ORGANIZATION OF THE
A government, whose
measures must be the result of multiplied deliberations, is seldom in
a situation to produce instantly those exertions which the occasion
may demand; therefore it ought to possess such energetic
establishments as should enable it, by the vigor of its own citizens,
to control events as they arise, instead of being convulsed or
subverted by them.
It is the misfortune of
modern ages, that governments have been formed by chance and events,
instead of system; that, without fixed principles, they are braced or
relaxed, from time to time, according to the predominating power of
the rulers or the ruled: the rulers possessing separate interests
from the people, excepting in some of the high-tioned monarchies, in
which all opposition to the will of the princes seems annihilated.
Hence we look round
Europe in vain for an extensive government, rising on the power
inherent in the people, and performing its operations entirely for
their benefit But we find artificial force governing every where, and
the people generally made subservient to the elevation and caprice of
the few: almost every nation appearing to be busily employed in
conducting some external war; grappling with internal commotion; or
endeavoring to extricate itself from impending debts, which threaten
to overwhelm it with ruin. Princes and ministers seem neither to have
leisure nor inclination to bring forward institutions for diffusing
general strength, knowledge, and happiness; but they seem to
understand well the Machiavelian maxim of politics—divide and
May the United States
avoid the errors and crimes of other governments, and possess the
wisdom to embrace the present invaluable opportunity of establishing
such institutions as shall invigorate, exalt, and perpetuate, the
great principles of freedom—an opportunity pregnant with the
fate of millions, but rapidly borne on the wings of time, and which
may never again return.
The public mind,
unbiassed by superstition or prejudice, seems happily prepared to
receive the impressions of wisdom. The latent springs of human
action, ascertained by the standard of experience, may be regulated
and made subservient to the noble purpose of forming a dignified
The causes by which
nations have ascended and declined, through the various ages of the
world, may be calmly and accurately determined; and the United States
may be placed in the singularly fortunate condition of commencing
their career of empire with the accumulated knowledge of all the
known societies and governments of the globe.
The strength of the
Government, like the strength of any other vast and complicated
machine, will depend on a due adjustment of its several parts: its
agriculture, its commerce, its
laws, its finance, its system of
defence, and its manners and habits, all require consideration,
and the highest exercise of political wisdom.
It is the intention of
the present attempt to suggest the most efficient system of defence
which may be compatible with the interests of a free people—a
system which shall not only produce the expected effect, but which,
in its operations, shall also produce those habits and manners which
will impart strength and durability to the whole government.
The modern practice of
Europe, with respect to the employment of standing armies, has
created such a mass of opinion in their favor, that even philosophers
and the advocates for liberty have frequently confessed their use and
necessity in certain cases.
But whoever seriously
and candidly estimates the power of discipline, and the tendency of
military habits, will be constrained to confess, that, whatever may
be the efficacy of a standing army in war, it cannot in peace be
considered as friendly to the rights of human nature. The recent
instance in France cannot with propriety be brought to overturn the
general principle, built upon the uniform experience of mankind. It
may be found, on examining the causes that appear to have influenced
the military of France, that, while the springs of power were wound
up in the nation to the highest pitch, the discipline of the army was
proportionably relaxed. But any argument on this head may be
considered as unnecessary to the enlightened citizens of the United
A small corps of well
disciplined and well informed artillerists and engineers, and a
legion for the protection of the frontiers and the magazines and
arsenals, are all the military establishment which may be required
for the present use of the United States. The privates of the corps
to be enlisted for a certain period, and after the expiration of
which to return to the mass of the citizens.
An energetic national
militia is to be regarded as the capital security of a free
republic, and not a standing army, forming a distinct class in the
It is the introduction
and diffusion of vice, and corruption of manners, into the mass of
the people, that renders a. standing army necessary. It is when
public spirit is despised, and avarice, indolence, and effeminacy of
manners predominate, and prevent the establishment of institutions
which would elevate the minds of the youth in the paths of virtue and
honor, that a standing army is formed and riveted for ever.
While the human
character remains unchanged, and societies and governments of
considerable extent are formed, a principle ever ready to execute the
laws, and defend the state, must constantly exist Without this vital
principle, the government would be invaded or overturned, and
trampled upon by the bold and ambitious. No community can be long
held together, unless its arrangements are adequate to its probable
If it should be decided
to reject a standing army for the military branch of the government
of the United States, as possessing too fierce an aspect, and being
hostile to the principles of liberty, it will follow that a well
constituted militia ought to be established.
A consideration of the
subject will show the impracticability of disciplining at once the
mass of the people. All discussions on the subject of a powerful
militia will result in one or other of the following principles:
First, Either efficient
institutions must be established for the military education of the
youth, and that the knowledge acquired therein shall be diffused
throughout the community, by the mean of rotation; or,
Secondly, That the
militia must be formed of substitutes, after the manner of the
militia of Great Britain. If the United States possess the vigor of
mind to establish the first institution, it may reasonably be
expected to produce the most unequivocal advantages. A glorious
national spirit will be introduced, with its extensive train of
political consequences. The youth will imbibe a love of their
country; reverence and obedience to its laws; courage and elevation
of mind; openness and liberality of character; accompanied by a just
spirit of honor: in addition to which their bodies will acquire a
robustness, greatly conducive to their personal happiness, as well as
the defence of their country; while habit, with its silent but
efficacious operations, will durably cement the system.
