The Peace Establishment
George Washington, Sentiments on a Peace Establishment, 2 May 1783.
A Peace Establishment for the United States of America may in my opinion be classed under four different heads Vizt:
First. A regular and standing force, for Garrisoning West Point and such other Posts upon our Northern, Western, and Southern Frontiers, as shall be deemed necessary to awe the Indians, protect our Trade, prevent the encroachment of our Neighbours of Canada and the Florida's, and guard us at least from surprizes; Also for security of our Magazines.
Secondly. A well organized Militia; upon a Plan that will pervade all the States, and introduce similarity in their Establishment Manoeuvres, Exercise and Arms.
Thirdly. Establishing Arsenals of all kinds of Military Stores.
Fourthly. Accademies, one or more for the Instruction of the Art Military; particularly those Branches of
it which respect Engineering and Artillery, which are highly essential, and the knowledge of which, is most difficult to obtain. Also Manufactories of some kinds of Military Stores.
Upon each of these, and in the order in which they stand, I shall give my sentiments as concisely as I can, and with that freedom which the Committee have authorized.
Altho' a large standing Army in time of Peace hath ever been considered dangerous to the liberties of a Country, yet a few Troops, under certain circumstances, are not only safe, but indispensably necessary. Fortunately for us our relative situation requires but few. The same circumstances which so effectually retarded, and in the end conspired to defeat the attempts of Britain to subdue us, will now powerfully tend to render us secure. Our distance from the European States in a great degree frees us of apprehension, from their numerous regular forces and the Insults and dangers which are to be dreaded from their Ambition.
But, if our danger from those powers was more imminent, yet we are too poor to maintain a standing Army adequate to our defence, and was our Country more populous and rich, still it could not be done without great oppression of the people. Besides, as soon as we are able to raise funds more than adequate to the discharge of the Debts incurred by the Revolution, it may become a Question worthy of consideration, whether the surplus should not be applied in preparations for building and equipping a Navy, without which, in case of War we could neither protect our Commerce, nor yield that Assistance to each other, which, on such an extent of Sea-Coast, our mutual Safety would require.
Fortifications on the Sea Board may be considered in two points of view, first as part of the general defence, and next, as securities to Dock Yards, and Arsenals for Ship Building, neither of which shall I take into this plan; because the first would be difficult, if not, under our circumstances, impracticable; at any rate amazingly expensive. The other, because it is a matter out of my line, and to which I am by no means competent, as it requires a consideration of many circumstances, to which I have never paid attention.
The Troops requisite for the Post of West Point, for the Magazines, and for our Northern, Western and Southern Frontiers, ought, in my opinion, to amount to 2631 Officers of all denominations included; besides the Corps of Invalids. If this number should be thought large, I would only observe; that the British Force in Canada is now powerful, and, by report, will be increased; that the frontier is very extensive; that the Tribes of Indians within our Territory are numerous, soured and jealous; that Communications must be established with the exterior Posts; And, that it may be policy and oeconomy, to appear respectable in the Eyes of the Indians, at the Commencement of our National Intercourse and Traffic with them. In a word, that it is better to reduce our force hereafter, by degrees, than to have it to increase after some unfortunate disasters may have happened to the Garrisons; discouraging to us, and an inducement to the Enemy to attempt a repetition of them.
Besides these Considerations, we are not to forget, that altho' by the Treaty, half the Waters, and the free Navigation of the Lakes appertain to us, yet, in Case of a rupture with Great Britain we should in all probability, find little benefits from the Communications with our upper Posts, by the Lakes Erie and Ontario; as it is to be presumed, that the Naval superiority which they now have on those Waters, will be maintained. It follows as a Consequence then, that we should open new or improve the present half explored Communications with Detroit and other Posts on the Lakes, by the Waters of the Susquehannah Potowmack or James River, to the Ohio, from whence, with short Portages several Communications by Water may be opened with Lake Erie. To do which, posts should be established at the most convenient places on the Ohio. This would open several doors for the supply of the Garrisons on the Lakes; and is absolutely necessary for such others as may be tho't advisable to establish upon the Mississippi. The Ohio affording the easiest, as well as the safest Route to the Illinois settlements, and the whole Country below on the Mississippi, quite to our Southern boundary.
To protect the Peltry and Fur Trade, to keep a watch upon our Neighbours, and to prevent their encroaching upon our Territory undiscovered, are all the purposes that can be answered by an extension of our Posts, at this time, beyond Detroit, to the Northward or Westward: but, a strong Post on the Scioto, at the carrying place between it and the River Sandusky, which empties into Lake Erie, mentioned in Hutchins's Description of that Country Page 24, and more plainly pointed out by Evans's Map, is indispensably necessary for the security of the present Settlers, and such as probably, will immediately settle within those Limits. And by giving security to the Country and covering its Inhabitants, will enable them to furnish supplies to the Garrisons Westward and Northward of these settlements, upon moderate and easy Terms.
The 2,631 Men beforementioned, I would have considered to all Intents and purposes as Continental Troops; looking up to Congress for their Orders, their pay, and supplies of every kind.
Not having that particular knowledge of the situation of the Southern and Western Boundaries of the Carolinas and Georgia, which is necessary to decide on the Posts to be established in that District, the allotment of
only one Regiment thereto, may be judged inadequate; should that be the case, a greater force may be established and a sufficient allowance made them.
The above establishment differs from our present one, in the following instances Vizt: The exclusion of the light Company and reducing a sergeant and 18 Privates from each of the Poattalion Companies, and giving a Chaplain to each Regiment instead of a Brigade. If it should be asked why the Reduction of Non Commisd. Officers and Privates is made, while the Commissioned Officers remain the same? It may be answered, that the number of Men which compose the Infantry, will be sufficient for my Calculation, and that the situation of our Frontiers renders it convenient to divide them into so many Corps as have been mentioned, for the ease and propriety of Command. I may also say, that in my Opinion, the number of our Commissioned Officers, has always been disproportionate to the Men. And that in the detached State in which these Regiments must be employed, they cannot consistently with the good of Service be reduced.
It may also be observed, that in case of War and a necessity of assembling their Regiments in the Field, nothing more will be necessary, than to recruit 18 Men to each Compy. and give the Regiment its flank Company. Or if we should have occasion to add strength to the Garrisons, or increase the number of our Posts, we may augment 900 Men including Serjeants, without requiring more than the Officers of 4 Companies, or exceeding our present Establishment. In short, it will give us a Number of Officers well skilled in the Theory and Art of War, who will be ready on any occasion, to mix and diffuse their knowledge of Discipline to other Corps, without that lapse of Time, which, without such Provision, would be necessary to bring intire new Corps acquainted with the principles of it.
Besides the 4 Regiments of Infantry, one of Artillery will be indispensably necessary. The Invalid Corps should also be retained. Motives of humanity, Policy and justice will all combine to prevent their being disbanded. The numbers of the last will, from the nature of their composition, be fluctuating and uncertain ....
To this Regiment of Artillery should be annexed 50 or 60 Artificers, of the various kinds which will be necessary, who may be distributed in equal numbers into the different Companies and being part of the Regiment, will be under the direction and Command of the Commanding Officer, to be disposed into different services as Circumstances shall require. By thus blending Artificers with Artillery, the expence of Additional Officers will be saved; and they will Answer all the purposes which are to be expected from them, as well as if formed into a distinct Corps.
The Regiment of Artillery, with the Artificers, will furnish all the Posts in which Artillery is placed, in proportionate numbers to the Strength and importance of them. The residue, with the Corps of Invalids, will furnish Guards for the Magazines, and Garrison West Point. The importance of this last mentioned Post, is so great, as justly to have been considered, the key of America; It has been so pre-eminently advantageous to the defence of the United States, and is still so necessary in that view, as well as for the preservation of the Union, that the loss of it might be productive of the most ruinous Consequences. A Naval superiority at Sea and on Lake Champlain, connected by a Chain of Posts on the Hudson River, would effect an entire separation of the States on each side, and render it difficult, if not impracticable for them to co-operate.
Altho' the total of the Troops herein enumerated does not amount to a large number, yet when we consider their detached situation, and the extent of Country they are spread over: the variety of objects that are to be attended to, and the close inspection that will be necessary to prevent abuses or to correct them before they become habitual; not less than two General Officers in my opinion will be competent to the Duties to be required of them. They will take their Instructions from the Secretary at War, or Person acting at the Head of the Military Department, who will also assign them their respective and distinct Districts. Each should twice a Year visit the Posts of his particular District, and notice the Condition they are in, Inspect the Troops, their discipline and Police, Examine into their Wants, and see that strict justice is rendered them and to the Public, they should also direct the Colonels, at what intermediate Times they shall perform the like duties at the Posts occupied by the Detachments of their respective Regiments. The visiting General ought frequently, if not always, to be accompanied by a Skillful Engineer, who should point out such alterations and improvements as he may think necessary from time to time, for the defence of any of the Posts; which, if approved by the General, should be ordered to be carried into execution.
