Yorktown did not end the war. Only a small division had been taken. Our army had at no time been able to force the British from the Continent. Still luxuriating in New York, Charleston, and Savannah, were almost three times as many of the enemy as those lost by Cornwallis.
Washington had to husband his strength. Of the French, only Rochambeau with a small army remained. Lafayette and De Grasse had sailed for France and the West Indies. The American army was going through the usual stages of depletion. The commander in chief sent Lincoln north to prepare winter quarters for the main army in New Jersey and along the Hudson, and Saint Clair and Wayne south to reënforce Greene.
1781 With these additions Greene came out of summer quarters to start active operations. But the nudity and hunger of his men drove him to negative measures. Now that a great victory had been won the people gave less than ever any thought to the troops. Supplies failed for long periods. The soldiers, forced to live off the near‑by farmer or townsman, simply heightened their unpopularity. Being much of the time without food and clothing, they besides grew loathsome. Oct. 25
1781 Greene wrote that "numbers of brave fellows who had bled in the cause of their country had been eat up with maggots." In a position he took up near Charleston his savage-looking men fared better. But the relief was temporary, for soon one third of his force was reported so naked that the men could not leave their tents and were reduced to such nourishment as they could find or filch.
1781 Although the northern troops had more clothing, they also had more cold. The scarcity of food was about the same. Mr. Comfort Sands, most unsuitably christened, undertook to supply the army. But he supplied it so much according to his own profit that the soldier's appetite was quite overlooked. He would arrange to have the cattle driven into camp just when hunger had reached the limit of endurance. He would make the officers draw rations when it suited his convenience rather than their needs. So the northern camps lived alternately well and poorly according as Sands' caprice satisfied or intensified natural cravings.
1782 In the spring Congress made a scale of rations and pay for officers.1 The major general received the grand sum of $31.60 a month and five rations. The lieutenant received $3.15 a month and one ration. It is interesting to compare these sums with the $1,000 bounty already offered the private for enlisting. In this instance, the money and provisions were to be treated as separate items. If the officer could not draw his rations monthly they were forfeited, for they could not be commuted p81 into money. However, these figures are merely studies in black and white, because the soldier seldom received his pay in any shape.
Parades and reviews, the military exercises of that day, were the constant work of Washington's officers in spite of their penury. The little army of about 6,000 was kept up to as high a state of morale as living conditions would permit because of the expected resumption of activities. The commander in chief's orders abound in appreciation here and condemnation there for some well or badly executed maneuver.
1782 On one occasion he instructs the commandant of artillery, who seems to have been a sort of ordnance officer, to issue ten rounds of blank ammunition per man. Shortly afterward appears, "A Plan for Conducting the Rejoicing on Thursday," the birthday of the Dauphin of France. For this ceremony a great colonnade was built upon the parade ground at West Point. Washington dined at four o'clock in the afternoon with his officers and ladies. All the surrounding garrisons on both banks of the Hudson turned out their troops so that they could "display2 in full view of West Point." A running fire of artillery and musketry was delivered at prearranged signals. After dinner thirteen separate toasts were drunk "and each toast announced by the discharge of artillery." As soon as the thirteenth was quaffed, the officers rose from the table and joined their respective commands. After more musketry and cannonading, "the officers commanding corps with an audible voice" prayed "to God to bless the Dauphin of France." Though such a ceremony seems to be as much a test of capacity as religion, it lent spirit to the troops in their hard life.
1782 That target practice was one of the functions of drill is apparent from one of Washington's observations. Although the light infantry had "performed with great precision," he was "sorry to find . . . that they did not take so good aim as he expected."
The following order will disclose both the pains then taken and the officer responsible for the training.
"Newburgh, June 18, 1782.
"The review of this army by brigades being now completed, the Commander-in‑chief is happy in this opportunity to present his thanks to major general the Baron Steuben, for the indefatigable assiduity and singular attention exhibited in the late inspections and review, and for his eminent services in promoting the discipline of the army on all occasions; and at the same time to express his approbation of the present laudable disposition and pride of corps which seem to be diffused throughout the army. From this spirit of emulation, and a consideration of the amazing contrast between the past and present appearance of the troops, the General anticipates the happiest consequences; but, being persuaded that appearance alone is not sufficient to establish the reputation and ensure the success of our arms, and that frequent and repeated exercise is absolutely necessary to constitute the perfection of discipline, he requests in the most pointed terms, that the commanding officers of divisions and brigades will punctually exercise the troops alternately every other day, in brigade and by detail.
"In the course of these exercises the officers are permitted to vary the maneuvers as time, circumstances and inclination may prompt, provided they do not deviate from the established principles. But, in all cases, the General entreats the officers to pay the most minute attention to the soldier's method of priming and loading, as well as of leveling and taking aim. This is a matter of great consequence; he hopes, therefore, that the utmost pains may be taken to instruct every individual in this essential part of his profession."
Aug. 7, 11
1782 Many means were invented by the higher commanders for the purpose of offsetting the low spirits induced by hunger and raggedness. It was at this time that the "service stripe" or war chevron seems to have had its origin. Any soldier who had served more than three years with "bravery, fidelity and good conduct" was to wear on his left sleeve a stripe "of angular form." If he had served more than six years he was to wear two stripes. All stripes were to be of the color of the "facings" of the corps to which the man belonged.
p83 The hat seemed to be the most difficult article to obtain and the one dearest to the soldier's pride. Those who could get it, cut, cocked it and decorated it according to the regimental design. Those who were without it were in a sorry plight. They had no chance to cut a military figure. Washington placed this deficiency on the part of a certain regiment side by side with the "want of exactness in performing . . . maneuvers" due to "the badness of their position in the mountains."
1782 As to insignia of rank, worsted shoulder knots were prescribed for noncommissioned officers. The sergeant was to have two, one on each shoulder, whereas the corporal was to have only one on the right shoulder. For officers, Washington had recommended to the army two years previously that major generals wear two epaulets with two stars upon each, that brigadiers wear two but have only one star on each, that field officers all alike wear two plain gold epaulets and that captains wear only one on the right shoulder and subalterns one on the left.3 It is likely that before this time officers or men had had little opportunity to comply generally with this order. At this date a nicety and self-respect in dress seem to have accompanied the state of developed discipline, so far as the officer's purse could permit.
But throughout the rank and file it was most difficult to obtain a uniform mode of wearing the hair. In those times of dyed wigs and long locks it was a knotty problem to have the hair trimmed and tied in the same manner or the wigs of the same color in any organization. The tonsorial allowance of •two pounds and •one‑half pound of rendered tallow may or may not have succeeded in giving a sleek appearance.
1782 A more suitable organization seems to have been one of the greatest concerns of this year. The artillery, cavalry, sappers and miners were placed upon a more sound basis. The light infantry companies — one in each regiment — were formed into separate battalions. The personnel of these foot troops had been picked with a view to obtaining men of good physique and marching ability who could act as pioneers. Since Steuben had p84 prescribed advance and flank guards for the march, it is likely that these companies performed a great part of reconnaissance duty. Yet other troops helped out in this work because he had been careful to show that men so engaged should be frequently relieved.
1783 Shortly after the separation of the light infantry, Washington ordered a general removal of all troops down the river to Verplanck's Point. The journey was attended with extreme orderliness. The little force disembarked and prepared a clean and well-decorated camp. On the new site were entertained Rochambeau's soldiers who were returning overland from the south and were on their way to New England where they were going to embark for France. Levees and festivities were conducted on a grand scale for over a month. French officers expressed surprise at the good appearance and efficiency of the American soldier whose reputation gained in his undisciplined years was hard now to overcome.