Habit, that powerful and
universal law, incessantly acting on the human race, well deserves
the attention of legislators—formed at first in individuals, by
separate and almost imperceptible impulses, until at length it
acquires a force which controls with irresistible sway. The effects
of salutary or pernicious habits, operating on a whole nation, are
immense, and decide its rank and character in the world.
Hence the science of
legislation teaches to scrutinize every national institution, as it
may introduce proper or improper habits; to adopt with religious zeal
the former, and reject with horror the latter.
A republic, constructed
on the principles herein stated, would be uninjured by events,
sufficient to overturn a government supported solely by the uncertain
power of a standing army.
The well informed
members of the community, actuated by the highest motives of
self-love, would form the real defence of the country. Rebellions
would be prevented or suppressed with ease; invasions of such a
government would be undertaken only by mad men; and the virtues and
knowledge of the people would effectually oppose the introduction of
But the second
principle, a militia of substitutes, is pregnant, in a degree, with
the mischiefs of a standing army; as it is highly probable the
substitutes from time to time will be nearly the same men, and the
most idle and worthless part of the community. Wealthy families,
proud of distinctions which riches may confer, will prevent their
sons from serving in the militia of substitutes; the plan will
degenerate into habitual contempt; a standing army will be
introduced, and the liberties of the people subjected to all the
contingencies of events.
The expense attending an
energetic establishment of militia may be strongly urged as an
objection to the institution. But it is to be remembered, that this
objection is levelled at both systems, whether by rotation or by
substitutes: for, if the numbers are equal, the expense will also be
equal. The estimate of the expense will show its unimportance, when
compared with the magnitude and beneficial effects of the
8 MILITARY AFFAIRS.
But the people of the
United States will cheerfully consent to the expenses of a measure
calculated to serve as a perpetual barrier to their liberties;
especially as they well know that the disbursements will be made
among the members of the same community, and therefore cannot be
Every intelligent mind
would rejoice in the establishment of an institution, under whose
auspices the youth and vigor of the constitution would be renewed
with each successive generation, and which would appear to secure the
great principles of freedom and happiness against the injuries of
time and events.
The following plan is
formed on these general principles:
First, That it is the
indispensable duty of every nation to establish all necessary
institutions for its own perfection and defence.
Secondly, That it is a
capital security to a free state, for the great body of the people to
possess a competent knowledge of the military art.
Thirdly, That this
knowledge cannot be attained, in the present state of society, but by
establishing adequate institutions for the military education of
youth; and that the knowledge acquired therein should be diffused
throughout the community by the principles of rotation.
Fourthly, That every man
of the proper age, and ability of body, is firmly bound, by the
social compact, to perform, personally, his proportion of military
duty for the defence of the state.
Fifthly, That all men,
of the legal military age, should be armed, enrolled, and held
responsible for different degrees of military service.
And sixthly, That,
agreeably to the constitution, the United States are to provide for
organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing
such a part of them as may be employed in the service of the United
States; reserving to the States, respectively, the appointment of the
officers, and the authority of training the militia, according to the
discipline prescribed by Congress.
The period of life, in
which military service shall be required of the citizens of the
United States, to commence at eighteen, and terminate at the age of
The men comprehended by
this description, exclusive of such exceptions as the Legislatures of
the respective States may think proper to make, and all actual
mariners, shall be enrolled for different degrees of military
duty, and divided into three distinct classes.
The first class shall
comprehend the youth of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty years of age;
to be denominated the Advanced Corps.
The second class shall
include the men from twenty-one to forty-five years of age; to be
denominated the Main Corps.
The third class shall
comprehend, inclusively, the men from forty-six to sixty years of
age; to be denominated the Reserved Corps.
All the militia of the
United States shall assume the form of the legion, which shall be the
permanent establishment thereof.
A legion shall consist
of one hundred and fifty-three commissioned officers, and two
thousand eight hundred and eighty non-commissioned officers and
privates, formed in the following manner:
One Legionary, or Major
Two Aids-de-Camp, of the
rank of major; one of whom to be Legionary Quartermaster. One
Inspector and Deputy Adjutant General, of the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel. One Chaplain.
STAFF. One Brigadier-General. One Brigade Inspector, to serve as an
One Lieutenant Colonel
One Paymaster, or Agent.
4.—Two BRIGADES OF
Each brigade of two
regiments; each regiment of eight companies, forming two battalions;
each company of a captain, lieutenant, ensign, six sergeants, one
drum, one fife, and sixty-four rank and file.
Each company to have a
captain, lieutenant, ensign, six sergeants, a bugle-horn, one drum,
and sixty-four rank and file.
6.—A BATTALION OF
Consisting of four
companies; each to have a captain, captain-lieutenant, one
lieutenant, six sergeants, twelve artificers, and fifty-two rank and
7.—A SQUADRON OF
Consisting of two
troops; each troop to have a captain, two lieutenants, a cornet, six
sergeants, one farrier, one saddler, one trumpeter, and sixty-four
In case the whole number
of the advanced corps in any State should be insufficient to form a
legion of this extent, yet the component parts must be preserved, and
the reduction proportioned, as nearly as may be, to each part.