Each Colonel should be responsible for the Administration of his Regiment; and when present, being Commanding Officer of any Post, which is occupied by a Detachment from his Regt., he may give such directions as he may think proper, not inconsistent with the Orders of his Superior Officer, under whose general superintendence the Troops are. He will carefully exact Monthly Returns from all detachments of his Regiment; and be prepared to make a faithful report of all occurrences, when called upon by the General Officer in whose Department he may be placed and whose instructions he is at all times to receive and obey. These Returns and Reports, drawn into a General one, are to be transmitted to the Secretary at War, by the visiting General, with the
detail of his own proceedings, remarks and Orders.
The three Years Men now in service will furnish the proposed Establishment, and from these, it is presumed, the Corps must in the first Instance be composed. But as the pay of an American Soldier is much greater than any other we are acquainted with; and as there can be little doubt of our being able to obtain them in time of Peace, upon as good Terms as other Nations, I would suggest the propriety of inlisting those who may come after the present three years Men, upon Terms of similarity with those of the British, or any other the most liberal Nations.
When the Soldiers for the War have frolicked a while among their friends, and find they must have recourse to hard labour for a livelyhood, I am persuaded numbers of them will reinlist upon almost any Terms. Whatever may be adopted with respect to Pay, Clothing and Emoluments, they should be clearly and unequivocally expressed and promulgated, that there may be no deception or mistake. Discontent, Desertion and frequently Mutiny, are the natural consequences of these; and it is not more difficult to know how to punish, than to prevent these inconveniencies, when it is known, that there has been delusion on the part of the Recruiting Officer, or a breach of Compact on the part of the public. The pay of the Battalion Officer's is full low, but those of the Chaplain, Surgeon and Mate are too high; and a proper difference should be made between the Non-Commissioned Officers (serjeants particularly) and Privates, to give them that pride and consequence which is necessary to Command.
At, or before the Time of discharging the Soldiers for the War, the Officers of the Army may signify their wishes either to retire, upon the Half pay, or to continue in the service; from among those who make the latter choice, the number wanted for a Peace Establishment may be selected; and it were to be wished, that they might be so blended together from the Several Lines, as to remove, as much as possible, all Ideas of State distinctions.
No Forage should be allowed in time of Peace to Troops in Garrison, nor in any circumstances, but when actually on a March.
Soldiers should not be inlisted for less than three Years, to commence from the date of their attestations; and the more difference there is in the commencement of their terms of Service, the better; this Circumstance will be the means of avoiding the danger and inconvenience of entrusting any important Posts to raw Recruits unacquainted with service. Rum should compose no part of a Soldier's Ration; but Vinegar in large quantities should be issued. Flour or Bread, and a stipulated quantity of the different kinds of fresh or Salted Meat, with Salt, when the former is Issued, is all that should be contracted for.
Vegetables they can, and ought to be compelled to raise. If spruce, or any other kind of small Beer, could be provided, it ought to be given gratis, but not made part of the Compact with them. It might be provided also, that they should receive one or two days fish in a Week, when to be had; this would be a saving to the public, (the Lakes and most of the Waters of the Ohio and Mississippi abounding with Fish) and would be no disservice to the Soldier.
A proper recruiting fund should be established; from which the Regiment may always be kept complete.
The Garrisons should be changed as often as it can be done with convenience; long continuance in the same place is injurious. Acquaintances are made, Connections formed, and habits acquired, which often prove very detrimental to the service. By this means, public duty is made to yield to interested pursuits, and real abuses are the Result. To avoid these Evils, I would propose, that there should be a change made in every Regiment once a Year, and one Regiment with another every two Years.
An Ordinance for the service of Troops in Garrison, should be annexed to our present Regulations for the order and discipline of the Army. The latter should be revised, corrected and enlarged so as to form a Basis of Discipline under all circumstances for Continental Troops, and, as far as they will apply, to the Militia also: that one uniform system may pervade all the States.
As a peace establishment may be considered as a change in, if not the Commencement of our Military system it will be the proper time, to introduce new and beneficial regulations, and to expunge all customs, which from experience have been found unproductive of general good. Among the latter I would ask, if promotion by Seniority is not one? That it is a good general rule admits of no doubt, but that it should be an invariable one, is in my opinion wrong. It cools, if it does not destroy, the incentives to Military Pride and Heroic Actions. On the one hand, the sluggard, who keeps within the verge of his duty, has nothing to fear. On the other hand, the enterprising Spirit has nothing to expect. Whereas, if promotion was the sure reward of Merit, all would contend for Rank and the service would be benefited by their Struggles for Promotion. In establishing a mode by which this is to be done, and from which nothing is to be expected, or apprehended, either from favour or prejudice, lies the difficulty. Perhaps, reserving to Congress the right inherent in Sovereignties, of making all Promotions. A Board of superior Officers, appointed to receive and examine the claims to promotions out of common course, of any Officer, whether founded on particular merit, or extra service, and to report their opinion thereon to Congress; might
prove a likely means of doing justice. It would certainly give a Spur to Emulation, without endangering the rights, or just pretentions of the Officers.
Before I close my observations under this head, of a regular force, and the Establishment of Posts, it is necessary for me to observe, that, in fixing a Post at the North End of Lake Champlain I had three things in view. The Absolute Command of the entrance into the Lake from Canada. A cover to the Settlements on the New Hampshire Grants and the prevention of any illicit intercourse thro' that Channel. But, if it is known, or should be found, that the 45th Degree crosses the Lake South of any spot which will command the entrance into it, the primary object fails; And it then becomes a question of whether any place beyond Ticonderoga or Crown Point is eligible.
Altho' it may be somewhat foreign to, and yet not altogether unconnected with the present subject, I must beg leave, from the importance of the object, as it appears to my mind, and for the advantages which I think would result from it to the United States, to hint, the propriety of Congress taking some early steps, by a liberal treatment, to gain the affections of the French settlements of Detroit, those of the Illinois and other back Countries. Such a measure would not only hold out great encouragement to the Inhabitants already on those lands, who will doubtless make very useful and valuable subjects of the United States; but would probably make deep and conciliatory impressions on their friends in the British settlements, and prove a means of drawing thither great numbers of Canadian Emigrants, who, under proper Regulations and establishments of Civil Government, would make a hardy and industruous race of Settlers on that Frontier; and who, by forming a barrier against the Indians, would give great security to the Infant settlement, which, soon after the close of the War, will probably be forming in the back Country.
I come next in the order I have prescribed myself, to treat of the Arrangements necessary for placing the Militia of the Continent on a respectable footing for the defence of the Empire and in speaking of this great Bulwark of our Liberties and independence, I shall claim the indulgence of suggesting whatever general observations may occur from experience and reflection with the greater freedom, from a conviction of the importance of the subject; being persuaded, that the immediate safety and future tranquility of this extensive Continent depend in a great measure upon the peace Establishment now in contemplation; and being convinced at the same time, that the only probable means of preventing insult or hostility for any length of time and from being exempted from the consequent calamities of War, is to put the National Militia in such a condition as that they may appear truly respectable in the Eyes of our Friends and formidable to those who would otherwise become our enemies.
Were it not totally unnecessary and superfluous to adduce arguments to prove what is conceded on all hands the Policy and expediency of resting the protection of the Country on a respectable and well established Militia, we might not only shew the propriety of the measure from our peculiar local situation, but we might have recourse to the Histories of Greece and Rome in their most virtuous and Patriotic ages to demonstrate the Utility of such Establishments. Then passing by the Mercinary Armies, which have at one time or another subverted the liberties of allmost all the Countries they have been raised to defend, we might see, with admiration, the Freedom and Independence of Switzerland supported for Centuries, in the midst of powerful and jealous neighbours, by means of a hardy and well organized Militia. We might also derive useful lessons of a similar kind from other Nations of Europe, but I believe it will be found, the People of this Continent are too well acquainted with the Merits of the subject to require information or example. I shall therefore proceed to point out some general outlines of their duty, and conclude this head with a few particular observations on the regulations which I conceive ought to be immediately adopted by the States at the instance and recommendation of Congress.
It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at a Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency, for these purposes they ought to be duly organized into Commands of the same formation; (it is not of very great importance, whether the Regiments are large or small, provided a sameness prevails in the strength and composition of them and I do not know that a better establishment, than that under which the Continental Troops now are, can be adopted. They ought to be regularly Mustered and trained, and to have their Arms and Accoutrements inspected at certain appointed times, not less than once or twice in the course of every [year] but as it is obvious, amongst such a Multitude of People (who may indeed be useful for temporary service) there must be a great number, who from domestic Circumstances, bodily defects, natural awkwardness or disinclination, can never acquire the habits of Soldiers; but on the contrary will injure the appearance of any body of Troops to which
they are attached, and as there are a sufficient proportion of able bodied young Men, between the Age of 18 and 25, who, from a natural fondness for Military parade (which passion is almost ever prevalent at that period of life) might easily be enlisted or drafted to form a Corps in every State, capable of resisting any sudden impression which might be attempted by a foreign Enemy, while the remainder of the National forces would have time to Assemble and make preparations for the Field. I would wish therefore, that the former, being considered as a denier resort, reserved for some great occasion, a judicious system might be adopted for forming and placing the latter on the best possible Establishment. And that while the Men of this description shall be viewed as the Van and flower of the American Forces, ever ready for Action and zealous to be employed whenever it may become necessary in the service of their Country; they should meet with such exemptions, privileges or distinctions, as might tend to keep alive a true Military pride, a nice sense of honour, and a patriotic regard for the public. Such sentiments, indeed, ought to be instilled into our Youth, with their earliest years, to be cherished and inculcated as frequently and forcibly as possible.
