The Citizen-Soldier



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 backwoods America.

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 government."(15)

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 publick defense."(18)

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 militia."(19)

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 soldiers."(22)

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 over them."(24)

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 Boorstin noted,



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 community.

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 war.(47)

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 war.(49)

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 deployed.(51)

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 maintain order.

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 importance.

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 projects.

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 concernąd 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 were forgotten.

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 bargaining tool.

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 of Trade.

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 proportion.



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 numbers.(91)

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 Trade."(92)

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 Indian Nations.

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 Congress.(98)

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 subjects."

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 funds.

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 conclusion."(109)

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 hereafter follows.

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

Connecticut 5

Rhode Island 2

New York 4

New Jersey 3

Pennsylvania 6

Maryland 4

Virginia 7

North Carolina 4

South Carolina 4

Total 48



[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 the whole.

[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 Legislature.

[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 the Colonies.

[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

expense.



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 New-York."(127)

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 Country."(138)

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 the Plan.

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 rear.(152)

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 expense.

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 and militia.

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 three commanders-in-chief.(157)

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 Amherst.

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 people."(170)

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 militia captain.(173)

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 sedition.(177)

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 king's discipline.

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 employees.

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 overall campaign.

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 great.

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 control.

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 mischief.(200)

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 months.(203)

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 militia.(206)

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 others.



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 . . . .(209)



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."





Training Days



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 militiamen.



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 armed forces.

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 colonies.

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 national service.(223)

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 made.

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 ammunition.

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 developed specialty.(234)

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 transubstantiation.(237)

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 enlistment bonuses.

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 artillery.(242)

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