1782 After the national courtesies, the American troops returned to the hills back of Newburgh for another winter. They had become expert in building rude temporary structures. They now made cabins sufficient to hold eight soldiers comfortably and larger ones for noncommissioned officers. They went so far as to have a great assembly hall, called the chapel, where services, courts-martial and public entertainments were held. It is said on good authority that the timbers of these buildings were joined so skillfully that they neither had nor required a nail or other piece of metal.
This, the eighth winter of the war, saw the soldiers as much as ever derided and neglected by the country. Economy was made to bear hardest upon those who had shouldered the burdens of the conflict. The half pay promised to the officers had never been produced. They were humiliated on social occasions. They had received not over one sixth of their pay during the whole Revolution. Their private resources were at an end and their friends were wearied out and disgusted with their repeated applications. They could not invite foreign officers or associates to a meal, so scant was the ration and so wanting any funds. Since nothing had been given them for clothing after 1777 they were constantly chilled by the zero weather and p85 often in the unspeakable hospital. They had waited in the vain hope of relief by Congress. The "deranged officers," who had been squeezed out of the service by the union of small regiments and who had been provided for in no way, oftentimes had to sell their clothing for support or to beg. They were treated by the public as idlers living on the public bounty and were derided by their neighbors as "half‑pay officers." These very leaders who had risked their lives to quell mutinies, who had stood before death and torture in order to make the country safe and independent, were ridiculed and neglected. So great was the public stigma on these men that the word "soldiering" came into use as a synonym of idleness.
If the country had given the continental soldier public honor and had made him independent for the rest of his life it could not have begun to repay him for his services. But when it failed in its promises and even scorned him in public the name of ingrate is scarcely a strong term. As shall later be seen, this attitude is not going to be confined to Revolutionary days.
Under such punishment for having committed the crime of bearing untold misery for one's country, it would not have been criticizable had there been a continuous round of mutiny or even an overthrow of the weak central government. On the contrary, these officers, now disciplined under Steuben's humane régime, decided merely to address those in power with their pleas. The shame lay in their having to beg for that which was their just due.
1782 The Massachusetts officers agreed first to approach their own legislature. Accordingly a committee went to Boston where it was well received and was promised everything by Hancock and Adams. But upon a weak excuse of a private letter from a congressional delegate who discouraged the half‑pay, the matter was postponed indefinitely. Although this action caused more discontent, the officers, following Washington's advice, refrained from resigning. Instead they began to prepare a petition to Congress. Officers of other states were invited by the Massachusetts line to join in the request. Dec.
1782 Accordingly a joint memorial was drawn up. The facts set forth in their conservativeness, simplicity and pathos should have drawn p86 humiliation from an ogre. Jan. 6
1783 When the paper was presented to the central legislative body, the members were inclined to be incensed at the apparent irregularity of such a procedure, Feb. 13
1783 but they conceded the point under pressure and reluctantly referred the matter to a committee. While the decision was still pending, a copy of the King's speech in parliament seemed to indicate peace. Congress then went into a committee of the whole on funds. The army's condition was considered as of no more importance than other questions. So it was attempted to refer the claims of the officers to the states, but the motion failed. March 10
1783 The committee then brought in a report to give five years' full pay, but the proposition was rejected.
1783 At this juncture the famous Newburgh addresses were mailed to Congress by Washington.
These two anonymous tracts had been distributed throughout the camp.4 Their fiery style had the double effect of admiration and conviction. The first one called for a meeting of all the officers on a certain date and implied that plans would be made to resort to force. Washington, who had had his ear to the ground all this time, realized the peril. He issued an order which condemned the anonymous call and postponed the meeting four days. By such action he properly compromised the effect of the document and gained time for reflection. But the author of the first publication embarrassed the commander in chief still further by issuing a second address and stating that Washington's recognition in orders was equivalent to his sympathy.
In the "Chapel" or "Temple" the officers met on the date set by Washington. He himself unexpectedly appearing among them was naturally the first to speak. In that calm dignity so peculiarly his own, he explained how the substance of the addresses appealed to their passion rather than their reason, how his past life would show that he was not indifferent to the interest of the army, and how foolish it would be to sully by one rash act the glory they had already attained. He then called upon them to give "one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue" so that posterity could say, "Had p87 this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection, to which human nature is capable of attaining." Few eyes were dry when he had finished. This magnificent man capped his physical and mental triumphs with the greatest moral victory attainable — the victory "over jealousy, just discontent and great opportunities."
1783 Washington wrote the President of Congress again. This time he enclosed new resolutions of moderation and wisdom made at his advice after the meeting just described. The delegates voted in consequence a commutation of five years' full pay in cash or in six-per‑cent securities at the option of Congress, mainly because they feared to do otherwise. Although this amount was less than satisfaction, the officers were in such need of relief that they had to accept the measure.
The rank and file were in a worse plight. In addition to the sufferings the officers had borne, they had had to build all the quarters and perform other menial tasks without exterior aid. In other words, they had been compelled to carry their own comfort into the wilderness and in return to jeopardize their lives for the savage of the nation.
1783 When Congress announced the cessation of hostilities, the discharge of the men enlisted for the war became a new puzzle. April 19
1783 In the publication of this event to the soldiers Washington was rightly fearful that they could not distinguish between cessation of hostilities and actual declaration of peace. He felt it would be hard to hold them in the service, especially in view of the fact that the Connecticut noncommissioned officers were already claiming half pay. May
1783 To solve the dilemma, Congress promptly put the responsibility on Washington of granting either furloughs or discharges as he chose. And then, as an achievement of great generosity, it permitted the soldiers to keep their arms and accouterments.
Hostilities ceased unexpectedly because of the situation abroad rather than our power. As a consequence neither officer nor soldier foresaw the predicament of either waiting in the service until some future payment should be made or of going home penniless in the hope that he might at some time receive something. When the order for granting furloughs was issued, all appealed to Washington in pathetic frenzy. But
p88 the most he could do was to send a message to Philadelphia urging the immediate issue of the contemplated six‑month certificates of three months' pay. A faint prospect of three months' pay after the half pay promised by Congress and wrung through such misery and self-restraint! But the furlough was too strong a temptation to both soldier and officer so that they left without any pay. Only about a thousand three-year men were retained to watch New York, the only place of British occupancy remaining. In the south the enemy's troops had been withdrawn principally for European political reasons.
1783 So the army went home without even a ceremonious "thank you" from the nation. To this day most of them are unpaid — and will be.
It was the recruits only who mutinied; 280 of them from Lancaster and Philadelphia bloodlessly drove Congress to seek safety at Princeton. Washington sent General Howe, who had suppressed the New Jersey malcontents, to do the same in Pennsylvania. But the affair had already subsided when the regulars reached the scene of difficulty. On account of the uprising 4 men received corporal punishment.
Without further ado the army kept dwindling until Congress ordered its disbandment.
1783 Washington's last general order issued to the troops at Princeton, sent them out into the new democracy with sagacious words of construction. So from their leader within the army they received encouragement but from no one without.
1783 With the one regiment of infantry and two battalions of artillery that remained, the commander in chief later marched into one end of New York while the British under Sir Guy Carleton marched out at the other.