It is not for me to decide positively, whether it will be ultimately most interesting to the happiness and safety of the United States, to form this Class of Soldiers into a kind of Continental Militia, selecting every 10th 15th or 20th. Man from the Rolls of each State for the purpose; Organizing, Officering and Commissioning those Corps upon the same principle as is now practiced in the Conti-nental Army. Whether it will be best to comprehend in this body, all the Men fit for service between some given Age and no others, for example between 18 and 25 or some similar description, or whether it will be preferable in every Regiment of the proposed Establishment to have one additional Company inlisted or drafted from the best Men for 3, 5, or 7 years and distinguished by the name of the additional or light Infantry Company, always to be kept complete. These Companies might then be drawn together occasionally and formed into particular Battalions or Regiments under Field Officers appointed for that Service. One or other of these plans I think will be found indispensably necessary, if we are in earnest to have an efficient force ready for Action at a moments Warning. And I cannot conceal my private sentiment, that the formation of additional, or light Companies will be most consistent with the genius of our Countrymen and perhaps in their opinion most consonant to the spirit of our Constitution.
I shall not contend for names or forms, it will be altogether essential, and it will be sufficient that perfect Uniformity should be established throughout the Continent, and pervade, as far as possible, every Corps, whether of standing Troops or Militia, and of whatever denomination they may be. To avoid the confusion of a contrary practice, and to produce the happy consequences which will attend a uniform system of Service, in case Troops from the different parts of the Continent shall ever be brought to Act together again, I would beg leave to propose, that Congress should employ some able hand, to digest a Code of Military Rules and regulations, calculated immediately for the Militia and other Troops of the United States; And as it should seem the present system, by being a little simplified, altered, and improved, might be very well adopted to the purpose; I would take the liberty of recommending, that measures should be immediately taken for the accomplishment of this interesting business, and that an Inspector General should be appointed to superintend the execution of the proposed regulations in the several States.
Congress having fixed upon a proper plan to be established, having caused the Regulations to be compiled, having approved, Printed and distributed them to every General Field Officer, Captain and Adjutant of Militia, will doubtless have taken care, that whenever the system shall be adopted by the States the encouragement on the one hand, and the fines and penalties on the other will occasion an universal and punctual compliance therewith.
Before I close my remarks on the establishment of our National Militia, which is to be the future guardian of those rights and that Independence, which have been maintain'd so gloriously, by the fortitude and perseverance of our Countrymen, I shall descend a little more minutely to the interior arrangements, and sum up what I have to say on this head with the following Positions.
1st. That it appears to me extremely necessary there should be an Adjutant General appointed in each State, with such Assistants as may be necessary for communicating the Orders of the Commander in Chief of the State, making the details, collecting the Returns and performing every other duty incident to that Office. A duplicate of the Annual Returns should always be lodged in the War Office by the 25th of Decr. in every year, for the information of Congress; with any other reports that may be judged expedient. The Adjutant Generals and Assistants to be considered as the deputies of the Inspector General, and to assist him in carrying the system of Discipline into effect.
2d. That every Militia Officer should make himself acquainted with the plan of Discipline, within a limited time, or forfeit his Commission, for it is in vain to expect the improvement of the Men, while the Officers remain ignorant, which many of them will do, unless Government will make and enforce such a Regulation.
3dly. That the formation of the Troops ought to be perfectly simple and entirely uniform, for example each
Regiment should be composed of two Battalions, each Battalion to consist of 4 Companies and each Company as at present of 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Ensign, 5 Sergeants, 3 Corporals, 2 Music, 65 Privates.
Two Battalions should form a Regiment four Regts a Brigade and two Brigades a Division. This might be the general formation; but as I before observed, I conceive it will be eligible to select from the district forming a Regiment, the flower of the young Men to compose an additional or light Company to every Regiment, for the purposes before specified, which undoubtedly ought to be the case unless something like a Continental Militia shall be instituted. To each Division two Troops of Cavalry and two Companies of Artillery might also be annexed, but no Independent or Volunteer Companies foreign to the Establishment should be tolerated.
4thly. It is also indispensable that such a proportion of the Militia (under whatever discription they are comprehended) as are always to be held in readiness for service, nearly in the same manner the Minute Men formerly were, should be excercised at least from 12 to 25 days in a year, part of the time in Company, part in Battalion and part in Brigade, in the latter case, by forming a Camp, their Discipline would be greatly promoted, and their Ideas raised, as near as possible, to real service; Twenty five days might be divided thus, ten days for training in squads, half Companies and Companies, ten in Battalion and five in Brigade.
5thly. While in the Field or on actual duty, there should not only be a Compensation for the time thus spent, but a full allowance of Provisions Straw, Camp Equipage &c; it is also of so great consequence that there should be, a perfect similarity in the Arms and Accoutrements, that they ought to be furnished, in the first instance by the public, if they cannot be obtained in any other way, some kind of Regimentals or Uniform Clothing (however cheap or course they may be) are also highly requisite and should be provided for such occasions. Nor is it unimportant that every Article should be stamped with the appearance of regularity; and especially that all the Articles of public property should be numbered, marked or branded with the name of the Regiment or Corps that they may be properly accounted for.
6thly. In addition to the Continental Arsenals, which will be treated of under the next head. Every State ought to Establish Magazines of its own, containing Arms, Accoutrements, Ammunitions, all kinds of Camp Equipage and Warlike Stores, and from which the Militia or any part of them should be supplied whenever they are call'd into the Field.
7thly. It is likewise much to be wished, that it might be made agreeable to Officers who have served in the Army, to accept Commands in the Militia; that they might be appointed to them so far as can be done without creating uneasiness and jealousy, and that the principle Characters in the Community would give a countenance to Military improvements, by being present at public reviews and Exhibitions, and by bringing into estimation amongst their fellow Citizens, those who appear fond of cultivating Military knowledge and who excel in the Exercise of Arms. By giving such a tone to our Establishment; by making it universally reputable to bear Arms and disgraceful to decline having a share in the performance of Military duties; in fine, by keeping up in Peace "a well regulated, and disciplined Militia;" we shall take the fairest and best method to preserve, for a long time to come, the happiness, dignity and Independence of our Country.
With regard to the third Head in Contemplation, to wit the "Establishment of Arsenals of all kinds of Military Stores." I will only observe, that having some time since seen a plan of the Secretary of War, which went fully into the discussion of this branch of Arrangement, and appeared (as well as I can, at this time recollect) to be in general perfectly well founded, little more need be said on the subject, especially as I have been given to understand the plan has been lately considerably improved and laid before Congress for their approbation; and indeed there is only one or two points in which I could wish to suggest any Alteration.
According to my recollection, five grand Magazines are proposed by the Secretary at War, one of which to be fixed at West Point. Now, as West Point is considered not only by our selves, but by all who have the least knowledge of the Country, as a post of the greatest importance, as it may in time of Peace, from its situation on the Water be somewhat obnoxious to surprise or Coup de Main and as it would doubtless be a first object with any Nation which might commence a War against the United States, to seize that Post and occupy or destroy the Stores, it appears to me, that we ought particularly to guard against such an event, so far as may be practicable, and to remove some part of the Allurements to enterprise, by establishing the grand Arsenals in the Interior part of the Country, leaving only to West Point an adequate supply for its defence in almost any extremity.
I take the liberty also to submit to the consideration of the Committee, whether, instead of five great Arsenals, it would not be less expensive and equally convenient and advantageous to fix three general Deposits, one for the Southern, one for the Middle and one for the Eastern States, including New York, in each of which there might be deposited, Arms, Ammunition, Field Artillery, and Camp Equipage for thirty thousand Men, Also one hundred heavy Cannon and Mortars, and all the Apparatus of a Seige, with a sufficiency of Ammuni-
Under the fourth General Division of the subject, it was proposed to consider the Establishment of Military Academies and Manufacturies, as the means of preserving that knowledge and being possessed of those Warlike Stores, which are essential to the support of the Sovereignty and Independence of the United States. But as the Baron Steuben has thrown together his Ideas very largely on these Articles, which he had communicated to me previous to their being sent to the secretary at War, and which being now lodged at the War Office, I imagine have also been submitted to the inspection of the Committee, I shall therefore have the less occasion for entering into the detail, and may, without impropriety, be the more concise in my own observations.
