same powers and
authorities, to continue till the King's pleasure be known.
[23.] That all military commission officers, whether for land or sea service, to act under this
general constitution, shall be nominated by the President-General; but the approbation of the
Grand Council is to be obtained, before they receive their commissions. And all civil
officers to be nominated by the Grand Council, and to receive the President-General's
approbation before they officiate.
[24.] But, in case of vacancy by death or removal of any officer, civil or military, under this
constitution, the Governor of the Province in which such vacancy happens may appoint, till
the pleasure of the President-General and Grand Council can be known.
[25.] That the particular military as well as civil establishments in each Colony remain in
their present state, the general constitution notwithstanding; and that on sudden emergencies
any Colony may defend itself, and lay the accounts of
The proposals by certain of the Commissioners in favor of partial unions
could have been made late in the proceedings of the Congress. At least one
delegation came to Albany very definitely committed to the idea of two unions
rather than one. The delegation of Massachusetts Bay, reporting to the Governor's
Council on October 25, 1754, after their return to the Province, noted that,
Your Commissioners were in doubt, whether it might not be convenient that the colonies
should be divided into at least two Districts, as the great distance of the two Extream parts
of his Majesty's Governments from each other, must render it always very burthensome to
some or other of the members to give their attendance, be the place of meeting where it will
and in a Government of so large an extent there will be danger of some parts being neglected
or unequally considered; but as the designs of the French may probably require the united
strength & Councils of the whole British Continent and as it seems to be of the last
importance that all affairs Which relate to the Indians should be under but one direction, and
considered without any special regard to any particular Government we were induced to
prefer the present plan [that is, the Albany Plan of Union].(124)
The scheme of union designed to include only New Jersey, New York,
and New England carried with it a proposal for another union to include all the
southern colonies with the exception of Georgia.(125) It carried a second proposal,
"That in the said General Union, The Ordering & Direction of the Affairs Yr of
[thereof be administered by one President General, who shall be The Governour
of The Province of the Massachusetts-Bay for The Time being, and a Grand
Council to be chosen by the Representatives of the People of the Said Colonies met
in their respective Assemblies."(126) It would appear that the Commissioners from
Massachusetts Bay were particularly interested in establishing a connection
between the chief executive of the partial union and that of the Province. New
York, Attorney General William Smith, a member of the Governor's Council, who
attended the Albany Congress, reported to Governor DeLancey, "that Massachusetts acted with an aim to procure the President's chair for their Governor, and
predicted, as he well might, that it would not be much encouraged by
The only colony that was definitely clearly to the formation of a colonial
union was Massachusetts Bay. The Assembly of the Province specifically called
upon its Commissioners to work for "a general, firm & perpetual union &
confederacy, for mutual assistance by men or money or both, in peace & in War."(128)
And the provincial legislature dispatched the delegation from Massachusetts Bay
to Albany with a definite, inflexible agenda.(129) In reviving a form of the old New
England Confederation in the project of military union, Massachusetts so designed
it as to include not only all of the New England colonies but the two rather weak
colonies of New York and New Jersey. This act had the effect of redrawing the
geographical limits of the old Dominion of New England. There were advantages
to be gained by all the colonies by inclusion. In particular, New York would
acquire the more than ample resources of men and money of the populous and
highly prosperous colonies to its north and east. This would enable New York to
defend its exposed frontiers. By showing such mutual advantage, Massachusetts
hoped to overcome any natural reluctance of any one of them toward union.
Although the Massachusetts Bay delegation came with a carefully
formulated plan, any plan that it brought was doubtless modified, at least in details,
after the author of it had obtained access to the Franklin "Short Hints," particularly
with respect to the name of the Council. The union of the northern colonies was
to be especially designed to add to the prestige of that Province. The other
delegations thwarted those designs by voicing strong opposition to it. This would
seem to identify the commissioners of the Massachusetts Bay with the "Plan of a
proposed Union of the several Colonies of Massachusetts-Bay, New Hampshire,
Connecticut, Rhode-Island, New York & New Jersey, for their mutual Defence, &
Security, & for extending the British Settlements Northward & Westward of said
Colonies in North-America," which set forth the very ideas that the Massachusetts
Bay delegation stood for.
This plan of union has been traditionally connected to Massachusetts
Commissioner Thomas Hutchinson.(130) On the last page of the manuscript copy of
this plan among the Trumbull Papers in the Connecticut State Library is penned on
the margin the notation in a hasty scrawl: "plan of Union opposed N. I."(131) The
governor of Massachusetts Bay attempted to create a project of union that
Connecticut might be counted on to support. If and when that goal was attained,
he may well have presented this revision of the revised New England plan for the
consideration of the Committee of the Congress.(132)
The other scheme, the "Plan of a proposed Union of The Several Colonies
of Massachusetts-Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, & New York,
for their Mutual Defence & Security & for extending the British Settlements
Northward & Westward of Said Colonys in North America" would seem to
represent a revision of the former unamended "Plan" by some delegate or delegates
from one of the colonies other than Massachusetts Bay. It was probably also
prepared after the Commissioners of the latter had arrived in Albany and had
perhaps distributed their proposal.(133) In any event, the Province of Massachusetts
Bay was the only colony in the spring of 1754 definitely committed by its
Assembly to the idea of a colonial union, and the only colony that instructed the
delegates to work for a permanent union or confederation.
The second more limited plan of union, embracing but New England and
New York, shows hostility to the idea of combining automatically the office of
Governor of Massachusetts Bay with that of President General of the Union.
Instead, it provided, "That The Said General Government be administered by one
President General to be Chosen & Appointed by a Grand Council to be Chosen by
the Representatives of The people of The Said Several Colonies met in their
Respective Assemblies. . . " The Grand Council shall first meet, at such a time as
shall be indicated by "The Governor of Boston," who would preside and "Lead The
Members of The Grand Council To the Choice of a President General." The
similarities include proportional representation on the Council, the payment of its
members, its powers to make western settlements, as well as those that it would
possess for raising and paying soldiers. The name of the legislature employed in
all three of the plans is the "Grand Council." This plan made no reference
whatsoever to any plan of union for the southern colonies.(134) The connection
between the two plans is obvious; as is the connection of the two plans with the
final draft of the Albany Plan; or, if not, that Franklin had prior access to the
former plan before he completed his "Short Hints." As Professor Gipson pointed
out, the surviving copy of the New England plan in the handwriting of Jonathan
Trumbull (or Trumble) appears to show the influence of Franklin's "Short Hints."
So also does the second New England plan, which was also in Trumbull's
handwriting, and it was rather clearly based upon the first document. The plan for
a northern union was worked out independently before the Congress convened was
modified, probably after it was brought to Albany and before the second New
England plan took shape. However, the surviving amended copy of what was the
original shows that, in the drafting of the latter, the authors lavished much care on
the details of the proposals. That would fit in within the Gipson's theory that the
person responsible for the original draft and other members of the Massachusetts
Bay delegation took their assignment from the Assembly seriously.(135)
On July 2 the committee again considered and, after some debate, "the
question was then put, whether the Board should proceed to form a plan of union
of the Colonies to be established by Act of Parliament which passed in the
affirmative."(136) Again on 4 July, the "Plan for a Union" was the subject of
deliberations," but no resolves were made thereupon." On the following day debate
continued without resolution. Other matters then diverted the attention of the
Congress away from the plan for union. The matter was not again debated until the
eighth. On the ninth the delegates agreed upon the plan in principle," and Mr.
Franklin was desired to make a draught of it as now concluded upon."(137) On the
day following the Congress approved the particulars by accepted the committee
draft without significant debate or change. To what extent the project was
modified at any stage after Franklin had redrafted is unknown. At some point the
"Short Hints towards a Scheme for Uniting the Northern Colonies" disappeared in
favor of the short title, "Plan of Union." However, a formal and much longer title
emerged at some point. It was correctly called "A Plan of a proposed Union of the
several Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode
Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina,
and South Carolina, for their mutual defence and security, and for extending the
British Settlements in North America."
The final Albany Plan of Union may be accurately described as a
composite plan, perhaps even a bundle on compromises. In the "Short Hints"
Franklin favored a single union for all the colonies on the continent not under the
special protection from the King. This union, to be perfectly legal, should rest on
nothing less than an act of Parliament. It should also be made clear and put in legal
language that this was an essentially permanent league, unlike the earlier New
England associations. In his opinion the colonies ought not to be allowed to join
or leave at will. A conservative and a loyalist during this period, Franklin believed
in the concept of empire. Moreover, he conceived of the union being strengthened
if by the Crown approved the appointment of its executive head. He also believed
he was showing his loyalty by the giving of this executive, as the king's agent, the
right of veto. Once the congress adjourned, the commissioners were left with the
task of presenting the proposed plan to their respective assemblies. The delegates
at the Albany Congress could not agree unanimously on the content of the program.
Franklin did not neglect the powers of the council. He created a powerful
union legislative council that would possess the authority to tax and control an
independent treasury. This was a most important point since it would give the
union the resources to wage war without having to beg funds from the often
reluctant and notoriously niggardly provincial legislatures. The appointment of a
union treasurer for each colony in addition to a general union treasurer-therefore
providing for a complete fiscal union system provided fiscal responsibility. The
plan also provided for an annual settlement of the accounts of the Union
government with the provincial assemblies. He gave the council great powers to
levy directly upon the property of citizens of the colonies, and to possess its own
armed forces, forts, and a navy. His union would also promote western settlement.
He considered all of these features to be so fundamental and vital in nature that
they were indispensable. Franklin had good reason to show pride for all his major
original proposals had survived debate and had become the foundation of the
Albany Plan of Union.
The most eloquent statement which sums up the work of the Albany
Congress and its two principals was provided by Professor Frothingham. In
reference to the Albany Congress, he wrote that, "two political schools were about
equally represented in the committee . . . . In Hutchinson it was the vision of a
clear intellect distrusting the capacity and intelligence of the people. In Franklin,
it was the insight of a philosopher . . . determined to labor for the liberties of his
The Albany Plan was rejected or simply not acted upon by the colonies.
This plan for colonial union failed because of opposition from both the king and
the colonies. Each party thought it granted the other too much power. The home
government disapproved this plan because it was felt that it encroached on the royal
prerogative. The colonies disapproved of it because it did not allow them sufficient
independence. It was, nonetheless, a farsighted document which contained
solutions that the colonies would draw upon in forming a union after independence
was declared in 1776. It paved the way for the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and
for the Continental Congress of 1774. And when, during the troubled days which
followed, the need of a closer union was felt, there was a definite plan to serve as
a guide in the deliberations of the representatives of the colonies.
The New Jersey Assembly and Connecticut showed antipathy toward the
Albany Plan. Ultimately, the plan received unanimous rejection in the assemblies
of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts Bay.(139) Finally, Connecticut
emphatically rejected the proposed plan. The Connecticut commissioners
"objected to the proposed plan; and thought they were never answered or obviated.
Therefore [they] never came into or gave consent to same."(140)
Connecticut set up a committee to review the plan. Some of the colony's
objections had a royalist slant, that "his Majesty's interest is in great danger." The
report continued, "His Majesty's subjects . . . are a very great body . . . . This
power and strength being brought into one point . . . may in time be of dangerous
consequence to his Majesty's interest." The committee also objected to granting the
power to the council to appoint officers, noting that traditionally "our officers
generally are chosen out of the best yeomen" of each colony. Because there were
such officers "thus chosen and commissioned, freeholders' sons, the youth of the
colony, have on all occasions, with great cheerfulness and alacrity, generally
enlisted." Their motives had been altruistic. "Their country's good, not necessity,
has led them to arms." They viewed the plan as a scheme to allow Americans to
be sent abroad and under that condition "such youths would not enlist." Upon
review, the committee rejected the plan, claiming it would "weaken and injure his
Majesty's interests," and they found it "subversive of the just rights and privileges
of his good and faithful subjects." The committee charged that the plan encompassed too great an area, an argument that would appear later among
anti-federalists in opposition to the federal Constitution of 1787. "We think it
impracticable that his Majesty's interest, and the good of his people, inhabiting so
great a country, can, in any advantageous or tolerable manner, be considered." The
committee also disliked the idea of granting the power to tax to the council.(141) The
Assembly accepted the report, adding nothing substantial to the reasoning offered
by the committees.(142)
Despite a speech by Governor Belcher to New Jersey's Assembly urging
the need for a plan of Union,(143) the Assembly rejected the Plan claiming "if carried
into Practice, would affect our Constitution in its very vitals. . . ."(144) If nothing
else, all the Assemblies did seem to agree on one matter, that being the rejection of
Many colonists also had grave reservations about adopting the plan of
unity as proposed. One such colonist was Dr. William Clarke of Boston who was
so outraged by what was produced by the Albany Congress that he had to write to
Benjamin Franklin, " . . . you and the rest of the commissioners at Albany have
shown yourselves, by the projected plan for an union, to be arrogant blockheads .
. . ."(145)
The position of New Jersey was one of disinterest, as stated by the
Speaker of the Assembly. "This Colony bath not ever had anything to do with
Indian Affairs out of its own limits, neither been partakers of the Benefit of their
Trade." However, he promised, with or without any formal military alliance, if any
Amerindian tribes "should make war upon any of our Neighbouring Colonies, this
House will, as they have hitherto done, exert themselves to the utmost of their
Abilities to assist His Majesty and his Subjects against their enemies."(146)
The Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations rejected it claiming
it was too democratic, thus withholding it from the king. The Lords may have been
moved by another motivation. In a letter written by William Bollan, an agent from
Massachusetts Bay Colony,(147) to the Secretary of Massachusetts, Bollan wrote that
it was intended, "by some persons of consequence, that the colonies should be
governed like Ireland, keeping up a body of standing forces, with a military chest
there . . . so as to put them on the same foot that Ireland stands by Poyning's act .
. ., No act in Ireland can pass in their parliament there till it first be assented to by
the king and privy council of England . . . ."(148)
Among its supporters there was some initial optimism that the plan would
be superimposed by Great Britain. Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania wrote
concerning news of deliberation on the plan in England, "tis thought will soon be
brought to bear, an event much to be desired, since it effectually will secure us
from the insults of our haughty aspiring neighbors, the French, and make our
security independent of the fickle humor of our Indian allies.(149)
Franklin had several observations or the reasons for the failure of the plan
and the consequences of that failure.
On Reflection it now seems probable, that if the foregoing Plan or something like it had been
adopted and carried into Execution, the subsequent Seperation of the Colonies from the
Mother Country might not so soon have happened, nor the Mischiefs suffered on both sides
have occured perhaps during another Century. For the Colonies, if so united, would have
really been, as they then thought themselves, sufficient to their own Defence, and being
trusted with it, as by the Plan, an Army from Britain, for that purpose would have been
unnecessary; The Pretences for framing the Stamp-Act would then not have existed, nor the
other Projects for drawing a Revenue from America to Britain by Act of Parliament, which
were the Cause of the Breach & attended with such terrible Expense of Blood and Treasure;
so that the different Parts of the Empire might still have remained in Peace and Union. But
the Fate of this Plan was singular. For then after many Days thorough Discussion of all its
Parts in Congress it was unanimously agreed to, and Copies ordered to be sent to the
Assembly of each Province for Concurrence, and one to the Ministry in England for the
Approbation of the Crown. The Crown disapproved it, as having placed too much Weight
in the Democratic Part of the Constitution; and every Assembly as having allowed too much
to Prerogative. So it was totally rejected.(150)
During the early years of the French and Indian War, attempts at establishing colonial unity were frustrated by the existence of a series of overlapping
commands. The British government named Governor Clinton of New York
Captain-General and Commander in Chief of the militia, and all the forces by sea
and land, within the Colony of Connecticut, and of all the forts and places of
strength within the same."(151) The government in the spring of 1754 appointed
Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia to command the colonial
operations against the French in the Ohio Valley. The other northern colonies
ignored his requests for contributions in mere, money and material, to serve under
"my Gen'l Officer." The Earl of Holderness ordered two independent companies
from New York to serve in Dinwiddie's command. The two New York companies
and a contingent of North Carolina militia arrived too late to be of help in
Washington's initial encounter with the French. A militia company from South
Carolina appeared, but its commander, a Captain Mackay, who held a royal
commission, refused to take orders from a provincial colonel. Washington had
little choice but to assigned the South Carolina troops to guard the stores in the
With war with France still a matter of skirmishes and intrigues, but not as
yet formally declared, the English government had to decide whether to send
material and men to the colonists. The French might easily construe such support
as an act of war. In the latter part of September 1754, the British cabinet decided
to risk the displeasure of the French and move boldly. It resolved to bolster their
American defenses. Major General Edward Braddock, a friend of the Duke of
Cumberland, brought two Irish regiments to America. In addition, Shirley and
Pepperrell were each to raise and command a regiment, with the crown bearing the
In 1754 the crown had appointed Maryland Governor Horatio Sharpe to
serve as commander in chief of the combined militia forces, with the assignment
to renew the attack against the French. Sharpe apparently owed his appointment
to certain members of the British cabinet, namely, the Duke of Newcastle, Lord
Chancellor Hardwicke, and the Earl of Holderness. Governor Sharpe's appointment as commander in chief was a matter of paper command, with no real powers
accruing to him, and even those paper powers were short lived. The home
government ordered the other colonial governors to correspond directly with
Shirley and Pepperrell "upon every thing, relative to the Present Service."(153) On
January 12, 1755, Braddock superseded Governor Sharp.(154) Braddock commanded
that all colonial troops in service be placed under the revised Mutiny Bill, making
them liable to the same martial law and discipline, as the British Forces were.
Although Braddock was commander in chief, in a sense there were two chief
commanders, for William Shirley continued to organize the military force for the
northern colonies. As nominal northern commander, Shirley had made advance
plans for a concerted attack on the various French outposts. He exercised his
authority by promoting William Johnson to the rank of major general and giving
him the supreme command of the force he was then raising. Johnson had command
of the militias of Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and
Rhode Island "For an Expedition against the French Incroachments at crown point
and upon the Lake Champlain."(155) For his part, Braddock confirmed Shirley's
orders without disputing his authority.
Braddock's appointment had established the precedent of appointing a
regular army officer of general rank to the overall command of all the military
forces in the colonies. General officers as commanders-in-chief would continue
until the Revolution. The powers of the commander in chief steadily encroached
upon the governors' military powers within their own provinces. The British
commanders-in-chief usually regarded the governors as a liaison officers between
himself and the various provincial assemblies.(156) The commander-in-chief
answered only to the home government. Hereafter, the colonial governors did not
have military powers separate from the provincial councils.
The Newcastle ministry, undermined and disheartened by the unexpected
defeat of Braddock at the Battle of the Wilderness, decided in January 1756 to try
once again to create a more unified military command. The Duke of Cumberland,
with the full support of other powerful Lords, recommended John Campbell, the
fourth Earl of Loudoun to be commander-in-chief for the military forces in
America. As commander-in-chief of all forces employed, or to be employed, in
North America, Loudoun could command the assistance of all colonial governors
William Shirley, upon the death of Braddock, was de facto
commander-in-chief of the royal and colonial forces. But Shirley had long had to
contend with the opposition organized by Lieutenant-governor James De Lancey,
the latter's brother Oliver DeLancey and Thomas Pownall. These men, and perhaps
others, made a maximum effort to have the Massachusetts Governor recalled. A
sudden and wholly unexpected turn of events seemed to justify their criticism.
Royal intelligence intercepted some letters written by someone in Pennsylvania
under the pen-name of Pierre Fidele to the Duc de Mirepoix in France. These
letters revealed Shirley's supposedly secret instructions dealing with military and
Indian affairs. Some questioned Shirley's judgment, even his loyalty. Besides, he
had a French wife. The Newcastle ministry had no choice but to replace Shirley
as commander-in-chief without delay. Since Loudoun was delayed in his departure
for America, the ministry sent General Daniel Webb and General James
Abercromby to assume immediate command. For a few weeks Webb was acting
commander-in-chief. Abercromby soon arrived and, as Webb's superior, assumed
command. Loudoun did not reach New York until July 1756, at which time he
assumed command as initially planned. In less than two months Americans had
The whole system of provincial military command seemed to be on the
verge of collapse. Shirley continued briefly in the governorship and used his
efforts to raise troops from the New England colonies for an expedition against
Crown Point, making these available for General Abercromby. Shirley also offered
the opinion that troops raised in the Jersies and North Carolina could be deployed
anywhere in America at the discretion of the commander-in-chief.(158) The Royal
Americans replaced Shirley's and Pepperrell's regiments.
Loudoun soon experienced difficulties in dealing with the colonial
authorities. The cabinet issued special orders that no provincial officer should rank
higher than a senior captain in the regular army. This meant that the various
well-known and popular colonial officers, such as William Johnson, John
Bradstreet, George Washington, would be out-ranked by mere captains.(159) Virginia
protested that her troops were considered as "Irregulars" and that provincial troops
should be "regularly enlisted."(160) Massachusetts refused to cooperate with
Loudoun on grounds that military powers of the colony derived from the governor's
prerogative bestowed by the crown. Loudoun complained that a Massachusetts
council of war took it upon itself to direct "the Motions of his Majesty's Troops."(161)
Loudoun soon incurred the enmity of both colonial governors and
populace. He threatened to force the colonial legislatures to keep up pay for the
troops. His policies of quartering his troops in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
New York, and Massachusetts created popular resentment.(162) Worst of all, he was
a losing general. The French captured Fort William Henry on 9 August 1757, with
the loss of 1400 men. He delayed the attack on the important French position at
Louisbourg, giving as an excuse that his preparations were incomplete. Loudoun,
censured and recalled, left America in disgrace.
The Pitt ministry decided to create a more unified system of military
command for the colonies. All provincial officers were elevated in rank so that
their ranks corresponded to officers in the regular army. England would provide
the colonies with sufficient munitions of war. Pitt promised that his ministry would
recommend that Parliament reimburse the colonies for their supplies of men,
clothes, and material. In short, the home government pledged to pay for a renewed
war effort.(163) The ministry appointed Major General James Abercromby, over the
preference of Pitt, to succeed Loudoun as commander-in-chief. At the same time
Brigadier-general John Forbes was named commander of the Southern District,
which included Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas. Forbes was
to cooperate with Abercromby and coordinate his campaign against the French in
the west with the commander-in-chief.(164) The colonists seemed to be reluctant to
recognize him as the supreme commander of the militias. In July 1758,
Abercromby led an attack on Fort Ticonderoga. His frontal attack failed and
Abercromby suffered over 1500 casualties, including 464 killed. As a result of the
catastrophe, the cabinet recalled Abercromby to England, and appointed Sir Jeffrey
Amherst to succeed him. Simultaneously, Pitt directed the colonial governors to
work closely with the new commander-in-chief. Because of the Indian crises in the
south, Amherst dispatched Brigadier General Monckton with 1300 troops to South
Carolina. Pitt himself took command over the general direction and strategy of the
colonial military campaign. Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania refused to place
their militia under Amherst's command. Ignoring the upstart colonials, Pitt decided
to win the war with British troops alone.(165) At the end of the war, the home
government promoted Amherst and chose Major-general Thomas Gage to succeed
The home government decided to retain the new military organization
indefinitely along with the office of supreme commander. In peacetime the
principal concern was regulation of the Indian trade. The general in command was
to have practically unlimited powers in Indian affairs. For decades the
Amerindians had urged the British authorities to regulate the trade and license the
traders. The commander-in-chief was authorized to supervise the Indian agents and
commissaries and control and audit all expenditures. The military establishment
which the cabinet created in 1763 removed to a significant degree the competition
among rival and competing centers of power in the field of military affairs.
Beginning in October 1768, a series of reports on real and alleged British
outrages committed in Boston began to appear in the New York Journal and the
Pennsylvania Chronicle, and eventually, in Boston Evening Post, and finally, in
pamphlet form under the title of The Journal of the Times. The authorship is
unknown, but among those believed to have been collaborators were Benjamin
Edes, publisher of the Boston Evening Post; Henry Knox, later a general in
continental service, then proprietor of a bookstore; Sam Adams, a radical patriot;
William Cooper, town clerk of Boston; William Greenleaf, an employee of Edes;
and Isaiah Thomas, later publisher of the Massachusetts Spy.(166) The unknown
authors advocated a union of the colonies as a way to avoid what many already
thought was an inevitable war for independence. The first reason for a union was
"the safety of the colonies." They admitted that "the right of taxation is the cause
of the present controversy among them" with the colonies refusing to concede that
power to Parliament. The anonymous authors charged that the Parliament
demanded the power to tax specifically to "avoid" this "point of union." The
British had decided to station, then quarter, troops in Boston to "change the
sentiments of the people" with special reference to those "sentiments" which "were
considered as strongly leading to such a union."(167)
Provincials and Regulars
British officers had little, if any, regard for their provincial brethren,
although many other foreign observers had nothing but the highest regard for the
American militias. The English could counter that the others did not have to work
with the provincials, but if they did, their opinions would change dramatically. The
British officers in North America almost universally regarded Americans as
cowards who were ill-disciplined, given to following individual preferences over
the good of the whole body, and more interested in enforcing their supposed legal
rights than in carrying out their obligations to the Crown.
A German professor contradicted the prevailing British view of the New
England militia. "The provinces have their own militia, maintained at their own
cost . . . . New England has the largest and best body of militia."(168) One of the few
sympathetic British officers noted the skill with which the New England militiamen
handled their firearms. "Some Lads about 13, 14 and 15 years old . . . can shoot
a Bird flying with any man in this Province. This adds to the Martial Spirit which
seems to run through the whole of the country people." He judged that many of
these young sharpshooters would willingly join in an expedition against the French
and their Amerindian allies.(169) A Boston correspondent of the Public Advertiser
boasted that four thousand Massachusetts militia marched on Crown Point; two
thousand prepared to attack Fort Niagara; and that twenty thousand more
militiamen were available to defend the continent against the designs of the French.
"This is a right martial spirit and seems to run through the whole of their country
Sadly, most British observers generally found exactly the opposite to be
true. Some argued that the militia spent too much time in training days at leisure
and too little time learning military tactics and marksmanship. Orderly books of
the period often show that British officers often remarked on their gross ignorance
of basic maneuvers and their lack of comprehension of basic commands. When
ordered to perform certain functions that the British army considered basic and
fundamental to any army, the provincials responded that they could not follow the
orders because they did not understand what was required of them.(171)
One issue that divided colonial militias from their professional British
brethren concerned the ranks granted to provincial officers. British Rules and
Articles of War stipulated that when any provincial militia served with British
regular troops, colonial officers regardless of grade, were subordinate to their
British counterparts. Superior colonial officers were, at best, regarded as senior
captains when serving with British troops. Hence a colonel, even a general, in the
provincial militia was inferior in rank and command to the most junior major in the
British army. In order for this rearrangement of rank to occur one had only to add
one detachment of British army headed by an officer of the grade of major or above
to a large body of militia; the actual number of British troops or militia had nothing
to do with the situation.
In 1756 acting British commander in chief for North American, and
governor of Massachusetts, Major-General William Shirley appointed Major-General John Winslow, one of the most distinguished and competent New England
militia commanders of the pre-Revolutionary period, to recruit New England militia
for a campaign into the French-held areas around Lake Champlain. Shirley thought
to express confidence in his provincial charges, and to aid in the recruitment of
militia, by appointing Winslow, a veteran of the Carthagena Campaign in 1740 and
of many campaigns during King George's War (1744-48). When John Campbell,
Earl of Loudoun, arrived in America in July 1756(172) he rescinded Shirley's orders
and placed the militia and its officers in positions subordinate to the British
regulars, thus effectively reducing Winslow in rank from major-general to ranking
A related issue involved the responsibility for command of the militiamen.
As acting British commander in North America, following Braddock's death,
Shirley had promised the New England militiamen that Winslow would be their
commander.(174) The men regarded this as a contract between Shirley, acting for the
English king, and themselves, and binding in both a legal and a moral sense. When
Lord Loudoun and his second in command Major-General James Abercromby
decided to place the militiamen under British command and British discipline, the
men claimed breech of contract. To Loudoun and Abercromby this was a logical
and natural move, and they certainly felt themselves immune to any contractual
arrangement Shirley had made since they were now in sovereign command of all
His Majesty's forces in North America. Since they regarded the provincials as
unruly, contemptuous of discipline and ill-trained, and poorly prepared for war,
they thought it their duty to bring them to a state of readiness equal to that expected
of the British army and troops recruited from any location serving with that army.
British command, in the minds of Loudoun and Abercromby, was far more
professional and experienced than any provincial officers could possibly be. And,
in their opinions, imposition of the British Mutiny Act and Rules and Articles of
War were long overdue. Technically, the provincial laws were probably illegal, or
at least superfluous, as the British laws concerned both the homeland and its
provinces and Parliament had provided for no exceptions.
The first official notice the colonial officials had that the British
government intended to apply to Mutiny Act to their militias came in January 1755.
Privy Council Secretary Robinson wrote to the governors of the several New
England provinces informing them that Parliament had inserted a clause in the
Mutiny Bill "enacting that all troops in America whilst in conjunction with British
Forces under the command of an officer bearing His Majesties immediate
commission shall be liable to the same martial law and discipline as the British
forces are."(175) To the colonials the question was less Parliament's power to make
uniform laws and create regulations for the training and discipline of all troops,
whether regular army or militia, than it was of contract. The colonials had enlisted
for the expedition specifically on the premise that they would be commanded by
their own officers and subjected to provincial mutiny and related acts. Shirley
defended his actions as reasonable and traditional: reasonable in the sense of
making more men enlist; and traditional in the sense that, on previous campaigns,
militiamen had been subjected to their own provincial, not British military, law.
Winslow argued, in support of Shirley, that his militia was neither unruly nor
mutinous and provincial law was more than sufficient to maintain discipline.
Indeed, in fulfillment of contract, the men would be more likely to obey their own
laws than to obey the much harsher British law, with its emphasis on brutal
discipline and more than occasional executions. But Loudoun and Abercromby
were adamant. In this campaign the militia was going to do things according to the
book, and the British officers were not about to capitulate to the whims and desires
of their poor relations in the colonies.
Winslow served as the provincial's advocate, arguing the provincial
militias' case as strongly as he knew how. The men had enlisted under provincial
law, in response to a provincial governor's call for provincial soldiers, in an army
funded by the provincial governments. These men had made a covenant
voluntarily, of their own free wills, and Winslow and other officers were
"executors in trust" for the contractors. The army was a "properly organized body"
under law only because the men had volunteered their services under a certain,
definite and specific set of circumstances. If the current British commander
changed the contract that had been legally made by his predecessor, the contract
was altered and was thus null and void unless the consent of the other parties, the
militiamen, was given. Winslow argued that the commander had no legal or moral
right to alter a perfectly valid contract. If the commander insisted on having his
way, the men could hold the contract to be invalid and were thus free to return to
their own homes. Winslow added that the officers had likewise been deprived of
their rights under the same contract and, unless they chose voluntarily to serve in
inferior positions, their obligation to serve on the expedition was also terminated.
But the officers had a moral duty to not resign until the issue of the disposition of
their men had been resolved.(176)
Shirley sent Winslow's letter, along with a cover letter of his own, to
Loudoun for a response. Loudoun was outraged, holding that Winslow had
knowingly and willingly disobeyed his orders. Loudoun looked at the problem
from an entirely different perspective and this marks an important difference
between provincials and the British officer corps. In Loudoun's opinion since it
was Shirley who had negotiated the original contract, it fell to him, not Loudoun,
to respond to Winslow. Moreover, Loudoun argued that any man who enlisted in
a British cause of any sort, at anytime and at any level, implicit;y agreed to serve,
not a political sub-division of the empire, but the Crown. All men served to
advance the king's cause and to protect his dominions. The king may command
them as he sees fit and the men have no choice but to obey their sovereign.
Provinces are dependencies of a sovereign state, and are not themselves sovereign,
nor can they ever be, or ever act as, independent contractors. They are, and will
always remain, agents of the sovereign state. Using the standard argument of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Shirley reminded Winslow that sovereignty
is not, and indeed cannot be, divided and so the provinces had no legal standing to
dispute the Crown's best judgment. The king was the only legally constituted
authority. The issue, then, was not contractual rights of the men, but of rightful and
legal obedience to their king, the only legal authority. Disobedience to lawful
orders and lawful authority was nothing short of insurrect, treason, rebellion, and
Winslow was still unwilling to accept the change in conditions and legal
standing of his militiamen that Loudoun required. He discussed it orally with
Loudoun in early August. Neither was satisfied with the outcome of their meeting.
Loudoun contented himself with extracting from Winslow, on his own behalf and
on behalf of his militiamen, an oath of loyalty to the king, but agreed to defer, at
least during the campaign at hand, from implementing his initial orders. He
allowed Winslow to remain in nominal command of his troops for he knew that the
campaign was lost without Winslow's militia. Winslow had won a technical
victory, but knew that henceforth Loudoun would have his way and his orders
would stand in future campaigns.
At this low point Winslow found an unexpected ally in Thomas Fitch, the
popularly elected governor of Connecticut. He understood the position of the
provincials and championed their cause. And he understood and endorsed
wholeheartedly Winslow's arguments. Fitch was more than willing to stand firm
behind Winslow and the militia he commanded.
As an aristocratic conservative, Loudoun had no use for the provincials'
contractual arguments. To him Winslow was merely attempting to try to avoid his
imposition of military order. It was not that he was incapable of understanding the
logic. On the contrary, he understood Winslow's arguments fully. To him these
arguments simply represented lawyers' tricks and pointless exercises in rhetoric.
The provincials succeeded in accomplishing nothing more than buttressing
Loudoun's preconceived opinion that the colonists were a lazy, insubordinate,
indolent, argumentative, and mutinous lot.(178)
Still, the provincials had several trump cards to play. The legislatures
were still sufficiently independent that they could, and often did, as in this incident,
refuse to offer supplies for various expeditions. The process of procuring
provisions was one of the more ponderous aspects of colonial administration.
Annually, the legislatures set up committees of war which were a curious blend of
private initiative and governmental interventionism. These committees procured
such supplies, including arms and foodstuffs, as the legislature permitted by their
funding by entering into contracts with various civilian suppliers. The committee
then contracted with wagoners to haul the supplies to a central supply depot, and
then to transport the same to the camp where the officers received the supplies. It
was not until this last step was finished that the supplies came under military
control. No commandant, provincial or British, could really do more than to make
requests of the committees of war for what the provincial troops needed, for
commanders had no real authority to exercise over them.
The provincial legislatures could refuse to supply men, as Pennsylvania
had done until the time of the French and Indian War. They could assist or impede
the recruitment of volunteers and enlistments. The British tax system in the
colonies effectively raised little money, often less than the cost of the collection.
Most provincial financial support that the British government did get came from
the colonial legislatures and here they acted more as independent agents offering
a voluntary contribution than dependencies fulfilling a legal obligation to support
the home government. The home government was usually displeased with the
amount of money contributed and the length of time the provinces required to
actually deliver their contributions, but it seems to have imposed no real penalties
against the legislatures to bring them into conformity with its wishes. This
certainly was not an ideal time for a servant of the Crown to get into a fight with
the provinces over supplies, men and money.
As a military man with a sense of the need for regular deliveries and
distribution of supplies, Loudoun sought to compromise with the colonial
authorities. He offered to purchase all the supplies that were immediately available
at a standard rate and then to supply the provincial militiamen with the same items
that he gave his own men. The legislatures would then be free to supplement their
own men with any items not on his list. Some colonial authorities thought this to
be a trick for if the king supplied the militiamen they would have to yield to the
The provinces seemed to have viewed this more as a power struggle
between the commissioners of war, who, if the solution had been accepted would
have had little to do, and Loudoun, than as a reasonable solution to a recurrent
problem. They were also concerned that any reimbursements due the colonies from
the home government would not be lost in the shuffling of papers among the
several layers of authority. For their part, the enlisted men feared also coming
under British control if they ate the king's bread; and they fully supported the
contractual arguments of Winslow and Fitch, for, as mostly Puritans, they had been
steeped in contractual arguments since birth. The commissioners of war had little
difficulty convincing the legislatures of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New
Hampshire to reject Loudoun's proposal.(179)
Loudoun also disliked the apparent provincial disregard for hierarchy and
command. As a career soldier in the British army Loudoun had no respect for any
challenge to authority. Others should do as he did, which was to give full,
unquestioning and complete obedience to orders received from his superiors. The
enlisted men formed the base of his hierarchical pyramid and they must never
question any order, if only out of fear of punishment. The men must be made to
fear their officers even more than the enemy's guns and bayonets. The provincial
enlisted men were lower even than their British brethren, and the provincial
officers were not much better. Provincial officers were disobedient, independent
and, perhaps worst of all, concerned for the welfare of their men. They fraternized
with the men and their offices depended upon their election by the men, rather than
upon talent, origins, birth or financial ability to purchase offices. All of these
things mitigated strongly against their ever functioning as the British officers did,
or integrating themselves into the British military machine. The vocabulary of the
various New England officials was wasted on Loudoun and his class. Why would
he be at all interested in "the rights of soldiers" when all gentlemen knew enlisted
men had no rights?
Much of their behavior had to do with the fact that New England society
was neither class-conscious nor hierarchical and it had no real experience with an
established, professional military organization. The New England militia, as we
have seen, was the only real line of defense in the colonies which had no standing
armies. On the other side, Loudoun was the product of a society in which class had
its privileges and success in the professional military was based on class. The
British militia was, at this time, at best a relatively insignificant adjunct to the
standing army. Any officer who risked his own career, court-martial or fortune in
defense of his men had to be harboring some ulterior motives or democratic
designs. Only an American would think of his officers and government as
entrepreneurs and the enlisted men as workers and a contractual obligation between
the two. And, having admitted an employer to employee relationship, if only for
the sake of argument, only an American would assume that there was some
reciprocity involved in that contract, or paternalistic obligation of employer to one's
Against this background, and with continuing debate at a most
inopportune time for the British commander, Loudoun had little choice but to back
off. The main loser was Shirley, not Loudoun. To the minds of the colonists he
had apparently broken his word to allow the provincials to fight under their own
commanders and rules. In Loudoun's mind Shirley had undermined his orders,
meaning legitimate authority, by patronizing of the colonists. Had Shirley not
made the deal Loudoun would not have been stuck with trying to contradict and
repudiate it. Shirley's actions had made the colonists all the more independence-minded and more likely to rebel against realistic military discipline in the future.
Loudoun was a European officer forced to fight a war with a cast of Americans
who knew nothing of civilized warfare. He deeply resented Shirlery's laxity for he
had to depend on the provincials because his best troops were already committed
elsewhere and the role assigned to them was an important and integral part of the
Loudoun never understood the American provincial mind, nor did ever
intend to try. His job was not to understand but to coerce the recalcitrant New
Englanders. To his mind, and those of most, if not all, his subordinates, it was high
time to bring the Americans back into the fold. Shirley understood, if only because
he had served for a quarter-century as governor of the most populous colony. He
also wanted to understand his charges and that made him, arguably, the most
successful and accomplished of the colonial governors.
Martial Law and Military Discipline
Militia discipline was never as severe in the colonies as it was in the
British army. In New England the emphasis was on correction rather than
punishment. With typical Calvinist religious teachings as a background, New
England's militia leaders thought that punishment would not make a good man
better, so they saw little use to the application of the cat o'nine tails to man's bare
back. Emphasis was on spiritual rehabilitation rather than corporal punishment.
When a militia unit was faced with flagrant abuses, typically an officer would
assemble the men and deliver a puritanical sermon on the dangers of leading a
dissolute life-style and recommending that men correct their evil ways. There were
exceptions to the emphasis on spiritual rebirth. Some crimes were so heinous that
officers approved physical punishment for their performance. Fornication,
adultery, blasphemy (which included profane and obscene language), homosexuality, bestiality, and indulgence in any "unnatural abuses" invited brutal discipline.
Blasphemers could have a hole bored through their tongues with a red hot iron.
One known case of attempted homosexual seduction brought symbolic, although
not real, execution. The man who attempted to entice another into "unnatural acts"
was beaten and driven from camp with a noose tied about his neck. The New
England militiamen and officers were much shocked by the sinful behavior of
others, thinking that officers should discourage fornication and swearing.
After 1757 the New England militia was subject to their own provincial
laws because in that year Lord Loudoun placed all New England men in arms under
the Rules and Articles of War and the British Mutiny Act, thus subjecting them to
a wholly different system of punishment and courts-martial. The awful
punishments which New England militiamen had witnessed when they were
inflicted on unfortunate British soldiers were now regular fare for the militiamen
as well. Loudoun would have preferred placing the provincials under British law
immediately upon his arrival in America, but found that practically he could not
because his predecessor William Shirley had promised the colonists that they might
fight under their own laws and according to their established customs. When
Loudoun could finally implement British style discipline, he did so with a
vengeance. He was undoubtedly looking hard for examples of provincial
misbehavior precisely so that he could show that he meant to implement the
English laws that were already well-established in the regular army.
Central executive control over all military forces had been well established
in British law long before Loudoun's time. William Blackstone, the greater
authority on English law, argued that the Lord Protector Cromwell's Instrument of
Government of 1653 had established the principle of executive control of all
militia. Likewise, Blackstone argued, both Charles I and Charles II of England had
rightfully claimed control over the nation's militia. The king alone may command,
discipline and order the militia, army and sea power, that is, "all the forces by sea
and land, and of all forts and places of strength, ever was and is the undoubted
right of his Majesty and his royal predecessors, kings and queens of England."
Moreover, Blackstone argued, "both or either house of Parliament cannot nor ought
to pretend to the same." Control of the militia is an executive, not a judicial,
function. The principle was well established in the legislation governing the order
and discipline of the militia, the Mutiny Act. Executive control of the militia "is
immemorial" and can only be disputed "contrary to all reason and precedent" as
Thomas Hobbes had argued a century earlier.(180) The king appoints all officers who
then serve in his name, and they carry with their appointments the full color of his
authority. No mere provincial law could interrupt this long-standing precedent.
The Mutiny Act has interesting English historical roots in the seventeenth
century. When William III of Orange assumed the throne, accompanied by his
Dutch guards, he chose to send to Holland those troops he suspected of harboring
loyalty to James II, under a treaty of alliance with "the United Colonies" dated 8
March 1689. Some 800 of those being deported arrived at Ipswich, accompanied
by four cannon, declared James II to be the true king and that they were willing to
die for him. Commons, in order to be able to punish these rebellious men, enacted
a Bill to Punish Mutiny and Desertion, to be in force only for a limited time. The
bill cleared the House of Lords and was granted royal assent on 3 April 1689. In
this, its earliest form, the bill still granted certain protections, meaning that a
subject upon becoming a soldier does not cease to have rights. "No man may be
prejudged of life or limb, or subjected to any kind of punishment by martial law .
. . in any manner than by the judgment of his peers."(181)
Under George I, the Mutiny Act expressly applied to troops within the
kingdom and in the colonies overseas. Lords objected that the act seemed to grant
to the king the exclusive power to determine what acts in peace as well as in war
were punishable by courts martial and in peacetime. George's response was to
incorporate the Articles of War under the Mutiny Act, increasing both the number
of crimes punishable in peacetime and the severity of the penalties. In 1748 Lords
declared that no person should suffer any punishment under the Articles of War in
peacetime except as were noted expressly as punishable offenses under the Mutiny
Act. Despite this legislative wrangling, as the Mutiny Act appeared in America,
all persons who were subject to the Mutiny Act were also held to be subject to the
Articles of War, and vice-versa, and thus could be punished for offenses under
either act, even in peacetime. George I's Mutiny Act authorized the summoning of
courts martial for any of a long catalogue of offenses, with punishment to include
whipping and execution. This was the first authorization of capital punishment in
the army in peacetime, although offenses that might be punished by forfeiture of
life in civilian life, such as murder, carried that potential punishment but it was
imposed heretofore in the civilian not in the military courts.(182)
The crime of desertion in wartime had long been punished by execution,
but the Mutiny Act extended capital punishment to desertion in peacetime.
Another capital crime was refusal to obey an order from a superior officer, without
any restriction placed upon the legality of the order. Between 1718 and 1749 the
language of the law provided for obedience to "lawful commands," although the
few cases of record show preference was universally given to the word of the
officer issuing the order. The principle of law was clear: "no soldier may judge the
danger, propriety, expediency, or consequence of the order he receives; he must
obey." The crown was most anxious, however, to allow it to offer extensive
physical punishment, usually whipping, in place of execution. Lords especially
opposed granting the crown the power to override courts martial and extend
clemency, preferring to have the board that held the hearing and knew all facts in
the case be the final judge of punishment.(183)
In the British army and in most other militias discipline was enforced
against obvious abuses which no military would permit, such as desertion,
desertion in the face of the enemy, sleeping on watch duty, giving false alarm of
enemy action, disobedience to a lawful order, striking an officer and theft of
company property. Theft of civilian property, gambling, and rape were among the
acts which the army would not tolerate. Conversely, the British army, and the
militias of states south of New England, rarely punished adultery, fornication or
blasphemy, and swearing.