1783 Not long afterward Washington's officers assembled at Fraunces' Tavern to bid him farewell. Gathered in the high-ceilinged room were the infantry officers with their blue cutaway coats faced with white, their white buttons, silver epaulets, black gaiters, and white-braided cocked hats with black plumes; the artillery officers with their scarlet facings, yellow buttons, gold epaulets and yellow-braided cocked hats with black and red plumes; and here and there a general officer in his blue and buff and with stars upon his gold epaulets. p89 Under these picturesque uniforms beat the hearts of true men who loved their commander. For the last time they stood before him who had always been wise and kind. For eight years he had suffered with them all manner of ills. Having formed the habit of trust in such unfailing control, they were about to scatter into a country of doubtful management and cold attitude. Their depression was keen. When in the silence it was necessary for the great man to speak, he tried to advise them; but his voice broke. Filling a wine glass, he gave a simple toast to their happiness, and requested them to take him by the hand. Stifled by emotions they accompanied him to Whitehall Ferry, where they watched his boat until it slowly passed from sight.
1783 At Annapolis he formally resigned his commission to Congress and quietly retired into private life.a
Though Mr. H. G. Wells5 is content with disposing of Washington with the single colorful statement that "he was a conspicuously indolent man," Mr. Green, the great English historian, speaks of him thus:
"No nobler figure ever stood in the forefront of a nation's life. Washington was grave and courteous in address, his manners were simple and unpretending; his silence and the serene calmness of his temper spoke of a perfect self-mastery; but there was little in his outer bearing to reveal the grandeur of a soul which lifts his figure, with all the simple majesty of an ancient statue, out of the smaller passions, the meaner impulses of the world around him. . . . It was only as the weary fight went on that the colonists discovered, however slowly and imperfectly the greatness of their leader: his clear judgment, his heroic endurance, his silence under difficulties, his calmness in the hour of danger or defeat, the patience with which he waited, the quickness and hardness with which he struck, the lofty and serene sense of duty which never swerved from its task through resentment or jealousy, that never through war or peace felt the touch of a meaner ambition, that knew no aim save that of guarding the freedom of his fellow countrymen, p90 and no personal longing save that of returning to his own fireside when their freedom was secured. It was almost unconsciously that men learned to cling to Washington with a trust and faith such as few other men have won, and to regard him with a reverence which still hushes us in the presence of his memory."
After the peace, the discharged soldier or officer went about the country hunting to adjust himself. His occupation was gone, his means were used up, his body was ailing, hurt or emaciated, and his unkempt, ragged appearance brought only gibes from the people. Ex‑soldiers, who had suffered most, died quickly. The remainder went often from town to town in order to find work. Many of the officers in following the example of Greene and Washington had used their private means to finance the war, and were bankrupt. General , who almost single-handed had presented the states with an empire, was deprived of his commission and died in misery and poverty.
Knox, who succeeded Washington, had to continue to disband the remainder of the army
1784 until it numbered less than 700 men. Finally Congress passed this astounding legislation:
1784 "And whereas, standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican governments, dangerous to the liberties of a free people, and generally converted into destructive engines for establishing despotism;
"It is therefore resolved, That recommendations in lieu of requisitions shall be sent to the several States for raising the troops which may be immediately necessary for garrisoning the Western posts and guarding the magazines of the United States, unless, Congress should think it expedient to employ the Continental troops now at West Point in the service aforesaid;
"Resolved, that the commanding officer be and he is hereby directed to discharge the troops now in the service of the United States, except twenty-five privates to guard the stores at Fort Pitt and fifty-five to guard the stores at West Point and other magazines, with a proportionable number of officers, no officers to remain in service above the rank of captain."
p91 How sane men could come to a result so far at variance with the incidents of their own time seems to us inexplicable. Had it not been the "standing" part of the army that had been responsible for the few successes of the Revolution? Had it not been the need of stability that led Washington to say:
"Regular troops alone are equal to the exigencies of modern war as well for defense as offense, and whenever a substitute is attempted it must prove illusory and ruinous. No militia will ever acquire the habits necessary to resist a regular force. The firmness requisite for the real business of fighting is only to be attained by a constant course of discipline and service. I have never yet been a witness to a single instance that can justify a different opinion, and it is most earnestly to be wished that the liberties of America may no longer be trusted, in any material degree, to so precarious a dependence."
Eighty men — the army! Even they, it was specified, were "to guard the stores." Picture them at West Point, all that remained of Alexander Hamilton's battery,6 oiling the trunnions of three and six pounders, mowing grass on the magazines and doing their turn at guard. The army — a few watchmen not even glorified. All the training, all the safeguard that Washington and Steuben had built up with such great care was wantonly tossed aside. But even this sacrifice would not have been so terrible were not hundreds of lives to be lost by the discard.
Congress had, however, indulged in a vague legislation
1784 which called out from the different states for twelve months 700 enlisted men and a proper proportion of officers. An officer from one state, under this law, might command men from another. The purpose of the enactment was to garrison the frontier posts to be evacuated by the British according to the treaty. But this tepid measure was to prove useless.
Hardly a year had elapsed when it was demonstrated that p92 this force could not be raised so as to be effective in the face of so short an enlistment. The Indian depredations were coming on so fast that it was impossible to recruit a new levy every year. And in the meantime frontier settlers were being massacred.
April 1, 7, 12
1785 Accordingly the term of service was extended to three years. The organization was a mixed regiment of 8 companies of infantry and 2 of artillery. The officers were: 1 lieutenant colonel commandant, 2 majors, 8 captains, 10 lieutenants (1 as adjutant, 1 as quartermaster and 1 as paymaster), 10 ensigns, 1 surgeon and 4 surgeon's mates. The highest ranking officer received $82 per month and the private $4.7
1785 General Knox as Secretary of War and Lieutenant Colonel Harmer as commandant were in charge of this regimental army. Although it was the first organization to have the functions of regular troops, it was not so styled. Congress had said that "standing armies were dangerous to a republic" and it was going to stick to its original story in spite of the facts.
Other happenings proved that such a force was insufficient. The British, Spanish, French and Indians on the frontiers, p93 where the foreign trappers had little faith in the new government, made such numerous incursions that the army had to be increased; 1,340 additional noncommissioned officers and privates were authorized, who were to be on the same footing as the previous 700. The whole was to be called a "legionary corps." Of the new men only 2 companies of artillery were ever enrolled. Consequently the entire resistance of the country — less than 1,000 men — was tied to the chain of forts in the northwest and south, and along the coast.
Lonely garrisons dotted the border from Fort Pitt to Vincennes. Great tracts of dense woods full of bear, panther and deer cut the little parties of from 25 to 100 soldiers away from civilization. So wild was the life, so certain the attack of the savage that the officers or men dared not take with them wives or families.
The fort was usually built in stockade form. Its rectangular fence of logs, pointed at the tops and loopholed for the flintlocks and iron and brass cannon, was reënforced at the four corners by blockhouses. The enclosure was usually divided into two parts by a high stockade fence similar to the outer one. In case a blockhouse or other wooden part was burnt or a breach made in the outer fence, the occupants could retreat to one side or the other. The two enclosures contained, on the one hand, the guesthouse and parade — and, on the other, the quarters of the officers and men and the magazines. The supplies were usually placed in the blockhouses.
The officers' quarters were log shacks consisting of two rooms, each one occupied by an officer. Although the commanding officer might have two and a hall, such an assignment was a luxury. The enlisted men huddled together in small barracks for the sake of warmth. With only open fireplaces to heat the buildings, with supplies coming by boat or caravan very occasionally and with the chill of winter and monotony, it is no wonder that rum was popular.
Yet these men with their smart cocked hats, their tight gaiters, their polished cartridge boxes, their clean white belts, their shaven faces and their powdered hair turned out daily for drill, guard mounting and parade as if the eyes of the world were upon them. Every few nights each soldier, muffled p94 in bear and coon skin, watched as a sentry in the unheated blockhouses or at a desolate post outside. The lurking redskin was ubiquitous. A wink of sleep, a tomahawked sentinel and one pine torch well applied meant death to the garrison.
