Introduction



There were few common elements in the militia organization to be found among the southern states. Virginia and South Carolina along the sea coast were heavily populated whereas in most of North Carolina the government had the greatest difficulty finding enough men within a day's ride to make up a militia company. The greatest problem for all the southern colonies came in organizing the militia on the frontier. The principal, if not exclusive, reason why the southern colonies created a militia was to combat the native Americans, with whom clashes occurred almost constantly from the earliest days forward. The second reason the southern militias were formed was to contain the growing slave populations, which, in some areas, outnumbered the slave-owning population. Virginia, and occasionally the other southern colonies, used the militia to contain the growing number of indentured servants and convict laborers.

While the northern and middle provinces had enlisted indentured servants, Amerindians and even black slaves in their militias, southern colonies were rarely prepared to admit any of these classes into their militias. These exclusions were generally enforced despite the fact that the pool of eligible white, free males was so greatly reduced that the southern militia system was unable to function well. The militia system in the southern states was able to provide protection because, for the most part, the aborigines were too weak and undivided to offer much of a challenge, and because several civilized tribes sided with the colonists. In Virginia and a part of Maryland, the Algonquin tribes, especially the Powhatan Confederation, fed and sustained the English settlers more frequently than they fought with them. In Georgia there were essentially no problems with the Amerindians until the English stirred them up at the time of the American War for Independence. The southern tribes, such as the Cherokee, Catawba, Yamasee and Creek were essentially agricultural peoples who were more settled than the northern tribes. The large body of Cherokee remained generally friendly until 1759. South Carolina's Catawba were removed far enough from the settlers on the coast that they did not believe that the whites were a threat until about the end of the eighteenth century. Because the Spanish settlers in Florida favored the local tribes, the great Creek nation, traditional enemies of the Florida tribes, sided with the English who hated the Spanish. The principal Indian problems came from the Yamasee, a displaced tribe from Florida who fought the Carolinians as early as 1715.

Also, there was essentially no rivalry in conquest from any other European power the way the northern colonies suffered from the rivalry between the French and the English for supremacy in North America. Occasionally, Georgia experienced incursions from the Spanish; and in the Seven Years' War the French presented a very few minor problems in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. In that war Virginia, Maryland and to a far lesser degree, the Carolinas, did supply troops to fight against the French in western Pennsylvania.

With a substantial portion of the southern population being slaves the militias in the south took on a special duty that was inappropriate to the north: they ran slave patrols. Slaves generally could not carry or own firearms. On each plantation one slave could be licensed to carry a gun for the purpose of hunting down predators and otherwise protecting the master's property. For cause, additional trusted slaves might be entrusted with arms, usually shotguns. The slave patrols were always staffed with white militiamen.

Typical of laws enacted in response to real or imagined slave revolts was that resolved by the Norfolk, Virginia, city council, of 7 July 1741.(1)



Resolved by the Common Council that for the future the inhabitants of this Borough shall, to prevent any invasion or insurrection, be armed at the Church upon Sundays, or other Days of Worship or Divine Service, upon the penalty of five shillings . . . . Josiah Smith, Mayor



Were these duties not tied to the militia by law and custom, one might imagine that slave patrols were logically tied more to the posse comitatus. This ancient Anglo-Saxon legal term refers to the power or force of the county. In medieval times a sheriff could summon all able-bodied men, 15 years of age or older, to assist in the enforcement of the law, maintenance of the peace and the pursuit and apprehension of felons and runaway slaves and servants. In the United States a sheriff may summon a posse to search for a criminal or assist in making an arrest.(2) Southern militia constituted a standing posse, available at any time and often deployed on a regular schedule, whether there was suspicion of a crime or runaway slave or not. After regular forces and select militia units were created in the south, militia units often had no real function or duties save for slave patrols.

During the Revolution the southern militia served primarily as guerrillas to harass the British army, like forces to counter the tory militias and auxiliaries which occupied territory and prevented extensive British control of populations and land. Many southern political leaders, however, treated the militia as an alternative to, or substitute for, the regular standing army, rather than as an auxiliary.(3)

I should like to express my appreciation to the Marguerite Eyer Wilbur Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation for their support. Much credit is also due to two devoted assistants, Damon Dale Weyant and Kevin Ray Spiker, Jr. Professor W. Reynold McLeon offered valuable suggestions as did my anonymous referees. My esteemed department chair, Allan Hammock supplied support for copying. I thank Mrs Mildred Moyers and Mrs Christine Chang of the West Virginia University Library system were most courteous and helpful in locating and gathering up materials for me.



The Virginia Militia



The Virginia militia was of greatest significance in the seventeenth century, during which time the development passed through several stages. The first quarter of the seventeenth century was marked by improvisation and experimentation as the colonists attempted to develop a formula which would work in the colony's particular circumstances. In the second quarter of the century "this system was reorganized, refined, and repeatedly tested in combat." In the third quarter the colonial leaders excluded slaves and indentured servants, but dwelled on intensive training of specialized units, such as the frontier rangers. Virtually all adult, free, white males answered the muster call. Following Bacon's Rebellion, 1675-77, the base of recruitment was further reduced and a gentlemen's militia, similar to the militia found Stuart England, emerged. The bulk of the population after 1677 constituted an under-utilized, rarely mustered reserve, similar to the medieval great fyrd. After 1680 few poor men served in any militia capacity, although some might enlist in a crown regiment for the pay. The chronic economic crises had reduced much of the population to poverty, so most of the poor were delighted to discover that the militia law was not going to be universally enforced. To most poor reduction of military duty meant that they had more time to plow and harvest and could pocket the money they might otherwise have to lay out for militia arms, supplies, gunpowder and accoutrements. The government began to establish central armories and gunpowder magazines rather than depending on the populace to store individual supplies. Changes in the number and distribution of guns as Virginia approached the eighteenth century were functions of economic and social factors.(4)

In 1606 the English King provided a charter to the Virginia Company of London. It required the civil authority to recruit and train a militia and other prepare defenses to "encounter, repulse and resist" all the king's and the colony's enemies, suppress insurrection and treason and to enforce the law.(5) The Virginia Charter of 1612 required the government to provide the citizenry with "Armour, Weapons, Ordnance, Munition, Powder [and] Shot" for its defense.(6)

The first settlers arrived on 24 May on the Sarah Constant, Goodspeed and Discovery, establishing Fort James, soon named Jamestown. The Company sent John Smith, a hardened military veteran, to establish a self-defense force. Upon his initial review of the men Smith observed that they were "for most part of such tender educations and small experience in martial accidents" as to be essentially useless. He immediately undertook to train them to "march, fight and skirmish" and to form an "order of battle" wherewith to provide some defense against the native aborigine. He exercised the company every Saturday night. Smith especially emphasized forming a proper battle order designed for the New World.(7) Smith departed Virginia in 1609, but there was no change in the exercise of the martial arts since the new leaders sent by the Virginia Company were also veterans of many European battles. If anything the new military leaders intensified the militarization of the colony. Much of Smith's work had come unraveled because of famine, disease and deaths at the hands of the Indians. Understanding that development and maintenance of a militia was the primary necessity, the "excellent old soldiers" divided the colonists into "several Companies for war." They appointed an officer for each fifty men "to train them at convenient times and to teach them to use their arms and weapons."(8)

The primary problems with the defense of the colony were not military. The colonists had settled on one of the most inhospitable and undesirable pieces of land available and diseases of all kinds reduced the numbers of colonists. Famine was also a constant threat.

By 1610 the Virginia militia was sufficiently powerful to take the offensive against the natives. Beginning with small forays into Amerindian territory, the militia became emboldened with small victories its first campaign. In 1614 the militia captured Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas, and this brought the first Indian campaign to halt, with the militia having tasted victory for the first time. Initial successes and the removal of the immediate threat to the settlement brought a certain inertia and the militia ceased its frequent practices. Peace also brought an end the military dictatorship of the militia company and its professional officers.(9)

In 1613 Sir Thomas Dale concluded a treaty with the Chickahominies under Powhatan who were now closely allied because of the marriage of Pocahontas. Among other provisions, the tribe agreed that all members were now Englishmen, subject to the king, and that "every fighting man at gathering their Corn should bring two Bushel;s to the Store as Tribute, for which they should receive as many hatchets." They also agreed to supply 300 men to join the colonial militia to fight against the Spanish or any other enemy of the Crown.(10)

On the whole it must be said that Powhatan Confederation sustained the colonists more frequently than it made war upon them. The Powhatan Algonquins initially did not view the settlers as much of a threat. Reports came to Powhatan that the English had neither much corn nor many trees in England, and thus were extremely poor.

For their part, the English saw the Chickahominies as a potential threat, although within a sixty mile radius of Jamestown there were few villages of more than fifty inhabitants, and the entire Amerindian population was probably less than 5000, of which perhaps 1500 were warriors. Tribes allied with Powhatan could have raised fewer than 2500 warriors. The colonists could match these numbers, and they were armed with firearms and iron and steel weapons. Nonetheless, the governor published and edict that "no Indian should be taught to shoot with Guns, on Pain of Death to Teacher and Learner."(11)

In 1618 the Virginia company reorganized, with a wholly civilian rule replacing the military one. No civil officer held military rank or was selected because of his military expertise or service. Another part of that reorganization brought about a change in the mission of the militia. Henceforth the militia was to be a defensive force, prepared only to keep the peace. The civil officers issued a stern warning against stirring up the Amerindians or violating any part of the negotiated peace. The new officers discouraged private ownership of martial arms and neglected the militia, essentially unilaterally disarming the colony.(12)

On 24 July 1621 Governor Francis Wyatt issued three important orders. First, he instructed masters and apprentices to remain loyal to their trades and not give them up to make quick and easy profits "planting tobacco or any such useless commodity." Second, he ordered that any servants condemned to punishment for "common offenses" be placed to work on public works projects for the benefit of the whole colony. Third, he ordered that guards be placed around public fields for the protection of farmers.(13)

During the first fifteen years of Virginia's existence as many as 10,000 English settlers and their slaves had come to the colony, but in 1622 perhaps only about 2200 remained. Many died and others returned to England. The temporary peace with the Amerindians did not last. In 1622 the Amerindians, angered at the rapid expansion of the colony made war against the whites along the James River On 22 March 1622 an Amerindian attack left 347 colonists dead, although the colony was saved because Christian Indians warned some men of the impending attack. Governor Francis Wyatt led the survivors into pallisaded towns where they took refuge against the marauders. As hunger, thirst and disease again ravished the colonists Wyatt ordered that available military stores be brought forth for whatever storage areas had been created when the colony demilitarized. With almost no training, save for the distant memories of a few of the earlier discipline, the militia sallied forth. With more luck than good management, Wyatt managed to win more skirmishes than he lost. Firearms and steel edged weapons proved decisive against the stone age weapons of the aborigine. The Amerindians had planned little for a campaign and had

laid up few supplies and were therefore as vulnerable in their own way as the undrilled colonial militia.

In March 1624 Wyatt recommended additional laws be enacted by the legislature to reduce the threat from the Amerindians. Article 23 required that all homes be pallisaded, article 24 required the people to go about armed at all times, and article 28 set a night watch for every community. Article 32 provided for state support of families of men killed, and for men disabled, in action against the Amerindians.(14)

The colonists appealed to England for assistance. On 17 July the colonists received a reply. "His majesty was so far sensible of the loss of his subjects and of the present estate of the Colony . . . he was graciously pleased to promise them assistance . . . . It [the petition] was answered [with] munition . . . whereby they might be enabled to take a just revenge of these treacherous Indians . . . . It pleased his Majesty to promise them some arms out of the Tower as was desired . . . ." The king sent 100 brigandines, also called plate coats; 40 jackets of mail; 400 jerkins or shirts of mail; 200 skull caps and an unspecified quantity of halberts and spears. This initial shipment was followed by a shipment of 20 barrels of gunpowder and 100 firearms of unspecified type.(15)

Wyatt decided that he would not be caught unprepared again. He also knew that the could not count on support from the financially troubled Virginia Company, so he had no choice but to revitalize the militia and revamp the militia law. Virginia statutes of 1622 provided death penalty for servants who ran away and traded or sold guns to the Amerindians;(16) and statutes of 1623 provided that "no man go or send abroad without a sufficient will [well] armed" and that the work "men go not to worke in the ground without their arms." Furthere, "the commander of every Plantation [is] to take care that there be sufficient of powder and ammunition within their Plantation under his command and their pieces [of war equipment] fixed and their armes compleat."(17) In 1624 the militia law provided that militiamen wounded or otherwise injured while in the public service would receive public support and the families of those killed while in service would be supported at the public expense. Survivors of the early years were exempted from further compulsory militia service. When a militiaman was impressed into duty his neighbors were required to spend one day a week assisting with his duties and chores at home.(18) Shortly after the enactment of the new militia law Wyatt received word that the Virginia Company had failed and that hereafter the colony would be under the Crown.

The Stuart kings had provided no more assistance to the colony than had the Virginia Company. Defense remained a local obligation. All able-bodied males between 16 and 60 years of age, excepting only older veterans and certain newcomers, were enrolled in the militia. Those not serving in the militia were taxed for its support and were required to offer assistance on the farms of those who were in actual militia service. Gentlemen were to be placed in proper ranks, so that there was no social levelling and they were not reduced to serving as common soldiers. Regular drill was mandated by law. The law created officers whose duty it was to "exercise and drill them, whereby they may be made more fit for service upon any occasion." The legislature also ordered that a regular system of defensive shelters be built and maintained.(19)

In October 1629 the General Assembly enacted a new series of militia laws. Plantation overseers were to reorganize their militias in preparation for new wars against the native aborigine. Three expedition, to begin in November 1629 and March and July 1630, were designed to "doe all manner of spoile and offence to the Indians that may possibly bee effected." So successful was the first expedition that the legislature ordered that the war be prosecuted without the possibility of surrender or peace.(20) At this time the Virginia militia could muster no less than 2000 men. The second war with the Powhatan Indians continued until 1632, but the weight of numbers and superiority of equipment enabled the colonists to win. This time, following the Second Powhatan War, there was no disassembly of the militia.

On 21 February 1631 Governor Harvey recommended that the legislature place a tax upon ships entering and leaving Virginia harbors. This tax, Harvey wrote, will give the colony "a continuall supply of ammunition." The House of Burgesses agreed and enacted this dedicated tax.(21)

In 1632 the Virginia House of Burgesses ordered that every physically fit free white male bring his gun to church services so that, immediately following Sunday service, he might join his neighbors in exercising with it. No settler was even to speak to an Amerindian under penalty of the law. Militiamen were authorized to kill any Amerindian found "lurking" or thought to be stealing cattle. In 1633 the legislature set the new penalty for selling guns to the Amerindians as the loss of goods and chattles and imprisonment for life.(22)

In 1634 the militia was reorganized following the lines of the eight existing counties. The governor appointed county lieutenants and other officers in each county. In 1639 the governor issued a call for select militiamen, fifteen from each county, to punish one or more bands of marauding natives. While each militiaman provided his own gun and edged weapon, his neighbors otherwise supplied him. His neighbors also looked after his farm and each provided one day's service to the militiaman.(23) Under the act of 6 January 1639, all able-bodied men were made liable for militia service and were to provide themselves with arms and ammunition "or be fined as the pleasure of the Governor and Council." Slaves were specifically exempted from the obligation, for the act contained the language, "all persons except negroes."(24) In 1633 the colony recognized the importance of musicians and appointed drummers, paying them 1000 pounds of tobacco and six barrels of corn per year.(25)

In the earliest days Virginia struggled to provide enough food to ward off starvation. After the first few years the colony could afford to sustain a militia and, with basic food, clothing and shelter provided for, mandate attendance at militia musters without disrupting the colony. Sundays became the regular militia training days, combining religious, military and social functions. Forty years later the militia trained only three times a year. In that time span much of the threat from the native aborigine had been contained. But another development, the trained specialist, had emerged, usually in the guise of frontiersmen, who knew how to fight the Indians on their own terms. These specialists served at times for pay and at other times as volunteer militia.

There were also frontier forts to be garrisoned and this required a considerable number of men. Demands were so great that Virginia had to resort to paying some men. Since many volunteers had to be paid, there was a constant drain on the treasury. In the early eighteenth century was generally too impoverished to defend itself adequately so it had to rely primarily on retaliation.

Since the frontier, with its large plantations and farms, was but sparsely settled and the loss of a few men from a particular area usually meant disaster. The families of the settlers could not defend themselves and would often abandon the land and return to the east. There were few fortified places or garrison houses on the frontier wherein settlers or their families could take refuge except for the scattered forts. Neither were there sufficient resources on the frontier to sustain the militia when units were deployed there.

In 1642 the Lords of Trade sent a new set of orders to Governor Berkeley, including instructions concerning the militia.



11. To the end the country may be the better served against all Hostil Invasions it is requisite that all persons from the age of 16 to 60 be armed with arms, both offensive and defensive. And if any person be defective in this kind, wee strictly charge you to command them to provide themselves of sufficient arms within one year or sooner if possible it may be done, and if any shall fail to be armed at the end of the Term limited we will that you punish them severely.



12. And for that Arms without the Knowledge of the use of them are of no effect wee ordain that there be one Muster Master Generall, appointed by as for the Colony, who shall 4 times in the year and oftener (if cause be) not only view the arms, ammunition and furniture of every Person in the Colony, but also train and exercise the people, touching the use and order of arms and shall also certify the defects if any be either of appearance or otherwise to you the Governor and Councill. . . . And for his competent maintenance we will that you, the Governor and Councill, so order the business at a General Assembly that every Plantation be rated equally according to the number of persons, wherein you are to follow the course practised in the Realm of England.



13. That you cause likewise 10 Guarders to he maintained for the Port at Point Comfort. And that you take course that ye Capt of ye said Port have a competent allowance for his services there. Also that the said fort be well kept in Reparation and provided with ammunition.



14. That new Comers be exempted the 1st yeare from going in p'son or contributing to the wars Save only in defence of the place where they shall inhabit and that only when the enemies shall assail them, but all others in the Colony shall go or be rated to the maintenance of the war proportionately to their abilitys, neither shall any man be priviledged for going to the warr that is above 16 years old and under 60, respect being had to the quality of the person, that officers be not forced to go as private soldiers or in places inferior to their Degrees, unless in case of supreme necessity.(26)



Virginia pursued a conscious plan of confrontation with the Amerindians between 1622 and 1644, a policy aimed at extermination or at least complete pacification. Initially Virginia's political authorities considered all Amerindians to be enemies and hostiles to be eliminated, adopting for perhaps the first time the maxim that the only good Indian was a dead one. There was almost constant warfare, although the number of real battles was few. In such a war of attrition, the demands on the militia were great and men groaned under the constant militia musters. An essential ingredient of the policy was constant and unremitting harassment of the enemy. The legislature again in 1643 ordered that no quarter be given to warring Amerindian tribes. This law essentially allowed militia to attack villages at will. Home county courts of the militia paid the expenses of the roving bands of terrorists.(27)

On 17 April 1643, the Northampton County Court ordered that "no person or persons whatsoever within the County of Northampton except those of the Commission, shall from henceforth travel from house to house within said county without a sufficient fixed gun with powder and shot." Penalty for non-compliance was 100 pounds of tobacco, with the possibility of imprisonment for repeated failures to carry a gun.(28) Following the enactment of this local legislation, the Virginia legislature enacted a similar law. That law required that "every family shall bring with them to Church on Sundays, one fixed and serviceable gun . . . under penalty of ten pounds of tobacco." White male servants who were required otherwise to bear arms were to receive guns from their masters. If they failed to carry their guns to church they were subject to the penalty of "twenty lashes, well laid on."(29)

In 1644 the Powhatan Indians again attacked the outlying and isolated farms along the James River. The governor ordered the militia, some 300 strong, into the field, where, for six weeks, they pursued the Indians, burned the crops and sacked their towns. This marked the end of the threat from the exhausted and depleted Powhatan tribes. Following the Third Powhatan War, the governor divided Virginia into two basic military districts, one north, and one south, of the James River. Each district made its own military policies and created its own strategy.(30)

In 1651 the militia was again reorganized along county lines, following the model created by Massachusetts in 1643.(31)

In February 1645 the legislature authorized the association of its three principal counties to create the first regimental structure in the colony. The law also designated the militia as the official source for soldiers. For each fifteen militiamen the counties were to furnish one soldier.(32) The system of drafting one man among each 15 taxables proved to be quite unpopular, especially when the pool of 15 could not agree upon which man should serve. There was widespread resistance to the drafting of militia, forcing the legislature to pass an explanatory act in 1648.

The colony augmented force with some vague promises of scalp bounties, plunder, profits for sales of prisoners and land grants for service as an indispensable to sustaining support and morale. These laws were repealed only after peace had been established. In 1645 the legislature pursued a war against the Mansimum and their allies by "cutting up their corn and doing or performing any act of hostility against them" to such a degree that their towns were destroyed and the Amerindians reduced to hiding in the woods and ambushing whatever whites they might fall upon.(33)

Although a populous and prosperous state Virginia could not sustain the costs of constant Indian wars that this policy promoted. The colony attempted to support those wounded in Indian wars, or their widows and offspring, or to at least remit taxes upon those injured or widowed.(34) By 1646 the colony adopted a kinder, more gentle policy toward the Amerindians. The colony made peace with the Mansimum in October 1646 on its own terms. The Indians ceded all land between the falls of the James River and the York River, acknowledged the sovereignty of the English king, surrendered all firearms, and return all runaway slaves, escaped prisoners, and indentured servants. Indians who returned to their former homes could be killed instantly.(35)

The legislature considered several interesting ideas about "civilizing" and pacifying their former enemies. First, they would offer the chiefs a cow for every eight wolfs' heads turned in. When the men came to collect, the churchmen would attempt to convert them to Christianity. Amerindian children could be brought into settlers' homes provided they be instructed in Christianity. Indian traders would be controlled and licensed and would guide clergymen to the villages. As we have seen, Virginia had long attempted to contain the Amerindians by limiting their access to firearms and gunpowder, and this ban was to be continued.(36) On 25 November 1652, the colonial legislature passed a new law which provided,



Whereas divers of the Inhabitants of this [Northumberland] County doe employ Indians with guns & powder and shott, very frequently and usually to the great danger of a Massacre, the Court doth think fitt to declare and publish unto the whole county that if any person or persons who so ever shall with 10 days after the date hereof deliver either gun powder or shott to any Indian under what pretence so over shall be proceeded with all according to the Act of assembly in that case provided and after that manner of persons that have any guns out amongst the Indians after publication hereof shall get them in with all convenient speed and that no persons what so ever imploy any Indian at all nor supply them with powder and shott.(37)



In 1658 the Virginia House of Burgesses created a rudimentary militia act which required that



a provident supplie be made of gunn powder and shott to our owne people, and this strictly to bee lookt to by the officers of the militia, vizt., That every man able to beare armes have in his house a fitt gunn, two pounds of powder and eight pound of shott at least which are to be provided by every man for his family before the last of March next, and whosoever shall faile of makeing such provision to be fined fiftie pounds of tobacco to bee laied out by the county courts for a common stock of amunition for the county.(38)



In the same year, the legislature attempted to guarantee the natives' title to their land in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, but still allowed, even authorized and financed, exploration of the area. The law still permitted the killing of an aborigine if he was suspected of "mischief." The legislature also permitted them to own guns, although there was no clear avenue for their sale or barter, or of supplying gunpowder, lead and flints.(39) It was simply a matter of time until additional land, especially in the fertile and beautiful Shenandoah Valley, was traded for trinkets, guns and supplies. Where title was obtained, the organization of a militia among the settlers was inevitable.

