Citizenship, Preparedness

21 August 1863 – The cost of non-resistance

© 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Today is August 21, 2013. 150 years ago, Major William “Bloody Bill” Anderson led his raiders into Lawrence, Kansas, and committed murder and mayhem on the civilian population although the killing was limited, for the most part, to males of military age—remembering that in 1863, young en as young as twelve were found in the military service of both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America.

About 10 am, William Clark Quantrill, Anderson’s “commander,” arrived in town, ate breakfast, gave orders to spare a hotel where he had once resided, and left. This was an irregular band or conglomeration of bands of raiders and command structure was sometimes confusing, but Bill Anderson had loose command.

What had happened in Lawrence that I find disturbing is that armed resistance was rare and sporadic. A Colonel Bullene and two of his sons were on leave. When raiders rode up to the Bullene residence, they were greeted with gunfire and decided to go elsewhere. There was a farmer named Levi Gates who grabbed his muzzle loader and went hunting and got two or three raiders before being cut down.

Three weeks before the raid the New England contingent among the city fathers had decided that the militia weapons would be “safer” in a central armory than in homes—anyone who thinks this bit of information did not get back to Quantrill and company needs a reality check.

It is not that the city did not know about the possibility of a raid. On 21 May 1856, the Sheriff of Douglas County, Samuel Jones, sacked the city to destroy free state and abolitionist newspapers and the Free State Hotel. However, the lessons of vigilance fade in time.

A personal note: My family were of the New England Puritan culture. When I went to a candlelight vigil some years back, there was a reading of names which included a number of Palmers and Griswolds—not ancestors but probably related.

In September of 1863, the Confederate Congress amended the Partisan Ranger Act to apply only to those partisan units operating also as regular cavalry. Neither Quantrill nor Anderson survived the war but a remnant of Anderson’s men in Western Missouri reconstituted themselves as the James-Younger gang.

On February 13, 1866, a group of about a dozen former members of Anderson’s outfit—including Frank James and Coleman Younger—robbed the Clay County Savings Association. This was the first daytime bank robbery during peacetime and netted $60,000 according to the robberies page of For the next ten years, the James-Younger gang was unstoppable in Missouri.

On September 7, 1876, the gang ventured into “Yankee” territory again. This time it was Northfield, Minnesota. This time, however, there was armed resistance. Townspeople grabbed weapons and the gunstore handed out new Winchesters. Frank and Jesse James managed to escape through the Dakota territory and got back to Missouri—the armed response and ensuing manhunt resulted in death or incarceration of most of their confederates. The total take was $26.70 because they took the word of the acting cashier that there was a time lock on the safe.


Goodbye federalism

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

As I have been re-reading Madison’s notes as edited by Solberg I have picked up on some details that the 23 year old college senior (slow learner) missed. In fact, I would recommend a re-read of a lot of stuff as an adult—you’d be amazed at what holds up and what does not.

But I digress—as most of my friends and relative note…often. Reading Madison’s notes on the federal convention reveals a lot. Many of the debates are still unsettled from day one. What are we as a nation. Do we have a general, national government or a federal republic? I can argue it both ways as my old hero Harold Fatzer did on occasion when he was chosen (by rotation) to write a majority opinion against which he had voted—his majority was solid and well thought out but his dissent was masterful, logical and chiding of the majority. I can write a legal paper on the textual federalism of the Constitution. I fervently support a federal republic and believe the national government has done more to destroy than protect.

I am writing this about the fact and not the law. The Constitution of the United States is regarded as antiquated. Franklin D Roosevelt wrote to Samuel B. Hill, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on July 6, 1935, stating, “I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation.” I did not find a quote for his reference to the Constitution as a “quaint 18th century document,” but the sentiment fits with his attitude toward Congress and the Supreme Court. And I would posit that most in elective office agree.