These soldiers had built the fort with their own hands. It was really theirs more than the government's. But not for a moment did they forget their duty to the nation and to each other. Each day there were quantities of fuel to cut, sinks to fill and the policing of every cranny of the inclosure for health's sake. There were drills and parades. But what recreation? Hunting was so dangerous on account of the Indian that often it had to be forbidden. There were no movies, no libraries, no illustrated magazines. Even a book was a rarity. Although few of the men could read and write, a Bible or a letter was soon frayed from excessive fingering. Eating with the same men, seeing the same faces, doing the same chores — imprisoned on the outskirts of one's own country!
Thus the little garrisons carried on in order to keep murder and rape from the contiguous settlers. Every single soldier who could be enlisted and many more were needed on the frontier. There was consequently no foot-loose command with a chance for proper training or for use in defense in the entire country.
1786 Accordingly, in Massachusetts, when dispute over debt arose, Daniel Shays collected some old soldiers of the Revolution, easily dispersed the militia and forced the court to adjourn. With no ready troops to oppose the movement Shays led 2,000 men to the arsenal at Springfield where he was held at bay. It took General Lincoln with 4,000 soldiers raised by the state to disperse Shays' force, after bloodshed and much tumult.
The obsession of universal peace had played its usual part after eight years of unstable equilibrium. Civilization had been torn by what then appeared to be a world war. The wish being father to the belief, it was decided by the public there would be no more resort to arms. Shays' rebellion awakened the states to the realization that the smallest apparent causes can sometimes, presto, be the largest ructions. Because of the current feeling John Adams was actuated to say:
p95 "National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman. . . . The subject has always been near to my heart. The delightful imaginations of universal peace have often amused, but have never been credited by me."
1787 Accordingly the Congress went to the magnificent extreme of allowing the original 700 enlisted men to reënlist for another three years, thus attempting to save transportation by retaining the former troops. The infantry was arranged in a regiment by itself and the artillery was separated into four companies of the same size each as those of the infantry. This military force was the invitation of over three million people for more bloodshed.
Such was the futile provision when the country created its Constitution which made the President commander in chief of the army, and also made Congress responsible for the nation's defense. The actual number of men then in the service was 595. Under the new government the Department of War was established with its secretary whose duties covered military commissions, land grants and naval and Indian, as well as army affairs.
1789 Knox and Harmer were continued in office. Every person enlisted or commissioned was required to take an oath of allegiance. The commissioned officers were appointed by the President and all persons in the army were referred to as "in the service of the United States."
The reaction from the Constitution was first materially felt in the military establishment
1790 when the new strength of the army was placed at 1,216 enlisted men. This law which repealed the provisions of the year before was extensively detailed. It made the length of service three years for officers as well as for the rank and file. It allowed 2 inspectors with "pay and subsistence of captain." It provided that subalterns as adjutants should receive $10 and "Quarter and Pay masters" $5 extra pay per month. It raised the forage for majors and surgeons from $6 to $10, and gave to the enlisted man the following clothing and rations:
"One hat, or helmet, one coat, one vest, two pair of woolen and linen overalls, four pair of shoes, four shirts, two pair of p96 socks, one blanket, one stock and clasp, and one pair of buckles (annually).
"One pound of beef or three quarters of a pound of pork, one pound of bread or flour and half a gill of rum, brandy or whisky (daily).
Two quarts of vinegar, two pounds of soap and one pound of candles (every hundred days)."
It then tore down the whole structure by cutting the pay of the private to $3 per month, and deducting besides $1 for hospital stores and clothing, so that he really received only $2 in cash; then it added a little salve by giving officers wounded or disabled in line of duty a pension of $9 per month, and enlisted men $5.
The entire force was to be organized into 1 infantry regiment of 3 battalions, and 1 artillery battalion. Each battalion was to have 4 companies, 1 major, 1 adjutant, 1 quartermaster and 1 surgeon or surgeon's mate. The infantry company was to consist of 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 musicians and 61 privates. The artillery company was provided with 2 lieutenants instead of a lieutenant and ensign.
Shortly after this law was passed the western settlers were marauded by the Indians aided and abetted by the British. Since the Revolution over one thousand souls in the vicinity of Kentucky alone had perished by arrow and tomahawk. Congress was besieged for aid. But there was yet no army outside the little garrisons scattered on the frontier, and President Washington was powerless to call out a single additional soldier.
1790 Therefore, Governor (General) Saint Clair of the Northwest Territory raised about 1,100 militia which under the system of the time consisted of "old men, boys and untrustworthy substitutes," untrained and undisciplined. The leader chosen by Saint Clair proved to be incompetent and was often drunk. However, General Harmer added 320 regulars to this force superseded in command Saint Clair's choice and led the whole force into the Maumee country. It was not long until one of his detachments was ambushed and 400 of the remainder p97 at the Maumee River had half of its number killed or wounded. What was left of the main force escaped, but the Indians were filled with new courage for murder and rapine so that hundreds of settlers were killed and plundered as a result of the disadvantage. General Harmer was exonerated from blame on account of the poor quality of his troops.
1791 From this affair came the creation of a second regular regiment of infantry. The pay schedule and organization was to be the same as that of the previous regiment, but the strength was to be 50 men less. To this toy army there was added a major general, brigadier general, brigade major, quartermaster and chaplain.8 In addition, levies for six months were allowed to be raised by the President.
Instead of paying the soldier a sum sufficient to get a good type of man, Congress again resorted to the pernicious bounty system, which allowed to each recruit of the regulars $6 and of the levies $3. More pernicious still was the allowance to each recruiting officer of $2 for each new man enlisted by him. Not only was a low type of soldier obtained but desertion and waste were the results as in the Revolution.
In the meantime the ravages of the Miami Indians became so hurtful that General Saint Clair was sent against them. His force was made up of men "purchased from prisons, wheelbarrows and brothels at $2 per month." On his way he built Fort Hamilton (north of Cincinnati) and Fort Jefferson (near Greenville). The levies under this system turned out to be more disgraceful in desertion and disorder than the militia had been.
1791 When the Indians charged at a branch of the p98 Wabash, these untrained men fled through the regulars, whose regimental officers were all killed in trying to stem the tide. General Saint Clair had eight bullet holes in his clothing. An equal force of Indians routed these poor troops, killing 632 and wounding 264 out of about 1,400.
In addition to the above losses another calamity visited the army. The Indians had become bold and arrogant by their success over our impotent troops. As a consequence Lieutenant Colonel Hardin and Major Trueman, sent on a pacific mission to the hostile towns of the Indians, were treacherously murdered.
These disasters again threw Congress into a whirlpool of army legislation, but, as always, too late to prevent disaster.
1792 The lawmakers authorized the recruiting of the existing regiments of infantry up to 960 men apiece. It created 4 more regiments of the same strength, one of which was to consist of 2 infantry battalions and a squadron of 4 troops of light dragoons. Each troop was to be officered by 1 captain, 1 lieutenant and 1 cornet; and each infantry company by 1 captain, 1 lieutenant and 1 ensign. The dragoons were to serve dismounted when so ordered. The pay was made free of all deductions. The monthly cash ranged from $166 for a major general to $3 for a private.
A curious feature was an additional indefinite cavalry force for the frontiers, raised for such periods, with such organization and with such strength as the President might decide. The 3 additional infantry regiments were to be raised or discharged at the discretion of the President.