In 1660 John Powell carried a complaint to the legislature in which he alleged that Amerindians had encroached on his land, committing unspecified damages. The legislature authorized him to capture as many Amerindians as would satisfy his claim and sell them as slaves abroad. The local militia was authorized to assist him in rounding up the slaves. In other cases over the next few years, the legislature attempted to protect the Amerindians' land, even to the point of ordering the militia to burn houses built on illegally obtained land. The legislature voided some questionable land conveyances, protecting the natives in a way as if "the same had bin done to an Englishman."(40)

With the increasing encroachment of settlers into the western areas of Virginia, tribes on the frontier came under increasing pressure. Additionally, the Iroquois made occasional raids as far south as Maryland and Virginia. A few tribes found support from some of their traditional enemies. It appears that the Amerindians were beginning to understand that the tribes must either stand united or be decimated piecemeal. As early as 1662 Virginia warned the western Amerindians that they must not encroach on settlements, raid villages or homesteads, or molest tributary Indians. The whites, fearing that an alliance was in the making, demanded that a number of children be surrendered from the Potomaks and allied northern tribes. In a white man was killed the Amerindians in the closest village were to be held responsible.(41)

In 1666 Thomas Ludwell wrote a travelogue of Virginia. He observed the militia and reported to the Lords of Trade,



Every county within ye said Province hath a regiment of ffoot under ye command of a colonel and other inferior officers and many of them a troop of horse under ye command of a captain . . . . Great care is taken that ye respective officers doe train them and see their Armes [are] well fixed and truly, my Lords, I believe all to be in so good order as an Enemy would gain little advantage by attempting anything upon them.(42)



By 1675 Virginia was fighting the last of its great colonial Indian wars. The natives were in submission and most were nominally allied with the colony, which, in reality, meant that they were dependent upon Virginia for daily support and protection. The Senecas of the Five Nations stirred up the Susquehannocks and Piscataways along the Potomac and a large combined force attacked the settlers in Maryland and northern Virginia. Six chiefs attempted to reestablish the peace, but were treacherously murdered. This outrage roused the Amerindians who slew a hundred colonists in revenge. A second time the confederated tribes offered peace and a second time their offer was rejected. The colonists were bent on revenge for the merciless slayings and wanted to exterminate the Indians. Initially, Governor William Berkeley had sought to adopt a largely defensive posture which required a minimum number of troops. But the legislature supported the people who clamored for war and authorized the counties to call out their militias. It declared war and passed a number of laws designed to bring the militia units up to full strength. Taxes were increased to pay for the equipping and salaries of the militiamen.(43)

Meanwhile, the colony was torn with contentions incident to the Restoration, and these troubles culminated in what is known as Bacon's Rebellion. The deprivations and outrages perpetrated by the Amerindians, and the stiffening Amerindian resistance, afforded the rebels their excuse for arming. In 1676 Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., led a group of settlers who applied great pressure on Berkeley to double the number of militia called for duty in order to launch a great all-out offensive against the Amerindians, designed to end the menace forever. In 1676 Sir William Berkeley, Governor of the colony, called for a standing army of 500 levies drafted out of the militia units, and paid for by the increase in public taxation. The planters who dominated the legislature objected, saying that the colony could not sustain the additional taxes.(44)

Bacon, an articulate planter, made a counter-proposal, calling for a force of 1000 volunteers, funded by the spoils of war. The assembly was dominated by Bacon's followers and it authorized the creation of the full fore of one thousand militiamen by assigning quotas to each of the eighteen counties.

Berkeley correctly surmised that Bacon's mercenaries would plunder the wealthiest tribes, which were peaceful, and ignore the poorer ones that were warlike.(45) The uncivilized and more warlike aborigine had few desirable goods whereas the more peaceful "civilized" Indians had considerable goods.

Still, since Bacon was able to dominate the legislature, which became known as the Bacon Assembly, his legislation passed. His militia act attempted to distinguish between friendly and hostile Amerindians. The act declared that any Amerindian found outside his village was to be considered an enemy. All Amerindians had to surrender their arms, even guns that had been heretofore legally owned. They must agree not to hide, shelter, conceal, or even trade with, any warriors from other tribes, and had to deliver up any strangers who came among them. If the visitors were too strong for the hosts to capture, they must assist the militia in taking them. Each town must provide an accounting of its warriors, women and children. All Amerindians taken in battle were to be enslaved, with proceeds of their sale to be accounted as booty of war.(46)

Following the massacre of the relatively unarmed and peaceful Occaneechee in May 1676, and just before the anticipated slaughter of the like Pamunkeys, Berkeley ordered Bacon to disband and relinquish his command. Bacon marched against Berkeley, burned James Town, and assumed political control of the colony.(47) Commands were given by trumpet for the first time in the Virginia colony.(48)

The Bacon Assembly suspended all trade with the Amerindians, but this caused too great a loss to the traders so trade was permitted with those adjudged to be friendly. Natives wishing to trade had to come unarmed. Two forty day trading sessions were established north and south of the James River, with the governor and council receiving a percentage of the profits. At any point, whites might demand that any native approaching must lay down his arms.(49)

Upon hearing that a British army was on its way from the Chesapeake area to restore order, Bacon was unshaken. He would merely adopt tactics learned in fighting the Amerindians. "Are we not acquainted with the country, so that we can lay ambuscades?" Bacon asked, "Can we not hide behind trees to render their discipline of no avail? Are we not as good or better shots than they?"(50) Bacon's position became gospel to the colonists and is something that might have been uttered by any of a large number of militiamen during the American Revolution.

In October 1676 Bacon died and Berkeley reestablished his authority. One thousand regular troops arrived, sent by the Stuarts from England, and a commission investigated Berkeley's alleged despotism. In May 1677 Berkeley returned to England, but died there on 9 July 1677, before the matter was settled. With Stuart troops firmly in charge the remainder of Bacon's militia disbanded and melted back into the frontier. Since both of the principals were now dead nothing more was done at court and, having received a pledge of renewed loyalty from the colonists, the troops were withdrawn.(51) William Sherwood's account was hardly flattering of Bacon and his men, viewing them as seditious rebels. "Ye Rabble giveing out they will have their owne Lawes, demanding ye Militia to be settled in them with such like rebellious practices."(52)

Some settlers complained that they were forced to leave their farms and neglect their occupations and stand seacoast watch and garrison duty in outlying frontier forts, but received no compensation for serving their militia duty and that impressment into the militia was a cause of the rebellion. Others complained of the burden the law imposed by requiring them to buy arms to stand the hated militia duty. Having armed themselves, they found themselves disarmed by the same government which imposed the purchase upon them. "Wee have been compelled to buy ourselves Guns, Pistols and other Armes . . . [and] have now had them taken away from us, the which wee desire to be restored to us again."(53)

The destruction of the Amerindians was essentially complete. The poor remnants that remained were of no great consequence, with most reduced to tue most wretched poverty. Tribal distinctions all but disappeared as the survivors struggled merely to exist. Berkeley in 1680 claimed that "the Indians our neighbours are absolutely subjected, so that there is no fear of them." Amerindian country was clear for western expansion.(54)

Soon after Bacon's Rebellion, the North Carolina's government was threatened by a second popular uprising, known as Culpeper's Rebellion. As a protest against the arbitrary rule of Governor John Jenkins, Thomas Miller, unpopular leader of the proprietary faction, combined the functions of governor with the lucrative post of customs collector. On 3 December 1677 the anti-proprietary faction arrested and imprisoned Miller. Miller escaped and fled to England and put his case before the Privy Council. The governor considered calling out the militia to restore order and the home government considered dispatching troops from England. John Culpeper of Virginia defended the leaders of the anti-proprietary party. Meanwhile, the Earl of Shaftsbury, having decided that Miller had exceeded his authority, mediated the dispute, and the uneasy peace was made permanent.

In 1679 the Assembly decided to construct four garrison-houses on the headwaters of the four great rivers, Potomac, Rappahannock, Mattapony and James, "and that every 40 tithables within this colony be assessed and be obliged to fitt out and sett forth one able and sufficient man and horse with furniture well and completely armed with a case of good pistols, carbine or short Gunn, and a sword." The settlers on the Rappahannock were to have "in readiness upon all occasions, at beate of drum, fifty able men well armed." Additionally, two hundred men were to be counted as reserves, to be called when needed. Major Lawrence Smith was to organize the militia and for this service was to receive 14,000 acres of land. William Bird was to have the same amount of land for organizing the militia near the fall on the James River.(55)

In 1680 the assembly in Jamestown, Virginia, ordered that all persons of color be disarmed. Blacks were prohibited from carrying swords, clubs, guns or any other weapons for either offensive or defensive use. The assembly was likewise afraid of the black assemblies because "the frequent meetings of considerable numbers of negroe slaves, under pretence of feasts and burialls is judged [to be] of dangerous consequence."(56) In 1705 the law was mitigated by substituting the word slave for negro, and that "all and every such person or persons be exempted from serving either in horse or foot."(57)

At this point Virginia reconsidered its militia policy. Few poor men could realistically afford to buy their firearms and other militia supplies so the colony undertook to finance many expenses for individual militiamen. The government could not afford to both maintain the militia and provide static fortifications. By recruiting only among gentlemen the colony was freed from having to make contributions to the support of the militiamen. No formal law or edict disarmed the poor. They were merely relegated to a position as inactive militia. Disarmament occurred by attrition. No one inspected arms or mustered the great militia and the poor neglected to maintain and update their arms.

In April 1684 Charles II approved a major change in the colony's militia law. The law is significant in several ways. It decreed the right, as well as the obligation, of colonists to own their weapons; and it protected the arms owned by the subjects from government confiscation.



For the encouragement of the inhabitants of this his majesties collony and dominion of Virginia, to provide themselves with arms and ammunition, for the defence of this his majesties country, and that they may appear well and compleatly furnished when commanded to musters and other the king's service which many persons have hitherto delayed to do; for that their arms have been imprest and taken from them. Be it (a) enacted by the governour, council and burgesses of this present general assembly, and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted, that all such swords, musketts, (b) pistolls, carbines, guns, and other armes and furniture, as the inhabitants of this country are already provided, or shall provide and furnish themselves with, for their necessary use and service, shall from henceforth be free and exempted from being imprest or taken from him or them, that already are provided or shall soe provide or furnish himselfe, neither shall the same be lyable to be taken by any distresse, seizure, attachment or execution. Any law, usage or custom to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.

And be it further enacted, That between this and the five and twentieth day of March, which shall be in the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty six, every trooper of the respective counties of this country, shall furnish and supply himself with a good able horse, saddle, and all arms and (c) furniture, fitt and compleat for a trooper, and that every foot soldier, shall furnish and supply himselfe, with a sword, musquet and other furniture fitt for a soldier, and that each trooper and foot souldier, be provided with two pounds of powder, and eight pounds of shott, and shall continually keep their armes well fixt, cleane and fitt for the king's service.

And be it further enacted, That every trooper, failing to supply himselfe within the time aforesaid, with such arms and furniture, and not afterwards keeping the same well fixt, shall forfeite four hundred pounds of tobacco, to his majesty, for the use of the county in which the (a) delinquent shall live, towards the provideing of colours, drums and trumpetts therein, and every foot souldier soe failing to provide himselfe, within the time aforesaid, and not keeping the same well fixt, shall forfeit two hundred pounds of tobacco to his majesty, for the use aforesaid, and that all the militia officers of this country, take care to see the execution and due observation of this act, in their several and respective regiments, troops and companies.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every collonell of a regiment within this country, shall once every yeare, upon the first Thursday in October, yearly, cause a generall muster, and exercise of the regiment under his command, or oftener if occasion shall require. And that every captain or commander of any troop of horse or foot company, within this country, shall once at the least in every three months, muster, traine and exercise, the troop or company under his command, to the end, they may be the better fitted and enabled, for his majesties and the countryes service when they shall be commanded thereunto.(58)



Some thought that there were problems with he practice of the militia law, if not defects in the law itself. The governor was frequently remiss in appointing officers to take control over the colony's militia. On 4 July 1687 Lieutenant-colonel William Fitzhugh complained that in Stafford County, "I know not there being one Militia Officer in Commission in the whole County & consequently people best spared cannot be commanded into Service & appointed to guard the remotest, most suspected and dangerous places." He submitted a full list of men eligible for militia duty, but pointed out that a select militia would make more sense. At least on the frontier, where few musters could be readily scheduled, intensively training the few made more sense than half training the many. "A full number with a soldier like appearance," Fitzhugh wrote, "is far more suitable and commendable than a far greater number presenting themselves in the field with clubs and staves rather like a rabble rout than a well disciplined militia."(59) In this year the legislature appropriated tax money for the purchase of colors, drums and trumpets for the militia. It also agreed to purchase all musicians' instruments at public expense.(60)

Those exempted from militia service in the 1690s included physicians, surgeons, readers, clerks, ferrymen and persons of color.(61) By effectively disarming the poorer classes the authorities had less cause to worry about a popular uprising.(62)

In 1691 the legislature repealed all former prohibitions to, and restrictions on, the Indian trade. This act also had the effect of protecting all Amerindians from being newly enslaved after that date. Neither could they be enlisted in the militia against their will.(63)

Ranging companies were commonplace in the middle colonies by the time of the American Revolution, but were uncommon in the seventeenth century. Virginia had formed companies of rangers by 1690, for there is a notation in the British Public Records Office dated 23 April 1692 which refers to gunpowder and other supplies having been sent to the rangers of King & Queen County, Virginia.(64) By 1701 the militia of those two counties alone numbered 132 officers and non-commissioned officers; 152 horsemen; 222 dragoons; 415 foot soldiers. Among their arms were 575 swords, 141 pistols and 543 muskets.(65)

A new military-Indian policy proved to be more reasonable. Virginia would ally with and materially support friendly, civilized tribes who would guarantee the provincial borders. The colony built a string of forts along the frontier and recruited mounted rangers to maintain order and peace. These militia-cavalry were the equivalent of the much vaunted New England minutemen. The system generally worked well.

On 9 December 1698 the king appointed a new executive, Lieutenant-governor Nicholson. He proved to be highly unpopular by exercising powers heretofore reserved to, or traditionally exercised by, council or legislature. Two usurpations of power were related to the militia. First, Nicholson assumed appointment of superior militia officers. Second, he was charged with "advancing men of inferior stations to the chief commands of the militia" while "all colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors and captains . . . are put in and turned out" arbitrarily."(66) So great were the protestations that the king removed Nicholson on 15 August 1705.

One of the unique functions of the militia in the late seventeenth, and early eighteenth, centuries was the enforcement of religious participation. The militia was charged with forcing all persons, whether religious or not, to attend services at the Church of England.

By the end of the seventeenth century Virginia's needs for militia were changing. The population of the colony increased, making training and recruitment easier and expediting the creation and maintenance of militia enrollment lists. Still, increasingly poorer emigrants swelled the ranks while failing because of poverty to arm themselves adequately. Her concern for Amerindian attacks was minimal since by 1700 the colony had subdued the stronger tribes. The Carolinas served as a successful barrier to the south and the Appalachian mountains, with a few frontier forts, guarded her western boundary. The French did not threaten Virginia's interests for another half century. What remained of the decimated Amerindian tribes received support from the colonial government. They frequently sold their services as scouts and even warriors. The colony had to provide only money, command and a few supplemental frontiersmen to serve as scouts. In the Tuscarora War of 1712 Virginia was able to rely on the Carolina militias and Governor Spotswood's diplomacy.(67) When Colonel John Barnwell took his troops into battle in the Tuscarora War he manipulated his mounted troops with trumpets and his foot soldiers with drums.(68)

In 1710 the Assembly authorized the lieutenant-governor, as military commander of the colony, to form several bands of rangers. Each county lieutenant "shall choose out and list eleven able-bodied men, with horses and accouterments, arms and ammunition, resideing as near as conveniently may be to that frontier station." The lieutenant served simultaneously as county militia commander and commandant of the rangers.(69)

With the coming of the war known as Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713, authorities thought that Virginia needed an adequate militia law. The militia law of 1705 was the first truly comprehensive enactment on the subject promulgated in the colony. The law created a general obligation to keep and bear arms in defense of country. There was a long list of exemptions to the requirement that men muster, including: millers with active mills; members of the House of Burgesses and the King's Council; slaves and imported servants; officers and men on active duty with the king's forces; the attorney general; justices of the peace; the clerks of parishes, council, counties and the general court; constables and sheriffs; ministers; schoolmasters; and overseers charged with the supervision of four or more slaves. Those exempted still had to supply their own arms and could be fined for failure to do so. Those exempted were charged with an obligation to "provide and keep at their respective places of abode a troopers horse, furniture, arms and ammunition, according to the directions of this act hereafter mentioned." They could be mustered in case of invasion or insurrection. "And in case of any rebellion or invasion[they] shall also be obliged to appear when thereunto required, and serve in such stations as are suitable for gentlemen, under the direction of the colonel or chief officer of the county where he or they shall reside, under the same penaltys as any other person or persons, who by this act are injoyned to be listed in the militia. . . ." Militiamen who failed to appear with the required arms, ammunition and accoutrements were fined 100 pounds of tobacco. The commander of each troop was required to appoint a clerk who was to record courts-martial and receive the company fines. The other major provisions of the law read as follows.



For the settling, arming and training a militia for her majestie's service, to be ready on all occasions for the defence and preservation of this her colony and dominion, be it enacted, by the governor, council, and burgesses, of this present general assembly . . . to list all male persons whatsoever, from sixteen to sixty years of age within his respective county, to serve in horse or foot, as in his discretion he shall see cause and think reasonable . . . . The colonell or chief officer of the militia of every county be required, and every of them is hereby required, as soon as conveniently may be, after the publication of this act, to make or cause to be made, a new list of all the male persons in his respective county capable by this act to serve in the militia, and to order and dispose them into troops or companys . . . . each trouper or ffoot soldier may be thereby guided to provide and furnish himself with such arms and ammunition and within such time as this act hereafter directs. . . . That every ffoot soldier be provided with a firelock, muskett or fusee well fixed, a good sword and cartouch box, and six charges of powder, and appear constantly with the same at time and place appointed for muster and exercise, and that besides those each foot soldier have at his place of abode two pounds of powder and eight pounds of shott, and bring the same into the field with him when thereunto specially required, and that every soldier belonging to the horse be provided with a good serviceable horse, a good saddle, holsters, brest plate and crouper, a case of good pistolls well fixed, sword and double cartouch box, and twelve charges of powder, and constantly appear with the same when and where appointed to muster and exercise, and that besides those each soldier belonging to the horse have at his usuall place of abode a well fixed carabine, with belt and swivel, two pounds of powder and eight pounds of shott, and bring the same into the ffield with him, when thereunto specially required. . . . eighteen months time [is] be given and allowed to each trouper and ffoot soldier . . . to furnish and provide himself with arms and ammunition . . . . for the encouragement of every soldier in horse or ffoot to provide and furnish himself according to this act and his security to keep his horse, arms and ammunition, when provided, . . . the musket or ffuzee, the sword, cartouch box and ammunition of every ffoot soldier, and time horse, saddle and furniture, the carbine, pistolls, sword, cartouch box and ammunition of every trooper provided and kept in pursuance of this act to appear and exercise withall be free and exempted at all times from being impressed upon any account whatsoever, and likewise from being seized or taken by any manner of distress, attachment, or writt of execution, and that every distress, seizure, attachment or execution made or served upon any of the premises, be unlawful and void . . . . the colonel or chief officer of the militia of every county once every year at least, [is to] cause a general muster and exercise of all the horse and ffoot in his county . . . [and] every captain both of horse and foot once in every three months, muster, train and exercise his troop or company, or oftener if occasion require. Provided, That no soldier in horse or foot, be fined above five times in one year for neglect in appearing. . . . all soldiers in horse and ffoot during the time they are in arms, shall observe amid obediently perform the commands of their officer relating to their exercising according to time best of their skill, and that the chief officers upon time place shall and may imprison mutineers and such soldiers as do not their dutys as soldiers at time day of their musters and training, and shall and may inflict for punishment for every such offence, any mulet not exceeding fifty pounds of tobacco, or the penalty of imprisonment without bail or main prise, not exceeding ten days.(70)



The militia act did not yield the desired results. At the end of Queen Anne's War, Governor Alexander Spotswood thought "the Virginians to be capable of being made as good a militia as any in the World, yet I do take them to be at this time the worst in the King's Dominions."(71) In 1713 Governor Spotswood called out the militia against a weak Amerindian enemy, but it failed to respond. He attempted to recruit, first by a call for volunteers, and then by offering substantial pay incentives, an army of frontiersmen. He found that those living inland shared little concern for the lives of the frontiersmen; and that in time of Amerindian threat the frontiersmen did not want to leave their homes, farms, crops and families.

In a long letter to the Board of Trade he argued that the rich had gotten off too easily in the past and that the poor had unfairly borne the burden. After a year filled with great frustration, Spotswood declared that "no Man of an Estate is under any Obligation to Muster . . . [while] even the Servants or Overseers of the Rich are likewise exempted," and thus "the whole burthen lyes upon the poorest sort of people," he thought to scrap the whole militia system. Disgusted, he proposed that the House of Burgesses rewrite the law, changing the general militia into a select one. What Spotswood proposed would constitute a radical change. A select force of skilled, trained and disciplined militiamen would be recruited, consisting of approximately one-third of the adult, free, male population. The remaining two-thirds would be taxed to support the select militia. The citizen-soldiers would be exempted from paying the militia tax. The militia would exercise ten times a year. He proposed extending the frontier mounted ranger principle to encompass the entire militia system. A select militia system would wholly replace the general militia and "Persons of Estates . . . would not come off so easily as they do now." (72) Disillusioned by defeat of his plan in the legislature, Spotswood made peace with the Tuscarora who soon moved on to become the sixth tribe associated with the League of the Iroquois.

As in New England, militia training days, especially the annual regimental muster, had become important social events in Virginia. As 1737 the militia put on a public demonstration of its skills at a county fair, passing in review before those assembled and practicing the manual of arms and other drill exercises. The militia musicians played music for the entertainment of the spectators "and gave as great Satisfaction, in general, as could be possibly expected." Refreshments, games and general socializing followed the militia's performance. The most accomplished regimental trumpeter often displayed his skills in support of a horse race. Few events were more popular among the spectators than the culminating parade in which all militia units passed in formal review before the highest ranking militia officers and various political authorities.(73)

The Lords of Trade inquired of Governor Spotswood as to the number of inhabitants and the state of the militia in 1712. Spotswood responded on 26 July 1712. "The number of freemen fit to bear arms . . . [is] 12,051 and I believe there cannot be less than an equal number of Negroes and other Servants, if it were fit to arm them upon any occasion."(74) On 16 February 1716 Governor Spotswood reported to the Lords of Trade on the numbers enrolled in the Virginia militia. "Ye number of Militia of this Colony . . . consists of about 14,000 horse and foot . . . The list of tythables . . . last year amounted to 31,658 . . . all male persons, white and black, above ye age of 16." He also reported that there were 300 firelocks in the public stores.(75) On 7 February 1716 Spotswood proposed the Commission of Trade and Plantations that Virginia form a "standing militia" of select membership. Membership would rotate on an annual basis, but those serving during a certain year would be in "permanent condition of muster." He called for 3000 foot and 1500 horsemen "at a yearly cost of 600,000 pounds of tobacco."(76) He argued his case in a letter to the Board of Trade,



What my Designs were, by the Scheme I laid before the Assembly regulating their Militia, will best appear from the Project it self, which, because it is not inserted in the Journals of the Assembly . . . I think it becomes me to employ my Thoughts in search of what may better conduce to the Welfare of the People committed to my charge, and do apprehend that I have the same Liberty of Recommending my notions to the Assembly, to be brought, (if they consent,) into a Bill, as they have of Proposing Their's to me to be pass'd, (if I assent,) into a Law; yet I offer'd no Scheme upon this Head 'till, after the House of Burgesses had Addressed,(77) expressing their Inclinations to have the Militia of this Colony under a better Regulation, and, at the same time, desiring me to propose a Method by which it might be rendered more usefull . . . my Project for the better Regulation of the Militia was no more than what is agreeable to the Constitution of Great Britain, I hope your Lordships will rather approve the same, and not judgde that I have endeavoured to destroy a profitable People by desiring them to imitate the Justice and Policy of their Mother Country, where no such unequal Burthen is laid upon the poor as that of defending the Estates of the Rich, while those contribute nothing themselves; For, according to the present constitution of the Militia here, no Man of an Estate is under any Obligation to Muster, and even ye Servants or Overseers of the Rich are likewise exempted; the whole Burthen lyes upon the poorest sort of people, who are to subsist by their Labour; these are Finable if they don't provide themselves with Arms, Ammunition and Accoutrements, and appear at Muster five times in a Year; but an officer may appear without Arms, who may absent himself from Duty as often as he pleases without being liable to any Fine at all; nay, and if it be his interest to ingratiate himself with the Men, he will not command them out, and then the Soldier, not being summoned to march, is not liable to be fined any more than the Officer. Besides, when the Poorer Inhabitants are diverted from their Labour to attend at Muster, it is to no manner of purpose, their being not one Officer in the Militia of this Government that has served in any Station in the Army, nor knows how to exercise his Men when he calls them together. This is the State of the Militia under the present Law, and therefore I could not imagine that my endeavouring a Reformation thereof would be imputed to me as a Crime; That 3,000 Foot and 1,500 Horse should be more a Standing Army or a greater means for me to govern Arbitrarily than 11,000 Foot and 4,000 Horse, of which the Militia now consists, is surprizing to every Body's understanding but the Querist's own. That these 15,000 men, mustering each five times in a year, should be less burthensome than 4,500 Men, mustering ten times in a year, is no less strange, unless the Querist has found out a new kind of Arithmetick, or that he looks upon the Labour of those People who are now obliged to Muster to be of no value. On the contrary, it is demonstrable by my Scheme that above two-thirds of the Inhabitants now listed in the Militia would have been eased from the trouble of Mustering, and consequently that the Man which stayed at home would not be charged with so much as half the pay of him that attended in the Field, which Exemption, costing less than Seven pounds of Tobacco per Muster, there is scarce one man serving in the Militia now who would not be content to pay more than Thrice as much for being to follow his own business instead of travelling 20 or 30 Miles to a Muster. And if, by one Man thus paying his poorer Neighbour for four or five days' Service in a Year, above 600,000 pounds of Tobacco, (as the Querist computes,) should be spent throughout the whole Colony; yet, far from granting that such a Charge must be to the entire Ruin of the Country, I apprehend yet it must be rather a benefit to the Publick by the Circulation of Money and Credit that would be increased thereby, and this circulation would be more just and beneficial, seeing ye Payments would generally happen to be made by the Richer to the Poorer sort. It is true, that by my Scheme Persons of Estates would not come off so easily as they do now, They must have contributed to the Arming as well as Paying the Men who were to be train'd up for the defence of their Estates; And I cannot but pitty the simplicity of the Vulgar here, who, at every offer of a Governor to make their Militia usefull, (tho' the Regulation be never so much in their favour,) are set on to cry out against him as if he was to introduce a Standing Army, Arbitrary Power, burthensome Taxes, &c. And as for their Abettors, who chose rather to risk their whole Country than to be brought to Club for its defence, I wish they or their Posterity may not have cause to Repent of their present Folly When an Enemy shall happen to be at their Doors. For, tho' I will allow the Virginians to be capable of being made as good a Militia as any in the World, Yet I do take them to be at this time the worst in the King's Dominions, and I do think it's not in the power of a Governor to make them Serviceable under the present constitution of the Law. It is, indeed, a Strange Inference. The Querist, upon the Proposal of Adjutants, that they were to huff and Bully the People, This, I am sure, was never intended as any part of their Office in my Scheme, nor am I apt to believe the House of Burgesses, to whom it was referred, would readily have given 'em such an authority. These Adjutants were proposed to be of the Inhabitants of the Country who were first to be exercised and instructed by me in Military Discipline, and afterwards to go into their respective Countys to teach the Officers and Soldiers. However, if, in the above mentioned Scheme there appeared any thing disagreeable to the Inclinations or Interest of the People, I was far from pressing them to it, Seeing it is evident from my Message to the House of Burgesses that I left it to them to adapt it to the Circumstances of the Country.(78)



The Tuscarora War of 1711-12 in North Carolina, in which at least two hundred settlers were massacred, had been won only with the assistance of the militias of South Carolina and Virginia. As the remnants of the once mighty Tuscarora began to migrate northward, Virginia thought it wise policy to exclude these savage warriors from its lands. When two Germans, Lawson and deGraffeured, seeking land for a colony of their countrymen in western Virginia, were taken by Tuscarora in September 1711, the governor mustered frontier ranging militia and dispatched to the area of the New River. Alexander Spotswood attempted to forge a treaty with the Tuscarora, secured by Amerindian hostages, to guarantee the peace of his colony, but failed. Spotswood next tried to make a show of force by mustering six hundred of the best militia to be located, but the Tuscarora had seen militia in the Carolinas and were unimpressed. For his part, the governor genuinely sought an honest, just and equitable settlement and peace.