It is a well established principle of law that courts martial must distinguish
between those offenses that are purely military, and thus within the provenance of
military tribunals, and those which are civil and political, and thus are properly the
jurisdiction of civil courts. Lord Loughsborough commented on this point. "All
the delinquencies of soldiers are not triable by courts-martial, but where they are
ordinary offenses against the civil peace they are triable by the common law
courts." He pointed out that even treason committed by the soldiers in England
against William III were tried by common law courts.(184) Nonetheless, under the
Mutiny Act, such non-military offenses as immoralities, misbehavior, disgraceful
conduct, swearing and denying some religious tenet, have been tried by the
military. Courts martial commonly tried soldiers for all offenses committed against
the person, estate or property of any subject. Technically, the Mutiny Act applied
only to offenses soldiers committed in their military capacity, but the theory was
far removed from practice.
In his excellent study of the New England militia during the Seven Years'
War, Fred Anderson recorded twenty incidents of mutinous behavior by provincial
troops between 5 July 1755 and 13 November 1759. Of these, five might be
considered serious cases of desertion or riot, and all occurred before the full
imposition of the British Mutiny Act upon the Americans, that is, during the time
that the officers and men had delayed Loudoun's orders and while the discipline
was still covered by the provincial laws. In the other cases, men had refused to
carry out special, additional duties unless granted additional pay. Still, under the
British Mutiny Act they might have been severely whipped, shot, or hanged for
refusing to carry out a lawful order, irrespective of their reasons. Such had been
the case for many unfortunate regular soldiers. The principal difference between
New England and British discipline lay in the severity of sentences administered.
There were two levels of courts-martial which could be held,
corresponding to the different levels of authority. Regimental courts-martial
exercised jurisdiction over relatively minor matters, such as neglect of duty or
minor cases of theft. Proceedings here were convened by the commanding officer,
ordinarily a colonel or lieutenant-colonel, and consisted of a captain and three or
four lieutenants or ensigns. Their authority extended to whipping and other
corporal punishment. In an army which had, on occasion, assigned as many as 900
to 1200 lashes of the whip, regimental courts-martial usually gave out less than
200, and more likely, less than 50 lashes. A general court-martial was convened
at the command of a general and was comprised of a colonel and as many as 14
other officers, usually ranking captain or above. These proceedings covered major
infractions, such as striking a superior officer; refusing to obey his commands,
especially in battle; desertion and cowardice in the face of the enemy; or murder
or major incident of theft. General courts-martial rarely imposed sentences of less
than 300 lashes of the cat o'nine tails and could impose the death sentence. Rarely
was a man found not guilty, there were no appeals, and sentences were imposed
almost immediately after pronouncement.(185)
English criminal law generally, and martial law specifically, was based on
three principles: justice, terror, and mercy. In the English-speaking world the law
assumes a life of its own, reigning above all other considerations and factors.
Based on human understanding of divine law, English law has the characteristic of
immutability. Justice requires that the law be universally applied to all by a
constant and perpetual will. At least theoretically, the same penalties and
punishments must be made to apply to all men irrespective of class or position.
Judges, steeped in the majesty of the law, spoke with the voice of God. The
criminal stood naked and helpless before the law. His was the role of the tragic
actor, the center of a great melodrama while being able to do anything for himself
to better his role.(186)
The military represented class interests well, in apparent defiance of the
principle of universality. Officers were never flogged or made to ride the wooden
horse. If an officer was executed, it would be unlikely that he would be subjected
to any public humiliation before the enlisted men. Crimes that brought severe
punishment for enlisted men would more likely bring censure, demotion, or forced
retirement among the officer class. But this was understood, even if it seemed
unfair. In New England most officers associated freely with their men. Strong
fraternal bonds were commonplace if only because New England militiamen
generally elected their own officers, and elections were as much a recognition of
popularity as of competence. After 1757 the system faced a crisis for Loudoun's
unification of military and militia-volunteer standards worked only when there was
an unbridgeable gao between enlisted men and officers, yet the militiamen thought
it their absolute right to continue to elect their officers.
In the military, flogging and whipping, being forced to run the gauntlet,
confinement in the stocks, branding, and other physical mutilation and being
shackled were among the punishments permitted to local militia companies, with
virtually no right of appeal to any higher authority.(187) The higher level of courts-martial could inflict even more terrifying punishments, including capital
punishment almost at will. Whatever his punishment, the accused man would
suffer it in front of his peers. He was to be the example to all others that, if they
wished to avoid his awful plight, they must avoid making his mistakes or
committing his sins. The impact of seeing a man fall from the gallows or being
shot (and thus be sent to his maker and final judge) was designed to strike terror in
the hearts of all enlisted men. Perhaps even more sickening was seeing a man
whipped, even unto death. The British officer corps was dedicated to the
proposition that their men must be forced to obey their orders in combat, no matter
how absurd the orders, only if it was because they feared the officers more than
they feared the enemy.
Physicians or military surgeons often, but certainly not always, attended
the imposition of physical punishment. They were officers, and with typical class
consciousness, rarely sympathized with the men. One of their principal obligations
lay in keeping a man sensible while he was being whipped. The surgeons might
use a stimulant to revive a man who had fainted. It did not take long for a man
being struck simultaneously by the nine strands of the whip to have his flesh
stripped from his entire back. Still, he could expect no greater mercy from the
physician in attendance than from other members of the officer corps. It was a rare
instance when the application lash was stayed before sentence had been carried out.
The law had the power to offer mercy. Reprieves and pardon were
possible. The law could, if it chose, delay, mitigate, even forgive the harsh
sentence. Many regarded the extension of mercy as a sign of inherent goodness in
the state. One always had hope that, even on the gallows or before the whipping
post, one might be excused from the punishment. On occasion, a punishment was
carried out symbolically. For example, as we have seen in the provincial militias,
a man condemned to the gallows might have a noose tied about his neck and then
be drummed out of camp instead of actually being executed.(188)
New England militia officers found their own way of following the
dictates of conscience and religion while nominally accepting Loudoun's orders.
The easiest way to practice justice was to consider the punishment that the officers
thought truly fitted the crime and then charging the evildoer with a crime that
carried that punishment. It became a sort of game, one in which the officers' sense
of Christian ethic and morality set the rules. Thus, if an enlisted man fell asleep on
duty, a capital crime under British law, he might be charged only with neglect of
duty, which brought only physical punishment. Even with this, many officers
thought that the least punishments required under the Mutiny Act were still too
Most New England colonial rules, like those used in Massachusetts,
allowed the imposition of no more than thirty-nine lashes, whereas even minor
infractions, as we have seen under British rules, brought perhaps one or two
hundred lashes. A well circulated pamphlet, allegedly authored by a "prominent
clergyman," argued that Deuteronomy(189) limited corporal punishment to forty
strokes and that to ensure one did not violate God's law, one ought to remit one
stroke. This anonymous author reasoned that God had placed this limitation "lest
their brother should seem vile unto them, even as if he was a dog." If a number of
strokes in excess of forty was offensive to God, how must one interpret the
imposition of "1000 or 1500 lashes?" The preacher noted that he personally knew
of men who committed suicide or who had begged for death rather than yield to a
vast number of lashes of the whip. "When such punishments are decreed as
threaten life," the man of God wrote, "the Sixth Commandment is broken and all
concerned are guilty of killing the victim, tho' he should not die under the
operation." He lamented that God's law "with regard to whipping" was "religiously
observed by the civil authority" was violated in large scale by the military who
relied upon the argument of necessity of maintenance of discipline. But that
argument in support of "military cruelties" failed because it is "always necessary
to keep God's laws" and necessity "can never be introduced to break them."(190)
On 13 May 1755, the British authorities at Fort Cumberland, Maryland,
convened a court martial against three soldiers of the 48th Regiment, James
Fitzgerald, James Hughes, and Thomas Connelly, for having stolen a jog of beer.
The officers imposed 900 lashes on Connelly and 800 each on Fitzgerald and
Hughes, to be imposed at the rate of 300 lashes per day until punishment was
complete. Sentence was passed on 14 May and punishment commenced on 15 May
just outside the fort. Reaction among the local inhabitants and provincial
militiamen ranged from disgust to outrage to anger.(191)
During the time between the Seven Years War and the Revolution the use
of corporal punishment was a major issue among the people of New England.
They objected both to its severity and its continuance in peacetime.(192) The Boston
Evening Post made many references to the harshness of whipping, both of
provincial militia and the regular British soldiers stationed there. On 14 October
one Rogers, "a New England man" was condemned to receive a thousand lashes
at the hands of a black drummer. The Evening Post editorialized that the spectacle
of Rogers being whipped was "shocking to humanity" even though he received
"only 170 lashes" on that occasion. It quoted one observer as judging that "only
40" of the strokes were laid on as hard as the typical stroke he had seen when men
had received 500 lashes in one session in other regiments. It seemed as outraged
at the indignity of having a black drummer apply the whip as the fact that the man
had been sentenced to receive a thousand strokes.(193)
In December 1768 in Winchester, Massachusetts, after a British sergeant
of the Fourteenth Regiment had received one hundred and ninety lashes, the
surgeon warned that if he suffered more he would surely die. He was released and
carried to the guard house "where having languished a few days, his back began to
mortify, and the mortification soon reaching his kidneys, he died delirious." The
coroner held an inquest and chose to indict the officer for willful murder. The
officer escaped punishment, having claimed that he had acted within the scope of
the Mutiny Act.(194)
In February 1769 a black drummer was sentenced to receive one hundred
and fifty lashes for the offense of having "adventured to beat time at a concert of
music given at the Manufactory House." He passed out at the hundredth stroke and
the remainder was remitted. This whipping was only one of many administered in
the winter of 1768-69.(195) It was abundantly obvious that the people of Boston, not
accustomed to seeing such levels of physical punishment imposed, were outraged
by the British system of military discipline. Doubtless, they were moved by charity
and humanitarianism, and by a generalized moral outrage, but they probably
thought also that, when war came again, it would be their sons and brothers who
would receive the same levels of whippings.
In Boston on 31 October 1768 the first soldier in memory was executed
in peacetime for having deserted his post. Richard Ames [or Arnes] had taken
refuge among the tradesmen of a town just outside the city where the king's men
in disguise located him. He was court-martialed and sentenced to death. To the
Americans, the temptation, let alone the opportunity, for desertion would not have
existed had not the English stationed troops in the homes of the local citizenry.(196)
Roles of the Militia
The New England colonies maintained a politically stable militia system
during the pre-Revolutionary War years. There was virtually no standing army but
all the provincial governments were able to provide large numbers of militiamen
when and where they were needed simply by drafting them out of the town militias.
The New England colonies lost some territory and many men during the last quarter
of the seventeenth century, but the political authorities never lost administrative
Each town effectively became an advanced military base from which the
provincials could maintain a defensive posture or launch an attack on the enemy
aborigine. New England towns had a military organization that was sustained and
implemented locally with a minimum of outside interference. One authority argued
that the relatively loose and decentralized control that the provincial officers
maintained in New England towns was a principal cause of the maintenance of
political cohesion by the legislature and governors.(197) Most towns had sufficient
supplies in the community store houses to support the local militia and quite a few
other militiamen for at least a short time. Other towns could draw on similar
supplies to sustain the war effort. In King Philip's War the aborigine were defeated
more by shortages of supplies than by acts of war.
New England militia often supplemented the ordinarily and common civil
authorities, such as the sheriffs, police and town patrol or watch units. During the
British occupation of Boston with the king's troops a series of clashes occurred
between militia and civil authorities on the one side and the British forces operating
as military conservators of the peace, on the other side. The Boston Evening Post
editorialized that so great were the offenses of the military conservators that in
Boston there had been "a late vote of council of this town calling upon the
inhabitants to provide themselves with arms for their defence." It thought that this
was "a measure as prudent as it was legal" because "it is a natural right which the
people have reserved to themselves, conformed by the [English] Bill of Rights, to
keep arms for their own defence."(198)
New England militia seldom went into actual battle as whole units,
although they engaged in skirmishes and pursued marauding Indian war parties as
whole units. Men were selected for their particular skills in tracking, sensing
danger, marksmanship, and other useful military skills and then especially trained
to become frontier rangers. The general political authority raised and paid for
special combat forces in times of trouble, using the general militia as a reservoir of
supply for these volunteers. These select militiamen were the voluntary and
democratic counterpart of the Anglo-Saxon select fyrd. The latter usually had no
choice but to accept the additional training that separated them from the general (or
great) fyrd, the militia comprised of all able-bodied males. Whether for principle
or pay, the long term and mobile New England militia volunteered to serve in these
select militia forces. The volunteer element also removed from concern one
potential problem, that being the question of whether the general militia could be
deployed outside their home counties or colony.
Serving in a regiment did not excuse a man from guard duty, for within
a regiment, there were five distinct types of guard duty on which a man might have
to serve. In a quarter guard a regiment provided its own police, usually with a
subaltern, drummer and as many as forty men. They patrolled the perimeter at
night and held prisoners awaiting courts-martial or punishment. The provost
guard provided additional police functions via detachment of forty-five men under
a subaltern. It carried out punishment, including executions. The piquet guard
was composed of a captain, two subalterns and as many as 50 men. It was
designed to hold a line upon attack until the whole regiment could form. The main
guard was the company-size force which provided external security for the whole
camp and consisted of a company drawn from the entire body of men on a
rotational basis. Officers of the rank of general were entitled to a personal guard,
which varied by rank. A lieutenant-general had thirty-three guards; a major-general, twenty-three; and a brigadier-general, fifteen.(199) Typically, as many as a
quarter of the men assigned to a regiment or camp might be assigned to guard duty;
or, a man might expect to serve on guard duty every fourth day.
There was a fundamental difference between the British regulars and the
American militiamen regarding camp life. The American militia viewed the camp
as a temporary aberration, a place to stay away from home, having no permanence.
They did only the bare minimum required to stay for a brief period. There was no
question that, no matter how fine military quarters might be, the men would gladly
trade them at any point for their own homes. English soldiers, from both personal
desire and because they were driven by brutal discipline, made the camp as perfect
as possible. They cleared stumps, set drainage and permanent latrines, levelled the
land if at all possible, and then set their camps according to a pre-arranged plan,
and with a define sense of order. To those men, the army was a way of life and the
camp was as close to a permanent home as they were likely to come, for most had
been impressed or enlisted for life. To the British troops, the militiamen were a
disorderly group possessed of no pride of accomplishment. To the Americans, the
English fetish for camp orderliness was the result of the officers' insistence on
discipline for its own sake and decision to make the men work to keep them from
Illness and malnutrition were the two great enemies of all in the field on
military assignments. The standard diet of the enlisted men was adequate to
maintain health and normal activity. The diet, by standards of the time, were
reasonably well balanced. Problems occurred when food was not supplied as the
manual required or when men were assigned to especially arduous tasks, such as
felling trees, building roads, forts or bridges and carrying supplies or boats.(201)
Massachusetts Governor Francis Bernard reported to the board of Trade in 1763
that, "I was surprised to see what havoc disease made alone among the provincial
soldiers." (202) We need not dwell here on the woeful state of medicine, the inferior
training of physicians and surgeons, poor sanitation, lack of real hospitals and
drugs, presence of lice and rats and other disease carriers, inability to diagnose
diseases and ailments correctly, lack of sterile instruments or the lack of
understanding of how diseases were caused and spread. Dysentery, typhus, typhoid
fever, pneumonia, smallpox, diphtheria, malaria, measles, mumps, and other
virulent disorders frequently caused more deaths than engagements with the enemy.
A man injured in an accident or wounded in combat could count on virtually no
medical help. Amputation was standard treatment for shattered limbs. Bodily
wounds or internal injuries were generally untreated because of the lack of skill and
hospitals. Professor Anderson found that, during the French and Indian War, New
England militia and volunteers suffered a mortality rate of between 40 and 66.7 per
thousand and a total casualty rate of 283.5 per 1000, for a period of about three
The English regarded the American militiamen as substitute manual
laborers who were especially well suited, if for nothing else, for building and
maintaining roads and bridges, driving wagons, building boats and then carrying
these across portages, cutting firewood, building and maintaining latrines, and in
general performing such distasteful physical tasks as fell on the British soldiers
when there were no militia available. As Colonel John Robertson explained, the
provincials were suited only "to work our boats, drive our wagons, and fell our
trees, and do the work that, in inhabited counties, are performed by peasants."(204)
Perhaps most odious of all duties was that of cutting trees and doing other attendant
work to build roads. This work required enormous physical stamina, for first
growth trees of the virgin forests provided a significant obstacle and among the
many considerations of British civil engineers, the amount of physical toil required
was the least. Next in line as a physically demanding task was the building of
fortifications. Forts required the digging of large holes, felling and cleaning large
trees and dragging these to the proper place and setting the posts in the holes; and
locating, extracting, shaping and setting large stones. Many period records show
that the British officers enlisted, drafted, recruited, and, if all else failed, hired,
provincial tradesmen to serve as masons, sawyers, carpenters, millwrights, wheelwrights, or (that all-purpose term), "artificers." Provincials also hunted game to
supplement the standard fare of salt beef, pork, cod, or mutton.
There was no socio-economic discrimination practiced in New England
militia as had been the case with the English militia. Regular British officers who
served in North America and who knew little, if anything, of prevailing social
conditions, and often cared to know even less about the national customs,
misunderstood the colonial way of fighting and preparing for war. They did not
care to understand the fraternity and socializing that marked militia training days.
To them, the American provincials were woefully disorganized, completely
inefficient and hopelessly democratic. Officers socializing with the enlisted men
and militiamen electing their own officers necessarily precluded discipline,
organization and efficiency. In an army where officers made it a practice to refuse
to learn, let alone address men by, their first names, the fraternization they saw
among provincials was disgusting. Surely, mutiny and desertion would follow
from such lax discipline.(205) Here, poor citizens and indentured servants joined with
their commercial and propertied brethren. The New England militia certainly
represented a far greater cross-section of society than did the contemporary English
A prominent Tory compared the militia to Falstaff's army; it was "poor
and bare." Another Tory said that many of the militia had entered battle wearing
"breeches that put decency to blush." The Earl of Loudoun complained to Lord
Cumberland about his militia. "[A]s to the complaints of the ill usage of the
Militia, it rather appears to me that the Militia came rather slow up, and when they
arrived to the number of 2000, the desertion from that time on was equal to their
Acquisition by the arrival of new reinforcements."(207)
As we have seen, at least Englishmen did show respect for the colonial
militia and their unique ability to wage war effectively in the hinterland of
America. After the catastrophic defeat of General Edward Braddock's army at the
Battle of the Wilderness, the London-based Public Advertiser caustically observed
that "300 New England Militia men would have routed this Party of Indians."(208)
One British officer commended the New England militia to the exclusion of the
In all military Affairs it seems to belong to the New England Provinces to set a proper
Example. All agree that they are better able to plan and execute than any of the [other]
British Colonies. We put no Confidence in any troops other than theirs; and it is generally
lamented that the British Veterans were not out in Garrisons and New England Irregulars
[Militia] sent to the Ohio. Their men fight from Principle and always succeed. . . . Instead
of the Devastations committed by the Troops in 1746, not a Farmer has lost a chicken . . .
Americans were only too willingly to support this kind of endorsement.
The Public Advertiser's American correspondent, writing on 18 August 1755,
related an account of an ambush that had occurred "150 miles off . . . a few days
ago" in which an Amerindian war party numbering three hundred had attacked a
party of eighty New England militia. "The Indians fired first and killed one Man;
the New England Men took to the swamps and woods after them and killed 40 of
them."(210) A private letter written by a Boston correspondent in August 1755 in the
same newspaper recounted the success of the New England militia in "the late fight
at Nova Scotia." An "Old England Officer, Colonel Monckton" had ordered the
militiamen to march in European-style close "Army Order" which they did, but
only so long as they were not under attack. "When the Indians fired on them out
of the Woods they broke their Ranks and ran into the Woods after them."
Monckton was outraged and accused them of misconduct, saying "the Devil was
in them." But the militiamen had the last laugh. "They soon returned and shewed
him several Indian heads and scalps, [saying] 'This is our Country Fighting.'" This
lesson had been lost on British commanders and because Braddock had insisted on
fighting as Monckton had, he "fell sacrifice to his Onstancy."(211) After the
British surrender at Yorktown, Sir Henry Clinton referred to the New England
militiamen as "warlike, numerous and formidable."
Each colony in New England set aside one or more days for training and
disciplining the citizen-soldiers. This custom had been inherited from medieval
England where similar days had been set aside for like purpose in each shire.
When training day laws went unenforced the militias lapsed into mobs that were
unable to coordinate their activities on the field of battle and were unwilling to
obey their officers. Occasionally, part of the training days was set aside to repair
and build fortifications. A chaplin opened and closed the day with a prayer and
occasionally with a sermon. The minister also enforced morality laws to such a
degree that public drunkenness was all but unknown and the camp followers that
commonly accompanied men in arms were also nowhere to be found.
During the French and Indian War a New York correspondent of the
London-based Public Advertiser praised the moral character of the New England
We put no Confidence in any other Troops than theirs; and it is generally lamented that the
British veterans were not put into Garrison and New England Irregulars sent to the Ohio.
Their men fight from Principle and always succeed. The Behaviours of the New England
Provincials at Albany is equally admirable and satisfactory. Instead of the Devastations
committed by the [British regular] Troops in 1746, not a single Farmer has lost a Chicken
or even a Mess of Herbs. They have five Chaplains and maintain the best Order in Camp.
Public Prayers, Psalm-singing and Martial Exercises engrossed their whole Time at Albany.
Twice a week they have Sermons and are in the very best frame of Mind for an Army,
looking for success in a Dependence upon Almighty God . . . . Would to God the New
England Disposition in this Respect were catching.(212)
The number of annual training days was fixed by law and varied
considerably according to time and place. In 1631 the Massachusetts militia was
so enthusiastic about training days that it mustered weekly. Within a year the
enthusiasm waned and musters were then held monthly. By 1637 the interest had
continued to decline and consequently drills were held only eight times a year.
Subsequent changes in the law reduced the obligation to six times a year and then
just four. Emergencies changed the militiamen's minds and prompted them to take
muster more seriously. During King Philip's War the Massachusetts militia
mustered every Sunday and one additional day per week.(213)
Training days became social occasions. Whole families attended. The
women folk prepared the means which were taken in common. The children
enjoyed a rare opportunity, at least in rural areas, to socialize and to play with large
numbers of other children. Many young, single men met their future wives at these
gatherings. Occasionally, a church or public building had to be repaired and this
was done as a part of, or adjunct to, training days.(214) A British officer described
New England training under the watchful eye of five chaplains who assumed
responsibility for the morality and general decorum.(215)
To Jeffery Amherst's seasoned, professional officers the Americans were
utterly ill-mannered and ungentlemanly. They ignored class distinctions which
were all important among the British officer corps. They reported to Amherst that
the officers joined their men in carousing and carrying on, often into the wee hours
of the morning. The militia officers were as bad as the men, engaging in all manner
of outrageous behavior. They often wore costumes and unacceptable, non-military
clothing. Many officers failed to wear insignia or distinctive uniforms that would
identify them amongst their men. Moreover, they failed to obey even the most
rudimentary rules of sanitation. Men and officers alike stank for they failed to
bathe or change and wash their clothing.
In 1759 General Jeffery Amherst, preparing at assault the French fort at
Ticonderoga, reviewed the colonial militia and volunteers. He was so disturbed by
the New England militia's lack of basic military knowledge that he ordered them
trained with British regulars using the same handbooks, training manuals, and
standards used with regular army recruits. Only by applying universal training
standards could Amherst expect to integrate them with his own forces and deploy
them as a single combat team. Amherst ordered that all regiments of volunteers
and militia be given a copy of Humphrey Bland's Treatise of Military Discipline.(216)
Throughout the long campaign in upper New York and into Canada the New
Englanders struggled to become acquainted with the unfamiliar rules and
procedures of British military routine.
Additionally, Amherst was amazed to discover that many militiamen had
only the most rudimentary knowledge of how their firearms worked. He expected
to find the fabled "nation or riflemen" but instead discovered to his dismay that
many of the urban New England militiamen possessed only the faintest knowledge
of how their arms operated and how to care for them. Many men had fired, at the
most, a few rounds of ammunition, and these on rare occasions at militia musters
when musket practice was held. Amherst immediately gave orders that the
marksmanship training and instruction in the manual of arms be given top priority
at future musters and that volunteers in his army be trained with his own men in
standard British military fashion. To his mind, militia training days were a sham.
All militia required discipline and organization. These were based on, or
obtained from, some standard infantry field manuals and books of instruction on
military drill. The standard drill manual for British troops was The Manual
Exercise as Ordered by His Majesty in 1764, printed as early as 1766 in the
colonies, but it had never been officially adopted for militia exercise. Thomas
Simes, a young British officer in 1772 had written a Military Guide for Young
Officers, reprinted in 1776 in Philadelphia. It proved to be among the most popular
manuals in the colonies in the years immediately preceding the War for
Independence. Sir Humphrey Bland had produced a work on military discipline
which proved to be popular in the colonies. On the eve of the Revolution there was
no shortage of manuals upon which the American militia officers might draw.
But Americans seemed inclined to produce their own manuals, influenced
though they might be by British works. Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts was
always interested in military matters as he was a militia officer, and in 1775 he
published a militia training manual, An Easy Plan of Discipline for a Militia. Later,
Washington, recommended him to Congress for the office of Adjutant General,
commending him in these words, "He is a great military genius cultivated by an
industrious attention to the study of war."(217) Pickering's book was based upon a
similar work known as Norfolk Discipline, written in 1757 for the use of the militia
of Norfolk County, England. That work was the text book used by the militia of
Rhode Island; and was, in fact, the basis for the training of most of the New
England militia. Massachusetts for a time instructed her militia with William
Windham's A Plan of Exercise for the Militia of the Province of Massachusetts,
written in 1771. Windham's book was based upon the Norfolk work. In the
preface to his manual, Pickering listed his sources: Norfolk Discipline; Exercises
Ordered by His Majesty; Memoirs of Saxe;(218) The Young Artillery-Man, by
Barrisse;(219) Exercises of the Army; Regulations for the Prussian Infantry;(220) Bland's
Military Discipline; General Wolfe's Instructions for Young Officers; The Cadet;
and Young's(221) Essays on the Command of Small Detachments.(222)
There were few major engagements fought in the new world. Battles on
the European continent and in the West Indies rarely touched the colonists. The
wars came and peace again reigned and there were long periods of rest in between
the wars. The Revolution was a different matter.
All battles in the Revolution were fought on American soil, save only for
a few, relatively minor, naval engagements. There were no regular army units to
fight the war, save for those ultimately drawn from the militia. The militia was
constantly on the move, fighting against both the English and the Amerindians.
Frontier militiamen who served far away from their homes had real reason to worry
about the fate of their families at home, especially after the Six Nations entered the
war with a vengeance. Men were away from their homes and farms or other
occupations for extended periods of time. Women and children at home might
make do with the principal bread-winner being absent for one season, but
continued absence over several years took a horrible toll. Since most farms had
operated essentially on a subsistence level, it meant that fewer people had to raise
more food to feed more people. Someone had to grow the food to feed those in the
During the first two years of the Revolutionary War there were few
problems. By 1777 the war was taking a toll on the patriots. Men were tiring of
the war. Taxes were high and the currency depreciating at a rapid rate. High
inflation and high taxes placed many father-less families at the mercy of money
lenders. Some taxes went unpaid. Militia fines were substantial, and providing a
substitute was beyond the means of the typical household. Since the lame, halt,
blind and others who were handicapped or disabled had to procure a substitute each
time they were drafted, this obligation fell heavily on a segment of society which
was ordinarily unable to sustain the cost. Wages of the enlisted men, whether in
the continental line or militia, were insufficient to support a family. The pay of
soldiers in 1776 was given in paper money which exchanged freely on par with
silver. In January 1777 silver brought a premium of 25% and by January 1778
silver was valued at four times the stated value of paper money. In 1780 silver was
worth sixty times the face value of the depreciated currency. By May 1781 it was
essentially worthless and had ceased to circulate for virtually no one, the most
ardent patriots included, would accept it.
The British regulars assigned to North America were generally well
trained and subjected to the most harsh discipline known among military
organizations anywhere. During the many wars with France, many times the British
army stood against savage assaults because of this discipline. The colonial militias
never accepted such discipline because of the egalitarian spirit that pervaded the
The militia failed to work effectively as regular combat units for several
reasons. Few, if any, militiamen were interested in prolonged campaigns far from
home. Training had long been oriented toward serving short-term home guard
service. The militiamen were especially ineffective as garrison troops in various
fortified areas, as they became bored quickly and had little interest in such service.
When a man served a tour of duty far from home he remained concerned for the
protection and economic well-being of his family. Most militiamen could ill afford
the costs of leaving home, farm, business, or shop. The Amerindians, Tories and
British were a constant threat to their property.
Perhaps the most important reason for failures of the militia can be traced
to the volunteering and drafting militiamen. Those who were most interested in the
military life volunteered first. Militia units preferred to send their best men to the
Continental Line. With the ranks depleted, the militia units were increasingly filled
with those least interested, or least able to serve, in military service. By the end of
the war grizzled, and often semi-invalided, veterans mixed with young, raw
recruits, and those who had, by some device or another, escaped regular state or
Local boards and militia officers were under constant pressures to increase
their procurement of men for regular army service. With each passing month there
were fewer volunteers, but more calls from the states and the Continental Congress
for men. The most ardent patriots had already enlisted for the duration of the war.
Others with more modest pretenses of patriotism had also volunteered, or at least
not resisted a draft, for shorter terms of service. Most of those left at home by
1777 either preferred to fill their responsibilities at home, were reluctant
associators or were handicapped in some way. Some may have been so worried
about the safety of the home folks that they did not choose to abandon their
responsibilities to their families and neighbors.
In truth, by 1781, after nearly six years of uninterrupted warfare, neither
units of the continental line nor militia units were up to their full and expected
strengths. Many times partial companies, battalions and regiments of each took the
field, seriously undermanned. Few were the able-bodied men who had not served
on active service in some way or another. Many had come away horrified by the
realities of war or repelled by army life in the field. Many had developed such a
strong dislike for military duty that they paid large fines rather than even attend
militia muster. Some had seen their families reduced almost to financial ruin
during their service and would not place them in jeopardy again. Others had feared
for the safety of their families during their absence and were unwilling to serve
except in local tours of militia patrols again. Thus, even the militiamen often
resisted short periods of duty outside their home counties.
Appeals to sentiment and patriotism began to fall on deaf ears. Military
discipline was extremely harsh and British rule could be viewed as humane when
compared with military discipline. Officers were a generally intolerant lot,
allowing few deviations from a strict regimen which repulsed many who had
become accustomed to the enjoyment of freedoms at home. There was little
freedom of thought or of action. Moral discipline was imposed even on those with
few moral principles. Much of military life was reduced to drill and camp routine
which was monotonous and boring. There was much military routine and
preparation for each day of battle, especially for those in the militia, on garrison
duty or standing watch. Sheer boredom as well as home-sickness were greater
enemies than the opposing armies.
All of these things might be said of the soldier's life at any period, but it
was at least as great during the Revolution as at any time in human history. Its
greater burden may be found in the context of the time which allowed for far
greater freedoms than had heretofore been the case. The fact that all these factors
were at work throughout history makes it none the easier for those undergoing it
in the present.
The militia worked well as an emergency force, deployed for a limited
time, in a limited operation, operating near home and for a short duration. Indeed,
under these circumstances there may be no formidable military force. It certainly
is well used as an auxiliary force to protect the home-front while the majority of
eligibles are serving in the regular armed force. In the case of prolonged war
conducted throughout a large geographical area the primary use of a militia is to
serve as a definable register of those available for a draft into a regular military
unit. Some militia training is certainly advantageous to the regular army for it
introduces military drill, use of arms and general military regimen to civilians. The
American War for Independence marked the end of the militia as the primary
fighting force in America and the beginning of the emergence of a regular army as
the primary military and defense force of the nation. The emergence of a regular
force might have come much sooner had it not been for the continual presence of
the British army in North America.
Arms and Strategy
Arms figured prominently in the development of America from the earliest
years. Guns were important for hunting, but indispensable for warfare. Warfare
between European colonists and the native aborigine was simply a clash between
the stone age weapons the Amerindians possessed and the products of modern
technology that the colonists possessed. The colonials had brought over with them,
and offered for sale, iron hammers, hatchets, knives, swords, lances and
tomahawks. The impact of these superior weapons was overwhelming. But
nothing had as great an impact as firearms. The impact of firearms and especially
cannon was overwhelming beginning with the shock value of the noise these arms
The weapons of the colonists had changed remarkably in the two centuries
which preceded the colonization of America. The pike which had been the
standard infantry weapon of all of Christendom was replaced by the musket. The
original European firearms were wheel-locks and match-locks. Some European
armies in the mid-seventeenth century still used matchlocks, but wheel-locks had
all but disappeared. The mechanisms of wheel-locks were much too complicated
to be salable. These arms worked on the same principle as a watch. The
mechanism was wound with a key. When discharged the wheel, in which iron
pyrites were fastened, ground against an iron pan, releasing a shower of sparks
which detonated the priming charge, eventually igniting the gunpower in the barrel.
Wheel-locks were quite expensive and were usually highly decorated and were the
hunting arms of the wealthy. They were largely the property of nobility. The majority of the original military firearms were matchlocks which were
both cumbersome and unreliable. These arms used a burning match which was
positioned away from the touch-hole in the barrel. To fire a match-lock one moved
the burning match inward to the touch-hole. These arms were not especially
satisfactory either. The arm was not useful unless the match was already ignited.
The burning match was visible, especially at night, and gave off an odor which
helped to reveal the user. One had to have flint and steel wherewith to ignite the
matches which burned for only about twenty minutes before they had to be
replaced. Ignition was especially difficult in damp or wet weather. The arm was
difficult to reload. By 1675 the matchlocks, snaphaunces and wheel-locks
were rapidly being replaced with the superior common flintlock and dog lock
mechanism equipped firearms.(224) Unlike the Amerindians the settlers could repair,
and if necessary, manufacture firearms, ball and gunpowder.(225) The first reports
of bayonets dates to 1687 and soon after nearly all the colonials' muskets and many
fowling pieces and rifles were now equipped with the bayonet.(226)
The invention of the flintlock, c. 1650, proved to be the turning point in
arming infantry. By 1675 most colonies required that flintlocks, usually called fire-locks in period literature, replace the old matchlocks as the standard infantry
weapon. Most flintlock muskets fired a round ball of .75 (3/4 inch) diameter. The
flintlock was little changed in substance from its introduction through the American
War with Mexico. Until well after the War of 1812 no enemy might be expected
to have weapons of superior nature or firepower, at least in quantity.
These arms weighed about ten pounds. An experienced shooter could
discharge the weapon three to four times a minute, although the speed rapidly
diminished as the bore fouled with black powder residue. The musket was
generally reliable, although there were a few drawbacks. The large bores used up
individual supplies of gunpowder and lead rapidly. Flints had a useful life of
about thirty shots before they required replacement. A broken, damaged or inferior
flint might not produce the requisite spark. Touch-holes, holes drilled in the barrel
near the flash-pan which allowed the spark to enter the chamber wherein the
gunpowder laid, occasionally became clogged. Poor quality, wet or deteriorated
gunpowder might not fire properly. Introduction of the waterproof pan improved
reliability of the musket in bad weather. A misfire required that a shooter thread
a pointed worm on the tip of his ramrod, screw the worm into the lead ball and then
empty out the gunpowder.
By 1680 flintlock muskets were equipped with bayonets. No longer did
the soldier equipped with a firearm have to carry a pike or other cutting or slashing
weapon. By 1710 the bayonet-equipped musket had become the standard infantry
weapon of all European armies. While regular troops nearly always had bayonets,
and many times charged an enemy only with a bayonet attached to the an empty
musket, colonial militia only rarely had bayonets, especially if they were armed
with their own guns. Adaptability to the bayonet was a primary reason why states
sought to equip as many militiamen as possible with muskets rather than rifles or
other civilian arms.
Muskets were intended for mass fire and were highly inaccurate at
distances greater than fifty yards. Most had no rear sights and were designed to be
pointed in the general direction of one's enemy rather than aimed at an individual
target. Training with muskets, or their civilian counterparts called fowling pieces,
did not emphasize marksmanship. One might occasionally hit a man-size target at
100 yards, although effective range was perhaps 50 to 60 yards. In practice, those
firing muskets held the muskets roughly parallel to the ground and discharged in
mass in the general direction of an advancing, opposing force.
Rifled arms were much more accurate, but the rifling fouled much more
rapidly than the loose fitting musket barrels. Only a few marksmen, usually
hunters, could begin to gain any great advantage from the rifling. Most rifled
barrels were of smaller calibre than muskets and were certainly not uniform. Each
rifleman had to cast his own bullets to fit the diameter of his barrel, and weigh his
own powder charge to fit his own gun's requirements. Prepared charges of powder,
wadding or "patches," and bullets could only be prepared on an individual basis,
rather than being issued by an arsenal. Most rifles were of more decorative design
and far less sturdy than heavy muskets. Rifles were rarely made to mount, and only
occasionally could be modified to accept, bayonets. The rifle was used most
effectively as a sniper's, or skirmisher's, weapon. Its long distance shock value was
great for riflemen generally chose their targets carefully, especially marking enemy
officers as prime targets. They were slower to load for several reasons. Rifled
bores were of value if the ball fitted tightly in the bore and so a patch of leather or
cloth was used to assure a tight fit and to accept the rifle grooves. Tight fitting
patched balls reacted to the slightest fouling of the bore, an inevitable result of the
use of black powder. One of the perennial problems with firearms
was their almost complete lack of uniformity. There was no standardization of
caliber and most companies found that no more than a few men used the same size
musket or rifle ball. Many militiamen carried fowling pieces, slim single barrel
shotguns, used by civilians with shot to kill birds and with a patched ball to kill
deer. Because of their light construction throughout they were especially unsuited
for military application, and none was sufficiently heavy to use as a club or to
mount a bayonet. None of the colonial militia laws had never required that men
provide themselves with military arms. Each man had to provide his own
ammunition, which was easily interpreted to mean that each man could supply
whatever arm he wished so long as he had the proper ammunition. Lack of
uniformity plagued the colonies throughout the various colonial wars. Most
volunteers and draftees in the colonial period received standard military arms from
the English or were equipped from the rather limited colonial stores of English
weapons. Colonial gunsmiths manufactured very few militia muskets; their work
on military arms seems to have been confined to the maintenance and repair of
arms manufactured abroad.
During the Revolution the best equipped units, whether Continental Line
or militia, used English Brown Bess or French Charleville pattern muskets. Since
these two standard military arms of the great European powers used the same ball
and load there was no problem presented here. As the war continued these
standard military arms were supplemented with imported arms of many
descriptions as European nations emptied their arsenals of obsolete and damaged
equipment. Additionally, American gunsmiths offered some arms of local
manufacture. The best equipment, naturally, went to the Continental Line and
militia units lucky enough to have standard military weapons found that the Line
took these weapons with draftees or simply confiscated them. Militia officers, in
turn, bought or impressed civilian arms, adding to the variety of bores and
While firearms, especially snaphaunces, matchlocks and other early
"firelocks," were in general use, the pike was still a popular weapon. The
simplified manual of arms in use in the third quarter of the seventeenth century
gave instructions for the use of the pike. The pikeman was required to know only
eleven positions in the manual whereas those armed with firearms were to know no
less than 56 positions. Fathers with a large number of sons often chose the pike for
their offspring. Men at the time were responsible for arms their sons between ages
16 and 21. In 1681 a Massachusetts militiaman named John Dunton discussed the
reasons for the use of the pike among inexperienced militiamen.
I thought a pike was best for a young soldier, and so I carried a pike, and between you and
I reader, I knew not how to shoot off a musket. But t'was the first time I ever was in arms;
which tho' I tell thee, Reader, I had no need to tell my fellow soldiers, for they knew it well
enough by my awkward handling of them.(227)
A few pikemen were outfitted in archaic helmets and corselets, but most
wore buff colored padded coats. They carried knapsacks, utility belts and some
edged weapon, such as swords or hatchets.(228) In his diary, Samuel Sewall, Chief
Justice of Massachusetts, recorded in his diary his observations on the instruction
of young men in the use of the pike, the half-pike and halberds. A good pike,
Sewall recorded, cost about 40 shillings, far less than a good gun. He described a
pike carried by one officer, "headed and shod in silver" and inscribed "Agmen
Massachusettense est in tutelam sponsae, Agni 1701."(229) As late as 1706 there are
records of the purchase of new halberts for the foot militia.(230) King Philip's War
in New England, 1675-1676, marked the end of the pike as a principal militia
weapon. Amerindians were much more intimidated by the thunder and novelty of
firearms than they were by pikes which resembled their own spears. Armor was
little used after 1650.(231)
Americans, accustomed to firearms since birth, realized the importance of
good guns. As they developed their own arms, made by cottage industry
gunsmiths, they disdained the poorly made, often obsolete or obsolescent weapons
the Europeans dumped on the colonies from the backrooms of their arsenals. In
1747 an American militia wrote to the New York Gazette to complain of the poor
quality of arms shipped to the New Jersey militia. "The Lords of Trade had sent
"300 Guns, or Things in the Shape of Guns, which were condemned by the
Gunsmiths at Albany as not the value of old Iron." There was a reason why the
guns were so poor. The writer charged that "those very arms had been in Oliver
Cromwell's Army." He added, tongue in cheek, that the Commissioners had sent
the guns because they knew that, in Cromwell's day, these guns had killed the
French and they were frightened by them, so the issuance of the guns in 1747 was
designed expressly to frighten the French away rather than forcing the Americans
to kill them(232)
Between 1688 and 1745 European military strategists developed new
military formations and doctrine. By the time of the War of Spanish Succession
(1702-14) European armies abandoned the tactics that had been useful when
soldiers were armed with pikes and various cutting weapons and developed linear
tactics more adapted to firearms. Common soldiers rarely carried swords in battle,
as non-commissioned and minor commissioned officers carried halberds and
officers were issued spontoons. All these weapons were essentially ceremonial
symbols of little practical value in fighting.
Instead of massing their men, as in previous times, commanders spread
them out in long lines across a substantial front. Instructors learned that lining
infantry three deep was the optimum way to deploy soldiers armed with muskets.
Each line fired in turn, and by the time the third line had discharged its muskets the
first line was loaded and ready to shoot again. Because of the inaccuracy of their
muskets, soldiers usually formed battle lines about one hundred yards apart. Field
commanders thus marched their men to the clearly defined field of engagement and
waged a war of attrition. Opposing armies continued to fire until one withdrew or
was decimated or surrendered.(233)
Lord Loudoun introduced a number of innovations adapted to warfare in
North America. One notable departure from the standard European practice was
allowing militiamen, whether armed with rifle or musket, to fire from the prone
position. Firing from that position was useful primarily to riflemen, but, before the
Revolution, only a small number of rifles had been issued, or even permitted,
among troops in the British service.
The last quarter of the eighteenth century also saw the introduction of
mobile field artillery. The colonists generally used artillery to great advantage.
They did not have a kill large numbers of Amerindians with it in order to make a
point. There was nothing in their code of war which required them to stand against
such overwhelming firepower. The sound and smell and awesome destructive
power of cannon were in and of themselves often sufficient to cause the warriors
to retreat from firepower which they could not begin to match. Older cast-iron
artillery was used primarily to batter down enemy fortifications at distances of 200
yards or less. Artillery was massed close enough to the target to concentrate its
fire. They were rarely very accurate, due in large to irregular casting of both
barrels and balls and to wear from use. Of lighter construction and smaller bore
than siege cannon, the new cannon often had brass or bronze barrels instead of
iron. By the French and Indian War, the French had mastered new artillery strategy
and had developed superior hardware. The new cannon had improved construction
and design from barrels to carriages. By the Revolution, artillery could be used
effectively against massed troops at ranges up to 1000 yards. Light artillery could
be used somewhat effectively by militias, but the use of larger cannon was a highly
The Dutch and Swedes had given the Amerindians cannon, but they had
been rendered useless for lack of shot, cannon gunpowder and spare parts after
these two nations withdrew from North America. Generally, the Amerindians
chose merely to destroy cannon they captured because they really did not
understand its use or deployment. But others began to supply the Amerindians
with swivel guns which they mounted on the walls of their forts. These arms may
be viewed as very large calibre rifles or small cannon, with bores about one to one
and a half inches in diameter and loaded with multiple shot.