What Hamilton and a number of people at the Convention preferred was a national government—some went as far as to propose the elimination of states. At that point even Madison was in favor of a stronger central government than he was after persuasion by Jefferson during ratification. The argument was that the states were a roadblock to a strong (read militarily powerful) nation. And of course the states were a hindrance to commerce—actually California does not recognize the commerce clause when it comes to firearms and the Ninth Circuit says fine.

If I end up interspersing current events with this it is that the same forces are at work today and this is about where we are. There is no provision in the Constitution for a national police force. The federal government has 150,000 “law enforcement” personnel which essentially constitute a standing army within our borders while the natural defense of society—the militia of the people—is further infringed. George Mason who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights wrote in Section 13: “That a well-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” The Department of Homeland Security has become a power unto itself and has voided much of what is left of federalism. Does this bother the electorate—hint, the candidates are both believers in national government. As Clinton and Bush gave up their defense of their gubernatorial powers when they arrived at the juncture of New York and Pennsylvania Avenues, so too will Romney if elected.

The arguments ranged back and forth on the merits of democratic election versus a republic. And at the Convention, there was a compromise. We are told today by those who wish a more powerful and intrusive government that compromise is not a bad thing. The Senate was to be selected by the legislatures of the states as a bone to the republicans. The fear was that a complete democracy would endanger the rights of all. As the growth of democracy gained power in the 19th Century, the Progressives manipulated the Populists into assenting to their power grab and the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913 leaving the Senate of the United States unaccountable to those states they represent.

The situation we are in now—a national, central and unaccountable government—is not a failure of democracy but rather the natural consequence of democracy. It arises out of a public school system which has, as its primary mission, the indoctrination of the population in the current political system. This sets them up to accept the demagoguery they became acquainted with in school. Unfortunately the progressives have control of education regardless of who holds the government through the NEA and AFT.

The document remains but the reality is different. The courts and Congress cannot control the Executive because they do not have the will. This is not a new phenomenon of the Clinton-Bush-Obama years. Andrew Jackson once said, “Mr Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

More quotes:

“I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate about me.” Theodore Roosevelt whose 1912 campaign made suggestions about the need to revise the Constitution to give the central government more power.

““The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit; and if Congress be overborne by him, it will be no fault of the makers of the Constitution, – it will be from no lack of constitutional powers on its part, but only because the President has the nation behind him, and the Congress has not.” Woodrow Wilson who believed there was a “transcendent constitution” that superseded the dead written document.

So we are here with a national rather than a federal government that Republicans and Democrats alike are comfortable with.


An educational challenge – history

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Okay, we all know that Andrew Jackson sent Lord Packenham packing at New Orleans. And we have all been told it was irrelevant because the treaty had been signed.

But was it? A victory by Packenhams forces would have given King George control of one of the most important ports in North America.

I know that high school a students love challenges.  Here are issues to explore.

Several questions arise. Could Britain have formed an alliance with Texas and Mexico? Could this have split the United States at the Mississippi River? Would a British territory have impacted slavery in providing a quick and sure refuge? How long would it have been before the US mounted an attempt to retake the area?

And most important: Can you get a rise out of a high school history teacher with this speculation.

Certain rules need apply. You are limited to looking at it through the mindset of individuals of the time. In other words, you cannot create a fact situation that did not exist—such as the idea that the South was fighting to control the United States as in Kevin Willmott’s film, CSA, Confederate States of America. You need to explore Britain’s imperial policy, the ability of the United States having lost their National Army. Would Parliament support a new land based effort?

Education, Free Society

Demons under the bed

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.


Back in the 1950s, I remember the Civil Defense drills as we feared the Red Menace.  We also had a teacher who disappeared from the school after it was relayed to a parent that she was teaching socialism–she would have fit right in in NYC.  It became apparent that our air raid drills–get under the desk–were pretty ineffective.  I saw it boiled down to a simple formula we have all seen:  “In case of air raid, kneel under your desk, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”

We have real threats to our existence.  I watched in 1993 as the Kaw River played with the top of the dam in Lawrence as if it were Tinkertoys(tm).  China is not going to invade, but they are a superpower to be dealt with and they finance hot spots when it is in their interest to do so.  And back in 2011, Osama bin Laden’s folks shot their wad on the World Trade Center with assistance and planning from German professionals.  So we created the Quaeda threat to fill the place of the Soviet menace.  And we clamped down on the whole society–thus responding as a terrorist hopes the target nation responds.