But the legislature entered the picture, thinking Governor Spotswood's response to be quite inadequate. The legislators feared the Tuscarora who would thought still to include as many as two thousand warriors, while the province could field 12,051 militiamen who were scattered all over the vast territory. So they created a special regiment of rangers, empowering it with the power to kill hostiles on sight. The legislative definition of hostiles included any Amerindian fleeing from a white man or refusing to respond to an order to halt. Fleeing braves could be killed without any fear of prosecution. Indians who were found in the forest and who could not "give a good account of themselves" might be killed, enslaved or imprisoned. Enemy Indians who were captured were enslaved and sold to the benefit of the militiaman. The law excluded these rangers from accountability and punishment for killing any presumed hostile Amerindian. When a company commander certified that a militiaman had killed an Amerindian who had previously attacked or killed any white man or woman, the man received a bonus of 20. As a bonus, those who served as rangers would be exempted for one year thereafter from serving in the militia or being subject to parish or county levies. The legislature denied the Tuscarora the right to live, gather firewood, hunt, or be servants within the provincial boundaries. It budgeted 20,000 to fund the militia. The act was given an effective period of only one year, but was extended at least twice.(79)

Spotswood thought the measures to be far too harsh. In reporting the overreaction of the legislature to the Board of Trade, he wrote,



So violent an humour amongst them [the Assembly] for extirpating all the Indians without distinction of Friends or Enemys that even a project I laid before them for assisting the College to support the charge of those Hostages has been thrown aside without allowing it a debate in their House tho' it was proposed on such a foot as would not have cost the country one farthing.(80)



The Tuscarora initially capitulated and accepted the legislature's conditions after learning of the extent of Virginia's response. They surrendered the hostages, children of their principal leaders, who were then to be converted to Christianity and educated. They released deGraffenreid.

The legislative enactment permitted only men of the Eastern Shore, Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes to hunt in any area east of the Shenandoah Valley. These tribes became known as the Tributary Indians and the law afforded them certain protections and a few privileges. They alone could harvest seafish and shellfish, although they had to wait until the whites had taken all they wanted first. They were required to act as spies and report on any movements of foreign warriors on the frontier. They were expected to join the militia in wars against the hostile tribes to the west. In 1712 the legislature expanded the list of tributary Indians to include the Nansemond, Nottoway, Maherin, Sapon, Stukanocks, Occoneechee, and Tottero tribes. These Amerindians could trade for arms, ammunition and lead.(81)

However, the scope of the conflict widened. Southern tribes who were traditional enemies of the Tuscarora entered the conflict by offering their services to North Carolina. The Cherokee, Creek, Catawba and Yammassee tribes joined with South Carolina to eliminate the Tuscarora menace. The Iroquois Confederation, or at least the Seneca tribe, threatened to join with the Tuscarora, drawing all the northern colonies into the conflict. Spotswood, if not his legislature, thought Virginia to be too divided to wage war effectively, and he wished merely to preserve the peace. But the South Carolina militia, much emboldened by the Amerindian support, fell upon the villages that were supposedly protected by treaty. The Tuscarora and their allies retaliated by massacring both settlers and the tributary Indians. The Nottoways bore the brunt of the attacks.

The large combined force of Carolina militia, Virginia militia, and southern Indians engaged the Tuscarora at the Neuse River and soundly defeated them. Many captives were sold in the West Indies as slaves. The hostile remnant of the Tuscarora migrated for to the north, eventually allying with the Iroquois as the sixth confederated tribe.(82)

With the Tuscarora War finally over, Virginia again turned its eyes westward. The next arena of military action would be in the rich trading area west of the Allegheny mountain range. The Virginia merchants competed with the French for control of the great Mississippi Valley. During the fifteen hundred mile trips, the traders were at great risk from the warring, often intoxicated, Indians who were allied with the French.(83) By treaty signed at Albany, New York, the Iroquois were not to make war, travel, or trade south of the Poyomac River or east of the Allegheny mountain range without a passport from the New York governor. Virginia's tributary Indians were to remain east of the Alleghenies and south of the Potomac River. By these means the colonists sought to establish peace, enlarge their domain, and increase their settlements.(84)

Spotswood thought the frontier inhabitants to have been comprised of people "of the lowest sort." Most had been transported to the colony either as indentured or convict servants "and being out of their time they settle themselves where land is to be taken up and that will produce the necessarys of Life with little Labour. It is pretty well known what morals such people bring with them. . . ." They quickly learned that an enormous profit could be earned by selling liquor to the natives "and make no scruple of first making them drunk and then cheating them of their skins, and even beating them in the bargain." Spotswood thought them incapable of dealing honestly, serving in the militia faithfully, or supporting the government fully. Their misbehavior and cheating ways prompted Indian wars.(85)

On 9 May 1723, the militia law was revised, requiring service of men between ages 21 and sixty. Regarding persons of color, the law was changed back to its original language, denying to any "free negro, mulatto or indian whatsoever," the right to "keep or carry any gun, powder or shot, or any club, or other weapon whatsoever, offensive or defensive" under penalty of "whipping, not to exceed 39 lashes." However, "every free Negro, Mulatto or Indian . . . listed in the Militia may be permitted to keep one gun, powder and shot." Those not enlisted were given a few months in which to dispose of any arms they possessed. Slaves and free blacks could be required to serve as musicians. In time of invasion, rebellion or insurrection, persons of color "shall be obliged to attend and march with the militia, as to do the duty of pioneers, or such other servile labor as they shall be directed to perform."(86) In case of emergency free or enslaved blacks might be required to join the militia to do "the duty of pioneers, or other such servile labor as they shall be directed to perform."(87)

Before 1713, Virginia demanded and received two hostages from each tributary Indian village. Governor Spotswood though that this was the best way to keep these Amerindians peaceful, while giving some of the most talented of their numbers an English style education. As early as 1713 there were seventeen of these students being educated by the College of William and Mary. Shortly thereafter, a special Indian school was erected at Christanna and some additional tributary Indians were brought from reservations to be educated there. A mathematics professor, Hugh Jones, left a memoir of his experience with them.



The young Indians, procured from the tributary Indians . . .with much difficulty were formerly boarded and lodged in town, where the abundance of them used to die, either through sickness, change of provision, and way of life, . . . often for want of proper necessaries and due care of them. Those of them that have escaped well, and have been taught to read and write, have, for the most part, returned to their home. . . . A few of them have lived as servants with the English. . . . But it is a pity more care is not taken of them after they are dismissed from school. They have admirable capacities when their humors and tempers are perfectly understood.(88)



Virginia, like most colonies, used the militia as a reservoir from which troops could be recruited into select ranging forces and such regular military units as were populated by Americans. These units were not under the standard militia limitation of being confined to deployment within the colony. Virginia sought to recruit by advertising for recruits.



An Act for raising Levies and Recruits to serve in the present expedition against the French on the Ohio. Whereas his Majesty has been pleased to send Instructions to his Lieutenant-Governor of this Colony, to raise and levy Soldiers for carrying on the present Expedition against the French on the Ohio; and this present General Assembly being desirous, upon all Occasions, to testify their Loyalty and Duty; and taking into their Consideration that there in every County and Corporation within this Colony, able-bodied Persons, for to serve his Majesty . . . . The Justices of the Peace of every County and Corporation within this Colony . . . are appointed or impowered to solicit Men, to raise and levy such able bodied men . . . to serve his Majesty as Soldiers on the present Expedition . . . . Nothing in this Act contained shall extend to the taking or levying any Person to serve as a Soldier . . . who is, or shall be, an indented or bought Servant, or any person under the Age of 21 years or above the Age of 65 years.(89)



Between 1727 and 1749 Governor William Gooch reported that the Virginia militia consisted of 8800 foot soldiers divided into 176 companies; and 5000 horsemen in 100 troops. The unenrolled militia consisted of all able bodied freemen between ages 21 and 60. The enrolled militia, Gooch ordered, "will be constantly kept under regular discipline and the common men [i.e., unenrolled militia] will be improved in their manner, which want not a little pushing."(90) In 1726 King and Queen County reported that the number of militia to include 221 horsemen and 607 foot-men.(91)

In 1728 William Byrd wrote on the recurrent problems with the Amerindians. He noted that nearly all Amerindian tribes with which Virginians came into contact were now armed with firearms, having completely abandoned their traditional weapons. Byrd wondered why they have given up their bows for a warrior could fire most of a quiver of arrows in the time it took to reload a gun. The Amerindians could make bows and arrows themselves and thus did not become dependent on whites for supplies. They were dependent upon traders and others to supply them with gunpowder, flints and lead balls. Time was on the side of the colonists because they Indians failed to maintain their arms and they could not themselves repair firearms or manufacture gunpowder. Control of the Indian trade was far more important than several companies of militia.(92)

By act of 1738, the legislature mandated that the county militia officers "shall list all free male persons, above the age of one and twenty years" and train them as he saw fit. The men were to provide suitable arms at their own expense for service either as foot soldiers or cavalrymen. The law, reaffirmed by acts of 1755 and 1758, required free blacks, Indians and mulattoes to report at militia musters. Failure to appear invoked the fine of 100 pounds of tobacco. Blacks, whether enslaved or free, and Indians living within white settlements were still forbidden to own or carry firearms. They could serve as pioneers, sappers and miners, trumpeters and drummers.(93) Many blacks served as musicians in the Virginia, and other colonial, militia units.

England declared war on Spain on 19 October 1739 in what is commonly known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. Britain assigned a quota of men to be recruited in the thirteen colonies for service in the West Indies. Lord Cathcart commanded British troops and troops of the thirteen colonies came under the command of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia who was to hold the rank of major-general, quartermaster-general, chief of colonial staff and second in command of the expedition. Colonel William Blakeney was to assist Spotswood in recruiting, drafting if necessary, troops from the colonial militias. Blakeney carried with him signed blank commissions for colonial officers and arms and supplies. Included in Blakeney's instructions was a provision that, if Spotswood could not command the colonial troops, Virginia's Lieutenant-governor William Gooch was to serve in his stead. Spotswood died of a chill on 7 June 1740, before Blakeney arrived with his commission. Thus, responsibility for filling both the Virginia and the entire colonial assessment of troops devolved on Gooch. The American recruits became popularly known as Gooch's American Foot.(94)

The entire expedition soon devolved into a complicated mess. Gooch's commission was inspecific as to rank, so he served as a junior colonel, and was not included in the Council of War once the troops arrived in Jamiaica. When the men and officers left on 25 September 1741, money was not available for transportation of all troops, so the cost was borne through private subscription and the generosity of private ship owners. When the colonial troops arrived they found that no one had made provision for their rations or pay so officers pooled their funds and purchased rations at exorbitant prices from British merchants. Likewise, the colonial troops were not included in orders given to the medical staff and few, if any, physicians and surgeons had been recruited in the colonies. It was common practice for each regiment to guard its own medical facilities jealously and to refuse to treat the men of other regiments unless ordered to do so. Most colonials were impressed into sea service and were given the most degrading physical duties, such as manning bilge pumps. British naval officers moved colonial enlisted men around among the ships as they chose, often in open defiance of their officers, although this practice had long been prohibited to British soldiers. Two men were reportedly killed or maimed after being beaten or flogged according to British naval custom.

Had Spotswood lived he would have been a member of the Council of War, and as a major-general, would have been privy to the most intimate circles of command. As it was, Gooch was treated as a colonel of inferior standing, ignored and excluded from command decisions. He and other colonial officers wrote memorials to the senior British officers, but these had little effect. No records are available to account for colonial casualties, but all evidence points to their having been large. Disease took a heavy toll of lives. The American regiment was disbanded of 24 October 1742, on which date there were still 7 officers and 133 enlisted men hospitalized.

The experiences of militiamen in the War of Jenkins' Ear were, to say the least, bitter. Doubtless, many colonial volunteers were of the lower class, freebooters, adventurers and just plain scoundrels, but many others were unemployed laborers and frontiersmen seeking cash to support their families or to buy a piece of property. They came back with stinging tales of army brutality and of the open disdain in which both British officers and soldiers held them. They were much disgusted with the lack of planning for their arrival, their mis-deployment once they arrived and the failure of the Council of War to integrate them into the army once their presence was made known. The British soldiers and officers, for their part, were unimpressed with the Americans whom they saw only serving duties for which they were ill suited and for which they had not been recruited.(95) Yet another step had been taken down the road to independence.

By 1742 the frontiersmen had pushed west of the mountains, into what is now the state of West Virginia. The first recorded clash between the Virginia provincial militia and Indians west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia occurred on December 18-19, 1742. Colonel James Patton, commander of the Augusta County regiment, reported on the engagement which occurred near Balcony Falls in present-day Rockbridge County, Virginia to Virginia's Governor Gooch. Colonel Patton's first report was dated December 18. The second, dated December 23, contains a longer account but differed from the first in the number of men slain.



A parcel of Indians appear'd in an hostile manner amongst us Killing and carrying off Horses &c. Capt. John Buchanan and Capt. John McDowel came up with them this day, and sent a Man with a Signal of Peace to them, which Man they kill'd on the Spot and fir'd on our Men, which was return'd with Bravery, in about 45 Minutes the Indians fled, leaving eight or ten of their Men dead, and eleven of ours are dead, among whom is Capt. McDowel, we have also sundry wounded. Last night I had an Account of ye Behaviour of the Indians, and immediately travel'd towards them with a Party of Men, and came up within two or three hours after the Battle was over. I have summon'd all the Men in our County together in order to prevent their doing any further Damage, and to repel them force by force. We hear of many Indians on our Frontiers: the particulars of the Battle and Motions of the Enemy I have not time now to write. I am, Yr. Honor's most obedient Servt., James Patton

P.S. There are some white men (whom we believe to be French) among the Indians. Our People are uneasy but full of Spirits, and hope yr Behaviour will shew it for the future, they not being any way daunted at what has happen 'd.



Augusta County Xher 22 1742

Honrd Sr.: Thirty six Indians appear 'd in our County ye 5th Instant well equipp'd for War, pretending a Visit to the Catabaws, they had a Letter dated the 10th of Ober from James Silver near Harris's ferry in pensilvania directed to one Wm. Hogg a Justice o' Peace desiring him to give them a Pass to travel through Virginia to their Enemies, wch Letter they shew'd here, and I serv'd as a pass where Silver's hand was well known. Instead of going directly along the Road they visited moot of our Plantations, killing our Stock, and taking Provisions by force. The 14th Instant they got into Burden's Land about 20 miles from my house, the 15th Capt. McDowel by an Express inform'd me of their insolent Behaviour as also of the uneasiness of the Neighbours, and desird my Directions, on wch I wrote to him and Capt. John Buchanan that the Law of Nature and Nations obliged us to repel an Enemy force by force, but that they were to supply those Indians wth Provisions wch they shd be paid for at the Governments Charge, at the same time to attend yr Motions until they got fairly out of our County. The 16th 17th and 18th Instant they kill'd several valuable Horses, besides carrying off many for their Luggage, which so exasperated our Men that they upbraided our two Captains with Cowardice. Never the less our Captains to prevent mischief sent two men with a White Flag the 10th Instant, desiring Peace and Friendship, to which they answer'd, "O Friends are you there, have we found you, and on that fir d on our Flag, kill'd Capt. McDowel and six more of our Men, on which Capt. Buchanan gave the word of Command and bravely return 'd ye Compliment, and stood his Ground with a very few hands (for our Men were not all come up) in 45 Minutes the Indians fled, leaving 8 of yr Men dead on the spot, amongst whom were two of their Captains. Our Capt. pursued them with only 8 Men several hundred yards, the Enemy getting into a Thicket, he return'd to the Field which he cow'd not by any means prevail on his Men to keep, and stand by him. The Night before the Engagemt I heard of the Indians Behaviour, and march 'd up with 23 Men, and met our Capt. returning 14 Miles distance from where they had ingaged, to which place I went next Day and brought off our Dead being 8 in Number, Capt. Buchanan having taken off ye Wounded the Day before. I have order'd out Patrawlers on all our Frontiers well equipped, and drafted out a certain Number of Young Men out of each Company to be in readiness to reinforce any Party or Place that first needs help, have ordered the Captains to guard their own precincts, have appointed places of Rendez-vous where each Neighbourhood may draw to an Occasion, and have call'd in the stragling Families that lived at a Distance.(96)



Under an act passed in October 1748, slaves living on plantations located on the frontier, and threatened by Amerindian attack, could obtain licensed firearms. The slaves' owners had to sign applications allowing the slave to own guns and they were made responsible for the slaves' use of the guns. While this act did not formally admit slaves to membership in the militias, it did have the effect of allowing them to act as a levees en masse in defense of their own lives and the property and safety of their owners.

On 25 October 1743 France signed a treaty known as the Second Family Compact with Spain and on 15 March 1744 joined Spain's war against England. The French made an unsuccessful assault on Annapolis Royal [Port Royal], Nova Scotia, in 1744. On 16 June 1745 Sir Peter Warren captured Fort Louisbourg. The press in New England was highly critical of Virginia for failing to support the expedition. Virginia had contributed no money and only 150 volunteer militiamen to the expedition, although Virginia was the most populous province and the richest.(97)

In the early 1750s there were many reports that the French were stirring up the Amerindians in the western frontier of the Carolinas and Virginia. Reportedly the French were building forts as bases of supply for the coming war. The Ohio Company assisted the province of Virginia in recruiting and equipping volunteers who would serve in the militia.(98) The newspapers continued to report the alleged movements and actions of the French throughout 1753 and 1754 with great anxiety. The French were alleged to have issued orders to kill or take prisoner all whites, especially traders, caught within the territory they claimed, including Ohio.(99) The press paid no attention to provincial boundaries in reporting "trouble on the frontier" and one article might contain unsubstantiated reports of Indian attacks from the Carolinas to New England.(100) Governor Robert Dinwiddie, a man with essentially no experience in military affairs, was so anxious to enter the war and chase the French from the Ohio territory that he moved without authorization from his superiors or the legislature. He was unable to convince the House of Burgesses that Virginia had any interest in the war. He attempted to use his executive powers to order out a draft of the militia which was essentially a paper organization.(101) The end result was unsatisfactory to everyone.

On 27 February 1752 the legislature passed a new militia act. Each county lieutenant was to enlist all able-bodied men between ages 18 and sixty, excepting indentured servants and slaves, Amerindians and free persons of color. Within two months of the passage of the law, the militia commanders were to muster and enumerate the men and report their names to the governor. Amerindians and free and enslaved black men could still be admitted to service as musicians, or be used in servile capacities as required in emergencies. Strangely, there was no mention of any militia obligation for indentured servants.(102)

The French and Indian war opened with an engagement between the Virginia militia commanded by George Washington and the French in what is now western Pennsylvania, territory then claimed by Virginia. In the absence of any militia force from Pennsylvania, Virginia Governor Dinwiddie ordered his colonial militia to build fortifications at the Forks of Ohio [present day Pittsburgh]. The French had already erected Fort Duquesne and Washington's militia, which had constructed Fort Necessity, clashed with a force led by Coulon de Villiers at Great Meadows on 28 May 1754. Washington had about 150 militiamen and other recruits which brought his force to about 300. The French had about 900 men. In July 1754 Washington was forced to capitulate after losing 30 killed and 70 wounded. He optimistically reported that he had inflicted 300 casualties on the French force.(103) The news of the beginning of hostilities was widely reported.

On 14 February 1754 the Assembly appropriated 10,000 "for the encouragement and protection of western settlers." Five days later Governor Dinwiddie issued a proclamation granting land bounties, in addition to regular pay, to all militiamen who would volunteer "to expel the French and Indians and help to erect a fort at the Forks of the Monongahela." As it turned out, only about 90 men shared in grants that totaled 200,000 acres, most of it between the Kanawha and Great Sandy rivers.(104) George Washington was ordered to go from Williamsburg to Fort Cumberland a few days later. He assumed command of some Virginia men and a company each from South Carolina and New York and on 20 March was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Colonel Joshua Fry recruited the first Virginia volunteer regiment at Alexandria, consisting of 75 men, of which Fry had personally enlisted 50. The volunteers now numbered about 300. As his men marched westward Fry died at Patterson's Creek, probably on 31 May.

As we have seen, Colonel George Washington had assumed command of the Virginia volunteers upon the death of Colonel Fry. Washington's command was forced to seek terms from the French on 17 April 1754. On 3 July he returned to Mount Vernon and in October resigned his commission.

Colonels William Byrd and Adam Stephen joined the Virginia volunteers as officers. Colonel James Innes assumed command at Fort Cumberland, Maryland. In October 1754 the Assembly again authorized recruitment of volunteers, and the drafting of the unemployed, to serve against the French in the West. Justices of the peace, county lieutenants, and other officers were "to raise and levy such able-bodied men as do not follow or exercises any lawful calling or employment, or have not some other lawful and sufficient support and maintenance, to serve his Majesty as soldiers." Any soldier maimed would be supported afterward at the public expense, and families of those killed would also receive public support.(105)

By the first of September, Dinwiddie had received numerous petitions from the southwestern frontier reporting Amerindian incursions and massacres of isolated homesteads. He proposed building several forts on Holstein's and Green Brier's rivers. On 6 October 1754 Colonel Lewis led forty or fifty men on a punitive expedition into the Indian country. Lewis remained in West Augusta until February 1755.

In 1755 Dinwiddie reported to the Lords of Trade the number of militia and inhabitants in Virginia. There were 43,329 white heads of households and an estimated total white population of 173,316. He estimated that there were 60,078 black males of military age and a total population of 120,156 blacks in the province. That provided an estimated total population of 293,472 persons in Virginia. He numbered the militia at 36,000, with another 6000 potential militiamen exempted by various provisions of the militia law. Worse, Dinwiddie reported, "the Militia are not above one-half armed, and their Small Arms are of different Bores."(106)

On 19 February 1755 General Edward Braddock arrived at Hampton, Virginia. The next day Braddock assumed command of all the king's troops in North America. Washington accepted reappointment to his old rank and joined Braddock. Braddock formed two companies of artificers, principally skilled carpenters, to accompany his expedition to cut a road and build fortifications. He next selected a company of light horsemen and four companies of rangers to join his two Irish regiments.(107) Dinwiddie called a council of governors, which met on 14 April, at Alexandria, to discuss manning, equipping, supplying, and funding Braddock's expedition. Meanwhile, Braddock's army marched to Winchester and on to Cumberland, arriving there on 10 May. Like all southern colonies Virginia constantly feared a slave revolt and took legislative action designed to minimize the possibility of such an armed insurrection among a most numerous population. Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie, upon hearing of slave problems near Fort Cumberland, remarked that "The villainy of the Negroes on an emergency of government is what I always feared."(108) However, General Edward Braddock notified Dinwiddie that he intended to utilize a number of free blacks and mulattoes, although he would not necessarily arm them.(109) On 27 June, Braddock's force was joined by Cherokee and Catawba warriors. On 9 July Braddock was surprised near Fort DuQuesne and his army decimated.