The militia systems in most colonies were in full vigor by 1650. In
Maryland, for example, the militia was divided, according to the European manner,
into the general militia, including all free male inhabitants between ages 16 and 6O,
and the Trained Bands, consisting of specially trained and fully armed citizen-soldiers. Each citizen bore the cost of bearing arms himself. There was a "clawse
enjoyning every person to bring a good fixed Gunn . . . to the trayning . . . for the
service of the Lord Propy [proprietor]."(235) The public treasury bore the cost of both
purchasing and maintaining the extra equipment used by the Trained Bands.(236)
Maintenance and storage of these arms were the responsibility of the sheriffs of the
Maryland counties. Despite having been founded as a haven for Roman Catholics,
by 1670 Maryland was effectively disarming Catholics. In many other colonies,
bearing arms was restricted to those who would deny the doctrine of
Connecticut provided for a muster-master in each county whose function
it was to inspect the arms of the militia and Trained Bands, for the able-bodied free
men "by lawe are required to provide armes and ammunition" for themselves.
Clerks were empowered to maintain records of militia equipment for each
inhabitant.(238) Trained Bands were "to be in readiness upon an bower's warning for
a march; who are to have their armes well fixed and fitted for service."(239) The law
provided that smiths were to give priority to repairing arms of the militia over all
other work. It also provided penalties for citizens who failed to pay the smiths for
such work, as it was a primary obligation of citizenship.(240)
Militia as a Reservoir
The militias of Colonial America worked best when they were given
limited assignments of short duration within the province from which the men were
drawn. In most cases, the legislative calls issued to the militias were specific as to
unit (usually based in a town or district), number of men required, and duration of
service. The greater the distance of the service from the town where the units
originated the greater the probability that some men would be drafted from the unit
for service; the closer the service to home, the greater the chance that all men
would be mustered.
Legislative mandates assigned the various towns their quotas and allowed
each governments to decide how to fill the quota. In most cases, the governments
first allowed the militiamen to volunteer and filled any deficiencies by a general
draft from the militia companies.
One of the problems which developed between the colonial militias and
the British army lay in the British method of conscription of men from the militias.
British recruiters often enlisted the men for life, in standard British practice. Few
Americans, especially illiterate backwoodsmen, seemed to have understood that
they had signed for such a term of service. In 1755 Lieutenant John Winslow
protested when a British recruiting officer attempted to enlist a group of New
England volunteers serving in Nova Scotia without telling them that they would be
signing on for life. He argued that the provincial political authorities must step in
and stop the practice and force the release of those already enlisted. Winslow
argued that lifelong enlistment would have a deleterious effect on the development
of the colony. To allow this enlistment practice to remain,
will be a most impolitical step, as these men are sons of some of the best yeomen in New
England, who encouraged them to understand this expedition . . . and on like occasions the
men have been returned at the end of the time limited, and [it] was expected by the governor
and people [that this] would have been the case [in this instance again]. And if [they are]
disappointed and their children [are] kept, there will be an end put to any future assistance,
let the extremity be what it will.(241)
The central governmental authorities occasionally laid specific
assessments for manpower upon the provincial and state governments. In each of
England's several wars with France the home government assigned quotas to be
filled within each colony.
The rather standard practice was to recruit as many as might be enlisted
by paying small bonuses. The provinces and towns often offered bonuses that were
paid in addition to those which the home government offered. If enough men were
not forthcoming, the towns and provinces offered even greater bonuses. The
authorities could offered bonuses in land (usually in French Canada) as well as in
money. Other leaders offered clothing, blankets, equipment, or firearms. Bonuses
varied greatly from time to and place to place, with governments attempting to
recruit as cheaply as possible while the men were trying to obtain as much as
possible for their services. Considering that governments rarely paid veterans
bonuses or death benefits to families which had lost wage earners and the sources
of support, one certainly cannot blame the men for getting all they could as
Volunteers were often recruited from among the lowest echelons of
society, including free-booters, Amerindian traders, runaway apprentices and
servants, criminals on the lam, and derelicts. In harsh economic times, many
poorer men enlisted because there was no other work to be had.
If there were still insufficient men then the provincial legislatures might
authorize a draft. The militias served as the reservoirs from which the legislatures
might draw for men. Most of the real work of drafting men was left to the towns
and militia districts. The lucky men drafted into service might serve home or
fortress guard duty, maintaining some static fortification of strategic location.
Boredom was the great enemy here.
The unlucky draftees might be sent to the West Indies for long service.
Many fell to enemy fire and many more died of diseases and injuries. Others were
recruited into service in Canada against the French. I have not found any instance
in which the home government assigned quotas to the American provinces for
service on the European continent.
The towns and districts had no choice but to comply with a legislative or
executive call for manpower. They could not refuse to respond. If the towns failed
to fill their assigned quotas, the selectmen or other local political authorities could
be held responsible, fined, and even imprisoned for failure to perform. The towns
themselves might be assessed fines or penalties, to be paid out of local taxes.
Towns often appointed local committees to secure the necessary volunteers, using
the militias as the reservoir from which to draw volunteers. Later, during the
Revolution especially, the towns were free to set bounties which might be much
larger than those offered by the Continental Congress or the states.
Conversely, towns might be credited with volunteers, especially those in
excess of the assigned levy, and receive bonuses from the provincial or home
government. So hard was it to recruit men during the Revolution that state
legislatures assigned bonuses even for fulfillment of their legal quotas. This
practice occurred primarily after the long war for independence had exhausted
patriotic sentiments and the states were having great problems with recruitment of
men to fill the quotas assigned to them by the Continental Congress for men to
serve in the Continental Line.
In reality, none of the wars between France and England had made
exhausting demands upon the New England militia. Men were rarely away from
their homes and farms (or other occupations) for extended periods of time.
Militiamen rarely missed both planting and harvesting seasons and it was truly a
rarity when a farmer missed planting and harvesting in two consecutive years.
Military actions during the struggle between France and England for
supremacy in North America were largely of two types. There were the sporadic
raids, conducted by French courriers de bois, a handful of French military and
bands of Amerindians. The second type of actions were those involving larger
numbers of men, including regular French troops, and directed at some important
outpost or strategic fort.
In the first case, raiding parties sought to harrass the frontier settlements
and isolated cabins. Here the French had no permanent objective in mind although
they did take captives who were held in virtual slavery or were used as hostages to
be exchanged for French captives held by the English or Americans. The raids
were designed to strike terror in the hearts of those inhabitants who were so bold
as to bring civilization into the wilderness. Perhaps certain trade temporary trade
prerogatives were at stake. These incursions were perfectly suited to militia action.
The ranging units might pursue the Amerindians back into Canada, even to follow
the raiders into their villages, in an attempt to rescue captives and perhaps to win
a war of attrition. No regular military unit was nearly as well adapted to the war
in the deep woods as the rangers who had been drawn from among the frontiersmen.
In the second case the French sought to capture and hold some point of
strategic significance. Among the important sites were: Ticonderoga, which
controlled the Hudson River Valley and Lake Champlain; Niagara, gateway to the
west and the Great Lakes; Port Royal and Louisbourg, which commanded the
eastern seaboard and the St. Lawrence River; and DuQuesne which controlled the
three rivers and was the link between the great western plains and the east via the
Ohio River complex.
In actions at strategic points the method of warfare was generally quite
simple. The warring party enlisted sufficient manpower to drag heavy cannon and
mortars sufficient in firepower to breach the walls of the fort. Regular miliary
sappers were augmented by various tradesmen, often including ships' carpenters,
carpenters and wood cutters. They cut a road through the forest while the colonial
militia, teamsters, and wagoners dragged artillery pieces, gunpowder, and shot to
the outer perimeter of the fort. It all became very simple thereafter. If a relief force
appeared, or the number of troops within the fort were sufficient to sortie out and
destroy the siege force, those in the fort won. If the number of soldiers holding the
fort was insufficiently large to engage the enemy, and if no relief force appeared,
the force besieging the stronghold won by battering down the walls, or by inflicting
damage sufficient to compel the fort's surrender. American warfare was thus a
throw-back to the siege warfare that ended the reign of castles in Europe in late
feudal, and early modern, times. Unlike European warfare of the same period,
armies rarely engaged on an open field. The militia had more physical exertion in
these engagements in bringing up the supplies than in actual combat. Artillery was
a specialization of the regular army, although a few militia companies had mastered
The regular British army units from England fought in nearly all battles
of the colonial period. These well-trained and equipped units provided most of the
shock troops, with volunteers, conscripts and militia largely acting as back-up and
auxiliary units. The outcome of the major engagements were largely in the hands
of the army, not the militia. Casualties, especially among the New England militias
and volunteers, were relatively light. Most authorities agree that the professional
army suffered far more casualties than the provincial militias and volunteers, but
the Americans suffered their share also. In the abortive campaign against
Ticonderoga in 1758 the forty-second and forty-sixth British regiments were
slaughtered by French gunners, while the militia, being held in reserve, suffered
few casualties. In some cases the regulars were fully protected while in siege
whereas the militia were held in unprotected close reserve. At Ticonderoga in 1759
and during some other actions the French defensive cannon fire inflicted more
casualties among the provincials being held in reserve than the actual assault
inflicted upon the British attacking army.
The New England militia could muster large numbers of men if necessary.
A French observer in Canada reported in 1756 that the English had gathered a large
army at Fort Lydius [Fort Edward] and Fort George [Fort William Henry],
consisting of ten thousand to twelve thousand men, of whom six thousand to eight
thousand were New England militiamen under General Winslow.(243)
Militia of the French Enemy
In mid-seventeenth century the entire white population of Canada
probably did not exceed 3000 adults. Although the French king had about 100,000
men in arms, he was loathe to send more than 2000 to Canada. Louis regarded
Canada as a fur farm and warehouse and had little interest in colonization or
exploration. He only reluctantly allowed Samuel de Champlain to establish
colonies at Port Royal, Acadia , Quebec  and Montreal . To his
favorites the king granted seigniories, medieval land grants from which the
seignores earned fortunes by charging the rentiers for everything from rent to
milling fees. The seigniories formed the base on which militia units were recruited.
In 1665 he sent 24 companies consisting of 1500 men under Colonel de Saliéres
to build several forts wherewith to guard the trade routes. The forts were
strategically located to block the Iroquois war routes. In 1666 the governor of
Canada, de Tracy, sent a handful of these French troops and nearly all his militia
against the Mohawks in New York. The Mohawks sued for peace and the majority
of the French troops returned to France.(244)
The French countered the New England militia with Canadian militia of
their own. In 1756 Louis Antoine de Bougainville noted in his diaries that
"everyone quit work at four o'clock so that the workers may drill."(245) By mid-summer 1756 there were 2500 Canadian militia and 1800 Amerindian warriors
available to the French army. The Montreal militia alone numbered 300.(246) The
home government provided the militia with 1800 muskets and 400,000 shot, an
appropriate number of cartridge boxes, flints and gunpowder, hospital supplies and
artillery. They also gave the militia 150 special grenadier muskets.(247) On 8 August
1756 they marched 800 militia to Frontenac as an advanced guard.(248) On 29 July
1757 Bougainville provided a list of militia in the king's service in Canada. There
were 3170 militia and 300 volunteers under Villiers.(249)
The regular winter equipment issued to French-Canadian militiamen and
regulars included: an overcoat, a blanket, a wool cap, two cotton shorts, pair of
loose leggings, a breech-cloth [regular army had breeches and drawers instead],
two hanks of thread and six needles, an awl, a tinderbox, a butcher's knife, a comb,
a worm [for musket], a tomahawk, two pairs of stockings, two pocket-knives, a pair
of mittens, a waist-coat, two pairs of deer-hide moccasins, a dressed deer-hide, two
breast straps used in hauling boats over portage, a drag rope, a pair of snow-shoes,
a bear-skin, and one tarpaulin per four men or one per officer. Each item was
valued and a militiaman might accept cash payment in lieu of the item. Each man
also received twelve days' rations of bread, salt pork and peas. At appropriate
times, men might be given sleds and a few were issued horses.(250)
The French under siege in the spring of 1758 suffered as the English had,
from malnutrition and hunger. Bougainville noted that the soldiers could not
function fully on a ration of two ounces of bread, a half-pound of beef or horse-meat, a half-pound of salt pork, and a quarter-pound of salt cod.(251) Poor food and
irregular pay and a dearth of able-bodied men made recruitment of additional
volunteers and militia almost impossible. Most recruits were of the lowest sort and
did more to weaken the army than to strengthen it.(252) By 1 January 1758 the French
had activated all reserve and active militia and were able to report only 2108 men
in arms under Marquis de Vaudreuil.(253)
On the Other Side
When the American War for Independence began, the patriot (or Whig)
cause was not supported by everyone in the thirteen colonies. Two classes stand
out: the loyalists, also called Tories or United Empire Loyalists; and the pacifists,
primarily Dunkards, Moravians and Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends.
Most of the pacifists were wholly apolitical and avoided assisting or supporting
either side in any way. The Friends not infrequently expelled members of the sect
for joining the army on either side.(254) The loyalists were opposed to independence
and withdrawal from the empire. They generally argued that the American
Revolution was a civil war and they were free to choose sides without penalty.
Tories existed everywhere, but were most numerous in the mid-Atlantic(255) and
southern states. Incidence of loyalism was highest among the Anglican clergy,(256)
crown officials, southern planters, socio-economic elites and cultural minorities,
although they came from all religious, ethnic, socio-economic, class and
occupational groupings. Many merchants and upper class tradesmen, such as
goldsmiths, espoused the loyalist line.(257)
Many colonists remained loyal to the British Empire and were willing to
fight for it. Some men, seeing that they would be forced by patriotic militias to
choose sides, chose to join the royalist militia, the side which they sincerely
believed to be right. The patriots called them Tories and the English knew, and
later honored and compensated, them as United Empire Loyalists. They
represented a broad cross-section of colonial American society and came from all
levels of the socio-economic classification. There is no question that, because of
pressures from the patriots, and their great zeal in ferreting out loyalists, many
loyalists left rather than submit to a cause in which they did not believe.(258)
America lost some of its outstanding conservative political leaders and
men of property and commerce. The patriot response to the real and presumed
Tory activities was brutal and direct. Their property was confiscated and sold at
public vendue, with a value of no less than £10,000,000. They were forbidden to
practice their trades and professions and denied basic judicial protections. They
were often convicted by rumor in non-judicial bills of attainder. Some suffered
severe physical abuse as well, including the traditional "tarring and feathering."
Others kept their views secret and collaborated with British occupation forces on
appropriate occasions. When the king's troops withdrew the loyalists usually had
to retreat with them, for they enjoyed little, if any, protection from the patriots.
Lacking organization and good leadership, their impact was not commensurate with
their numbers. Three factors motivated the tories: fear of loss of their property;
general patriotic loyalty to the king; and pride in the Empire.(259)
Patriots loathed the tories. They confiscated their land, homes, estates and
even their working tools and condemned them by bill of attainder.(260) Patriots
considered them traitors and subjected them to all forms of discrimination and
persecution. Radical patriots were generally more successful than Tories in
recruiting among the undecided faction. As the flames of revolution grew many
neutrals chose to follow the new course.
Estimates of the numbers of American Loyalists differ enormously and
there seems to be little way of reconciling the estimated figures with the truth. One
good estimate is that the nation was divided into roughly equal thirds. One-third
were active patriots; one third were staunch Tories; and one-third wavered in their
loyalties. Another scholar estimated that during the Revolution there were perhaps
500,000 active tories among the colonists, or about twenty percent of the white free
population. Perhaps another twenty percent of the population were passive tories.
By the end of the war probably 200,000 loyalists had died in British service, been
run out of the country by patriots, or had become voluntary exiles somewhere
within the British Empire.(261) The number of exiles was above 100,000, out of a
total caucasian population for the thirteen colonies of 2,100,000. These 100,000
tories represented about two and one-half percent of the free white population, that
is, 24 exiles per 1000 people. In contrast, the French Revolution drove less than
one-half of one percent of the population into exile, or five people per 1000. About
half of the refugee tories fled to Canada, most settling in New Brunswick which
was created in 1784 expressly to accommodate them. Others moved to Florida, the
West Indies and back to England.(262) After the war only 4118 tory requests for
compensation were approved by the Royal Claims Commission, although these
people were paid approximately £3 million.(263)
As with the patriots, it was often most difficult to distinguish between
militia and enlisted regiments of the regular army. Many Tory militiamen enlisted
in British units, so the British authorities used their militia as did the patriots, as a
reservoir for the filling of regimental vacancies. It served British purposes to keep
the distinction between regular army and militia units vague, in large part because
the militia sounded somewhat more populist and suggested voluntary popular
support for the royal cause.(264) As British policy developed following the defeat at
Saratoga, the loyal militia was to be divided into two classes. The one would act
offensively in concert with, and generally under the leadership of, the British army.
The second class, consisting of the invalid corps, men over age 40, and those with
large families, was to maintain domestic order, quell local insurrections and
invasions and act as occupation troops.(265)
By the end of 1775, when the British authorities were giving little
attention to the loyalist faction, only about 1000 loyalists had enlisted in militias.
Perhaps as many as 60,000 Tories served as militiamen and enlisted soldiers in the
English cause. Rosters exist for the years 1779 and 1780 which show an average
of 9000 to 10,000 men in His Majesty's Provincial Forces in North America. Some
have claimed that in 1780 some 8000 tories were serving in the British army,
although other estimates are considerably lower. Many, if not most, of these tories
had been drafted or recruited from tory militia units. By contrast, Washington's
army at the time numbered only 9000.(266) While an exact count is impossible, there
were 19,000 men who served in forty known tory units. Loyalist historian Lorenzo
Sabine listed twenty five Loyalist military organizations, mostly militia, each with
sufficient strength to be commanded by a full colonel. Other authors have listed
thirteen major tory organizations.(267) Another list showed 312 militia companies
and at least 50 distinct provincial corps.(268) By far the most complete list is found
the publications of the Royal Institution of Great Britain where there are forty such
organizations noted.(269) These numbers do not count tory marauders and irregulars.
Initially, the British had thought that they could win a quick victory. No
one in either military high command or the Home Office thought that the colonists
could possibly win, and none were prepared for a prolonged and expensive
campaign. All that was necessary for the quick victory was one great, all-out battle,
and that would come when the British forces trapped Washington and forced him
to do battle. Therefore, the British authorities and strategists paid little attention
to the Tory militia companies that spontaneously formed in the early months of the
revolution. They had assumed that quelling insurrection was the work for the
regular army, just as it had been in numerous rebellions in the home country.
Recent experience with Jacobites had proven that their initial successes were
quickly forgotten once the army forced a real battle with all the modern implements
of war, such as the bayonet, cannon and massed troops. The British leaders
thought tory militia would be of little value except in information gathering and in
occupation of urban areas. There was no reason to believe that the tory militias
would be any better trained, or form any better fighting force, than their patriot
brethren for whom the English had so little regard.(270)
The tories played a more significant role in the War for Independence than
has been reported in many sources. They supplied badly needed manpower for the
British army. Volunteers came from the tory militias to swell the ranks of the army
as they had in earlier wars. They also supplied the occupation authorities and
police for cities, operating under the shield of the British troops. The English
found it expeditious to have tories stand watch and perform other duties that
running municipal government required. Other loyalists, theoretically assigned
temporarily to militia duty, but wishing to serve more meaningful tasks, were
assigned to foraging, reconnaissance and fire watch and like boring and
monotonous duties. The aristocratic class, offered prestigious upper level
commissions, were frozen in place because the regular army, in which promotions
to ranks of colonel and general were given only after long service, or sold for huge
prices, would not be made available to militia. We may recall that, under orders
from Lord Loudoun, all militia officers were considered inferior in rank to even a
second lieutenant in the regular army. Actual enlistments of tory soldiers, although
not officers, fell short of official estimates and expectations. This was
disappointing because the British had assumed that the rebels constituted only a
tiny portion of the colonial population and therefore expected that a vast number
of loyal volunteers would materialize, motivated only by thoughts of patriotism.
The first, and perhaps greatest failure, of British policy in America was
the assumption was that most Americans wanted to retain their loyalty to British
rule. Overall, British policy remained recalcitrant in the belief that most Americans
wanted to live under the king's rule. As late as 1779 General James Robertson,
testifying before the House of Commons, insisted that "more than two-thirds" of
Americans were loyal to the crown. Once freed from patriot rule, the vast majority
of Americans would run to the safety of benevolent British rule.(271)
A second major British failure was based in the maintenance in force in
North America of the British Mutiny Act. Americans, especially those in cities,
had witnessed the horrors of the imposition of corporal punishment of unimagined
intensity among the occupying troops. This brutal discipline may have meant little
to the upper crust of society, those who would occupy the officer corps, but it was
utterly frightening to those who might serve as enlisted men and thus be subject to
the law. Other loyalists doubtless saw other inconsistencies, irregularities and
abuses among the occupying troops.
A third failure of British recruitment policy, clearly related to the second,
was the reduction in authority of militia commissions as compared to regular
commissions. When Loudoun first imposed the Mutiny Act during the Seven
Years War, it had the effect of placing all provincial officers under the command
of all regular officers beginning with second lieutenant. Thus, any militia general,
in actual command, was under the authority of any regular officer. Even after
1779, militia officers, irrespective of experience or service, were inferior to regular
officers of the same grade. Provincial militia officers were ineligible to receive
permanent rank or half pay upon reduction.
A fourth failure, related to the third, was the failure of the English
authorities to develop a uniform policy in regard to enlistment bounties. Initially,
officers received commissions based on their ability to recruit men to serve in
regiments they were raising. Each provincial unit had to negotiate its own terms
of support, and since most aristocratic loyalist officers cared little for their enlisted
men, adequate provision of the men was rarely a great concern. Other loyalist
officers, seeking to fill the ranks to secure their own commissions and ranks, made
vague promises and commitments, or made promises they were essentially
powerless to carry out. A few wealthy officers made good on their promises from
their own resources. By late 1778 the home government began to clarify the
arrangements and conditions of provincial enlistments, but by then it was too late
for word had spread of the many unfilled bounties and unkept promises. Only after
1781 did the home government agree to offer a number of inducements, bounties
and promises to loyal men who might be recruited.(272) In 1776 the British home
government had prepared supplies for 10,000 men, while enlistments were
probably about 7000.(273)
The system of by offering commissions to those recruiting men had been
well established in British colonial practices even before the Seven Years War.
During the American Revolution the British army operated even more closely than
in the past with the provincial militias. Any prominent loyalist who could raise a
tory militia troop of almost any size could receive a commission from the king.
Those who were most active in recruitment of provincial militia regiments and
companies were men who held rank and wealth before the revolution. Provided
they recruited a sufficient number of tories, these officers could nominated the
commissioned officers of inferior rank. Some tory officers believed, correctly or
not, that they had been authorized to offer grants of land of 50 acres to enlisted
men and 200 acres to non-commissioned officers. Provincial militia recruits
commonly agreed to serve for two years or the duration of the war, if less.(274) Many
British army officers objected to this custom, claiming that this practice promoted
the staffing of regiments with wholly unqualified officers. The Inspector-General
of Provincial forces rationalized the army's official position.
I have found . . . several persons to whom warrants had been granted to raise Corps had
greatly abused the confidence that had been placed in them, by issuing warrants to very
improper persons as inferior officers, the consequence of which was that numberless abuses
had taken place, and among many others, Negroes, Mulattoes, Indians, Sailors and Rebel
Prisoners, were inlisted, to the disgrace and ruin of the provincial service.(275)
After 1780, because of the irregularities in enlistment procedures, each
militiaman recruited in the southern campaign was issued a certificate expressly
limiting his service and guaranteeing him exemption from service beyond a pre-arranged territorial limit. The men were granted the right to elect their own officers
rather than having officers commissioned by fulfillment of enlistment quotas. The
authorities established an inspector to superintend militia enlistments, training and
discipline. The inspector was charged with preventing any acts of frauds in
enlistments and to prevent the patriots from drawing out suspected tories by falsely
representing themselves as loyalist recruiters.(276)
A fifth failure may be seen in the treatment accorded recruits by both the
British regulars and the provincial militia officers. W. O. Raymond studied the
papers of Muster Master General Edward Winslow. Edward Winslow, Jr., had
served as a guide for Lord Percy when he went to relief of Pitcairn at Lexington on
19 April 1775. Winslow fled with the British army when it evacuated Boston and
went to New York city where many of his friends and business associates joined
him in forming a tory militia. In July 1776 he was appointed muster-master of all
"Provincial troops taken into his Majesty's service within the Colonies lying on the
Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to Florida inclusive." Winslow chose as his
assistant Ward Chipman, a fellow graduate of Harvard. Their duty was to enlist
additional militiamen into the king's service. Raymond wrote of Winslow's efforts,
"There can be not the slightest doubt that the haughty demeanor of the British
regulars toward the provincials, combined with the ill treatment of Loyalists by the
Army, lost to the royal cause thousands upon thousands of friends and well wishers
in all the colonies."(277)
It is not especially surprising that, while enlistments of privates remained
relatively low, nearly all loyalist militias had a full complement of officers. One
recent researcher commented that the most striking feature of loyalist militias was
"the very high proportion of officers to men."(278) It took the English a long time to
realize that most loyalists were of a rank in life superior to the class from which
enlisted men were usually drawn. Treating enlisted men with great discourtesy did
nothing to improve on the number or quality of enlistments of common militiamen.
British and Hessian troops often treated the Americans with brutality.
Alleged looting and rapine was reportedly especially widespread in New Jersey,
but was reported throughout the former colonies. British raiders also reportedly
looted and burned the property of tories and patriots alike.
Adding to the other British problems there developed rivalries between
former officers, former colonial officers and current colonial officers still in office,
especially in Canada. For example, Governor Francis Legge of Nova Scotia
resented the recruitment of loyalist refugees on his turf by Joseph Gorham and
Francis Maclean.(279) Legge wanted to create a regiment in order to secure his own
commission, but the others had the military reputations that he lacked and so
recruits avoided Legge and signed in with Gorham and Maclean. Legge pulled
political rank, appealed to Lord Dartmouth and received support from the home
government for his won regiment along with a commission as colonel.
Another reason for the failure of British efforts to recruit tories was the
development of British policy to encourage Amerindian raids of the patriots,
especially those families living on the vast western frontier. Even the home
government and its opposition in the House of Commons had some grave
reservations about this barbarous practice. Americans who were closer to the
frontier and who had seen or heard reports of Amerindian atrocities were usually
much disturbed and resentful. Awareness of the practice of buying scalps was
widespread and received almost universal rejection.
The regular army wanted to share virtually nothing with their provincial
brethren. Home office policy before 1778 was never made it clear if the
provincials were to draw supplies from army stores, so the army's commissary was
rarely cooperative. The provincials were rarely accorded the privilege of the
regimental orderly rooms, hospitals, ambulances or nursing care. Those wounded
who were unable to return to duties received no allowances, nor were there
provisions for widows or orphans of those provincials killed in action. Initially, the
army had opposed both the enlistment of loyalists into their units and the
incorporation of loyal militia into the overall British military force.(280)
In the first two years of the conflict, nearly 1500 tories enlisted in a dozen
loyalist provincial militia units. Later, some loyalists joined these and other
provincial militias because there was no real alternative. Militia service offered the
displaced loyalists one of the few opportunities for employment. Others were
alienated by patriot brutality toward their own families and confiscation of their
property and that of their fellow tories. Still others thought the British effort was
going well and that the patriots were retreating, so they chose to support the
winning side, perhaps in hope of receiving rewards after the crown restored its
colonial rule. For these men, the patriot victory at Saratoga in October 1777
proved to be a major shock, diminishing their belief in British victory. When news
of Burgoyne's surrender arrived in London on 2 December 1777, followed shortly
by news of the entry of France in the war on 13 March 1778, the home government
realized that it was faced with a real crisis. The government surmised that it would
become necessary to increase enlistments in the provincial militias.(281) In the
beginning, the British had done very little recruiting among the loyalists; loyalists
themselves had initiated the formation of all loyal militias. One recent author
expressed the judgement that "Before British policy was reformulated in 1779 . .
. three years of confusion and sharp practices had destroyed much of the respect
which Loyalists had for Great Britain."(282)
After the unfortunate turn of events, the British needed provincials more
than ever. Troops at home were in short supply. Because France posed a true
threat to Britain's colonial outposts it was not among the reasonable policy choices
to consider withdrawing troops from the other colonies. In the wake of the obvious
failure of the government's colonial policy Lord Howe's resignation was accepted
on 4 February 1778.(283) Lord George Germain urged the new commander General
Henry Clinton to attempt to recruit more colonials. Germain offered his resignation
soon after.(284) To expedite recruitment Germain suggested instituting a new policy.
By December the Board of General Officers had addressed most of the earlier
deficiencies. It recommended offering three guineas as bounty for each new
recruit, a guinea reward for apprehension of loyalist deserters, and an annual
allowance of £40 for hospital expenses for each loyalist regiment. The home
government sweetened the pot by offering permanent commissions to officers
along with half-pay retirement or permanent disability.(285) Clinton opened
recruitment to runaway criminals excepting only those who had been under penalty
of death; to indentured servants and apprentices; and to escaped slaves.(286)
The results of Germain's and Clinton's new policies were disappointing.
In 1779 there was only a small increase in enlistments, perhaps twenty percent;
while in 1780 and 1781 new recruits barely replaced desertions and those whose
enlistments were expiring. A discouraged Clinton wrote Germain in December
1779, "So many attempts to raise men have totally failed of success and some corps
which at first promised to be of importance have remained . . . in so very weak a
state that there is little encouragement to undertake anything moire in this line."(287)
As time passed, the loyalists became ever more an excuse for British
presence in the colonies. The costs of the war were taking a huge toll on British
finances and opinion in and out of Parliament was turning decidedly against
continuing the war. Landed gentry were reeling under increased taxation and the
government was borrowing heavily again. To respond to its critics, as the
government's parliamentary majority decreased, North looked for evidence of tory
suffering and readiness to contribute to the war effort. The opposition accused the
government of inventing stories of persecution against the tories just to shore up
their efforts when the war was going poorly.(288) Without loyalist support both the
government and the king feared that they would have to abandon the colonies, at
least until the war with France was over.(289)
By late 1778 the British colonial policy came under attack in what is
known as the Howe Inquiry. The opposition in the House of Commons, wishing
to embarrass the government, spent most of the parliamentary session between
November 1778 and July 1779 challenging the policy of continuing the war. On
6 May 1779 General William Howe was called as a witness and immediately the
government was placed on the defensive. But the better witness for the opposition
was Howe's second in command, Major-general Charles Grey, who declared that
"I think that with the present force in America, there can be no expectation of
ending the war by force of arms." No cost effective way to end the war was
available. Only protection of the loyalists and their property and interests could
provide a reason for continuing the war.(290)
Several of the first provincial militia units created differed substantially
from other provincial regiments. They were led by qualified officers who had
accumulated considerable experience in earlier wars. Recruitment was done far
from patriot strongholds and especially among expatriates and loyalist refugees.
They included many experienced former soldiers and militiamen, especially Scotch
Highlanders.(291) Recruits were allowed to assist in selecting their own officers.
Bounties for land served as inducements for enlisting. The British expected these
early militia units to perform the same duties and functions as regular army units.
They were special units specifically chosen to perform certain duties in clearly
defined areas. The home government did not intend to replace any army units with
provincial militia as a matter of general policy. Among the early provincial militia
units were Maclean's Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment and Gorham's Royal
Fensible Americans. Joseph Gorham was a former frontier ranger and Deputy
Superintendent of Indian Affairs. In December 1775 Gorham bragged that he had
enlisted 300 former patriot riflemen into the tory militia. General Francis Maclean
was himself a Highlander who had been an officer in the Seven Years War who
had remained in America.(292)
When British troops occupied a town, township, county or city they
ordinarily sought out the loyalist leaders and urged them to form a militia. Like
their patriot brethren they mustered on a regular schedule, set by the muster-master.
Commonly they practiced six times a year and had mini-musters once a month.
Even though most loyalists were members of the Church of England they usually
had no association with the church, as especially their calvinist-puritan brethren
had in New England.(293)
Most Tory militia were urban, although Indian Affairs Superintendent
John Stuart(294) and Sir John Johnson (1742-1830), son of Sir William Johnson, and
Colonel Guy Johnson ( -1788),(295) nephew of Sir William, were somewhat
successful in raising several loyalist militia companies on the frontier. Sir William
Johnson, known widely as the Lord of the Mohawks, had died in 1774 and neither
his son John nor his nephew Guy had quite the influence over the Six Nations that
William had enjoyed. Sir John assumed the position of Commissioner of Indian
Affairs. Both of the second generation Johnsons had left New York with an
appropriate number of Iroquois retainers and migrated to Canada. They constantly
pressured Canadian Governor Guy Carleton to assist them in raising a large of
warriors from the Six Nations and united empire loyalists and to equip them for a
punitive expedition against the rebellious colonies. They were quite confident that
a mixed Tory and Amerindian force of considerable size might be recruited.
Carleton, knowing something of Amerindian outrages against caucasians, refused
and Guy Johnson left for England. Lieutenant-colonel John Butler assumed Guy
Johnson's position as Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Butler sided
strongly with John Johnson (1742-1830) and worked very hard to increase the
respect and friendship of the Iroquois nations. In May 1777, with the war entering
its third year, and dreams of swift victory long vanished, the home government
decided to accept the Johnsons' proposal. It ordered Carleton to give his fullest
cooperation to their plan.(296) The Johnsons and Butler were joined by John
Boxstader who led a combined Tory and Amerindian force near Currietown and
Ourlagh, New York, massacring and scalping frontiersmen.(297)
Atrocities occurred on both sides, especially when undisciplined militia
captured militiamen of the opposite side.(298) Some loyalists considered the patriots
to be traitors and, when in command of loyalist volunteers or militia, treated them
accordingly. In New York City, during the British occupation, many tories and
their families gathered. In 1780 many American loyalists, huddled together under
British protection in New York City, organized into an association independent of
British military control called The Honorable Board of Associated Loyalists. This
unit was commanded by William Franklin, once royalist Governor of New Jersey.
William Cunningham of New York city was Provost Marshal and a dedicated Tory.
When given care of captured patriot militia or regulars, he provided as little care
as was humanly possible to give. He privately hung 250 patriots and was responsible for the deaths of another 2000 who died of exposure or starvation while under
Some patriots reacted to this violence with violence of their own. When
tory militia and regulars were active in Virginia(300) the legislature assigned local
militia units to the task of minimizing the damage. The leader of one of these
patriot militias was Colonel Charles Lynch (1736-1796) of Bedford County. His
reputation grew as the most successful Tory hunters and the legend grew that he
regularly hanged ("lynched") Tory incendiaries and looters, although it is probable
that he had most of them flogged rather than hanged. The term lynching applied
ever after to an extra-legal execution. Georgia militiamen took a Lieutenant Kemp,
an officer in the King's Rangers. They stripped and then killed him along with nine
of his men for refusing to renounce the king. Eleven of the patriots who took
Kemp were later taken by prisoner by tory militiamen and hanged. Militia captured
a Captain Jones, member of Ganey's Tory Militia, initially treating him as a
prisoner of war. Having determined to their satisfaction that he was a bandit, they
killed him in front of his family and burned his house. Colonel Grierson of the
Georgia Loyal Militia, was initially made prisoner of war, but later executed at Fort
Cornwallis, allegedly in retaliation for the murder of some patriot prisoners of
war.(301) Private citizens often acted like lynching mobs, literally applying tar and
feathers, as in the following.
The 6th of December at Quibble Town, Middlesex County, Pisquata Township, North
Jersey, Thomas Randolph, Cooper, who had publickly proved himself an Enemy to his
Country, by reviling and using his utmost Endeavours to oppose the Proceedings of the
Continental and Provincial Conventions and Committees, in Defence of their Rights and
Liberties; and he being adjudged a Person of not Consequence enough for a severer
Punishment, was ordered to be stripped naked, well coated with Tar and Feathers, and
carried in a Waggon publickly round the Town -- which Punishment was accordingly
inflicted; and as he soon became duly sensible of his Offence, for which he earnestly begged
Pardon, and promised to atone as far as he was able, by a contrary Behavior for the future,
he was released and suffered to return to his House in less than Half an Hour. The Whole
was conducted with that Regularity and Decorum, that ought to be observed in all publick
Tories carried on a ceaseless system of irregular warfare, accompanied by
relentless devastation, following the methods of the savage Amerindians with
whom they were frequently allied. Most military authorities have concluded that
the war was decided by the regularly organized forces, and these irregular
operations served primarily to embitter and prolong the struggle. At times,
however, the activities of irregulars assumed special importance. In the South,
Tarleton's men were victorious until the Battle of Cowpens,(303) and the presence of
some many loyalists shaped to a large degree British military policy and planning
there.(304) In southern New York, Royalist Governor Tyron carried fire and sword
through the Hudson Valley and into Connecticut and New Jersey.(305) In northern
New York, Sir John Johnson and Colonel Butler made incursions into the
Mohawk, Schoharie and Wyoming valleys, retiring into Canada when necessary.
At its height of power Butler's Rangers was 700 men strong.(306)
The war produced a significant number of notorious tory marauders.
Claudius Smith of Orange County, New York, was a leader of a merciless band of
marauders who sided with the loyalists. His one son was killed while raiding
settlers' homes on Long Island. Smith was captured on Long Island and hanged.
His surviving son Richard swore revenge, vowing to kill six patriots for every tory
hanged.(307) Another maurading band was led by John and Robert Smith of
Pennsylvania. Their tory irregulars murdered the tax collector of Chester County.
So vicious were their raids that continental authorities offered a $20,000 reward for
their capture. In May 1780 they were arrested in Monmouth County, New Jersey,
and there executed.(308) A reward for the capture of David Sproat, also of Pennsylvania, was posted because of his torture and ill treatment of Whigs taken prisoner.(309)
Thomas Terry, a local leader of tory resistance in the Wyoming Valley of
Pennsylvania, reportedly killed his own mother, father-in-law and children in a
raid. One of the nastiest marauders was a Colonel Scophol, described as "illiterate,
stupid, noisy block-head" who led a band of 300 to 400 irregulars, named after him,
called the Scopholies.(310)
Evan Thomas recruited and commanded a company of loyal militia in
Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He worked in close cooperation with the Queen's
Rangers.(311) Valentine Shockley, a native of Maryland, a bandit and counterfeiter,
led an irregular force in the area of York County, Pennsylvania, until captured and
executed in 1779. Mordecai Daugherty was a notorious horse thief turned tory
plunderer in Bucks County.(312) Tory militia Lieutenant-colonel Jeromus Lott of
Long Island, New York, was infamous for his cruelty toward Whig captives and
prisoners of war.(313) Weart Barta was a noted tory marauder, formerly a common
thief, who escaped to Shelburne, Nova Scotia, as patriots closed in on him.(314) One
of the most notorious tory raiders was a murderer known variously as Burke and
Emmons who operated out of deep pine woods in New Jersey.(315) William
Hovendon was a captain in both the Queen's Rangers and Tarleton's Legion. His
irregular militia's raids in and near Philadelphia deprived the colonists of badly
needed clothing and supplies.(316) Jacob James, a captain in the British Legion, was
a raider and horse thief near Philadelphia. His real specialty was kidnapping
patriots for ransom. After the local patriot militia began to track him, he moved
south and joined Tarleton. He was captured and executed in North Carolina.(317)
One of the major functions of the loyalists was to mobilize opposition to
the war for independence among the patriots. This policy makes a great deal of
sense when we recall that one of the crown's erroneous presumptions was that most
Americans were truly loyal to the king and mother country and had been induced
to rebel only because of pressures brought upon them by radicals like John
Hancock and Samuel Adams. On occasion the British were successful in recruiting
militia from among the American prisoners of war. Brigadier Hammell, once aide
to General James Clinton, was converted to the loyalist cause by Sir Henry Clinton.
The British charged Hammell with raising a regiment of American militia
deserters.(318) John McNee was hanged in 1778 for recruiting tories for loyalist
militia service in New Jersey.(319) His principal crime was attempting to induce
patriots to desert Washington's army during the winter of 1777-1778.(320) Beginning
in early 1779 Sir Henry Clinton offered £0/22/6 to each European who deserted
from Washington's army.(321)
Still, the two principal functions of the loyalist militias remained
unchanged throughout the war. First, they were to fill the ever increasing need for
manpower. As their numbers dwindled, many loyalists were incorporated within
regular army units. The Caledonian Volunteers were raised in Philadelphia, and,
in 1778, had as their commander Sir William Cathcart. Later this body was
composed of both cavalry and infantry and was known as the British Legion.
Attached to it was a troop of the 17th Regular Dragoons, who continued to wear
their old uniform while the legion cavalry had a special uniform with green facings;
and for that reason were known as Tarleton's Green Horse after their last and best
known commander. The legion sailed for Charleston with Clinton and surrendered
at Yorktown with 24 officers and 209 men.(322) Lord Rawdon raised in Philadelphia
in 1777 the Volunteers of Ireland, composed chiefly of Irish-American deserters
and Loyalists. This body was present at Hobkirk Hill and Camden. De Lacey's
Brigade was raised around New York early in the war and consisted of three
battalions of 500 men each. Two of these battalions in November 1778, joined
Colonel Archibald Campbell in Georgia.
Second, the loyal militia were to work on the frontier with those
Amerindians who were loyal to the crown, functioning as terrorists. One of the
Tories' principal contributions, especially in New York and Pennsylvania, was the
recruiting of Amerindians to raid the patriots.(323) Donald McDonald, a loyalist of
New York, was killed leading his mixed band of tory raiders and Amerindians on
an assault on Herkimer, New York. McDonald carried "a silver mounted
tomahawk on which 30 notches for scalps taken were engraved."(324)
Toryism in New England and New York
The British authorities expected to obtain little support in New England,
especially among the Calvinist Protestants, but entertained somewhat more
optimistic concerning New York. Some Boston merchants, high art tradesmen and
Anglican clergy supported the home government, while other loyalists from all over
New England gathered in Boston under the protection of the occupying army.
When the patriots forced the English army out of Boston, nearly all active loyalists
accompanied them, most emigrating to Canada. In New York, Anglicans and
aristocratic English emigrants had prospered from the time that the Duke of York
had captured the city. The loyalist population was sufficiently large to support a
newspaper, the Royal Gazette, at least as long as the British troops occupied that
urban enclave. Probably more loyalist militia were recruited in and around New
York City than anywhere north of the Carolinas. Still greater promise for royal
support appeared among the Iroquois of New York.
In early 1776 an American tory correspondent wrote to a London
newspaper, claiming optimistically that "we have 60,000 [men] now in pay; besides
twice as many militia."(325) Another American wrote to his friend in London that
"5000 men are constantly at work" in New York and were in a "war-like posture."
In addition, "there is also 15 or 20,000 men ready to go to their assistance." These
were in addition to 5000 to 6000 men in Quebec and 2000 in Boston.(326) In 1777
the Tory newspaper of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ledger, boasted that the
New York counties of Albany, Westchester and Dutchess had supplied 6000
loyalist militiamen.(327) In December 1777 both Rivington's New York tory newspaper, The Royal Gazette and the Philadelphia tory Pennsylvania Ledger urged
loyalists to join the tory militia and fight for what was rightfully theirs and to
defend their homes, families and property. They urged Tories to join, claiming that
they constituted a majority in urban New York, as well as in other urban centers,
and that a small show of force would convince many faint-hearted loyalists to join
their militia.(328) In November 1777 Clinton received information that there were
"thousands" of loyalists within the territory which the British occupied. "They
should be immediately armed," Theophilus Bache wrote, each company should be
consist of 50 privates." In Queens alone there were already 1500 loyalist
militiamen and this was only a tiny portion of those who might be enlisted.(329)
Clinton agreed that there were many potential loyalist militiamen, but he thought
they would be useful in case of extreme emergency, such as invasion by
Washington's army because they were merchants and tradesmen who had
businesses to attend to.(330) Clinton failed in large to follow up on the ideas and
suggestions to improve the New York loyalist militias. By October 1782 there
were far fewer militiamen than loyalist had planned, with only 2958 names still
active on the rolls. Colonel Walton claimed 651 and Colonel Leake had 514, but
most other lists were sorely depleted.(331) The tory newspapers served as recruiting
agents for loyalist units. As late as August 1782 William Brant was seeking men
for loyalist units in Rivington's New York newspaper.(332)
In the last decades before the war for independence New York politics
was dominated by up-state manor-lords living a semi-feudal life along the Mohawk
and Hudson Rivers. Two political parties vied for control of the colony. The
established church and tory interests were represented by the DeLancey faction,
while the Presbyterian and whig faction was headed by the Livingston family.