The companies of all the
corps shall be divided into sections of twelve each. It is
proposed, by this division, to establish one uniform vital principle,
which in peace and war shall pervade the militia of the United
All requisitions for men
to form an army, either for state or federal purposes, shall
be furnished by the advanced and main corps, by means of the
Government, or commander in chief of the militia of each State, will
assess the numbers required, on the respective legions of these
The legionary general
will direct the proportions to be furnished by each part of his
command. Should the demand be so great as to require one man from
each section, then the operation hereby directed shall be performed
by single sections. But if a less number should be required, they
will be furnished by an association of sections, or companies,
according to the demand. In any case, it is probable that mutual
convenience may dictate an agreement with an individual to perform
the service required. If, however, no agreement can be made, one must
be detached by an indiscriminate draught, and the others shall pay
him a sum of money equal to the averaged sum which shall be paid in
the same legion for the voluntary performance of the service
1790.] ORGANIZATION OF
THE MILITIA. 9
In case any sections or
companies of a legion, after having furnished its own quota, should
have more men willing to engage for the service required, other
companies of the same legion shall have permission to engage them.
The same rule to extend to the different legions in the State.
The legionary general
must be responsible to the commander-in-chief of the militia of the
State that the men furnished are according to the description, and
that they are equipped in the manner, and marched to the rendezvous,
conformably to the orders for that purpose.
The men who may be
draughted shall not serve more than three years at one time.
Reserved corps, being
destined for the domestic defence of the State, shall not be obliged
to furnishmen, excepting in cases of actual invasion or rebellion;
and then the men required shall be furnished by means of the
The actual commissioned
officers of the respective corps shall not be included in the
sections, nor in any of the operations thereof.
The respective States
shall be divided into portions or districts; each of which to
contain, as nearly as may he, some complete part of a legion.
Every citizen of the
United States, who shall serve his country in the field for the space
of one year, either as an officer or soldier, shall, if under the age
of twenty-one years, be exempted from the service required in the
advanced corps. If he shall be above the age of twenty-one years,
then every year he shall so serve in the field shall be estimated as
equal to six years' service in the main or reserved corps, and shall
accordingly exempt him from every service therein for the said term
of six years, except in cases of actual invasion of, or rebellion
within, the State in which he resides. And it shall also be a
permanent establishment, that six years' actual service in the field
shall entirely free every citizen from any further demands of
service, either in the militia or in the field, unless in cases of
invasion or rebellion.
All actual mariners,
or seamen, in the respective States, shall be registered in
districts, and divided into two classes. The first class to consist
of all the seamen from the age of sixteen to thirty years,
inclusively. The second class to consist of all those of the age of
thirty-one to forty-five, inclusively.
The first class shall be
responsible to serve three years on board of some public armed vessel
or ship of war, as a commissioned officer, warrant officer, or
private mariner; for which service they shall receive the customary
wages and emoluments.
But, should the State
not demand the said three years' service during the above period,
from the age of sixteen to thirty years, then the party to be
exempted entirely therefrom.
The person so serving
shall receive a certificate of his service, on parchment, according
to the form which shall be directed, which shall exempt him from any
other than, voluntary service, unless in such exigencies as may
require the services of all the members of the community.
The second class shall
be responsible for a proportion of service in those cases to which
the first class shall be unequal. The numbers required shall be
furnished by sections, in the same manner as is prescribed for the
sections of the militia.
OF THE ADVANCED CORPS.
The advanced corps are
designed not only as a school in which the youth of the United States
are to be instructed in the art of war, but they are, in all cases of
exigence, to serve as an actual defence to the community.
The whole of the armed
corps shall be clothed according to the manner hereafter directed,
armed and subsisted at the expense of the United States; and all the
youth of the said corps, in each State, shall be encamped together,
if practicable, or by legions, which encampments shall be denominated
the annual camps of discipline.
The youth of eighteen
and nineteen years shall be disciplined for thirty days
successively in each year; and those of twenty years shall be
disciplined only for ten days in each year, which shall be the last
ten days of the annual encampments.
officers and privates are not to receive any pay during the said
time; but the commissioned officers will receive the pay of their
relative ranks, agreeably to the federal establishment for the time
being. In order that the plan shall effectually answer the end
proposed, the first day of January shall be the fixed period, for all
who attain the age of eighteen years, in any part, or during the
course of each year, to be enrolled in the advanced corps, and to
take the necessary oaths to perform, personally, such legal military
service as may be directed, for the full and complete term of three
years, to be estimated from the time of entrance into the said corps,
and also to take an oath of allegiance to the State and to the United
The commanding officer,
or general of the advanced legions of the district, shall regulate
the manner of the service of the youth, respectively, whether it
shall be in the infantry, artillery, or cavalry; but, after having
entered into either of them, no change should be allowed.
Each individual, at his
first joining the annual carnps of discipline, will receive complete
arms and accoutrements, all of which, previously to his being
discharged from the said camps, he must return to the regimental
quartermaster, on the penalty of—— dollars, or——
The said arms and
accoutrements shall be marked, in some conspicuous place, with the
letters. M. U. S. And all sales or purchases of any of said arms or
accoutrements, shall be severely punished, according to law.