Before his defeat, Braddock had predicted that, if his army were to be destroyed, the savages would fall upon the frontier settlements with a vengeance. He also predicted that, as his army neared Fort DuQuesne, the Amerindians would circle around and attack along the frontier to the south. Dinwiddie agreed, and ordered his militia to increase the number serving watch duty. At least one-tenth of the militia was to be stationed at armed readiness at all times. Fast runners were to stationed at all vital spots to carry messages to various ranging stations, the militia, and the governor. Despite the many precautions, massacres occurred along the Holstein River. Dinwiddie summoned Colonel Lewis, asking him to increase the number of rangers and lookouts on the frontier.(110)

Dinwiddie's first recorded correspondence acknowledging Braddock's defeat was dated 16 July. Dinwiddie wrote to Colonel Patton in the Greenbrier area, asking that he strengthen the militia under his command and ordering him to do as much damage as possible to the marauding Amerindian forces. "I have ordered the whole militia of this dominion to be in arms," Dinwiddie wrote, "and your neighboring counties are directed to send men to your assistance." He dispatched Colonel Stewart and about fifty rangers to assist. In the New River area, between October 1754 and August 1755, 21 persons were killed, 7 wounded and nine taken prisoner. Among those killed were Colonel Patton and his deputy, Lieutenant Wright. The latter was killed just three days after Braddock's defeat by Amerindians whose courage had been bolstered by news of that event.

At about the same time the first reports of the terrible massacre were received along the New River. Reverend Hugh McAden, who kept a journal of his times, reported that settlers by the hundred were fleeing the frontier. Many came first to Bedford, and then moved to North Carolina. John Madison, clerk of Augusta County, reported families fleeing from the Roanoke area.(111)

On 25 July Dinwiddie wrote to Washington, informing him that he had ordered three companies of rangers to patrol the frontier. To Colonel John Buchanan he wrote a letter urging him to stand firm and reporting that his ranging company would soon be augmented by the addition of fifty rangers from Lunenburg County under Captain Nathaniel Terry and companies of forty or more rangers led by Captains Lewis, Patton, and Smith. These, Dinwiddie thought, "will be sufficient for the Protection of the Frontiers, without calling out the militia, which is not to be done till a great Extremity." Dinwiddie requested Samuel Overton to raise a company of volunteers in Hanover County and Captain John Phelps to do the same in Bedford County. All ranging companies were to "proceed with all expedition to annoy and destroy the enemy." As an incentive to enlist men and to have them fight, Dinwiddie placed a bounty of 5 on Amerindian scalps. The governor thought the incursions would end by Christmas and that peace would come to the frontier by spring.(112)

Governor Dinwiddie expressed his hope that Colonel Dunbar would not take the remnants of Braddock's army into winter camp, leaving the frontier undefended. Dinwiddie decided to pursue a multi-faceted self-help plan for defense of the colony. He would equip and support the ranging companies, improve the militia, build a select militia, continue the bounty payments for Amerindian scalps, obtain adequate firearms for his troops, and enlist the aid of friendly natives. Most parts of the policy, with the notable exception of the creation of the select militia, had proven effective in years passed.

In 1755, in the wake of Braddock's defeat, and the subsequent Amerindian attacks all along the frontier, Virginia's legislature passed an act placing a bounty on the scalps of the hostiles, in effect confirming the governor's earlier executive order.



Whereas, divers cruel and barbarous murders have been lately committed in the upper parts of this colony, by Indians supposed to be in the interest of the French, without any provocation from us, and contrary to the laws of nature and nations, and they still continue in skulking parties to perpetrate their barbarous and savage cruelties, in the most base and treacherous manner, surprising, torturing, killing and scalping, not only our men, who live dispersedly in the frontiers, but also their helpless wives and children, sparing neither age nor sex; for prevention of which shocking inhumanities, and for repelling such malicious and detestable enemies, be it enacted by the lieutenant-governor, council and burgesses of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that the sum of ten pounds shall be paid by the treasurer of this colony, out of the public money in his hands, to any person or persons, party or parties, either in the pay of this colony, or other the inhabitants thereof, for every male Indian enemy, above the age of twelve years, by him or them taken prisoner, killed or destroyed, within the limits of this colony, at any time within the space of two years after the end of this session of Assembly. [The act further provided that] the scalp of every Indian, so to be killed or destroyed, as aforesaid, shall be produced to the governor or commander-in-chief.(113)



On 14 July 1755 Dinwiddie commissioned William Preston captain of a ranging company, to serve until 24 June 1756. Preston had to recruit his own men and was nominally under the command of Colonel Patton. By the middle of August he had recruited only thirty men, few of whom were from Virginia.

On 14 August Dinwiddie promoted Washington to colonel of the Virginia Regiment and made him supreme commander of all provincial forces raised in defense of the frontier. Dinwiddie promised him sixteen regiments of his countrymen with command post to be established at Winchester and field offices at Alexandria and Fredericksburg. The office in Alexandria would be used primarily for recruitment. Meanwhile, Dinwiddie would obtain arms, ammunition, clothing, and other supplies.

Upon his arrival at Winchester, Washington found the recruits to be in "terrible bad order." No man followed orders unless the officers threatened physical punishment. When he ordered them drilled, it became immediately obvious that they had not been exercised in recent times. The distressed refugees from the frontier cowered in fear of the drunken behavior of most of the recruits.

Recruiting officers had obviously given thought only to the collection of bounties and not to the creation of a formidable fighting force. Provincial officers assigned to recruiting duty showed no interest in carrying out their assignment and returned after several weeks' work without signing a single man. Many recruits were persistent idlers, some criminals, others escaped bondsmen, and still others physically unsuited for service. Many men who had been drafted from militia units chafed at the thought of discipline and complained of their bad luck in having been selected. Few showed any aptitude for, or interest in, military life. Drill sergeants complained about the "insolence" of almost all recruits. Recruits ignored frontiersmen who attempted to explain some of the critical points of Indian fighting. Officers leading men on forced marches often encountered settlers fleeing from the frontier. These poor creatures detained the officers, telling them their tales of woe and beseeching them to return and liberate their homesteads.(114)

George Washington had a prejudice of long standing against the militia. That bias showed throughout the Revolution, but its origins were in the Seven Years War. Writing to his friend and rival Adam Stephen, later a general in the Revolutionary Army, on 18 November 1755, Washington observed that in the "life of Military Discipline" required that "we enforce obedience and obedience will be expected of us." He wished that militiamen be "be subject to death as in Military Law." He urged that bounties be placed on those who desert from the militia as was already the case for deserters from the army. But, he observed, "the Assembly will make no Alteration in the Militia Law."(115) In reality, Washington made no greater progress with the governor that he had with the legislature. Writing from Fort Cumberland on 13 July 1756, he complained to Captain Thomas Waggener, that the "Governor has ordered the Militia to be discharged as soon as harvest."(116) On 4 August 1756 he expressed his disdain for the militia to Governor Dinwiddie. Reporting on his experience in western Virginia he pointed put that when he was ambushed "near Fort Ashby" he received little militia support. He wrote of the "dastardly behavior of the Militia who ran off without half of them having discharged their pieces."(117) He characterized the militia to Dinwiddie as "obstinate, self-willed, perverse, of little or no service to the people and very burthensome to the Country."(118)

Washington was much concerned about the sad condition of the Virginia militia well before Braddock's defeat. He first wrote to Dinwiddie on 21 August 1754, urging greater training of the colonial militia.(119) Following Braddock's defeat George Washington, on 2 August 1755, asked help from Colin Campbell to put the militia "in proper order" to meet the expected onslaught on the frontier.(120) He began correspondence in earnest with Governor Dinwiddie asking his assistance on the same subject. On 8 October 1755, writing from Fredericksburg, Washington told the governor that "I must again take the liberty of mentioning to your honor the necessity of putting the militia under better regulation than they are at present." He urged that Virginia revise its militia law.(121) That letter was followed in rapid succession with another letter dated 11 October in which he threatened to resign his commission "unless the Assembly will enact a law to enforce military law in all its Parts."(122) He suggested to Dinwiddie that the militia law be so revised as to force deserters who were apprehended to be "immediately draughted as Soldiers into the Virginia Regiment."(123)

Washington's views were shared by others, including Governor Dinwiddie, who thought that it lacked both organization and proper discipline. So great was the governor's distrust of the county militias that only under the most dire circumstances would he order it out, depending instead on ranging units. Dinwiddie asked the legislature to take the necessary and proper steps to place them in readiness. In the governor's mind, it was a simple problem requiring only an equally simple remedy. The militia "had not been properly disciplined, or under proper command" and those who neglected their duty were rarely, if ever, punished. A new militia law, requiring service under a more severe set of penalties, and mandating periodic training sessions, would do much to remedy the problem. Had the settlers responded immediately by banding together, they would never have had to leave their homes and crops and would have repelled the invasions. The great body of trained militia could have saved themselves great losses and misfortune.(124)

The legislature responded by passing a new militia law, mandating service of all able-bodied men between ages 16 and sixty. Exemptions to this act included most political officials, millers, farm and slave overseers, and those engaged in mining and refining lead, brass and iron. Men were required to provide at their own expense a "well fixed firelock" with a bayonet, cutting sword, and cartridge box. Those who could afford to provide the appropriate equipment could join the companies of horse. However, this service was necessarily restricted to the wealthy and their sons because of the rather considerable equipment required: a horse, good saddle, breast-plate, crupper, curb-bridle, carbine with boot, brace of pistols with holsters, double cartridge box, and a sword. The law restricted use of militia to the province and no more than five miles beyond habitation on the frontier.(125)

On 23 February 1756 Dinwiddie reported to the Lords of Trade on his progress with militia training. "On my arrival at my government [post] I found the militia in bad order." Although there was an enrollment reported of more than 36,000 men, far fewer men were armed and most were undisciplined or trained in militia tactics. "The militia are not above half-armed, and their small arms [are] of different bores, making them very inconvenient in time of action." The exemptions to the Militia Act were many. There were far too many classes which "are exempted by Act of Assembly from appearing under arms." Those exempted included judges, justices of the peace, plantation overseers, millers and most politicians and public officers. Additionally, many tradesmen were exempted by virtue of their trades. All together those exempted by law amounted, according to Dinwiddie's estimates, to an additional 6000 men who might have been serving in the militia. Dinwiddie then asked the legislature "to vote a general tax to purchase arms of one bore for the militia," but lamented that "I have not yet prevailed with them."(126) However, Dinwiddie, in an address to the legislature, referred most favorably to the militia. "Our militia, under God, is our chief dependence for the protection of our lives and fortunes."(127)

The select militia were specially trained citizen-soldiers who had little frontier experience and whose service was to be primarily in urban areas. On 17 September 1755 Dinwiddie issued orders for the dress of the select militia. The officers of the regular militia were to be dressed in a "suit of regimentals of good blue cloath coat to be faced and faced with scarlet and trimmed with silver; a scarlet waist-coat, with silver lace; blue breeches with silver-laced hat." The officers sent into the woods were also to have one set "of common soldiers' dress."(128)

Governor Dinwiddie valued George Washington's advice and the militia colonel convinced his superior that the enlistment of friendly Amerindians was crucial to the defense of the frontier. Washington knew that the governor could exploit the ancient tribal antagonisms. There were many advantages to be gained at little cost or inconvenience. Obviously, those natives who assisted the colonists would not be at war with them. Their contacts with other tribes would render many vital scouting and intelligence services. They were experienced trackers and woodsmen. Considerable numbers could be enlisted for trinkets worth only a few hundred pounds. Their considerable presence might act as a shield against other, more hostile, tribes.

Virginia Governor Dinwiddie joined the growing effort to take the offensive against the French. Responding in large measure to Washington's several letters,(129) he asked the House of Burgesses to appropriate money to support the British effort against the French at Crown Point, and to supply and arm the militia in the spring of 1756.(130) North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs offered aid and militia supplies to Virginia.(131) The press throughout the American colonies reported Governor Dinwiddie's several calls for increased military preparedness.(132) In Williamsburg the House of Burgesses appropriated money for defense and ordered the militia to be trained and equipped.(133) New militia districts were drawn and training was to be improved.(134)

Dinwiddie decided to take the offensive in February 1756. Major Lewis was to assume command assisted by two "old woodsmen," Captains Woodson and Smith. A supply of 150 small arms, along with gunpowder and lead, was accompanied by a much-needed surgeon, Lieutenant William Fleming. The Cherokees promised aid and Dinwiddie enthusiastically reported to Washington that he hoped to have about 350 men in Lewis' command. The individual companies marched through the Roanoke Valley and assembled at Dunkard's Bottom on the New River at a post optimistically called Fort Frederick. A local minister named Brown appeared to bless the troops, preach a military sermon, and invoke God's protection. Almost immediately word arrived that a Shawnee raiding party had caused mischief about a day's march to the west. Lewis had ordered a man "switched" for swearing and the sight of such physical punishment disgusted the Cherokees who deserted. Major Lewis and Captain Pearis followed them and persuaded them to return, but valuable time had been lost.

Scouts picked up signs of the Shawnee war party along with their prisoners, but the trail was difficult and food soon ran short. Lewis ordered the men to go on half-rations. The New River at many points ran through steep mountain passes with no level land to be found on either shore. The party had to cross the river almost every mile. The men obtained canoes, but most capsized, damaging and destroying supplies. Eight of Smith's men deserted and a part of Preston's company was compelled to continue on the their mission only under the threat of being shot. Unable to contain the spreading mutiny, Major Lewis delivered an impassioned speech urging the men to perform their duty. Only about thirty men and the officers agreed to continue, while the volunteers from the companies led by Smith, Dunlap, Preston and Montgomery deserted.

The remaining party pursued the natives without being able to engage them. Casualties were caused either by natural disaster or the ambush of deserters. Disgusted and frustrated, Lewis returned and delivered his report. On 24 April, Dinwiddie sent him to Cherokee country to construct a fort which was completed at a cost of 2000. Captain Dunlap constructed another fort at the mouth of Craig's Creek. Captain Preston continued to march his men through the woods along the Catawba and Buffalo creeks, after which he commanded a portion of the Augusta County militia that had been mustered to defend the frontier. Frontiersmen circulated a petition, asking that a chain of new forts be constructed along the entire frontier. Meanwhile, the House of Burgesses conducted an inquiry into the conduct of the officers assigned to the Shawnee expedition, finding them all innocent.(135)

Dinwiddie proposed to the Lords of Trade that they authorize the construction of a string of forts along the Allegheny mountains, with emphasis on the mountain passes. The legislature took up the call, demanding that forts be erected from Great Capon in Hampshire County in the north and extending to the south fork of the Mayo River in Halifax County. Many frontiersmen, upon hearing of this policy consideration, supported it by sending memorials and petitions to both the chief executive and the House of Burgesses.(136)

Washington entered the debate. His logic was impeccable. To have the desired effect, each fort would have to have a garrison of approximately eighty to one hundred men. At any time about forty to fifty men would have to be assigned to patrols. The chain of forts would have to be built at intervals not greater than one day's march. The state could not afford to maintain an adequate garrison at so many places. If fewer forts were built, the Amerindians would soon learn how to circumvent them. If fewer men were assigned, the natives would isolate and destroy the smaller garrisons. If the men remained in the forts, they would serve no good purpose. Dinwiddie appointed Washington to chair a conference on this matter, to be held on 10 July 1756 at Fort Cumberland. The conferees expended most of their energy arguing over the best locations for forts.

In April 1756 the Virginia militia skirmished with a party of Amerindians led by French officers. Papers taken from a dead French officer revealed that his party, and possibly others, were to harass Virginia settlements and isolated farms along a broad line. They were to penetrate to within 50 miles of major towns and cities.(137) By May 1756 the Amerindian incursions on the frontier had cut communications among many of the frontier towns. Dinwiddie received reports that "the French and indians to the amount of some thousands have invaded our Back Settlements, committed the greatest Cruelties by murdering many of our Subjects without the least regard to age or sex and burnt a great many Houses." He found it difficult to draft men because few were willing to abandon their families to the savages. He requested cannon and small arms from the home government.(138)

Dinwiddie sent Richard Pearis to the Cherokee nation on 21 April 1756, with gifts and a letter asking them to come to the aid of the province. An Indian trader claimed that the nation owed him 2586 pounds of deer hides for trade goods delivered and that they must hunt until the debt was paid. Pearis, on his own initiative, assigned the debt to Virginia and burned the books. He was then able to recruit 82 warriors to accompany him. The House of Burgesses awarded Pearis 100 for pay his expenses and to discharge the debt.(139)

In late June, Major Lewis gathered several units of rangers and added the 82 Cherokees and set out on another expedition against the Shawnees. The greatest difficulty Lewis encountered was finding a sufficient number of arms to equip his men. The Shawnee spotted the movement of Lewis' troops and on 25 June fell upon the inhabitants in the Roanoke area, massacring many and destroying the only fort in the area. A survivor, John Smith, sent a memorial to the House of Burgesses in which he described the massacre and claimed that a party of eight hundred men could "easily" destroy the Shawnees and burn their principal towns.(140)

On 5 May 1756 Dinwiddie issued instructions to the county lieutenants. They were to make two drafts among the militia, one being for the little army that was needed to fill the void left after the English had fled to the safety of the eastern seaboard. This group would serve garrison duty at the various forts and comprise an army to seek and destroy the enemy. The second draft was for a group of minutemen who would be available to respond to Amerindian incursions on the frontier.(141) On 24 May Dinwiddie wrote to Maryland Governor Sharpe that he was saddened by the failure of the Pennsylvania legislature to adopt a proper militia law and to offer sufficient support in arms, food and other materials of war. He was heartened by the emergence of a strong militia among the propertied class. "We have a volunteer Association of Gentlemen of this Province," he wrote, "to the number of 200." Dinwiddie was optimistic that "it will be of service in animating the lower Class of our people."(142)

But there was little good news elsewhere. Washington had reported that on the "dastardly behavior" of the militia serving with him. Dinwiddie accepted Washington's report on 27 May and apologized for inability of the militia officers to control their men or instill in them the least sense of discipline. He ordered some militia home and suggested that measures be taken to create an orderly martial atmosphere.(143) Dinwiddie received a letter from Washington that he had received an order from William Shirley to send what remained of his meager supplies on the frontier, beginning with gunpowder stored at his most important frontier post, Fort Cumberland, to New York to be used in campaigns Shirley planned in the northeast. Dinwiddie wrote Major-General James Abercrombie, "I hope the order will be countermanded, as there are many forts on the frontiers depending on supplies."(144) On 22 July 1756 Dinwiddie expressed his disappointment in the provincial militia to ironmaster William Byrd, III. He lamented that "if the militia would only, [even] in small numbers, appear with proper spirit, the banditti of Indians would not face them."(145)

In preparation for a new campaign in July 1756 the General Assembly passed a new militia act which differed but little from earlier laws. It required that all able-bodied white males, except indentured servants, between ages 18 and 60 be enrolled in the county militia wherein they resided. Residents of Hampshire County were also exempted from the provisions of the act, perhaps because they represented the county closest the scene of the action. Doubtless, these people were expected to act as levees en masse in defense of their homes. Free blacks, Amerindians and slaves could serve as musicians and manual laborers, but could not bear arms. Since indentured servants were not mentioned in any additional provisions of the law, it may be assumed that no service of any kind was expected of them.(146) This law was reenacted through July 1773.

Dinwiddie decided to build three forts in Halifax County and one in Bedford County. He assigned various county militia units to guard duty, but there were problems almost immediately when the Augusta County militia proved to be ineffective and quite uncooperative. A settler named Stalnaker reported that the Shawnee were gathering a force to attack as far east as Winchester. Dinwiddie gave him 100 to build a fort at Draper's Meadows and told him to raise a company of volunteer militia to defend it. In August Dinwiddie again met with Washington who advised him to build three additional forts in the frontier counties of Augusta, Bedford, and Hampshire. Manning these new forts, along with the existing ones, would severely tax the militia.

Washington raised another issue. What was to be done about the ranging companies, most of whose men had deserted? Washington was still unhappy about the high desertion rate during the first Shawnee expedition. The forts, Washington reminded Dinwiddie, were useless without militia to garrison them. The forts had to gather information on the enemy Indians and send out period patrols. Rangers were supposedly the most skilled and highly trained troops available for frontier patrol duty and gathering intelligence. Dinwiddie suggested that his militia commander-in-chief make an inspection tour of the frontier.

After attending briefly to some personal business, Washington set off on his grand tour. Most militiamen had no idea how to build a fort and the officers had no plans for fortifications and rarely issued comprehendible orders during the construction phase. Washington was appalled that, following an Amerindian attack on the headwaters of Catawba Creek, the fort's commander, Colonel Nash, could not recruit a ranging company to track and pursue the Shawnees. A second call for militia yielded only a few officers and eight men from Bedford County. Washington moved on to another fort being constructed in Augusta County being built by Captain Hogg. Only eighteen men had shown up to assist, although supposedly another thirty from Lunenburg County were on their way. Still, Colonel John Buchanan assured Washington that, in an emergency, he could turn out 2000 militia on short notice. Washington concluded that about one man out of thirteen had performed his duty. He reported to Dinwiddie, "The militia are under such bad order and discipline, that they will go and come when and where they please, without regarding time, their officers, or the safety of the inhabitants."(147) The tour showed him clearly the terrible state of discipline among the militia, the poor condition of the forts, and the dispirited defense of the garrison troops.

On 20 July 1756 the home government attempted to assess the true situation by requesting that the colonial governors respond to certain questions. One of the principal concerns in London was: what measures were the colonies taking to provide for their own defense. The result was the Blair Report on the military preparedness of the colonies. Dinwiddie submitted his report to the king, but it largely repeated findings of which the king was already aware and which we have already discussed.(148) In Virginia the militia consisted of about 36,000, but was only half-armed. The guns in quality and usefulness varied enormously and they certainly did not all fire the same ammunition, "which is inconvenient in time of action." Almost any citizen could escape the Virginia militia service by paying 10.(149) About 1760 there were theoretically 43,329 citizens liable for militia service, but there were over 8,000 exceptions. Blacks, free and enslaved, numbering 60,078, were entirely disarmed and thus were useless for militia duty.(150)

At the end of the summer things were looking up. Dinwiddie managed to gather a reasonably effective militia force by early autumn 1756. He reported to Loudoun on 28 October 1756 that he now had 400 effective rangers guarding the frontier. Washington had sufficiently reenforced Fort Cumberland so that it appeared to be sufficiently strong to "protect it from falling into the Enemy's hands. He was making some headway in recruiting men for the Royal Americans. Still landholders especially resisted long-term enlistment, especially for service outside their home areas. For service in the Royal Americans Dinwiddie "applied for one-twentieth Part of our Militia, but to no effect. As they are mostly free-holders, they insist on their Privileges and can't be persuaded voluntarily to join in Arms for the Protection of their Lives, Liberties and Properties."(151)

In the late autumn Major Lewis returned from Cherokee Fort, having completed his mission. On 15 November, Governor Dinwiddie called Lewis and Colonel Buchanan into conference because he was greatly concerned about the rising costs of maintaining the Augusta County militia. The six companies from Augusta cost more than all the other militia units in the field. The military advisers suggested reducing the active number of men to three companies of sixty men each and sending the rest home. On 23 November Lewis issued orders to Captain Preston to draft sixty men from the militia to relieve the Augusta militia at Miller's Fort and other frontier posts. Those militiamen who had been drafted complained bitterly about their misfortune, but remained on duty through January 1757.

In mid-winter, Dinwiddie proposed launching a second expedition against the Shawnee. Captain Vause and Morris Griffith, who had been captured in the Roanoke Valley and escaped, proposed enlisting 250 to 300 volunteers, to be supplied with arms, ammunition and clothing, and to be given only ordinary militia pay, plunder and 10 bounty for scalps. Captain Stalnaker would act as guide. The three companies from Augusta, Dinwiddie thought, would be sufficient to guard the frontier. Vause and Griffith thought that they would have no trouble enlisting men if only because so many men were upset, and many had been personally touched, by the earlier Amerindian massacres. Because the frontiersmen had initiated the expedition, its supporters became known as the Associators.