When an anti-rent revolt of impoverished farmers broke out in 1766 the two
factions joined to suppress it with a vengeance. Both parties opposed British
policy after the Seven Years War to some degree, although power remained with
moderate conservatives. New York City politics was controlled by wealthy
merchants, many of whom profited from the Indian trade, and upper level
tradesmen, tavern-keepers, free professionals and clergy of the Church of England.
Later, when war came, both the New York City and the up-state Livingston and
Delancey factions generally became tories.(333) New York City remained the tory
strong-hold as the British army occupied it, giving haven to loyalists from all the
former colonies throughout the war.
After the war, when loyalist claims were submitted to the British
government, there were 1106 claimants from New York out of a total population
of 203,747 in 1776. This figure made New York seventh of the thirteen colonies
in population. New York thus had the highest percentage of loyalist claims of any
colony, suggesting a large loyalist population. The state supplied approximately
23,500 men for loyalist militias and the British army, the largest number by far of
all the colonies.(334)
The most famous of all tories was Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), a hero
of early Whig campaigns. As early as May 1779 Arnold, recipient of much patriot
criticism for his administration as military commander in the Philadelphia area, had
begun to correspond with the British authorities. General Clinton in New York
sensed the opportunity to demoralize the patriots by recruiting one of their most
able and popular commanders, personally supervised the negotiations. It is certain
that on 23 May, Arnold sent Clinton information on Washington's troop
movements and deployment. In late July, Clinton denied Arnold's request for a
bounty of £10,000. On 26 January 1780 a court martial found Arnold guilty of
mismanagement in Philadelphia and on 6 April, General Washington officially
reprimanded Arnold. On 15 June he informed Clinton that he expected to be
placed in command of West Point, a vital fortress commanding the Hudson River.
On 12 July he wrote Major André, Clinton's adjutant, that he was prepared, upon
receiving command, to surrender West Point to Clinton. On 5 August, Arnold
officially took command of West Point and on 21 September, he met with André.
On 23 September, André was captured in civilian clothes (against Clinton's specific
orders) along with incriminating papers. At this point Arnold was not under
suspicion and the New York militiamen who had captured André sent word of
André's plot to Arnold. Arnold fled to the British man o' war, Vulture. André was
tried as a spy and executed on 30 September. Arnold received £6315 in cash, an
annual pension of £500 for his wife, the former Peggy Shippen, army commissions
for his three sons by a previous marriage and annual pensions of £100 for Peggy's
Arnold led raids in Virginia between December 1780 and April 1781; and
against New London, Connecticut, on 6 September 1781. Thomas Menzies of New
York (1733-1831) had commanded a loyalist regiment, the American Legion,(335) but
yielded command to Arnold after the latter's defection.
Some New York loyalist militia units raided into New England, especially
into the coastal towns of Connecticut, during the most of the war, and in 1780-81,
into the Carolinas.(336) Between December 1776 and October 1779 tory militia from
Kingsbridge and Flushing Fly served as troops of occupation in Rhode Island.
Tory militia served with Lord Percy at Newport. In March 1778 Captain Michael
Martin of Massachusetts formed a tory militia in Rhode Island under British
protection and sponsorship. One of the more interesting tory militia units of the
Revolution was Whitmore's Greencoats. The first important authority on the
loyalists described this unit as being comprised of 127 "deserters and refugees from
the Whigs." It was reported to be an occupation force in Rhode Island, but any
other service is unknown.(337)
Montefort Browne, former lieutenant-governor of West Florida, was
commissioned a brigadier-general and given the charge in July 1776 to raise a
militia regiment which he named Prince of Wales American Volunteers. Aided by
Stephen Hoit of Norwalk, Connecticut, within a few months Browne had over 300
men. On 25 April 1777 Browne's militia joined Major-General William Tryon's
expedition against Danbury, Connecticut. They lost 20 killed, 90 wounded and 20
captured, while destroying some patriot supplies. Tories joined Browne's force in
large numbers during the summer of 1777 so that its strength was then recorded at
466 men. One group of wealthy gentlemen even declined pay. In August 1778
General Clinton arrived in Newport to relieve a patriot siege. He found that the
patriots had left the day before he arrived, but he left a fresh tory militia, the Prince
of Wales American Volunteers, in occupation of Newport. In the autumn of 1779
Colonel Thomas Pattinson became the new commander. At that time there were
459 militiamen in the unit. Pattinson attacked patriot forces at Flushing Fly, Long
Island, and then departed in April 1780 to assist loyalists in the Carolinas.
A loyalist reporter presented the tory position early in the conflict,
immediately following the events of Lexington and Concord. The correspondent's
hero extolled the virtues of his hero, General Timothy Ruggles (1711-1795).(338)
Ruggles had been a mandamus councillor who initially had taken refuge in Boston.
He was Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas and a
veteran of the Seven Years War. Ruggles had proposed creating associations of
Royalists throughout the country with constitutions binding the signers to oppose
at risk of life the acts of all unconstitutional assemblies, such as committees and
congresses.(339) Nothing came of his plan. Now a brigadier-general, Ruggles had
fought with Sir William Johnson, joined John Johnson's sons' band of tories.
Ruggles also attempted to recruit loyalist militia in Boston and fled the city when
the British army left. He formed a loyalist militia of 300 men in Nova Scotia,
although the unit saw little action in the war.(340) General Howe, while in Boston in
1775, raised the Royal American Associators under General Ruggles and the Loyal
Irish Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Forest. These tory militia did guard duty
in the city.
The American correspondent of a London newspaper expressed his view
that General Gage had been too lenient with the patriots and that had he given them
a whiff of gunpowder early on, the whole rebellion might have been prevented.
Brigadier General Ruggles of the Massachusetts, Colonel Babcock of Rhode Island and
Colonel Fetch of Connecticut, are staunch to government; the first, you know commanded
and was the senior officer in the provincial service with us under Sir Jeffery Amherst; the
other Gentlemen are at the head of the provincials. Most of their officers that served last war
are ready to serve under their old Colonels. I make no doubt things will wear a new face
here, especially when your sentiments of the Ministry's firmness are authenticated. . . . Men
of property, whom Most sensible people here, I should suppose, [are] interested as much as
any in the matter, [and] are of this opinion, and say that one master is better than a thousand,
and that they would rather be oppressed by a King than by a rascally mob. 'Tis not only
reducing everybody to a level, but it is entirely reversing the matter, and making the mob
their masters. . . . in America, the distinction between Whigs and Tories prevail as much at
present as ever it did in England. Every man who will not drink destruction to his King, is
a Tory, and liable to tar and feathers. In the east and southern provinces they are in actual
rebellion, raising troops, and seizing ammunition in the most daring manner; the common
people are mad, they only hear one side of the question, and believe they are oppressed
because they are told so, which is all they know of the matter. As the fever is very high, a
little bleeding is absolutely necessary. General Gage is by far too lenient in his measures,
and had a few been killed at first, the rest would have been quiet; now multitudes must unavoidably suffer. Was the royal standard hoisted, thousands would flock to it, that are as yet
afraid to declare their sentiments. It is expected in a little time, and should it happen before
we quit the continent, I would not be the last to repair to it. If I must light a match, it shall
be for King George. I do not wish it but I think I would not shun it.(341)
New England may have been a hotbed of patriot agitation for independence, and the site of the first clash between English troops and patriot militiamen,
but it also had its loyalists. Some of these Tories assisted New York loyalists in
conducting raids against the smaller coastal towns of New England.(342)
The first loyalist militia raised in the colonies was raised in the fall of
1774 by Colonel Thomas Gilbert in Bristol County, Massachusetts, at the request
of General Thomas Gage who had replaced Thomas Hutchinson as governor of the
province. Gilbert was a veteran of the French and Indian War and a member of the
provincial assembly. He was best known for his strong opposition to the Boston
Tea Party of 1773, and introduced resolutions in the assembly condemning this as
an act of treason and rebellion.(343) In the autumn of 1774 he asked for and received
300 stands of arms from Gage for his militia which was stationed at Freetown. In
March 1775 Gilbert wrote a letter to James Wallace, commander of the royal ship
Rose, stating that he expected to be attacked at any moment by "thousands" of
patriot militiamen, and asking for help when that attack came. Gage promised to
send 300 men if needed. The letter to the Rose was intercepted and read in April
before the Congress of Massachusetts which condemned Gilbert as an enemy of
the province. Patriot militia attacked his house and took his militiamen prisoner.
Gilbert escaped to the Rose. He then fled to Boston.(344) The English press reported,
One Colonel Gilbert, a high Prerogative man in Boston Government, . . . with 60 or 70 of
his neighbors, armed himself; they agreed to defend themselves from the insults of the Sons
of Liberty; but some Militia men, zealous in their cause, went in chase of them. The colonel
took refuge on board a man of war in the harbor. The others, except 20, made their escape;
these 20 are now confined in Providence Gaol, where they were conducted yesterday
evening. What will be the event, time must discover.(345)
Shortly after the clash between British troops and American militia men
at Lexington, loyalists flocked to Boston and joined there to create four militia
organizations, Loyal Irish Volunteers, Loyal Associated Volunteers, Loyal North
British Volunteers and Loyal American Associators, which cooperated closely with
one another. Two of the leaders were Sir William Pepperrell(346) and Colonel Abijah
Willard of Worcester County. Pepperrell, a Harvard graduate and lawyer, fled to
Boston and by late 1775 to England.(347)
Patrick and James McMaster was merchants of Boston and Portsmouth,
New Hampshire. In the five years prior to the Revolution they imported goods
from Britain valued in excess of £15,000. They pledged a significant portion of
their wealth to the Loyal North British Volunteers. The scheme failed and they
departed, never to return to the colonies. In March 1776 Patrick left with the
British troops to go to Halifax, Nova Scotia. James resettled in Shelburne, Nova
Scotia, with a number of other merchants and professionals.(348) Another leader of
the Loyal North British Volunteers was William McAlpine, a printer and
bookbinder who operated a large stationary store in Boston. Realizing that patriot
spies had reported him and that he would be arrested after the British left, he
accompanied them to Halifax and the moved to Scotland, leaving behind property
valued at £1800.(349)
James Forrest, a wealthy Boston merchant, not only recruited the loyalist
company known as the Loyal Irish Volunteers, he financed it. He chose a white
cockade worn in the hat as the militia company's distinguishing mark. Eventually
it numbered 97 men who were assigned to evening and night guard duties in
Boston. In 1776, while on a return voyage from the West Indies with military
supplies, a patriot privateer captured Forrest who was imprisoned in
The Loyal New England Militia consisted, at peak strength, of 112 men,
divided into three companies and included a small group of tory militiamen from
New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island.(351) It was commanded by
Lieutenant-Colonel Wightman and was usually noted as in training on Long Island.
On their first attempt to attack Bedford their boat was blown off course and ended
up at Falmouth instead. They bombarded the town, but did little damage. Their
second attack was likewise unproductive, so on 19 June they withdrew to New
York city.(352) At the end of March 1779 the Loyal Associated Refugees and other
provincial loyalist militia under the command of Edward Winslow, and acting
under general orders from British General Richard Prescott, prepared an attack on
Bedford, Long Island. Additional loyalists militia deployed included Wentworth's
Volunteers and the Loyal New England Militia [or Loyal New Englanders.
Elisha Jones was the colonel of the Middlesex County militia and in 1774
he commanded a troop of militia which opposed the patriots who were becoming
active in his county. After Lexington he moved to Boston and worked with the
loyalist militia. He left Boston with the British troops and was active in the New
York loyalist militia. Most of his recruits were educated men, several being
Harvard graduates. He helped train four companies of New York loyalist militia.(353)
Crean Brush of Cumberland County, New Hampshire Grants, in January
1776 approached Sir William Howe in Boston. Brush claimed that he could enlist
at least 300 men in a tory militia and asked for arms, supplies and official
authorization to do so. Howe agreed and on 10 March Howe instructed him to
proceed with the confiscation of property of certain designated rebels. Brush and
his militia carried their plunder onto Howe's ships in Boston harbor. Seeing Brush
plundering in the name of the British government, other lawless elements joined
in, not from conviction, but from the sheer delight of securing stolen merchandise.
Quite a few warehouses, many not on Howe's list, were sacked in the final days of
the siege of Boston harbor. Patriots captured one ship filled with plunder to the
value of £100,000, the Elizabeth, and Brush himself. Brush was confined in jail
for 19 months, ending the threat from his Tories.(354)
In January 1775 Captain Nesbitt Balfour in Boston received word that a
tory militia some 200 strong had formed in Marshfield. They were under threat of
attack from patriots, so they requested arms and supplies from Balfour. On 23
January Balfour and 100 British troops marched to their relief. A few days after
Lexington the militia and Balfour returned to Boston. Several thousand patriots
pursued them, but the Tories and the British troops embarked on ships and, after
the evacuation of Boston, went to Halifax.(355)
In the spring of 1775 Lieutenant-Colonel Allen MacLead raised the Royal
Highland Emigrants, a regiment of Scotch and old British soldiers, which operated
from Canada. Governor Tryon of New York, in 1776, recently promoted to
provisional major general, raised a force of 1300 men and a troop of light horse.
His lieutenant-governor, Philip S. Kene ( -1810), a surveyor by profession, and
militia commander and hero of Crown Point in the Seven Years War, raised a loyal
regiment of militia in the Philadelphia area.(356) Henry Thomas (1746-1828)
recruited and commanded another troop of loyalist militia.(357) A former judge of the
Court of Common Pleas, Elijah Miles (1752-1831), served as a tory militia colonel,
working with DeLancey's Third Battalion.(358) Lieutenant-colonel John Turnbull
commanded the New York Volunteers, also called the Third American Loyal
Regiment. He and his militia distinguished themselves at the Siege of Savannah
in 1779 and in 1780 at Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and Ninety-Six, North
When General John Burgoyne invaded New York he brought with him
Jessup's Corps of Loyal Militia which operated from Canada into New York.
Peter's Loyalists' Corps took part in the Battle of Bennington. Barry St. Leger, in
his advance on Albany, brought with him Johnson's Royal Greens.(360)
In mid-July 1776 a British naval officer, Captain John Bowater, aboard
H. M. S. Centurion reported that "Governor Tryon landed and has summoned the
Militia who has sent their arms to him on Board [H.M.S. Duchess of Gordon] lest
they should fall into the hands of the Rebels." Nonetheless, Bowater thought the
Tory militia "now emboldened and in high spirits." The patriots "are said to have
40,000 Men in Arms, but I don't give them credit for half that number." Many of
the first rebels "desert to us hourly and what is better still, they bring their arms
with them." The reason was simple. "General Howe has let them know that he will
give a £10 Reward for Rifle guns."(361) In the winter of 1776 another naval officer,
Lieutenant William Fielding, recorded that in November 1776 "two light
companies of militia under Major Batt, Royal F Americans, sailed out at 5 o'clock
in the morning [from Halifax] and surprised the Banditti Rebels and Indians in their
Camp" on Long Island.(362)
Benjamin Thompson organized on Long Island and commanded the King's
American Dragoons in 1780. Later, he raised the Loyal American Regiment which
he took to Charleston where he attempted to neutralize Francis Marion's partisans.
Colonel Edmund Fanning formed on Long Island a provisional regiment of 460
men called the Associated Refugees which operated around Huntington.(363)
One of the most distinguished Loyalists corps was the Queen's Rangers,
originally raised in New York and Connecticut by the old frontier ranger of the
Seven Years War, Major Robert Rogers. Rogers made several attempts to secure
a commission from the patriots, although the exact details are unknown. In early
1776 Rogers offered to raise a loyal regiment to be called the Queen's Rangers.
Rogers, following established colonial policy, offered commissions to any man
who could recruit a specified number of men. Regular army commanders objected,
arguing that there was no proof that any of Rogers' officers were qualified to
command men in battle. The unit first mustered on Staten Island, New York, in
August 1776. It drew heavily on loyalists from New York, New Hampshire and
Connecticut.(364) Rogers' fame helped him recruit over 400 men. Under extreme
pressure from British command, he was eventually forced to resign and 23 of his
officers were relieved of duties. Rogers went into retirement in England. His
militia, under Major John Graves Simcoe, joined Howe in Philadelphia. It was part
of Howe's force at the Battle of Germantown.(365) The Queen's Rangers was later
commanded by colonels French and Wemyss.(366)
Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe succeeded Rogers as the
commandant of the Queen's Rangers. This corps claimed the exclusive privilege
of recruiting in addition to Americans, the "old countrymen" as Europeans were
then called, and many American deserters were found in its ranks. First it was an
infantry Organization but Simcoe formed a troop of hussars. The foot were
distinguished by their green coats and white breeches; the hussars were entirely in
green, armed with swords, pistols and daggers. This corps while operating around
Philadelphia in 1777 had 270 foot and 30 horse and they also had an Amusette, a
piece of artillery already described. They were with the Charleston expedition and
were with Benedict Arnold in Virginia; surrendering at Yorktown with a strength
of 39 officers and 273 men.(367)
To neutralize the power of the loyalists, several New York patriot
organizations ordered seizure of arms owned by suspected tories. These arms were
issued to patriot militias, although the committees at least initially intended to pay
for the arms. At this point their purpose was more the disarmament of the tories
than the confiscation of their property.(368) In the autumn of 1776 Brigadier-General
Timothy Ruggles of Halifax began training tory militia on Long Island and Staten
Island. He claimed to have between three and four hundred recruits. Two tory
militia regiments, recruited in large in New York, were sent to the West Indies in
1777. They were especially successful under Banastre Tarleton's leadership in the
Carolinas. Three large tory militia detachments served in the autumn of 1778 in
Georgia. By early 1779 four additional Tory militia regiments had gathered in
British Florida and then joined the tory militia already stationed in Georgia.
John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson, raised in Canada the King's
Royal American Regiment of two battalions, each consisting of 500 men.(369) New
York contained many Loyalists. Thomas Millidge (1735-1816), former surveyor-general of New Jersey, served as a major in loyalist militia.(370) The King's Royal
American Regiment had recruited a number of Mohawk Indians. The impact,
brutality and fury of their raids compelled Washington to send General John
Sullivan into the Indian country to neutralize them.
General Burgoyne invaded New York in the late spring 1777 from
Canada, planning to descend the St. Lawrence River, cross Lake Ontario and
advance through the Mohawk Valley on Albany. "Gentleman Johnny's" army of
3700 men included over 300 loyalist and Canadian militiamen and a large group
of Amerindians. One of the primary reason for Burgoyne's defeat was his failure
to make connections with Barry St. Ledger's tory militia, and to utilize properly
other loyalist militia. St. Ledger commanded a force of about 1800, primarily
loyalists and Amerindians, who were advancing from Oswego on Lake Ontario
westward. On 3 August St. Ledger's force surrounded Fort Stanwix where Colonel
Peter Gansevoort (1749-1812) commanded a force of 750 militia and regulars.
General Nicholas Herkimer (1728-1777) led a relief force of 800 militiamen
toward Fort Stanwix, but on 6 August at Oriskany it was ambushed by a mixed
force of loyalists and Amerindians led by Mohawk sachem Joseph Brant (1742-1807). In this, Brant was aided by a Dutchman, Barent Frey, who was influential
with the Mohawks.(371) Herkimer was wounded almost immediately, but took the
high ground and fought effectively. The battle attracted Gansevoort's attention and
he made a sortie from the fort. The Amerindians retreated and Herkimer withdrew,
with his force reduced by half. Benedict Arnold raised a force of 1000 volunteers
and soon after St. Ledger called off the attack at Fort Stanwix, retreating to
Oswego on 22 August. On 17 October 1778 Burgoyne surrendered his remaining
force of 5700 men. Among those of Brant's recruits killed was Charles Smith, a
notorious renegade. Smith was scalped and the trophy was sent to General John
There were, in fact, numerous loyalist militiamen awaiting orders in the
upper Connecticut Valley.(373) Loyalist militia had conducted raids in the backwoods
of Vermont and New Hampshire.(374) There were many Tories in the Upper
Connecticut River Valley, in or near Claremont and Haverhill.(375) There the Church
of England was established in opposition to calvinistic teachings found elsewhere
in New England. Among the leaders of loyalism were Samuel Cole and Ranna
Cossit, both Episcopal priests. By November 1775 the Provincial Congress at
Exeter had heard of the tory activities and had ordered the Committee of Safety of
Claremont to "Examine sundry Persons who were suspected of being inimical to
the Liberties of America." The local committee sought and received help from the
neighboring towns of Hanover, Cornish and Lebanon. The Committee interrogated
26 suspected tory leaders and they agreed to surrender their firearms and
ammunition. The initial intimidation of potential tory leadership did much to
prevent significant tory action and recruitment of tory militiamen.(376)
As the home government had suggested to Canadian Governor Guy
Carleton, it would be highly desirable to create a diversion on the frontier, to bring
great pressures on the national government of the rebellious colonies and to
squeeze the already hyper-extended resources of the Continental Army.
Amerindian and tory raids on the vast frontier offered a most desirable and
relatively inexpensive way to implement this policy decision. English presents and
offers of virtually unlimited supplies and firearms enticed the Six Nations. Colonel
Guy Johnson returned from England, bringing the arms, gunpowder and other gifts
and supplies as promised. Colonel John Butler and Sir John Johnson had spun
their web well and the Indians chose to take the war path. Butler, meanwhile, had
been equally active among the Tories, talking with and enlisting both those still in
the new nation and those who had already fled to Canada. With the armament of
the mixed tory and Amerindian completed, Butler sortied out in late 1777, staging
at first only sporadic raids in New York and Pennsylvania. With increasing
intensity these raids would continue for five years and had the desired effect.
In March 1777 Butler received the long-awaited permission of Governor
Carleton to form the Tory militia. He recruited its membership primarily from
among the loyalist refugees. Recruitment was bolstered by Carleton's offer of a
bounty to all who enlisted, including 200 acres of land. In September Butler added
six companies of Tory rangers to his marauding Amerindian band.(377) By
September 1781 Butler had recruited no less than ten companies of Tory rangers.(378)
Butler surmised that his greatest chance of success lay in moving into the
two areas known to harbor the largest number of loyalists and to recruit among
these people to augment his strength. Moreover, loyalists in these areas would be
likely to provide supplies. In the Wyoming Valley in northeast Pennsylvania there
had been a bloody and bitter confrontation between Connecticut and Pennsylvania
authorities over ownership of the land. Tories in this area usually identified with
Pennsylvania's claims over the ardent Connecticut patriots. In the southwestern
corner the dispute over land title involved Pennsylvania and Virginia. Those who
had identified with Virginia often refused to sign the oath of allegiance to
Pennsylvania and thus were marked as Tories. The disputes had been settled but
there was still much disaffection among those who lost land titles and who
otherwise suffered from the settlements.(379) Butler received support from Colonel
William Plunkett, an Irish robber who had found safety in America about 1750.
His base of activity was Sunbury, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.(380)
In the summer of 1778 Butler and the Johnsons felt sufficiently confident
in their force to begin to wage real war. Between 3 July and 11 November 1778
Sir John Butler and Sir John Johnson led a mixed force of Indians and tory militia
against the white settlers of New York and Pennsylvania. The attack originated on
the New York frontier, and quickly turned south into Pennsylvania. In a major
sweep through the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, Butler's men killed hundreds
of settlers and their families. On 3 July the Battle of Wyoming, known better to
patriots as the Wyoming Massacre, took place with a resultant heavy loss of life
among the patriot settlers.(381) On 11 November the Johnson's force, which included
Joseph Brant's Indians of the Six Nations, destroyed settlements in the Cherry
Valley, New York, massacring 40 persons after they had surrendered. The war was
so intense that Congress diverted badly needed troops from the main war effort to
come to the rescue of the beleaguered settlers. It dispatched General John Sullivan
in the summer of 1779 to contain the Tory militias and their Amerindian allies. On
26 August 1779 Sullivan met the enemy forces near present day Elmira, New York,
and defeated them soundly. He also burned forty Indian villages and destroyed an
estimated 160,000 bushels of corn.(382)
In New York city a considerable number of loyalists served as militiamen,
primarily deployed in garrison duty in and around the city in forts, redoubts and
checkpoints. Some were Tories who had fled Boston with Howe's army and now
operated in and around New York city. In March 1777 Lord Howe commissioned
Colonel George Wightman of Rhode Island to raise a regiment of Loyal New
England Militia in New York. Edward Winslow raised a tory militia in Rhode
Island in March 1779 in association with James Clarke of Rhode Island and George
Leonard of Massachusetts. It was called the Loyal Associated Refugees. Clarke
was secretary for the Association of Loyal Refugees, formed at Newport, Rhode
Island, in March 1779 to "retaliate upon and make reprisal against the inhabitants
of the several Provinces in America in actual rebellion against their Sovereign."
He worked with the British commander in Rhode Island, issuing commissions in
the militia.(383) Winslow formed a loyalist naval militia late in the war. During the
summer and autumn of 1779 it was responsible for capturing 18 vessels, 10 of
which were loaded with supplies the patriots sorely needed. They also reported
having seized 3000 heads of livestock and captured 35 patriots. They sold their
plunder for £23,400.(384)
Toryism in the Middle Colonies
The middle colonies had a substantial loyalist population. Several
prominent loyalists, including Daniel Leonard, drew up a plan for establishing a
loyalist stronghold on the eastern seaboard. Leonard was a prominent, if aristocratic, Boston lawyer and was one of the most able and literate of the loyalists. He had
expounded the tory cause in a series of papers addressed to "the Inhabitants of the
Province of Massachusetts" and signed with the pen name Massachusettensis. His
arguments were drawn heavily on Thomas Hobbes. John Adams had considered
these papers worthy of his attention and had responded in papers signed Novanglus. Should such a safe haven be created, with peace guaranteed by the British
army backed by tory militia, Leonard believed that many loyalists would defect and
enter the safe zone and there be gathered as his majesty's loyal subjects.(385) Leonard
considered several sites for his loyalist community, among them the eastern shore
of Maryland, Delaware and the greater Philadelphia area. The first key ingredient
was a successful British invasion of the chosen area. Second, the British must
secure the area so that all Tories could gather organize in an atmosphere of relative
security. Third, the British must transport known loyalists from other areas and
resettle them in the secure zone. Finally, the loyalists must themselves form a
strong protective wing, a powerful and well-armed militia. The plan suggested that
a minimum number of militia would have to be 10,000 to 12,000 men.(386)
There were about 5000 tories in New Jersey during the Revolution, of
which about 1200 were determined to have openly aided, or fought for, the
enemy.(387) This was one of the largest and most influential loyalist groups of
loyalists in the new nation.(388) There had been no sharp class distinctions or
incidents of abuses by the wealthier citizens, so most inhabitants were neither
disposed to support independence nor exert themselves to preserve union. As in
most colonies, citizens chose sides merely on whim of the moment, according to
successes of one or another side, or because of friendships and other loyalties.(389)
There is strong evidence that in some counties, such as Bergen, that loyalists may
have constituted a majority of the population.(390)
As late as July 1774 the colony's political leadership was loyalist in
sympathy. A state convention called to nominate delegates to the Continental
Congress on 21 to 23 July resolved that the people "are, and ever have been, firm
and unshaken in their loyalty" to the crown. Further, they "detest all thoughts of
an independence" from the mother country.(391) Governor William Franklin, natural
son of Benjamin Franklin, became irrevocably alienated from his father over the
issue of independence. Franklin's addresses of 3 and 13 February 1775 renewed
the state's oath of loyalty to the crown.(392) As late as 30 November 1775 the
Assembly pledged its commitment to reconciliation with England, and expressed
a desire to retain and support Franklin as the legitimate executive. By 13 January
1776, the legislature had debated disarming loyalists and to take into custody those
who refused to sign an oath of loyalty or report for duty in the state's patriot militia.
Soon, loyalist property was confiscated and those persons joining tory militias or
the British army were to be treated as traitors.(393)
New Jersey was a major battleground in the earliest years of the war, as
Howe chased Washington's army deeper into the state. As Washington retreated,
loyalism became more evident. In 1776 Washington noted that incidents of
desertion from his army were greatest among troops from New Jersey because the
men from that state frequently changed loyalties, perhaps under great pressures
from home.(394) By laws of 1777 and 1782 any person entering an enemy camp, or
otherwise holding conversation with the enemy, without high level, explicit
permission might be sentenced to death.(395) On 27 June 1777 the Council of Safety
ordered that wives and dependents of loyalist militiamen and other persons
detained for suspicious activities be deported to British lines, from which they were
to leave America.(396)
Defections may have still greater at later dates had it not been that both the
British and Hessian troops stationed in the state committed such great and well
publicized outrages against both the patriot army and the civilian population. Even
friends of the king complained of many outrages having been perpetrated against
them by troops they considered to be "on their side."(397) Later, as the focus of the
war shifted south, and the British army no longer shielded the tories, loyalism in
New Jersey receded.
In 1780 William Franklin(398) organized a loyalist association which
operated independent of British military control. It was called The Honorable
Board of Associated Loyalists. William Franklin recruited several of his royal
authorities to form loyalist militias, including his former Attorney-general
Cortlandt Skinner (1728-1799). Skinner attempted to recruit 2500 loyalists,
offering the men the opportunity to elect their own officers. This force was well
armed at government expense, but they clothed and equipped themselves. They
raided the shores of Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and owned many
sloops, whale boats, and private men of war. They formed three distinct corps, one
of which was mounted. Skinner's New Jersey Volunteers was the largest of the
Governor Franklin commissioned Colonel Van Dyke to raise a loyalist
militia in New Jersey. Van Dyke signed 306 men.(400) John Coombs (1753-1827),
a second lieutenant in the British army, was a recruiter for the New Jersey loyalist,
raising volunteers for the First New Jersey Loyalist Volunteers. James Cougle
(1746-1819) of Pennsylvania, a former officer in the militia, served as captain of
the New Jersey Loyalist Volunteers.(401) Robert Drummond ( -1789) was
commissioned a major in the Second New Jersey Volunteers. He recruited some
200 of his neighbors into tory militia units. Many of them later served as
volunteers in South Carolina and Georgia, raiding out of Florida.(402) John Purvis
(1757-1811) was initially commissioned to raise two companies of Whig militia,
but decided to desert, leading most of his men to the tory side.(403) Tory efforts in
New Jersey received unexpected support from a mulatto slave named Titus, called
Captain Tye, once the property of John Corlies. Titus recruited a band of about 60
raiders. He died of wounds received in raids in 1778.(404)
It had been home government policy from the beginning to try to draw
Washington's army into one large, hopefully decisive, battle. It was equally
Washington's policy to prevent such a massive confrontation and to fight a
prolonged war of attrition. Having failed to entrap and confront the patriot army,
on 23 January 1779 Lord George Germain instructed Sir Henry Clinton to attempt
to restrict Washington's army to the wilderness. The home government expressed
the greatest concern for the safety of the loyalists and ordered Clinton to try to
secure safe haven for them on the eastern seaboard, especially in the cities and in
New Jersey and Delaware.(405)
Tories in the Middle and Southern States
Incidents of tory activity in Pennsylvania were highest in the backwoods
where loyalists were uncommonly successful in enlisting the assistance of several
Indian traders and general renegades; and on the eastern seaboard, especially
among Philadelphia merchants. On the other hand, the long tradition of religious
freedom and ethnic diversity, especially including Germans of Calvinist
orientation, worked against toryism. Because it had always been a proprietary
colony, Pennsylvania had only a partially pre-formed royalist political party. The
proprietary party was led at the time of the revolution by John Dickinson, an ardent
patriot; and Benjamin Franklin, another dedicated whig, was the most influential
political figure in the colony. During the two decades preceding the war for
independence, most influential inhabitants opposed British crown policy. One
main ingredient in Pennsylvania toryism, which grew as the war dragged on, was
the idea of establishing a tory safe haven somewhere along the eastern seaboard.
Many loyalists from Philadelphia and the contiguous counties of New
Jersey had welcomed the British occupation of the Quaker city in 1777. The
Friends had generally not expressed any preference for one government over the
other. The loyalists and many neutrals had suffered enormously when the British
withdrew from Philadelphia.(406) Those who evacuated with the English lost all they
had left behind; and many who stayed found themselves being attaindered by the
Loyalism in urban Pennsylvania was, as a general rule, more intellectual
than practical. The state produced some of the best and most subtle loyalist minds
of the period. Many religious and other dissenters, in refusing to sign an oath of
allegiance, were categorized as loyalists, and thus as traitors, when, in reality, they
were politically neutral. Some patriots adopted the simplistic view of pamphleteer
Thomas Paine, that those who were not with the patriots were necessarily opposed
to them and thus were their enemies and must be punished.(407) This silly argument
forced some fine citizens to flee with the British or to be needlessly and unjustly
black-balled and ostracized. Others, angered by the pressures, reacted by joining
and supporting the loyalists.
At the beginning of the war for independence the most prominent tory
leader was Joseph Galloway (1731-1803). During the Seven Years War, Galloway
had united strongly with Franklin in seeking royal instead of proprietary
government in Pennsylvania. Their party had dominated the colony's politics
between 1763 and 1775. A former speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and
delegate to First Continental Congress, Galloway(408) concluded that the colonial
leaders would settle for nothing less than full independence and he preferred
submission to Parliament to the destruction of ties with England. He advocated the
establishment of a tory haven, following Daniel Leonard's suggestion. He
proposed a loose association in his "Plan for a Proposed Union between Great
Britain and the Colonies," which drew heavily on Franklin's Albany Plan.(409)
Galloway had assisted the British army of occupation in 1777 in Philadelphia,
pointing out patriots and recruiting loyalists. He had also given them military,
economic and political advice. At one point during the occupation Galloway had
claimed that he could raise 10,000 tory militiamen in and around Philadelphia if the
British army would assist in getting it set up and then supplying them with arms,
supplies and money.(410) The prominence of Galloway in Pennsylvania and Leonard
in the north lent much credence and popular support to this idea and helped to draw
into the conspiracy a number of less-prominent tory militia leaders.
Galloway had complained bitterly that he had received virtually no support
from British authorities while they were occupied Philadelphia, and that many
troops, especially Hessians who read no English, had hassled loyalists as badly as
they had the patriots. The plan for a stronghold would work only in the loyalists
enjoyed the full protection and support of the British authorities. Galloway found
new reason for complaint when Sir Henry Clinton decided to evacuate his army of
occupation from Philadelphia. Galloway was certain that, had he enjoyed Clinton's
full support, within a year he would have recruited and armed sufficient loyalist
militiamen to carry out his plan. If Clinton had only waited another year before
withdrawing from Philadelphia he would have left in full control by proxy of one
of the most troublesome and strategically important areas of the colonies.
Both Galloway and the Home Office had decided that Britain's best
opportunity for pacification lay in reconquering the colonies piecemeal, beginning
with areas with the greatest tory concentrations. What they differed on was which
area should be selected first. Galloway believed that the continued occupation of
Philadelphia would have been a more much more wise than the invasion of the
Carolinas and Virginia. The Home Office, for reasons best known to it, decided
instead on seeking loyalist support in the southern colonies and establishing there,
instead of in the middle colonies, the king's peace. Galloway argued that the
primary reason Lord Cornwallis had experienced difficulties in recruiting loyalist
militia in 1780 in the southern colonies was the general and widespread knowledge
of his abandonment of the loyalists in Philadelphia in 1777.(411)
Galloway returned to his initial plan of union between the thirteen
colonies and Great Britain in 1778 and 1779. He began with the premise that the
American people were weary of the war and would welcome any reasonable
proposal of peace and reconciliation. If a good peace plan was combined with the
formation of a strong tory militia system the war could terminate. The political part
of his program was simple. Britain would offer a written constitution with a
legislature and a bill of rights. The civil government would be guaranteed by the
John Smyth,(413) a friend and associate of Galloway, offered a more detailed
program for creating a tory safe area. He suggested moving a sufficient naval force
into the Chesapeake Bay. A fully funded and equipped loyalist militia system
covering the seaboard areas of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York
and Delaware, would enlist upward of 12,000 men. The regular officers would
select, say, 8000 of the best and train them completely. Select militiamen and
British, but not Hessian mercenary, troops would board the fleet, strike at selected
patriot ports and towns, and reconquer certain areas. The bulk of the tory militia
would then land and act as occupation troops. None of the friction that
accompanied the previous occupations, such as in Boston and Philadelphia, would
be found here, since the peace-keepers would be sympathetic fellow Americans.
The middle colonies would be liberated first, followed by New York, and finally
the southern colonies. New England would then capitulate without a British
invasion. The patriots would be isolated in the hinterland, cut off from supplies
and from their French allies. They would either collapse after a slow death or offer
to do battle and have it all over with quickly. In any event the days of rebellion
would soon be ended. Smyth was willing to subject the New England colonists to
a long period of tory militia occupation "with a rod of iron" because that area had
been the seat of the treason.(414)
Urban Pennsylvania loyalists numbered in the thousands and often
collaborated with loyalist Amerindians in attacking frontier outposts and isolated
settlements. English officers enlisted many willing recruits who were either
motivated by loyalty to the crown or by the hard currency offered by English
recruiting officers. Rosters of three troops of loyalist Pennsylvania militiamen
were discovered in 1910.(415) There were many collaborators in Philadelphia during
the British occupation of that city, including merchants who sold goods that might
have helped General Washington during the awful winter at Valley Forge. They
preferred to receive English hard coin and uninflated currency rather than take a
risk by receiving inflated colonial currency and promissory notes of dubious
In Philadelphia a recently arrived comb maker named Isaac Atwood
headed one of the largest and most influential bands of Tories. John Kersey, a
physician and surgeon who had lived in Philadelphia for about forty years,
introduced Atwood to the loyalist circles. The active core counted about fifty
Tories, but they boasted that, had they the arms, they could soon raise 3000 men
who would collaborate with the British army. Their scheme never got much
beyond the planning and wishful stage.(417) One Tory who carried his designs into
execution was James Molesworth. He was caught trying to recruit loyalist river
pilots to guide British troop ships up the Delaware River. He was the first man to
be tried and convicted and hanged as a spy in Pennsylvania.(418)
James Humphreys, Jr., a former minor functionary(419) in colonial government, published a staunchly loyalist newspaper in Philadelphia. The British
recruited loyalist militiamen using advertisements and editorials in Humphreys'
Pennsylvania Ledger.(420) Humphreys was an ardent Protestant as well as loyalist
and strongly opposed the patriot alliance with Roman Catholic France. He reported
some of the more interesting lies to be found among the Tories. For example, he
reported that an American attack on British forces in Rhode Island had been
abandoned because the militiamen threatened to shoot their officers if they were
forced to fight their English Protestant brethren.(421) He worked hard at seducing
American militiamen to desert, especially in the winter of 1777-78, when reported
the awful suffering of the patriot forces outside Philadelphia. Certainly some of
his reports and interviews were based in fact, but others were quite fanciful.(422) He
reported that the 5000 volunteer militia recruited by North Carolina Governor
Caswell for relief of General Washington's beleaguered forces had either deserted
or were far under the strength reported in the American press.(423) He reported that
Caswell and all other patriot governors and other political authorities were having
to use force to recruit militiamen and that they refused to deploy them out of fear
of open rebellion.(424) He also reported that the Pennsylvania militia was filled with
bandits, pirates and other undesirables. An example of their pillage and rapine was
the burning of the home of British General de Lancey.(425) By February 1778, Humphreys reported, over 40,000 rebels had died either in battle or of disease in
camp.(426) The last issue of the Ledger was 23 May 1778.
Eventually, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to decide how tories
were to be treated. Were they prisoners of war or traitors and criminals? If they
were on the water, were they pirates? The court decided that those who had not
taken the oath of loyalty to the new nation who were captured were prisoners of
war. The court held that a man was free to choose to join the new political entity
or remain loyal to his previous national commitment. The war was civil, not
foreign as the patriots had claimed. Thus, no man was legally obligated to
renounce his former loyalty and pledge obedience to the new regime. Only those
who had taken the oath of loyalty to the new government could be treated as a
Judge C. J. McKean wrote his opinion to President Reed. It is unclear
precisely when the new government began to function, but the king's authority had
ceased to exist no later than 14 May 1776. "Treason, being an offense against
Government and tending to its dissolution, could not be committee in Pennsylvania
until a new Government was formed, and then [only] by persons owing allegiance
thereto." No charges of treason could be brought without appropriate legislation.
The Convention had established an ordinance treating of treason, "but as they were
chosen by the people for another purpose, and I do not find that their Ordinance
has since confirmed or recognized by the legislature" the Convention's action was
invalid.(427) In the final analysis, McKean thought,
Upon the whole I think it the safer course in so unprecedented and doubtful a case to
consider all the late inhabitants of this State taken in open war as enemies and prisoners of
war, who did not on the eleventh day of February 1777, or since, owe allegiance to this
State, as Treason was not accurately defined or declared by the Legislature until that period.
Pennsylvania did prosecute and execute tories who waged war against the
state, usually under laws covering theft and robbery, wanton murder, rapine and
pillaging for McKean's opinion did not extend to their exclusion or defense.
Certain inhuman acts, including the above plus piracy in its various forms, were
punishable under English common and statute law and the nation of nature and
nations. One prominent tory marauder who was hanged was James Fitzpatrick,
executed in 1778 after being convicted of burglary and larceny.(428)
British successes near Philadelphia in 1777 gave courage to some
Pennsylvania loyalists. On 11 September Howe's British army defeated
Washington at the Battle of Brandywine, and, fifteen days later, contained the whig
counter-attack at the Battle of Germantown. Howe then occupied the city while
Washington's little army was encamped in the Valley Forge. Howe entertained the
cream of Philadelphia society while Washington suffered enormously. Still, for
strategic reasons, Howe abandoned Philadelphia in June 1778, and most
Pennsylvania tories withdrew with him. Tory activity on the seaboard came to a
virtual standstill and the scene shifted to the frontier where tories worked with
Successes and failures of loyalist efforts in western Pennsylvania were
directly tied to the dealings and intrigues of these several Indian traders. If the
British were to have success on the western frontier, Tory militia would have to
ally with large numbers of Amerindian warriors. In the western part of
Pennsylvania the infamous Girty family of Indian traders and Alexander McKee
and Matthew Elliott, also traders, led the Tory efforts to recruit a loyalist militia.
Butler especially wanted to recruit Alexander McKee into the Tory cause because
he believed that no man knew the Delaware and Wyandots [Hurons] better than
McKee. If anyone could bring them into the war on the same side as their
traditional enemies the Six Nations it was McKee. Butler had a prime prize to offer
McKee: the superintendency of Amerindian affairs.(429)
Alexander McKee was a son of Thomas McKee ( -1755). He also had a
son named Thomas who was a trader among the Ohio Indians. From 17 October
through 24 October 1767 Alexander McKee was a clerk for Baynton, Wharton &
Morgan at Fort Pitt. He compiled a list, on orders from Colonel Bouquet, of
traders taken by French Indians in Ohio. In 1769 McKee owned 300 acres near
Fort Pitt. In 1771 Alexander McKee was a justice of the Court of Quarter Sessions
in Bedford County, Pennsylvania; in 1773 he held the same judicial post in
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. In 1774 he served as deputy Indian agent
with Sir William Johnson in New York. As early as 1768 he had been an Indian
trader at Fort Pitt in partnership with Alexander Ross. In April 1776 McKee was
accused of Loyalist leanings and ordered to no longer represent patriot interests
among the Amerindians. He was accused of being on a secret payroll of Lieutenant
Governor Hamilton of Detroit. The accusation soon extended to a reported plot in
which McKee was allegedly involved to surrender Fort Pitt to the Tories. After an
abortive Tory uprising at Redstone Fort [Brownsville], General Hand ordered
McKee to report to take the oath of loyalty to the colonies, which he did. Hand
trusted McKee, but others did not. Hand ordered McKee to report to him at York,
but McKee deserted his land holdings in Lancaster County and moved to Pittsburgh
where he had extensive business investments. Exasperated at the refusal of the
patriots refusal to believe him, he deserted.(430) On 28 March 1778 McKee led a
small contingent to the English. That party of turncoats included Simon Girty and
At the urging of Butler, the English granted McKee the rank of captain in
the army and made him deputy Indian agent at Detroit. On their behalf he
distributed goods among the Shawnee valued at £835/5/6. He was also active in
recruiting Tory militiamen on the western frontier.(431) Thomas McKee, II, was a son
of Alexander McKee, deputy Indian agent for the English in western Canada.