That an Institution calculated to keep alive and diffuse the knowledge of the Military Art would be highly expedient, and that some kinds of Military Manufactories and Elaboratories may and ought to be established, will not admit a doubt; but how far we are able at this time to go into great and expensive Arrangements and whether the greater part of the Military Apparatus and Stores which will be wanted can be imported or Manufactured, in the cheapest and best manner: I leave those to whom the observations are to be submitted, to determine, as being more competent, to the decision than I can pretend to be. I must however mention some things, which I think cannot be dispensed with under the present or any other circumstances; Until a more perfect system of Education can be adopted, I would propose that Provision should be made at some Post or Posts where the principle Engineers and Artillerists shall be stationed, for instructing a certain number of young Gentlemen in the Theory of the Art of War, particularly in all those branches of service which belong to the Artillery and Engineering Departments. Which, from the affinity they bear to each other, and the advantages which I think would result from the measure, I would have blended together; And as this species of knowledge will render them much more accomplished and capable of performing the duties of Officers, even in the Infantry or any other Corps whatsoever, I conceive that appointments to vacancies in the Established Regiments, ought to be made from the candidates who shall have completed their course of Military Studies and Exercises. As it does in an essential manner qualify them for the duties of Garrisons, which will be the principal, if not only service in which our Troops can be employed in time of Peace and besides the Regiments of Infantry by this means will become in time a nursery from whence a number of Officers for Artillery and Engineering may be drawn on any great or sudden occasion.
Of so great importance is it to preserve the knowledge which has been acquired thro' the various Stages of a long and arduous service, that I cannot conclude without repeating the necessity of the proposed Institution, unless we intend to let the Science become extinct, and to depend entirely upon the Foreigners for their friendly aid, if ever we should again be involved in Hostility. For it must be understood, that a Corps of able Engineers and expert Artillerists cannot be raised in a day, nor made such by any exertions, in the same time, which it would take to form an excellent body of Infantry from a well regulated Militia.
And as to Manufactories and Elaboratories it is my opinion that if we should not be able to go largely into the business at present, we should nevertheless have a reference to such establishments hereafter, and in the means time that we ought to have such works carried on, wherever our principal Arsenals may be fixed, as will not only be sufficient to repair and keep in good order the Arms, Artillery, Stores &c of the Post, but shall also extend to Founderies and some other essential matters.
Thus have I given my sentiments without reserve on the four different heads into which the subject seemed naturally to divide itself, as amply as my numerous avocations and various duties would permit. Happy shall I be, if any thing I have suggested may be found of use in forming an Establishment which will maintain the lasting Peace, Happiness and Independence of the United States.
Alexander Hamilton, Report of a Committee to the Continental Congress on a Military Peace Establishment, 18 June 1783.
The Committee observe with respect to a military peace establishment, that before any plan can with propriety be adopted, it is necessary to inquire what powers exist for that purpose in the confederation. By the 4th. clause of the 6th article it is declared that "no vessels of war shall be kept up by any state in time of peace, except such number only as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defence of such state or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any state in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgment of the United States in Congress assembled shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such state."
By the 5th. clause of the 9th article, The United States in Congress assembled are empowered generally (and without mention of peace or war) "to build and equip a navy, to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each state for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in each state, which requisition shall be binding, and thereupon the
legislature of each state, shall appoint the Regimental officers, raise the men and clothe arm and equip them in a soldier-like manner at the expence of the United States and the officers and men so cloathed armed and equipped shall march to the place appointed and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled."
By the 4th. clause of the same article the United States are empowered "to appoint all officers of the land forces except regimental officers, to appoint all officers of the naval forces, and to commission all officers whatever in the service of the United States, making rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces and directing their operations."
It appears to the Committee that the terms of the first clause are rather restrictive on the particular states than directory to the United States, intended to prevent any state from keeping up forces land or naval without the approbation and sanction of the Union, which might endanger its tranquillity and harmony, and not to contravene the positive power vested in the United States by the subsequent clauses, or to deprive them of the right of taking such precautions as should appear to them essential to the general security. A distinction that this is to be provided for in time of war, by the forces of the Union, in time of peace, by those of each state would involve, besides other inconveniences, this capital one, that when the forces of the Union should become necessary to defend its rights and repel any attacks upon them, the United States would be obliged to begin to create at the very moment they would have occasion to employ a fleet and army. They must wait for an actual commencement of hostilities before they would be authorised to prepare for defence, to raise a single regiment or to build a single ship. When it is considered what a length of time is requisite to levy and form an army and still more to build and equip a navy, which is evidently a work of leisure and of peace requiring a gradual preparation of the means-there cannot be presumed so improvident an intention in the Confederation as that of obliging the United States to suspend all provision for the common defence 'till a declaration of war or an invasion. If this is admitted it will follow that they are at liberty to make such establishments in time of peace as they shall judge requisite to the common safety. This is a principle of so much importance in the apprehension of the Committee to the welfare of the union, that if any doubt should exist as to the true meaning of the firstmentioned clause, it will in their opinion be proper to admit such a construction as will leave the general power, vested in the United States by the other clauses, in full force; unless the states respectively or a Majority of them shall declare a different interpretation. The Committee however submit to Congress, (in conformity to that spirit of Candour and to that respect for the sense of their constituents, which ought ever to characterize their proceedings) the propriety of transmitting the plan which they may adopt to the several states to afford an opportunity of signifying their sentiments previous to its final execution.
The Committee, are of opinion, if there is a contitutional power in the United States for that purpose, that there are conclusive reasons in favour of foederal in preference to state establishments.
First there are objects for which separate provision cannot conveniently be made; posts within certain districts, the jurisdiction and property of which are not yet constitutionally ascertained-territory appertaining to the United States not within the original claim of any of the states-the navigation of the Missippi and of the lakes-the rights of the fisheries and of foreign commerce; all which belonging to the United States depending on the laws of nations and on treaty, demand the joint protection of the Union, and cannot with propriety be trusted to separate establishments.
Secondly, the fortifications proper to be established ought to be constructed with relation to each other on a general and well-digested system and their defence should be calculated on the same principles. This is equally important in the double view of safety and oeconomy. If this is not done under the direction of the United States, each state following a partial and disjointed plan, it will be found that the posts will have no mutual dependence or support-that they will be improperly distributed, and more numerous than is necessary as well as less efficacious-of course more easily reduced and more expensive both in the construction and defence.
3dly. It happens, that from local circumstances particular states, if left to take care of themselves, would be in possession of the chief part of the standing forces and of the principal fortified places of the union; a circumstance inconvenient to them and to the United Statesto them, because it would impose a heavy exclusive burthen in a matter the benefit of which will be immediately shared by their neighbours and ultimately by the states at large-to the United States, because it confides the care of the safety of the whole to a part, which will naturally be unwilling as well as unable to make such effectual provision at its particular expence, as the common welfare requires-because a single state from the peculiarity of its situation, will in a manner keep the keys of the United States-because in fiine a considerable force in the hands of a few states may have an unfriendly aspect on the confidence and harmony which ought carefully to be maintained between the whole.
4thly. It is probable that a provision by the [Congress] of the forces necessary to be kept up will [be based]
upon a more systematic and oeconomical plan than a provision by the states separately; especially as it will be of importance as soon as the situation of affairs will permit, to establish founderies, manufactaries of arms, powder &c; by means of which the labour of a part of the troops applied to this purpose will furnish the United States with those essential articles on easy terms, and contribute to their own support.
5thly. There must be a corps of Artillery and Engineers kept on foot in time of peace, as the officers of this corps require science and long preliminary study, and cannot be formed on an emergency; and as the neglect of this institution would always oblige the United States to have recourse to foreigners in time of war for a supply of officers in this essential branch-an inconvenience which it ought to be the object of every nation to avoid. Nor indeed is it possible to dispense with the service of such a corps in time of peace, as it will be indispensable not only to have posts on the frontier; but to have fortified harbours for the reception and protection of the fleet of the United States. This corps requiring particular institutions for the instruction and formation of the officers cannot exist upon separate establishments without a great increase of expence.
6thly. It appears from the annexed papers No. 1 to 4, to be the concurrent opinion of the Commander in Chief, the Secretary at War, the Inspector General and the Chief Engineer, not only that some militia establishment is indispensable but that it ought in all respects to be under the authority of the United States as well for military as political reasons. The plan hereafter submitted on considerations of oeconomy is less extensive that proposed by either of them.
The Committee upon these principles submit the following plan.
The Military peace establishment of the United States to consist of four regiments of infantry, and, one of Artillery incorporated in a corps of Engineers, with the denomination of the corps of Engineers.
Each Regiment of infantry to consist of two batalions, each batalion of four companies, each company of 64 rank and file, with the following, commissioned and Non commissioned officers, pay, rations and cloathing; to be however recruited to one hundred & twenty eight rank & file in time of war, preserving the proportion of corporals to privates.
Frederick Steuben, A Letter on the Subject of an Established Militia, and Military Arrangements, Addressed to the Inhabitants of the United States, 1784.
Friends and Fellow Citizens,
It is the duty of every member of the community, particularly in a Republic, to be attentive to its welfare, and to exert himself to contribute to its prosperity. Under the influence of this idea permit me to engage your attention, on a subject of the utmost importance to every country, but more particularly to one having so recently emerged from the waves of despotism, and now taking her station amongst the Nations, on the broad basis of Liberty and Independence. I have risqued my fortune in the general feale, and hazarded my life for the attainment of the inestimable blessings of Liberty, for which you have bravely fought, bled, and conquered. I acknowledge myself interested for your happiness and cannot be silent.
Having spent the greatest part of my life in military pursuits, I feel a confidence in my subject, and thinking it by no means probable that I shall ever engage on the busy theatre of life again, having no personal views to answer by the operation of the system, I shall write with freedom, confident that if any idea not immediately connected with the subject should fall from my pen, it will be ascribed not to the vanity or assurance of a political projector, but to that honest anxiety which I have ever felt for the dignity and happiness of this rising empire.