Meanwhile, Dinwiddie attended a strategy meeting in Philadelphia, where it was decided to enlarge the punitive force to six hundred men. Upon his return he discovered a number of letters and petitions from frontiersmen advising against the expedition. The principal complaints revolved around the election and appointment of officers, state of equipment, and availability of commissary. Colonel Clement Read, writing from Lunenburg County, offer his opinion. "I am sorry the Expedition so well intended against the Shawnee is likely to be defeated, and all our schemes for carrying it on rendered abortive by an ill-timed jealousy and malicious insinuations."(152)

News reached Dinwiddie in April that atrocities and massacres had occurred in Halifax County and the inhabitants were blaming the presumably allied Cherokees. In May Captain Stalnaker reported the passage through Halifax of at least four hundred Amerindians, including Catawbas, Tuscaroras and Cherokees. Dinwiddie proposed the adoption of a three part plan. First, he called for the creation of three new ranging companies under Colonel John Buchanan and Captain Hogg. Second, he also ordered the drafting of one thousand militiamen into the First Virginia Regiment with Washington as the commander-in-chief. The number of men in the pay of the colony was now two thousand exclusive of rangers, constituting a considerable financial burden on the colony. Third, he ordered the creation of a series of block-houses and forts along the southern frontier.(153)

The governor thought that conditions on the frontier had been pacified, but decided to maintain a presence. He sent a new draft of sixty militiamen to Miller's Fort to relieve Preston's first company. Under Preston's leadership, this band built new fortifications at Bull's Pasture, Fort George, and Fort Prince George. None of these outposts reported significant Amerindian activity and no new tales of massacres were heard.

In June 1757 Dinwiddie received another bit of encouraging news. An Amerindian friend of the Virginians, known as Old Hop, dispatched 30 warriors to assist in repelling incursions of the French Indians near Winchester, and promised to send at least three more similar bands. It was a mixed blessing because Dinwiddie was asked to provide each warrior with a shirt, leggings, pants, a small arm, powder, lead and blankets and they demanded match coats which Dinwiddie could not supply. To keep their Amerindian allies loyal to the British side, the legislature appropriated 5000 to reestablish the Indian trade.(154) A few days later Dinwiddie reported to William Pitt that 220 Catawbas, Nottoways and Tuscaroras had joined his militia at Winchester and had just brought the first scalps and a few prisoners. Another party of 70 warriors, largely Cherokees, was working with the militia toward Fort Duquesne. He was optimistic that he would soon have as many as 1500 Amerindians fighting on the British side.(155)

In 1757 the Virginia legislature again revised the colony's basic militia law because "the Militia of this Colony should be well regulated and disciplined." The act required that, henceforth, all officers, superior or inferior, should be residents of the county in which they command. It covered all able-bodied, free, white male inhabitants, ages 16 to 60, except newly imported servants and members of council, House of Burgesses and most colonial, county and local officials; professors and students of the College of William and Mary; overseers of four or more slaves or servants; millers and founders; persons employed in copper, tin or lead mines; and priests and ministers of the Gospel. The county and local officials and a few others exempted "shall provide Arms for the Use of the County, City or Borough, wherein they shall respectively reside." Councilors were to provide "for complete sets of Arms." The day following a general muster the county officers were to meet at the court house "and to inquire of the Age and Abilities of all Persons enlisted, and to exempt such as they shall adjudge incapable of Service." Free blacks, persons of mixed racial heritage and Amerindians who chose to enlist were to be "employed as Drummers, Trumpeters or Pioneers, or in other servile Labour."

Within twelve months of receiving their appointments county lieutenants, colonels, lieutenant-colonels and majors had to provide themselves with suitable swords. Captains and lieutenants had to have firelocks and swords; and corporals and sergeants, swords and halberts. Every militiaman had to provide himself with a well fixed firelock, bayonet and double cartridge box; and keep in his home a pound of gunpowder and four pounds of musket balls fitted to his gun. Parents were required to provide arms for their sons; and masters arms for their servants. Those too poor to afford a musket were to certify the same to the county officers and then the county would provide a musket branded with the county markings. On the death or removal of a poor militiaman, or his attainment of age 60, the musket was to be surrendered to the county lieutenant. An officer could "order all Soldiers . . . to go armed to their respective Parish Churches."

"For the better training and exercising the Militia," the county commanders were to "muster, train and exercise his Company . . . in the Months of March and April or September or October, yearly." Failure to appear at muster subjected a militiaman to discipline, usually a fine. The officers were to "cause such Offender to be tied Neck and Heels for any Time not exceeding five Minutes, or inflict such corporal Punishment as he shall think fit, not exceeding 20 Lashes." The law was quite specific as to the use of militia fines. The officers were to "dispose of such Fines for buying Drums and Trophies for the Use of the Colony and for supplying the Militia of said County with Arms." Officers were required to take the following oath: " I --- do swear that I will do equal Right and Justice to all Men, according to the Act of Assembly for the better regulating and discipling the Militia."

Under the militia act, county lieutenants were required to appoint one inferior officer and as many men as he though were needed to serve as slave patrols. The law charged these patrols with visiting all "Negro Quarters and other places suspected of entertaining unlawful Assemblies of Salves or other disorderly Persons." Slaves absent from their own masters' plantations were "to receive any Number of Lashes, not exceeding 20 on his or her bare back, well laid on. Militiamen serving slave patrol received ten pounds of tobacco for each day's or night's service.(156)

Militiamen in several cities were covered by separate acts. Citizens of Williamsburg and Norfolk were mustered and trained according to laws passed in 1736 and 1739. Exempted by these acts were sailors and masters of ships. These militias had the additional responsibility to stand seacoast watch. Cities had nightly slave patrols, which were assigned duty within the city limits and one-half mile beyond in all directions.

The legislature also passed an act for "making Provision against Invasions and Insurrections" which gave the governor full authority over the militia in times of emergency. He "shall have full Power and Authority to levy, raise, arm and muster, such a Number of Forces out of the Militia of this Colony as shall be thought needful for repelling the Invasion or suppressing the Insurrection, or other Danger." Penalties for failure to muster were substantially increased, up to death or dismemberment.(157)

The colonial regiment might be sent to the aid of royal forces or incorporated as part of such troops whereas the ranging units had been developed for the protection of the frontier and were not subject to royal draft. The legislature appropriated 1500 for the support of the troops provided the rangers remain always in the service of the colony. The royal authorities had no choice but to accept the legislature's terms for the crown needed men to join General Forbes' expedition against Fort DuQuesne. Major Lewis joined Washington at Winchester, bring a significant portion of the volunteer regiment with him. This left Colonels John Buchanan and William Byrd and Captains Preston, Dickinson, and Young to guard the frontier. These men built a new fort on the James River named after Francis Farquier who, in January 1758, succeeded Dinwiddie as the colony's governor. With the best military men serving with the First Virginia Regiment, poor leadership plagued the militia. In one major blunder, Captain Robert Wade led a party of militiamen up the New River where they encountered a band of friendly natives, fell upon them, and massacred many warriors. Colonel Byrd made a similar mistake in the late autumn.(158)

Washington was still far from being pleased with progress the province was making in discipling and training the militia. He complained to Governor Francis Farquier of the sad state of the militia in early 1758. On 25 June 1758 Farquier replied to Washington's letter. "I am extremely sensible of all you say in your letter of the nineteenth, instant, relative to the bad condition of the militia and wish I knew how to redress it."(159)

Farquier decided to appoint William Byrd to serve as colonel of the second Virginia regiment, although he was placed nominally under Washington's orders. Byrd sent an Indian trader named George Turner to the Cherokee camp to carry gifts to atone for Wade's and Byrd's earlier slaughter of their braves, and to recruit them into Virginia service and the assistance of Forbes expedition against Fort DuQuesne. The crown ordered, and the legislature concurred, that the volunteers in both Virginia regiments should remain in royal service until January. The volunteers complained that this extended their service several months beyond their contractual time, but appeals to patriotism, revenge, and additional pay won the cause.

The Forbes expedition was a resounding success, highlighted by the capture of Fort DuQuesne on 26 November 1758. Forbes suffered few casualties beyond the needless loss of about four hundred men under Majors Grant and Lewis. Washington resigned his commission and was succeeded by William Byrd as provincial commander-in-chief. The French were now gone from the Ohio territory so Virginia turned its attention to the former French allies, the Shawnee and associated tribes, and against the troublesome part of the Cherokee nation. Based largely on captured French records spies, and officers, Forbes estimated the following numbers of hostile Amerindians: the Delawares between Ohio River and Lake Erie, 500 warriors; the Shawnee on the Scioto and Muskingum rivers, 500 braves; the Mingoes on the Scioto River, 60 warriors; and the Wyandots on Miami River, 300 men at arms. Additionally, the Cherokees in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee had 1500 to 2000 warriors.(160)

In January 1759 Governor Farquier convened a military council, including his council and Colonel Byrd, to plan the Cherokee expedition. He ordered Byrd to position his second regiment to its best advantage in anticipation of a move south. Forbes demanded that a portion of the regiment be stationed at Pittsburgh to guard against a return of the French. Since this fit well with the provincial desire to hold the western Amerindian tribes at bay, council agreed. Farquier ordered that the militia of the counties of Frederick, Hampshire and Augusta, and the rangers in Bedford and Halifax counties, to be placed in readiness to assist in maintaining the peace on the frontier. Two hundred artisans were to be recruited by offering an enlistment bounty of 5 and then deployed in the strengthening fortifications.

The men of the proposed expedition remained in camp, adopting a defensive, rather than offensive, posture. Three hundred of the militia and frontier were enlisted "to secure and preserve the several forts and places . . . and protect the frontiers from the threatened invasion of the Cherokees and other Indians." By March 1760, additional rangers and militia were placed in readiness on the southern frontier. In May, an additional seven hundred men were recruited by offering a bounty of 10 and sent to the southwestern frontier and the relief of Fort Loudoun. Major Lewis assumed command of the new recruits.

In the summer of 1761 Captain William Preston stationed rangers in several fortifications on New River to protect the inhabitants from the Amerindians. He thought the situation to be sufficiently dangerous to muster the militia, but Governor Farquier refused permission, telling him to solve the problems by peaceful means. Provincial expenses were high enough without having to pay more militiamen. Farquier wrote Preston, urging him to persuade the frontiersmen to remain on their plantations. Preston was able to settle his problems with the Cherokee by having a local surveyor, Thomas Lewis, draw a boundary between their land and that of the colony. Andrew Lewis, brother of the surveyor, met the Cherokees and made a treaty that obliged them to guard the southwestern frontier. So successful was the peace treaty that surveying continued along the Roanoke River in 1762 and 1763.(161)

The Cherokee expedition was finally ready to move on the enemy in April 1761. Colonel Byrd ordered the various component companies to assemble at Captain James Campbell's plantation in Roanoke. By act of the legislature of 31 March 1761, Byrd was authorized to proceed with one thousand men. The money was not forthcoming and Byrd was unable to offer cash for the bounties or purchase supplies for his commissary under Thomas Walker. Byrd decided to recall all available men from Pittsburgh and to proceed with the five hundred men he could pay and supply. On 1 August the supplies had not arrived nor had more men been recruited. Byrd ordered the old Cherokee Fort to be refitted, strengthened and garrison by sixty militia recruits. The Cherokees retreated from their northern towns and Colonel Grant, commander of the advance forces, failed to engage them. Enlistment of the volunteers were expiring and the legislature authorized the extension of service through May 1762. Adam Stephen then assumed command with orders from council to proceed against the Cherokees. He moved his three hundred men to Great Island, built Fort Robinson thereon, and set up camp there for the winter under Captain John McNeil. The Amerindians were now some three hundred miles away from the inhabitants of the southern Virginia frontier. Declaring the frontier to be safe, and the Cherokees driven south, council disbanded the second regiment in February 1762, and then commended them on their service.(162)

In 1761 all British subjects "living on the western waters" were ordered to vacate their homesteads since these lands were to be reserved to the Amerindians. A few cabins were burned, but English authority was never firmly established on the frontier and the area was far too vast to police effectively. The normally docile Shawnee especially resented the incursion on their lands and in 1761 effectively isolated the settlers in the Greenbrier area.

In July 1763 massacres again occurred along the southwestern frontier. On 27 July, Colonel Preston reported, "Our situation at present is very different from what it was. . . . All the valleys of Roanoke River and along the waters of the Mississippi are depopulated." He sent the Bedford County militia out in pursuit of a Shawnee raiding party. His report continued.



I have built a little fort in which are 87 persons, 20 of whom bear arms. We are in a pretty good posture of defence, and with the aid of God are determined to make a stand. In 5 or 6 other places in this part of the country they have fallen into the same method and with the same resolution. How long we may keep them is uncertain. No enemy have appeared here as yet. Their guns are frequently heard and their footing observed, which makes us believe they will pay us a visit. . . . We bear our misfortunes so far with fortitude and are in hopes of being relieved.(163)



Governor Farquier sent Preston a letter in which he promised to move militia from other counties to assist in the relief of Roanoke. He promoted Andrew Lewis to the rank of major, to serve under Preston who was the county lieutenant.

In October 1763 Captain William Christian led a party of Amherst County militia to the New River where they engaged a band of about twenty Amerindians. After an exchange of gunfire, and the massacre of a settler held captive, the savages fled. Otherwise, the expedition was essentially unremarkable. Lieutenant David Robinson, an officer in the Bedford County contingent of Captain Preston's rangers, led his men in yet another fruitless tour of the New River area in February 1764. William Thompson and a Captain Sayers followed Robinson and they, too, had no luck in engaging the natives. Still, isolated Shawnee raids decimated isolated settlements and slaughtered their inhabitants. One unfortunate incident followed the killing of members of a party of Shawnee who had murdered the Cloyd family. The militiamen recovered the family's "fortune" of 137/18/0, mostly in gold and silver coins, but fought over the distribution despite the fact that the militiamen were the Cloyds' neighbors. The dispute ended only when the county court decided to grant each man thirty shillings.(164)

By 1764 they had pushed into the Shenandoah Valley as far as Staunton. The militia was ineffective in responding to these expeditions. In April, Dr. William Fleming, then living in Staunton, wrote Governor Farquier, telling him that the local militia was unequal to the task of defending the town. Farquier dispatched 450 militia under Colonel Andrew Lewis to defend the town, but they did not encounter any hostiles and, after three months of inactivity, were discharged. Lewis retained 130 rangers in service in the area until September.(165)

General Bouquet decided he must carry the war against the Shawnee into the Ohio territory. Accompanying his army were two hundred Augusta County militiamen under Captain John McClenachan. On 9 November 1764 Bouquet concluded a peace treaty with the Shawnee at Muskingum. One part of the agreement required that prisoners held in Shawnee camps be returned. Throughout the winter and into the following spring, prisoners were delivered to Fort Pitt and other posts and placed under the care of the Virginia militia. Bouquet's peace lasted until 1774.

Still, sporadic raids occurred against isolated settlements in the southwestern frontier. In May 1765 a party of Shawnee camping at John Anderson's house in the Greenbrier Valley was attacked by Augusta County militiamen in retribution for various earlier raids. Colonel Lewis and Dr William Fleming intervened on behalf of the Indians, saving at least some of their lives. Leaders of the "Augusta boys" offered a reward of 1000 for Lewis' scalp and 500 for Fleming. Cooler heads prevailed, the community came to its collective senses, and Lewis and Fleming emerged as heroes.(166)

During Pontiac's uprising Virginia had kept over 1000 militiamen on duty on the frontier and reduced casualties significantly. Still, the natives could strike anywhere at almost anytime and no system of defense was foolproof. However, Virginia's losses were negligible compared to those of Pennsylvania. George Croghan, well known Indian trader and diplomat to the Pennsylvania and New York tribes, estimated that Pennsylvania lost over 2000 inhabitants during that short war, and Virginia nearly as many.(167) Governor Dinwiddie thought the militia should have repelled the Amerindian incursion. General Jeffery Amherst called on Virginia to furnish volunteers and militia to garrison Fort Pitt and to carry out the reduction of the Shawnee towns in Ohio. If Virginia would supply the frontier fighters Amherst would try to spare some regulars "to join the Virginians in offensive operations against the Shawanese Towns on the Banks of the Ohio."(168)

In 1766 the Virginia legislature again revised the fundamental militia act. The act renewed the list of those exempted from militia, adding physicians and surgeons, Quakers and other religious dissenters, tobacco inspectors at public warehouses, acting judges and justices of the peace. The provisions for the purchase and maintenance of militia arms were reenacted, with the penalty increased to 5. The act brought Williamsburg and Norfolk under the obligation to muster and train in March or April, and to attend a regimental muster once a year, although other provisions of the particular acts of 1736 and 1739 for these boroughs remained in force. The authorities of James City and York were clearly and legally separated from Norfolk and Williamsburg.(169) At this time the mounted militia substituted trumpets for the traditional drums used by foot soldiers.(170)

In January 1774 John Murray, Earl of Dunmore (1732-1809), royal governor of Virginia,(171) seized western Pennsylvania and set up a new government in and near Pittsburgh under James Connolly. Simultaneously, he encouraged more hunters, traders and settlers to enter that region of Virginia known as Kentucky. Certain disaffected persons, at home and in England, used the colonial independence as an opportunity to forment trouble with the native Americans as much to embarrass the Whigs as to advance their interests in western lands. Some believe that British Indian agents urged the Shawnee, peaceful since the treaty ten years earlier, to resist colonial encroachment on their lands by warring against the traders in their lands. Massacres of some traders precipitated a response by Virginia.

Shawnee and Ottawa war leaders decided to end this encroachment upon their lands, leading to what is known as Dunmore's War. Two columns of Virginia militia and volunteers responded. Dunmore led an expedition down the Ohio River while Colonel Andrew Lewis led a second militia column down the Great Kanawha River. Dunmore's militiamen rode their horses into battle as mounted infantry, but having overloaded the poor animals and chosen old and otherwise useless horses, to avoid having good animals killed or wounded, the men were forced to rest the animals frequently. The three columns traveled at different speeds and during rest periods lost contact with one another. The Amerindians used that opportunity to divide and conquer and so launched the attack during a rest period. What should have been a resounding colonial victory turned into the indecisive Battle of Point Pleasant on 10 October 1774.

The standard newspaper account exaggerated the size of the enemy force and underestimated the size of the militia force by claiming that 600 Virginia militia and volunteers had fought against 900 Amerindians at the mouth of Kanawha River and won a "resounding victory."(172) Most objective accounts conclude that neither side that gained an advantage. In reality, the colonial militia outnumbered the Amerindians 1000 men to about 300. The war ended with the Amerindians yielding hunting rights in Kentucky and guaranteeing free passage on the Ohio River in the Treaty of Camp Charlotte.(173) Still, like Dinwiddie's war in 1754, Dunmore's war was a failure. Like Dinwiddie, Dunmore had antagonized the House of Burgesses. Time was already past in 1754, let alone in 1774, when a governor could order a major deployment of the militia without first receiving legislative acquiescence. The legislature and some local officials, not the governor controlled the militia. The wars were both very unpopular and the general population was generally displeased with both the cost and the result.

On 24 December 1774 Governor Dunmore wrote to Lord Dartmouth, "every county is now arming a company of men whom they call an independent company."(174) Most counties had already formed, or were in the process of forming, such independent companies. By the end of the year at least six companies were fully formed, armed and prepared for action.(175) Patrick Henry(176) assumed political leadership, realizing that a number of independent volunteer companies, formed in and by various counties, could not provide the force necessary for a sustained war. He saw these companies as barriers against the Amerindians and as a reservoir of trained or semi-trained manpower from which an regular force might draw. He had not yet considered the possibility of enlistment in a national regular army, but was bound to the concept of a statewide militia under state command. Henry's position at the end of 1774 may be summed up by the following resolution which he offered at the First Virginia Convention.



Resolved, That a well regulated militia, Composed of gentlemen and yeomen, is the natural strength and only security of a free government; that such a militia in this colony would for ever render it unnecessary for the mother country to keep among us, for the purpose of our defence, any standing army of mercenary soldiers always subversive of the quiet, and dangerous to the liberties of time people, and would obviate the pretext of taxing us for their support. That the establishment of such a militia is, at this time, peculiarly necessary, by time state of our laws for the protection and defence of the country, some of which have already expired, and others will shortly be so; and that time known remissness of the government in calling us together in legislative capacity, renders it too insecure, in this time of danger and distress, to rely that opportunity will be given of renewing them, in general assembly, or making any provision to secure our inestimable rights and liberties, from those further violations with which they are threatened. Resolved, therefore, That this colony be immediately put into a state of defence, and that there be a committee to prepare a plan for embodying, arming, and discipling such a number of men, as may be sufficient for that purpose.(177)



The Virginia militia filled a number of vital and important roles during the Revolution, supporting the patriot cause in both the north and south. In March 1775 the Virginia Convention met in Old St. John's Church on a hill above the falls of the James River in Richmond. The delegates were seeking privacy and distance from royalist Governor Dunmore. Patrick Henry immediately moved that the "Colony be immediately put in a state of defense," meaning that the militia be formed, disciplined and armed. Opposed by even some of the patriots, Henry then delivered his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, which was more than sufficient to carry the motion.(178) Henry's speech at the Convention was based on the assumption that a simple militia would be insufficient because a prolonged war was inevitable and that a real, substantial force, based on, but separate from, the general militia, was to be absolutely necessary for the defense of Virginia. Henry argued that a mere show of force in the form of a general and broad muster of the militia would accomplish nothing because the British authorities would not be intimidated. His purpose was to convince the assembly that they should abandon all hopes of a peaceful reconciliation and prepare for a prolonged war.(179)

After considerable debate Henry introduced a second resolution which called for placing the colony in a full state of military preparedness. The state was to call into service a body of men sufficient to defend it from both the English forces along the coast and the Amerindians whom the British might seduce into making raids along the frontier. The men were to be completely trained in military arts, fully armed and subjected to standard military discipline. This would become the select militia of yeomen and gentlemen of which Henry had spoken earlier in his first motion. Richard Henry Lee, who had spoken in favor of Henry's position, seconded the motion. Thomas Jefferson also rose in support of Henry's plan, as did the distinguished jurist, St. George Tucker and John Taylor of Caroline County. Thomas Nelson, one of the wealthiest men in Virginia, declared that, should the British land troops in his county, he would summon his militia to resist whether he had authorization from the Convention or not. Other militia officers rose to second Nelson's position. Washington, perhaps recalling his distaste for militia, said nothing.(180)

The Williamsburg "gunpowder affair" became for Virginia what the British attempts at confiscation of the same commodity at Lexington and Concord was from the militia of Massachusetts. Patrick Henry had demanded that Dunmore release the colony's supply of gunpowder at the Williamsburg Magazine for militia use. Dunmore related the order of 19 October 1774 from Lord Dartmouth which forbade the export of gunpowder and arms to the American colonies. The royal governor interpreted the order as including the distribution of arms and powder already in the colonies, stored in the royal armories and magazines. Henry argued that the arms and gunpowder in question had been sent for militia use and the royal authorities had simply neglected to distribute these to the county militias. Dunmore sent 20 kegs of gunpowder from the public magazine on the night of 20 April 1775 and had it loaded aboard the schooner Magdalen. As word of this confiscation circulated many Virginians talked open rebellion. Council, on Henry's recommendation, addressed a communication to Dunmore, pointing out that the powder had been stored for the protection and security of the colony and that it must be restored to it. Dunmore claimed that the mere presence of the gunpowder among the militia constituted a call to arms and an open invitation to the more rebellious leaders of the militia to actually rebel. He would release the powder immediately upon hearing of any Amerindian incursion, but, for the time being, it would remain with Captain Collins aboard the Magdalen.

Henry summoned the militia. A significant body of armed men gathered at Fredericksburg. Volunteers arrived from Hanover and New Castle. With the arrival of each new militia, the commanders sent messages to Williamsburg, bragging on their gathering strength. By 26 April, the governor saw that his position was untenable. Dunmore acquiesced to Henry's demand by pledging his honor to return the powder, but he considered this the first act of rebellion in his colony.(181) Honoring his pledge to return the confiscated gunpowder proved to be Dunmore's last act as the generally recognized royal political authority in Virginia. On 29 April the Virginia Gazette carried news of the events at Lexington and Concord. Patrick Henry used this news as an occasion to spur the patriots onto greater action. To him, after the "robbery" of the gunpowder, "the next step will be to disarm them, and they will then be ready to arms to defend themselves."(182) Even after the return of the powder, Dunmore had planned to remain in his mansion. He took the precautionary step of ordering that it be fortified, even to the point of bringing in artillery, but he was soon intimidated by the gathering militia from the countryside. On the morning of 8 June 1775, Dunmore abandoned Williamsburg, escaped to Yorktown and boarded the man of war Fowey.(183) There he issued his final report on the gunpowder affair.



I have been informed, from undoubted authority, that a certain Patrick Henry, of the county of Hanover, and a number of his deluded followers, have taken up arms and styling themselves an Independent Company, have marched out of their County, encamped, and put themselves in a posture for war, and have written and dispatched letters to divers parts of the Country, exciting the people to join in these outrageous and rebellious practices, to the great terror of all His Majesty's faithful subjects, and in open defiance of law and government; and have committed other acts of violence, particularly in extorting from His Majesty's Receiver-General the sum of Three hundred and Thirty Pounds, under pretence of replacing the Powder I thought proper to order from the Magazine; whence it undeniably appears that there is no longer the least security for time life or property of any man: I have thought proper, with the advice of His Majesty's Council, and in His Majesty's name, to issue this my Proclamation . . . .