Thomas served as a trader and diplomat among the western Amerindian tribes.
Thomas accompanied Simon Girty, distributing gifts on behalf of the British among
Little Turtle's Delaware warriors in Ohio.(432)
Matthew Elliott ( -1814), of Protestant Irish ancestry, before 1774 was a
trader at Fort Pitt. In Dunmore's War at the Battle of Point Pleasant the Shawnee
used him to interpret and to carry messages of peace.(433) On 6 August 1774 John
Penn reported, "a young man of the name of Elliott who has been trading at
Shawnee Town and lately came from thence, has offered his services to carry any
messages from the government to the Indians and may be a very proper person to
employ."(434) In October 1776 he traded on the Muskingum River in Ohio. His
goods were stolen by the Wyandots at Dresden. Despite the fact that he spent
much time among the Amerindians he hated them and they considered him to be
an unfair and dishonest trader. In March 1777 he went to Fort Detroit where the
English accused him of spying for the patriot cause, but released him on his parole
that he would not aid the patriots. He returned to Fort Pitt, but on 28 March 1778
he deserted to the English along with Simon Girty and several other traders.(435)
Elliott was instrumental in convincing McKee to desert, reminding him that the
colonists would never trust him. Since he was known to be the key to Amerindian
affairs on the western frontier, Elliott told him, the Americans would assassinate
him rather than permit him to desert.(436) On behalf of the English, Elliott distributed
goods valued at £47/6/9 to the Shawnee for the English. In 1781 he was reported
working with the Moravians at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. In 1785 he assisted James
Moore, a Shawnee captive, to escape. The British rewarded Elliott for his loyalty.
In the 1790s he was an Indian agent for the British in Canada.(437) In 1796 through
1798 and 1808 through 1814 he was a superintendent of the British West Indies.(438)
The Girty family of Indian traders were the most notorious of all Indian
traders. Most were ardent loyalists. Those of the Girty family whom we meet
during the Revolution were sons of Simon, Sr. ( -1751).(439) George Girty (1745-1812) from 1756 through 1759 was held by the Delawares, but he was returned to
the English after the French withdrew from western Pennsylvania. He was a trader
among several Amerindian nations, most frequently the Delawares. On 6 February
1778 the patriots commissioned him a second lieutenant. He served in the Ohio
territory and down the Mississippi River. He served through 4 May 1779 and then
deserted to the English. They engaged him as an interpreter among the Shawnee.
On one occasion he distributed goods valued at £75/17/0 among the Shawnee on
behalf of the English in an attempt to enlist their aid in the war on the frontier. In
1781 he led a mixed force of English and tories that engaged militia under the
command of Colonel Archibald Lochry of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
All but a very few of the 100 men in Lochry's command, including the colonel,
were killed or captured. A survivor reported that Alexander McKee had led a band
of 300 Delaware and Wyandot warriors in the ambush. McKee, in cooperation
with Simon Girty, was also reported to be planning an assault on Forts Laurens and
Bedford with a mixed Tory and Amerindian force. In June 1782 George Girty led
the Amerindian force opposed by Colonel Crawford on the Upper Sandusky River,
in what is now Crane Township, Wyandot County, Ohio.(440) After the Battle of
Blue Licks in August 1782 he gave himself up completely to the life of the
Amerindians, living out his life among the Delawares.(441)
James Girty (1743-1817) before the Revolution was a trader among the
Shawnees. From 1756 through 1759 James Girty was held by the Delawares, but
he was returned to the English after the French withdrew from western
Pennsylvania. He assisted Reverend David Jones in making a translation of the
Bible into the Shawnee language. He assisted Colonel George Morgan, the Indian
Agent for the Middle Department for the Middle States, as an interpreter.(442) As
early as July 1775 he was under suspicion as a potential traitor, and soon after he
did desert to the English. In August 1778 his brothers induced him to ally with the
English. The price of his treason was a new rifle, 3 horses, saddles and rations.
Pennsylvania accused James and Simon Girty of high treason.(443) In 1779 the
English Lieutenant Governor Hamilton used James Girty to distribute gifts among
the Shawnee. In the 1780s he was a trader in Ohio and was quite financially
successful. He married a Shawnee maid named Betsey. In 1782 he was a leader
of the British-Amerindian force that laid siege to Fort Henry, now Wheeling, West
Virginia. That was his last fight against the patriot forces. He moved to St. Mary's
on the west branch of the Miami River, in what is now Auglaize County, Ohio. He
founded Girty's Town where the English granted him a monopoly of seven years
in the Indian trade for his support of their cause. He lived in the first decade of the
nineteenth century in Gosfield Township, Essex County, Ohio, where he made a
will dated 1804. His last trading post was on Girty's Island near Napoleon, Ohio.
He died on 15 April 1817.(444)
Simon Girty, Jr. (1741-1818) in 1756, at age 15, was captured by the
Delawares and by 1759 was delivered up to the Senecas. He saw his step-father
burned at the stake. He was five feet, nine inches tall, and had black, penetrating
eyes. He learned several Indian languages, including the tongues spoken by the Six
Nations, Wyandots and Shawnee. He was an interpreter for the Virginia officials
during Dunmore's War. On 11 August 1774 he met and traded with David Owens
and twelve other traders who were returning from Upper Shawnee Town. During
the French and Indian War he lost trade goods valued at £300/18/6.(445) In 1771 he
voted in the first election in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. In 1776 he was an
interpreter for the Six Nations at a meeting at Fort Pitt. On 11 August 1776 he sent
a bill to the Continental Congress for extra services as a smith at Fort Pitt.(446) On
28 March 1778 he deserted the patriot cause and joined the English. He took with
him Alexander McKee, two slaves, Matthew Elliott and an Indian trader named
Higgins.(447) In 1781 he fought with the Wyandots at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He
was seriously wounded by a sabre slash given by Captain Brant [Thayendanega].
On 12 April 1782 Girty delivered on behalf of the English to the Wyandots one
hundred pounds of gunpowder, 200 pounds of lead balls and eight dozen scalping
knives.(448) He was present at the torture and assassination of Colonel Crawford on
10 June 1782. It is alleged that as Crawford was writhing in pain, he asked Girty
to kill him. Girty supposedly responded that he had no ammunition. Butterfield
argued that Girty had tried to secure Crawford's release and could not, and that had
he killed Crawford, Girty himself might have been killed. He was responsible for
the deaths of David Rogers and 42 others and the capture of five soldiers in action
against the patriots. On 13 July 1778 a group of English led Amerindians
destroyed the town of Hanna's Town, then county seat of Westmoreland County,
Pennsylvania. On 19 August 1782 Bedford County political leader Bernard
Dougherty wrote to the Pennsylvania officials, "the noted Girty has for some years
past threatened the town of Bedford with destruction in like manner as he has that
of Hanna's Town."(449) Butterfield argued that Girty had nothing to do with the
Amerindian attack on Hanna's Town. In 1784 he married Catherine Malott, a white
captive taken by the Muncy Clan of the Delawares in 1780 when she was a
teenager. Catherine died at Cochester South in January 1852. He moved to, and
afterward operated out of, Essex County, western Canada. In 1787 he assisted
James Moore in getting his sister back from the Shawnees. In the 1780s he was
employed as an Indian agent by Alexander McKee. In June 1785 he assisted in
securing the release of Mrs. Thomas Cunning from the Shawnee.(450) In 1791 he was
a participant in the Amerindian defeat of General Arthur St. Clair's army near Fort
Jefferson, Ohio. In 1794 he acted as an interpreter among the Shawnee for the
English. He helped to secure the release of Mrs. Joseph Kinan, sister of Jacob
Lewis, at Detroit. In 1794 he fought his last battle against the U.S. at Tallen
Timbers. At that battle the army under General Anthony Wayne broke the power
of the Amerindians in Ohio. He took no part in the War of 1812. By 1816 he was
In August 1778 an American force of regulars and volunteer militia led
by Lachlan McIntosh (1725-1806) penetrated the frontier as far west as the
Tuscarawas River in Ohio. At the same time George Rogers Clark had
successfully invaded what is now Indiana, capturing a British fort at Vincennes.
In late summer 1779 Colonel Daniel Brodhead, who replaced McIntosh, led a
mixed party of regulars and volunteer militia up the Allegheny River from Fort Pitt
and into Seneca territory in New York. Brodhead's expedition was time to
correspond with General John Sullivan's invasion of New York from the east.
Some western Amerindian tribes, aware of patriot gains and victories, were
considering entering the war on the side of the new nation. Upon Brodhead's
return to Fort Pitt a party of Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandots awaited him,
prepared to talk peace. They informed him of British fears of an attack on Fort
Detroit. Brodhead was a military man and not a diplomat and the peace talks
dragged on without conclusion. At this point Governor Guy Carleton sent
Alexander McKee to the Shawnee, Delaware and Wyandot camps to dissuade them
from making peace. On 27 September 1778 Simon Girty led a mixed force of
Tories and Amerindians in the destruction of a Virginia supply train near the falls
of the Ohio River. The train was moving up from St. Louis with supplies needed
to keep the western campaign moving. Combined with McKee's diplomatic
successes, this destruction of five large boatloads of supplies seriously disrupted
the war effort and brought to an end this successful surge against the Amerindians
on the frontier.(451)
In April 1778 a party of American soldiers deserted from garrison duty at
Fort Pitt. When they were captured the patriots found them in the company of a
small band of Tories. On interrogation they revealed the existence of a major Tory
plot to disrupt the frontier. A party of Tories from Standing Stone [Huntingdon]
had crossed the mountains to join an even larger Tory party at Redstone [Brownsville]. They were to receive uniforms from Butler and McKee and then were to
join the Amerindians on an attack on the forts between Pittsburgh and Bedford. By
the time the Tories had gone to meet the Amerindians at Kittanning they numbered
no less than 150 militiamen. Something happened between the Tory leader and an
Indian chief at Kittanning which the captured Tories did not understand. The
Amerindian struck the Tory dead with a single blow of his hatchet and the meeting
broke up. The thirty Tories from Huntingdon were returning home when they were
captured. General Hand ordered his second in command, William Crawford, a
judge in civilian life, to hold a military court martial. The civilians claimed that a
military court held no jurisdiction over them, but the trial was held. Several leaders
were executed and several more were whipped and then confined to jail for the
duration of the war. The others were whipped and then dismissed, or simply let go
on their parole to spread the word that the Tory design had been frustrated.(452)
The Rein family was one of the oldest, established families in Lancaster
County, Pennsylvania. The first man to carry the name Michael Rein arrived in
Philadelphia on 11 September 1732(453) and soon after settled in Earl Township,
Lancaster County. Initially, the family seemed to be ardent patriots, enlisting in the
county militia, serving in and around Philadelphia in support of General Washington's army. Various members of the family also held political offices of
importance, such as membership on the Committee of Observation and Inspection.
Lieutenant Henry Mansin, a German speaking officer in the Queen's Rangers,
entered Lancaster County, searching for recruits, horses and general support for the
loyalist cause. On his second trip, in February 1778, several farmers caught
Mansin and several of his co-conspirators stealing horses. They implicated John,
Michael and George Rein, saying that the family had offered them aid and comfort
and had offered to sell them horses. A black- and gunsmith named Englehart
Holtzinger and a few others among the conspirators, including John Rein, escaped
to General Howe's lines in Philadelphia. His property, along with that of two
members of the Rein family, was confiscated and sold at public auction. Henry
Mansin and a man named Wendel Myer were hanged. John Rein and several of the
others apparently fought with the loyalist militia and British army during the
remainder of the war.(454) Christian Fouts, a lieutenant-colonel in the loyalist militia,
may have aided the loyalists in the Rein Affair since he was a native of Lancaster
County.(455)Toryism in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia
English troops occupied none of the cities in Virginia, Delaware or
Maryland, so loyalists could find no protection and little encouragement from the
mother nation or its troops. Whatever royal support there may have been never
really developed. Delaware had no frontier, but tories did manage to arouse the
Amerindians to massacres in the other two states.
Delaware had a substantial loyalist population, reliably estimated at about
half the population. Most of Delaware's population had been moderate in its
politics in the pre-Revolutionary era. The pre-war legislature remained loyal but
was circumscribed by a larger patriot climate of opinion. There are strong claims
that as many as half of the people were loyal to the crown.(456)
Several incidents are often cited in support of the high incidence of
loyalism. In June 1776 loyalists collected some 5000 signatures on a petition
opposing the Declaration of Independence in Kent County while patriots could
barely manage to gather 300 signers. An ensuing major insurrection in Kent
County cost over $100,000 to quell. When Governor Caesar Rodney asked his
militiamen to sign a petition for independence only 26 of 68 men present were
willing to commit. When other loyalists attempted to deliver it to Congress they
were mobbed. Robinson gathered 1500 loyalists to restore order. Having no arms
they appealed to Sir Andrew Hammond, skipper of the Roebuck, for support.
Hammond stayed aloof and 1500 patriot riflemen arrived on orders from the
Philadelphia Council of Safety. There were few strong statements of loyalist
sentiment in the state which was not directly occupied. There were, however, some
active loyalists in Delaware. Colonel Alfred Clifton was a Catholic Delaware
loyalist who successfully raised a troop of loyal cavalry.(457)
In September 1777 the British army invaded Delaware, bringing many
loyalists to declare in favor of king and country. Many of the active Delaware
loyalists defected to the British while Howe controlled Philadelphia and left with
him when he withdrew from the city. President Rodney received complaints of
tory activity in Murderkill Hundred, Duck Creek, Dover and Kent County.(458)
Anglican minister Daniel Currie helped to persuade many of the righteousness of
the royalist cause. In September 1778 Methodist preacher Freeborn Garretson
attempted to preach a loyalist sermon in Dover, but a mob accused him of being a
tory and a follower of Cheney Clow.(459)
The notorious tory Cheney Clow in April 1778 had led a tory revolt near
Kenton. The Delaware militia responded to a call from Colonel Pope, located more
than a hundred tories entrenched in a fortified position and prepared for an assault
once the full company arrived. Clow retreated. The militia burned his fort and
captured about half of his followers who were forced to enlist in the patriot army.
Finally, in 1782 a sheriff's posse, with some militia as reinforcements, captured
Clow. He claimed protection as a prisoner of war since he had a British
commission with the rank of captain. In May 1783 a jury found him guilty of
robbery, plunder and murder and ordered him to be hanged. In this case did
Delaware witness significant popular support for the tories.(460)
Following Lord Cornwallis' withdrawal from the Carolinas, Sir Henry
Clinton received a proposal from William Rankin of Pennsylvania to use force to
establish a loyalist haven. Rankin, a loyalist militia colonel, believed that there was
a substantial reservoir of royalist sentiment in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern
New Jersey and Delaware which, if properly cultivated, could serve to augment his
majesty's forces. Both Clinton and the home government were, at this moment,
grasping for any evidence that royal government could be reestablished.
Cornwallis, having been falsely seduced into believing similar promises about the
Carolinas, opposed the idea, for he saw in it nothing that convinced him that it was
in any way superior to the Carolina plan. Clinton liked the idea and thought to
implement it in the autumn of 1781, which is why Clinton retained Cornwallis'
army in Virginia. Although the northern army had comparatively little to do after
1778, and Clinton possessed the authority and resources to attempt to implement
Rankin's plan without Cornwallis, nothing came of it. The appearance of the
French navy in the Chesapeake Bay made the operation too dangerous to attempt.(461)
Most loyalists in Maryland were white, first-generation English
immigrants, engaged in business as merchants, free professionals, small tradesmen,
artisans, inn-keepers and mariners. Most lived in Baltimore or Annapolis, with a
few others from Frederick.(462) Despite the fact that Maryland had been established
as a haven for Roman Catholics from England, political power for many decades
before the revolution had been firmly held by a conservative, aristocratic Protestant
minority. In the last decade before the revolution, the court party had defended its
own powers more readily than the king's prerogatives. In the years immediately
preceding the war for independence the royalist court party, which became the core
of loyalism after war came, saw its power draining away. The governor in the last
royalist years (1769-1776), George Chalmers, was partially sympathetic to the
American complaints and did little to oppose independence. And, as elsewhere, the
Anglican clergy remained firmly royalist. The popular lower house of the
legislature and the minor and local governmental officers supported the cause of
independence. The British army never captured or occupied any major Maryland
city, so loyalism had little chance of spreading among the timid or undecided
Moderate loyalists defended the king's powers with pen. Daniel Dulaney
had produced a refutation of the patriot arguments of the Stamp Act Congress.
James Chalmers offered Plain Truth in refutation to Tom Paine's Common Sense.
Reverend Jonathan Boucher attacked those fellow clergymen, notably Episcopal,
who sided with the patriots.
Maryland also produced some loyal men of action. Hugh Kelly formed
the Maryland Royal Retaliators which, by 1781, had raised at least 1300 men. The
patriots captured Kelly, effectively closing out this chapter in Maryland loyalism.
The British army commissioned James Chalmers a lieutenant-colonel, sent him to
Maryland and ordered him to raise a loyalist militia. He failed to raise his quota,
bit appeared in British service as late as 1782, with the notation that his militia was
"deficient in numbers." In September 1783 he fled to New York and from thence
to St. John, New Brunswick.(463)
Virginia, with Massachusetts, led the patriot cause. Its House of
Burgesses had established a remarkable record of independent action. Nathaniel
Bacon's Rebellion may have been the first incident of armed American resistance
to British rule; and both colonial and state governments had issued proclamations
bordering on claims of sovereignty long before 1776. The last royal governor Lord
Dunmore initially resisted independence, was defeated at Great Bridge in 1775 and
abandoned Virginia completely in July 1776. Virginia contributed heavily to the
patriot cause in the early years while suffering few depravations except joint tory-Amerindian raids on the frontier.
Loyalism was as weak in Virginia as anywhere in the former colonies.(464)
Two classes of men led the loyalists in Virginia: the Anglican clergy and the
wealthier seaboard merchants. Most Scots living in Virginia sided with the crown.
Loyalism was found primarily in the Norfolk area, which the British raided but
could not afford to occupy. Additional loyalists came from Williamsburg,
Petersburg and Portsmouth. Among the loyalist units formed in Virginia was the
Queen's Own Loyal Virginians, later incorporated into the Queen's Rangers.
In the spring and summer of 1780 a general Tory revolt took place in
western Virginia and spread to Redstone and Fort Pitt. Important lead mines in
Montgomery County, Virginia, were disrupted. By September, Colonel Brodhead
feared an attack upon Fort Pitt by a combined force of Tories from the western
counties of Pennsylvania and Virginia and British regulars and Amerindian
warriors allegedly advancing from Fort Detroit. No such force materialized,
despite continual rumors, and by the spring of 1781 many of the Tories had fled to
British protection at Detroit.
The British authorities recruited John Connolly, a physician from
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who lived near Pittsburgh. They charged
Connolly with raising a mixed force of Tories and Amerindians to be called the
Loyal Forresters. This unit was active as late as 1782 although Conolly was
captured before he could lead any effective raids. Lord Dartmouth, upon the
recommendation of Virginia's last royal Governor Dunmore, had commissioned
Connolly as a lieutenant-colonel in the Queen's Royal Rangers on 5 November
1776. Dunmore immediately sent Connolly on a secret mission among the
Amerindians on the western frontier, inciting them to rise against the settlers in
violation of treaty provisions. Dunmore hoped that Connolly could incite a bloody
war on the frontier, moving southeastward from Detroit to Pittsburgh toward
Alexandria, where Dunmore would join with him. Connolly had implemented his
orders by hatching a plot, Washington wrote, to join his militia, now being formed
in Quebec, with Sir John Johnson's 3000 Amerindian warriors and Tory
militiamen, and invade south along the Allegheny River. The object of Connolly's
attention was to be Fort Pitt. Meanwhile, Connolly, Johnson and McKee had sent
spies and agitators, which may have included Elliott and one of more of the Girtys,
among the inhabitants of the western frontier of both Pennsylvania and Virginia to
seek support, supplies and men. Brodhead and General William Irvine brought in
artificers and engineers and volunteers from the patriot militia who strengthened
Fort Pitt's defenses. The bitter winter, combined with reports reaching Connolly
and McKee of the strength of refurbished fort, persuaded the Tories to wait.
Connolly was captured in Maryland while trying to line up additional support
among the Amerindians there. General George Washington wrote to Brodhead,
informing him that a notorious Tory leader, John Connolly, whom Continental
authorities exchanged on 25 October 1780, was now in western Canada, recruiting
militia among the loyalist refugees. The attack never took place and by the early
autumn of 1782 Sir Guy Carleton had issued orders forbidding any attacks on the
frontier from originating in Canada. Peace talks had begun and Carleton had never
been an enthusiastic supporter of the strategy of using the Amerindians to attack
Why Lord Cornwallis decided to abandon the most southerly colonies and
march northward to Virginia is still the subject of much speculation. Howe still
believed that occupation of South Carolina, Georgia and perhaps North Carolina
would bring forth a torrent of loyalist support, and, more importantly, of sorely
needed manpower. He thought this policy merited a fair trial. Retreat into Virginia
made no political sense for it was the state least likely of all former colonies south
of Massachusetts to support tory revolt. But Cornwallis probably made his
decision for military, not political, reasons, wishing to use Virginia as a base for
future military actions. He had also come to distrust the tories politically and as a
potential source of military enlistments. He thought that British policy after defeat
at Saratoga to reestablish political control through tory assistance was not feasible
based on his own observations and experience in the south. For Cornwallis,
reliance on loyalists to produce substantial armed forces ended at the Battle of
King's Mountain. His march into Virginia merely emphasized his opinion.(466)
Lord Cornwallis continued to believe that Virginia should be the focus of
British efforts to recapture the colonies. He had rejected any thought of an attack
on Philadelphia, or of establishing a loyalist safe haven along the Chesapeake Bay.
For uncertain reasons, Cornwallis thought more loyalists could be found in
Virginia. As it was, fate took a hand and following his entrapment and subsequent
surrender at Yorktown, he was never able to prove his theory about liberation of
Toryism in the Southern Colonies
After 1778 the British command decided to concentrate its major efforts
to the American south, largely because of the resurgence of loyalism in those states.
Southern campaigns had only half-heartedly been planned and executed before
1778.(468) Anticipating substantial help on every front and in every way, the British
commanders thought to ease the burden on the hard pressed army. Having failed
to force Washington's army into a major engagement, Clinton, under orders from
the home government, was to reduce operations in the north, except for naval raids
on ports from which privateers sallied forth to raid British shipping, and
concentrate on reducing patriot forces in the south. The home government still
believed that, at least in the southern colonies, the vast majority of Americans were
loyal to the crown. Intelligence reports alleged that a considerable and constantly
increasing number, of southerners wanted to reunite with the mother nation. At the
very least, the British and the loyalists both believed, the southern colonies could
be separated from the other colonies and perhaps reconstituted as his majesty's
loyal subjects under royal government.
The home government's plan, as devised on 8 March 1778, was relatively
simple. The British army would first liberate Georgia, move north against South
Carolina, secure Charleston, and give encouragement to the planters who they
believed were the mainstay of loyalism in the south. The loyalists were to be an
integral, indeed vital, part of the operation. Against that expectation, the home
government sent a considerable supply of arms, accoutrements and supplies for the
recruits. The army would enlist as many regular soldiers as possible, while others,
those who did not wish to commit to service for a long period of time, would serve
in loyal militias. Simultaneously, diversionary actions and naval operations in
Maryland and Virginia would prevent supplies and reinforcements from moving
southward. Such operations would destroy the tobacco trade, damaging the
A southern campaign was politically expedient. The government was
under increasing pressure from both the king and the opposition in Commons.
Since the war in the northern and middle colonies had been unsuccessful, and
intelligence reported great chances of success in the south, the need for some
victories moved the ministry to support a full southern campaign. If the tories were
correct, the cost and demands for manpower would be minimal since the loyalists
would swell the ranks and provide needed relief for the army. Former royalist
governors, Lord William Campbell and Sir James Wright, and their lieutenant-governors, William Bull and John Graham, reassured the government of the
existence of a vast reservoir of loyalist support in the south.(470) Change in British
command was important. Clinton supported the idea of a campaign in the south
whereas Howe had not. Additionally, Indian Affairs Superintendent John Stuart
assured his superiors that they could count on support from the native Americans
at the small cost of a few gifts and some guns.(471)
When news reached London of France's formal declaration of support for
the colonies on 13 March 1778, Germain revised the instructions sent to Clinton
on 8 March, ordering Clinton on 21 March to send 5000 troops to capture French
colony of St. Lucia, and to divert others to the protection of the British West Indies.
Three thousand additional men were sent to the protection of Florida. Clinton and
his remaining 8000 men were to evacuate Philadelphia, defend New York, Rhode
Island, Nova Scotia and the remainder of Canada, especially the naval facility at
Halifax. Germain instructed Clinton to consider plans for evacuating the thirteen
colonies completely.(472) A new pessimism pervaded the ministry.
The instructions had little impact on Clinton's actual conduct of the war.
He did not send the expedition against St. Lucia, did not change his focus to the
West Indies and did not send any fleet against the American ports. He did evacuate
Philadelphia as ordered in the second dispatch, of 21 March, and did deploy Lord
Cornwallis in a southern campaign as decided in the first dispatch, of 8 March.
Failure to have mounted a southern campaign would suggest that the government
was abandoning the loyalists, bringing ever increasing defections to the patriot
cause among them. A large expedition against St. Lucia and to the West Indies
would convince them that their suspicions were correct. For the next several years
the main focus of the war was on Cornwallis' campaign, as initially decided. In
December 1778 troops moved into Georgia.
As the strategy of 8 March envisioned, a number of significant tory
leaders emerged to assist the British army. Lieutenant-colonel Henry Rugely
gathered a company of tory militia for service in his native South Carolina, but,
soon after enlisting men, was captured at his plantation along with his 103
militiamen.(473) Samuel Tynes of South Carolina led a substantial tory militia, but
was captured by Francis Marion in 1780.(474)
Georgia was an excellent choice as the first base from which to launch an
invasion of the southern colonies. The state harbored many tories, drawn
especially from the free professions, planters, Anglican ministers and former
royalist officials. Scots, although not numerous in Georgia, were largely loyal. In
the ten years, 1766 to 1776, preceding the war for independence, the population of
Georgia had doubled, from 10,000 to 20,000. Many of the newly arrived English
settlers retained strong ties to the crown. A significant portion of the state's
population lived in Savannah.
On 27 November 1778, Howe sent Lieutenant-colonel Archibald
Campbell with 3000 British and Hessian regulars and four battalions of loyalists
to accomplish the reduction of Georgia. On 23 December Campbell arrived at
Tybee Island near Savannah and was unopposed. The patriot army crossed into
South Carolina. Meanwhile, General Augustine Prevost, marching northward from
Florida, captured the remaining patriot militia and army at Fort Sunbury on 10
January 1779. Having eliminated both regular army units and patriot militia as a
factor in Georgia, Campbell was uncertain what to do next. The home office had
wished to test its theory that the tories of the southern states were just waiting to
show their loyalty, and would do so in considerable numbers. So Campbell
decided to spread his command and seek out loyalist supporters.(475)
Assisting Lieutenant-colonel Archibald Campbell's invading British army
of 1778 was Captain Daniel Murray, commander of Wentworth's Volunteers. His
unit had been drilled, perhaps formed, on Long Island. In the spring of 1780, when
it was stationed at Jerusalem, New York, it had 41 militiamen and officers. In the
late autumn it numbered forty and was at Lloyd's Neck. Its primary and most
important service was during the early stages of Cornwallis' southern campaign,
beginning in Savannah, Georgia. Assisting in the British fortifications at Savannah
was Lieutenant-colonel James Moncrieffe ( -1791), an engineer by profession, and
uncle of General Montgomery and brother-in-law of John Jay.(476) John Thomas of
Georgia received a commission as a lieutenant-colonel and ordered to recruit
support among the Cherokee nation.(477)
Campbell and 1000 men soon moved toward Augusta and captured the
post without loss. The government's best hopes were fulfilled when 1400 men took
the oath of allegiance to the king and the recruiting officers signed enough men to
fill twenty companies of loyalist militia. Heartily encouraged, Campbell made
additional sorties into the back country of Georgia, but these proved to be as
fruitless as the first was productive. The patriot militia retaliated, some 4000
strong, with sorties into the back country. Campbell withdrew, not wanting to be
caught up in guerilla warfare against the backwoodsmen on their home turf.
Without the protection of the British army, and left to their own devices,
Campbell's tory militias evaporated to suffer their fate at the hands of the patriots.
Since most tories were men of property, the patriots knew how best to pressure
them. Patriot militias burned many of their homes and fields.(478)
Since Campbell and his deputy Lieutenant-colonel John Hamilton were
themselves Highlanders they were able to recruit among the Scots in South
Carolina. A certain Colonel Boyd recruited about 700 loyalist militia and marched
south to join Campbell. After a minor and indecisive skirmish, Colonel Andrew
Pickens surprised the tories at Kettle Creek, killed Boyd and about forty of his men,
wounded and captured another 150, and scattered the remainder. Campbell sent
out a relief column which was successful only in rescuing about 300 tories.
Pickens took his prisoners back to South Carolina where five leaders were hanged
as traitors, another 65 condemned but pardoned, and others forced to take an oath
of loyalty to the republic.(479)
Native to Georgia was James Robertson (1751-1818), Attorney-general
in the last royal cabinet and member of the Council and the Commission of Claims.
He joined the tory militia as an officer immediately after the war began.(480) Now his
time had come with the arrival of Campbell's army. Robertson's men took full
revenge on the patriots.
Leaving Campbell in command at Savannah, Prevost moved northward
into South Carolina. Meanwhile, Major-general Benjamin Lincoln rallied the
patriot army and moved to Purysburg, about fifteen miles from Savannah. The
swamps surrounding Lincoln's army inhibited Prevost's movements, and not
wanting to become entrapped in such hostile territory, Prevost sent Major Gardiner
to Port Royal Island. Lincoln sent General William Moultrie who led the Georgia
militia against Gardiner who withdrew and returned to Savannah.
Prevost made another unsuccessful foray into South Carolina, which did
have the effect of causing panic in Charleston and of drawing Lincoln's troops out
of Georgia to the defense of Charleston. Still, the British controlled only the area
immediately surrounding Savannah and the tories had been disheartened. When
a party of the king's officials arrived from London to reestablish royal rule they
found little support. As one authority noted, Britain's inability to restore civil
government completely in captured colonies remained both a continual
embarrassment and a patent weakness of her military policy with the Loyalists."(481)
Other tory units served in Georgia. As we have seen, Montefort Browne,
former lieutenant-governor of West Florida, had been commissioned a brigadier-general in July 1776 with instructions to raise the Prince of Wales American
Volunteers, which served primarily in New England. After Prevost moved against
Georgia, the unit was sent to occupy Savannah.(482) Another important tory, Captain
Howell of Georgia was killed and his entire unit destroyed in 1781 by Georgia
Prevost wanted to expand his operations, but had been unsuccessful
largely because he lacked a sufficiently large force to undertake the occupation of
Georgia and South Carolina, and his tory allies were insufficiently powerful to
occupy liberated territory on their own. Sir Henry Clinton understood the situation,
and wished to support Prevost, especially after he received word of the ease with
which Savannah had been captured and heard of initial enlistments in tory militia.
But he could send no more troops south until his own command was reenforced.
Either General James Grant's force would have to be withdrawn from the West
Indies or the home government would have to send more troops from Europe if
Clinton was to support his southern army. Were such troops to arrive, he planned
to land them at Port Royal and march on to liberate Charleston.
Josiah Phillips of Princess Anne County, Virginia, received a commission
from the last royal governor, the Earl of Dunmore, to form a loyalist militia
company. He ignored the rules of war and formed a vigilante band which burned,
looted, raped and burned homes and committed other crimes. The Virginia House
of Burgesses passed an act specifically aimed at inducing Phillips to surrender or
otherwise reducing his activity. The state's Attorney-general asked for and received
an indictment in absentia on the charge of wanton murder. Finally, in late 1778 the
Whig militia captured Phillips and he was hanged.(484)
During the spring of 1779, Commodore Sir George Collier and Major-general Edward Mathew, following explicit orders of the home government to Sir
Henry Clinton, raided into Virginia, to disrupt the state's economy, destroy
privateers and their docks, capture and destroy food and military supplies and
prevent aid from being sent to South Carolina and Georgia. When a large number
of loyalists appeared, Collier and Mathew were pleasantly surprised, but
concerned. They had been ordered to raid, not occupy, parts of Virginia's seacoast.
They were not prepared to rescue or stand and defend these tories. They
recommended creating one post, perhaps Portsmouth, to which tories could flee for
protection. Perhaps such a post would encourage so many to defect that the post
could be maintained by tory militia. No matter how much recruitment of Virginia's
loyalists might be desirable, Clinton had no troops to spare to create the haven.
North Carolina was a hotbed of tory activity.(485) The colony may have had
more tories in proportion to its population than any other state,(486) although at least
one writer argued that claims of loyalism were exaggerated.(487) Shopkeepers,
planters, wealthier farmers, tradesmen and free professionals constituted the bulk
of the tories here as elsewhere. Perhaps half or more of the Scots in the state had
loyalist leanings. No city of significant size yet had developed in North Carolina,
although tories appeared in some towns such as Wilmington as Cornwallis crossed
the state in his flight northward into Virginia. After the Battle of Moore's Creek,
loyalism all but disappeared. Still, there were periodic cruel raids organized by
Colonels Edmund Fanning and John Hamilton, giving rise to the belief that, at least
on occasion, a state of civil war existed in North Carolina.(488)
As early as 1776 a large number of tory militiamen was captured at the
Battle of Cross Creek and taken to Philadelphia via Halifax, North Carolina.
Among the most successful tories in North Carolina was Lieutenant-colonel John
Moore of Tryon County, who joined the British cause in 1779. His militia's
distinctive uniforms were decorated with green pine twigs. Moore enlisted 200
tory militiamen, but his force was defeated at Ransour's Mills by patriot militia. He
led the thirty survivors to the British lines at Camden, South Carolina, where they
were absorbed into the army.(489)
Sabine wrote that Lieutenant-colonel James Hamilton ( -1817) was the
"very crest of the Tory organization in the South" and that "the British nation owed
more to Col. Hamilton of the North Carolina Loyal Militia than to any other
individual Loyalist in British service." As commander at St. Augustine, Florida,
he was "engaged in nearly every action in the three southern colonies."(490) Another
northern loyalist unit that moved south was commanded by Colonel Edmund
Fanning. The King's American Regiment was recruited, trained and initially served
at Conanicut Island, Rhode Island. Fanning, a native of Staten Island and a Yale
graduate, had raised £3000 from loyalist New York merchants and businessmen to
support his militia. By November 1777 Fanning had recruited 481 militiamen.
This unit accompanied General Tryon's raids on Fairfield and Norwalk and
plundered the town of New Haven. Patriots counter-attacked and inflicted over a
hundred casualties on the Tories. As they retreated to Fairfield patriot opposition
increased and Tryon ordered that the town be burned in retaliation. This unit was
then transferred to Savannah, Georgia, where its eight infantry companies were
active, largely as guerrillas and raiders, as late as June 1782.(491) To most
Carolinians, Hamilton and Fanning were the epitome of a heartless raider and
marauder who terrorized the civilian population.
John Pile was another colonel who was successful in recruiting loyalist
militia in North Carolina.(492) Royal Governor Martin authorized Donald McDonald
to raise a body of tory militia. McDonald was probably the most successful of all
tory militia commanders in the Carolinas and was rewarded for his efforts by being
promoted to captain-general. North Carolina militia under General Moore defeated
McDonald's force, demoralizing tory recruitment efforts in the Carolinas. Moore
sent McDonald to Philadelphia, where he was exchanged and left for England
where he lived after the war.(493) Lieutenant-colonel Kay had attracted a substantial
number of loyalist militiamen before the Battle of King's Mountain. He retreated
following the battle, joining the British army at Hillsborough.(494) Governor Martin
also commissioned James Glyn to enlist tory militia in the Carolinas.(495)
South Carolina, too, had its staunch tories, again with heaviest support
from among the merchants, free professionals and high ranking members and
clergy of the Church of England and wealthy planters.(496) Of the southern colonies
only Georgia had as high a proportion of tories as South Carolina. Charleston was
the southern city which offered the greatest opportunity for royalist occupation and
recruitment of men. When the British army left Charleston in 1782 more than 4000
loyalists joined them, although not all were natives of South Carolina.(497) Patriots
had much cause for worry with the vast numbers of slaves, the long stretch of
unprotected seacoast and the constant threat of Cherokees and other Amerindians
on the frontier.(498) Certainly the recruitment of Amerindians to massacre frontier
families alienated many tories.
The first attempt to occupy Charleston came in June 1776, although the
patriots were successful in fending off the invasion. At the same time, frontier
militia defeated the Cherokees who had been recruited by tories and British agents.
The British continued to seduce the native aborigine with presents and arms
throughout the war, while the army made no further attempt at invasion until
Clinton captured Charleston in May 1780. The British occupied Charleston from
May 1781 until December 1782.
Colonel McNeil commanded a large contingent of loyal Carolina militia
along with David Fanning. In 1781 at Hillsborough, North Carolina, Fanning and
McNeil surprised a poorly organized band of state militia, handily defeating them.
They took some 200 prisoners and threatened to kill them unless Governor Burke
released 60 tory prisoners from jail. As the tory militia retreated toward Wilmington, other patriot militia ambushed the tories and killed McNeil.(499)
Patrick Ferguson was one of the most important leaders of tory militia.
After General Howe dissolved his first rifle corps, Ferguson became a provisional
lieutenant-colonel and organized in New York and New Jersey the American
Volunteers. This group of loyalists were known also as Ferguson's Sharpshooters.
The strength of this body was approximately 7,600 men and it was sent with
Clinton to Charleston. After the defeat of the tories at King's Mountain, nine of
Ferguson's men were executed(500)
Colonel Daniel McGrath, a native of South Carolina, originally an ardent
patriot, deserted to the loyalists, swearing vengeance for some unknown presumed
injustice done him by patriots. Working out of Florida, he was a marauder in
Georgia and South Carolina, raiding mostly isolated homesteads. He amassed a
huge fortune from his raids, but was captured, imprisoned, but pardoned after his
health failed. He returned to South Carolina, living out his final years in poor
health and with the scorn of his neighbors.(501)
By mid 1780 Cornwallis was having serious doubts about the efficacy of
Howe's plan to recruit and enlist loyalists in the British army. Howe's plan called
for establishing save havens for loyalists at a number of strategic posts in Georgia
and the Carolinas, including Savannah, Augusta, Charleston, Ninety-Six,
Georgetown and Camden. Howe ordered Cornwallis to select the sites and
maintain a presence with the British army. He was convinced that many loyalists
would enter the secured areas and join the British army or loyal militia. Thus,
Britain, with loyalist help, could maintain order in the southern colonies with a
minimum armed force. Some militiamen would be deployed to occupy the
liberated areas while others would assist the army in the war effort. The remainder
of his forces could then be deployed elsewhere to accomplish the same mission.
But Cornwallis had seen the failure of the grand scheme. By the end of
July the loyalists in the Ninety-Six District had recruited some 1500 men to fight
with the army and others to act as reserves and occupation troops. Additional men
were recruited at Little Peedee and in the Orangeburg District. Charleston supplied
400 occupation militia, freeing British regulars for other duties. But in other
districts, such as Camden, Cheraw and Georgetown the patriot militia was
successful in suppressing loyalist enlistments. Taken as a whole, the policy was
a failure. Howe had expected to enlist two full battalions and failed. Cornwallis
was beginning to realize that Howe's estimates of tory support were grossly
exaggerated. Moreover, he considered most loyalists to be politically unreliable.
They made poor soldiers and new orders coddled them, preventing their full
regulation and training. Adding to his other problems was the scarcity of arms and
horses. Without guns that were to have been sent from England he could not equip
his loyalist militiamen. Mounted troops were a necessity to combat the very mobile
patriot guerrillas, but the Americans had managed to prevent the purchase of these
It is generally agreed that looting, rapine and pillaging was nowhere as
widespread as in the Carolinas. Banastre Tarleton's American Legion shouldered
much of the responsibility, but Thomas Browne's and other corps also bore much
responsibility. Many Americans, especially those in the backwoods of the
Carolinas, who had remained unscathed by the war, excepting only a few
incursions by Amerindians, suddenly had to choose sides. The dastardly deeds of
loyalist raiders, and even of the army, against civilians convinced many to adopt the
Disheartening news arrived at Cornwallis' headquarters. Patriot militia
had defeated the loyalists at Ramsaur's Mill on 20 June. The principal historian of
the war in South Carolina wrote, "The effect of this affair was completely to crush
out the Tory element in that portion of the state and they never attempted to
organize again during the war."(504) Having won one comparatively easy victory, the
patriots pushed forward, and in a dozen small skirmishes in July and August,
effectively removed all vestiges of British control from the back country.(505)
Initially, Cornwallis did not perceive the problem the loss at Ramsaur's Mill
presented. By 2 July he heard from Lord Rawdon, commanding at Camden, that
loss of all outlying posts was imminent. Next he learned that Morgan Bryan's
loyalist militia of 800 men had fled to the protection of the British army in South
Carolina. Then Colonel Nisbit Balfour reported that he must either reinforce the
loyalist militia in North Carolina, allow them flee or lose them. So
Cornwallis decided to take bold action by moving in force to Camden and
reinforcing Rawdon. Since his main supply depot was at Camden, Cornwallis
could use that base to arm the loyalists and move against the rebels.
Throughout history, and in virtually every civilized nation, there have been
those who objected to serving in any kind of military organization because of
religious convictions. America attracted more than its share because the colonies
became the refuge to various religious dissenters from all over Europe. Pacifism
was not in fashion in any European nation during the period of colonization
because this was an age of incessant warfare among all the major, and some minor,
nations of Europe. Most European nations were so delighted in finding an easy
way to rid themselves of these often wildly dissident, although usually peaceful,
groups that they often assisted them in emigrating. Most nations regarded their
causes as blessed by God, especially when the clash was between Protestant
nations like Great Britain and Roman Catholic ones like Spain and France. The
authorities believed that one did God's work by fighting not by refusing to bear
arms. If a war was truly holy it was the Devil's work to be a pacifist. Kings alone
cannot be blamed because the churches often agreed and worked in close support
of the political authorities in waging holy wars. Since medieval times and the
crusades many clerics as well as laity had believed that to die in a holy war
guaranteed immediate remission of sin and entrance into heaven. Refusal to serve
in a just war for a godly cause was more than sufficient reason to draw grave
disapproval, even ostracism, from the body politic.(506)
In an attempt to attract Calvinist religious dissenters from Central Europe
to settle in its colonies Great Britain had adopted legislation "exempting the
Moravians, or congregations of the Unitas Fraternum in America, from Military
Duties . . . ."(507) The specific legal exemption was extended by custom and usage
to members of the Society of Friends (Quakers),(508) Dunkards, Mennonites, certain
members of the Brethren, Jews and others. Although the question of religious and
moral conscientious exemption from military service was more than occasionally
debated in colonial legislatures, the general principle was universally upheld and
Many of the colonists rejected the arguments made by those who
determined that the founder of the Christian religion rejected war. Perhaps because
a religious and moral issue was involved, and because it was clearly within their
area of expertise and responsibility, ministers entered the debate on pacifism and
conscientious objection. Few agreed with the position and conclusions of the
Society of Friends, Moravians and other pacifists. Most condemned the pacifist
rhetoric strongly and without hesitation or reservation. According to Nathaniel
Appleton of Massachusetts Bay, war "is an affair with the Prince and the Council
of a Nation; and the Soldier is to presume that the Government have good Reasons
to justify their proclaiming and engaging in a war."(509) Cotton Mather, one of the
Puritan's most important theologians, argued that, "Men have their Lives, Liberties,
Properties, which the very light of Nature teaches them to maintain by stronger
arms against all Foreign Injuries. Christianity never instructed men to lay down
that Natural Principle of Self-Preservation."(510) In 1776, Reverend John Cushing
argued that all able-bodied men must bear arms in God's causes so that "her will
build up Zion -- that he will avenge the innocent blood of our brethren, inhumanly
shed . . . that he will render vengeance to his and our adversaries -- and one day
restore tranquility to our county. . . . I am convinced that it is a privilege that Christ
hath allowed to mankind, to defend and preserve their religion and liberties by
arms."(511) Reverend Richard Price wrote that all men must be "vigilant, ready to
take alarms and determined to resist abuses . . . to defend our country against
foreign enemies . . . and in such circumstances to die for our country."(512) Reverend
Peter Thatcher wrote that it is folly
which a people discover, and the danger to which they expose themselves, when they live
in a state of security, unprepared to resist an invasion or defend themselves against the
attacks of an enemy. But how are we to defend ourselves when our country is invaded, and
we are threatened by the loss of every thing we hold dear, by the violence and fury of an
enemy? By declaring with the Quaker, that we may not resist any force which may come
against us, because our holy religion forbids us to fight? . . . Shall we send the ministers of
religion to meet an army of invaders, and to tell them that they are not doing as they would
have done by; that they act inconsistently with the religion of Christ, and that God will
punish them for their injustice? . . . Am I obliged to deliver my purse to a highwayman, or
my life to a murderer, when I am able to defend myself? Does the religion of Christ enjoin
its votaries to submit to the violence of the first ruffian nation which will attack them; and
to give up their liberty, and the liberty of their children, to those who would make them
"hewers of wood and drawers of water?"(513)
And Reverend Peter Case argued that the
objection which is so much relied upon by Quakers and those [others] who disown all use
of war and arms, in any case whatsoever, will not conclude that Christ's kingdom is not to
be defended and preserved by resistance of all such who would impiously and sacrilegiously
spoil us of it in this world, because it is not of this world, for then all would be obliged to
suffer it to be run down by slaves of hell and satan and antichrist's vassals. . . . Hence that
old saying may be vindicated, prayers and tears are the arms of the church. I grant they are
so, the only best prevailing arms, and without which all others would be ineffectual, and that
they [are] spiritual arms of the church. . . . but the members thereof are also men, and as men
they may use the same weapons as others do.(514)
The advocates of non-violence and non-intervention often clashed with
the law and with militia officers, but nearly all remained adamant about their
conscientious objection to war. In September 1675 Captain Thomas Townsend of
New York lodged a complaint with the governor about members of the Society of
Friends in Oyster Bay about the refusal of Quakers to accept militia duty. "Many
of ye Inhabitants there being Quakers & refusing to beare arms, they are also
disabled from keeping a strong watch as is required." Others complained that they
ought not to have to serve in the militia or be required to keep watch. The
Governor, while sympathetic to Townsend's position, upheld the right of the
Friends to avoid military service of any kind, respecting their religious objections
to military service.(515)
In April 1707 the Lord Proprietor of Maryland ordered that members of
the Society of Friends be exempted from actual military service. They were
required to contribute liberally to the support of the militia.(516)
In North Carolina most pacifists were Moravians, most of whom had
moved there from Pennsylvania. Like members of the Society of Friends,
Moravians were known to be scrupulously opposed to war. Nonetheless, they were
enrolled in the militia, but were placed in special companies and given principally
non-combattant duties, such as care of ill, wounded and dead militiamen and
foraging and commissary duties. They were liable to bear arms in emergencies.