In the search for threats (and therefore continued funding) the Department of Homeland Security has defined (with the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center) domestic terrorism–we used to call it criminal syndicalism.  It has been around since the beginning of the Republic.  And it has been dealt with by law enforcement and state militias (see my piece on the well regulated militia…-of-definition).     

ABC has purchased a demonizing drama called Founding Fathers for release sometime this fall. As a drama it is one of those infiltrator-provocateur flicks in which the good guys (FBI) stop a plot by evil militiamen. It involves a Donnie Brasco character.

The film is roughly based on the Hutaree Militia case in Michigan and Indiana which involved an FBI “informant” and a group of millinialists who were armed. Informants for Federal agencies are low level criminals who are offered leniency for cooperation—which means bigger fish. If there are now bigger fish they go after a show. One problem with informants is that there is no such thing as a clean snitch and the informant’s testimony fell apart.

Filmmakers are not bound by rules of evidence, nor, for that matter, truth. Michael Moore has found the secret that if you are funny enough and outrageous in your approach it does not matter if you use facts. And the purpose of the story is to be compelling enough to demonize a certain group. At present the powers that be see a threat from the preparedness movement as an excuse for stricter controls on the population.

Neither the Aurora shooter nor the Phoenix shooter have been able to fit the propaganda needs of the Administration and the Hutaree were acquitted and the judge ordered their arms to be returned. This judge was less compliant with the power structure than the judge in the Davidian cases. That Judge initially dismissed the charges of use of weapons in commission of a federal crime, because the jury acquitted them of the two federal charges, which convictions were necessary element to the crime. The Clinton Justice Department convinced him otherwise.

So the movie has to be good. A demon is necessary to justify expenditures and expansions. The Department of Homeland Security is a program that was recommended after the 1993 after the truck bombing of the World Trade Center but did not get Congressional approval. It contains two constitutional agencies, Customs and the Border Patrol, and one constitutional uniformed service, the Coast Guard. These three agencies belong properly under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury. The immigration services belong to State although they were for a time in Justice. Otherwise we had the Federal Emergency Management Agency, formerly in Agriculture, and the Transportation Security Administration, formerly handled by airports and airlines with private security.

From news reports on procurement DHS is planning a significant increase in law enforcement personnel. A major move to secure all movie theaters would mean more personnel. Customs and Border Patrol are out because of their missions. FEMA also is not appropriate. This leaves TSA. TSA, by the nature of its duties is not a law enforcement agency—many of its employees do not meet the standards required for employment as law enforcement officers. So a big threat will be required for deployment beyond the current mission. And the Administration is not above creating threats—they are currently attempting to destabilize governments in Syria and Iran having succeeded in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

A bit of history to executive histrionics: In the run up to World War I the Wilson Administration was provided an intercepted, and probably forged, document from from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to the German Minister to Mexico, von Eckhardt. Said document was allegedly a proposal urging Mexico to make war on the United States. This was published by the Administration on March 1, 1917 to create popular support for US involvement in a European War. Further the sinking of and armed merchant vessel, the Lusitania, was broadly publicized as the sinking of a passenger ship. The German Navy had posted in the New York Times that the Lusitania was carrying munitions and was a “lawful target.”

Going back earlier, the explosion of a boiler on the battleship Maine was used to obtain a declaration of War on Spain in 1898. Acting Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt had already, without President McKinley’s knowledge or permission, dispatched Dewey to Manila. In other words Hearst, Pulitzer and Theodore Roosevelt plunged the United States into an unnecessary war. It was an extremely popular war, but unnecessary and quite possibly dangerous to the course of history.