The immediate object of my address is to hold up to your calm consideration what I conceive to be the best possible Military Establishment for the United States. Be not alarmed Fellow Citizens at the expression; for no country ever risqued their political existence without one that did not fall a prey to the avarice or ambition of her neighbours. Though America has hitherto been successful, and though no immediate cloud seems to threaten the sunshine of her tranquility, yet it would be idle indeed were we to conclude from thence that she was always to stand exempted from the fortunes and fate of other nations.
The local situation of America, happily removed from Europe and her wranglings, must long continue to make a large army unnecessary-it is not however without its difficulties and its dangers.
On the East an unguarded coast, and a dangerous and formidable Colony planted. On the West a defenceless frontier. Neighbours on the one side who may never be friends; and Savages on the other who are unalterably your enemies. This is your local situation. The security of the former must necessarily be committed in a great measure to a Navy; but a Navy can only grow out of dock-yards and arsenals, and the well regulated commerce of your country; and until they begin to operate, for they are the products of industry and time. Your principal ports at least should be raised superior to the fear of injury, or the dishonour of insult.
The latter, vis. the protection of your Western fron-
tier, is a subject of perhaps more immediate importance; for upon this rests not only your share of a most lucrative commerce, but closely connects with it the peace, prosperity, and extensions of your Western settlements. These objects are not to be secured but by a chain of well chosen ports, strongly fortified and respectably garrisoned. Hence arises the necessity of an established Continental Corps; and as their services will be lasting and national, their establishment ought to be federal and permanent.
To draught a Militia for such duty, so distant from their homes, and so much more trying to patience than to valour, would be extremely embarrassing and expensive, and fall infinitely short of both the wishes and expectations of Government. But independent of arguments resulting from the nature of the service or general expence, individual embarrassments or eventual disappointments, which must avail every plan for performing it by Militia draughts, there are other and very powerful motives for a small regular establishment.
A Spirit of Providence is one of the strongest assurances of national wisdom, and it may not be improper to lay out your accounts for foreign war or domestic struggle. Where, in an exigency of this kind, without an establishment, would government look up for military talents and experience? Would she call upon her servants who have been engaged in the late controversy? If she did she should find many, if not all of those to whom she could most safely have committed the interest of the Republic, old or disabled-busy or dissatisfied-diffident of themselves-superior to the necessity of hazarding either life, reputation, or care; and totally lost to every military idea and remembrance, except the hardships and the cares. If we examine mankind under the impressions of property and interest, we will find that to make any art a study it should not only be a passion but a business. The Merchant may read Marshal Saxe, the Mathematician Monsieur Vauban, but it is the Soldier alone who regards their lessons and takes up the sword; not as the hasty avenger of a sudden wrong, but as his companion for life, that will study and digest them.
I am conscious in the opinion of many I am undertaking a difficult task in attempting to convince a free people, who have established their liberties by the unparalleled exercise of their virtue, that a permanent Military Establishment is necessary to their happiness, absolutely so to their federal existence. I shall not in this essay address your passions, but I appeal forcibly to your reason. I shall convince you by the statement of a regular and exact calculation, that your present system of Militia draughts recommended by Congress, is not only impracticable in itself, and replete with every inconvenience that can shackle military movements, but it takes a double proportion of every necessary to collect and station them, and more than double the sum to support your frontier in this mode, than by a small regular establishment. Every objection to this system the operations of simple reasoning will fully obviate, by attending to the numbers and materials that shall compose your establishment, and the arrangement that may be made concerning enlistment, reception and muster, sources but too often of much unneccessary expenditure, and of the most flagrant abuse.
Upon a review of all the military of Europe, there does not appear to be a single form which could be 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 more immediately apply to the existing or probable necessity of this, it will be found strikingly superior to any other-1st. Being a compleat 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. And, 3d. As in every case of detachment the first constitutional principle will be preserved, and the embarassments 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 forest 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 Musketteers and Light Infantry should make the greatest part of your army; on these principles I should propose the following draught. That a Legion consist, 1st. Of a Legionary Brigade and Regimental Staff. 2d. Of two Brigades of Musketteers, each Brigade of two Regiments, each Regiment of eight Com-
panies forming two Battalions, each Company of a Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, six Sergeants, one Drum, one Fife, sixty Privates, and four Supernumeraries. 3d. Of a Battalion of Rifle-men of four Companies, each Company to have a Captain, three Lieutenants, six Sergeants, a Bugle-horn and Drum, sixty Privates, and four Supernumeraries. 4th. A Division of Field Artillery consisting of two Companies, each to have a Captain, Captain-Lieutenant, three Lieutenants, six Sergeants, twenty Artificers, forty Matrosses, Drum, Fife, and four Supernumeraries. 5th. A Squadron of Cavalry consisting of two Troops, each Troop to have a Captain, two Lieutenants, a Cornet, six Sergeants, one Farrier, one Saddler, one Trumpeter, sixty Dragoons, and four Supernumeraries. 6th. Of a Train of Artillery and Equipage, to consist of one Quarter-Master, one Clothing and Pay-Master, five Conductors, twenty Artificers, and seventy Waggoners and Drivers.
The principal Staff and Regimental Staff Officers, will be named by Congress-the subordinate Staff by Head of Departments-both to be commissioned by Congress, and subject to their orders alone. The men will be enlisted for eight years, and supported at the common expence of the United States, who after the expiration of their enlistment will accommodate each man with a given quantity of land. The most exact uniformity should be established throughout the component parts of this Corps. The distinction of States should be carefully avoided, and their service as well as their recompense be entirely dependent upon Congress. The Corps of Artillery, though not a part of the Legion (excepting the Field Artillery), bears an immediate relation to it, and it cannot be more properly considered than at this moment. It is not necessary to say more upon it, than, that it shall be under the immediate command of its own General, and that the subordinate Officers shall be composed of field Engineers, Geographers, and Artillerists, men who have and will make military mathematics their study. Their obvious employment will be designing and constructing magazines and dockyards, superintending military manufactures, surveying high-ways, bays, harbours, etc., etc., while the Soldiers will be employed in garrisoning the forts, and guarding the naval and military stores and places of deposit, and Artificers in such manufactures and works as shall be added to them. The Corps of Horse may be of much service; divided into detachments it may be usefully engaged in keeping up a ready communication between the different posts, and with proper arrangements will be much less expensive than expresses. But as the whole Corps will not exceed one hundred and twenty, rank and file, they may with great propriety be employed in guarding the residence of Congress, the public offices, papers, etc. Congress and their executive officers should never be exposed to the mad proceedings of a mob. Guards are necessary, and always proper at the seat of government.
In looking back upon what I have written, I am so happy as to find that much of what I have proposed to say on the uses of this Establishment, has been anticipated in the course of my Introduction; I will close the sketch however with this summary view of them. The American army at present should consist of neither more nor less than one compleat Legion of 3000 men permanent and Continental; a Corps of Artillery, Sappers, Miners, Artificers, etc., of 1000, permanent and Continental also; and seven Legions of well disciplined Militia of 3000 men each, subject to the call of their country, and ready to act on the shortest notice. Agreeable to this your standing force in time of peace will be but 4000 men, and your effective force in case of invasion 25,000 well disciplined troops.
To your established Corps you will commit the security of your docks and arsenals, the defence of those forts which already exist, and such others as may hereafter be constructed. From them you will derive all necessary assurance relative to your dependent settlements, and effectually preserve that important water communication which has fallen to you by treaty. In times of peace they will operate as a principle of discipline and formation to your established Militia, and in those of war become a ready barrier against the designs of avarice and the assaults of ambition; and finally, they will serve as a nursery to those talents which it must ever be your wisdom to encourage, and which in the course of fortune it may become your interest to employ.
In treating the latter part of this subject, viz. the established Militia, it may be previously necessary, to take a view of your present system. It is a flattering but I believe a mistaken idea that every Citizen should be a soldier. It would be as sensible and consistent to say every Citizen should be a Sailor. An apprenticeship must necessarily precede the acquisition of any trade, and the use of arms is as really a trade as shoe or boot making. Were courage the only qualification requisite in a Soldier, it would be otherwise, but galantry alone leaves the character very incomplete; to this must be added youth, size, temperance and inclination, docility of temper, and adroitness in the exercise of the field, and a patience under every vicissitude of fortune. Some of these are no easy lesson to a mind filled with ideas of equality and freedom; and in many instances are only to be learned with industry and pains. I have but one inference to draw from these remarks, i.e. that however gallant your Militia may be (and I know them to be brave) they must necessarily want much of the true military character. It may now be asked what are the sources of this defect? I will venture to suggest them: a want of uniformity in
their discipline and in their arms-the inadequacy of the several laws under which they exist-the imperfect execution of those laws, such as they are-and the indifference with which every man must regard a business not in some degree pleasing or professional. Hence has arisen that uncertainty of temper-that want of confidence in themselves, that reluctancy to come out, that impatience to get home, and that waste of public and destruction of private property-which has ever marked an operation merely Militia.
These are characteristics that cannot be denied, and which must be as lasting as your belief and declaration, "That every Citizen without exception, must be a Soldier." But when we add the expence of such establishment to the probable disappointment which must follow its operations, it will appear ruinous indeed.