1792 A little later Congress authorized a maximum of four brigadier generals for the army.
1792 Then came the universal militia law which made every male citizen between 18 and 45 years a constructive soldier. The captain or company commander was to be responsible for the enrollment of every eligible man in his district. Each soldier notified was to equip himself, within six months,
"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 p99 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, accoutered, and provided, when called out to exercise, or into service; except, that when called out on company days exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned officers, shall, severally, be armed with a sword and hanger, and espontoon; and that, from and after five years of the passing of this act, all muskets for arming the militia, as herein required, shall be of bore sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound. And every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition, and accouterments, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions, or sales, for debt, or for the payment of taxes."
Here was a distinct attempt to standardize the calibers of the flintlocks throughout the country. The whole force was to be organized into divisions and brigades. The lower units were to be organized as those of the regular army. One company of "grenadiers, light infantry or riflemen" was to be created for each battalion; and 1 company of artillery and 1 troop of horse, for each division. The commissioned officers were to furnish themselves with good horses of at least fourteen and a half hands high and were to be "armed with a sword, and a pair of pistols, the holsters of which to be covered with bearskin caps." The state adjutant general was to distribute all orders from the commander in chief of each commonwealth.
Then followed the legionary organization promoted by General Knox, secretary of war. The militia comprising the able-bodied men of the entire country were to be divided into 3 corps. The advanced corps was to consist of those between the ages of 18 to 20; the main corps, between 21 to 45; and the reserved corps, between 46 to 60. Of the advanced corps the men under 20 were to receive instruction for thirty days at "annual camps of discipline."
1792 All the regular troops were to become a legion. The authorized 5,120 were to have 4 sublegions. The regiment as an organization p100 was discarded. There was to be no rank intervening between a brigadier general and a major. Each sublegion was to consist of 1,280 men commanded by a brigadier general, and was to be made up of 12 battalions of infantry, 1 battalion of riflemen, 1 company of artillery and 1 troop of dragoons. The whole legion was to be commanded by a major general. The intention was apparently to cut down the number of officers and to avoid the horrid term, "regular army."
The legion for the regulars was to have a short life, but the law and legionary organization for the militia became dead letters almost as soon as enunciated. The states were not penalized for failure to raise troops nor was the soldier for omitting to provide himself with so much equipment. The federal government took no steps to raise or organize this force. But the law is interesting in that it recognized at this early date the principle that every able-bodied citizen should be an active defender of his country. It remained inactive and was often noticed as a pretty statute on the books for over a century, during which time it was to be our only militia law.
The regular army of the borders now extremely pressed by the Indians who were bold and confident from their previous victories. The lives of innocent settlers were being lost while all these sentiments were being written into enactments.
1792 Things came to such a pass that Washington chose Anthony Wayne to organize a force and suppress the rapacious tribes in the west. Wayne arrived at Pittsburg and began a work of discipline and training that was to last almost a year. It was necessary for him to stop and prepare while savage depredations were continuing. May
1793 Although the caliber of recruits was the same as before, he claimed in the next spring to have 2,500 "worthy of being trusted in campaign." Oct.
1793 Moving the legion to what is now Cincinnati he there awaited orders which arrived in time in the fall to let him march to Greenville Dec.
1793 which he named in honor of General Nathaniel Greene. Here he gave his soldiers intensive drill so that later June 30
1794 he was able to send a strong detachment to the scene of Saint Clair's defeat where he built Fort Recovery and repulsed 2,000 Indians with heavy loss. After having been joined by some mounted Kentuckians, he started toward the Maumee towns. His army numbered p101 2,643, all that he could obtain from the 5,120 authorized. July 27
1794 With this comparatively small band he was to combat a greatly superior force of redskins. At the junction of the Maumee and the Anglaise rivers he built Fort Defiance. Aug.
1794 When the Indians refused peace, he went to meet them in the vicinity of Presque Isle.
1794 He disposed his troops with the injunction that they fire once and then drive the Indian from cover with cold steel. The battleground, "Fallen Timber," was a wide path in the woods made by a previous tornado. The twisted trunks and branches embedded in artificial and natural entanglements of brush made an ideal cover for the savages. Even their brilliantly painted faces were hidden. But the hunting shirt and cap of the United States soldier were in evidence. The white, red, yellow and green plumes9 of the sublegions made four separate bands of color in the surrounding foliage. The dragoon with the white horsehair crest of his brass helmet flying in the wind charged the fierce fire without wavering. The men with their bayonets, the company officers with their short sabers, the field officers with their longer ones and the trooper with his still longer horseman's sword hunted the Indian out of his hiding place and ran him through or simply ran him. For these officers in their half-boots and these men of the odd numbered sublegions in black wigs and even numbered sublegions in white, were drilled and disciplined troops. The savage afterwards stated that he "could not stand up against the sharp ends of the guns." Neither could he face soldiers who by time and practice had assimilated precision and obedience. The victory was complete, the Indians losing at least twice as many as the Americans. As a consequence, the frontier settler lived in peace for a long time.
The other regular troops at this period were scattered as follows:
|398||at posts on the upper Ohio.|
|73||in the Southwest Territory.|
|p102 146||in Georgia.|
|369||at seacoast fortifications and recruiting rendezvous.|
1794 During the spring of this year Congress had made several feeble laws affecting the army. It authorized one or two more arsenals in addition to the ones at Carlisle and Springfield. May 9
1794 Harper's Ferry was chosen. To the legion of the United States it added 764 men, with a proper proportion of officers, to be known as the corps of artillerists and engineers. After absorbing the 4 companies of artillery already in the service, the corps was to consist of 4 battalions of 4 companies each, to be commanded by a "lieutenant colonel, commandant." June 7
1794 The company was to be officered by 1 captain, 2 lieutenants and 2 cadets. A cadet was to have the pay, clothing and rations of a sergeant. An extra ration of "four ounces of beef, two ounces of flour, a half a gill of rum or whisky" was to be tendered to the frontier soldier.
1794 While Wayne was pursuing the Indians, universal peace at home was disturbed by the whisky insurrection. After riots, not without bloodshed, 7,000 men in Pennsylvania refused to disperse at the order of the President. It was necessary, because there was no regular force, to call upon the governors of Pennsylvania and the surrounding states for militia. Although the troops of the Keystone State could not be collected on account of sympathy with the rioters and were therefore useless, the militia of some other states succeeded finally in dispersing the malcontents and saved the nation further embarrassment. No one has ever answered the question, "What would the President have done had all the states refused?"
1795 The insurrection led to another series of acts featuring the army. A premium was placed on the reënlistment of the trained soldier by raising the monthly bounty, clothing and pay allowance to $9 for a sergeant major down to $6.66 a private, gunner or bombardier. When the cavalry officer or private furnished his horse, arms and accouterments he was to receive 40 cents a day in addition to his pay, and when the enlisted man furnished his own rations and forage he was to receive 25 cents a day. The militia who had gone with Wayne were to be included in this scale. The pay in cash for all p103 grades of enlisted men was to be raised $1 per month, in addition to an initial bounty of $16 for those who reënlisted, and $14 for recruits. Congress was beginning to realize it must pay decently for decent men, but it continued the wasteful bounty system.
1795 The legion was to be completed to 4,800 enlisted men,10 all enlistments to be terminated at the whim of the government, although three years was specified. The pay allowances and rations were to continue at practically the same rate. In addition to their pay all persons in the service were to receive a definite number of rations: a major general 15, a brigadier 12, a major 4, and so on down to a private, who received 1.
1796 Scarcely had this legislation been carefully enacted before the legion was abolished. The army from then on was to consist of 4 regiments of infantry, 2 companies of light dragoons and the corps of artillerists and engineers as already organized. Instead of the previous 5 legionary generals, there were to be but 2, a major general with two aides and a brigadier general. Three legionary generals had to be either "deranged" or demoted two grades.11 The pay, rations and forage remained about the same.