Reaction in Virginia to reports of the events of Lexington and Concord were much the same as among the people of the other states. One American living on the Rappahannock River wrote to a London newspaper that "It would really surprise you to see the preparations [we are] making for our defence, all persons arming themselves, and independent companies, from 100 to 150 men in every county of Virginia, well equipped and daily endeavouring to instruct themselves in the art of war." He claimed that "in a few days an army of at least 7 or 8 thousand well disciplined men" who were "well armed" would "be together for the protection of this country." (184) Patrick Henry addressed the militia at New Castle, claiming that the British Ministry had created a plan "to reduce the colonies to subjugation, by robbing them of the means of defending their rights."(185) Another correspondent from Virginia reported to a London newspaper,



We shall therefore in a few weeks have about 8000 volunteers (about 1500 of which are horse) all completely equipped at their own expence, and you may depend are as ready to face death in defence of their civil and religious liberty as any men under heaven. These volunteers are but a small part of our militia; we have in the whole about 100,000 men. The New England provinces have at this day 50,000 of as well trained soldiers as any in Europe, ready to take the field at a day's warning, it is as much as the more prudent and moderate among them can do, to prevent the more violent from crushing General Gage's little army. But I still hope there is justice and humanity, wisdom and sound policy, sufficient in the British nation to prevent the fatal consequences that must inevitably follow the attempting to force by violence the tyrannical acts of which we complain. It must involve you in utter ruin, and us in great calamities, which I pray heaven to avert, and that we may once more shake hands in cordial affection as we have hitherto done, and as brethren ought ever to do. . . . Messrs. Hancock and Adams passed through this city a few days ago . . . about 1000 of our inhabitants went out to meet them, under arms . . . . By last accounts from Boston, there were before the town 15,000 or 20,000 brave fellows to defend their country, in high spirits . . . . Should the King's troops attack, the inhabitants will be joined with 70,000 or 80,000 men at very short notice. . . .(186)



In June 1775 Lord Dunmore abandoned his capitol, taking refuge aboard a British man o' war, and went through the pretense of asserting royal authority. The colonists thereafter were to charge that he conducted warfare by plundering isolated plantations, abusing women, abducting children, stealing slaves, and burning wharves. In October he was repulsed at Hampton and in December defeated at Norfolk. The royal government was dissolved. On New Year's Day 1776, Dunmore made his last raid and then sailed away to England.(187)

A convention met at Richmond with the charge to reconstitute government. The interim government ordered the formation of two regiments of the Northern Continental Line under the command of George Washington and two bodies of militia: the regular militia and a body of special minutemen to be organized along the lines of minutemen in New England. By November 1775 Accomack County reported that "almost to a man" the whole body of freemen of that and surrounding counties were "ready to embody themselves as a militia."(188)

The new Virginia militia act, passed in July 1775, came as a legal reaction to the spontaneous popular reaction to the massacre of the patriots in Massachusetts. The act created two classes of militia, the regular companies and special companies of minute-men. The militia law was enacted providing that all free males, between the ages of sixteen and fifty, with certain exceptions, should be enrolled. These militia were organized into companies of from thirty two to sixty eight men strong, and companies were organized into regiments. The Governor appointed the regimental officers. All the militia in a county were under an officer called the County Lieutenant, who held the rank of colonel, who, on taking the field, ranked all colonels commanding regiments.(189) In the winter of 1775-76 Virginia organized Minute Men. The State was divided into districts, each furnishing a battalion. Selected officers were appointed who secured their men from the State militia. The were required to have extra drills and were better clothed an armed than the militia. They were subject to call at any time.(190)

The militia act of July 1775 created a specially trained select militia, the Minutemen. Regarding the minutemen, the Convention resolved,



That the minute-men in each respective district, so soon as they are enlisted and approved . . . shall be embodied and formed into separate battalions, and shall be kept in training under their adjutant for 20 successive days, at such convenient place as shall be appointed by the committee of deputies in each district; and after performing such battalion duty, the several companies of each battalion shall, in their respective counties, be mustered, and to continue to exercise four successive days in each month, except December, January and February . . . care being taken that such appointments do not interfere with battalion duty. . . . and be it further ordained, that, in order to render them the more skillful and expert in military exercise and discipline, the several companies of minute-men shall twice in every year, after the exercise of 20 days, be again embodied and formed into distinct battalions within their districts, and shall at each meeting, continue in regular service and training for 12 successive days . . . . And as well for the case of the minute-men, as that they may be returned in regular rotation to the bodies of their respective militias, be it further ordained, that after serving 12 months, 16 minute-men shall be discharged from each company . . . and the like number the end of every year, beginning with those who stand first on the roll, and who first enlisted; and if those who stand first should choose to continue in the service, taking the next in succession being desirous of being discharged, and so from time to time proceeding in regular progression. . . . The minute-men shall not be under the command of the militia officers . . . (191)



The minutemen were a select militia which was assigned defense of the state and especially the frontiers. The minutemen were separate in the chain of command from the great militia, and one set of officers had authority over the other organization only when they were expressly mustered in joint action.



The minute-men in each respective district, so soon as they are enlisted and approved, as before directed, shall be embodied, and formed into separate battalions, and shall be kept in training under their adjutant for 20 successive days, as such convenient place as shall be appointed . . . and after performing such battalion duty, the several companies of each battalion, shall in their respective counties be mustered, and continue to exercise for successive days in each month, except in December, January and February. . . . in order to render them more skillful and expert in military exercise and discipline, the several companies of minute-men shall twice in each year, after the exercise of 20 days, be again embodied and formed again into distinct battalions within their districts, and shall in each meeting continue in regular service and training. . . but the minute-men shall be under the command of the militia officers, nor the militia under the command of minute officers, unless drawn out upon duty together.(192)



The minutemen were to be rotated so that no individual was unduly burdened.



As well for the case of the minute-men, as that they may be returned in regular rotation to the bodies of their respective militias, be it further ordained, after serving 12 months, 16 minute-men shall be discharged from each company . . . and the like number at the end of every year, beginning with those who stand first on the roll, and who were first enlisted; and if those who stand first should choose to continue in service, taking the next in succession desirous of being discharged, and so from time to time proceeding in regular progression.(193)



Robert Carter Nicholas, one of Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress, warned the state legislature of the limitations of the militia. "Neither militia nor Minute-men will do except for sudden and expeditious service."(194)



One of the first actions assigned to the minutemen was the capture of Lord Dunmore, last royal governor of Virginia. Dunmore had recruited a band of loyalists and escaped servants and slaves and had erected fortifications on Gwynn's Island, Matthews County. Scotch merchant James Parker, writing from Norfolk, Virginia, to a friend in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 12 June 1775, observed,



You will see the Governor [Lord Dunmore] and his family again. I do not think his lady will return to Williamsburg. Tis said he will, provided the shirtmen are sent away. These shirtmen of Virginia uniform are dressed with an Oznaburg shirt over their clothes, a belt round them with a Tommyhawk or Scalping Knife. They look like a band of assassins and it is my opinion, if they fight at all, it will be in that way.(195)



Newly elected Governor Patrick Henry resolved to end this threat to the security of the state. Dunmore referred to the minutemen as "shirtmen" on account of their habit of wearing buckskin or homespun shirts instead of regular uniforms.(196) Dunmore was aware of the deadly accuracy of the rifle-equipped shirtmen, having seen them in action during Dunmore's War just two years earlier. Moreover, at the Battle of Great Bridge, on 9 December 1775, the shirtmen killed or mortally wounded 62 British troops with their deadly rifle fire, while losing no men of their own. The British commander, Captain Fordyce, fell early in the engagement, his body pierced by 14 rifle shots.(197) After warning his command that the shirtmen would surely scalp all survivors alive, as well as all dead loyalists, Dunmore fled, boarding a small man-of-war in the James River, leaving the New World forever behind. The minutemen found Gwynn's Island deserted.(198)

An American correspondent wrote to a London newspaper in early spring 1776, reporting that "nothing has happened in Virginia since the entire destruction of Norfolk." However, he optimistically reported that the state "by the month of April will have 30,000 or 40,000 men to take the field." Many were common militia, but "amongst these are a great number of riflemen."(199) One historian claimed that, at the outbreak of the war, approximately 45,000 men were eligible for service in Virginia and that, during the entire war, that number was never less than 40,000. However, only about one-quarter of the number was ever engaged in any significant service. When the war began, large numbers of militiamen were still in Dunmore's service on the frontier. Later, others served in the expedition against the Cherokee nation in the west, and still others had been sent to the aid of North Carolina in its Cherokee War.(200)

On 14 August the Virginia Convention received news that Dunmore was planning an attack upon Williamsburg, with the intention of capturing as many of the rebel leaders as possible. The Convention requested the Committee of Safety to enlist volunteers to protect the city, and to call out the militia. The legislature acted quickly, calling out 8180 militiamen to be equipped as minutemen. And "the balance of the militia were ordered to be armed, equipped and trained, so as to be ready for service." The legislature also adopted a manual of arms and militia training. It established an arsenal at Fredericksburg to manufacture muskets and other small arms. To pay for the various expenses of defense, the legislature issued 350,000 in paper money, along with an annual tax to redeem the issue.(201)

In December 1775 the Virginia Convention authorized the formation of six additional regiments of the Continental Line, with each regiment consisting of ten companies of 68 men each. Drafts from the militia rolls were instituted. Having excluded blacks, whether free or slave, and indented servants from militia service, the Virginia Convention, in the summer of 1776, enlisted two hundred Amerindians in the state militia.(202) On 10 March 1776 Virginia dispatched two regiments of 650 men each to assist North Carolina, primarily against Tarleton's Loyalist forces.

During the first three years of the war, England held no part of Virginia. The best the English could do was to attempt to wreak havoc and hope that they could lower provincial morale. The militia served three purposes in the early years. First, the general militia was regarded as a reservoir upon which the Continental Line could draw replacements. Second, along the seacoast the urban militia served to protect cities in a case of an invasion. The tidewater militia was especially trained for this service. Third, the militia from the Blue Ridge Mountains and westward fought in major engagements with the native aborigine. Many were enrolled in the frontier rangers. British agents and disgruntled adventurers had stirred up the natives who were still resentful over their defeat at Point Pleasant, supplied them with guns, and urged them to war by granting them gifts, money, and liquor.

As John Page advised Jefferson, "have the militia completely armed and well trained as the time they can spare will admit of, and [then] . . . make draughts of it when men are wanted."(203) All militiamen were required to take the following oath.



I, ------, do swear that I will be faithful and true to the colony and dominion of Virginia; and that I will serve the same to the utmost of my power, in defence of the just rights of America, against all enemies whatsoever.



The Third Virginia Convention passed a new militia act. Because of the "present danger, it is adjudged necessary" that all free, able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 50 be enrolled in the general militia. Companies of not less than 32, nor more than 68, members were to be formed in all counties of the state. The militia law required that "every militia man should furnish himself with a good rifle, or common firelock, tomahawk, bayonet or scalping knife, pouch or cartouch box, and three charges of powder and ball." Drills were to be held semi-weekly, along with two general county musters, to be held in April and October, with the minutemen providing training. The act provided for the exemption of two groups of religious dissenters, the Society of Friends and Mennonites. It also exempted bound apprentices, indented servants and several classes of professions. Clergy of the established church and those churches in communion with it were exempted. Those engaged in various trades adjudged to be vital to the war effort were also exempted.(204)

Shortages of manpower required that the legislature remove certain exemptions. On 15 June 1776 the legislature passed an ordinance "to raise and embody a sufficient force for the defense and protection of the Colony" so overseers of plantations and millers on the eastern shore lost their immunity from militia duty. On 5 July 1776 the revocation of the exemption of millers was extended to the whole state.(205) On 24 June the Convention voted to "let the present Militia officers be chosen annually . . . by joint vote of both houses of the assembly." The governor was empowered to fill vacancies with the advice of his privy council.(206) On 29 June the Convention voted to allow the governor to "embody the Militia with the advice of Privy Council and when embodied shall alone have the direction of the Militia."(207)

With Patrick Henry elected commander of the select Virginia militia, men began to appear in increasingly large numbers. Two regiments, destined to become continental regulars, soon formed. Henry described them appearing with various garb, from ancient militia uniforms to buckskins, to recently sewn uniforms, although most were dressed in "green hunting shirts." Many had the words, "Liberty or Death" inscribed somewhere on their clothing. Hats or caps were trimmed with buck-tails, and nearly all carried scalping knives or tomahawks. Most carried their own fowling pieces, which fired the widest possible assortment of round balls. Some carried flags or banners with the coiled rattlesnake motif and the words, "Don't tread on me."(208) The militiamen were organized in units of 76 men with four officers with halberds, one fifer, one drummer and one color bearer. The public treasury provided the fifes, drums, halberds and flags. By the time six regiments had been raised the legislature authorized creation of a post of drum major.(209) Philip Fithian described a militia muster in late 1775 or early 1776.



The Drums beats & the Inhabitants of this Village muster each Morning at 5 o'clock . . . . Mars, the great God of Battle is now honoured in every part of this spacious Colony, but here every Presence is warlike, every sound is martial! Drums beating, Fifes & Bag-Pipes playing & only sonorous & heroic Tunes -- Every Man has a Hunting Shirt, which is the Uniform of each Company.(210)



The select militia was given special training and organization. The state was divided into sixteen military districts and each district was to recruit 500 minutemen, to be divided into ten companies of 50 men each. Only "expert riflemen" need apply for membership in these select units, and the members were ordered to muster and train for 20 days in the month following organization, and then four days each month thereafter. Additionally, they would superintend training of the great militia at annual spring and fall musters, each of which was to last 12 days.(211)

The Baptists approached the Virginia legislature, asking that their clergy be given the privilege of preaching among the troops. Many of its adherents had already enlisted in the patriot cause. The Church of England was the established denomination, but the legislature thought that since the Baptists had pledged loyalty to the patriot cause, the privileged status of one church should not present an obstacle, and thus granted permission. The privilege was then granted to all Protestant sects willing to support the cause. The Baptist pulpit, in repayment, became politicized in support of the cause of liberty.

Colonel William Woodford, a Virginia militia commander, and a close friend of George Washington, had recently been commissioned and wrote to Washington for advice on selecting a manual for discipline if his troops. On November 10, 1775, Washington, writing from Cambridge, offered his opinion on military discipline. Washington provided him with a list of five military books for study: Sir Humphrey Bland's A Treatise of Military Discipline,(212) a book Washington noted as "standing foremost." Next he named An Essay on the Art of War which was the book written by Count Turpin de Crisse, and recommended to Washington by Forbes.(213) Third was Instructions for Officers.(214) The last two books were: The Partisan(215) and Young's Essays on the Command of Small Detachments.(216) One cannot but be struck with the excellence of this selection. They deal largely with infantry as he was writing to an infantry colonel. Two of the books, Bland's and Turpin's, were respectively the best military books of the period published in England and France. The Partisan covered the use and deployment of light troops and partisans, today's guerrillas, and was thus especially useful to militia commanders. Thomas Simes had published The Military Guide for Young Officers in Philadelphia in 1776 but this book was merely a reprint from an older English edition.(217) When Von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge he found only two military books were used, those of Bland and Simes.(218) These books constituted the substance of military knowledge upon which officers both of the regular army and the militia in all the states drew during the Revolution.(219)

In the winter of 1775-76 Dunmore gathered a band of loyalists to supplement his army of two companies of the Fourteenth Regiment and moved through Norfolk and Princess Anne county. At the east branch of the Elizabeth River at Kemp's Landing Dunmore defeated the Princess Anne militia under Colonel Hutchings. Colonel Woodford gathered a few of the fledgling Continentals and a number of militia and pursued Dunmore's force. At Great Bridge on the Elizabeth River, on 9 December 1775, Woodford met and defeated Dunmore's 200 regulars and 300 loyalists and escaped black slaves, inflicting considerable losses on Dunmore while suffering only one man wounded. Woodford reported that "the deadly rifles of Captain Green's Culpeper [militia] men, every one of them a marksman, contributed greatly to this victory, as they had at Hampton." Dunmore retreated to the safety of his ships at Norfolk, leaving the slaves to make their own way out.(220) Patrick Henry ordered several companies of minute-men to encamp around Williamsburg to protect the city and its officials. The Committee of Safety ordered out several more companies of minute-men to guard other points, such as Burwell's Ferry, Jamestown, Hampton and York-town, where Dunmore might land his mixed force.

The Virginia Convention met on 1 December 1775 at Richmond and soon adjourned to Williamsburg, where it remained in session until 20 January 1776. In cooperation with the Committee of Safety, it created seven additional regiments of regulars and called out a company of 500 riflemen. The latter were deployed in the counties of Accomack and Northampton to protect them from Dunmore's force. Colonel Woodford, as ranking military officer in the state,(221) pressed the Convention to supply better arms of standard military caliber. As many of the men, both regulars and militia, were armed with fowling pieces of various calibers, each man had to mold his own bullets. Moreover, fowlers were wholly unsuited to the use of bayonets. Woodford also complained of the poor quality of the arms received from the former colonial stores. Had "better arms been furnished in time for this detachment, they might have prevented much trouble and great expense to this Colony. Most of those arms I received the other day from Williamsburg are rather to be considered as lumber, than fit to be put in men's hands. . . ."(222)

The Convention considered a number of principles upon which the new state should be based. The thirteenth point convened the militia. It declared that "a trained militia is the proper defense of a free state, that standing armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty, and that the military must be in subordination to the civil power." The Convention made reference to the provisions in the English Bill of Rights that Protestants should be allowed to keep and bear arms and that there should be no standing army in peacetime without the consent of Parliament. The delegates agreed that these two sections were the natural conclusions of historical experience and of a true democratic tradition.(223)

Amerindian problems beset the newly independent state almost immediately. Urged on by royal emissaries and white renegades the native aborigine carried out raids against isolated settlements along the Holston and Ohio rivers and in Kentucky. The Cherokees along the Holston were especially active so a large militia force was created made up largely of frontiersmen who were experienced in Indian fighting. The urban militia supplemented the backwoodsmen by occupying the few towns and forts in the path of the marauders. The militias from the counties of the Shenandoah Valley were able to sustain the Amerindian incursions from the north.

The Virginia Bill of Rights of 1776 provided "that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State." It also rejected standing armies and ordered the subordination of the military to civil authority.(224)

The Virginia Convention of 1776 put Thomas Jefferson to work on a draft of a new constitution for the newly independent state. His first draft of the fundamental document contained a provision for the militia and the right to bear arms based in classical political thought which tied human freedom to the right to keep and bear arms. The following shows Jefferson's original draft and changes made by deletion.



No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

No souldier shall be capable of continuing in

there shall be no standing army but in the time of peace actual war(225)



After the delegates considered and debated his initial draft, Jefferson made the following changes in his second draft. Deletions are shown.



No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms within his own lands or tenements

There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war(226)



His third draft of this provision read exactly as the second had read.(227) The Constitution of 1776 also provided that the governor direct and command the militia and recommend commissions to the legislature. Militia officers commissioned previously were to be continued in grade provided only that they take the oath of loyalty.(228)

In the summer of 1776 the citizens of Kentucky met at Harrodsburg and on 6 June 1776 appointed deputies to represent them at Williamsburg. They wished to secure Virginia citizenship for themselves and to associate their frontier militia with the state militia. The Harrordsburg gathering appointed Gabriel Jones and George Rogers Clark (1752-1818) to represent their interests and sent them on the 500 mile journey to Williamsburg.(229) By the time they reached Botetourt County, they learned that the Convention had adjourned. Jones joined Colonel Christian's expedition against the Cherokees while Clark continued on his journey. He met with Patrick Henry at his home and received a cordial reception. Henry recommended both the incorporation of the Kentucky militia and material support, especially with 500 pounds of gunpowder. On 23 August the Convention provided the gunpowder, sending it to Pittsburgh and then down the Ohio River.(230) This secured the loyalty of Kentucky to Virginia and drew its militia into the state's military organization.

On 29 May 1776 the Virginia legislature decided to create three companies of Minute Men, to be stationed on the frontier. The main problem attending the deployment of these ranging units was securing rifles wherewith to arm them.(231) Rangers were to be skilled marksmen and thus be armed with rifled arms instead of muskets. Unlike muskets, rifles had not been standardized, but the legislature deemed uniformity of caliber highly desirable. They also required a greater effort and investment of time to manufacture. The law creating ranging units was strengthened to provide "the better defence of the frontiers of this Colony." Funds were appropriated for implementation of the Minute Men in June 1776.(232)

On 20 June 1776 the legislature authorized the formation of a company of rangers in Fincastle, Botetourt and Augusta counties. Ranging companies were to be drawn from frontier companies because the men there were accustomed to the Amerindian way of fighting. Urban militia were essentially useless in the wilderness. Their special talents were wasted in urban settlements. Rangers were ordered to assist the militia in other counties as needed; and in return they could ask for assistance from other counties.(233) General Washington, writing from New York, supported the formation of ranging companies on the frontiers, believing this to be an effective use of frontiersmen. "With respect to [the use of] militia in the management of Indian affairs, I am fully persuaded that the inhabitants of the frontier counties in your colony are, from inclination as well as ability, particularly adapted to that kind of warfare."(234)

In mid-June the Fifth Virginia Convention considered the revisions of the militia law to make it better meet the needs of a wartime state.(235) The Convention and the Governor then turned their attention to arming the militia. By the time of the Revolution, arms were extremely scare among the population. One of the primary problems confronting the militia was replenishment of supply of the once legally mandated privately owned and supplied firearms. The state sent impressment gangs through the countryside to confiscate (although they eventually paid for) firearms wherewith to arm both the Virginia Continental Line and the militia, although the former certainly had priority in the allocation of arms. Impressment of arms from private citizens was a primary source of supply, and was an extremely unpopular device. Moreover, they scrounging officers brought back a mixed bag of old, obsolete, obsolescent, worn out and damaged arms more frequently than they brought back current and useful arms. The guns were of many calibers and fired a variety of projectiles. On 2 October 1776 Captain Nicholas Cabell (1750-1803) delivered to Captain Samuel Higgenbotham the product of a week of impressment. These arms, which were to be consigned for militia use, included 22 rifles of 14 different calibres and 8 shotguns, a hunting weapon usually not considered useful or suitable for military use.(236)

Arms shortages continued to plague Virginia throughout the Revolution. So destitute was the militia of firearms that the Committee of Safety ordered to issue muskets when available, but if none were available, to issue "speers or cutlasses." Several companies were issued tomahawks.(237) On 14 June 1776 General Francis Johnson wrote from Long Island to General Anthony Wayne, "I shall not continue 6 months longer in the Service without Arms," warning him that, as things were, he would have to defend various fortifications "with our People armed with Spears, or be compelled to leave the Camp. He also noted that "Howe and his Redcoats will pay us a Visit immediately . . . [and] we for our parts have nothing but damned Tomahawks."(238) Like other states, it had a need for arms greater than it could fulfill through any sources of supply. The state authorities were willing to accept whatever arms they could procure. On 13 September 1777 Edmund Pendleton wrote to William Woodford, "the length or form of Rifles or other guns I am inclined to think will make no great difference so long as the old sort of experienced hands use them."(239) To secure the arms from pilferage, the state ordered that "all arms delivered out of Publick Stores or purchased by Officers for use on the Continent, [are to be] branded without loss of time."(240) On 20 February 1781, John Bannister complained to Jefferson that Congress was remiss in supplying the state. "I cannot help observing how unjust it is in Congress not to assist us with arms when we have to contend singly with the greatest part of the British army."(241)

In the late summer 1776 Governor Henry sent Colonel William Christian with a substantial company of militia to the relief of the frontier. He made his way through the southern Ohio territory, down the Tennessee River, into the lands of the Cherokees and Creeks. However, the enemy proved to be elusive because "the men retreat faster than I could follow." He reported to Henry that, "I know, Sir, that I could kill and take Hundreds of them, and starve hundreds by destroying their Corn, but it would be mostly the women and children." Unlike General John Sullivan later on, Christian refused to make war on the able-bodied men by starving the very old, very young and the children. "I shewed pity to the distressed and spared the supplicants, rather than that I should commit one act of Barbarity." Nonetheless, Christian captured 40 to 50 thousand bushels of corn and 10 to 15 thousand bushels of potatoes, along with assorted quantities of horses, fowl, cattle and hogs. The expedition also rescued a few white captives. Christian attempted to negotiate with the leaders, sachems and chiefs, but had little initial success. It is here that Christian first encountered a renegade chief he called Dragon Canoe, on whom more later. He warned the leaders with whom he did meet that he could easily command 2000 Virginia militia and that the Carolinas would supply another 400, all experienced Indian fighters. Eventually, some chiefs responded to his overtures of peace. Time also allowed for the gathering of intelligence and he learned that one Cameron, a British agent, had successfully seduced Dragon Canoe and a few others, and that Cameron had promised to produce large quantities of war materials at Mobile, to be given to such tribes as would ally with the English against the colonists.(242) Christian warned Henry that there he apprehended far greater from the English at Mobile than at Fort Detroit, and strongly recommended an expedition be undertaken against the southern renegade Indians.(243)