And each individual will
also, on his first entrance into the advanced corps, receive the
following articles of uniform clothing: one hat, one uniform short
coat, one waistcoat, and one pair of overalls, which he shall retain
in his own possession, and for which he shall be held accountable,
and be compelled to replace all deficiencies during his service in
the annual camps of discipline.
Those who shall serve in
the cavalry shall be at the expense of their own horses and uniform
helmets, and horse-furniture; but they shall receive forage for their
horses, swords, pistols, and clothing, equal in value to the
infantry. At the age of twenty-one years, every individual having
served in the manner and for the time prescribed, shall receive an
honorary certificate thereof, on parchment, and signed by the
legionary general and inspector.
The names of all persons
to whom such certificates shall Be given, shall be fairly registered
in books, to be provided for that purpose.
And the said
certificate, or an attested copy of the register aforesaid, shall be
required as an indispensable qualification for exercising any of the
rights of a free citizen, until after the age of ——
The advanced legions, in
all cases of invasion or rebellion, shall, on requisition of lawful
authority, be obliged to march to any place within the United States;
to remain embodied for such time as shall be directed, not to exceed
one year, to be computed from the time of marching from the
regimental parades; during the period of their being on such service,
to be placed on the continental establishment of pay, subsistence,
clothing, forage, tents, camp-equipage, and all such other allowances
as are made to the federal troops at the same time, and under the
If the military service
so required should be for such a short period as to render an actual
issue of clothing unnecessary, then an allowance should be made in
proportion to the annual cost of clothing for the federal soldier,
according to estimates to be furnished for that purpose from the War
Office of the United States.
In case the legions of
the advanced corps should march to any place in consequence of a
requisition of the General Government, all legal and proper expenses
of such march shall be paid by the United States. But, should they be
embodied and march in consequence of an order, derived from the
authority of the State to which they belong, and for State purposes,
then the expenses will be borne by the State.
The advanced corps shall
be constituted on such principles that, when completed, it will
receive one-third part and discharge one-third part of its numbers
annually. By this arrangement, two thirds of the corps will at all
times be considerably disciplined; but, as it will only receive those
of eighteen years of age, it will not be completed until the third
year after its institution. Those who have already attained the ages
of nineteen and twenty years will, in the first instance, be enrolled
in the main corps. .
10 MILITARY AFFAIRS.
But one half of the
legionary officers to be appointed the first, and the. other the
second year of the establishment. The officers of each grade in the
States, respectively, shall be divided into three classes, which
shall by lot be numbered one, two, and three, and one of the said
classes, according to their numbers, shall be deranged every third
year. In the first period of nine years, one-third part will have to
serve three, one-third part six, and one-third part nine years. But,
after the said first period, the several classes will serve nine
years, which shall be the limitation of service by virtue of the same
appointment; and in such cases, where there may not be three officers
of the same grade, the limitation of nine years' service shall be
observed. All vacancies occasioned by the aforesaid derangements, or
any casualties, shall be immediately tilled by new appointments.
The captains and
subalterns of the advanced corps shall not be less than twenty-one,
nor more than thirty-five, and the field officers shall not exceed
forty-five years of age.
Each company, battalion,
and regiment, shall have a fixed parade or place at which to
assemble. The companies shall assemble at their own parade, and march
to the parade of the battalion, and the battalions to the regimental
parade: and when thus embodied, the regiment will march to the
rendezvous of the legion. Every commanding officer of a company,
battalion, and regiment, will be accountable to his superior officer
that his command is in the most perfect order.
The officers to receive
subsistence money, in lieu of provisions, in proportion to their
respective grades, and those whose duties require them to be on
horseback will receive forage in the same proportion.
Every legion must have a
chaplain, of respectable talents and character, who, besides his
religious functions, should impress on the minds of the youth, at
stated periods, in concise discourses, the eminent advantages of free
governments to the happiness of society, and that such governments
can only be supported by the knowledge, spirit, and virtuous conduct
of the youth—to be illustrated by the most conspicuous examples
No amusements should be
admitted in camp, but those which correspond with war—the
swimming of men and horses, running, wrestling, and such other
exercises as should render the body flexible and vigorous.
The camps should, if
possible, be formed near a river, and remote from large cities. The
first is necessary for the practice of the manoeuvres, the second to
avoid the vices of populous places.
The time of the annual
encampments shall be divided into six parts or periods, of five days
each; the first of which shall be occupied in acquiring the air,
attitudes, and first principles of a soldier; the second in learning
the manual exercise, and to march individually, and in small squads;
the third and fourth, in exercising and manoeuvring in detail, and by
battalions and regiments: in the fifth, the youth of twenty, having
been disciplined during the two preceding annual encampments, are to
be included. This period is to be employed in the exercise and tactic
of the legion; or, if more than one, in executing the grand
manoeuvres of the whole body—marching, attacking and defending,
in various forms, different grounds and positions; in fine, in
representing all the real images of war, excepting the effusion of
The guards, and every
other circumstance of the camp, to be perfectly regulated.