This act also provided that the President must confirm court-martial sentences which in time of peace included the death penalty or the "dismission" of an officer.
1797 The next year a Judge Advocate, to be taken from the line and to have extra pay and rations, was for the first time provided. The office of major general was abolished. A quartermaster-general and a paymaster-general were also created, who with the Judge Advocate and brigadier general were to form a "General Staff."12 The pay of lieutenants and ensigns was raised and officers commanding separate posts were to have their rations doubled. Officers "deranged" by the previous act were to be given six months' pay and subsistence.
1798 Hoyt's Treatise on Military Art, published "according to act of Congress," presented a set of drill regulations for the p104 cavalry. The author frankly stated that the manual was an adaptation to the mounted troops of the principles of Baron von Steuben. The regiment was divided into 2 squadrons of 4 troops each. But Hoyt improved on Steuben by having the cadence in the manual the same as the intervals between parts of the command rather than a "second of time." Throughout the treatise the dragoon is armed with sword and pistol.
1798 The imminent trouble with France caused the legislators to increase the corps of artillerists and engineers by 3 regiments, to be enlisted for five years. A company was to be officered by 1 captain, 2 lieutenants and 2 cadets, and otherwise to be made up of 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 42 privates, sappers and miners, 10 artificers, and 2 musicians.
The harbors were to be thoroughly defended. The sum of $1,150,000 was voted to erect and improve fortifications, to purchase cannon, small arms, and military stores; and for the hire, purchase and employ of foundries and armories virtually as the President saw fit. This provision was an early intimation of the lavishness of the country with regard to war material. Quite in contrast was the attitude toward discipline and training. The comprehension of their value has always been awkward for the American mind.
1798 In the event of war the President was authorized to call out 10,000 enlisted men for three years at a bounty of $10, to organize and officer this force about as he chose and to appoint a lieutenant general at $250 a month, who was allowed 4 aides and 2 secretaries. The Executive was empowered to appoint an inspector general with rank of major general and an adjutant general with rank of brigadier. Soldiers were exempted from all "personal arrests for any debt or contract" during their service. This army was never called out.
1798 The next law voted 30,000 stands of arms to be sold to the governments of the respective states.
1798 Since war was apparently at hand, a frenzy of legislation took place. The regular infantry regiment was increased by 3 extra staff officers, an adjutant, a quartermaster and a paymaster who had heretofore been selected from the existing lieutenants. A surgeon and 2 mates were added to the regiment. Its companies were increased by 2, each one consisting of 1 p105 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 1 musician and 60 privates. The regimental staff was made up of 1 sergeant major, 1 quartermaster sergeant and 2 senior musicians. Three brigadier generals having been subtracted when the legion was abolished were now again authorized.
Twelve additional regiments of infantry and 6 troops of dragoons were to be enlisted for, and during, "the existing differences between the United States and the French Republic." A regiment of light dragoons — the first regiment of horse provided for by the new government — was to be formed from the 2 old troops and 6 new ones. The bounty was $12 for these men. The volunteers were never called out, because it had already become customary in the United States to be engaged in war before training could begin.
1799 The first indication of a medical establishment was given in Congress the following year. A physician general, an apothecary general, a purveyor and "a competent number of hospital surgeons" were authorized.13
The war scare still being prevalent, a contemporary law provided, in case of imminent war "between the United States and a foreign European power," to raise additionally 24 regiments of infantry, a regiment and battalion of artillerists and engineers and 3 regiments of cavalry. The complete nullification of this grand paper force was that it was not required to serve outside its particular state for more than three months.
1799 The organization of the regular infantry and cavalry regiments was changed again by adding a cadet to each company and by making a regiment consist of 2 battalions of 5 companies p106 each. The artillery was changed to 4 battalions of 4 companies each with 2 cadets per company. The titles of ensign and cornet were abolished and replaced by second lieutenant. The office of colonel did not yet exist. The pay for a private was raised to $5 and one ration; for a cadet to $10 and two rations; for a major of cavalry to $55 and four rations; for a major of infantry to $40 and three rations; and for a lieutenant colonel $75 and six rations. An allowance for forage was given all mounted officers. Two regiments were to constitute a brigade and 2 brigades a division. It was apparent that the soldiers had heretofore been clothed entirely from standard sizes, for the law now allowed 25 cents a garment for alterations to "coats, vests, overall and breeches" so as to fit the wearer.
The uniform at this time was changed to suit the new organization of the army. The commander in chief had three silver stars on his gold epaulets. The general officers wore blue coats with lining, cape and cuffs of buff, with no lapels, and with caps, cuffs and pockets embroidered. The general officers (except the staff) wore white plumes, and line officers red plumes.
The shoulder strap made its first appearance. A lieutenant colonel still wore two silver epaulets, but a major one epaulet on the right shoulder and a strap on the left. A captain wore an epaulet on his right shoulder, a lieutenant one on the left shoulder (there being no apparent distinction between first and second lieutenants), and a cadet only a strap on his left shoulder. The noncommissioned officers wore red worsted epaulets; staff sergeants, one on each shoulder; line sergeants, one on the right shoulder; and corporals, one on the left shoulder. The artillery and infantry wore blue coats with red facings whereas the cavalry wore green coats with white facings. All wore cocked hats with a black cockade having an eagle in the center. The enlisted man's cockade was of leather and his eagle of tin. The regiments were distinguished by the numbers on their white buttons.
How all this new organization and these numerous regulations could have been put into effect in the face of an approaching French army can be answered when we look at the p107 turmoil and powerlessness in which the country found itself thirteen years later. We can only be thankful that the well-trained French army never appeared.
The disturbances of these times call attention to the undisciplined condition of the country.
1799 One John Fries led a rebellion in Pennsylvania. He had collected a large body of men who were opposed to the war tax. Although a presidential proclamation ordered the rioters to disperse, an armed force was necessary to put down the insurrection.
1799 In the midst of all this furor, an event occurred which should have made the populace stop and think. Washington died suddenly at Mt. Vernon. The nation had not yet learned to appreciate the greatness of this man. But the Revolutionary soldiers knew him, missed him, and mourned him. They had been close beside him when the fire tested him and them together. They knew that he was the Revolution — he was the new country. Iron-hearted and soft-handed he had been their friend and leader. He had met the blackest of men and times and turned both to account. The members of the army told the nation these things about the fireside, near the forge, over the counter and in the churches. And the country listened, but not till many years later did it quite comprehend.
1799 No sooner had Washington died and the trouble with France apparently passed over, than Congress tore down the greater part of the military structure it had raised. It violently threw into the discard his soundest counsel. All regular forces except the first 4 regiments of infantry, 2 regiments of artillerists and engineers, 2 troops of light dragoons and "the general and other staff" were ordered to be discharged; 3,399 men were cast out of the service.
That some few who remained evidently had an interest in their profession, is shown from the attention to details. For the 2 remaining troops of dragoons there appeared from the press of E. A. Jenks "an exact set of cavalry exercises, an approved work." The volume explained the manual of the pistol and sword, and exact movements for the horsemen.
Effort at Harper's Ferry was made to standardize the rifle by the manufacture of the model 1800. By it a single caliber of .62 was devised for the whole army. In rifle regiments p108 officers carried it instead of a sword. The weapon for them was slightly lighter and more ornamented than the enlisted man's. A rampart rifle weighing •20 pounds or more was also made at the arsenal. It was used solely to fire over parapets.
1801 In spite of the fact that the actual strength of the army, notwithstanding the organization provided, numbered only 248 officers, 9 cadets and 3,794 enlisted men, Congress was not satisfied with this reduction.