If they refused they were fined £10. By 1680 Moravian and other Calvinist
religious dissenters had begun to move into the Carolinas. They were as opposed
to military service as their Quaker brethren in Pennsylvania, and in 1681, decided
they had sufficient strength and support to oppose reenactment of the North
Carolina militia law. As a period history of the colony said, they "chose members
[of the legislature] to oppose whatsoever the Governor requested, insomuch as they
would not settle the Militia Act" evewn though "their own security in a natural way
depended upon it."(517) Another contemporary history confirmed that the dissenters
were "now so strong among the common people that they chose members to oppose
. . . whatsoever the Governor proposed [especially] the Militia Law."(518) By 1770
conscientious objectors were wholly exempted from militia service, except in case
of grave emergencies. The province did allow exemptions from all militia service
for most Protestant clergy. At first, only priests of the Established Church were
exempted. Later, with the influx of Scots, the exemption was extended to
Presbyterian ministers. Finally, on the eve of the Revolution, the exemption was
extended to virtually all clergy of recognized and established churches.(519) In April
1776 the North Carolina Provincial Congress
Resolved that as there are a number of persons called Quakers, Moravians and Dunkards,
who conscientiously scruple bearing arms, and as such have no occasion for Fire-Arms, that
they be informed that it is the sense and confident expectation of this Congress that they will
dispose of their Fire-Arms to the said Commissioners, they receiving full value thereof; but
that no compulsion be exercised to induce them to that duty.(520)
South Carolina exempted conscientious objectors only if they paid the
usual fines for non-attendance. Failure to pay such fines could result in seizure of
property or imprisonment in a debtor's prison.(521)
Rhode Island, in planning for its revitalized militia in December 1754,
recommended that the legislation be drafted, "particularly so as not to oblige any
persons to bear Arms who are or may be conscientiously scrupulous against it."(522)
Pennsylvania was founded on pacifist Quaker principles and, by creed, the
sect conscientiously opposed all use of firearms against their fellow human
beings.(523) However, some Quakers were willing to allow for a military-police force
to stop the illicit rum trade among the Amerindian tribes because of the terrible
damage liquor did to the natives.(524) Early in the colony's history there were no less
than a dozen offenses which were punishable by death, including riotiuous
assembly,(525) an act usually suppressed by militia or other military force. They
opposed enactment of any militia law. Soon after the colony was founded the Duke
of York and the Stuart monarchy superimposed such a law. As we have seen,
above, the Friends were highly successful in resisting the enactment of subsequent
militia acts until mid-eighteenth century. When it first debated a militia law the
in the Year 1742 . . . exempted from military service all members of the Society of Friends
(Quakers). This was a special exemption granted by the colony. Neither the Charter of
Privileges, or any laws then existing, gave them such Right of Exemption from Military
Service, and that it was observed that the Proprietor was no more obliged to be at the
Expence of defending them in Case of Emergency than the Governors of other Colonies.(526)
When the militia law was finally adopted in Pennsylvania it made quite
adequate provision for conscientious objectors. One interesting point made in the
law was the claim that Parliament had mandated exemption of Moravians, or
Unitas Fratrum, although this specific exemption is not found in the militia law of
other colonies. North Carolina had a substantial Moravian community, and there
is no evidence that its members were mustered in that colony, or later, in the state,
but the North Carolina militia law made no specific reference to them of the act of
Parliament. "And for as much as the Parliament of Great Britain has thought fit to
exempt the Church or Congregation called Unitas Fratrum or United Brethren
from bearing Arms, or personally serving in any Military Capacity upon their
paying a reasonable Equivalent or Compensation for such Service."
There are divers other religious Societies of Christians in this Province, whose Conscientious
Persuasions are against bearing Arms, who are nevertheless willing and desirous to promote
the Public Peace and Safety: Therefore be it enacted by the authority aforesaid. That the
Captain of the Company of each District in every County of this Province shall within Six
Months after he receives his Commission, cause his Clerk to make out a fair Duplicate or
true Copy of the Return made by the Constable and his Assistant, of each Township of his
District which was delivered him by the Sheriff, marking thereon every Persons name that
is on his Muster-Roll and also distinguishing those so who belong to such religious Societies
whose conscientious Principles are against bearing Arms; which said Duplicate or Copy of
Constable's Returns, after so marked and distinguished, the said Captain shall deliver or
cause to be delivered to the Commissioners of his County, chosen by Virtue of the Act for
raising County Rates and Levies: And the said Commissioners of each County of this
Province, within. Twenty Days after the Receipt of the Duplicates aforesaid, shall meet
together and cause their Clerks to make out fair Duplicates of the Names and Sir Names of
all and every Person. . . . Persons in each District or Division, [are to be] marked and
distinguished as aforesaid to belong to such Religious Societies, whose Principles are against
Although Pennsylvania exempted all religious dissenters from bearing
arms in the militia, nonetheless it made an effort to recruit them into non-combattant duties in times of invasion or insurrection. The law noted specific
functions that the legislators believed that the pacifists could engage in without
violating their religious convictions.
Whereas there are in this Province a great number of Persons of different religious
Persuasions, who conscientiously scruple to bear Arms, and yet in Time of Invasion and
Danger would freely perform sundry Services equally necessary and advantageous to the
Public, Therefore be it provided and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all Quakers,
Menonists, Moravians, and other conscientiously scrupulous of bearing Arms, who shall
appear on any Alarm with the Militia, though without Arms, and be ready to obey the
Commands of the Officers in the following Particulars, that is to say, in extinguishing Fires
in any City or Township, whether kindled by the enemy from without, or by traitorous
Inhabitants within; in suppressing Insurrections of Slaves or other evil minded Persons
during an attack; in carrying off and taking Care of the Wounded; in conveying Intelligence
as Expresses or Messengers; in carrying Refreshments to such as are on Duty, and in
conveying away to such Places of Safety as the Commanding Officer shall ap point, the
Women and Children, aged, infirm and wounded, with the Effects that are in Danger of
falling into the Hands of the Enemy; Such Persons so appearing on any Alarm, and
performing the Services aforesaid; when required, shall, and they are hereby declared to be
free and exempt from the Penalties of this Act, inflicted on Persons refusing to appear under
Arms on such Occasions.(528)
During the Seven Years War it was the Moravians not the Society of
Friends that came under scrutiny in New Jersey. In a letter to Lieutenant-governor
Pownall, Governor Belcher wrote, "it appears to me the People called Moravians
are as Snakes in the Grass and Enemies to King George and His Subjects." He
decided to disarm them. "I shall give immediate orders that all Arms and
Ammunition among the Moravians in this Province be seized and kept in safe
New Jersey also contained a significant Quaker minority so the first state
convention allowed conscientious objectors to avoid militia duty provided only that
they paid a fee of four shillings per month. There was no clear religious test for
conscientious objectors, as in many colonies which stipulated regular attendance
in one a limited number of specified sects which firmly held that all wars were evil.
Because of the failure to limit religious exemptions the number of eligible men in
the militia was substantially reduced.(530) In August the Provincial Congress made
specific reference to the Society of Friends, suggesting that contribute liberally to
the relief of their "distressed brethren." It took note of their "peculiar religious
principles" and suggested that generous contributions would be in keeping with
their charitable sentiments.(531) By October 1775 the law required that those
exempted for religious reasons had to pay the cost of maintaining an enlisted man,
40 shillings per month.(532) As Governor William Livingston came under increasing
pressure to increase participation in the state militia, he responded as if the
criticism was aimed at the exclusion of religious objectors. In a letter to General
Israel Putnam, Livingston wrote that he would defend their right of conscience.(533)
As we shall see in a later volume, on 25 November 1755 the Pennsylvania
Assembly finally passed its first militia law in more than a hundred years. The
Society of Friends (Quakers) had opposed any sort of military action. Much
pressure was brought to bear on the Assembly by frontiersmen. The latter group
had brought to, and dropped off at, the Friends' Meeting Houses the bodies of
settlers massacred and mutilated by the Amerindians. The law passed the
legislature almost immediately after the Friends announced their intention to
abstain from voting.(534) They found an ally in Benjamin Franklin who argued the
Friends' case. Let those who wish to bear arms do so; let those who are
conscientiously opposed to war be exempted from bearing arms. The Friends,
condemn the Use of Arms in others, yet are principled against bearing Arms themselves; and
to make any Law to compel them thereto against their Consciences would not only be to
violate a Fundamental in our Constitution but would also in Effect be to commence
Persecution against all that Part of the Inhabitants of the Province . . . . [A]ny Law to compel
others to bear Arms and exempt themselves would be inconsistent and partial . . . . [G]reat
Numbers of People of other religious Denominations are come among us who are under no
such Restraint, some of whom have been disciplined in the Art of war, and conscientiously
think it their Duty to fight in Defense of their Country, their Wives, their Families and
Estates, and have an equal Right to Liberty of Conscience with others . . . . [Those who are
willing to bear arms] are willing to defend themselves and their Country, and [are] desirous
of being formed into Regular Bodies for that Purpose, instructed and disciplined under
proper Officers . . . .(535)
While religious dissenters such as members of the Society of Friends had
long been exempted from actual service as soldiers, their role in secondary
positions remained a topic of debate. Should religious dissenters serve in hospitals
and as paramedics? Should they supply the troops with food, clothing and forage?
The Pennsylvania Council of Safety on 7 July 1775 resolved that,
As there are some people who, from religious principles, cannot bear arms in any case, the
Congress intended no violence to their Consciences, but earnestly recommend it to them to
contribute liberally in the time of universal calamity, to the relief of their Distressed
Brethren in the several Colonies, and do all other services to their oppressed country, which
they can do consistently with their religious principles.(536)
The members of the Society of Friends were not the only pacifist religious
persons in Pennsylvania. The Mennonites, Dunkards and many of the Moravians,
Brethren in Christ, refused to carry arms based on religious teachings of their
communities. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, problems arose as early as the
spring of 1775. Some Mennonites and other pacifists were accused of paying
bribes to the Committee of Safety, in amounts as large as £1500, to avoid militia
duty. The Lancaster Committee of Safety denied the charge of bribery and tried to
satisfy both sides. It ended pleasing neither. Most pacifists refused to take the oath
of loyalty after independence was proclaimed, citing a general obligation to avoid
the taking of oaths, or a religious scruple against swearing or affirming loyalty to
any earthly kingdom, regardless of its good intentions and design. Non-associators
were generally held to be disguised Tories and were treated with disdain and even
open hostility by their patriot neighbors.(537)
The province of Pennsylvania on 25 November 1775 enacted a tax of
£2/10/0 on non-associators who failed to attend militia muster. The tax applied to
all those who were unwilling to bear arms for the province, whether motivated by
political opposition to the impending struggle with Great Britain or by religion.
The tax was to be levied each time a man missed a drill.(538) However, if the non-associator had a change of conviction and decided to attend a drill as a militiaman
he was to receive a refund of two shillings for each drill attended.(539) The impact
of the law was felt most heavily by the religious dissenters.
Most Friends and Mennonites in America lived in Pennsylvania. No state
legislation specifically named these or any other pacifistic sect, but the Friends and
Mennonites thought themselves singled out for special consideration. They
objected strongly, protested visibly and refused to pay the tax.(540) They had no
intention of supporting defense efforts irrespective of the form that support might
take.(541) The Pennsylvania Assembly on 5 April 1776 responded by increasing the
non-associator's tax to £3/10/0, while also increasing the allowance for attending
a drill to three shillings.(542)
In August 1776 the Philadelphia Committee of Safety prepared a loyalty
oath of 32 "Articles of Association in Pennsylvania," and ordered all militiamen to
subscribe to it. Thirty companies of Philadelphia refused to sign. In response to
the repeated demand for their signatures by their officers, the men drew up a
petition of grievances. They elected a spokesman, James Cannon, professor of
mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania, to state their objections. Simply
stated, the privates' association argued that all citizens should contribute equally to
maintenance of liberty. All male inhabitants between the ages of 16 and 50 must
immediately be enlisted into the militia. They provided exemptions only for the
disabled and clergy and, perhaps, elected officials.(543) They objected to the
exclusion of those opposed to war on religious grounds because they who took no
risks profited from the risk-taking of those who did serve. If the patriots won the
pacifists would gain enormous profits, some from supplying food and forage
during the war, and if the patriots lost the Quakers would remain in the good graces
of England because they had not been belligerents.(544) Those who refused to bear
arms in defense of the new nation must pay a penalty for their pacifism. Any
exclusion of pacifists must make adequate provision for the "Dangers, Loss of
Time and Expence incurred" by those who did defend the nation. Sensing a strong
sentiment among so many enlisted men several county Committees of Safety
concurred in the sentiment and argued against the exclusion of so many men from
the ranks of the associators.(545)
The Quakers, placed on the defensive, struck back with legal arguments.
They had been exempted from military service for over a hundred years by terms
of Penn's Charter and by laws of the provincial legislature. Their position, they
argued, was known to all men of good will. Their religion taught that they could
not "bear Arms, nor be concerned in warlike Preparations, either by personal
Service, or by paying Fines, Penalties or Assessments, imposed in Consideration
of our Exemption from such Services." They had come to Pennsylvania, they
argued, precisely to avoid such persecution as the patriots now wished to impose
on them, and that forcing one to do those things that were opposed to his principles
were violations of the law of nations and God's law.(546) In the autumn of 1776 the
tax was again increased. Every non-associator between the ages of 16 and 50 was
subjected to a tax of £1 each month that he failed to attend muster. Additionally,
property owners over the age of 21 were subjected to a tax of four shillings per
pound of assessed property valuation.(547) On 25 November 1776 the legislature
passed new legislation which required registration of all able-bodied males, ages
16 to 50. The listing was to be submitted to both the county Committees of Safety
and the provisional legislature. All who failed to register would be subject to a fine
of £2/1/0. By October 1779 the failure to register subjected a pacifist to a fine of
£100 to £1000.(548)
In the summer of 1777 Pennsylvania called a constitutional convention.
Among its many concerns was provision for the state militia. It resolved that all
able-bodied men between 16 and 50 were to be enlisted in the militia. All who
refused to be inducted into the militia were to be disarmed as well as fined. The
legislature was empowered to punish all non-associators who showed the slightest
inclination to support the enemy. Their property could be confiscated, they might
be imprisoned or even executed and their estates placed at public vendue. In
August 1777 the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia received word that about 200
German religious dissenters, probably Dunkards, had organized in opposition to the
militia fines. In an odd display of violence, they reportedly threatened to kill
anyone who attempted to enlist them, collect a militia fine or make them muster.(549)
In May 1779 the Philadelphia militia demanded that the state assembly either
confiscate a portion of the estates of non-associators or "leave it to the Militia . .
. to Compell every able Bodied Man to join them." Those who had given their
lives, they argued, "at least in the humbler grades, had as yet earned nothing, but
poverty and contempt; while their wiser fellow citizens who attended to their
interests, were men of mark and consideration."(550) Throughout the summer of 1779
the militiamen complained of high prices of all basic commodities, blaming the
merchants who were non-associators.(551) The militia threatened "our drum shall
beat to arms" if these wartime profiteers were not forced to bear their fair share.(552)
General Washington, writing from Valley Forge on 19 January 1778,
complained to the pacifists, "From the quantity of raw materials and the number of
workmen among your people, who being principally against arms, remain at home,
and manufacture, I should suppose you had more in your Power to cover [cloathe]
your Troops well than any other state."(553)
The patriots in Pennsylvania treated conscientious objectors badly on
occasion. Outspoken Christopher Saur, Jr. (1721-1784), bishop of the pacifist
German Baptist Brethren ["Dunkards"], opposed the war in his newspaper,
Pennsylvanische Staatsbote, and in open debate. He complained in the summer of
1777 that patriot militiamen had stripped him naked, painted him with red and
black oil, and cut his hair and beard.(554)
John Roberts was a gunpowder maker, 1776-78, in Lower Merion
Township, Philadelphia County. In February 1776 George Lösch reported that he
was operating the gunpowder mill owned by John Roberts, about 10 miles from
Philadelphia. In July 1778 there was an explosion of about 150 pounds of
gunpowder, injuring no one, but demolishing the building. In August Richard Sill
was trying to clean the mortars with a chisel and sixty pounds of gunpowder
exploded killing Sill and blowing the roof off the building. In 1779 the powder
mill was operated by John's son Thomas.(555) Despite this service to his nation, in
a time of grave need for gunpowder, in September 1778 Roberts, listed then in
official proceedings as a miller, and a carpenter named Abraham Carlisle, were
convicted of treason for assisting British General Howe during the occupation of
Philadelphia. Roberts at this time was almost 60 years old and had nine children.
Both Roberts and Carlisle were Quakers and neither had betrayed military or state
secrets or borne arms against the patriots. Technically, Roberts had violated
Quaker principles by engaging in the very dangerous occupation of making
gunpowder, or at least, in allowing munitions of war to be made on his property.
Roberts' crime was evidently only that he had assisted in finding forage for the
British army's horses. Both men gathered the signatures of many reputable citizens,
including patriots and clergy, attesting to their high moral characters. The men
might have escaped punishment had they withdrawn with Howe's army, as many
others had done. The Committee of Safety refused to consider any petition and
both were hanged on 4 November 1778.(556)
Quakers were ambivalent toward the American cause and undecided what
they must do to remain true to their religion while generally supporting
Up to the commencement of the Revolutionary War, the Society of Friends had maintained
a controlling influence over public affairs in Pennsylvania. . . . Many members of the Society
warmly espoused the American side of the question. An armed resistance against the
tyrannical measures of the mother country had but few advocates in the beginning . . . . The
Society of Friends, having maintained a testimony against war and bloodshed, it was not to
be supposed that its members would advocate a policy . . . certain to produce this result.
When it became necessary to resort to "carnal weapons" the Quakers who had before been
active, withdrew from the controversy, and a very large majority of the Society assumed and
maintained a position of passive neutrality throughout the war. Still there was a considerable
number who openly advocated a resort to arms . . . . [in Delaware County, Pennsylvania] 110
young men were disowned by the Society for having entered military service . . . . its
proportion of Tories was greatly exaggerated.(557)
Members of the Society of Friends and other religious objectors had only
been exempted relatively late from military service in Virginia. An amendment
passed in 1766 exempted Quakers from serving in the militia under the act of 1757.
The 1766 act renewed the list of those exempted from militia, adding physicians
and surgeons, Quakers and other religious dissenters, tobacco inspectors at public
warehouses, acting judges and justices of the peace. Quakers were not required to
buy a complete set of arms for public use, although the others exempted came
under that obligation. Quakers had to present a certificate from their meeting
houses certifying their membership, and if a Quaker was excommunicated or left
the sect, he immediately became liable to militia service. In times of emergency
Quakers were required either to muster or to purchase the services of a substitute,
on the penalty of £10.(558)
On 17 July 1775 the Third Virginia Convention excluded "all Quakers and
the people called Mononists [Mennonites]" from "serving in the militia, agreeable
to the several acts of the General Assembly of this colony, made for their relief and
indulgence in this respect."(559) The measure proved to be unpopular. On 19 June
1776 the Committee of Safety of Frederick County sent a memorial to the Fifth
Virginia Convention setting forth its objections. Why, the petition asked, would
it not be fair and equitable to allow any man to avoid militia service by claiming he
was a conscientious objector? Why should the legislature not allow any man to pay
a small fee and escape risking his life in militia service?
[We] beg leave to represent the injustice of subjecting one part of the Community to the
whole burthen of Government while others equally share the benefits of it that they humbly
suggest that if in lieu of bearing Arms at general and private Musters the said Quakers and
Menonists were subjected to the payment of a certain sum to be annually assessed by the
County Courts and in case the Militia should be called into actual Service they should be
draughted in the same proportion as the Militia of the County and on their refusal to serve
or provide able bodied men to serve in their places respectively that they were liable to the
same fines as other Militia men in like cases are subject.(560)
When Congress passed the national militia registration law on 28 October
1775, it provided that, "such persons only [are to be] excepted whose religious
principles will not suffer them to bear arms, who are hereby particularly exempted
therefrom."(561) The Continental Congress advised the states that "individual
religious scruples be respected."(562) The Congress had no power to implement these
Catholics were expressly forbidden to keep and bear arms in both
Pennsylvania and Maryland. They were not granted exemptions from appearing
at musters merely because they could not possess arms. There is a certain irony in
the prohibition in Maryland because it was founded as a haven for Catholics. The
Pennsylvania Militia Act of 1757 provided,
Whereas all Papists and reputed Papists are hereby exempted from attending and performing
the Military Duties enjoined by this Act on the Days and Times appointed for the same. And
nevertheless will partake of and enjoy the Benefit, Advantage and Protection thereof, Be it
therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every male Papist or reputed Papist,
between the age of Seventeen and Fifty five Years, within the several Districts or Divisions
so to be made by the Sheriff of each County within this Province, shall and they are hereby
enjoined & required to pay on Demand to the Captain of the Company of the District in
which he resides, the Sum of Twenty Shillings to be recovered of him. in case of his Neglect
or Refusal, in the same manner as the Fines and Forfeitures of the Persons enrolled in the
Militia, are hereby directed to be recovered, and applied to the same Purposes as the said
Fines and Forfeitures are directed by this Act to be, applied. And that the Parents of every
such Male reputed Papist, above Seventeen Years of Age, and under Twenty-one, shall pay
the said sum of Twenty Shillings for every such Minor under the Age last aforesaid.(563)
On 6 April 1776 the Continental Congress debated legislation dealing with
"non-associators." The speakers distinguished between those who had refused to
bear arms on account of their religious beliefs and those who had simply refused
to associate with the new nation. Congress voted to disarm all non-associators
other than religious dissenters. "Resolved, that it be earnestly recommended by this
House to all well affected Non-Associators who are possessed of arms, to deliver
them to Collectors . . . as they regard the freedom, safety and prosperity of their
The exemption of conscientious objectors who were members of known
religious sects that were opposed to war carried over to the constitutional period.
When, on 8 June 1789, James Madison introduced a series of amendments to the
new national Constitution, his article providing for the right to keep and bear arms
provided that "no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled
to render military service in person." Elbridge Gerry objected, not to exempting
religious objectors, but to the language of the proposal which might be interpreted
so as to deny arms to religious minorities.(565)
The New York Constitution exempted Quakers from bearing arms, but
required them to make monetary donations in lieu of actual service. However, it
made no provision to exempt other persons who were conscientiously opposed to
military service.(566) The New Hampshire Constitution of 1784 provided exemptions
from military service for those who, by reasons of conscience and religion, were
opposed to bearing arms. Conscientious objectors, however, had to bear the costs
of hiring replacements.(567)
The Continental Militia
The idea of some sort of national militia, or at least national control over
the provincial militias, had been advanced in the several early plans for military
alliance or union discussed at length, above. Especially after Braddock's defeat,
and as the colonies approached armed rebellion to establish their independence,
American leaders from all over emphasized the traditional role of the militia as the
primary defense of the nation. Moreover, it was the one and only military
institution which exemplified a virtuous citizenry. A vigorous militia proved the
virtue of the sturdy American agrarian yeomen, whether rural farmer or urban
tradesmen. Such a sturdy and virtuous force could carry any war against any
opposition, the best standing armies included.(568)
During the Revolution, the United States had 395,858 men enlisted in its
armed forces, of which 164,087 were militia. At no point did the British army ever
have more than 42,000 troops stationed in its former colonies. The role of the
national government in establishing and maintaining some sort of citizen militia or
formal reservoir of trained manpower was, at this point, absolutely minimal.
Several authorities have pointed out that the primary role played by militia
lay in securing land and population, denying them to the oncoming British and
Tory forces. They have also noted that the Revolution, in effect, was won before
it had begun because its leaders, with the assistance of the militia, had secured
control of the instruments of coercion and authority. These leaders controlled the
militia which acted as agents of government, to a degree as posse comitas, to
maintain that vital political control throughout the entire war.(569)
On 23 March 1775 the Continental Congress debated the use of the
militia. It resolved,
That a well regulated Militia, composed of Gentlemen and Yeomen, is the natural strength
and only security of a free Government; that such a militia . . . would forever render it
unnecessary for the Mother Country to keep among us, for the purpose of our defence, any
Standing Army of mercenary forces, always subversive of the quiet, and dangerous to the
liberties of the people, and would obviate the pretext of taxing us for their support. That the
establishment of such a Militia is at this time peculiarly necessary, by the state of our laws
for the protection and defence of the Country . . . .(570)
The Continental Congress discussed at length the difference between the
militia and a standing army. Its conclusion and observation reads as follows.
And here lies the distinction between the Militia-men and Regulars: the former, at the hazard
of their lives, are to execute no unjust, unnatural, unconstitutional orders; the latter, even at
the peril of their lives, must implicitly and unhesitatingly obey every order they receive from
their commanding officers, even if it were to lay the whole City of London in ashes this very
moment, or to rip open the bowels of every pregnant woman in the Kingdom, their own
Mothers not excepted.(571)
The twelve other colonies reacted to the confrontation between patriots
and British soldiers in Massachusetts by mobilizing their own citizen-soldiers. A
correspondent from South Carolina wrote to his friend in London, discussing
events of the time, military preparations and American morale.
In consequence of the action of the 19th ult. (so disgraceful to the King's troops) the
Provincial Congress immediately voted a standing army of 30,000 men, of which 12,800 are
to be of the province of Massachusetts, the rest from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and
Rhode Island; and have appointed General Ward Commander in Chief; Major General
Putnam, of Connecticut, was ready with 6,000 troops, and it was supposed would be the
second in command. Sixty thousand men were in arms at Cambridge, and the Congress sent
word to all the inhabitants of the sea ports to remove immediately, or expect no protection.
The town of Boston capitulated to lay down their arms, and march out on the 25th. They
have accordingly laid down 2,500 stand, and no injury had been done to the inhabitants.
The resolution was, to attack the town and castle on the 29th, in confidence that they should
carry it. The General was removing his best effects out of the town; and when the Tories
resorted to him, to know where they were to be protected, if he surrendered the town, he only
d--- them a parcel of vermin, who had abused him in the representations of those people.
The mode proposed to advance to the fortifications, by General Putnam, was by fascines
made of hay, pressed into bundles, and pushed forward upon jacks. Three days after the
engagement two of General Gage's most able engineers deserted and came over to the
Congress. Lord Percy said at table, he never saw anything equal to the intrepidity of the
New England minute men. Marblehead was blocked up by a man of war, and Capt. Allen
(who brought us the above intelligence in 13 days) was chased out to sea when he left Salem.
In short (he says) nothing could equal the spirit and firmness of the province. I am afraid
before this day thousands may be slain on both sides. We do not fear all the force that can
be sent against us, for we have a just cause in hand, and no doubt but we shall meet
protection in a merciful God. . . . Our companies of artillery, grenadiers, light infantry, light
horse, militia, and watch are daily improving themselves in the military art. We were pretty
expert before, but are now almost equal to any soldiers the King has. It is talked of raising
a company of Split Shirts immediately.(572)
The Second Continental Congress on 14 June 1775 voted to raise ten rifle
companies: six from Pennsylvania, two from Maryland and two from Virginia.(573)
These men were armed with rifled guns of their own, in various calibers and sizes.
In the period of the American Revolution the musket was the military weapon. It
was unrifled in the gun barrel, thus somewhat inaccurate beyond fifty yards, and
suitable for mounting with a bayonet. Only the state or colony owned muskets.
Unrifled arms used by civilians in their own homes were called fowling pieces, a
sort of single barrel shotgun; or "smooth rifles," a translation of the German term,
meaning that the gun was configured as a rifle, but with large, unrifled bore. John
Adams showed the lack of knowledge of rifled arms that we might expect of a city
dweller. He was amazed at the accomplishments of the frontiersmen. He wrote,
They have voted ten companies of riflemen to be sent from Pennsylvania, Maryland and
Virginia, to join the army before Boston. These are an excellent species of light infantry.
They use a peculiar kind of musket, called a rifle. It has a circular . . . grooves within the
barrel, and carries a ball with great exactness to great distance. They are the most accurate
marksmen in the world.(574)
Leaving no doubt as to the cause of the conflict between the colonies and
the mother nation, on 6 July 1775 representatives from Massachusetts introduced
to the Continental Congress a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson and John
Dickinson, the "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms." The
document described how General Gage's troops disarmed the compliant citizen-soldiers of Boston.
The inhabitants of Boston being confined within that town by the general their governor, and
having, in order to procure their dismission, entered into a treaty with him, it was stipulated
that the said inhabitants having deposited their arms with their own magistrates, should have
liberty depart, taking with them their other effects. They accordingly delivered up their
arms, but in open violation of honour, in defiance of the obligation of treaties, which even
savage nations esteemed sacred, the governor ordered the arms deposited as aforesaid, that
they might be preserved for their owners, to be seized by a body of soldiers; detained the
greatest part of the inhabitants of the town, and compelled the few who were permitted to
retire, to leave their most valuable effects behind. By this perfidy wives are separated from
their husbands, children from their parents, and the aged and sick from their relations and
friends, who wish to attend and comfort them, and those who have been used to live in
plenty and even elegance, are reduced to deplorable distress.(575)
On 26 October 1775 the Continental Congress "recommended to the
Several Provincial Assemblies" that they export to the West Indies and elsewhere
"produce except horned Cattle, Sheep, Hogs and Poultry" so that they might
exchange or sell these items to obtain arms and ammunition wherewith to arm their
own militias and men of the Continental Line.(576) On 28 October 1775 the Congress
passed a national militia law. That law directed,
That each and every Captain in the Colonies within 10 days after the publication hereof shall
make out a list of all persons residing in his District capable of bearing Arms, between the
ages of 16 and 50 years, . . . to enroll themselves by signing a Muster Roll . . . . And it is
further Resolved, That every person directed to be enrolled as above shall, at his place of
abode, be also provided with one pound of Powder and three pounds of Bullets of proper
size to his Musket or Firelock . . . [and] to furnish himself with a good Musket or Firelock,
and Bayonet, Sword or Tomahawk, a steel Ramrod, Worm, Priming Wire and Brush fitted
thereto, a Cartouch Box to contain 23 rounds of Cartridges . . . under the forfeiture of two
Shillings for the want of a Musket or Firelock . . . .(577)
The Continental Congress recommended that the states recruit all free,
white American citizens between the ages of sixteen and sixty years into their
militia units.(578) It suggested that states not enlist apprentices or indentured servants
without the consent of masters. It also suggested that no man under 5'5" tall or
over age 50 be recruited or drafted from the militias.(579) Few states used these
On 26 December 1775 the Continental Congress sent a circular letter to
the various state Councils of Safety, advising on policy on an unusual problem. It
had come to the attention of members of the Congress that men had sought to avoid
both militia service and draft or other induction from the militia into the
Continental Line by contracting debts and then failing to pay these debts so that
they were thrust into debtor's prison. Other men may have been imprisoned for
debts honestly contracted and unpaid because of circumstances beyond the control
of men who had no intent to deceive. It recommended that the states not imprison
any militiaman or soldier for debts less than $35. It also suggested that the states
check prison and court records to ascertain what men might have already escaped
service in this manner and release, perhaps enlist or draft, them. "It has always
been found necessary in Time of War to regulate and restrain a Practice of such
pernicious Tendency." Congress thought that the practice of imprisoning men for
debts was most reprehensible, whether on the part of debtors or creditors, while
brave men were dying.(581)
By mid-1776 the Continental Congress had seen the folly of enlisting men
for short periods of time, the terms of draftees to expire in from 30 to 90 days. The
militiamen had insufficient time to drill and gain even minimal battle experience
before their time of enlistment had expired and they were replaced by an even more
inexperienced group of recruits and conscripts from state militias. While state
militias may have offered their best men in the first few drafts, the incentive, after
a time, was to send out the worst of their numbers. We must recall that the state
militias had great responsibilities to their own citizenry. The state militias were all
that stood between the generally unarmed civilians and invasions from both English
and Amerindian invasions and incursions. The state militias had to garrison
various fortified positions and actual forts, protect lines of transportation and
communication, guard the seacoast and maintain the seacoast watch, and protect
military stores and vital manufactories which supplied arms, munitions clothing,
food and other supplies. Although most states theoretically used a lottery system
to draft militiamen into the regular army, we may reason that the militia officers
and local political authorities had some input into the actual selections.
In June 1776, Congress, realizing that many urban militiamen were not
accustomed to the use of firearms, and were unlikely to hit a target, ordered the use
of multiple balls in the arms. Specifically, Washington suggested that "they load
for their first fire with one musket ball and four or eight buckshot, according to the
size and strength of their pieces."(582) Congress then ordered a quantity of buck-shot,
then called swan shot.
In early June 1776 Congress apportioned among the states the numbers
of men required to serve in the militia for defense of the nation. Congress ordered
six thousand of the militia, to reinforce the army in Canada, and keep up a
communication with that province. Massachusetts is requested to furnish of their
militia, for that purpose, four battalions, 3,000; Connecticut, two battalions, 1,500;
New Hampshire, one battalion, 750; New York, one battalion, 750. To reinforce
the army at New York, there are ordered of the militia, 13,800; Massachusetts is
requested to furnish thereof, 2,000; Connecticut is requested to furnish thereof,
5,500; New York is requested to furnish thereof, 3,000; New Jersey is requested
to furnish thereof, 3,300(583)
Soon after, Congress ordered a flying camp to be formed, to consist of ten
thousand militia, and to be furnished as follows: Pennsylvania, 6,000; Maryland,
3,400; Delaware government, 600. The Congress also empowered General
Washington to employ in Canada, Indians, 2,000(584)
On 15 September 1776 Richard Henry Lee wrote to Patrick Henry,
governor of Virginia, from Philadelphia, reporting on the disposition of the British
army. "The enemies' force is very considerable," he wrote, "being by best accounts
about 24,000 men, besides their Canada army, which is about 7000." As of the
date of his letter, Lee said that the American army consisted of only 13,000 men
under General Horatio Gates. Lee complained of the "large frequent desertions of
the militia" which had weakened Gates' force.(585) Soon after George Washington
lodged a similar complaint, noting that the militia "as soon as they are fairly fixed
in camp are impatient to return to their own homes." Moreover, Washington said,
the militia had "an utter disregard of all discipline and restraint among themselves"
and who were "too apt to infuse a like spirit in others."(586)
In September 1776 the Continental Congress voted to raise 86 battalions
of the Continental Line, with 726 men in each battalion, bringing the total
enlistment to about 63,000 men. Initially, the Congress ordered that men be
enlisted for the "duration of the war," but strong pressures and political realities
forced it, on 12 November 1776, to reduce the term to three years maximum
service. Congress assigned quotas to the states based upon state population, based
in large on militia enrollment lists. Massachusetts and Virginia were initially
assigned fifteen regiments, later increased to eighteen regiments. New Jersey and
New York had quotas of four regiments. Rhode Island had a quota of two, later
increased to three. Connecticut and New Hampshire were assigned three
regiments. Pennsylvania was to recruit a dozen; Delaware and Georgia, one;
Maryland, eight; North Carolina, nine; and South Carolina, six. Voluntary enlistments were rewarded with a bounty of £20 and an additional promise of 100 acres
of land upon completion of enlistment. The states were to clothe and equip their
men and they were given considerable latitude in selecting the color and style of
uniforms. States were expected to draft troops from their militia lists, in any way
they chose, if necessary to fill their quotas.(587) Virginia was so successful that it
quickly filled its quota and Governor Henry allowed John Wood, governor of
Georgia, to recruit men in Virginia to fill its quota.(588) Other states had more
difficulties, and by 1779, Virginia was having its problems with recruitment.
Congress and the states both came to realize the truth of General Washington's observation made to Virginia Governor Patrick Henry on 4 October 1776 that
voting regiments was a materially different thing from actually raising troops. He
wrote to the committees of safety on 22 December 1776, demanding
reinforcements to be allocated from the state militias. Washington pointed out that
"in less than ten days from this time, my army will be reduced to a few from
Virginia, and one Maryland regiment, Colonel Hand's, and the regiments lately
under Colonel Miles, all very thin."(589) By 1779 Congress had raised the bounty for
volunteers from £20 to $200.
The Continental Congress had begun to consider an instrument of
government as early as 7 June 1776, and on 15 November 1777 it had prepared a
draft which it sent to the states. Nine states had approved it by July 1778, although
it was not approved by all the states until 1 March 1781. One provision of the
Articles of Confederation dealt with the militia. It required that,
Every state shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed
and accoutred, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due
number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp
Throughout the nineteenth century European armies deployed in clear
lines, usually three deep, to maximize fire-power from the increasingly valuable
flint-lock musket which was best discharged in volleys. The lines remained tightly
packed in order to be able to ward off cavalry charges. In North America there
were far fewer cavalry units to be feared, so the densely-formed lines were not
required as they had been in Europe. In dense frontier areas troops which stood
shoulder to shoulder and threw unaimed volleys against invisible enemy fighting
from behind rocks and trees had little impact, but offered inviting targets. The
British army learned only slowly from Braddock's defeat, but the notable exception
to that lethargy was Sir William Howe. An advocate of light infantry tactics, he
had added a company of light infantry to every battalion. He also thought that lines
engaged in colonial warfare could be placed at least arm's length from one another
and lined only two deep.
At the beginning of the American Revolution opinion was divided
between those, like George Washington, who preferred to create a true,
professional army, and those, like Charles Lee, who preferred to retain a militia
system. In general, political power in the state governments lay with those who
were opposed to the creation of a standing army which, after the war, might be
equally dangerous to states' rights as to individual liberties. The states generally
adopted a paradoxical stance. On the one hand, they wished to have the national
government be responsible for as many bills and expenses as possible. On the
other hand, they did not wish to cede powers and prerogatives to the national
government, and most especially, remained throughout the war adamantly opposed
to granting to the national government any power to tax. They also opposed
granting too many powers to the national government, and among those powers
they denied to it, were especially the powers to draft state militiamen or call the
state militias into national service, appoint state militia officers, establish standards
for training of militia and provide for the use and disposition of the militia. Among
the most significant decisions Washington made during his long and distinguished
career was that which insisted on the creation of a European-style army. As one
[I]t is characteristic that Washington and the cautious men who shared military leadership
with him placed their principal military reliance not on a mass rising but on the hope of
building a professional army. . . . In the end he succeeded. His Continental Army did
become a force whose best units were comparable to the British regulars. . . . For years it was
Washington's maintenance of a body of Continental regulars that kept the Revolution
While the issue was not fully decided in favor of the standing army as the mainstay
of American defense until long after Washington was dead, the trained army was
created during the American Revolution.
Washington had little regard for the typical recruit from militia to the
army. On 20 July 1775 he wrote to his brother from Boston, "I came to this place
the second instant & found a numerous army of Provincials under very little
command, discipline, or order."(592) During the French and Indian War he found that
the militia conscripts were "loose, idle persons that are quite destitute of House and
home."(593) As early as 1775 Washington expressed his reservations about relying
on the militia during a war with Great Britain. He complained to Joseph Reed of
Pennsylvania, of "the dearth of public spirit and want of virtue . . . in this great
military arrangement." So troublesome was the militia that he told Reed, "Could I
have foreseen what I have, and am likely to experience, no consideration upon
earth should have induced me to accept this command."(594)
The inglorious retreat from Lexington and Concord, the Battle of Bunker
Hill, and like "victories" were only minor skirmishes for the British. They served
as morale boosters for the rebels, but Washington recognized that their primary
value was in including recruits to enlist in the colonial forces. These victories did
not produce the needed recruits and Washington lamented that without more men
"the game will be pretty well up."
Further, Washington knew that these successes would not be repeated,
unless the British made catastrophic mistakes. And even a series of such mistakes
would inevitably lead to change of command, better leadership and more precise
strategy. In the meanwhile, militia victories would lure the Continental Congress
into a false sense of security and given the militias undue prestige. These things
would tend to prolong the creation of a true army. As the war dragged on,
Washington would have more difficulty in maintaining his forces, for the militias
served ordinarily for brief periods of service of six months or so, and were
notorious for deserting in whole companies when the campaign was not going well.
Overall Washington thought the militia was a bad influence on his regular soldiers.
Charles Lee urged the patriot leaders to fight a wholly guerilla war. He
knew that the British regular army could occupy the seaboard cities at will and
there would be precious little he, Washington or anyone else could do about it. He
thought that the development of a sufficient professional army able to meet the
British army head on would, in the long run, become a power beyond the ability of
the legislature to control and potentially destructive of civil liberties. Had the
leaders chosen to withdraw to the impenetrable mountains they would been
yielding not only a large amount of territory and many people to the British army,
but would be granting to the British the political control of the both and also the
rich agricultural fields of the east. In any event Lee's proposal was impolitic and
had support from neither Congress nor Washington's staff.
General Horatio Gates was another voice among those who held the
militia in high esteem and willing to publicly dispute Washington on that point.
"washington would suffer greatly without their aid," Gates mused. Gates argued
that the best of men wished to escape permanent military service and were willing
to serve in the military only for short stretches of time and to achieve limited
purposes. They loathed garrison and frontier duty. They had too much to do
regarding their own businesses. Only the meanest derelicts and chronically,
although sometimes temporarily, unemployed sought enlistment in an army as a
means of earning money. Anyone who sincerely sought employment in a time of
war could find it as there was much to be done and few to do it. Gates did wish for
some additional militia discipline, but thought that militiamen merely needed
direction whereas soldiers in standing armies, because of their usual idleness and
lethargy, to say nothing of their inferior character, needed harsh discipline and
constant supervision from dedicated officers.(595)
Washington was quite correct in his assessment of the militia. As a
system of military organization the militia had always been tied to a professional
army. The medieval fyrd was necessarily related to the houscarl. The semi-trained
militia, the fyrd, had been called up exclusively for short periods of time, had been
allowed to return to their home in time for planting or harvesting, and enjoyed
considerable freedom and independence in battle. Only rarely were they used in
major and important service, and it was accepted strategy for an attacking army to
ferret out of the militia lines and then to launch a major attack there in hopes,
generally fulfilled, of causing an overall rout of the opposing forces. So unreliable
had the militias in Europe become that, by the end of the sixteenth century, they
had been wholly replaced by trained professional.