Pennsylvania, it is said, enrols by its Militia Law, about sixty thousand men-and I suppose, that in the article of expence it does not differ widely from those of the other States; these men are obliged to assemble six times in a year at some given place of rendezvous; four days of the six are employed in exercise and two in reviews.
For non-attendence on reviews, each delinquent pays ten shillings per day, and for non-attendance upon exercise five shillings per day; therefore the man who absents himself from all will pay forty shillings per annum, and he who attends all must necessarily lose six days labour, while some, from their distance from the place of rendezvous, will lose ten or twelve. But taking eight as an average, and calculating the expence of each man at six shillings per day, it will amount to forty-eight shillings per man per annum; it then follows, that if the whole Militia should assemble six days in the year, the aggregate expence will amount to 386,666 dollars per annum-if on the other hand they neglect this service and pay the fines, they will amount to 320,000 dollars per annum. View it in any point of light, how imposing and vexatious must this be to the people. For by attendance do they promote the interest of the State? Or does the individual return to his home satisfied, that the information and instruction he has received is any compensation for the loss he sustains? And what is the obvious consequence of non-attendance? Are the fines a revenue to the State, a serviceable one I mean; or can the good wishes or confidence of a people be increased by the operation of a law, whose penalty they prefer to its obligation? I am convinced that under another name these impositions would not be tolerated, and that an insurrection would follow the exercise of them.
If the annual expence of Pennsylvania for training her Militia be 386,666 dollars, and if we consider her as an eighth part of the United States, the aggregate expence of the United States in times of perfect peace, for the instruction of men to whom she cannot risque her fate in war, will be annually 3,113,328 dollars; what it would be in war is beyond all calculation, but it may not be amiss to take a view of the obviously additional sources which must then take place. It is I believe an acknowledged fact, that the expence of any corps will depend upon its discipline. An old soldier will live upon half the allowance of a new levy-not because he has less appetite, but because he has more care and more management. The one will regard his arms and accoutrements with all the solicitude of friendship; the other with all the indifference of contempt. The veteran, taught by the diseases he has felt or the observations he has made, is attentive to his health, and though attentive to his duty avoids everything which would most probably expose it; the militiaman, or new levy, fatigued and disheartened perhaps by the march of a single day, and measuring the tedious hours of his enlistment, throws himself down without any regard to the place or situation; rises in the morning reluctant and languid, and perhaps for want of attention to himself incapable of performing his duty. These are facts which cannot be contradicted, and which hold up to your view some articles of expence, which should be considered, though they cannot be ascertained.
There are many other of the same description; such for instance is the loss sustained by the inefficiency of convoys and the inattention of guards, and such the loss in calling forth a Farmer, a Mechanic, or a Merchant at a shilling a day; the Farmer it is true loses less than either, but still there is no proportion between the profits of his farm and the wages of his sword. Under these considerations trade and agriculture cannot remain unhurt, they must feel some unkind influence foreign to their habits, and unfriendly to their genius. But there is still another more pressing and calamitous: I mean the Rotation Service. For example: A State whose Militia consists of 100,000 men is invaded, the whole cannot be called forth-10,000 may be equal to the contest-but unless the war be almost instantly closed, and that is not to be expected, the principle of rotation must be adopted, and the first detachment is relieved by a second, the second by a third, and the third by a fourth, so that in reality the State must a very large proportion of the time pay and feed 20,000 men, to have 10,000 in the field. How then are these defects to be supplied? I answer by changing their constitution, and lessening their numbers. The Militia of the United States may be calculated at 400,000 men; on what occasion, or for what purpose, shall we ever want this number? The difficulty of bringing a twentieth part of them together has been sufficiently evinced; the impossibility of instructing, and what is still more of feeding them if collected, wants no proof. Giving up therefore the chimerical idea of having 400,000 Militia, and that every Citizen is a Sol-
dier, let us look for a number that will be less expensive, sooner collected, and more easily taught, those lessons necessary for a Soldier to know.
At one period of the late war, Great-Britain attacked us with an army of more than 40,000 effectives; where is the European Power that can do more? We cannot therefore want 400,000 men, nor do we want 50,000; for as we cannot be surprised, an army of 25,000 will be equal to any foreign attack, or internal convulsion, that may happen to exist. I would therefore repeat my proposal, that in addition to the established Continental Legion, that Seven Legions be formed from the whole militia force of the United States; call them the Established Militia, and let their composition and construction be exactly the same with your Continental Legion.
To determine what proportion of the corps will fall to each State, an exact register of the numbers in each should be previously obtained; but not to stop at what is very immaterial in mere proportion, I would hazard the following: North Department, to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, Two Legions. Middle Department, to New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Three Legions. Southern Department, to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, Two Legions.
It is to simplify the system, and to render its operations easy, that I make this division into departments; the proportion of the States composing each may be easily determined-the smaller will give companies, the larger Battalions, until the several Legions are compleat. In the appointment of Officers for the established Militia, I think the following method should be pursued. Each State appoints the Officers necessary for its own contingent of troops. If either send a Company only, they send no Officer higher than a Captain; if a Battalion, a Lieutenant-Colonel and Major; if a Regiment, a Colonel; if two Regiments, a Brigadier; and if two Brigades, a Major-General. In instances where neither State sends a sufficient number to give these higher ranks, the superior Officers are called from the district which has furnished the largest contingent.
These Officers remain absolutely subject to the State which has sent them, and are dismissed with the same formality with which they have been appointed. For instance: If a Court-Martial should sentence to disgrace a Major, who belongs to a state which only furnishes a Company, the approbation or disapprobation belongs to the Supreme of that State which furnishes the largest part of the Regiment. If a Colonel or Brigadier belonging to a State which has furnished only a Battalion or Regiment, should be tried by a Court-Martial, the sentence is invalid without the approbation of the Grand Convention of the Empire.
Officers or whatever rank will receive pay only for those days which they actually spend in the service of the Public; they will have a right to resign their places after each yearly review, but while they hold their commissions, they will be subject to whatever ordinance may be issued by Government. This ordinance will regulate the pay and emoluments of each grade; determine the uniformity of the discipline, arms, and accoutrements, and the duties of the service in general. With regard to the men the following regulations should take place.
I. That the first class be engaged for three different periods; one third for two years, one third for three, and one third for four; that is, in a company of seventy-two men, twenty-four will be engaged for two years, twentyfour for three years, and twenty-four for four years.
II. That after the expiration of the time of the two years men, their places shall be supplied by another enlistment of the same number of men for three years, and that all subsequent engagements shall be for no less time than this. By this arrangement when the times of one third of a corps expire, a like number will be enlisted; this will prevent a total expiration, and there will be always two-thirds disciplined troops to one-third recruits.
III. That none but Citizens be received.
IV. That their age be not less than eighteen, nor more than twenty-four.
V. That each man be well formed and at least five feet six inches high.
VI. That both Negroes and Mulattoes be excluded.
The best method of engaging men in service is by bounty; the expence will not be great, and the inconveniency and ill humour which attends draughting be avoided. The bounty need not exceed ten dollars per man; to this must be added for the whole term of service, a hat, coat, vest, pair of overalls, pair of shoes, and a stock; and at the expiration of his service, provided he has not been capitally censured, his arms and accoutrements should be given to him. In the operation of this system, at the expiration of every third year 7000 well disciplined men, with their arms and accoutrements, will be added to the effective force of the United States, and the best possible magazine for a Republic firmly established, (viz.) arms and accoutrements in the course of a few years be put into the hands of every member of the community, and a perfect knowledge of the duties of a soldier engraved on the mind of every citizen. This will secure you a respectable station amongst the Powers of Europe; and if not ensure you a perfect peace, at least furnish you with the ability of checking the ardour of any Power that may be hardy enough to attack you.
The whole annual expence of this establishment will not exceed fifteen dollars per man per annum, and for this he subjects himself to military discipline thirty-one days in a year, twelve of which he will be employed in
exercise, in detail, and twelve in learning the evolutions and maneuvres, and seven in reviews.
The time for these exercises must depend upon the season of year and the place, upon the population of the State, etc., etc., but it were to be wished that at each rendezvous of inspection, one Legion compleat might be assembled, and that on every third year all the troops of the department would encamp together.
The Soldier and the State must come under this farther obligation to each other, that each months service (exclusive of the time taken up in repairing to the rendezvous for which he will receive a certain stipulated allowance) shall count for a year; but should an invasion or any other cause make it necessary for Government to call him out, he shall be obliged to repair to the place appointed on the shortest notice, and to serve any length of time not exceeding one year, which Government may deem expedient. For this time he shall receive that pay and emoluments annexed to a war establishment. By such an arrangement, I dare assure to the United States, an army as useful and as respectable as that of any Republic in Europe; and as to its expence, I will venture again to advance, that it will not cost more than one third of the sum which is now expended; and this may be levied upon every man who falls under the present system, and will not demand from him but twelve shillings and sixpence per annum, in lieu of forty, which simply considered is evidently more eligible; but when viewed as a discharge from the irksome routine of militia duty, I cannot but suppose but it must be embraced with ardour by every individual at present enrolled in the Militia.