Each State will
determine on the season in which its respective annual encampments
shall be formed; so as best to suit the health of the men, and the
general interests of the society.
The United States to
make an adequate provision to supply the arms, clothing, rations,
artillery, ammunition, forage, straw, tents, camp equipage, including
every requisite for the annual camps of discipline; and also for the
pay and subsistence of the legionary officers, and for the following
general staff: One inspector general, one adjutant general, one
quartermaster general, with a deputy for each State.
These officers will be
essential to the uniformity, economy, and efficacy of the system, to
be appointed in the manner prescribed by the constitution of the
general shall be responsible to the United States for the public
property of every species, delivered to him for the annual camps of
discipline; and his deputy in each State shall be responsible to him.
At the commencement of
the annual camps of discipline, the deputy quartermaster will make
regular issues to the legionary or regimental quartermasters, as the
case may be, of all the articles, of every species, provided by the
. The returns for the
said articles to be examined and certified by the highest legionary
or regimental officer, as the case may be, who shall be responsible
for the accuracy thereof.
At the expiration of the
annual camps of discipline, all public property (clothing excepted)
shall be returned to the deputy quartermaster of the State, who shall
hold the legionary quartermaster accountable for all deficiencies.
All the apparatus and property so returned, shall be carefully
examined, repaired, and deposited in a magazine, to be provided in
each State for that purpose, under the charge of the said deputy
quartermaster, until the ensuing annual encampment, or any occasion
which may render a new issue necessary.
shall never be inflicted in the annual camps of discipline; but a
system of fines and imprisonment shall be formed for the regular
government of said camps.
OF THE MAIN CORPS.
As the main and reserved
corps are to be replenished by the principle of rotation from the
advanced corps, and ultimately to consist of men who have received
their military education therein, it is proper that one uniform
arrangement should pervade the several classes.
It is for this reason
the legion is established as the common form of all the corps of the
The main legions,
consisting of the great majority of the men of the military age, will
form the principal defence of the country.
They are to be
responsible for their proportion of men, to form an army whenever
necessity shall dictate the measure; and on every sudden occasion to
which the advanced corps shall be incompetent, an adequate number of
noncommissioned officers and privates shall be added thereto, from
the main corps, by means of the sections.
The main corps will be
perfectly armed, in the first instance, and will practise the
exercise and manoeuvres, four days in each year, and will assemble in
their respective districts, by companies, battalions, regiments, or
legions as shall be directed by the legionary general; but it must be
a fixed rule, that, in the populous parts of the States the regiments
must assemble once annually, and the legions once in three years.
Although the main corps
cannot acquire a great degree of military knowledge in the few days
prescribed for its annual exercise, yet, by the constant accession of
the youth from the advanced corps, it will soon command respect for
its discipline, as well as its numbers.
When the youth are
transferred from the advanced corps, they shall invariably join the
flank companies, the cavalry or artillery, of the main corps,
according to the nature of their former services.
OF THE RESERVED CORPS.
The reserved corps will
assemble only twice, annually, for the inspection of arms, by
companies, battalions, or regiments, as shall be directed by each
State. It will assemble by legions, whenever the defence of the State
may render the measure necessary.
Such are the
propositions of the plan, to which it may be necessary to add some
Although the substantial
political maxim, which requires personal service of all the members
of the community for the defence of the State, is obligatory under
all forms of society, and is the main pillar of a free government,
yet the degrees thereof may vary at the different periods of life,
consistently with the general welfare. The public convenience may
also dictate a relaxation of the general obligation as it respects
the principal magistrates and the ministers of justice and of
religion, and perhaps some religious sects. But it ought to be
remembered that measures of national importance never should be
frustrated by the accommodation of individuals.
1790.] ORGANIZATION OF
THE MILITIA. 11
The military age has
generally commenced at sixteen, and terminated at the age of sixty
years; but the youth of sixteen do not commonly attain such a degree
of robust strength as to enable them to sustain, without injury, the
hardships incident to the field; therefore the commencement of
military service is herein fixed at eighteen, and the termination, as
usual, at sixty years of age.
The plan proposes that
the militia, shall be divided into three capital classes, and that
each class shall be formed into legions; the reasons for which shall
be given in succession.
The advanced corps, and
annual camps of discipline, are instituted in order to introduce an
operative military spirit in the community. To establish a course of
honorable military service, which will, at the same time, mould the
minds of the young men to a due obedience of the laws, instruct them
in the art of war, and, by the manly exercises of the field, form a
race of hardy citizens, equal to the dignified task of defending
An examination into the
employments and obligations of the individuals composing the society,
will evince the impossibility of diffusing an adequate knowledge of
the art of war, by any other means than a course of discipline,
during the period of nonage. The time necessary to acquire this
important knowledge cannot be afforded at any other period of life
with so little injury to the public or private interests.
Without descending to
minute distinctions, the body of the people of the United States may
be divided into two parts—the yeomanry of the country, and the
men of various employments, resident in towns and cities. In both
parts it is usual for the male children, from the age of fourteen to
twenty-one years, to learn some trade or employment, under the
direction of a parent or master. In general, the labor or service of
the youth, during this period, besides amply re-paying the trouble of
tuition, leaves a large profit to the tutor. This circumstance is
stated to show that no great hardships will arise in the first
operations of the proposed plan; a little practice will render the
measure perfectly equal, and remove every difficulty.
