A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen During King Philip's War

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NYU Press, 2009 - History - 325 pages
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While it lasted only sixteen months, King Philip’s War (1675-1676) was arguably one of the most significant of the colonial wars that wracked early America. As the first major military crisis to directly strike one of the Empire’s most important possessions: the Massachusetts Bay Colony, King Philip’s War marked the first time that Massachusetts had to mobilize mass numbers of ordinary, local men to fight. In this exhaustive social history and community study of Essex County, Massachusetts’s militia, Kyle F. Zelner boldly challenges traditional interpretations of who was called to serve during this period.

Drawing on muster and pay lists as well as countless historical records, Zelner demonstrates that Essex County’s more upstanding citizens were often spared from impressments, while the “rabble” — criminals, drunkards, the poor— were forced to join active fighting units, with town militia committees selecting soldiers who would be least missed should they die in action. Enhanced by illustrations and maps, A Rabble in Arms shows that, despite heroic illusions of a universal military obligation, town fathers, to damaging effects, often placed local and personal interests above colonial military concerns.

 

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Contents

Southern New England in 1675
3
A Note on Method
15
Essex County Towns during King Philips War
16
Figures
21
The Massachusetts Bay Militia and the Practice
40
Salem committee of militias impressment report
56
Major General Gookins report of draft evasion in
62
Town Rankings of Rowley Soldiers Based on Tax Rates
86
Soldiers Marriage Status by Company or Unit
151
Soldiers Family Status by Town
152
Increase Mather by John van der Spriett 1688
156
Soldiers Occupations by Category
159
Soldiers Occupations by Towns
163
Soldiers Negative Impressment Factors by Town
165
Broadside entitled At a Council held at Boston
172
Soldiers Negative Impressment Factors by Company or Unit
178

Impressment Factors in Topsfield 16751676
99
Top Families in Andover and Their Sons during
113
Ranking of Andover Soldiers Serving with Captain Gardner
114
Birthorder Status for Andover Soldiers in
117
Gardners Company 1675
127
Wenham Tax List with Soldiers Families Highlighted 1659
137
Soldiers Families and Town Rank in Wenham 16591675
138
Overview of Soldiers Ages
143
Soldiers Ages by Town
144
Soldiers Ages by Company or Unit
145
Soldiers Birth Order by Town
147
Soldiers Marriage Status by Town
149
Rank of Soldiers Negative Impressment Factors by Town
179
John Leverett attributed to Sir Peter Lely c 1655
190
Major Thomas Savage attributed to Thomas Smith 1679
197
Soldiers Killed and Wounded in Action by Town
203
Reconstructed seventeenthcentury Puritan meetinghouse
208
Veterans Marrying in the Postwar Period
212
The Soldiers of Essex County
219
Ranked by Family with Soldiers Families Highlighted
233
Selected Bibliography
297
Permissions
313
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Kyle F. Zelner is Associate Professor of History and a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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