Effective June 1
1802 There being every indication of peace, that body further scorned Washington's sentiments and contracted the fighting force of the country to 2 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment of artillerists of 4 battalions (of 5 companies each), and 1 corps of engineers consisting of 1 major, 2 captains, 2 first lieutenants, 2 second lieutenants and 10 cadets. Three military agents14 were also provided for, and the grade of colonel for the first time since the Revolution came into being in the artillery. Of the general officers, a brigadier was the only one allowed. The pay, subsistence and forage remained about the same, except that the brigadier received $225 per month and nothing else.
The great redeeming feature of this legislation was the actual establishment, under the guise of a corps of engineers, p109 of the educational institution that was to have such a decided influence upon the future of the country. The United States Military Academy at West Point was born.b
Washington, as early as 1793, had indicated the desirability of a Military Academy in his message to Congress. Timothy Pickering had earlier suggested West Point as the place. Although Washington was opposed in his views by Jefferson, the first President showed in 1796 that his original desire had been intensified. But when Jefferson, after he had studied the question, became a most zealous advocate of the plan, the idea of a Military Academy seemed to be right from every point of view.
George Barron, a civilian, had established, previous to the above act, a mathematical school at West Point for the few cadets in the service. But the government of young military appeared to be incomplete with the systems in vogue in ordinary schools, for the "institution ran into disorder and the teacher into contempt."
Even after the act of 1802 only a few of the officers authorized were appointed. Major Jonathan Williams became the first superintendent. To his lot fell such instruction as reading lectures on fortifications, teaching the use of instruments and conducting practical exercises in the field. The two captains, W. A. Barron and Jared Mansfield, taught algebra and geometry. The limited curriculum of this nebulous school was also hindered by the intermittent appearance of the teachers, who were ordered away for such duty as erecting fortifications in various parts of the country.
Cadets were quartered in the old "Long Barrack" of the Revolution. They were instructed in a two‑story "academy" building which was also the dwelling of the superintendent.
They were limited by no entrance examinations and no age, physical or mental qualifications. They were not amenable to martial law, had no class rank and demanded the right to select such branch of service as pleased them. But the Corps was begun and the foundation of great possibilities laid.
Much could hardly be expected immediately from such a school. In these times when the most exciting duty for an officer away from the frontier was to sit on a court for the trial p110 of a lieutenant colonel who refused to cut off his cue and trim his whiskers to a prescribed line, of a major for selling milk to his command or of a lieutenant for shooting his captain's ducks, little could be expected in the way of teaching bristling, pregnant, trenchant truths. These officers, trussed up in their great single-breasted blue coats with high-standing collars that hampered relaxation, could scarcely have the speed of olive drab.
1803 While West Point was being established the country was disturbed by the ominous prospect of a war with Spain. Congress accordingly issued a host of militia calls that were to stretch over several years. April 18
1806 First of all 80,000 were authorized for one year. Then a similar law made the period of service six months. Feb. 24
1807 Later 30,000 were authorized to be enlisted for one year. All these enactments were inoperative almost as soon as made.
During this inconsequential agitation, 2 army officers, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark,15 with 4 sergeants, and 23 privates and Indian interpreters traversed, between midsummer, 1803, and the of 1806, the entire continent from east to west and back again from west to east. The exploit is so famous in general history that little need be said of it here. Following the Missouri they made their way to the coast. Taking accurate surveys and constructing maps and creating friendships with the Indians, many of whom were seeing a white man for the first time, they picked their way from prairie to mountain and from mountain to the coast. To the suffering, hardihood and daring of these soldiers the United States owes the opening of the west.
While Lewis and Clark were gone, the idea occurred to General Wilkinson, commander of the army and governor of Louisiana Territory, to send out a similar expedition. Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike (afterwards General) with 1 sergeant, 2 corporals and 17 privates explored the head waters of the Mississippi.
1806 After enduring much that Lewis and Clark had undergone, he returned less than nine months later to St. Louis, having made peace with the northern Indians and learned much of their country. Without an educated partner p111 he had acted as astronomer, surveyor, commanding officer, clerk, spy and guide for the expedition.
1807 General Wilkinson was so much pleased with the results that he sent Pike with 1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals and 16 privates south toward the mouth of the Mississippi. The mission of this young officer was to effect an interview and good understanding with the Yanctons, Tetons and Comanches and to return certain captured Osage Indians to their home. Not only was Pike successful in this enterprise, but he explored the region about the peak which bears his name and beguiled the Spaniards into taking his party prisoners to Santa Fe, where he learned much of Spanish intentions, customs and the nature of the country. The exploration furnished unusually valuable information and was given the personal approbation of the President.
1805 To return to the army proper the little force had dwindled at one time during this exploration period to 175 officers, 12 cadets and 2,389 enlisted men. Morale in the service was low. The older officers were, as a rule, idle, ignorant and intemperate because appointments were dependent almost entirely on politics. It was not difficult to sidetrack into the service "swaggerers, dependents, decayed gentlemen" and those thought fit for nothing else. The Military Academy had furnished but a very few junior officers. Besides, the soldier had come to be such a plaything of the government that often excellent men hesitated to accept a position that might unexpectedly be no more to‑morrow.
Here is an instance of the laxity with which the people handled military matters.
1806 Twenty‑six years after the virtual close of the Revolution, the country woke up to the fact that it had not dealt fairly with those who had fought in that war. With most of the actually deserving ones deceased, it generously provided for the remainder. This anachronism emphasized not only a lack of past justice but the extravagance of spending almost $20,000,000 for widows who survived till almost as late as our war with Spain in '98. But most of the soldiers who really deserved this pension never received it.
1808 In the meantime the war with Great Britain was threatening. Again the army, which recently had been cut down, p112 was increased; 5 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment of riflemen, 1 regiment of light artillery and 1 regiment of light dragoons, to be enlisted for five years were added. Two cadets were to be assigned to each company or troop. The regiment of dragoons was to be composed of 8 troops, whereas the other regiments were to have 10 companies. The pay was to remain about the same.16 But the failure to increase the staff made the work of raising and organizing these 6,000 additional men almost impossible.
1808 The reason for the "light artillery" in this legislation may be due to the fact that Maneuvers of Horse Artillery by General Kosciusko appeared that year. The manual's introduction enunciates this remarkable principle:
"The use of artillery in battle is not against the artillery of an enemy, for that would be a waste of powder, but against the line of the enemy in a diagonal direction when it is destructive in the extreme."
The maneuvers consisted of detaching limbers, making fast prolonge and drag and executing similar evolutions to those in Steuben's regulations for infantry. The book showed the armament of the company to be six pounders and two five-and‑a‑half-inch howitzers, although four and eight pounders might be used.
1810 In 1810 little of account happened for the army. The uniform was radically changed to single-breasted coats without facings and with silver lace along the buttonholes. There was also prescribed the silk hat (much like the civilian one at present) with a cockade on the side.
West Point's faculty was increased by teachers of "drawing and of the French Language."
Congress was far from negligent of its fortifications and seacoast defenses. It mistakenly had the notion that such construction would keep an enterprising enemy from landing on our shores. Although it had accepted archaic plans of purported p113 engineers in political favor and had used them with great loss and against the advice of Major Joseph G. Swift,17 it still had a mass of fortresses along the coast to show for the several millions it had expended. 1811 Just before the second war with Great Britain there existed 24 forts, 32 inclosed batteries and works of masonry with an armament of 750 guns of various calibers; 12,610 soldiers were needed to man these strongholds.