Youth is the time for
the State to avail itself of those services which it has a right to
demand, and by which it is to be invigorated and preserved. In this
season, the passions and affections are strongly influenced by the
splendor of military parade. The impressions the mind receives will
be retained through life. The young man will repair with pride and
pleasure to the field of exercise; while the head of a family,
anxious for its general welfare, and perhaps its immediate
subsistence, will reluctantly quit his domestic duties tor any length
The habits of industry
will be rather strengthened than relaxed by the establishment of the
annual camps of discipline, as all the time will be occupied by the
various military duties. Idleness and dissipation will be regarded as
disgraceful, and punished accordingly. As soon as the youth attain
the age of manhood, a natural solicitude to establish themselves in
the society, will occur in its full force. The public claims for
military service will be too inconsiderable to injure their industry.
It will be sufficiently stimulated to proper exertions, by the
prospects of opulence attending on the cultivation of a fertile soil,
or the pursuits of a productive commerce.
It is presumed that
thirty days annually, during the eighteenth and nineteenth, and ten
days during the twentieth year, is the least time that ought to be
appropriated by the youth to the acquisition of the military art. The
same number of days might be added during the twentieth as during the
two preceding years, were not the expense an objection.
Every means will be
provided by the public to facilitate the military education of the
youth, which it is proposed shall be an indispensable qualification
of a free citizen: therefore they will not be entitled to any pay.
But the officers, being of the main corps, are in a different
predicament. They are supposed to have passed through the course of
discipline required by the laws, and to be competent to instruct
others in the military art. As the public will have but small claims
for personal services on them, and as they must incur considerable
expenses to prepare themselves to execute properly their respective
offices, they ought to be paid while on actual duty.
As soon as the service
of the youth expires in the advanced corps, they are to be enrolled
in the main corps. On this occasion, the republic receives
disciplined and free citizens, who understand their public rights,
and are prepared to defend them. .
The main corps is
instituted to preserve and circulate throughout the community the
military discipline, acquired in the advanced corps; to arm the
people, and fix firmly, by practice and habit, those forms and maxims
which are essential to the life and energy of a free government.
The reserved corps is
instituted to prevent men being sent to the field whose strength is
unequal to sustain the severities of an active campaign. But, by
organizing and rendering them eligible for domestic service, a
greater proportion of the younger and robust part of the community
may be enabled, in case of necessity, to encounter the more urgent
duties of war.
It would be difficult,
previously to the actual formation of the annual camps of discipline,
to ascertain the number in each State of which it would be composed.
The frontier counties of several States are thinly inhabited, and
require all their internal force for their immediate defence. There
are other infant settlements, from which it might be injurious to
draw away their youth annually for the purpose of discipline.
No evil would result, if
the establishment of the advanced corps should be omitted in such
districts for a few years. Besides, the forbearance in this respect
would lessen the expense, and render the institution more compatible
with the public finances.
The several State
Legislatures, therefore, as best understanding their local interests,
might be invested with a discretionary power to omit the enrolments
for the advanced corps, in such of their frontier and thinly
inhabited counties, as they may judge proper.
If the number of three
millions may be assumed as the total number of the inhabitants within
the United States, half a million may be deducted therefrom, for
blacks, and, pursuant to the foregoing ideas, another half million
may be deducted, on account of the thinly settled parts of the
The proportion of men of
the military age, from eighteen to sixty years inclusively, of two
millions of people, of all ages and sexes, may be estimated at four
hundred thousand. There may be deducted from this number, as actual
mariners, about fifty thousand, and a further number of twenty-five
thousand, to include exempts of religious sects, and of every other
sort which the respective States may think proper to make.
Three hundred and
twenty-five thousand, therefore, may be assumed, as the number of
operative, fencible men, to compose the militia. The proportion of
the several classes of which would be nearly as follows:
Firstly, The advanced
corps, one-tenth composed of the youth of the ages of eighteen,
nineteen, and twenty years, - - - - - - - - - - 32,500
Secondly, The main
corps, sis-tenths and one-twentieth, - 211,230
Thirdly, The reserved
corps, two-tenths and one-twentieth, - - - 81,250
The following estimate
is formed for the purpose of exhibiting the annual expense of the
institution of the advanced corps, stating the same at thirty
Estimate of the
expense of the annual camps of discipline, as proposed in the
foregoing plan, arising on each of the first three years, and, after
that period, of the annual expense of the institution.
THE FIRST YEAR.
10,000 suits of uniform
clothing, stated at eight dollars, each suit of which shall serve for
the three years' discipline, --------- $80,000
10,000 rations per day,
for 30 days, each ration at 10 cents, - - - 30,000
The expense of four
complete corps of legionary officers, of all descriptions, for 30
days, including pay, subsistence, and forage, - - - - - - - 27,870
Forage for the cavalry,
- - . - - - - - $4,800
Straw, camp kettles,
bowls, axes, canteens, and fuel, - - - - 20,000.