Unless the film works, the only recourse of the Obama Administration is the only thing left is a 2011 report entitled Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States 1970 to 2008. This was done by a University of Maryland institute and published by the Department of Homeland Security (Science and Technology/Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division). The conclusion seems to be (this was more soporific than Marx’s Capital) that anyone with an agenda they feel passionately about is a potential terrorist. There is a bow to the Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an amalgam of reports on groups, some of which may be accurate. In other words, the planners are left to pick their targets.

And in that last statement may be the answer. Policy planners are trained to perceive all challenges to power as threats. And the decision makers regard the mandarins or at least those mandarins in power as being right. If this last statement sound a bit Chinese it is because the Mandarinism of Chinese rulers has transferred to the West. It is the same principle.

So what George Mason considered the proper defense of a free state (and has so worked in Switzerland for more than six centuries) is now a threat to a “democratic” society.



Small Arms Treaty — an open assault on our rights

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl  Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Within two weeks, President Obama is set to sign the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The anti-gun movement is awaiting ratification to begin the disarmament of the American People. At present more than 60 Senators are leaning toward ratification of this treaty and the President is leaning on the rest. This is a grave moment because the ultimate sovereignty of the United States ultimately boils down to the ability of the people to repel invasion.

We are quietly celebrating what we call the War of 1812 which James Madison stumbled into. It was the only time a foreign power invaded the United States and burned the government buildings to the ground. It was not the scattered national army, but the Maryland Militia who convinced Admiral Cochrane that the British did not want a war of attrition.

Since 1913 the government has been attempting to consolidate power in Washington as part of a consolidation of national powers under an international body. In 1919 the Senate wisely rejected the Treaty of Versailles (actually the Treaty of Paris signed at Versailles) which placed severe controls on Germany that made life miserable and gave rise to Hitler’s National Socialist movement. This treaty was a bad thing and would not have stopped Hitler even had the United States joined.

After World War II, the mood changed and there was a consensus that the world needed a new international organization. Senator Robert Taft opposed this as an entangling alliance and warned that we would regret this. The U.S. Senate ratified the Charter and the United States joined the nation. At the motion of the Soviet Union, the headquarters was located in New York City.

The location has an upside and a downside. The United States may keep an eye on the goings and comings of foreign diplomats. The high cost of living in NYC may discourage smaller nations from sending too large a delegation. The downside is that it essentially doubles the number of spies with diplomatic immunity and draws heavily on both local and national assets for security.

A disproportionate percentage of UN funding comes from the US, which was, in the latter half of the 20th Century, a great engine of wealth. The US is no longer that mighty engine and is “obligated” to the same level of support and threatened by General Assembly if it does not support organizations like UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The interests of UNESCO are contrary to the interests of the United States and yet it dictates curricula to the US Department of Education which in turn dictates curricula to the states. The goal is a society indoctrinated in a world view inimical to our own system and history.

Reagan properly cut off US funding for UNESCO, but under Clinton, this country went crawling back apologizing—Clinton also kow-towed at the Western Gate after the Massacre at Tienanmen Square. The whole outlook has been “international.” The Clinton administration signed the Kyoto accords after the Senate voted 95-3 to reject the terms. He also signed the International Criminal Court treaty but never submitted it to the Senate.

Both Bush Administrations were also international in outlook, especially when justifying military adventures.

In the history of the United Nations, UN Peacekeeping troops have a spotty record. In Katanga, the UN Peacekeepers support the Communist leaning Central government of Zaire against the Western leaning Katangan government of Moise Tshombe. In Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) the UN oversaw an election which was won by Bishop Abel Musarewa and Josiah Gummede. The Marxist party of Robert Mugabe stayed at war and the UN, at the insistence of US Ambassador Andrew Young sided with Mugabe and the next election was rigged. Then there was Angola where the Marxist government held power only with the assistance of Cuban “volunteers.” Dr Jonas Savimbi’s pro Western UNITA party held out until George H.W. Bush, in order to curry favor with the UN, pulled support from Savimbi.