A second militia detachment under General Rutherford attacked several Indian towns and killed a number of warriors, captured several Frenchmen and took prisoner several escaped slaves. The militia also captured a quantity of gunpowder and lead and provisions valued at 2500. These supplies had been destined for Mobile, to be used to attract Cherokees to the British cause. South Carolina militia under Colonel Williamson, after suffering considerable losses during an ambush, regrouped and routed the Cherokees, supposed to have been under British and tory leadership. Williamson joined Rutherford "destroyed all the Towns, the Corn and everything that might be of service" to the Cherokees in several of their villages. Despite being opposed by a "considerable body" of hostiles, Rutherford lost only three men.(244)

In 1776 Virginia had far fewer problems recruiting soldiers for the Continental Line than it had in supplying them with arms and accoutrements. Congress had ordered on 16 September 1776 that Virginia supply fifteen battalions of the Line. So successful was the state in filling its initial quota that John Wood, governor of Georgia, on 20 August 1776, asked for, and received, legislative permission to recruit in Virginia in order to fill his own state's quota. In a letter to Richard Henry Lee, Henry complained bitterly about this allowance. "I write to the General [Washington] that our enlistments go on badly. Indeed, they are almost stopped. The Georgia Service has hurt it much."(245)

Discipline was harsh and, at times, even bizarre. In 1776 Captain John Pegg, a vestryman in his church and militia captain, was fined, broken in rank and held up to public contempt for "drinking and making use of in his family the detestable East Indian tea." Pegg responded that the inquiry into his habits, practiced within the privacy of his own home constituted "an impertinent interference in his family affairs" and that he would not be bound by such inquiries. The state responded by listing him as "an enemy to the cause" in the Virginia Gazette.(246)

Washington on 4 October 1776 had observed that there is an enormous, material difference between voting to raise companies of soldiers and actually recruiting, equipping, arming and discipling them. Responding to Washington's request for reasonable terms of service, on 16 November 1776 the legislature set enlistment terms at three years and made provision for recruiting, even drafting if necessary, men from the reservoir of trained militiamen.(247)

In December 1776 the Virginia legislature authorized the formation of three additional battalions of regulars to serve under the command of the Congress, but in the pay of the state. It also authorized the creation of additional minute-men and volunteer companies in the exclusive service of the state. By December 1776, the legislature had to ask assistance in recruiting from "justices, members of county committees, and the other good people of this Commonwealth" in recruiting men to serve at all levels, from regulars with three year enlistment obligations to militia to minute-men to volunteer companies.(248) The question of the legality and legitimacy of the deployment of militia outside the state had never been resolved, dating from colonial days. Rather than resolving this problem, on 26 December 1776, Governor Henry issued a special call for volunteers "willing to engage in the defence of this State, or march to the assistance of any other, should the exigency of things demand it."(249) He described the volunteers to General Washington. "The volunteers will consist chiefly from the upper parts of the country, who would make the best of soldiers, could they continue so long in the service as to be regularly disciplined. He thought they would be "as respectable as such a corps can be expected, without training." They will find their own arms, clothes, and . . . be commanded by captains . . . of their own choosing." They would differ from militia in that "they will be subject to the Continental Articles of War."(250)

By February 1777 it was apparent that Henry's call interfered with the enlistment of troops for long service in the Continental Line, so Henry suspended his call for volunteers until the enlistment of regulars was completed.(251) In March 1777, Governor Henry reported that "the recruiting business of late goes on so badly that there remains but little prospect of filling six new battalions from this State, voted by the Assembly." He was disappointed at the failure of the militia to serve, as hoped, as a reservoir of trained manpower for the army. "I believe you can receive no assistance by drafts from the militia."(252) Nonetheless, the legislature authorized a draft from the militia to complete enlistments in the Line.(253)

In March Henry was forced to send militia to the Virginia frontier. He ordered militia from Botetourt and Montgomery counties to march to the relief of the settlers in Kentucky, primarily to escort the more distant settlers to convenient places of safety while the Indian menace loomed. Although he understood that there was a vast territory to scour for settlers, Henry was forced to inform the lieutenant of Montgomery County that his many commitments outweighed his resources. "The great variety of War in which this State is engaged," Henry wrote, "makes it impossible to spare such a number of men for this Expedition as I could wish."(254)

Henry was much concerned for the defense of the western frontier. In March 1777 he asked Governor Thomas Johnson if Maryland was able to support Virginia with militia to defend Fort Pitt and to join in an expedition down the Ohio River to contain the hostile Cherokees.(255)

More bad news concerning the Amerindians trickled in from the western frontier. Cornstalk had approached the Virginia garrison at Point Pleasant on the Ohio River to report that Colonel Henry Hamilton, the notorious "hair buyer," had achieved remarkable success among the northerly tribes. Cornstalk did not want to become involved in the "white man's dispute," but he might have "move with the stream." The commandant detained him along with his two companions. Cornstalk's son, worried about his father's failure to return, then came to the fort. Meanwhile, two men hunting for fresh meat not far from the fort were attacked and one was killed by Cornstalk's men. A relative of the dead man, one Captain Hall, advanced on Cornstalk and murdered him, his son and at least two other Shawnee. Even a vital portion of Cornstalk's message was lost since, at the time of his murder, he was performing a vital service to his friends, the Virginians, by drawing a map that showed the disposition and location of the various tribes between his own Shawnee villages and the Mississippi River.(256)

The wanton murder of one of the most popular Amerindian leaders was the immediate cause of raids into the Greenbrier Valley. The militia and rangers contained the attacks, but the deprivations continued throughout the war, tying up many militiamen who might have served the patriot cause better by deployment elsewhere. Garrison duty at the many forts maintained along the frontier during the entire war proved to be the most unpopular duty assigned to the militia.

Many Virginians objected to the drafting of militia into the army. The opposition was especially strong on the frontier where the loss of the male head of household might prove disastrous to the farms. Samuel McDowell of Rockbridge County, wrote to Governor Thomas Jefferson, complaining that the draft "must ruin a number of those whose lot is to march . . . their families and stocks must suffer, as they mostly have not any person behind them when they are gone from home to work their small farms." McDowell advised Jefferson that his friends and neighbors "would serve as militia but would not be drafted for 18 months as regulars." McDowell's neighbor George Moffet emphasized just how much they loathed the draft in his letter of 5 May 1781 to Jefferson. "Yet they would suffer death before they would be drafted 18 months from their families and made regular soldiers of."(257)

Since Virginia was neither occupied nor greatly molested during the war, the state was able to function as a reservoir of troops for the Continental Line and as a base of supplies for the patriots. There is scant evidence of deployment of the militia in the north and only occasional use of it in the south during the first three years of the war. Thus, other than frontier duty, the militia was used almost exclusively as a source of semi-trained manpower for the army. In 1779 Clinton sent a fleet to harass the Virginia coast, ending the first phase of the revolution for the state. Urban militia were placed on coastal watch and a portion of them became minutemen, ready to act in defense of the seacoast.

The basic militia law was re-enacted and slightly reconstituted by the General Assembly on 5 May 1777, as "An Act for Regulating and Discipling the Militia. All free white males between ages 16 and 50 were eligible for enlistment. Hired servants and apprentices, but not free black or slaves, were included. Excluded were the governor, members of the state council, members of Congress, judges, state officers, such as attorney general and clerks, ministers, postmasters, jail keepers, hospital personnel, millers, iron and lead workers and persons engaged in firearms production for the state. Enlisted officers and men serving in the Continental Line and state navy were also exempted from registration for the militia. Companies of not less than 32 nor more than 68 men were formed, with battalions being made of not less than 500, nor more than 1000 men. Each company had a captain, two lieutenants and an ensign; battalions had additionally a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel and a major. (258)

With the continued scarcity of arms, Virginia could ill afford to lose arms through pilferage. On 8 June 1777 the legislature ordered that "all arms delivered out of the Public Stores, or purchased by officers for use on this Continent, to be branded without loss of time." The standard brand employed was "VA" or "Va Regt --."(259)

By late winter 1777 Governor Henry had deployed 300 militia at Fort Pitt, primarily to guard against tory and Amerindian activity.(260) To stem the Amerindian menace, Henry conceived, and the legislature approved, an action against Pluggy's Town, an Indian village beyond the Ohio River. Henry dispatched scouts and emissaries to the Delaware and Shawnee, to ascertain if they had objections to Virginia sending militia across their lands. Having determined that these neutral tribes would not be drawn into combat were Virginia militia to enter their lands, on 12 March 1777, Henry began to lay specific plans for this militia action. On that date, Henry wrote to George Morgan, superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Colonel John Neville, commandant at Pittsburgh, laying out his scheme. Both men responded on 1 April, cautioning strongly against the action. They expressed the most grave concerns that a punitive action would be inconclusive and that it would most likely provoke a general, long, barbarous and expensive Indian war.(261)

Despite the acute shortage of arms there was often considerable friction between artificers and military contractors and other military authorities. Despite the obvious and acute need for the arms, accoutrements, horseshoes and canteens to be made and repaired, local governmental authorities, facing increased quotas for replacements in the Continental Line, threatened to enlist the artificers in the militia. At Peytonsville, Spotsylvania County, William McCraw, commander of a small band of artificers, wrote the governor, reminding him that McCraw had promised, he assumed on the authority, and with the consent, of the governor, that his men would be exempt from other duties while performing their jobs at the forges. "Unless this be stopped, I can not furnish the canteens so much wanted by the Southern Army; the armourers will not be able to repair the damaged guns, nor can I have horseshoes made, now so much needed." The General Assembly therefore passed legislation which specifically exempted from the draft or militia or other military service any artificer assigned to military posts or privately employed by independent arms or military supply contractors.(262)

As the war progressed, many Virginians expressed confidence in their state militia. Edmund Pendleton on 30 August 1777 wrote to Richard Henry Lee, "I think it no unimportant part of our late success that [the] Militia had a principal hand in it, for if they will stand six hours hard fighting with their officers and men falling by their sides, we can never be subdued, our resources in that way are infinite."(263)

In August 1777, while Governor Henry was in Hanover preparing for his impending marriage, word was received that General Howe's army had appeared with the British Navy off the Virginia coast. Henry authorized General Thomas Nelson to muster and command 64 companies of militia for the defense of Williamsburg. Among those responding was a militia company of students at the College of William and Mary. Henry ordered Colonel Charles Harrison's regiment of artillery to remain at York-town on the pretext that "militia must in this case be chiefly depended on, and their skill in managing Cannon promises nothing effectual." He also ordered the militia to detain persons suspected of disloyalty on the pretext that they might aid the British.(264)

As it was, the British fleet did not land until it reached the Head of Elk, and its mission on this occasion was to provide troops for the assault on Philadelphia, not for an attack on Virginia. To support Washington in this assault, Henry ordered one-third of the militia of the counties of Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, Culpeper, Fauquier, Berkeley, Shenandoah, and Frederick, to march toward Philadelphia.(265) Washington thanked Henry for dispatching militia, but noted again his disdain for the Virginia militia, offering a sharp contrast to the New York and New England militias.



How different the case in the northern department! There the states of New York and New England, resolving to crush Burgoyne, continued pouring in their militia, till the surrender of that army, at which time not less than 14,000 militia . . . were actually in General Gates's camp, and those composed, for the most part, of the best yeomanry in the country, well armed, and, in many instances, supplied with provisions of their own carrying. Had the same spirit pervaded the people of this and the neighbouring States, we might, before this time, have had General Howe nearly in the situation of General Burgoyne. . . .(266)



In May 1778, the legislature passed a series of acts designed to draft or recruit 2000 men to assist General Washington. Those enlisted, whether as volunteers or drafts from the militia, were to serve until 1 January 1779, or less than two years. Additionally, minute-men were to be recruited for the defense of the eastern shore from British raiders and on the west from Amerindian attacks.(267) By mid-summer 1778, enlistments of many Virginia Continentals were expiring. Their numbers had been diminished by desertion, casualties in battle and death and incapacity from smallpox, dysentery and other diseases. Word of plagues of smallpox and other contagion diminished whatever enthusiasm yet remained for the patriot cause. While the legislature authorized the payment of bounties and another draft from militia rolls, Henry found it nearly impossible to recruit even half of the assigned quota. The state currency had become so depreciated that neither bounty nor pay were meaningful. Looking forward, Henry could see that the enlistments of the first nine regiments of the Virginia Line were due to expire early in 1778. He wrote to Congress, expressing his deep concern, but without being able to offer any solution.(268)

In May 1778 Governor Henry received a distressing report regarding the Northampton County and Norfolk city militias. Captain John Wilson, the militia commander, wrote, "I beg to observe that the militia of late, fail much in appearing at musters, submitting to the trifling fine of five shillings, which, they argue, they can afford to pay by earning more at home."(269) Immediately after reading this, Henry conveyed a message to Benjamin Harrison, Speaker of the House of Delegates, concerning the military. In a positive vein, he reported success in the campaign against the Cherokees. Regarding the militia, he had a mixed report. "Although the militia of this commonwealth are in general well affected, and no doubt can be entertained of the general good disposition of the people," he wrote, "I am sorry to say that several instances of refractory and disobedient conduct have, which, for the sake of example, called loudly for punishment." But, probably with Wilson's letter in mind, he also reported that "offenses against the Militia law are become common."(270)

Having established relations with the settlers in Kentucky, Virginia felt somewhat obligated to undertake their protection. Henry also had men in that year engaged in other frontier areas of the West. The policy of appeasement and peace that Colonel Neville and George Morgan had recommended was evidently a failure. After a series of Amerindian outrages, the Supreme Executive Council ordered Colonel John Todd to enlist 250 militiamen to provide some relief.(271)

Congress also thought to act on behalf of the western settlements and in the spring of 1777 ordered General Hand to enroll a large body of militia to move against the Amerindians in Ohio from a base at Pittsburgh. Hand called into serve the militias of the Virginia counties of Frederick, Yohogania, Ohio, Hampshire, Monongalia, Botetourt, Augusta and Shenandoah. Henry was still uncertain if he could deploy the militia beyond the state's boundaries, so he decided to call for volunteers. Colonel Skillern raised five volunteer companies in the counties of Greenbrier, Augusta and Botetourt and marched to Point Pleasant, where a fort had been created, to join Hand.

Captain Arbuckle commanded Fort Randolph at Point Pleasant and he had engaged several important Amerindian leaders in negotiations, among them Red Hawk and Cornstalk. The latter, desiring to honor the treaty he made after Dunmore's War, had attempted to dissuade his tribesmen from entertaining the British representatives. Cornstalk was unsuccessful in his attempts to maintain neutrality, so he came to Fort Randolph to inform the Americans of the British entreaties. Arbuckle detained all the Amerindians who came to the fort to act as hostages to prevent a large scale Indian war. After a militiaman from Rockbridge County was killed, allegedly by one of Cornstalk's men, the militiamen of Captain Hall's company murdered the hostages, including Cornstalk, his son and Red Hawk. Hand arrived two days after the murder, having failed to recruit any militia volunteers in Pennsylvania.(272) Neither did Hand bring provisions, and there being none at the forest, the volunteers abandoned their mission and returned home.

The murder of one of the great Shawnee leaders precipitated an Indian war as the whole Shawnee confederation sought to avenge Cornstalk's death. Concerned citizens of Greenbrier County sent an elaborate memorial to the state authorities, demanding help.(273) On 27 May 1778, Henry ordered a post to be set up at Kelly's in Greenbrier County, manned by militia from Botetourt County, to guarantee the communication and supply route between Williamsburg and Fort Randolph. He also dispatched militia from several counties to support Fort Randolph. And he offered a substantial reward for the capture and punishment of those responsible for the murder of Cornstalk and the others. Finally, he appointed Andrew Lewis and John Walker to serve as special ambassadors to the Delaware and Shawnee nations at a conference scheduled at Fort Pitt on 23 July 1778. The murderers, Captains Hall and Galbraith and others, were brought to trial in Rockbridge County, but immediately acquitted as no man was willing to execute a white man for an Indian's murder.(274) Disgruntled, more than 200 of the Shawnees laid siege to Fort Randolph in May 1778. Failing to capture the fort, the marauding band wreaked havoc throughout Greenbrier County until repulsed by Colonel Samuel Lewis and Captain John Stuart and the militias of several counties.

Congress replaced Hand with an experienced Indian fighter from Georgia, General McIntosh, who was given command of a joint force of militia, volunteers and the Thirteenth Virginia Continental Line. McIntosh was to carry the war to Detroit where Henry Hamilton, known as the "hair buyer" for his purchases of white scalps, was headquartered. Congress ordered Governor Henry to provide 2000 men, whether militia or volunteers. Henry estimated the following items would be among the bare minimum supplies needed to carry out the orders of Congress: 30,000 pounds of lead; 1000 horse belts; 400 felling axes and 3000 hatchets; 100 kettles, tents, haversacks and suits of clothing; 500 horses; and a large supply of arms and gunpowder and money. Additionally, there would be the problems of "recruiting, arming, accoutring & discipling" of such a large body of militia. In a long letter to Congress, dated 8 July 1778, Henry begged off. There was no way, he said, could Virginia afford or supply all that Congress demanded. Congress, he wrote, seemed to have no idea of "the exhausted state of this Country," but seemed think the state's resources were unlimited. He certainly supported the scheme, and the elimination of Hamilton's scalp purchasing was certainly a worthy objective. Congress reluctantly accepted Henry's explanation and simply ordered McIntosh to what he could with what he had and to operate from Pittsburgh.(275) The expedition proved to be fruitless. In 1778 McIntosh set up a garrison of 150 militia at Fort Laurens on the Tuscarawas River in the Ohio territory, but abandoned it the next year.

Where Hand and Mcintosh had failed, George Rogers Clark was destined to succeed. He had journeyed to Williamsburg in the autumn of 1777, carrying a petition from Kentucky which asked for relief from the Amerindian raids. Having failed to find other ways to relieve the pressures on the frontier, the legislature offered some token support and 1200, not a great sum in the depreciated Virginia currency.(276) It commissioned Clark a lieutenant-colonel and charged him with capturing Fort Detroit. It ordered "that the Governor be empowered . . . to order such part of the militia of this Commonwealth as may be most convenient . . . to act with any troops on an expedition that may be taken against any of our western enemies."(277) Clark had convinced Council that Kaskasia "was at the present held by a very weak garrison" and could be taken without great effort or cost. Moreover, "there are many pieces of cannon & military stores to a considerable amount." This proved to be an irresistible bait and Council ordered him "to procure the artillery and stores" to supply the army. Council suggested Clark raise "seven companies of 50 men each" who were "to receive the pay and allowance of the militia & to act under the laws and regulations of this State, now in force, as militia." Despite Hamilton's policy of buying scalps and the brutality of the attacks on the frontier, Council ordered him "to show humanity to such British Subjects, and other persons, as fall into your hands."(278)

With the consent of Governor Henry, Clark offered 300 acres of land to any who would volunteer to serve on his mission. Henry had long harbored the dream of extending Virginia's boundaries west to the Mississippi River and Clark's mission, if successful, on behalf of the state would go a long way to establish that boundary.(279) Moreover, by claiming the Mississippi as the boundary, Henry was on safe legal grounds in deploying state militia on that frontier. Captain Leonard Helm of Farquier County, and Captain Joseph Bowman of Frederick County, each offered to raise a militia company to support Clark. They planned to meet at Redstone Old Fort [Brownsville, Pennsylvania]. He encountered great difficulties because many potential recruits in Western Pennsylvania regarded Clark's expedition as a way to promote Virginia over Pennsylvania interests. Few were willing to support the defense of Kentucky. The county commissioners of Farquier and Frederick questioned the legality of deploying their militiamen in the western territories.

Eventually, in May 1778 Clark raised a small force and, with 175 volunteers and militia, moved down the Ohio almost to its juncture with the Mississippi River and then moved northwestward. On 4 July 1778 he captured Kaskasia and, with the support of French inhabitants, brought the surrounding area under control. On 17 December Hamilton, with a force of about 500, of which about one-half were Amerindians, took Vincennes, but on 6 February 1779, Clark recaptured it. By 25 February, after a super-human effort to cross flooded plains, he forced Hamilton's surrender and took the "hair buyer" prisoner. Patrick Henry, under whose orders Clark's militia had fought, reported with unconcealed delight to Richard Henry Lee.



Governor Hamilton of Detroit is a prisoner with the judge of that country, several captains, lieutenants, and all the British who accompanied Hamilton in his conquest of the Wabash. Our brave Colonel Clark, sent out from our militia, with 100 Virginians, besieged the Governor in a strong fort with several hundreds, and with small arms alone fairly took the whole corps prisoners and sent them into our interior country. This is a most gallant action and I trust will secure our frontiers in great measure. The goods taken by Clark are said to be of immense amount, and I hope will influence the Indians to espouse our interests. . . .(280)



By resolution of Congress of 25 July 1778, the planned combined national and state attack on Fort Detroit and other western British outposts was postponed. Instead, Congress adopted Governor Patrick Henry's suggested plan of attack on hostile Amerindian towns in the Ohio territory, especially several Shawnee towns along the Ohio River. Henry, after meeting with the Council of Safety, decided to deploy the frontier county militias of Washington, Montgomery, Botetourt, Augusta, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Greenbrier, Shenandoah, Frederick, Berkeley, Hampshire, Monongalia, Yohogania and Ohio. These counties, Henry argued should supply all the men that General McIntosh could use, and all should be experienced Indian fighters.(281)

Before McIntosh could move, Henry learned that, while the eastern seaboard action had come to a standstill, a mixed British force of regular troops, Amerindian allies and tories, was moving against the small forts in Kentucky. British Colonel Henry Hamilton had decided that this move might preclude an American move against Fort Detroit. Governor Henry order the colonel of the Washington County militia, Arthur Campbell, to choose 150 select frontier rangers from the counties noted above to move to the relief of the settlers in Kentucky.(282) Perhaps because the George Rogers Clark expedition pressed the British, the expected attack on Kentucky never materialized.

Meanwhile, the British forces in the south were pressing hard in South Carolina. Governor Henry expressed great admiration for "the brilliant John Rutledge [who] was Governor of the State. Clothed with dictatorial powers, he called out the reserve militia and threw himself into [the defense of] the City."(283) Henry decided to respond to Rutledge's call for aid by dispatching 1000 Virginia militia to relief of the Carolinas. His primary problems were with the commissary, which could not round up enough "tents, kettles, blankets & Waggons" to supply this force.(284) The British captured Savannah in December 1778, crushing the 1000 man militia force under General Robert Howe (1732-1786). By the spring of 1779, the British had crushed General Benjamin Lincoln's force at Stonoe Ferry, and the southern campaign seemed to be going well for the enemy. Patrick Henry thought Lincoln had done well, although he lost 300 men while inflicting only 130 casualties on the enemy.

The British successes in the south created another danger. The enemy immediately sent emissaries to the Cherokee and other potentially war-like tribes, promising them weapons and other aid should they join the British cause. Henry moved to break up the alliance before it became a real, effective coalition that could over-run the frontier. He had learned that the most war-like of all the southern tribes had gathered in an area from the mouth of the Cickamauga River south some fifty miles down the Tennessee River. Led by a chief named Dragging Canoe (or Dragon Canoe), whom we have met before, these were the outcasts from many tribes and villages. They had welcomed into their towns various tories, bandits, escaped criminals, murderers, cut-throats, fugitives from justice and escaped slaves, bringing a grand total number of armed men of perhaps 1000. Dragging Canoe and his band of loosely associated allies had refused overtures of peace from Virginia sent via Colonel Christian.

On 13 March 1779, Henry informed Washington that he had drawn on the select militias of the same counties he had called into a state of readiness, to be commanded by Colonel Evan Shelby. Shelby had served as quartermaster for the Virginia militia, so he was able to command all the supplies and arms that had eluded the militia had earlier planned to send to South Carolina. Henry reported to Washington that, "About 500 militia are ordered down the Tennessee River to chastise the settlements of the renegade Cherokees that infest our southwestern frontier and prevent our navigation on that river, from which we hope for great advantages." Soon after, North Carolina added 500 of its militia to Shelby's force. As it was, many of the North Carolina militia turned out to be displaced Virginians or men recruited into the North Carolina militia from Virginia.(285)

Shelby's mission was an overwhelming success. His militia force, which actually consisted of 600 men, assembled near Rogersville, Tennessee, at the mouth of Big Creek. They enlisted the help of Colonel Montgomery's 150 men who had been on their way to aid George Rogers Clark. On 10 April 1779, the force began its journey by canoe, reaching Dragging Canoe's town by 13 April. Having captured an Indian, they forced him to guide them to the enemy's campsite. Shelby took the camp by surprise, killed 40 warriors, burned their supplies and captured British war materials valued at 20,000 sterling. The British dream of uniting the southern tribes with Colonel Hamilton's forces came to an abrupt end. In a single stroke, the power of the Chickamauga tribes was broken, and the Cherokees, seeing the power of Shelby's militia, soon withdrew from further negotiations with the English. Henry's two major deployments of militia on the far frontiers, under Shelby in Tennessee, and under George Rogers Clark in the west, had saved the frontier and precluded the necessity of Washington's having to divert regular troops from the eastern seaboard to fight on the frontier.