Annual proportion of the
expense of tents for officers and soldiers, which may serve for eight
annual encampments, - - 3,000
standards, - - - - 2,000
Regimental colors, - - - - - - - - 1,000
Consumption of powder and ball, shot, and shells, damage to arms and
accoutrements and artillery, and transportation of the same, stated
at - - - - - - 25,000
- - - - 5,000
Contingencies of the
quartermaster's and other departments, - - - - 15,000
General staff, adjutant
general, quartermaster general, inspector general, and their
deputies, - 12,000
Entire expense of the
first year, - - - - - - $225,670
EXPENSES ON THE SECOND YEAR.
10,000 rations per day,
for 30 days, are 300,000 rations, at 10 cents, - - -
$30,000 The expense of four
complete corps of legionary officers, of all descriptions, for 30
pay, subsistence, and
forage, - - - - - - - 27,870
standards, - - - 2,000
Regimental colors, - - -
- - - - - 1,000
Forage for the cavalry,
- - 4,800
Tents, straw, camp
kettles, bowls, axes, canteens, and fuel, - 20,000
Hospital department, - -
Contingencies in the
quartermaster's and other departments, - - - - 15,000
Ammunition, damage to
arms and accoutrements, - - - - 15,000
Expense of the first
year, - - - - - - - - 225,670
Combined expenses of the
first and second years, - $346,340
ADDITIONAL EXPENSES ON
THE THIRD YEAR.
The expense of 10,000
rations, for 10 days, is 100,000 rations, at 10 cents, -
Forage, - - - - - - - -
- - 1,600
For the camp equipage, -
- - - 10,000
Tents, - - -
Hospital stores, - - -
Ammunition, damage to
arms and accoutrements, - - - - 10,000
Contingencies in the
quartermaster's and other departments, - - . - - 10,000
Combined expenses of the
first and second years, - - - - - 346,340
The total expense of the
first three years, - - - - - $390,440
It is to be observed,
that the officers for four legions will be adequate to command the
youth of eighteen, who
discipline the first year; and that the same number of officers will
be required for the second year.
The youth of the third
year may be incorporated by sections in the existing corps, so that
no additional officers will
be required on their
Hence it appears that
the expense of 10,000 men, for one year, amounts to - -
20,000 for the second
year, to - - - - - 346,340
30,000 for the third
year, to - - - - - - 390,440
If the youth of the
three ages of eighteen, nineteen, and twenty, be disciplined at once,
the last mentioned sum will be about the fixed annual expense of the
camps of discipline; from which, however, is to be deducted 6,000
dollars, being the expense of the standards and colors, the former of
which will be of a durable nature, and the latter will not require to
be replaced oftener than once in twenty years, -
The annual expense of
the advanced corps,
Thus, for a sum less
than four hundred thousand dollars, annually, which, apportioned on
three millions of people, would be little more than one-eighth of a
dollar each, an energetic republican militia may be durably
established, the invaluable principles of liberty secured and
perpetuated, and a dignified national fabric erected on the solid
foundation of public virtue.
The main and reserved
corps must be perfectly organized, in the first instance, but the
advanced corps will hot be completed until the third year of its
The combination of
troops, of various descriptions, into one body, so as to invest it
with the highest and greatest number of powers, in every possible
situation, has long been a subject of discussion and difference of
opinion. But no other form appears so well to have sustained the
criterion of time and severe examination as the Roman legion. This
formidable organization, accommodated to the purposes of modern war,
still retains its original energy and superiority. Of the ancients,
Polybius and Vegetius have described and given the highest encomiums
of the legion. The former, particularly, in his comparative view of
the advantage's and disadvantages of the Macedonian and Roman arms,
and their respective orders of battles, has left to mankind an
instructive and important legacy. Of the moderns, the illustrious
Mareschal Saxe has modelled the legion for the use of fire arms, and
strenuously urges its. adoption, in preference to any other form. And
the respectable and intelligent veteran, late inspector general of
the armies of the United States, recommends the adoption of the
"Upon a review,"
says he, ''of all the military of Europe, there does not appear to be
a single form which could he safely adopted by the United States.
They are unexceptionably different from each other; and, like all
other human institutions, seem to have started as much out of
accident as design. The local situation of the country, the spirit of
the government, the character of the nation, and, in many instances,
the character of the prince, have all had their influence in settling
the foundation and discipline of their respective troops, and render
it impossible that we should take either as a model.
"The legion, alone,
has not been adopted by any; and yet I am confident in asserting,
that; whether it be examined as applicable to all countries, or as it
may immediately apply to the existing or probable necessity of this,
it will be found strikingly superior to any other.
"1st. Being a
complete and little army of itself, it is ready to begin its
operations on the shortest notice or slightest alarm.
"2d. Having all the
component parts of the largest army of any possible description, it
is prepared to meet every species of war that may present itself.
* Vide letter addressed
to the inhabitants of the United States, on the subject of an
1790.] ORGANIZATION OF
THE MILITIA. 15
"And, 3d, as in
every case of detachment, the first constitutional principle will be
preserved, and the embarrassments of draughting and detail, which in
armies differently framed, too often distract the commanding officer,
will be avoided.