As I have in a former instance made the Militia establishment of Pennsylvania a subject of calculation, it may not be improper to say what would be the expence of that Commonwealth, under the operation of the system proposed. For the support of her share of a board of war and inspection, the Continental Legion, Corps of Artillerists and others, her share of the expence will be 65,000 dollars, and for her proportion of the seven Militia Legions 35,000 dollars, the whole annual expence then will amount to 10,000 dollars, and consequently she must have yearly 286,666 dollars-how striking is this difference.
Should it be objected that the scale upon which I have gone is too small, the proportion of each State may be increased without breaking in upon the principles of formation, or should the finances of any State permit, or her politics require another corps, it may be raised upon the same plan.
Much of what has been said on the uses of the federal Legion may be applied to the Militia Corps, like that in peace they will be a most excellent school for the instruction of the young, and in war present an immediate guard or barrier, behind which Government may take its further measures of defence with confidence and ease; and if necessary in war, the rank and file of your army may be doubled, and the list of your officers remain the same; for being perfectly trained in the military schools, which the operation of this plan will establish, I should without hesitation pledge myself for their abilities in their professions. Having now filled up the limits which I had prescribed for myself upon this occasion, I cannot but hope a plan so clearly efficient, as well as economical will not fail to secure the attention of the United States. I foresee, however, it will be subject to one very popular objection, "It is in fact a Standing Army." Yes Fellow Citizens I admit it-it is a Standing Army, but composed of your brothers and your sons. Can you require or conceive a better security-are they not your natural guardians? And shall it be supposed a cockade and feather, the Vox et preteria nihil of the military character, can alienate either their affections or their interests: Be assured you reflect upon yourselves by nourishing the suspicion, and wound the feelings of men who at least are entitled to your gratitude and esteem.
Letter, George Washington to Frederick Steuben, 15 March 1784.
My Dear Baron: I have perused with attention the plan which you have formed for establishing a Continental Legion, and for training a certain part of the Arms bearing men of the Union as a Militia in times of peace; and with the small alterations which have been suggested and made, I very much approve of it.
It was no unpleasing, and flattering circumstance to me, to find such a coincidence of ideas as appear to run thro' your plan, and the one I had the honor to lay before a Committee of Congress in May last. Mine however, was a hasty production, the consequence of a sudden call, and little time for arrangement. Yours of maturer thought and better digestion, I, at the same time that I hinted the propriety of a Continental Militia; glided almost insensibly into what I thought would, rather than what I conceived ought to be a proper peace Establishment for this Country.
A peace establishment ought always to have two objects in view. The one present security of Posts, of Stores and the public tranquillity. The other, to be prepared, if the latter is impracticable, to resist with efficacy, the sudden attempts of a foreign or domestic enemy. If we have no occasion of Troops for the first purposes, and were certain of not wanting any for the second; then all expence of every nature and kind whatsoever on this score, would be equally nugatory and unjustifiable; but while men have a disposition to wrangle, and to disturb
the peace of Society, either from ambitious, political or interested motives, common prudence and foresight requires such an establishment as is likely to ensure to us the blessings of Peace, altho' the undertaking should be attended with difficulty and expence; and I can think of no plan more likely to answer the purpose, than the one you have suggested; which (the principle being established) may be enlarged, or diminished at pleasure, according to circumstances; it therefore meets my approbation and has my best wishes for its success. I have the honor etc.
Resolution of the Continental Congress Creating the Peace Establishment, 3 June 1784.
Whereas a body of troops, to consist of seven hundred non-commissioned officers and privates, properly officered, are immediately and indispensably necessary for taking possession of the western posts, as soon as evacuated by the troops of his britannic Majesty, for the protection of the northwestern frontiers, and for guarding the public stores;
Resolved, That it be, and it is hereby recommended to the states hereafter named, as most conveniently situated, to furnish forthwith from their militia, seven hundred men, to serve for twelve months, unless sooner discharged, in the following proportions, viz.
New Jersey, 110
New York, 165
Resolved, That the Secretary in the War Office take order for forming the said troops when assembled, into one regiment, to consist of eight companies of infantry, and two of artillery, arming and equipping them in a soldier-like manner; and that he be authorised to direct their destination and operations, subject to the order of Congress, and of the Committee of the states in the recess of Congress.
Resolved, That the pay, subsistance and rations of the officers and men shall be the same as has been heretofore allowed to the troops of the United States; and that each officer and soldier shall receive one month's pay after they are embodied, before their march.
Resolved, That the staff and commissioned officers of the said troops, consist of the following, and be furnished by the several states hereinafter mentioned; that is to say, one lieutenant colonel commandant from Pensylvania; two majors, one from Connecticut, and one from New York, each major to command a company; eight captains from the several states furnishing the troops in the nearest proportion to the number of the men furnished; ten lieutenants, one to act as adjutant; ten ensigns; one regimental chaplain; one surgeon; four mates.
Resolved, That the secretary in the War office give the necessary order for the inferior arrangements and organization of the said troops, and make the apportionment of the officers to be furnished by the several states, not herein particularly directed.
Resolved, That the said troops when embodied, on their march, on duty, and in garrison, shall be liable to all the rules and regulations formed for the government of the late army of the United States, or such rules and regulations as Congress or a committee of the states may form.
Resolved, That the Superintendant of the finances of the United States, take order for furnishing, on the warrant of the secretary in the war office, the sums requisite for carrying the foregoing resolutions into effect.
On the question to agree to the report as amended, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. [Ephraim] Paine .... So it was resolved in the affirmative.
The ordinance for ascertaining the powers and duties of the Secretary at War, was taken up and being read a third time, was passed as follows:
An Ordinance for ascertaining the powers and duties of the Secretary at War.
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress Assembled, that the powers and duty of the Secretary at War shall be as follows, to wit: To examine into the present state of the war department, the returns and present state of the troops, ordnance, arms, ammunition, cloathing and supplies of the Troops of these states, and report the same to Congress: To keep exact and regular returns of all the forces of these states, and of all the military stores, equipments and supplies in the Magazines of the United States, or in other places for their use; and to receive into his care, from the officers in whose possession they may be, all such as are not in actual service; to form estimates of all such stores, equipments and supplies as may be requisite for the military service, and for keeping up competent magazines, and to report the same to the Commissioners of the treasury of the United States, that measures may be taken in due time, for procuring the same; to prepare estimates for paying and recruiting the troops of these United States; to carry into effect all ordinances and resolves of Congress for raising and equipping troops
for the service of the United States, and for inspecting the said troops; and to direct the arrangement, destination and operation of such troops as are or may be in service, subject to the Orders of Congress or of the Committee of the States in the recess of Congress; to make out, seal and countersign the commissions of all such military officers as shall be employed in the service of the United States; to take order for the transportation, safe keeping and distributing the necessary supplies for such troops and garrisons as may be kept up by the United States. He shall appoint and remove at pleasure all persons employed under him, and shall be responsible for their conduct in office; all which appointments shall be immediately certified to Congress, and such certificate, or the substance thereof, registered in a book to be kept for that purpose in the office of the Secretary of Congress. He shall keep a public and convenient Office in the place where Congress shall reside. He shall, at least once a year, visit all the magazines and deposits of public stores, and report the state of them with proper arrangements to Congress; and shall twice a year, or oftner if thereto required, settle the accounts of his department. That as well the Secretary at war, as his assistants or clerks, before they shall enter on the duties of their Office, shall respectively take and subscribe an Oath or affirmation of fidelity to the United States, and for the faithful execution of the trust reposed in them; and which oaths or affirmations shall be administered by the Secretary of Congress, and a certificate thereof filed in his Office. The Oath of fidelity shall be in the words following: "I A. B. appointed to the office of ------ do acknowledge that I do owe faith and true allegiance to the United States of America, and I do swear (or affirm) that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain and defend the said United States in their freedom, sovereignty and independence, against all opposition whatsoever." And the Oath of Office shall be in the words following: "I, A. B. appointed to the office of ------ do swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully, truly, and impartially execute the office of ------ to which I am so appointed, according to the best of my skill and judgment; and that I will not disclose or reveal any thing, that shall come to my knowledge in the execution of the said office, or from the confidence I may thereby acquire, which, in my own judgment, or by the injunction of my superiors, ought to be kept secret." That the form of the oath of fidelity heretofore prescribed by Congress, and all former resolutions of Congress, relative to the department of war, be, and they are hereby repealed. Done by the United States in Congress assembled, &c.
Congress took into consideration the report of a committee, to whom were referred sundry motions relative to the western frontiers, and a paragraph thereof relative to the raising of troops being under debate, a motion was made by Mr. [David] Howell, seconded by Mr. [John] Beatty, that the same be postponed, in order to take up the following: "That it is necessary, that a body of troops, consisting of non-commissioned officers and privates, be raised to serve for the term of three years, unless sooner discharged, for the protection of the north western frontiers, and for guarding public stores; to be raised by the States in the following proportions, viz. N. H. &c.
It is the opinion of the Committee that the United States in Congress assembled should proceed . . . to make requisitions on the states for men and money in order to establish such garrisons.