During the Rwandan Genocide the primary weapons were machetes. Belgian UN peacekeepers gave shelter to 2000 disarmedTutsis in a school with Hutu Power people outside. Everyone outside were Hutu. The Belgian troops left and the slaughter began.

So now, President Obama is asking us to trust that a UN technical treaty will not have a significant impact on Constitutional rights, namely the right to keep and bear arms. Meanwhile his lackeys have assured the Brady Campaign that it will. Kleptocrat and former Secretary General Kofi Anan has praised the treaty for disarming citizens.

This is a treaty about centralized power, about making the world safe for dictators.

I am of the opinion that if there is a conflict between a treaty and the Constitution itself, the Constitution prevails. We unfortunately have some justices on the Supreme Court who value the consensus of International Law over a written (not “living”) Constitution.

Just in from Senator Moran’s office: Senator Moran and 50 others oppose the treaty if it will interfere with Second Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, Kurt Nimmo over at Infowars,com has, through his sources, obtained a draft of the proposed treaty. The language specifies international trade, but this is no problem for the O-Team. In all gun ban legislation, the interstate commerce clause is invoke with the additional language stating that since intra-state transfers may affect interstate commerce they are also reguliated. I have no doubt that the progressives will attempt to clamp down on domestic transfers.

This will include:

  • Reimposition of the 1994 assault weapon ban. There will be no grandfather clause on magazines or weapons in the possession of the population.
  • All private transfers of firearms will have to go through registration.
  • All reloading equipment and components will be registered.
  • Military ammunition will be prohibited to “civilians.” NOTE: The only non-civilians in the criminal justice system are those who are in a custody status and have not had their civil rights restored. Military ammunition includes: .45ACP, .45 S&W (a cowboy action load), 9mm Parabellum, .30-30, .30-06. 6.5mm Swedish, 7×57 Mauser, 8×57 Mauser, .308 Winchester, 7.62 NATO, 7.62 rimmed Imperial, .223 Remington, 5.56NATO, 7.62×39 Combloc, 5.45×39 Combloc and numerous other rounds.
  • Black powder weapons will fall under registration.

Realize that the 51 Senators opposing the treaty will be under extreme pressure from the White House and remember that we expected the Arms Reduction Treaty to go down in defeat.

Free Society

When will they ever learn?

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl – Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Bill Press, California Democratic hack and commentator is embarrassed by the National Anthem because of its “military jargon” and the fact that it spans two octaves. He has no clue as to the origin of the anthem or the significance of that origin. He obviously does not follow and has not read my post Flag of Defiance from 25 April.

Let me put it bluntly. Had not Admiral Cochrane decided to break contact, the King’s forces would have swarmed the States with enough troops and enough glory hunting generals like Robert Ross that the lamp of freedom would be extinguished.

The Star Spangled Banner is not about war and armies. It is a tribute to militia standing up to invasion and prevailing against the major power in the world. This embarrasses those who believe in an all powerful central government because it strikes at the premise of the national army. It talks about free men, not mercenaries or conscripts. And it is not limited to this nation but to the free standing against empire—how subversive.

Mr Press is certainly entitled to his opinion, as flawed by illogic and ignorance as it is.

Citizenship, Education, Free Society, Preparedness

“Well-regulated Militia” in search of Definition

This piece appeared in my now-defunct newsletter POST1791 with my copyright(C) Earl L. Haehl 2011.  This may be printed in its entirety provided full attribution is given.  Book rights remain reserved.

The term, “well-regulated militia” is one of the most misunderstood in the Constitution of the United States. The opponents of firearms ownership tie the bearing of arms to participation in a “state militia” which is regulated by acts of the legislature and finds itself defined as the National Guard. In some of my earlier writings I have discovered that I at one point subscribed to that interpretation having been influenced by my eighth grade US history teacher. Why Madison used this phrase instead of quoting the Virginia Declaration of Rights language is one of those mysteries probably best explained by his tendency to compromise.