While Great Britain was about to strike from the east and north, the savages were again breaking out in the west. The hostile Indian tribes under Tecumseh and his prophet brother were collecting in force with manifest intentions of bringing destruction to the white settlers along the Wabash. General William Henry Harrison collected a band of regulars and militia to combat them. His knowledge of the savage caused him to keep his command constantly on the alert. He took up a final position on the west bank of the Tippecanoe River
1811 where he was later attacked. The struggle was desperate and success for our troops much of the time doubtful. But the fact that the riflemen were fighting on the defensive and were superior marksmen finally gave Harrison the advantage.
In these post-Revolutionary years the army passed through swift periods of rise and fall. It was the thermometer of the nation's fear. At first, under the constitution, it was barely 1 regiment, then 2 in 1789, 3 in 1791, a legion corresponding to 5 in 1792, 6 in 1796, 9 in 1798, 6 in 1800 and 3 again in 1802. In 1808 it suddenly sprang to 11 regiments each having 8, 10 or 20 companies depending upon the law by which the particular organization was born. But the actual number of soldiers recruited, irrespective of laws, seemed to vary little. In 1805, the army consisted of 2,732 officers and men; in 1807, of less than 2,500; and 1809, 2,965; although the authorized strength during these years showed differences of nearly 400 per cent.
How could any organization under such whimsical change be otherwise than far below standard? How could the velocity of such expansion and contraction do else than break the joints of our land defense? There could be no unity or spirit in the p114 army under such sudden measures of giving and taking away.
Aside from a very few men who had graduated from the Military Academy and others who, like Winfield Scott, had entered the service with the highest motives, the officers took little interest in their profession. Politics rather than qualifications commissioned them. Steuben's work had been rooted up and nothing had been planted in its place save West Point, which as yet could give few results. The old training had passed out when the army had been flung aside. Too often was the officer at this time an idler or a martinet, and often both. When Congress and the people took so little interest in proper national defense, such decadence was to be expected.
A good man, who might under better conditions have enlisted, sensed the instability of the army and shied at the unknown. Either in entering or leaving the service of his country he would be unpopular. His pay would be low and his life hard and dangerous. His treatment, too, was likely to be bad. He hesitated to give up his chances in civil life when he did not know how long the government might keep him. In spite of the small wages, he might have come into the army had there existed an established pride of corps and a distinction in being a defender of his nation. But when both these elements were taken away, the excellent recruit was hard to obtain.
1811 Congress had to offer to any man who would enlist or reënlist for five years a bonus of $16 bounty, to be paid at once, and 3 months' pay and •160 acres of land upon honorable discharge. As an added inducement his heirs were to receive all this gratuity if the soldier died or was killed in line of duty.
With ordinary attention to the happenings of the Revolution thirty years before and to the first man in peace as well as war, who had just died, Congress could have made an excellent, economical force. But it had forgotten the magic of the word "training." Because it had not listened to the voice of experience and wisdom, it could not in a twinkling find a substitute for time. Nor could it organize efficiently or economically after the panic was once started.
To Washington, the country accorded mourning for thirty days, the annual observance of his birthday, a high monument, p115 the name of the capital of the nation and the splendid title of "Father of his Country," but it consistently spurned the advice he held most dear:
"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. A free people ought not only be armed but disciplined."
|A Major general||5||$31.60|
|Lieutenant colonel commandant||2||12.60|
|Deputy quartermaster, with the southern army||1½||12.60|
|Deputy paymaster, with the southern army||1½||11.00|
|Deputy clothier with the army||1||3.15|
|Deputy paymaster with the army||1|
|Field commissary with southern army||1||6.30|
2 Be in regimental front.
3 The generals, in addition, wore feathers in their hats and different clothing from the soldier. The other officers wore the clothing of the corps to which they belonged.
4 Later found out to be the work of Major John Armstrong, aid-de‑camp of General Gates.
5 Outline of History.
6 Afterwards Battery F, Fourth Artillery.
|Lieutenant colonel commandant||$50.00|
|Lieutenant colonel commandant||20.00|
8 "Sec. 6. That in case a major general, brigadier general, quartermaster, aid-de‑camp, brigade major, and chaplain, should be appointed, their pay and allowances shall be respectively, as herein mentioned: the major general shall be entitled to $125, monthly pay, $20 allowance for forage, monthly, and for daily subsistence fifteen rations, or money in lieu thereof, at the contract price. The brigadier general shall be entitled to $94, monthly pay, with $16 allowance for forage, monthly, and for daily subsistence twelve rations, or money in lieu thereof, at the contract price. That the quartermaster shall be entitled to the same pay, rations, and forage, as the lieutenant colonel commandant of a regiment. That the aid-de‑camp be entitled, including all allowances, to the same pay, rations and forage, as a major of a regiment. That the brigade major be entitled, including all allowances, to the same pay, rations, and forage, as a major of a regiment. That the captain be entitled to $50 per month, including pay, rations and forage."
9 The officers and men when not in the field wore cocked and round hats respectively. The officer wore the plume of his sublegion, and the soldier wore on his round hat, which had a brim •3 inches wide, a strip of bearskin •7 inches high and 7 inches wide.
10 Exclusive of the corps of artillerists and engineers.
11 The grade of colonel had not existed since the Revolution.
12 Although a general staff in name, it had none of the great functions of such a body, such as wisely foreseeing weaknesses in case of war.
13 "Sec. 6. That the compensations of the said several officers shall be as follows: of the physician general, $100 pay per month, and $50 per month, which shall be in full compensation for forage, rations, and traveling expenses; of the purveyor, $100 pay per month, in full compensation for his services, and all expenses; of the apothecary general, $80 pay per month, and $30 per month in full compensation for forage, rations and all expenses; of each of his deputies, $50 pay per month, and $16 per month, in full compensation for forage, rations, and all expenses; of each hospital surgeon, $80 pay per month, and $40 per month, in full compensation for forage, rations, and all expenses; of each mate, $30 pay per month, and $20 per month, in full compensation for forage, rations, and all expenses; for each steward, $25 pay per month, and $8 per month in full compensation for forage, rations, and all expenses; Provided, That none of the officers aforesaid shall be entitled to any part of the pay or emoluments aforesaid, until they shall, respectively, be called into actual service."
14 "Sec. 17. That its shall be the duty of the military agents, designated by this act, to purchase, receive, and forward to their proper destination all military stores, and other articles for the troops in their respective departments, and all goods and annuities for the Indians, which they may be directed to purchase, or which shall be ordered into their care by the department of war. They shall account with the department of war, annually, for all the public property which may pass through their hands, and all the moneys which they may expend in discharge of the duties of their offices, they shall give bonds with sufficient sureties, in such sums as to President of the United States shall direct, for the faithful discharge of the trust reposed in them; and shall take an oath faithfully to perform the duties of their respective offices. . . .
"Sec. 27. That the said corps, when so organized, shall be stationed at West Point, in the state of New York, and shall constitute a military academy; and the engineers, assistant engineers, and cadets of the said corps, shall be subject, at any time, to do duty in such places, and on such service, as the President of the United States shall direct.
"Sec. 28. That the principal engineer, and in his absence the next in rank, shall have the superintendence of the said military academy, under the direction of the President of the United States; and the secretary of war is hereby authorized, at the public expense, under such regulations as shall be directed by the President of the United States to procure the necessary books, implements, and apparatus for the use and benefit of the said institution."
15 Brother of George Rogers Clark.
16 The brigadier was to receive $104 a month, 12 rations and $16 for forage.
17 The first graduate of the Military Academy.
a Full details of the setting, the attendance, and the ceremony, as well as the text of Washington's address and a photograph of the historic room, are given by Norris, Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval Story, pp214‑223.
b The history of West Point is covered in great detail on this site: several complete books, a number of journal articles, and various other material, running to well over a thousand pages of print; the orientation page is here.
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History of the United States Army
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