Meanwhile, Virginia militia on the northwestern frontier came under pressures from British, tory and Amerindian troops. Ebenezer Zane (1747-1812) recruited his neighbors and formed a militia. His volunteers resisted attacks on Fort Henry at Wheeling, [West] Virginia, in 1777 and 1782.(286)

No colony ever had sufficient regular forces to guard its seacoast from invasion. One primary responsibility of the militia remained standing coastal watch. In May 1779, as Shelby's army was mopping up in Tennessee, British troops landed in Portsmouth, embarking from a reported 35 ships, including Raisonable, Rainbow and Otter. This expedition, which had sailed from New York on 5 May 1779, consisted of 2500 men under Major-general Edward Matthew, conveyed on ships commanded by Commodore Sir George Collier, acting on the home government's explicit orders to Sir Henry Clinton. This force was to destroy American ships, especially privateers, disrupt the economy and prevent supplies reaching the southern states during the campaign being waged from Savannah, Georgia. The hundred regulars stationed in Portsmouth offered little resistance. These troops, like others assigned to similar coastal watch duty, might have been better deployed in the field. Having occupied Portsmouth so easily, the British army followed up quickly, marching on Suffolk. There they captured 1200 barrels of pork and looted and burned the town. They also destroyed ordnance and gunpowder, tobacco and various naval materials of war. Governor Henry called out the militia, which assembled too late to save Suffolk, but with 2000 to 3000 militiamen under arms marching Suffolk, the British withdrew. The British, before withdrawing completely, also burned and looted Portsmouth and Norfolk.(287)

On the east coast of Virginia, the French came into contact with the Virginia militia for the first time in 1778. About this same time Virginia sent militia to assist South Carolina in its struggle against the British invasion.

Whether prejudiced by Washington's views or on their own account, the French held a dim view of the Virginia militia. Of their value in the New Jersey campaign, Jean Baptiste Antoine de Verger, attached to the staff General Rochambeau, thought them cowardly in battle unless they had a clear advantage in numbers and position. They preferred having a clear avenue of retreat even when they had the upper hand. A competent commander could inspire them to perform brave deeds, but only for a short while. As de Verger wrote, "the persuasive eloquence of their commander aroused in them an enthusiastic ardor of which immediate advantage must be taken or lost."(288)

Jefferson did not share this skepticism of the militia. He was quite proud of his state's militia, and especially its prowess with the rifle. He wrote to Marquis de Lafayette,(289) "the militia of Washington, Montgomery, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Augusta and Rockingham are our best Rifle counties."(290) Nonetheless, Jefferson was to hear more criticism of the citizen-soldiers in the months to come.

Baron von Steuben wrote Jefferson on 2 January 1780, that "in case of the calling out a Body of Militia it will be highly necessary to adopt some measures to prevent numerous abuses and terrible destruction of the Country."(291)

In 1780 the militia was mustered in large numbers both to assist its sister colonies to the south to repel Cornwallis' invasion and to contain the Amerindian incursions along the frontier. The Virginia militia's contribution to the Whig victory at King's Mountain on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina was significant. On 18 August 1780 the notorious tory Banastre Tarleton had defeated an American force at Fishing Creek, South Carolina, opening the way for the invasion of North Carolina. Sorely in need of a victory, Colonels Isaac Shelby (1750-1826) and William Campbell (1745-1781) recruited a force of backwoodsmen, mostly expert riflemen from the Carolinas, Kentucky and Virginia, and on 7 October, trapped and decisively defeated Major Patrick Ferguson's force atop King's Mountain. Ferguson himself was killed and nearly his entire command was killed or captured. Ferguson had served as Corwallis' screening force on his left flank and this loss was a serious one, forcing the British commander to retreat and establish winter camp at Winnsborough.

General Nathaniel Greene was more optimistic than General Washington about the effectiveness and use of the militia. Perhaps this was because he had little choice in the matter since virtually no trained troops were available to him. Virginians had been sent to serve in the Continental Line both north and south. General Mathew's Virginia regiment had been mauled at Germantown, Pennsylvania, and most survivors were taken captive. General Buford's Virginians had been massacred by Tarleton's tories. More Virginia soldiers were held captive as a result of General Benjamin Lincoln's surrender at Charleston, South Carolina. Still, Greene held out considerable hope of success with the men he had at his disposal. Writing to Jefferson on 20 November 1780 from Richmond, soon after his appointment as commander of the Southern Army, Greene complimented the militia's devotion to duty, provided only that they be used properly.



It Affords me great Satisfaction to see the Enterprize and Spirit with which the Militia have turn'd out lately in all Quarters to Oppose the Enemy; and this Great Bulwark of Civil Liberty promises Security and Independence to this Country, if they are not depended upon as a principal but employed as an Auxiliary but if you depend upon them as a principal the very nature of the War must become so ruinous to the Country that tho numbers for a time may give security yet the difficulty of keeping this order of Men long in the field and the Accumulated expences attending it must soon put it out of your Power to make further Opposition and the Enemy will have only to delay their Operations for a few months to give Success to their measures. It must be the extreme of folly to hazard our liberties upon such a precarious tenure when we have it so much in our power to fix them upon a more solid basis.(292)



Writing from Hillsborough, North Carolina, on 30 August 1780, Edward Stevens complained to Governor Thomas Jefferson of the behavior of the Virginia militia who had come to his aid. First, they were poorly armed because political authorities had not permitted them to "Carry a single Muskett out of the State" so they had to be rearmed from Philadelphia. That may not have been the fault of the men, but they had deserted in great numbers in the face of the enemy in the action against Lord Cornwallis' army near Camden on 16 August. Stevens thought that a large measure of the blame from General Gates' army was due to the cowardice of the militia.(293)

Shortages of arms and other materials of war continued to plague the Virginia militia. On 21 October 1780 Thomas Nelson, writing to Governor Jefferson from Hall's Mills, lamented "the Enemy will undoubtedly secure all the passes, there be no possibility of preventing it with the Militia . . . who are not armed at all."(294) On 22 October 1780 Jefferson was forced to inform General Horatio Gates that he had mustered the militia south of the James River and the volunteers from these units were "in readiness" and would join him "as soon as Arms can be procured." Likewise, volunteers from other counties would follow within the next eight months if they could find arms wherewith to equip them.(295)

As autumn approached, the governor received intelligence that tories from the Carolinas under Major Ferguson were planning to raid the Greenbrier Valley and wreak havoc in southwestern parts of the state. The lead mines in Wythe County supplied a significant part of the patriots' needs for bullets and thus provided an attractive target for marauders. There were many tories in southwestern Virginia who might become politically and militarily active given some encouragement, but the death of Ferguson at King's Mountain ended the preparations.

Meanwhile, Washington had dispatched General Muhlenberg from Pennsylvania to assist in the defense of Portsmouth against a major British landing party. With the help of local militia, the Continentals defeated British General Leslie and liberated the town. Benedict Arnold, now a British officer, appeared with a superior force of regulars and drove Muhlenberg's militia from Richmond. As the militias from additional counties swelled Muhlenberg's army, Arnold fell back to Portsmouth, burning and looting all the way. Muhlenberg's militia stood in his path and Washington dispatched Lafayette with 1200 of the Continental Line to capture the traitor and defeat his army. The British landed Colonel Phillips and his regiment at Portsmouth. Phillips seized Petersburg, but died almost immediately of some fever and his men joined Arnold's command. Steuben's and Lafayette's timely arrival prevented a second capture of Richmond and Arnold beat a quick retreat to Portsmouth and the British fleet.

George Washington at his headquarters near Passaic, on 18 October 1780, prepared a Circular sent to Jefferson and the other state governors, the Continental Congress and others.



In obedience to the Orders of Congress, I have the honor to transmit Your Excellency the present state of the Troops of your line, by which you will perceive how few men you will have left after the first of January next. When I inform you also that the Troops of the other Lines will be in general as much reduced as Yours, you will be able to judge how exceedingly weak the Army will be at that period; and how essential it is the States should make vigorous exertions to replace the discharged men as early as possible. Congress's new plan for a military establishment will soon be sent to the states with requisitions for their respective quotas. New levies should be for the war, as I am religiously persuaded that the duration of the war, and the greatest part of the Misfortunes, and perplexities we have hitherto experienced, are chiefly to be attributed to temporary inlistments. . . . A moderate, compact force, on a permanent establishment capable of acquiring the discipline essential to military operations, would have been able to make head against the Enemy, without comparison better than the throngs of Militia, which have been at certain periods not in the field, but on their way to, and from the field: for from that want of perseverance which characterises all Militia, and of that coercion which cannot be exercised upon them, it has always been found impracticable to detain the greatest part of them in service even for the term, for which they have been called out; and this has been commonly so short, that we have had a great proportion of the time, two sets of men to feed and pay, one coming to the Army, and the other going from it. Instances cited of the disasters and near-disasters caused by the constant fluctuations in the number of troops in the field. Besides, It is impossible the people can endure the excessive burthen of bounties for annual Drafts and Substitutes, increasing at every new experiment: whatever it might cost them once for all to procure men for the War, would be a cheap bargain. Not without reason, the enemy themselves look forward to our eventually sinking under a system, which increases our expence beyond calculation, enfeebles all our measures, . . . and wearies and disgusts the people. This had doubtless had great influence in preventing their coming to terms. Through infatuation with an error which the experience of all mankind has exploded, and which our own experience has dearly taught us to reject . . . America has been almost amused out of her Liberties. Those who favor militia forces are those whose credulity swallows every vague story, in support of a vague hypothesis. I solemnly declare I never was witness to a single instance, that can countenance an opinion of Militia or raw Troops being fit for the real business of fighting, I have found them useful as light Parties to skirmish in the woods, but incapable of making or sustaining a serious attack . . . . The late battle of Camden is a melancholy comment upon this doctrine. The Militia fled at the first fire, and left the Continental Troops surrounded on every side, and over-powered by numbers to combat for safety instead of victory. The Enemy themselves have witnessed to their Valour. Let the states, then, in providing new levies abandon temporary expedients, and substitute something durable, systematic, and substantial. . . . The present crisis of our affairs appears to me so serious as to call upon me as a good Citizen, to offer my sentiments freely for the safety of the Republic. I hope the motive will excuse the liberty I have taken.



Washington added a postscript to Jefferson because the Virginia militia was in large responsible, in Washington's opinion as it had been in Stevens', for the disaster at the Battle of Camden. "The foregoing is circular to the several States. The circumstances of Your Line put it out of my power to transmit a Return."(296)

In December 1780 Edmund Pendleton reported to James Madison that he was having great problems raising some of the militia units for duty. The Caroline County militia, in particular, became war weary very quickly after they had been mustered to resist a British invasion at Portsmouth in October. Pendleton told Madison that many "will rather die than stir again." The militia had been placed under the command of Major Charles McGill, aide-de-camp to General Horatio Gates, and a brutal disciplinarian. The men had become "very sickly and many died below, on their way back" because McGill had marched them through avoidable water hazards, had not allowed them to dry out their clothes afterward, failed to feed and rest them properly and committed all sorts of other atrocities. Many had died of "laxes and Pleurisies."(297)

Sixteen hundred Virginia militia did march to General Greene's assistance. Daniel Morgan led these men to victory at Cowpens on 17 January 1781. There he was assisted by Colonel William Washington (1752-1810) and his mounted militia in one of the rare engagements involving these forces. Morgan's especially skillful disposition of his one thousand militiamen at that battle carried the day against the hated tory, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, inflicting 329 casualties on the enemy and capturing about 600 of his force. All available militiamen were marched to augment American forces at the Battle of Guilford Court House on 15 March. While this battle left Cornwallis in command of the field, his losses in men and material were so great as to seriously impede his future actions.

Roving bands of militia under Francis Marion (1732-1795), Thomas Sumter (1734-1832) and Henry Lee (1756-1818) proved to be effective in delaying and diverting Cornwallis' planned march. Virginia militia assisted in these actions and in capturing a number of small, rural British outposts. So effective was these forces that Cornwallis did not arrive in Virginia until mid-June, by which time the small forces of Steuben and Lafayette had been reinforced by Anthony Wayne.

The British authorities had become convinced that the lower southern colonies could not be pacified as long as Virginia remained a training ground for patriot warriors. So Charles Cornwallis led his 1500 men into Virginia, starting out from Wilmington, North Carolina, on 25 April 1781. The North Carolina and Virginia frontier militias remained important factors by harassing the British supply and communication lines. By the time Lord Cornwallis reached Petersburg, Virginia, he had added 4000 men to his depleted command of 2000 men capable of performing their duty. General William Phipps and turncoat Benedict Arnold added their troops, bringing his total strength to about 7500 men. The British troops not only outnumbered the Continental Line under von Steuben and Lafayette, but they were better trained, disciplined and equipped than their provincial brethren.

The British army pursued Lafayette's inferior force to the Rapidan River which the Americans crossed at Ely's Ford. Cornwallis sent a raiding party under Colonel Simcoe to harass the Whigs, and it succeeded in destroying American gunpowder and other supplies at the mouth of the Rivanna River. Another raiding party under Tarleton proved to be such a formidable force that on 4 June it almost captured the state legislature and Governor Thomas Jefferson. It was repulsed as it turned south toward Staunton by local militia who turned out to control the mountain passes.

Lafayette recrossed the Rapidan River at Raccoon Ford and secured a strong position behind Meechums River where he was soon joined by General Wayne's army and other forces from the north. Cornwallis, under orders from Clinton, then turned toward the sea, leading to his eventual entrapment, defeat and, on 18 October, capitulation of this British army. The militia played little, if any, role in the final reduction of Cornwallis' army. With Cornwallis' surrender British plans for reestablishing its colonial rule over America ended.(298)

By war's end, Virginia had furnished more troops and militia to the patriot cause than any other colony, save Massachusetts. This was not surprising to General Washington, who, in a letter to Governor Henry, written early in the Revolution, had commended the martial spirit of the men of his home state. "I am satisfied that the military spirit runs so high in your colony, and the number of applicants will be so considerable, that a very proper selection may be made."(299) In 1776, in response to the call from Congress, Virginia furnished 6181 men; in 1777, Congress assigned a quota of 10,200, of which number, 5744 enrolled in the continental line and the state retained 5269 militia. In 1778 Congress assigned a quota of 7830, which Virginia filled as follows: 5230 continentals; 600 guards for prisoners at Saratoga; and 2000 state militia. In 1779 the state had a quota of 5742, of which 3973 were continentals; 600 served as guards for enemy prisoners; and 4000 served in the militia.(300)

In order to secure the blessings of liberty which only a well-regulated militia could provide the Virginia Constitution provided,



That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a Free State; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided, as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.(301)



Richard Henry Lee lauded the state for its passage of a new militia law in 1785. His comments are noteworthy for his statement on the proper place for the militia in a state.



I am told our Assembly have passed a new Militia Law, of a mor [torn] nature than former - I have not seen it, but am of Opinion that [torn] the meetings for exercise are made more frequent, it will pro [duce] mischief rather than good, as I never discovered other fruits from those meetings, than calling the Industrious from their Labour to their great disgust and the Injury of the community, and affording the idle an opportunity of dissipation. I rather think that in time of peace, to keep them enrolled and oblige them to meet once a year to shew their Arms and Ammunition - to provide Magazines of those, and in case of a War to throw the Militia into an Ar- rangement like our minute Plan, for defence until a regular Army can be raised, is the most Eligible System, leaving the people at liberty to pursue their labour in peace, and acquire wealth, of great service in War.(302)



The Virginia convention, called to consider the ratification of the proposed U. S. Constitution, considered the role of the militia in the new republic. Rather naturally, the debate quickly focused on the role the militia had performed, and how it had, or had not, fulfilled it obligations in the War for Independence. On 9 June 1788 Henry Lee rose to offer his opinion on the subject in response to comments made by Edmund Randolph.



Here, sir, I conceive that implication might operate against himself. He tells us that he is a staunch republican, and adores liberty. I believe him, and when I do I wonder that he should say that a kingly government is superior to that system which we admire. He tells you that it cherishes a standing army, and that militia alone ought to be depended upon for the defence of every free country. There is not a gentlemen in this house -- there is no man without these walls -- not even the gentleman himself, who admires the militia more than I do. Without vanity I may say that I have had different experience of their service from that of the honorable gentleman. It was my fortune to be a soldier of my country. In the discharge of my duty I knew the worth of militia. I have seen them perform feats that would do honor to the first veterans, and submitting to what would daunt German soldiers. I saw what the honorable gentleman did not see our men fighting with the troops of that king which he so much admires. I have seen proofs of the wisdom of that paper on your table. I have seen incontrovertible evidence that militia cannot always be relied on. I could enumerate many instances, but one will suffice. Let the gentle. man recollect the action of Guilford. The American troops behaved there with gallant intrepidity. What did the militia do? The greatest numbers of them fled. The abandonment of the regulars occasioned the loss of the field. Had the line been supported that day, Cornwallis, instead of surrendering at York, would have laid down his arms at Guilford.(303)



In replying to the argument of Patrick Henry, that the states would be left without arms, Lee said he could not understand the implication that, because Congress may arm the militia, the States could not do it. The States are, by no part of the plan before you, precluded from arming and disciplining the militia should Congress neglect it. He rebuked Henry for his seemingly exclusive attachment to Virginia, and uttered the following sentiment:



In the course of Saturday, and in previous harangues, from the terms in which some of the Northern States were spoken of, one would have thought that the love of an American was in some degree criminal, as being incompatible with a proper degree of affection for a Virginian. The people of America, sir, are one people. I love the people of the North, not because they have adopted the Constitution, but because I fought with them as my countrymen, and because I consider them as such. Does it follow from hence that I have forgotten my attachment to my native State? In all local matters I shall be a Virginian. In those of a general nature I shall never forget that I am an American.(304)



The Reverend Mr Clay, priest in the established church, on 13 June, led the objections to granting power to the national government to call out the state militias under the Militia Clause. James Madison responded, using much the same argument he developed in his contributions to the Federalist Papers. Madison was followed by Mason, who denounced it as not sufficiently guarded, in an able harangue, which called forth an elaborate reply from Madison. Clay was not satisfied with the explanations of Madison. "Our militia," he said, "might be dragged from their homes and marched to the Mississippi. He feared that the execution of the laws by other than the civil authority would lead ultimately to the establishment of a purely military system. Madison rejoined, and was followed by Henry, who exhorted the opponents of the new scheme to make a firm stand. "We have parted," he said, "with the purse, and now we are required to part with the sword." Henry spoke for an hour, and was followed by Nicholas and Madison in long and impassioned, but reasoned, speeches. Henry replied, and was followed by Madison and Randolph. George Mason rejoined at length, and was followed by Lee, who threw with great oratorical skill several pointed remarks at Henry. Clay rose, evidently motivated by great passion. He said that, as it was insinuated by Randolph, he was not under the influence of common sense in making his objection to the clause in debate, his error might result from his deficiency in that respect; but that gentleman was as much deficient in common decency as he was in common sense. He proceeded to state the grounds of his objection. and showed that in his estimation the remarks of the gentleman were far from satisfactory. Madison rejoined Clay, and passing to the arguments of Henry, spoke with great vigor, refuting them. Clay asked Madison to point out an instance in which opposition to the laws of the land did not come within the idea of an insurrection. Madison replied that a riot did not come within the legal definition of an insurrection. After a long and animated session the House adjourned.(305) The debate then turned in other directions and Virginia eventually ratified the new frame of government without demanding that changes be made to the militia system therein constructed.

The Virginia revolutionary militia had one more duty to perform. On 17 July 1794, President George Washington mustered the Virginia Militia, calling it into federal service to suppress the Whiskey Rebels in western Virginia and Pennsylvania.



The President of the United States, having required a second detachment of Militia from this Commonwealth, amounting to 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry, inclusive of commissioned officers, to be prepared for immediate service, the commander in chief accordingly directs the same to be forthwith appointed.(306)



The Virginia militia was of great importance in the seventeenth century, so much so that one might easily conclude that without it, the Amerindians might easily have destroyed the colony at almost any early stage of its development. As either the most populous or second most populous, colony everything that happened in Virginia was of consequence to the other colonies. Since its nearest rival, Massachusetts, was severely circumscribed in territory for growth, Virginia would continue to be a colonial leader. It was a truly southern colony which nonetheless had some very cosmopolitan characteristics. It boasted no cities to compete with New York, Philadelphia or Boston, yet it established the first major gun manufactory in the nation and produced many of its outstanding military and political leaders and political philosophers.

As we have seen, the Virginia militia fell on hard times largely because it was heavily populated by poorer farmers and tradesmen spread out over vast areas. Once the frontier advanced to and beyond the Shenandoah Valley, the inhospitable terrain and sparse population made it very difficult for a militia to assemble or function. Still, it performed very well when pressed by the French and their Amerindian allies. It was the mainstay of Braddock's auxiliaries and may have saved what could be salvaged from his ill-fated expedition. It also protected much of the frontier after the remnants of Braddock's army fled to the protection of the eastern seaboard. And it contained parts of Pontiac's conspiracy.

In the American War for Independence, it successfully kept the native aborigine and Tories at bay, and bore the main share of defense of the colony. That the British army did not choose to operate much in the state may be credited in large to the Virginia militia. And it performed well as a reservoir to fill the Continental Line.



The North Carolina Militia



In 1629 Sir Robert Heath was granted a patent to settle the area between 31 and 36 degrees north under the name of New Carolina. The following year Heath conveyed this land to Samuel Vassal and others who explored it and made an ineffectual attempt to settle the area. By 1632 Henry Lord Maltravers claimed the area as the Province of Carolana under an alleged grant from Heath and by the Harvey Patent issued by the governor of Virginia, John Harvey. The Harvey Patent established Maltravers' claim to the area south of the James River known as Norfolk County. No effective settlement was established. The Albemarle settlement was the first permanent caucasian habitat and was created about 1653 by Virginians moving through the Nansemond Valley and Dismal Swamp into the area of Albemarle Sound and Chowan River. Shortly after, a group of London merchants and disaffected New Englanders established a settlement at Cape Fear, but it was abandoned about 1663.

In 1644, the Proprietors of the Carolinas ordered the Governor of North Carolina to "constitute Trayne bands and Companys with the Number of Soldiers [necessary] for the Safety, Strength and defence of the Counteys and Province." The Proprietors agreed to "fortifie and furnish . . . ordnance, powder, shott, armour, and all other weapons and Habillaments of war, both offensively and defensively."(307) Every newly arrived "freeman and freewoman . . . shall arrive in ye said countrie armed." The "master or Mistress of every able-bodied servant he or she hath brought or sent . . . each of them [is to be] armed with a good firelocke or Matchlocke."(308) To whom these orders applied is unclear, based upon the settlement timetable noted above. Perhaps the orders were only theoretical, promulgated in the case an actual settlement was established.

Sir John Colleton, a wealthy planter from Barbados, and William Berkeley, former governor of Virginia, in conjunction with a colonial promoter, Anthony Ashley Cooper(309), approached Charles II about developing the Carolina colony. On 3 April 1665, the king granted a new charter to eight proprietors, including the above captioned promoters, Earl of Clarendon, Duke of Albemarle, William Berkeley's brother John Lord Berkeley, Earl of Craven and Sir George Carteret. Maltraver's heirs, the Duke of Norfolk and Samuel Vassal all filed counter-claims on 10 June, and on 6 August the Cape Fear Company added its name to those contesting title. On 22 August 1665 the Privy Council confirmed Charles II's more recent grant and declared all previous grants to be null and void. In October 1664 William Berkeley, authorized to name the first governor of the Province of Albemarle (as North Carolian was then called) nominated William Drummond. Berkeley head a board to draw up the Concessions and Agreements of 1665, granting basic rights, including liberty of conscience and creating a representative assembly of freeholders.

The Charter of Carolina of 1663 required that the proprietors build whatever fortifications were necessary for the protection of the settlers and to furnish them with "ordnance, powder, shot, armory and other weapons, ammunition [and] habilements of war, both offensive and defensive, as shall be thought fit and convenient for the safety and welfare of said province." The proprietors were to create a militia and appoint civil and military officers. Because "in so remote a country and scituate among so many barbarous nations," to say nothing of pirates and Amerindians, the crown ordered the proprietors "to levy, muster and train all sorts of men . . . to make war and pursue the enemies."(310) The eight Lord Proprietors of Carolina in 1663 ordered that the governor "levy, muster and train all sorts of men" as a militia.(311) The second charter, issued just two years later, contained many of the same instructions.(312) The proprietors ordered that a militi