As a cadet I was subjected to a manual known as FM 22-5 Drill and Ceremonies and spent several hours a week engaged in close order drill, with and without weapons. The repetition trained my muscles to respond to the point that when my son showed up with a surplus Garand I immediately did inspection arms, closed the weapon, returned to order arms and did the seventeen count silent manual. I just sort of got caught up in the spirit of the thing and what I had not done in 30+ years came back like riding a bike. Now, if I could just see targets like I did back then.  We were taught that this would teach us to obey orders and watching the drill team was impressive as they moved in precision to sharp commands. I was not on the drill team for the same reason that I tended to avoid school dances which is that I was much more comfortable with a slide rule than with my feet but I continued to drill as I was assigned.

The training taught us to face right, left, oblique right, oblique left, and rear. We also learned to march in formation in those same directions. We marched in quick time and double time and learned that you march out of step on bridges so as not to create the vibrations that cause the bridge to give way. We did not learn the slow ceremonial march which burial details use in ceremonies. Our step was thirty inches which made an equilateral triangle with my 30 inch inseam. And we marched crisply, each cadet moving in concert with the rest. The was called regular pace. FM 22-5 has a lineage that goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War Drill Manual which brings us to the meaning of it all.

The way it happened is this. The Kings soldiers were regular, disciplined, full time soldiers—the thin red line of literature. They would march compactly into the field, break into two lines, the front kneeling, the rear standing. With the Enfield Brown Bess musket, they were able in an efficient amount of time to begin laying alternate volleys of fire to the point they could fire up to six volleys a minute. This made the regulars a killing machine.

The hapless colonials, on the other hand tended to walk onto the field, line up and sort of fire at will. This was not a killing machine but a bunch of slow moving targets. Little wonder that during the early years of the Revolution the Colonial victories were few and they amounted to guerrilla raids in lesser populated areas, and the occasional picking off of a few red-coated troops on the march. Contrary to what the militia advocates say when knocking back a Bud, the Pennsylvania long rifle did not exist in sufficient numbers to make a difference except on the frontier. They were slow to load and had to be fitted by hand—the British had stifled industry in the colonies.

Enter the Prussian! In 1777 the Compte St Germain introduced Dr Franklin to an out of work Prussian aristocrat named Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben who styled himself as a Lieutenant General and a baron. Von Steuben was neither a baron nor a general officer and had a checkered past, but Franklin engaged in a policy of don’t-ask-don’t-tell and sent the Prussian to General Washington with a letter of introduction.  Washington made  Steuben a major general and put him in charge of turning colonials into soldiers. If any European army was a match for the redcoats it was the Prussian.  In fact, the British and Prussians were reluctant to engage each other preferring war with the French or Austrians. To do this  Steuben wrote the Revolutionary War Drill Manual and began training sergeants—an accomplishment that has imprinted FM 22-5 and the drill sergeant on my non-military brain.

Thus began a slow building, unit by unit, of a colonial army. While some on the frontier had some experience fighting the hit and run attacks of Indians and reciprocating those attacks, the folks on the coast where the fighting was heaviest were not as proficient. Also, contrary to the views of some of my friends who watch a lot of movies, experience in low intensity conflict does not translate to fighting against a real army.

In the Carolinas, Francis Marion provided a hit and run diversion for Tarlton and Cornwallis. This gave General Greene time to move his army into position. The song goes, “Corwallis led a country dance, the like was never seen, sir/ Much retrograde and much advance, and all with General Greene, sir.” The day came when, as the King’s Regulars approached, Col Dan Morgan instructed the untrained militia to fire two rounds and retreat on command. The King’s troops marched into the clearing, the militia fired two volleys and retreated. The redcoats, sensing an opportunity to pursue and slaughter, broke ranks to do so. They pursued as far as the next clearing where Morgan’s “regulars” were waiting with their own Brown Bess and Charleville muskets, in a formation capable of firing up to six volleys a minute. The rout turned out to be the other direction. It was happening all over the colonies. This particular rout lasted a good distance as Lord Cornwallis kept retreating from Green to a position where he found himself confronted by General Washington’s regular army at a place called Yorktown. It had taken five and a half years since von Steuben’s arrival but the colonials were going head to head with some of the finest soldiers and mercenaries in the world.