On the question, the paragraphs of the report being postponed, and the motion taken up and amended, a division was called for, and on the question to agree to the first clause as amended,
Resolved, That it is necessary that a body of troops consisting of 700 noncommissioned officers and privates, be raised to serve for the term of three years, unless sooner discharged, for the protection of the northwestern frontiers, to defend the settlers on the land belonging to the United States, from the depredations of the Indians, and to prevent unwarrantable intrusions thereon, and for guarding the public stores.
After debate on the latter clause of the motion,
Ordered, That the further consideration thereof be postponed.
Thursday, April 7, 1785 Congress resumed the Consideration of the report on the motions relative to the western frontiers, and a motion being made by Mr. [David] Howell, seconded by Mr. [John] Beatty,
That the 700 non commissioned officers and privates determined to be necessary, by the act of 1 April, be raised by the following states, in the following proportions:
A motion was made by Mr. [William] Ellery, seconded by Mr. [Rufus] King, to postpone that motion, in order to take up the following:
That it be recommended to the states hereafter named, as most conveniently situated, to furnish forthwith, from their militia, the seven hundred non commissioned officers and men, agreed to be raised by the resolution of 1 April, in the following proportions, viz.
Thursday, April 7, 1785
Congress resumed the Consideration of the report on the motions relative to the western frontiers, and a motion being made by Mr. [David] Howell, seconded by Mr. [John] Beatty,
That the 700 non commissioned officers and privates determined to be necessary, by the act of 1 April, be raised by the following states, in the following proportions:
A motion was made by Mr. [William] Ellery, seconded by Mr. [Rufus] King, to postpone that motion, in order to take up the following:
That it be recommended to the states hereafter named, as most conveniently situated, to furnish forthwith, from their militia, the seven hundred non commissioned officers and men, agreed to be raised by the resolution of 1 April, in the following proportions, viz.
And on the question to postpone for the purpose aforesaid, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. [Rufus] King .... So the question was lost.
After further debate the original motion. was withdrawn, and thereupon,
On motion of Mr. [William] Ellery, seconded by Mr. [Rufus] King,
Resolved, That it be recommended to the states hereafter named, as most conveniently situated, to furnish forthwith, the seven hundred non commissioned officers and men, agreed to be raised by the resolution of 1 April, in the following proportions:
Ordered, That the remainder of the report be committed, and that the committee be instructed to report the states to be called upon, and the proportions to be furnished by them respectively.
Tuesday, April 12, 1785
On the report of a committee, consisting of Mr. [James] Monroe, Mr. [William Samuel] Johnson, Mr. R. R. Livingston, Mr. [Rufus] King, Mr. [John] Beatty, Mr. [John] Henry and Mr. [Gunning] Bedford,
Resolved, That the non commissioned Officers and privates to be raised by the resolution of the seventh day of the present month April, be furnished by the states hereinafter mentioned, in the following proportions:
New Jersey, 110
New York, 165
That the following commissioned Officers be furnished by the said States, for the said troops, in the following proportions:
One lieutenant colonel from Pennsylvania. Two majors, one from Connecticut, and one from New York, each to command a company.
Eight captains, ten lieutenants, one to act as adjutant, one as quarter master, and one as pay master. Ten ensigns, one surgeon and four mates, to be furnished by the said States in proportion to the number of privates which they respectively furnish.
That the pay of the lieutenant colonel be 50 dollars per month; that of the Major, 45; Captain, 35; lieutenant, 26; Ensign, 20; Serjeant, 6; Corporal, 5; Drum, 5; Fife, 5; private, 4; Surgeon, 45; Mate, 30.
That the lieutenants acting as adjutant, quarter master and pay master, shall receive, in consideration of the said extra duty, each 10 dollars per month.
That each Officer and soldier shall receive one month's pay after they are embodied, before their march.
That the Secretary at War be directed to form the said troops when raised into one regiment, consisting of eight companies of infantry, and two of artillery, to appoint their places of rendezvous, direct their subsequent operations, and make all other inferior necessary arrangements not herein particularly mentioned, subject to the Order of Congress, and of the Committee of the States in the recess of Congress; and That the Commissioners of the treasury be instructed to furnish on his warrant, the sums necessary for carrying the same into effect.
That the said troops when embodied, on their march, on duty, or in garrison, shall be subject to all the rules and regulations formed for the government of the late army, or such other rules as Congress or a Committee of the States may form.
That the Secretary at War ascertain the necessary clothing and rations proper for the troops, and report the same to Congress.
That the Commissioners of the treasury contract for the supply of rations at such places and in such quantities as the Secretary at War shall judge necessary.
The committee, consisting of Mr. [Charles] Pettit, Mr. [Henry] Lee, Mr. [Charles] Pinckney, Mr. [John] Henry and Mr. [Melancton] Smith, to whom was referred the letter from the war Office, with the papers enclosed, containing intelligence of the hostile intentions of the Indians in the Western country, having reported,
That the uniform tenor of the intelligence from the western country plainly indicates the hostile disposition of a number of Indian Nations, particularly the Shawanese, Puteotamies, Chippawas, Tawas and Twightwees: That these nations are now assembling in the Shawanese towns, and are joined by a banditti of desperadoes, under the name of Mingoes and Cherokees, who are outcasts from other nations, and who have associated and settled in that country for the purpose of war and plunder: That they are labouring to draw in other nations to unite with them in a war with the Americans: That it is expected one thousand warriors will soon be collected in the Shawanese towns, from whence they have already despatched parties to commence hostilities: That from the motions of the Indians to the southward as well as the northward, and the exertions made in different quarters to stimulate the various nations against the Americans, there is the strongest reason to believe that, unless the speediest measures are taken effectually to counteract and defeat their plan, the war will become general, and will be attended with the most dangerous and lasting Consequences: That the committee, therefore, deem it highly necessary that the troops in the service of the United States be immediately
augmented, not only for the protection and support of the frontiers of the states, bordering on the western territory and the valuable settlements on and near the margin of the Mississippi, but to establish the possession and facilitate the surveying and selling of those intermediate lands which have been so much relied on for the reduction of the debts of the United States: Whereupon,
Resolved unanimously, That the number of one thousand three hundred and forty noncommissioned Officers and privates be raised for the term of three years, unless sooner discharged, and that they, together with the troops now in service, be formed into a legionary corps, to consist of 2040 noncommissioned Officers and privates: That the additional troops be raised by the following states in the following proportions, to wit:
New Hampshire, 260, Massachusetts, 660, Rhode Island, 120, and Connecticut, 180, Infantry and Artillery. Maryland and Virginia each 60 cavalry, making 120.
That the Secretary at War inform the executive authorities of the respective states, in which the troops are to be raised, the number and rank of commissioned Officers to be furnished by each State, in proportion to the men.
That the pay and allowances to the troops, to be raised by this resolve, be the same as established by the Act of Congress of the 12 of April, 1785.
That the said troops shall be subject to the existing articles of war, or such as may hereafter be formed by Congress or a committee of the States.
That the board of treasury contract for a supply of Cloathing and rations, at such places and in such quantities as the Secretary at war shall judge necessary.
Resolved unanimously, That the states above-mentioned be, and they are hereby requested to use their utmost exertions, to raise the quotas of troops respectively assigned them, with all possible expedition, and that the executive of the said states be, and hereby are requested, in case any of their legislatures should not be in session, immediately to convene them for this purpose, as a delay may be attended with the most fatal Consequences.
Ordered, That the board of treasury, without delay, devise ways and means for the pay and support of the troops of the United States upon the present establishment, and report the same to Congress.
Whereas the time for which the greater part of the troops on the frontiers are engaged will expire in the course of the ensuing year
Resolved That the interests of the United States require that a corps of seven hundred troops should be stationed on the frontiers to protect the settlers on the public lands from the depredations of the Indians, to facilitate the surveying and selling of the said lands in Order to reduce the public debt and to prevent all unwarrantable intrusions thereon.
Resolved That in Order to save the great expence of transporting new levies to the distant frontiers of the United States and also to avail the public of the discipline and knowledge of the country acquired by the troops on the frontiers it is highly expedient to retain as many of them as shall voluntarily reengage in the service.
Resolved That seven hundred non commissioned Officers and privates be raised for the term of three years unless sooner discharged and that the same be furnished in the proportion herein specified by the states which raised the troops agreeably to the requisitions of Congress of April 1785
Connecticut one hundred and sixty five
New York one hundred and sixty five
New Jersey one hundred and ten
Pensylvania two hundred and sixty
That the commissioned Officers for the said troops be furnished by the said States agreeably to the present proportions.
That the Organization of the said troops together with the two companies of Artillery raised by virtue of the resolves of Congress of the 20th of October 1786 be according to the present establishment; to wit, One regiment of infantry of eight companies, each company four sergeants, four corporals two musicians and sixty privates. And one battalion of Artillery of four companies each company four sergeants four corporals two musicians and sixty privates.
That the secretary at war make the necessary arrangements from time to time to replace the men on the frontiers whose engagements shall expire.
That the said troops shall be governed by such rules and Articles of War as are or shall be established by Congress or a committee of the States.
That the pay and allowances of the said troops be the same as directed by the resolve of Congress of April 12th 1785.
That the board of treasury make the necessary provisions of Clothing and rations from time to time at such places as the secretary at war shall judge necessary.