At a meeting of the Board of War, January 30, 1777, agreed to report to
Congress: "That the several Councils of Safety, Governors of legislatures of the
respective States take the most effectual steps to collect from the inhabitants not in
the actual service, all Continental arms, and give notice of the numbers they have
so collected to General Washington. That all Arms and Accoutrements belonging
to the U. S. shall be stamped and marked with the words UNITED STATES on the
barrels and locks and bayonets already made and those to be hereafter
manufactured in these States; and all arms or accoutrements so stamped or marked
shall be taken wherever found for the use of the States."
Not long after independence had been declared General George
Washington embarked on a campaign that he knew entailed risking total defeat. In
the summer and early fall of 1776 he lost one engagement after another. Possibly,
he was gambling on being defeated on paper, while being able to escape with
remnants of this tattered army. If that was indeed the case, British General William
Howe played directly into Washington's hands, for he failed completely to follow
up on his victories. Perhaps Washington read Howe's mind all too well. In the late
fall and winter 1776-77 Washington was able to salvage a few victories, sufficient,
at least, to stave off total defeatism in his army as they settled down for the winter.
This warning of probable defeat should we retain a fundamentally
untrained army of citizen-soldiers fell on partially deaf ears as the Congress was
quite willing, for the most part, to fight a war of attrition, hoping to grind the
British down to the point that a stalemate would bring recognition of our
independence. Besides, the French might intervene on our behalf, ensuring victory.
A year later the prospects for the criterion of a true army were as dismal as before
and Washington was managing to the satisfaction of the Congress. Washington's
argument that jaegers, skilled marksmen, riflemen and even light infantry bend to,
even flee from, advances of a solid regular line. If the political and military
authorities wished to hold the eastern cities they had to match the British army.
Events turned more toward the colonists daily. Howe's enclave theory had
resulted in the occupation of cities, such as Philadelphia, but without producing
tangible results. The British knew they could continue to occupy the cities almost
at will, but that they could only venture out into the countryside in brief, and
wholly indecisive, forays. The wilderness campaign of "Gentlemen Johnny"
Burgoyne had ended in disaster, and this with militia forces. Burgoyne complained
that where there had been no discernible forces only hours before, thousands of
militiamen had assembled, as if arising from the earth fully grown and equipped.
Burgoyne commented, "wherever the King's forces point, militia to the amount of
3000 to 4000 assemble within twenty-four hours." A Swiss military observer
wrote, "The Americans would have been less dangerous if they had a regular
army."(596) A French officer assessed the implications of Burgoyne's defeat.
Such are the conditions upon which Burgoyne surrendered: 5500 men have therefore
marched past foaming with rage and cursing their General, to whom they have said that they
would sooner be reduced to two ounces of biscuit a day than surrender; and they have turned
over 6000 excellent firearms, 40 pieces of cannon and the best munitions which have yet
been seen on this Continent. Never will the Englishmen wipe out this shame; 5500 men of
the best troops surrendered at the discretion to less than 10,000 militia.(597)
The American rifleman continued to impress the Europeans. An officer
in a Jaeger unit attached to Colonel Tarleton's American Loyalist corps observed
the superior marksmanship of the American militiamen with their rifles. He wrote,
I never in my life saw better rifles (or men who shot better) than those made in America . .
. . I am not going to relate anything respecting the American war, but to mention one
instance, as proof of the most excellent sill of an American rifleman. If any man show me
an instance of better shooting, I will stand corrected. . . . A rifleman passed over the mill
dam, evidently observing the two officers, and laid himself down on his belly (for it is in
such positions they always lie) to take a good shot at long distance . . . . Now observe how
well this fellow shot . . . . Colonel Tarleton's horse and mine, I am certain, were not anything
like two feet apart. . . . [T]he bugle-horn man behind us and directly central jumped off his
horse and said, 'Sir, my horse is shot.' The horse staggered, fell down, and died. . . . I can
positively assert that the distance he fired from, at us, was full 400 yards."(598)
The London Chronicle in 1775 had noted the prowess of the American
This Province [of Pennsylvania] has raised 100 rifle-men, the worst of whom will put a ball
into a man's head at a distance of 150 or 200 yards, therefore advise your officers who shall
hereafter come to America, to settle their affairs in England before their departure.(599)
A correspondent who signed as "A Democratic Federalist" entered the
federal debate of 1787. His later day observations reflected much of American
libertarian (or Anti-federalist) thought in 1776 or in 1787. He made these
observations on the early American revolutionary citizen-army,
Had we a standing army when the British invaded our peaceful shores? Was it a standing
army that gained the battles of Lexington and Bunker's Hill, and took the ill-fated Burgoyne?
Is not a well regulated militia sufficient for every purpose of internal defense? And which
of you, my fellow citizens, is afraid of any invasion from foreign powers, that our brave
militia would not be able immediately to repel?(600)
Had Washington been given a regular army early on, the results might
have been far less fortunate. Richard Henry Lee was delighted. A standing army,
once created, would be impossible to dismiss, and, as we all knew, a standing army
is the greatest danger to our liberties. We could not afford to win the war only to
entrench a new tyranny. Lee wrote of the militia,
A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, and render regular troops
in a great measure unnecessary . . . . [T]he militia shall always be kept well organized, armed
and disciplined , and include . . . all men capable of bearing arms, and that all regulations
tending to render this general [unorganized] militia useless and defenceless, by establishing
select corps of militia, or distinct bodies of military men [standing army or organized
militia], not having permanent interests and attachments in the community to be avoided.(601)
Indeed, Lee was convinced that America could only win its war for
independence by fighting what a later age would call a guerilla or partisan war.
The patriots would operate out of mountain enclaves on the frontier, harassing the
British forces in their enclaves in the eastern seaboard cities. He preferred
decentralized political power and diffusion of command among state and local
leaders. In a letter to Patrick Henry, Lee expressed his sentiments.
Mr. Howe will not be gratified with the possession of this city [Philadelphia]. And if he
gained 20 such cities, still he would be short of gaining the point mediated over America.
You remember, Sir, we told them from the beginning that we looked on our Cities and Sea
Coasts as devoted to destruction, but that ample resources were still left for a numerous,
brave and free people to be content with.(602)
Lee was supported by such libertarians as Patrick Henry and Samuel
Adams. Adams wrote,
A standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the
liberties of the people. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a body distinct from the
rest of citizens. They have their arms always in their hands. Their rules and their discipline
is severe. They soon become attached to their officers and disposed to yield implicit
obedience to their commands. Such a power should be watched with a jealous eye.(603)
Thomas Paine had come to their philosophical support, arguing what
would become the main support of the French and other liberal European
revolutions: that the best warfare for independence involved the whole aroused
and armed population. Nothing was more powerful than the dedicated citizenry
fighting arm-in-arm with their relatives and neighbors for a heartfelt ideological
clause. An army could be defeated, but never an entire nation. And Paine in "The
Crisis" and elsewhere had shown the world how to arouse an entire population.
George Mason argued that the nation must preserve a militia comprised of all the
people and reiterated the common libertarian fear of creating a standing army
which might not be easily disbanded.(604)
The militiamen proved to be effective as shock troops. They wreaked
havoc in the British lines at the Battle of Bunker Hill by picking off a
disproportionate number of their officers. One British Marine wrote to his brother,
"Many officers have died of their wounds and others [are] very ill; 'tis astonishing
what a number of officers were hit on this occasion; but the officers were
particularly aimed at."(605) Another Lieutenant of the British Marines observed,
[I]it is very uncommon that such a great number of officers should be killed and wounded,
more than in proportion to the number of private men: the following discovery seems to
account for it. Before the entrenchments were forced, a man, whom the Americans called a
marksman, or rifleman, was seen standing upon something near three feet higher than the
rest of the troops . . . . This man had no sooner discharged one musket [actually probably a
rifle] than another was handed to him, and continued firing in that manner for 10 or 12
minutes. And in that small space of time . . . it is supposed that he could not have killed or
wounded less than 20 officers, for it was at them particularly that he directed his aim . . . .(606)
George Hanger, a well known British rifleman and himself an expert shot,
on one occasion was assigned to the Loyalist regiment in the Carolinas commanded
by Banastre Tarleton. He wrote several passages in his diary attesting to the
prowess of the American rifleman. He expected them to hit targets with great
regularity at distances of up to three hundred yards. On one occasion, in the
company of Tarleton, some four hundred yards away they observed several
American riflemen, possibly of Daniel Morgan's rifle company. Hanger observed,
A rifleman passed over the mill dam, evidently observing two officers, and laid himself
down on his belly; for in such positions they always lie, to take a good shot at a distance.
He took a deliberate and cool shot at my friend and me, and the bugle horn man . . . . A rifle
ball passed between him and me; looking directly at the mill, I evidently observed the flash
of the powder . . . . [T]he bugle horn man behind us, and directly central, jumped off his
horse, and said, "Sir, my horse is shot."(607)
Unable to counter the riflemanship of the rural American citizen-marksmen with sufficient numbers of their skilled marksmen, the British turned to
German mercenaries. The London Constitutional Gazette (608) announced that the
Government has sent over to Germany to engage 1000 men called Jaegers, people brought
up to the use of the rifle barrel guns in boar hunting. They are amazingly expert. Every
petty prince who hath forests keeps a number of them, and they are allowed to take
apprentices, by which means they have a numerous body of people. These men are intended
to act in the next campaign in America . . . their being a complete match for the American
The standing army of the Revolution, known as the Continental Line, in
reality, differed little from the state militias which it had superseded as the major
military of the thirteen states. We must recall that, in the beginning, the line was
created out of activated militia companies and volunteers recruited from the militia
acting as a reservoir for the line. Regiments varied enormously in size and some
were never fully brought up to strength. All regiments were clearly identified with
specific states, with men from one jurisdiction rarely being found in lines identified
with another. As we have seen, everywhere the line was filled by drafts of some
sort from state militias. Extant rosters show clearly that most early regiments of the
Continental Line were simply select, or the better trained, militia companies
fighting under a new name and a new banner. Since the Congress had little money,
even when expenses were charged or chargeable to the national government, it was
still generally the states which supplied the payroll, arms, supplies and equipment.
Congress could issue appeals to state governments, but had no real power, beyond
moral suasion, to compel compliance.
As with state militias, the national army had three main arenas of
operation. Most troops merely served garrison duty, awaiting a British operation
against the area which they were assigned to protect. When engaged in actual
combat they assumed a defensive posture. Frequently, that meant strategic
withdrawal. Some troops were assigned to offensive action, against the British or
the Amerindians, in campaigns designed to relieve some threat to American
independence. Third, guerilla operations consumed a certain amount of energy and
attention. This was a final resort, chosen primarily when the forces were too weak
to engage the enemy directly.
In 1790 the Secretary of War Henry Knox (1750-1806) reported that the
number of soldiers in the continental line was greatest in 1777, when there were
34,820 available to General Washington. At war's end the number had dwindled
to 13,892.(609) Desertions, fulfillment of terms of enlistment, injury, illness, deaths
and wounds had all taken their toll.
During the first two years of the war there were only a few problems with
recruitment of soldiers. By 1777 the war was taking a toll on the patriots. Men
were tiring of the war. Taxes were high and the currency depreciating at a rapid
rate. High inflation and high taxes placed many father-less families at the mercy
of money lenders. Some taxes went unpaid. Militia fines were substantial, and
providing a substitute was beyond the means of the typical household. The
obligation to serve in the military fell most heavily on the segment of society which
was ordinarily unable to sustain the cost. Many families had lost several successive
harvest and planting seasons because the men had been called into military or
militia service. Fields lay in ruin because of neglect or Amerindian or tory
deprivations. Families had to borrow money to save themselves from destitution.
Interest rates were high because of the ever inflating currency. Many soldiers
returning home were cast into debtors' prisons because they had contracted debts
which they could not service, all in support of their families during their service in
the patriot cause.
Wages of the enlisted men, whether in the continental line or militia, were
insufficient to support a family. The pay of soldiers in 1776 was given in paper
money which exchanged freely on par with silver. In January 1777 silver brought
a premium of 25% and by January 1778 silver was valued at four times the stated
value of paper money. In 1780 silver was worth sixty times the face value of the
depreciated currency. By May 1781 it was essentially worthless and had ceased to
circulate for virtually no one, the most ardent patriots included, would accept it.
The national and state governments had printed money because they had no
reserves of bullion, but the men refused to accept the worthless currency.
Some men deserted the patriot cause and returned home, enlisted or were
drafted a second time, often so that they could obtain the bonuses offered for
enlistment. Penalties for such behavior were severe, but many men, faced with the
prospects of financial ruin, were willing to chance desertion and a second
enlistment, while hoping to escape the consequences of their actions.
As the war ended, many reflected on the difficulties experienced in
coordinating the activities and deployment of the state militias. By 1787 each
state's virtual autonomy over its militia had resulted in considerable diversity and
even serious neglect. But the overwhelming sentiment of the Constitutional
Convention of 1787, most state authorities and other influential persons remained
fixed on the maintenance of a state militia system as the nation's guardian in
No one expressed the general distrust of a standing army better than better
than Charles Pinckney (1746-1825) of South Carolina, speaking at the
Constitutional Convention of 1787, when he said, "a dissimilarity in e militia of
different States had produced the most serious mischiefs . . . and believed that
"there must also be a real military force. The United States had been making an
experiment without it, and . . . [would] see the consequence in their rapid
approaches toward anarchy."(610) Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia believed
"there was not a member in the federal convention who did not feel indignation at
such an institution."(611)
We can see that the national militia meant very little during the War for
Independence and that, under the American system of divided sovereignty, the
militias were viewed as properly the concern and responsibility of the states. There
was neither a suggestion that a national militia be formed or that those enrolled in
state militias ought to take an oath of dual allegiance to the national government in
addition to one's home state.
The concept of dual enlistment had to wait more than a century to come
to fruition. Incidents of the militia refusing to serve outside the borders of the
nation were raised in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War of 1846-1848. It was
not until the enactment of the National Defense Act of 1916 that Congress
established the a enlistment provision while simultaneously converting state
militias into national guards.(612) The National Defense Act Amendment of 1933
advanced the "one army" concept under which national guard units were
considered to be integral parts of the United States Army.(613) The roots of the
current national guard system may be found in the embryonic national militia of the
American War for Independence.
1. David C. Douglas, ed. English Historical Documents. 5 vols. London: Oxford
University Press, 1956, 2: 416-17.
2. Assize of Arms of 1181 in Bruce D. Lyon, ed., A Constitutional and Legal
History of Medieval England. New York: Oxford University Press; 2d ed., 1980,
3. 3. J. J. Bagley and P. B. Rowley, eds., A Documentary History of England, 1066-1540. 2 vols. New York: Cambridge, 1965, 1: 155-56. The document was dated
4. Charles Warren Hollister, The Military Organization of Norman England.
Oxford: at the Clarendon Press, 1965, 12-13,
5. Lindsay Boynton, The Elizabethan Militia, 1558-1638. London: Routledge and
Keegan Paul, 1967, xvii.
6. Ronald B. Levine and David B. Saxe, "The Second Amendment: The Right to
Bear Arms," Houston Law Review, 7 : 8. Author's capitalization.
7. Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. London: Oxford University
8. Samuel McClintock, A Sermon Preached Before the . . . Council . . . and senate
and House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire, June 3, 1784, on
Occasion of the Commencement of the New Constitution . . . . Portsmouth, N. H.:
Robert Gerrish, 1784.
9. Jim Dan Hill. The Minuteman in War and Peace. Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole,
10. Inspector-General of the Norwegian Home Guard, A Survey of the Norwegian
Home Guard. Oslo: Government of Norway, May 1955, especially 12-13.
11. Otto Heilbrunn. Partisan Warfare. New York: Praeger, 1962, 111-12.
12. Quincy Wright. A Study of War. Chicago: 2d ed.; University of Chicago,
13. United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 179-180. Similar state court opinions
include, Aymette v. State, 21 Tenn. [2 Humph.] 154, and Andrews v. State, 50
Tenn. [3 Heisk.] 165. Miller was based heavily on the language, arguments and
philosophy expressed in the two state cases.
14. Thomas Paine wrote that "[t]his continent hath at this time the largest body of
armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven." Collected Works of
Thomas Paine. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1937, 1: 31.
15. Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265.
16. James Harrington. Political Works. ed. J. Pocock. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 1977, 696.
17. Ibid., 443.
18. Ibid., 109.
19. Adam Smith. Wealth of Nations. New York: Modern Library, 1937, 660. This
work was originally published in 1776.
20. Hilliard d'Auberteuil. Essai historiques et politiques sur les Anglo-Americains.
2 vols. Brussels, Belgium: n. p., 1782), 2: 107. Translation by author.
21. Comte de Guibert, Essais General de Tactique . . . . (Liege: n. p., 1771), xxii,
9. Author's translation.
22. James A. H. Murray. A New English Dictionary of Historical Principles. 8
vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1908, 4: 439.
23. Simeon Howard, "A Sermon Preached to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery
Company in Boston," [Boston, 1773], in Charles Hyneman and Donald S. Lutz,
eds. American Political Writing during the Founding Era, 1760-1805. 2 vols.
(Indianapolis, In.: Liberty Classics, 1983), 1: 199.
24. 24. Joseph Story. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States. 3 vols.
Boston, Mass.: Hilliard, Gray, 1833, 2: 607
25. Benjamin Franklin, "Comments on the Pennsylvania Militia Act of 1755," in
Ralph Ketcham, ed., The Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin. Indianapolis,
In.: Liberty Classics, 1965, 127-30.
26. Earl Warren, "The Bill of Rights and the Military," New York Law Review, 37
: 181-90 at 183-84.
27. Daniel Boorstin. The Americans: The Colonial Experience. 0New York:
Vintage, 1958, 356.
28. See Steven C. Halbrook, "The Jurisprudence of the Second and Fourteenth
Amendments," George Mason Law Review, 4 : 1-26.
29. Sources of American Independence. ed. H. Peckham. 2 vols. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1978, 1: 176.
30. Russell Weigley. History of the United States Army. New York: Macmillan,
31. T. H. Breen, "English Origins and New World Development: The Case of the
Covenanted Militia in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts," Past and Present, 58
32. This objection to excess militarism on Sundays was repeated in the 1760s. This
time it was the practice of the British army stationed at Boston that upset the
citizenry. New York Journal, Supplement, 13 and 20 July 1769.
33. Lindsay Boynton, The Elizabethan Militia, 1558-1638. London: Routledge and
K. Paul, 1967, 246-50.
34. Boynton, Elizabethan Militia, 275-93.
35. John Shy. Toward Lexington. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press,
1965; Darrell Rutman, "A Militant New World, 1607-1640" University of
Virginia Ph. D. dissertation, 1959.
36. Benjamin P. Poore, ed. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial
Charters and Other Organic Laws of the United States. 2 vols. Washington: U.
S. Government Printing Office, 1877, 1: 925-29.
37. Oliver A. Roberts. History of the . . . Ancient and Honorable Artillery
Company of Massachusetts, 1637-1888. Boston: Mudge, 1895, 1: 1-3; L. E.
DeForest. Captain John Underhill: Gentleman, Soldier of Fortune. New York:
Underhill Society of America, 1934, 6-7, 28; John Winthrop. History of New
England. J. K. Hosmer, ed. New York: Holt, 1908, I: 78; 2: 153-54.
38. Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England.
Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed. 5 vols. Boston: State of Massachusetts, 1854. 2: 222;
4, part 2: 575; 5: 48, 71, 76, 123, 144-45; The Compact with the Charters and
Laws of the Colony of New Plymouth. William Brigham, ed. Boston: State of
Massachusetts, 1836. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England.
Nathaniel Shurtleff, ed. 10: 360. Hereinafter cited as Plymouth Col. Rec.
39. Thomas Hooker. A Survey of the Summe of Church Disciple. London:
Bellamy, 1648, I: 47.
40. The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts Reprinted from the Edition of 1660, with
Supplements to 1672, Containing also the Body of Liberties of 1641. W. H.
Whitmore, ed. Boston: State of Massachusetts, c.1860, 35.
41. David D. Hall. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious
Beliefs in Early New England. New York: Knopf, 1989, 169-72.
42. New York Journal, Supplement, 27 April 1769.
43. Sir Charles Hardy to the Earl of Halifax, dated 7 May 1756, in Stanley
Pargellis, editor. Military Affairs in North America, 1748-1756. Hampden, Ct.:
Anchor, 1969, 172.
44. Winthrop, History of New England, 1: 79.
45. Winthrop, History of New England, 1: 125; Massachusetts Colonial Records,
1: 187-88; Sharp, "Leadership and Democracy," 256-58; Edward Johnson, The
Wonder Working Providence of Sions Savior in New England . J. F.
Jameson, ed. New York: Scribner's, 1910, 231; Breen, "English Origins," 84.
46. Winthrop, History of New England, 3: 503-04; 4: 106; Massachusetts Colonial
Records, 1: 221, 231.
47. John R. Alden. A History of the American Revolution. New York: Knopf,
48. Shy, Toward Lexington, 3.
49. Louis Morton, "The Origins of American Military Policy," Military Affairs, 22
: 75-82; Daniel Boorstin. Americans: The Colonial Experience. New
York: Vintage, 1958, 341-72; Shy, Toward Lexington, 3-4.
50. ed. by William Aspinwall. London: Aspinwall, 1641, chapter 3.
51. Plymouth Col. Rec., 1: 360.
52. Plymouth Col. Rec., 5: 74-76; 9: 12, 22, 45, 105; 10: 357-58; Mass. Col. Rec.,
3: 39, 311; 5: 69.
53. Plymouth Col. Rec., 9: 27.
54. Viola Barnes. Dominion of New England. New York: Kennikat, 1960, 229.
55. Ibid., 262.
56. "Address of Divers Gentlemen, Merchants and Others of Boston, to the King,"
dated 25 January 1691, Calendar of State Papers: America and West Indies., 13:
57. Calendar of State Papers: America and West Indies, 13: 514.
58. Gersham Bulkeley, "Will and Doom, or, the Miseries of Connecticut by and
under an Usurped and Arbitrary Power"  in Collections of the Connecticut
Historical Society, 3 : 70-269 at 240f.
59. "Order of Simon Bradstreet, Governor of the Massachusetts Convention," dated
17 July 1689, Connecticut Archives, 2: 10.
60. dated 9 May 1690, in New York Colonial Documents, 3: 729.
61. Massachusetts Archives, 2: 211-12; Herbert L. Osgood, The American
Colonies in the Eighteenth Century, 1: 100-03.
62. Herbert L. Osgood, American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century. New York:
Macmillan, 1904-07, 1: 102-03; New York Colonial Documents, 4: 13.
63. The Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. 17 vols. Boston:
State of Massachusetts, 1869-1910, 7: 418.
64. Governor Fletcher to John Trenchard, dated 10 November 1693, quoted in John
G. Palfrey. History of New England. Boston, 1890, 4: 225-27.
65. Rhode Island Colonial Records, 3: 296.
66. Mathew P. Andrews. History of Maryland. Chicago: Clarke, 1925, 209-10.
67. Osgood, American Colonies, 1: 151-52, 267-69; New York Colonial
Documents, 4: 259-61; Calendar of State Papers: America and West Indies, 15:
68. Archibald Hanna, Jr. "New England Military Institutions, 1693-1750" Ph. D.
dissertation, Yale University, 1951; Frederic de Peyster. The Life and
Administration of Richard, Earl of Bellomont. 2 vols. New York: New York
Historical Society, 1879, 31-32, 57.
69. See de Peyster, Earl of Bellomont.
70. Everett Kimball. The Public Life of Joseph Dudley, 1660-1775. New York:
Harvard Historical Studies, 1911, 15: 75, 120, 143-48.
71. Kimball, Joseph Dudley, 143-47; Palfrey, New England, 4: 359-62; Harry M.
Ward. Unite or Die: Intercolony Relations, 1690-1763. Port Washington:
Kennikat, 1971, ch. 2.
72. Shy, Toward Lexington, 14.
73. Shy. Toward Lexington, 26-29.
74. Boston Evening Post, 29 April 1754.
75. Pennsylvania Journal, 9 May 1754.
76. Pennsylvania Journal, 9 May 1754.
77. Pennsylvania Journal, 18 July 1754.
78. Shy, Toward Lexington, 29-33.
79. Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 15 : 89-95. The
document was signed by Samuel Welles, Robert Hale, and Oliver Partridge for
Massachusetts; Phineas Livingston, Joseph Murray, William Nicholl, Henry
Cruger, and Philip Vanplanck for New York; and Thomas Fitch and Benjamin Hall
80. George Clinton, "A Circular Letter. . . ." in Clinton-Glen Correspondence,
microfilm, Clements Library, 18 January 1750.
81. Ibid., 13 April 1751.
82. New York Colonial Documents [N.Y.C.D.], 6: 708-10; Colonial Records of
South Carolina: Documents Relating to Indian Affairs [S.. C. Indian Doc.], 1; 33-34.
83. Lois Mulkearn, "Why the Indian Treaty of Logstown, 1752?" Virginia
Magazine of History and Biography, 54 : 7-10.
84. S. C. Indian Doc., 1: 138.
85. Jonathan Belcher to New York Assembly, 29 April 1754.
86. William Shirley's speech was reported in the Boston Evening Post, 19 April
87. Pennsylvania Journal, 16 May 1754.
88. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 7: 214.
89. Pennsylvania Colonial Records, 6: 58.
90. Pennsylvania Journal, 30 May 1754.
91. Pennsylvania Colonial Records, v: 721.
92. 1 New Jersey Archives 19: 361.
93. Pa. Col. Rec. 6: 25.
94. 4 Pennsylvania Archives 2: 284.
95. Pennsylvania Gazette, 9 May 1754.
96. Pennsylvania Gazette, 9 May 1754.
98. John R. Alden, "The Albany Congress and the Creation of the Indian
Superintendencies." Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 27 : 193-210.
99. Chester Hale Sipe. Indian Wars of Pennsylvania. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania
Historic and Museum Commission, 1929, 173; William Livingston. A Review of
Military Operations in North America, from the Commencement of the French
Hostilities on the Frontiers of Virginia in 1753, to the Surrender of Oswego on the
14th of Agust 1756. . . . in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1st
series, 7 : 67-163.
100. Lawrence Henry Gipson. The British Empire Before the American Revolution.
New York, 1942, 5, chapter v; Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society,
102. Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York [N. Y.
C. D.], 6: 860.
103. Hampton L. Carson. The Constitution of the United States. Philadelphia,
1889, 2: 472-74; Lawrence Henry Gipson, "Thomas Hutchinson and the Framing
of the Albany Plan of Union." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography,
74 : 3-28. Gipson noted that a manuscript copy of this document is stored
in the Pennsylvania Archives as Document 677.
104. N. Y. C. D., 6: 893-96.
105. A. C. Bates, ed. "Fitch Papers, Volume 1" Collections of the Connecticut
Historical Society, 17 : 20-29.
106. Ibid.; Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 7 .
107. Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 17: 25-29.
108. N. Y. C. D., 6: 863.
109. N. Y. C. D., 6: 864.
110. N. Y. C. D., 6: 864; New York Historical Collections, 53 : 458.
111. Smyth, Writings of Franklin, 3: 243.
112. Ibid., 1: 387.
113. The Committee was composed of Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts;
Theodore Atkinson of New Hampshire; William Pitkin of Connecticut; Stephen
Hopkins of Rhode Island; William Smith of New York; Benjamin Tasker of
Maryland; and, of course, Franklin representing Pennsylvania. N. Y. C. D., 6: 860.
114. P. O. Hutchinson, ed. Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson. Boston,
1884, 1: 55.
115. Thomas Hutchinson. The History of the Colony and Province of
Massachusetts Bay. ed. L. S. Mayo. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936,
116. Jared Sparks, ed. The Works of Franklin. Boston, 1840, 3: 36.
117. N. Y. C. D., 6: 860.
118. Smyth, Writings of Franklin. 1: 387.
119. N. Y. C. D., 6: 860.
120. Ibid., 6: 864.
121. Ibid., 6: 868.
122. Franklin to Peter Collison, 29 December 1754, in Smyth, Writings of
Franklin, 3: 243.
123. Ibid., 3: 205-07.
124. Massachusetts Archives, 4: 463.
125. Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 27: 24.
126. Ibid., 27: 20.
127. N. Y. Historical Society Collections 5 : 185.
128. Massachusetts Archives, 4: 471.
129. The delegation included John Chandler, Samuel Welles, Jr., Oliver Partridge,
John Worthington and Thomas Hutchinson.
130. Bates, Fitch Papers, 1: 20.
131. Gipson, "Thomas Hutchinson," 14.
132. Ibid., 16.
133. Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 27: 23-29.
134. Ibid., 26.
135. Gipson, "Thomas Hutchinson," 16-18.
136. N. Y. C. D., 6: 868.
137. Ibid., 6: 875, 877, 885.
138. R. Frothingham. Rise of the Republic of the United States. Boston: Little
Brown, 1872, 140-41. See also V. L. Parrington. The Colonial Mind, 1620-1800.
New York: Vintage, 1927, 14-206.
139. Gipson, The British Empire, 5: chapter 5.
140. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 7: 213.
141. Ibid., 7: 207-09. Members of the Committee who signed the report included
William Pitkin, Jonathan Trumble, Joseph Fowle, Joseph Pitkin, Jabez Hamlin,
John Hubbard, Theophilus Nichols, and John Ledyard.
142. Ibid., 7: 210-14.
143. Pennsylvania Journal, 17 October 1755.
144. Pennsylvania Journal, 31 October 1755.
145. Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 7: 128-29. Copy of a Letter
from Dr. William Clarke, of Boston, to Benjamin Franklin, Esq. of Philadelphia.
Boston, February 3, 1755. Dear Sir, When you was in Boston I thought you a wise man; that you
had some knowledge of human nature and politics, as well as of natural philosophy; but if your have
no greater pretensions to the latter, than you have to the former; I am afraid lest you be obliged to
give up all claim to either; for it has been proved to give up all claim to either; for it has been proved
by some of our own wise men and boys, (for they are sufficient for that) even to a demonstration,
before a large body of people assembled in town-meeting, that you and the rest of the commissioners
at Albany have strewn yourselves, by the protected plan for an union, to be arrant blockheads; and,
at the same time, to have set up a scheme for the destroying the liberties and privileges of every
British subject upon the continent; but this, so thinly disguised and covered, that the meanest creature
in the world could see through it in an instant. For my part, I was so confounded that I had
entertained so good an opinion of you and some other gentlemen, and that it was generally known,
that I would fain have got out of the assembly, for fear I should be pointed at, but the throng was so
great that I could not break through. But, all joking apart, I was much surprised at the management;
as for the talk of generality that spoke upon the subject, it was no other than what was to be expected
from the men; but one gentlemen, upon whom there was great dependence, when he stood up, spoke
so little to the purpose, that I was almost provoked to break through the resolution that I had maintained, through the whole, of not entering into any argument upon such a subject, before such an
auditory: However, after much debate, being willing to prevent, if possible, the town's taking so
ridiculous a step as I find they were like to, I endeavored to persuade them that it was highly
improper that a thing of this nature should be brought before a town meeting. If these things were
to come there, there was no occasion for any General Court, and that it was dissolving all
government, and reducing every thing to a slate of nature. That that assembly were not, nor could
not be, proper judges of the propriety or impropriety of what was then laid before them; but
supposing they could get over this, that a least it was a matter of such great importance, complex
nature, and vast extent, that at least if required some time, for persons that were judges, to weigh
every part in their own mind, before they came to any judgment about it; and that they ought not to
come to a hasty determination, within a few hours after first hearing it read; and therefore moved that
nothing might be determined by the town, but that it might be left to the judgment and direction of
their representatives; or at least, that it might be put off for some longer time; but it was so very
plain a case that a vote was carried, but a very great majority as you have heard. As to the pamphlet,
it is pretty much in the same situation yet, as it was then you left us. But I hope by the next post to
be able to send you one. Mr. Hunter has had a sad time of it, but has borne it with great patience,
and when beginning to get better, with great cheerfulness. He is now sitting up, reading Lord Bacon,
but is plainly uneasy, he cannot come at Lord Bolingbroke's posthumous pieces. You will gear from
him undoubtedly this soft. I hope I may, when this comes to your hands, congratulate you upon your
safe arrival to your family, and finding all well there. The governour does not know of my writing,
or I am sure he would lay his commands upon me to send you his compliments. He is just as he was
when you was here, unless, if possible, fuller of business. May we meet together in less than fifty
years. I am, dear sir, with the greatest esteem, your soft affectionate, humble servant, William
146. 1 N. J. Archives 6: 250.
147. Bollan was attending Parliamentary hearings on the proposed imposition of
the Mutiny Act. He also presented information on the Albany Plan and spoke in
favor of the plan from the perspective of the Massachusetts assembly.
148. Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 7: 129.
149. Charles Thompson to Joseph Shippen, Jr., 31 January 1755, in Thomas Batch,
ed. Letters and Papers Relating Chiefly to the Provincial History of Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia, 1855, 32-33.
150. The American Museum published an elaborate and long article, "Albany Plan
of Union," in 1789, February, 190-194; March, 285-288; and April, 365-368.
Franklin's remarks were dated February 9, 1789. The Museum, omits the word
"Remark" but it was part of the response which was written by Dr. Franklin and
accompanied the following letter to the editor, Matthew Carey, which was
submitted to The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 23
I thank you for the Opportunity you propose to give me of making Alterations in those old Pieces of
mine which you intend to republish in your Museum. I have no Inclination to make any Changes in
them; but should like to see the Proof Sheet, supposing your Copies may possibly be incorrect. And
if you have no Objection, you may follow the Albany Plan with the enclosed Remark but not as from.
me. I am, Sir, Your humble Servant, B. Franklin
151. Quoted in Samuel Peters. General History of Connecticut. London, 1781,
152. James Veech. The Monongahela of Old. Pittsburgh, 1910, 48; Dinwiddie
Papers, 1: 63-71.
153. quoted in Ward, War of the Revolution, 1: 39.
154. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. "Maryland's Share in the Last Intercontinental
War." Maryland Historical Magazine, 7 : 119-49, 243-67.
155. Alexander Flick, ed. The Papers of Sir William Johnson. 13 vols. Albany:
State of New York, 1921-62, 1: 461-62.
156. Leonard W. Larabee. Royal Government in Ameruca. New York, 1958, 108.
157. Annual Report of the American Historical Association, Washington, 1896,
685-86; Ward, 42.
158. Ward, War of the Revolution, 1: 42.
159. A. G. Bradley. The Fight with France for North America. Westminster,
1900, 150; Ward, War of the Revolution, 1: 43.
160. Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, 1: 26.
161. Ward, War of the Revolution, 1: 42.
162. James High, "The Earl of Loudoun and Horatio Sharpe." Maryland Historical
Magazine, 45 : 14-32.
163. Louis K. Koontz. Robert Dinwiddie: His Career in American Colonial
Government and Westward Expansion. Glendale, 1941, 38; Rossiter Johnson.
History of the French War. New York, 1882, 268-71.
164. Sipe, Indian Wars, 387; A. P. James, ed. The Writings of General John
Forbes. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 569-60.
165. Theodore Thayer. Pennsylvania and the Growth of Democracy. Harrisburg:
Pennsylvania Historical and Musuem Commission, 1953, 82.
166. Oliver M. Dickerson, comp. Boston Under Military Ruke, 1768-1769 as
Revealed in a Journal of the Times. Boston: Chapman & Grimes, 1936, vii-x.
167. Boston Evening Post, 10 April 1769; Journal of the Times, 64-65.
168. "Achenwall's Observations on North America, 1767," J. G. Rosengarten,
trans. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 27 : 1-19.
169. The Public Advertiser, 3 October 1755.
170. The Public Advertiser, 3 October 1755.
171. Fred Anderson. People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the
Seven Years' War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984, 73-74.
172. Secretary Henry Fox notified the governors that the king had appointed the
Earl of Loudoun to succeed Shirley on 13 March 1756. Collections of the
Connecticut Historical Society, 1 : 277-78.
173. Francis Parkman. Montcalm and Wolfe. New York: Scribner's, 1892, 1: 283f;
Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 19 : 6.
174. Secretary Thomas Robinson to the Governor of Connecticut, 28 August 1755,
Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 1 : 269-70.
The Lords Justices, having thought it necessary to appoint without loss of time a
Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in North America, in the room of the late Major-general Braddock . . . Major-general Shirley is ordered to take upon him . . . the command,
with like powers, with which Major-general Braddock held . . . .
175. "Secretary Robinson to the Governor of Connecticut, 23 January 1755,
Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 1 : 258.
176. John Winslow to William Shirley, dated 2 August 1756, in Correspondence
of William Shirley. Charles Henry Lincoln, ed. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan,
1912, 2: 496-98.
177. William Shirley to John Winslow, dated 10 August 1756, in Correspondence
of William Shirley, 2: 510-15; William Shirley to Lord Loudoun, dated 10 August
1756, in Ibid., 2: 501-10.
178. Anderson, People's Army, 175-80; Correspondence of Shirley, 2: 505-09.
179. See Stanley Pargellis, Military Affairs in North America, 1748-1765.
Hampden, Ct.: Anchor, 1969, 185, 241; see also Anderson, People's Army, 180-85, citing diaries and correspondence of the principals and also enlisted men.
180. William Blackstone. Commentaries on the Law of England . 2 vols.
Thomas M. Cooley and James DeWitt Andrews, eds. Chicago: 4th ed.; University
of Chicago Press, 1884, 1: 262; See also Statutes of Charles II, 13: 6.
181. Journal of the House of Commons, 10: 49-73; Charles M. Clode. The Military
Forces of the Crown. 2 vols. London: Murray, 1869, 1: 142 and 2: appendix 33.
Under Anne, the law was amended to ensure such protection of law only in time
of peace. 1 Anne 2: 20.
182. 3 George I; Parliamentary History, 97: 550; 14: 425-60; 21 George II; 22
183. Parliamentary History, 14: 535-47; 4 George 1. Regarding the legitimacy of
orders, the Duke of Argyll argued passionately that "If they should receive any
illegal commands, they may disobey them with impunity." Parliamentary History,
8: 1245; Lords Mansfield and Loughsborough in Johnstone v Sutton, 1 East. Rep.
184. Grant v Gould, 2 H. B. 99.
185. Anderson, People's Army, ch. 4.
186. Douglas Hay, "Property, Authority and the Criminal Law," in Douglas Hay
and others, eds. Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth Century
England. New York, 1975, 17-63.
187. Mass. Col. Rec., 1: 85, 165, 270; 2: 23; 4, part 2: 97; 5: 49-50.
188. Hay, Albion's Fatal Tree, 17-63; Anderson, People's Army, 121-22.
189. Deut. 25: 3.
190. quoted in New York Journal, 26 December 1768; also noted in A Journal of
the Times: Boston under Military Rule. Oliver M. Dickerson, comp. Boston:
Chapman and Grimes, 1936. This little known and under-utilized document was
published in pamphlet form and widely read in the 1760s. Parts were published in
both the New York Journal and Boston Evening Post.
191. "Braddock's Orderely Book" quoted in William Lowdermilk. History of
Cumberland, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1971, 121.
192. Boston Evening Post, 6 October 1768.
193. Boston Evening Post quoted in New York Journal, 27 October 1768.
194. New York Journal, 29 December 1768.
195. Boston Evening Post, 10 April 1769.
196. quoted in New York Journal, 17 November 1768.
197. John W. Shy, "A New Look at Colonial Militia," 3 William and Mary
Quarterly, Third Series, 20 : 175-85, especially at 177-78.
198. Boston Evening Post, quoted by the New York Journal, Supplement, 27 April
199. Bland, Military Discipline, ch. 15.
200. Anderson, People's Army, 90-98.
201. Anderson, People's Army, 82-86.
202. Francis Bernard to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, dated
5 September 1763, in Joseph Henry Benton, Jr., Early Census-Making in
Massachusetts, 1643-1765. Boston: State of Massachusetts, 1905, 55.
203. Anderson, People's Army, 99-100.
204. James Robertson to John Calcraft, dated 22 June 1760, in Alan Rogers,
Empire and Liberty: American Resistance to British Authority, 1755-1763.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974, 67.
205. Anderson, People's Army, 60-62.
206. T. H. Breen, "English Origins," 74-96; David R. Millar, "The Militia, the
Army and Independency in Colonial Massachusetts" Cornell University Ph.D.
dissertation, 1967; Morrison Sharp, "Leadership and Democracy in the Early New
England System of Defense," American Historical Review, 1 : 244-60.
Morrison sees a far greater conflict between the aristocrats and the common men
than did Breen. See Breen, footnote 5, 76.
207. Loudoun to Cumberland in Pargellis, Military Affairs, dated 17 October 1757.
208. The Public Advertiser, 3 October 1755.
209. The Public Advertiser, 6 October 1755.
210. The Public Advertiser, 3 October 1755.
211. The Public Advertiser, 3 October 1755.
212. Extract of a letter from New York, dated 1 August, The Public Advertiser, 6
213. Mass. Col. Rec., 1: 85, 90, 102, 124, 210; 4 part 1: 420; 5: 211-12.
214. "Training Day" in Thomas C. Cochran and Wayne Andrews, eds. Concise
Dictionary of American History. New York: Scribner's, 1962, 961.
215. The Public Advertiser, 6 October 1755.
216. Humphrey Bland. A Treatise of Military Discipline. London; 6th ed., 1746;
originally published in first edition in 1727.
217. Ford, Writings of Washington, 5: 386.
218. Count Maurice de Saxe (1696-1750), French marshal, was the illegitimate son
of Augustus II of Poland and was perhaps the greatest military mind of his age. His
Memoirs were published in France in 1730 and in English in 1761. Generals Lee
and Knox read and recommended it to Washington and others. Knox used it
heavily in his military plan sent to Congress in 1790.
219. William Barrisse. Military Discipliner, or, the Young Artillery Man. London,
1635. Two later editions were dated 1643 and 1661.
220. Thomas Handon. The Regulations for the Prussian Infantry, or, Prussian
Evolutions. English editions, London, 1771; Philadelphia, 1775. The work was
advertised in the Pennsylvania Magazine, December 1775, 574. Among those
noted as subscribers was George Washington who had ordered 8 copies of the
221. William Young. Maneuvers, or, Practical Observations on the Art of War.
2 vols. London, 1771.
222. John W. Wright. Some Notes on the Continental Army. Vails Gate, N. Y.:
National Temple Hill Assn., 1963, 3.
223. Mark C. Walsh. Free Men Shall Stand: The Story of Connecticut's Organized
Militia. Hartford: Connecticut National Guard Officers Association, 1991, 25-27.
224. For a discussion of these weapons see my Arms Makers of Colonial America.
Susquehanna University Press, 1992; or Carl P. Russell. Guns on the Early
Frontiers. University of California, Berkeley, Press, 1957; or M. L. Brown,
Firearms in Colonial America, 1492-1792. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980.
225. John K. Mahon, "Anglo-American Methods of Indian Warfare, 1676-1794,
Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 45 : 154-75; Hert M. Sylvester. Indian
Wars of New England. 3 vols. Boston, 1910, II 213.
226. Samuel Sewall of Boston reported that he had seen 15 or 20 soldiers "with
small guns and short lances in the troops of them" in 1687. "Diary of Samuel
Sewall," Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 5th series, 5 : 193.
227. John Dunton, Letters Written from New England, A.D. 1681. edited by W.
H. Whitmore. Boston: Prince Society, 1867, 140.
228. Ebenezer W. Peirce, Indian History, Biography and Genealogy . . . North
Abington, Mass.: Mitchell, 1878, 76; see also Jack S. Radebaugh, "The Militia
of Colonial Massachusetts," Military Affairs, 43 : 1-18.
229. Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 43 [1909-10]: 491.
230. "set of halberts for a foot company, to be sold on reasonable terms by
Nicholas Boone," Boston News Letter, 22 April and 3 June 1706.
231. Mass. Col. Rec., 2: 43; 5: 47.
232. New York Gazette, 16 March 1747.
233. Among the better books and articles on colonial warfare are: Robert K.
Wright, Jr. The Continental Army. Washington: U. S. Army, Center of Military
History, 1983, 5-7; Louis Morton, "The Origins of American Military Policy,"
Military Affairs, 22 : 75-82; Douglas Leach. Flintlock and Tomahawk:
New England in King Philip's War. New York: Macmillan, 1958; Arthur A.