This is not to denigrate other factors such as the length and inadequacy of supply lines or the effects of the nascient navy on disrupting the seaways. But it was not until there was a well-regulated army that the victories began coming.

So when the anti-federalists clamored for a Bill of Rights they were armed with language drafted by George Mason. Section 13 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights reads as follows:

SEC. 13. That a well-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Madison was also aware of Alexander Hamilton’s objection to a general, undisciplined militia on the grounds that they would be ineffective. For this reason the final language used the term well-regulated militia. The idea was that citizens would gather on the green and drill on a regular basis after which they would repair to the pub for fellowship. This unorganized militia was to be the basis of defense. While this may sound somewhat naïve and archaic, it was a response to having a standing army in the midst of the population to enforce the will of an oppressive government, remembering that these amendments came from the anti-federalist faction.

The Militia Act of 1792, Passed May 8, 1792, providing federal standards for the organization of the Militia was an attempt to standardize the requirements of citizens with the ideal being a musket in every dwelling. The first section of this act reads:

I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. And it shall at all time hereafter be the duty of every such Captain or Commanding Officer of a company, to enroll every such citizen as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of 18 years, or being at the age of 18 years, and under the age of 45 years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by the proper non-commissioned Officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.

This is a fairly comprehensive detail of what Congress wanted. As a practical matter it was never enforced and militiamen, when they did show up for call, brought what they had. Quakers and Anabaptists were exempted and the Act was finally replaced by the National Guard Act of 1900 which created the structure we operate under today.

During the undeclared naval war with France, Hamilton served as John Adams’ general-in-chief and formed a small national army. But Hamilton was unfortunately not around in 1814 when “his” regular army was routed from the national capital and the redcoats made the assessment that the defenders of Baltimore were merely militia. As the song goes. “O thus be it ever where free men shall stand, between their loved homes and the War’s desolation….” The militia prevailed because they drilled like Prussians and they deployed firepower like Prussians.

So, should everyone arm themselves and train under FM 22-5? I know there was a version when my son was in basic training in 1989. But the answer is probably not close order drill—how do you do a manual of arms with some of these weapons. Even when I did the cadet thing in the early sixties we marched because it looked good to the community and gave the appearance of leadership while we studied how to win World War II. The current high school cadet programs do close order drill and “leadership” training with the occasional recruitment pitch. Nor was it the marksmanship training that is critical. It was the occasional field maneuvers that went with instruction in small unit tactics.

The technology of warfare has changed since 1783. The idea is the same but the regular movements now involve armor, cover, concealment and firepower. There is even a new rifle that does not need to be aimed directly in development. And there is use of remotely controlled drones. I remember an interview done with General of the Army Omar Bradley in the late sixties, early seventies time period. He was asked whether the Air Force and missile programs had made the Army obsolete. What he said was that unless Infantry has actually occupied ground you have not achieved the mission.

A note here: firepower is a term used in small unit tactics regarding the concentration of fire from multiple sources, not the number of rounds in a particular magazine. The volleys of the redcoats were firepower. The rifled muskets at Anteitam were capable of causing more casualties in four hours then all the modern full auto weapons in Afghanistan since 2002.

Therefore, a well-regulated militia is an armed and well-trained society. While there are those who say modern armies, etc, have made the militia obsolete, I would point out that the decision by the Japanese not to invade the mainland United States was based on the perception of a fully armed population and the experiences they had in the Aleutians with the native population who were armed with .30-30 hunting rifles.

A note here on my qualifications to write this article. In addition to study of the history of conflict and degree in English, I do have a law degree and took coursework in Constitutional Law from Lawrence Velvel and Paul Wilson. I also learned to read from the same sources as late eighteenth century politicians, namely the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.