"It may easily
suggest itself, from this sketch, that, in forming a legion, the most
difficult task is to determine the necessary proportion of each
species of soldiers which is to compose it. This must obviously
depend upon what will be the theatre, and what the style of the war.
On the plains of Poland, whole brigades of cavalry would be necessary
against every enemy; but, in the forests and among the hills of
America, a single regiment would be more than sufficient against any.
And, as there are but two kinds of war to which we are much exposed,
viz. an attack from the sea side, by an European power, aided by our
sworn enemies settled on our extreme left, and an invasion of our
back settlements by an Indian enemy, it follows, of course, that
musketeers and light infantry should make the greatest part of your
The institution of the
section is intended to interest the patriotism and pride of every
individual in the militia, to support the legal measures of a free
Government, to render every man active in the public cause, by
introducing the spirit of emulation, and a degree of personal
The common mode of
recruiting is attended
with too great destruction of morals to be tolerated; and is too
uncertain to be the principal resource of a wise nation in time of
danger. The public faith is frequently wounded by unworthy
individuals, who hold out delusive promises, which can never be
realized. By such means, an unprincipled banditti are often
collected, for the purpose of defending every thing that should be
dear to freemen. The consequences are natural: such men either desert
in time of danger, or are ever ready, on the slightest disgust, to
turn their arms against their country.
By the establishment of
the sections, an ample and permanent source is opened, whence the
State, in every exigence, may be supplied with men whose all depends
upon the prosperity of their country.
In cases of necessity,
an army may be formed of citizens, whose previous knowledge of
discipline will enable it to proceed to an immediate accomplishment
of the designs of the State, instead of exhausting the public
resources, by wasting whole years in preparing to face the enemy.
arrangements, necessary to form and mantain the annual encampments,
as well as the discipline acquired therein, will be an excellent
preparation for war. The artillery and its numerous appendages, arms
and accoutrements of every kind, and all species of ammunition, ought
to be manufactured within the United States. It is of high importance
that the present period should be embraced to establish adequate
institutions to produce the necessary apparatus of war.
It is unworthy the
dignity of a rising and free empire, to depend on foreign and
fortuitous supplies of the essential means of defence.
The clothing for the
troops could with ease be manufactured within the United States, and
the establishment in that respect would tend to the encouragement of
The disbursements made
in each State for the rations, forage, and other necessary articles
for the annual camps of discipline, would most beneficially circulate
the money arising from the public revenue.
The local circumstances
of the United States, their numerous sea-ports, and the protection of
their commerce, require a naval arrangement. Hence the necessity of
the proposed plan, embracing the idea of the States obtaining men on
republican principles for the marine as well as the land service. But
one may be accomplished with much greater facility than the other, as
the preparation of a soldier for the field requires a degree of
discipline, which cannot be learned without much time and labor;
whereas the common course of sea service, on board of merchant
vessels, differs but little from the service required on board of
armed ships; therefore, the education for war, in this respect, will
be obtained without any expense to the State. All that seems to be
requisite on the head of marine service is, that an efficient
regulation should be established in the respective States, to
register all actual seamen, and to render those of a certain age
amenable to the public for personal service, if demanded within a
The constitutions of the
respective States, and of the United States, having directed the
modes in which the officers of the militia shall be appointed, no
alteration can be made therein. Although it may be supposed that some
modes of appointment are better calculated than others to inspire the
highest propriety of conduct, yet there are none so defective to
serve as a sufficient reason for rejecting an efficient system tor
the militia. It is certain that the choice of officers is the point
on which the reputation and importance of a corps must depend;
therefore, every person who may be concerned in the appointment,
should consider himself as responsible to his country for a proper
The wisdom of the States
will be manifested by inducing those citizens of whom the late
American array was composed to accept of appointments in the militia.
The high degree of military knowledge which they possess was acquired
at too great a price, and is too precious, to be buried in oblivion.
It ought to be cherished, and rendered permanently beneficial to the
The vigor and importance
of the proposed plan will entirely depend on the laws relative
thereto. Unless the laws shall be equal to the object, and rigidly
enforced, no energetic national militia can be established.
If wealth be admitted as
a principle of exemption, the plan cannot be executed. It is the
wisdom of political establishments to make the wealth of individuals
subservient to the general good, and not to suffer it to corrupt or
attain undue indulgence.
It is conceded that
people, solicitous to be exonerated from their proportion of public
duty, may exclaim against the proposed arrangement as an intolerable
hardship. But it ought to be strongly impressed that, while society
has its charms, it also has its indispensable obligations. That, to
attempt such a degree of refinement as to exonerate the members of
the community from all personal service, is to render them incapable
of the exercise, and unworthy of the characters of freemen.
Every State possesses,
not only the right of personal service from its members, but the
right to regulate the service on principles of equality for the
general defence. All being bound, none can complain of injustice, on
being obliged to perform his equal proportion. Therefore, it ought to
be a permanent rule, that those who in youth decline or refuse to
subject themselves to the course of military education, established
by the laws, should be considered as unworthy of public trust or
public honors, and be excluded therefrom accordingly.
If the majesty of the
laws should be preserved inviolate in this respect, the operations of
the proposed plan would foster a glorious public spirit, infuse the
principles of energy and stability into the body politic, and give a
high degree of political splendor to the national character.