Buffington, "The Puritan View of War," Publications of the Colonial Society of
Massachusetts, 28 [1930-33]: 67-86; C. J. Bernardo and E. H. Bacon. American
Military Policy. Harrisburg, Pa.: American Military Service, 1955; John K.
Mahon, "Anglo-American Methods of Indian Warfare, 1676-1764," Mississippi
Valley Historical Review, 45 : 254-75; Douglas E. Leach, "The Military
System of Plymouth Colony," New England Quarterly, 24 : 342-64; and
Louis Morton, "The End of Formalized Warfare," American Heritage, 6 :
234. Among the many important works on arms in colonial America are: Brown.
Firearms in Colonial America; Harold L. Peterson. Arms and Armor in Colonial
America, 1526-1783. New York: Bramhall House, 1956; Horace Kephart, "The
Rifle in Colonial Times," Magazine of American History, 24 : 179-91;
Felix Reichmann, "The Pennsylvania Rifle: A Social Interpretation of Changing
Military Techniques," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 49
: 3-14; John W. Wright, "The Rifle in the American Revolution," American
Historical Review, 24 : 293-99; Paul C. Boehrt. Arming the Troops, 1775-1815. Easton, Pa.: Boehert, 1967; Whisker, Arms Makers of Colonial America.
235. Archives of Maryland. ed. W. H. Browne and others. 72 vols to date.
Annapolis: State of Maryland, 1883-1912, 3: 317, 345-46; 7: 18.
236. Archives of Maryland, 3: 531.
237. Archives of Maryland, 3: 345-46; 5: 32-33.
238. Public Records of Connecticut, 2: 217-18.
239. Public Records of Connecticut, 2: 346-47.
240. Public Records of Connecticut, 2: 19-21.
241. John Winslow to Charles Lawrence, dated 27 October 1755, in "Journal of
John Winslow," Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 4 : 180.
242. Edward Pierce Hamilton. "Colonial Warfare in North America," Proceedings
of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 80 : 3-15.
243. Entry for August 1756, The American Journals of Louis Antoine de
Bougainville. Edward P. Hamilton, ed and trans. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 1964, 34.
244. Howard H. Peckham. The Colonial Wars, 1689-1762. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1964, 8-10.
245. Entry for 3 July 1756, American Journals, 5.
246. Entries for late June and July 1757, American Journals, 120, 130.
247. Entry for 31 July 1756, American Journal, 20.
248. Entry for 8 August 1756, American Journal, p. 24. Other entries, such as for
6-16 February 1756, show militiamen as a part of the French army.
249. Bougainville, American Journals, 152-53.
250. Entry for February 17-28, Bougainville, American Journals, 87.
251. Entry for 3 May 1758, Bougainville, American Journals, 202.
252. Entry for 30 June 1758, Bougainville, American Journals, 221.
253. Bougainville, American Journals, 250-51.
254. See Peter Brock. Pacifism in the United States. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 1968.
255. George W. Kyte, "An Introduction to the Periodical Literature Bearing upon
Loyalist Activities in the Middle Atlantic States, 1775-1783," Pennsylvania
History, 18 : 104-18.
256. William W. Sweet, "The Role of the Anglicans in the American Revolution,"
Huntingdon Library Quarterly, 11 : 51-70.
257. Virginia D. Harrington. The New York Merchants on the Eve of the
Revolution. New York: Columbia University Press, 1935; Arthur M. Schlesinger.
The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution, 1763-1776. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1918.
258. Leonard W. Labaree, "The Nature of American Loyalism," Proceedings of
the American Antiquarian Society, 54 : 15-58; George M. Wrong, "The
Background of the Loyalist Movement, 1763-1783," Papers and Records of the
Ontario Historical Society, 30 : 171-80.
259. See two books by Wallace Brown. The Good Americans: the Loyalists in the
American Revolution. New York: William Morrow, 1969; and The King's Friends.
Providence, R.I.: Brown University Press, 1965. See also, Robert M. Calhoon.
The Loyalists in Revolutionary America. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
1973; and William H. Nelson. The American Tory. Oxford: at the Clarendon
Press, 1961; Morton Borden and Penn Borden, eds. The American Tory.
Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1972 G. N. D. Evans. Allegiance in
America: The Case of the Loyalists. Reading, Ma.: Addison-Wesley, 1969; Paul
H. Smith. Loyalists and Redcoats. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North
Carolina Press, 1964; Charles H. Van Tyne. The Loyalists in the American
Revolution. New York: Smith, 1902. Lorenzo Sabine. An Historical Essay on the
Loyalists of the American Revolution. Springfield, Ma.: Walden, 1957; A. G.
Bradley. The United Empire Loyalists. London: Butterworth, 1932; Moses Coit
Tyler, "The Party of the Loyalists in the American Revolution," American
Historical Review, 1 : 24-49.
260. See, for example, Henry B. Yoshpe. Disposition of Loyalist Estates in the
Southern District of the State of New York. New York: A. M. S. Press, 1967.
Yoshpe's study is one of the most thoroughly researched studies of condemnation
by bill of attainder and subsequent confiscation of estates.
261. See Arthur G. Bradley. Colonial Americans in Exile. New York: Dutton,
1932; North Callahan. Flight from the Republic: The Tories of the American
Revolution. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967.
262. North Callahan. Flight from the Republic: The Tories of the American
Revolution. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967; Bradley Chapin. The American
Law of Treason: Revolutionary and Early National Origins. Seattle: University
of Washington Press, 1964.
263. John Eardley-Wilmot, ed. Historical View of the Commission for Enquiring
into the Losses, Services and Claims of American Loyalists at the Close of the War
between Great Britain and her Colonies in 1783. London: Nichols, 1815;
Arbitration of Claims for Compensation for Losses and Damages Resulting from
Lawful Impediments to the Recovery of Pre-War Debts. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1931; Hugh Egerton. The Royal Commission on the Losses and
Services of American Loyalists. Oxford: at the Clarenendon Press, 1915;
Alexander Fraser. Second Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of
Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1905.
264. Eric Robson, "The Raising of a Regiment in the War of American
Independence," Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 27 :
107-15; Edward E. Curtis, "The Recruiting of the British Army in the American
Revolution," American Historical Association Annual Report, 1 : 313, 319-20.
265. "Instructions to Major Ferguson, Inspector of Militia," 22 May 1780, in Henry
Clinton. The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton's Narratives of His
Campaign, 1775-1782. William B. Willcox, ed. New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1954, 441.
266. John R. Alden. A History of the American Revolution. New York: Knopf,
1969, 87. Alden claimed that, in fact, in 1780 only 5415 loyalists were serving in
the British army.
267. Charles M. Clode. The Military Forces of the Crown: Their Administration
and Government. 2 vols. London: H. M. Stationary Office, 1869.
268. William O. Raymond, "Rolls of Officers of the British American or Loyalist
Corps," Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society, 5 : 224-72;
William O. Raymond, "Loyalists in Arms," Ibid., 5 : 189-223.
269. There is a broad difference of opinion among the British and Canadian writers
as to the actual value of these operations in New York. One writer says the
irregulars achieved more success than the regulars, while another believes their
only success, with the assistance of Indians, was at Oriskany. Lorenzo Sabine.
The American Loyalists. Boston, 1847; William V. Wallace. The United Empire
Loyalists. Toronto, 1914; A. C. Flick. Loyalism in New York. New York, 1901;
James H. Stark. Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American
Revolution. Boston, 1910; W. H. Wilkin. Some British Soldiers in America.
London, 1914; Journal of Alexander Chesney. Columbus, 1921; Public Papers
of George Clinton. Albany, N. Y., 1899, 4: 333.
270. Edward E. Curtis. The Organization of the British Army in the American
Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1926, chs. 1, 2.
271. John Almon and John Debrett, eds. The Parliamentary Register, or, History
of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons. 62 vols. London: H.
M. Stationery Office, 1775-96, 13: 273-94, 322.
272. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 60-62.
273. Lord George Sackvill Germain to Lords of the Treasury, 5 August 1776,
Colonial Office, Papers, Public Records Office, London, Reel 5/7, 419-30.
274. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 62-64.
275. Alexander Innes to General Clinton, 9 November 1779, British Headquarters
276. "Instructions to Major Ferguson," 22 May 1780, in Clinton, American
Rebellion, 441. See also Robert W. Barnwell, Jr. "Loyalism in South Carolina,
1765-1785," Ph. D. dissertation, Duke University, 1941, ch. 9.
277. Raymond, "Rolls of Officers," 5: 190.
278. C. T. Atkinson, "British Forces in America, 1774-1781: Their Distribution
and Strength," Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 14 : 3-22; 19 , 163-66; 20 : 190-92.
279. Interestingly, on 27 January 1776, Captain Alexander McDonald, in Maclean's
Regiment, reported to General Gage that in Nova Scotia, "there is not 2500 [men]
fit to bear arms and the two-thirds of them notorious rebells in their heart." in
"Letter Book of Captain Alexander McDonald of the Royal Highland Emigrants,
1775-1779," Collections of the New York Historical Society, 14 : 240-42.
280. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 79.
281. For the overall impact of French entry upon British policy see William B.
Willcox, "British Strategy in America, 1778," Journal of Modern History, 19
282. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 78.
283. Troyer S. Anderson. The Command of the Howe Brothers during the
American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1936.
284. George III expressed relief at Germain's resignation, believing him a "heavy
load" with "so many enemies." George III to Lord North, 3 March 1778, John W.
Fortescue, ed. The Correspondence of King George III from 1760 to December
1783. 6 vols. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1927-28, 4: 2022.
285. Germain to Clinton, 4 November 1778; Clinton to German, 25 February
1779, Clinton Papers, Clements Library Ann Arbor, Michigan.
286. Germain to Clinton, 23 January 1779, Clinton Papers, Clement Library.
287. Clinton to Germain, 15 December 1779, Clinton Papers.
288. William Cobbett. The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest
Period to the Year 1803. 36 vols. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1806-20, 19:
85, 400; Dora Mae Clark. British Opinion and the American Revolution. New
Haven, Ct.: Yale University Press, 1930, 136-67.
289. George III to Lord North, 12 August 1778, in John W. Fortescue, ed. The
Correspondence of George III from 1760 to December 1783. 6 vols. London: H.
M. Stationery Office, 1927-28, 4: 2405.
290. Parliamentary Register of England, 13: 1-539.
291. See Duane Meyer. The Highland Scots of North Carolina. Chapel Hill, N.
C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1957; Ian C. C. Graham. Colonists from
Scotland. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956.
292. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 521.
293. James H. Stark. The Loyalists of Massachusetts. Boston: Brown, 1910; E.
A. Jones. The Loyalists of Massachusetts. London, 1930; Wilbur H. Siebert,
"Loyalist Troops of New England," New England Quarterly, 4 : 108-47;
William B. Willcox, "Rhode Island in British Strategy," Journal of Modern
History, 17 : 304-31.
294. Philip M. Hamer, "John Stuart's Indian Policy during the Early Months of the
American Revolution," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 17 : 351-66;
John R. Alden. John Stuart and the Southern Colonial Frontier. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 1944.
295. Guy Johnson married a daughter of Sir William Johnson and became
Superintendent of Indian Affairs after William's death in 1774. Lorenzo Sabine.
The American Loyalists, or, Biographical Sketches of Adherents to the British
Crown in the War of the Revolution. 2 vols. Boston: Little & Brown, 1847, 1: 585-87.
296. Walter H. Mohr. Federal Indian Relations, 1774-1788. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933, 50ff.
297. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 386.
298. See North Callahan. Royal Raiders: The Tories of the American Revolution.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963, ch. 4, "Where the Tories Held Sway."
299. Lorenzo Sabine. The American Loyalists, or, Biographical Sketches of
Adherents to the British Crown in the War of the Revolution. 2 vols. Boston: Little
& Brown, 1847, 1: 350-52.
300. Isaac S. Harrell, Loyalism in Virginia. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press,
1926; Richard O. Curry, "Loyalism in Western Virginia during the American
Revolution," West Virginia History, 14 : 265-74; William B. McGroarty,
"Loyalism in Alexandria, Virginia" Virginia Magazine of History and Biography,
102 : 35-44.
301. Wilbur W. Abbot. The Royal Governors of Georgia, 1754-1775. Chapel
Hill, N. C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1959, pp. 229-31; Kenneth
Coleman. The American Revolution in Georgia. Athens, Ga.: University of
Georgia Press, 1958; Sabine, op. cit., I, 500, 595, 598; Robert S. Lambert, "The
Confiscation of Loyalist Property in Georgia," William and Mary Quarterly,
Series 3, 20 : 90-94.
302. London Daily Advertiser, 27 February 1776.
303. Hugh F. Rankin, "Cowpens: Prelude to Yorktown," North Carolina
Historical Review, 31 , 336-69.
304. Robert C. Pugh, "The Revolutionary Militia in the Southern Campaign,"
William and Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 14 : 154-75.
305. A. Van Doren Honeyman, "Concerning the New Jersey Loyalists in the
Revolution," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 51 : 117-33;
Cornelius Vermeule, "The Active Loyalists of New Jersey," Ibid., 52 : 87-95; E. A. Cruikshank, "The King's Regiment of New York," Papers and Records
of the Ontario Historical Society, 27 : 193-323; Alexander C. Flick.
Loyalism in New York during the American Revolution. New York, 1901.
306. Alexander C. Flick. Loyalism in New York during the American Revolution.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1901.
307. Callahan, Tory Raiders, 148-71.
308. Sabine, American Loyalist, 2: 318.
309. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 324-25.
310. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 267.
311. John R. Cuneo, "The Early Days of the Queen's Rangers, August 1776-February 1777," Military Affairs, 22 : 65-74.
312. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 301, 350, 508. See also, Claude H. Van Tyne,
"The Wyoming Valley and Union Sentiment in the American Revolution,"
Wyoming Commemorative Association Proceedings , 9-20; and Louis E.
Thompson, "An Introduction to the Loyalists of Bucks County and Some Queries
Concerning Them," Bucks County [Pennsylvania] Historical Society Papers,
313. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 29.
314. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 477.
315. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 489.
316. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 546.
317. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 569.
318. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 415.
319. Ruth M. Keesey, "Loyalism in Bergen County, New Jersey," William and
Mary Quarterly, third series, 18 : 558-71.
320. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 76.
321. Germain to Clinton, 23 January 1779, Sir Henry Clinton Papers, Clements
Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
322. Banastre Tarleton. A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the
Southern Provinces of North America. London: Cadell, 1787.
323. George W. Kyte, "An Introduction to the Periodical Literature Bearing Upon
Loyalist Activities in the Middle Atlantic States, 1775-1783," Pennsylvania
History, 18, [April 1951]: 104-18.
324. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 59.
325. A letter from America, Lloyd's Evening Post and British Chronicle, 29 April
326. Letter from Philadelphia, 12 March 1776, London Gazetteer and New Daily
Advertiser, 16 May 1776.
327. Pennsylvania Ledger, 29 October 1777.
328. Pennsylvania Ledger, 3 December 177, quoting the Royal Gazette.
329. Clinton Papers, Clements Library, dated 8 November 1777.
330. Clinton Papers, Lements Library, 20 October 1780.
331. Wertenbaker, Father Knickerbocker Rebels, 228.
332. Rivington's New York Gazette, 17 August 1782.
333. Robert A. East. Business Enterprise in the American Revolutionary Era.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1938; Virginia D. Harrington. The New
York Merchants on the Eve of the American Revolution. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1935.
334. Wallace Brown. The King's Friends. Providence, R. I.: Brown University
Press, 1965, 77-110.
335. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 78.
336. Oscar T. Barck, New York City During the War for Independence. New
York: Columbia University Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, number
357, 1931; Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, Father Knickerbocker Rebels. New
York: Scribner's, 1948.
337. Rhode Island Col. Rec. 8: 112; Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 526, 538; 2:
156, 350, 358-59, 424.
338. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 242-45.
339. 4 Amer. Arch. 1: 1057.
340. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 242-44.
341. Morning Chronicle and Daily Advertiser, 2 February 1775.
342. Wilbur H. Siebert, "Loyalist Troops of New England," New England
Quarterly, 4 [January 1931]: 108-47.
343. E. A. Jones. The Loyalists of Massachusetts: Their Memorials, Petitions and
Claims. London, 1930, 144-45.
344. Lorenzo Sabine. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American
Revolution. Boston, 1864, 1: 468-71.
345. Lloyd's Evening Post and British Chronicle, 16 June 1775.
346. Usher Parsons. Life of Sir William Pepperrell. Boston, 1855.
347. Wilbur H. Siebert. "Loyalist Troops of New England," New England
Quarterly, 4 : 108-147.
348. Siebert, "New England Loyalists," 119-20.
349. Siebert, "New England Loyalists" 120.
350. Stark, Loyalists of Massachusetts, 134; Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 431;
Jones, Loyalists of Massachusetts, 120.
351. Otis G. Hammond, "Tories of New Hampshire in the War of the Revolution,"
Publications of the New Hampshire Historical Society, 5 ; Otis G.
Hammond. The Tories of New Hampshire in the War of the Revolution. Concord,
N. H., 1917; Epaphroditus Peck. The Loyalists of Connecticut. New Haven, Ct.:
Yale University Press, 1934; Howard W. Preston, "Rhode Island and the
Loyalists," Collections of the Rhode Island Historical; Society, 21 : 109-16;
22 : 5-10.
352. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 117, 350, 422-23, 435.
353. Siebert, "New England Loyalists," 117-18.
354. Siebert, "New England Loyalists," 122-23.
355. Elizabeth E. Dana. The British in Boston. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard
University Press, 1924, 22-23, 42-43.
356. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 304-05.
357. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 352.
358. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 80.
359. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 368-69.
360. Flick, Loyalism in New York, 101.
361. Captain John Bowater letter, 7 July 1776, in Marion Balderson and David
Syrett. The Lost War: Letters from British Officers During the American
Revolution. New York: Horizon, 1975, 87-88.
362. William Fielding, 29 December 1776, in Balderson and Syrett, Lost War, 113-14.
363. Ella Pettit Levett, "Loyalism in Charleston, 1761-1784," Proceedings of the
South Carolina Historical Association, , 3-17.
364. Epaphroditus Peck. The Loyalists of Connecticut. New Haven, Ct.: Yale
University Press, 1934.
365. W. H. Siebert, "The Refugee Loyalists of Connecticut," Royal Society of
Canada Transactions, third series, 10 : 76, 81-83.
366. C. J. Ingles. The Queen's Rangers in the Revolutionary War. H. M. Jackson,
ed. Montreal, 1956; H. M. Jackson, "The Queen's Rangers, First American
Regiment," Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research, 14 : 143-53;
John R. Cuneo, "The Early Days of the Queen's Rangers, August 1776 -- February
1777," Military Affairs, 22 : 65-74; John R. Cuneo. Robert Rogers of the
Rangers. New York, 1959.
367. John G. Simcoe. A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers.
Exeter, 1787; Wilkin, Some British Soldiers, p. 91; John R. Cuneo, "The Early
Days of the Queen's Rangers," Military Affairs, 22 : 65-74.
368. Alexander C. Flick, ed. Minutes of the Albany Committee of Correspondence,
1775-1778. 2 vols. Albany: State of New York, 1925, 1: 549.
369. E. A. Cruikshank, "The King's Royal Regiment of New York," Papers and
Records of the Ontario Historical Society, 27 : 193-323.
370. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 83.
371. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 517.
372. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 319. William, a brother of John Stark, was
evidently a tory who was killed on Long Island. Ibid., 2: 327.
373. George B. Upham, "Burgoyne's Great Mistake," New England Quarterly, 3
[October 1930]: 657-80; Mary G. Nye, "Tories in the Champlain Valley,"
Proceedings of the Vermont Historical Society, 9 : 197-203.
374. Wynn Underwood, "Indian and Tory Raids in the Otter Valley, 1777-1782,"
Vermont Quarterly, 15 : 195-221.
375. Oscar Zeichner, "The Rehabilitation of the Loyalists in Connecticut," New
England Quarterly, 11 : 308-330.
376. George Baxter Upham, "Burgoyne's Great Mistake," New England Quarterly,
3 : 657-680.
377. See Ernest A. Cruikshank. The Story of Butler's Rangers and the Settlement
of Niagara. Welland, Ontario: Tribune, 1893.
378. A. H. Van Deusen, "Butler's Rangers," Wyoming County Historical and
Genealogical Society Collections, 5 : 12-18.
379. See John E,. Potter. The Connecticut Grants and the Virginia Boundary
Controversy. Wyoming County Commemorative Association, 1916, 9-29; Thomas
P. Abernethy, "Pennsylvania-Virginia Boundary Dispute," in Western Lands and
the American Revolution. New York: Appleton-Century, 1937, 91-97; Roland M.
Hooker. Boundaries of Connecticut. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1933;
and T. J. Chapman, "Early Virginia Claims in Pennsylvania," Magazine of
American History, 13 : 155-60.
380. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 195-96.
381. William E. Griffiths, "Wyoming, the Pivot of the Revolution," Proceedings
of the Wyoming Commemorative Association, , 10-24; H. E. Hayden. The
Massacre of Wyoming. Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: Wyoming County Historical and
Genealogical Society, 1895.
382. Howard Swiggett. War Out of Niagara: Walter Butler and the Tory Rangers.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1933; Alexander C. Flick, Loyalism in
New York During the Revolution. New York: Columbia Studies in History,
Economics and Public Law, 14 .
383. Howard W. Preston, "Rhode Island and the Loyalists," Collections of the
Rhode Island Historical Society. 21 : 109-16; 22 : 5-10; Siebert,
"New England Loyalists," 127-27; Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 315-16; David
S. Lovejoy. Rhode Island Politics and the American Revolution. Providence, R.
I.: Brown University Press, 1958..
384. Siebert, "Loyalist Troops of New England," 135-36.
385. Thornton Anderson. Jacobson's Development of American Political Thought.
New York: second edition; Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960, 107-08, 115, 118, 121,
1236-37, 140, 142-49. See also the appendix, "British Plans for Erecting a Loyalist
Haven in America," in Paul H. Smith. Loyalists and Redcoats. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1964.
386. George W. Kyte, "Some Plans for a Loyalist Stronghold in the Middle
Colonies," Pennsylvania History, 16 : 177-90.
387. See proceedings against the tories in New Jersey Archives 3: 8.
388. A. Van Doren Honeyman, "Concerning the New Jersey Loyalists in the
Revolution," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 51 : 126.
389. Edward Alfred Jones. The Loyalists of New Jersey in the American
Revolution. Newark: Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, 10 ;
Cornelius C. Vermeule, "The Active Loyalists of New Jersey," Proceedings, New
Jersey Historical Society, 52, : 87-95.
390. Ruth M. Keesey, "Loyalism in Bergen County, New Jersey," William and
Mary Quarterly, third series, 18 : 558-71.
391. Minutes of the Provincial Congress and Council of Safety, 25-26.
392. Minutes of the Provincial Congress, 75, 88.
393. Minutes of the Provincial Congress, 309, 337, 347, 381, 407-08, 486, 561;
Laws of the State of New Jersey, 1776.
394. John C. Fitzpatrick and others, eds. The Writings of George Washington. 39
vols. Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1931-44, 6: 397-98.
395. Laws of New Jersey, 1777; superseded and amended by "A Supplemental Act
to an Act entitled, An Act to Punish Traitors and Disaffected Persons," enacted 3
October 1782, affecting all persons involved in proscribed activities after 4 October
1776. This ex post facto was not repealed until 24 November 1791. Laws of the
State of New Jersey.
396. Minutes of the Council of Safety, 1: 70.
397. Wallace Brown. The King's Friends. Providence, R. I.: Brown University
Press, 1965, 111-27.
398. William Franklin was the last royal governor of New Jersey, serving from
August 1762 through 24 June 1776, when Colonel Heard's militia arrested him.
Franklin was initially imprisoned in Connecticut along with other "especially
dangerous" tories. Donald L. Kemmerer. Path to Freedom. Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1940, 345
399. Juston Windsor. Narrative and Critical History of America. 8 vols. Boston,
1888-89, 7: 195.
400. E. A. Jones, "The Loyalists of New Jersey," Collections of the New Jersey
Historical Society, 10 ; Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 378; Adrian C.
Leiby. The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley, the New Jersey Dutch
and the Neutral Ground, 1775-1783. New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University
Press, 1962; Ruth M. Keesey, "Loyalism in Bergen County, New Jersey," William
and Mary Quarterly, Series 3, 18 : 558-71.
401. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 334, 337.
402. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 387.
403. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 204.
404. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 358.
405. George Germain to Henry Clinton, 23 January 1779, in Henry Clinton. The
American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton's Narrative of his Campaigns, 1775-1782.
William B. Wilcox, ed. New Haven, Ct.: Yale University Press, 1954, 397-99.
406. See Robert Gough, "Can a Rich Man Favor Revolution? The Case of
Philadelphia in 1776," Pennsylvania History, 48 : 235-50.
407. See Robert P. Falk, "Thomas Paine and the Attitude of the Quakers to the
American Revolution," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 62
408. Galloway was probably the best known, most important, persuasive and
influential loyalist. From 1766 through 1775 he was Speaker of the Pennsylvania
Assembly and was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. His proposed
scheme to allow the colonists to govern themselves while remaining loyal to Britain
having failed to win support from either side, Galloway assisted the tories in
creating a militia and a political organization. He returned England in 1778, never
to return to the colonies. Anderson, American Political Theory, 140-41, 205; John
Ferling. The Loyalist Mind: Joseph Galloway and the American Revolution.
University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977.
409. The text of Galloway's plan may be found in Journals of the Continental
Congress, 1774-1789. edited by Worthington C. Ford. Washington: Government
Printing Office, 1904, 1: 49-51. See also, Julian P. Boyd. Anglo-American Union:
Joseph Galloway's Plans to Preserve the British Empire, 1774-1788. Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941; and Benjamin H. Newcomb. Franklin and
Galloway: A Political Partnership. New Haven, Ct.: Yale University Press, 1972.
410. Benjamin F. Stevens. Facsimiles of Manuscripts in European Archives
Relating to America, 1773-1783. 24 vols. London: H. M. Stationary Office, 1889-95, 24: numbers 2096-97; The Examination of Joseph Galloway . . . before the
House of Commons. London: Mudge, 1779. Ernest H. Baldwin. Joseph
Galloway: Loyalist Politician. Philadelphia: E. P. Judd, 1902; Oliver G.
Kuntzelman. "Joseph Galloway: Loyalist." Ph. D. dissertation, Temple University,
411. Kyte, "Loyalist Literature"; William B. Willcox, "British Strategy in America,
1778," Journal of Modern History, 19 : 97-121; Examination of Joseph
Galloway, 24, 42-45.
412. Boyd, Simon Girty, 84-94.
413. John Smyth [or Smith]'s Journal was published in Pennsylvania Magazine of
History and Biography, 39 : 143-69.
414. John Smyth, "Sketch of a System by Which the Rebellious Colonies in
America Might be Reduced to Obedience . . . ." in Germain Papers, 12: cited in
Kyte, Simon Girty, 185-87.
415. Carlos E. Godfrey, "Muster Rolls of Three Troops of Loyalist Light Dragoons
Raised in Pennsylvania, 1777-1778," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and
Biography, 34 : 1-8; William H. Siebert, The Loyalists of Pennsylvania.
Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1920.
416. William O. Mishoff, "Business in Philadelphia During the British
Occupation, 1777-1778," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 61
417. "Examination Relative to Tories," 11 July 1776 in 2 Pa. Arch. 1: 653-58.
418. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 496.
419. Clerk in the chancery court. Ralph Adams Brown, "The Pennsylvania
Ledger: Tory News Sheet," Pennsylvania History, 9 : 161-75.
420. Ralph Adams Brown, "The Pennsylvania Ledger: Tory News Sheet,"
Pennsylvania History, 9 : 161-75. Appeals for the recruitment of loyalist
militiamen appeared in the Ledger on 29 October 1777; 26 November 1777 and 3
421. Pennsylvania Ledger, 10 December 1777.
422. Pennsylvania Ledger, 31 December 1777 and 7 January 1778.
423. Pennsylvania Ledger, 8 April 1778.
424. Pennsylvania Ledger, 15 and 29 April 1778.
425. Pennsylvania Ledger, 21 and 25 February 1778.
426. Pennsylvania Ledger, 14 February 1778.
427. Henry J. Young, "Treason and Its Punishment in Revolutionary
Pennsylvania," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 40 : 287-313; See the opinion of C. K. McKean in a letter to President Reed on 13 August
1779 in 1 Pa. Arch. 7: 644-46.
428. Pennsylvania Packet, 29 August, 26 September, 10 October and 29 October
429. Anne M. Ousterhout. A State Divided: Opposition in Pennsylvania to the
American Revolution. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987, 229-78; Walter R.
Hoberg, "A Tory in the Northwest," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and
Biography, 59 : 32-41; Walter R. Hoberg, "Early History of Colonel
Alexander McKee," Ibid., 58 : 26-36.
430. When General Hand examined a number of captive conspirators at Redstone
none implicated McKee. Facts notwithstanding, popular sentiment placed the
blame on McKee and the Girtys. See Walter R. Hoberg, "Early History of Colonel
Alexander McKee," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 58 :
431. Consul W. Butterfield. History of the Girtys. Cincinnati, Ohio: Clark, 1890,
50ff; 1 Pa. Arch. 4: 445; Hanna, Wilderness Trail, 2: 82; "Fort Pitt Account
Book," in Western Pennsylvania Historical Society Magazine , 145.
432. Butterfield, History of the Girtys, 277.
433. Edmunds, Shawnee Prophet, 10-11.
434. 4 Amer. Arch. 1: 675.
435. Butterfield, History of the Girtys, 50.
436. Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier Documents, 53, 144, 156, 184-86, 201, 249-53, 255.
437. Charles F. Hanna. The Wilderness Trail. 2 vols. New York: Putnam, 1911,
438. John G. E. Heckewelder. A Narrative of the Mission of the United Brethren
Among the Delaware and Mohegan Indians, 1740-1808. Philadelphia: McCarty
& Davis, 1820, 407.
439. In 1737 Simon Girty, Sr., was married in Paxtang Township, Lancaster
County, Pennsylvania. In 1744 he was a licensed trader, and in 1747 he was an
unlicensed trader, working out of Donegal Township, Lancaster County,
Pennsylvania. In 1750 the Sheriff of Cumberland County burned Girty's cabin
because he had settled west of the demarcation line. In 1751 he was killed by an
Indian named the Fish in a drunken brawl in what is now Perry County, Pennsylvania. Another account claimed that he was burned to death after killing Fish.
Thomas A. Boyd. Simon Girty: The White Savage. New York: Minton-Balch,
1928; Consul W. Butterfield. History of the Girtys. Cincinnati, Ohio: Clarke,
1890; Consul W. Butterfield. An Historical Account of the Expedition Against
Sandusky under Colonel William Crawford in 1782. Cincinnati, Ohio: Clarke,
1877; 1 Pa. Arch. 2: 14.
440. Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier Documents, 172-73, 274-76; Butterfield,
History of the Girtys, 34-60; 1 Pa. Arch. 9: 620.
441. Historical Magazine, new series, 7 : 103-07; Butterfield, History of the
442. Hildredth, Pioneer History, 129-30.
443. Pa. Col. Rec. 11: 513-18.
444. Hanna, Wilderness Trail, 2: 80.
445. Kenneth P. Bailey, ed. Ohio Company Papers. Ann Arbor: Edwards
Brothers, 1947, 160.
446. Butterfield, History of the Girtys, 39.
447. 1 Pa. Arch. 4: 445.
448. Butterfield, History of the Girtys, 165.
449. 1 Pa. Arch. 9: 620.
450. Butterfield, History of the Girtys, 233, 241.
451. Louise P. Kellogg, editor. Frontier Advance on the Upper Ohio. Madison:
Wisconsin Historical Society, 1916, 33-34; Ousterhout, State Divided, 260-62.
452. 1 Pa. Arch. 6: 507; Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier Defense, 278-79;
Kellogg, Frontier Advance, 49-50, 383-86.
453. Strassburger and Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, 4: 66-71.
454. A. H. Rineer, "A House Divided: The Rein Family of Earl Township,"
Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society, 87: 1 : 10-43. See also,
F. R. Diffenderfer, "Lancaster County Loyalists," Lancaster County Historical
Papers, 12 : 243-78; also F. R. Diffenderfer, "The Loyalist in the
Revolution," Ibid., 23 : 155-66.
455. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 516.
456. Harold Bell Hancock. The Delaware Loyalists. Wilmington, De.: New
Series, Papers of the Delaware Historical Society, 1940; Harold Bell Hancock.
The Loyalists of Revolutionary Delaware. Newark, De.: University of Delaware,
1977; Leon de Valinger, Jr. Colonial Military Organization in Delaware, 1638-1776. Wilmington, De.: Delaware Tercentenary Commission, 1938.
457. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 496.
458. Ryden, Rodney Papers, 266-68.
459. Freeborn Garretson. The Experience and Travels of Mr Freeborn Garretson.
460. Brown, King's Friends, 157-62; Hancock, "Kent County Loyalists," 17-20;
Ryden, Rodney Letters, 259-63.
461. See George W. Kyte, "A Projected Attack Upon Philadelphia in 1781,"
Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 76 : 379-93. The Clinton
Papers contain the draft of "A Plan proposed by W R for subduing the Rebellion
in the Provinces of Pennsylvania, Maryland and three Lower Countys on the
Delaware," dated 27 April 1781. Presumably "W R" was William Rankin. See
also Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 157-59.
462. Brown, King's Friends, 165.
463. Philip A. Crowl. Maryland during and after the Revolution. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1943; Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 301.
464. Isaac S. Harrell. Loyalism in Virginia. Durham: Duke University Press,
1926, 62; Charles R. Lingley. The Transition in Virginia from Colony to
Commonwealth. New York, 1910, 115-19.
465. Ousterhout, State Divided, 264-66; Kellogg, Frontier Retreat, 388-89; 1 Pa.
Arch. 9: 102; 4 Amer. Arch. 4: 615-17; William Wirt Henry, ed. Patrick Henry:
Life, Correspondence and Speeches. 3 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1891, 1: 324-25; Percy B. Caley, "The Life and Adventures of Lieutenant-colonel John
Connolly: The Story of a Tory," Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 11
: 10-49, 76-111, 144-79, 225-59; F. R. Diffenderffer, "Colonel John
Connolly: Loyalist," Lancaster County Historical Papers, 7 : 109-139;
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Sufferings of John Connolly, an American Loyalists and Lieutenant-colonel in His
Majesty's Service," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 12 ;
466. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 168-74.
467. William B. Willcox, "The British Road to Yorktown," American Historical
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468. Eric Robson, "The Expedition to the Southern Colonies, 1775-1776," English
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470. "Letters from Governor James Wright to the . . . Secretaries of State for
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471. Homer Bast, "Creek Indian Affairs, 1775-1778," Georgia Historical
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472. George Germain to Henry Clinton, 21 March 1778 and "Secret Instructions
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474. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 368-69.
475. Charles Stedman. The History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the
American War. 2 vols. London, 1794, 2: 103-20; David Ramsay. The History of
the American Revolution. 2 vols. Dublin, 1795, 2: 420-31.
476. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 86-88.
477. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 352.
478. Robert S. Lambert, "The Confiscation of Loyalist Property in Georgia, 1782-1786," William and Mary Quarterly, third series, 20 : 80-94.
479. Charles Olmstead, "The Battles of Kettle Creek and Brier Creek," Georgia
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480. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 220.
481. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats, 106.
482. Thomas Jones. History of New York during the American Revolutionary War.
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483. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 532.
484. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 184-85.
485. Robert O. DeMond. The Loyalists in North Carolina during the Revolution.
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486. Robert O. Demond. The Loyalists in North Carolina during the Revolution.
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487. Isaac S. Harrell, "North Carolina Loyalists," North Carolina Historical
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488. Brown, King's Friends, 195-212.
489. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 100.
490. Sabine, American Loyalists, 1: 511-12.
491. W. H. Siebert, "The Refugee Loyalists of Connecticut," Royal Society of
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492. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 190.
493. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 59.
494. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 539.
495. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 520.
496. Mabel L. Webber, "South Carolina Loyalists," South Carolina Historical and
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497. Ella P. Levett, "Loyalism in Charleston, 1776-1784," Proceedings of the South
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498. Brown, King's Friends, 215-28.
499. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 74.
500. Wilkin, Some British Soldiers, 160.
501. Sabine, American Loyalists, 2: 64-65.
502. Barnwell, South Carolina Loyalists, chapter 15.
503. Barnwell, South Carolina Loyalists, 407-09.
504. Edward McCrady. South Carolina in the Revolution. 3 vols. New York:
Macmillan, 1901-02, I: 579-86
505. McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, 1: 586-63.
506. Suggested by G. S. Rowe. Thomas McKean: The Shaping of an American
Republicanism. Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1978, 70. See
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507. Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. edited by W. H. Egle and J. H. Linn.
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508. Arthur J. Mekeel. The Relation of the Quakers to the American Revolution.
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509. quoted in Jack S. Radabaugh, "The Militia of Colonial Massachusetts,"
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510. quoted in Radabaugh, "Massachusetts," 16.
511. Jacob Cushing, A Sermon Preached at Lexington, April 20th 1778. Boston:
Powars & Willis, 1776.
512. Richard Price, A Discourse on the Love of Our Country . . . Commemorating
the Revolution in Great Britain. London: Edward E. Powars, 1789.
513. Peter Thatcher, A Sermon Preached Before the Ancient and Honorable
Artillery Company. Boston: Manning & Loring, 1793.
514. A Moderate Whig [Stephen Case], Defensive Arms Vindicated and the
Lawfulness of the American War Made Manifest. N.P.: printed for the author,
515. New York Colonial Documents, I: 272-73.
516. Md. Arch., 27: 103-04, 120.
517. John Archdale, "A New Description of that Fertile and Pleasant Province of
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518. John Oldmixon, "History of the British Empire in America: Carolina" ,
in Salley, Narratives, 313-74.
519. E. M. Wheeler, "The Development and Organization of the North Carolina
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520. 4 Amer. Arch. 5: 1330.
521. Governor Archdale's Laws, 1696, 1-8, in South Carolina Statutes at Large.
522. R. I. Col. Rec., 6: 213.
523. Wellenreuther, "The Political Dilemma of the Quakers," 135-72.
524. Among the early Quaker merchants engaged in the illicit rum trade was
William Biles. The monthly meeting often warned Biles about his trade. finally
by 1687 the Quaker Assembly threatened to expel him for making enormous profits
in the rum trade. See Thomas Budd. Good Order Established in Pensilvania and
New Jersey. Philadelphia, 1685; Thomas Sergeant. View of the Land Laws of
Pennsylvania with Notices of its Early History and Legislation. Philadelphia:
525. Act of 1718, Pennsylvania Statutes at Large, 3: 199-214.
526. Pa. Col. Rec., 7: 272-73.
527. "Act for Forming and Regulating the Militia," , in 1 Pa Arch 3: 120-36.
528. "Act for Forming and Regulating the Militia," , in 1 Pa Arch 3: 120-36.
529. Belcher to Pownall, 10 November 1755, 1 N. J. Arch. 8: 160-61.
530. Minutes of the Provincial Congress, 1: 179-81.
531. Minutes of the Provincial Congress, 1: 192.
532. Minutes of the Provincial Congress, 1: 241-43.
533. Theodore Sedgwick. The Life of William Livingston. New York, 1833, 226-28.
534. Jack D. Marietta, "Conscience, the Quaker Community and the French and
Indian War," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 95 : 3-27.
535. Benjamin Franklin, comments on the Pennsylvania Militia Law, in The
Pennsylvania Gazette, 18 December 1755.
536. Pa. Col. Rec., 10: 316-17.
537. Broadside, dated 29 May 1775, Collection of Miscellaneous Papers, Lancaster
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538. Pennsylvania Statutes at Large, 1682 to 1801, 8: 514.
539. 8 Pa. Arch. 8: 7397-7400.
540. "Address of the People called Quakers," 26 October 1775, 8 Pa. Arch. 8:
7327-30; "Address of the Society of Mennonists and German Baptists," 8 Pa.
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541. 8 Pa Arch 8: 7327-30, 7349-50.
542. Pennsylvania Statutes at Large, 8: 541.
543. Philadelphia Evening Post, 14 and 19 September 1776.
544. Pa. Col. Rec., 10: 297, 308-12.
545. 8 Pa. Arch. 8: 11-13, 7323-24.
546. 8 Pa. Arch. 8: 7326-30.
547. Pennsylvania Statutes at Large, 8: 541.
548. 8 Pa. Arch. 8: 7369-84.
549. 1 Pa. Arch. 5: 369, 412, 558-61, 767-68.
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Merchants and the Origins of American Independence," Proceedings of the
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552. quoted in The Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed. William B. Reed, ed.
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554. Gerhard Friedrich, "Did Mr. Saur Meet George Washington?" Pennsylvania
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555. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 50: 7-8.
556. Howard M. Jenkins, editor. Pennsylvania: Federal and Colonial, a History,
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. . . Where as John Roberts, now or late of the Township of Lower Merion, is this
day charged before me, James Young, Esquire, one of the Justices, on the oaths of
Michael Smith, Esquire, and Mary, his wife, of said Township, with High Treason,
by aiding and assisting the Enemies of this State, and of the United States, and
joining their armies at Philadelphia in the month of December last. These are
therefore to command you in the behalf of this Commonwealth forthwith to
apprehend the said John Roberts and convey him to the Jail of this County; and the
Keeper of Said Jail is hereby requested to receive into his custody the Body of said
John Roberts and him safely to keep till he be delivered to the due course of the
Law. Given under my hand and seal this 27th day of July 1778. James Young."
[Pa. Mag. of History and Biography, 24: 117].
557. Charles Palmer. History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 2 vols.
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564. 4 Amer. Arch. 6: 889.
565. Annals of Congress, 1: 451.
566. New York Constitution of 1777, in Poole, Constitutions, 2: 1331-39.
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570. 4 Amer. Arch. 2: 341.
571. 4 Amer. Arch. 2: 841.
572. Letter from a gentleman at Charles-Town, South Carolina, to his friend in
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574. John and Abigail Adams. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his Wife
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575. Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of American States.
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576. Resolution of Continental Congress in Leon de Valinger, ed. "Council of
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577. 4 Amer. Arch. 3: 1235-37.
578. Ford, Journals, 2: 89.
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580. Pennsylvania, for example, used the ages of eighteen to fifty-three years. Pa.
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581. Resolution of Congress, 26 December 1775, in De Valinger, Military
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582. 4 Amer. Arch. 6: 1149.
583. Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery, Delegates of the Colony of Rhode
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585. Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry, 15 September 1776, in William Wirt
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586. George Washington to Patrick Henry, 5 October 1776, in Henry, Patrick
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588. Henry, Patrick Henry, 1: 483-85.
589. Henry, Patrick Henry, 1: 489.
590. Articles of Confederation, section VI, paragraph 4.
591. Russell F. Weigley. Towards an American Army. New York: Columbia
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592. in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 53 : 92.
593. George Washington to Governor Robert Dinwiddie, in The Papers of
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595. Samuel White Patterson. Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties.
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596. Quoted in Stephen Botein, "The Making of a Respectable Army," Harvard
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597. "Letters of a French Officer," written on 23 October 1777 at Easton,
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598. Quoted in H. C. B. Rogers. Weapons of the British Soldier. London: Seely
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599. The London Chronicle, 17 August 1775.
600. The Pennsylvania Herald, 17 October 1787.
601. Richard Henry Lee [?], Letters from the Federal Farmer. Philadelphia:
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602. Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry, 3 December 1776, in Henry, Patrick
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603. Samuel Adams, quoted in Merrill Jensen. The New Nation: A History of the
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604. 604. Debates in the Several State Conventions. Jonathan Eliot, ed. 5 vols.
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605. Quoted in Letters on the American Revolution. Margaret Willard, comp.
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606. Quoted in Samuel A. Drake, Bunker Hill: The Story Told in Letters from the
Battlefield. Boston: Nichols and Hall, 1875, 49.
607. George Hanger. To All Sportsmen. London: Stockdale, 1814, 123-24.
608. Constitutional Gazette [London], 20 April 1776.
609. General Knox's report was summarized in Emory Upton. Military Policy of
the United States from 1775. Washington; U. S. Government Printing Office,
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610. In James Madison. Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787.
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611. Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, Appendix A: 319.
612. 39 Stat. 166, National Guard Act of 1916, ch. 134.
613. Act of 15 June 1933, ch. 87, 48 Stat. 153.