Morrison's Pensions


The Militia Bill
The Militia Bill Adopted by The Prvoncial Congress August 22d, 1775.

In Provincial Congress New York, Aug. 22d, 1775.

Whereas the well ordering and regulating the Militia of this Colony is become an object of the greatest importance to the preservation of the lives and Liberties of its Inhabitants.

And Whereas, The Continental Congress held at Philadelphia on the 10th day of May last taking into consideration the necessity of such a regulation have recommended the same to the Inhabitants of the associated Colonies and Whereas this Congress on the ninth day of this instant August by several resolutions recommended to their constituents the expediency of forming themselves into Companies and chusing their Officers in the manner following vizt.

Resolved, that every County, City, Manor, Town, Precinct and District within this Colony, (where the same is not already done) be divided into districts or beats by their respective Committees in such manner, that out of each may be formed on military Company, ordinarily to consist of about eighty-three able bodied and effective men, Officers included, between 16 or 60 years of age. (The Battalion commanded by Col. Lasher, the Companies of artillery, Light horse and Hussars in the City and County of New York and the Troops of Horse, Companies of Grenadiers and associated Companies already formed within this Colony excepted.

Resolved secondly, That in each Company so to be formed there be chosen (in the manner hereinafter mentioned) one Captain, two Lieutenants, one Ensign, four Sergeants, four Corporals, one Clerk, one Drummer and one Fifer.

Resolved thirdly, That two Committeemen at the least attend in each district or beat on a day to be appointed for the purpose of chusing the above mentioned Officers, who shall be persons within such district or beat, who have signed the General Association recommended by this Congress.

That such choice or Election be made in the manner following, vizt—

After the Company is drawn up the Committee men, who preside at the Election, may repair to a station at some convenient distance from the Company,--then let the men pass in a single file between them, each man giving the name of the person he chooses to fill the office in question, the majority of such votes to determine the Election. But in case the votes shall be so divided, that no one has the majority, then the presiding Committeemen are to acquaint the Company therewith and call them to a new Election—the same to be repeated, till such majority be obtained or the Company agree upon some other mode of choosing the Officers. The names of the Captains, Lieutenants and Ensigns so chosen to be returned with all convenient speed to this or some future Provincial Congress of this Colony or during their recess to the Committee of Safety, to be commissioned by them.

Resolved fourthly, That whenever a vacancy shell happen in any Company by the promotion, death or resignation of an Officer, such vacancy to be filled up in the before mentioned manner.

Resolved fifthly, That those Companies in the above excepted Battalion, commanded by Col. Lasher, which are now under the direction of Field Officers shall for the future be commanded by Captains, who are to be chosen in the manner aforesaid.

Resolved sixthly, That for the purpose of completely carrying into execution the recommendation of the Continental Congress; after the whole Militia is formed as above every fourth man of each Company be selected for Minute Men, or such persons, as are willing to enter into this necessary service. That the Officers of the Militia make with all convenient speed a return of the names of those persons to the Committee of their respective Counties, who shall thereupon arrange those men into Companies their choice of their Officers in the manner above mentioned, provided that where whole Companies offer their services a Minute Men, they shall be commanded by the Officers already chosen and the remaining number of Minute Men shall be completed out of the other Companies as above.

Resolved seventhly, That the several Committees do return to the Secretary of the Provincial Congress of this Colony the names of such persons, as do refuse to conform to the above resolves.

1st. That the several Companies so formed be joined unto Regiments, each Regiment to consist of not less than five or more than ten Companies, (the Battalion commanded by Col. Lasher excepted.)

2d. That a Major General be appointed and commissioned by this Congress to command the Militia of the Colony New York.

3d. That one Colonel, one Lieutenant Colonel, and two Majors, an Adjutant & Quarter Master be commissioned by this Congress for each Regiment.

4th. That the Militia of this Colony be formed into Brigades in the following manner, to wit:
The Militia of the City and County of New York and Counties of Kings and Richmond. One Brigade.
The Militia of the City and County of Albany and the County of Tryon. One other Brigade.
The Militia of the Counties of Dutchess and Westchester. One other Brigade.
The Militia of the Counties of Ulster and Orange. One other Brigade.
The Militia of the Counties of Charlotte, Cumberland and Gloucester. One other Brigade.

5th. That a Brigadier General with a Major of Brigade be commissioned to the command of each Brigade.

6th. That every man between the ages of 16 and 50 do with all convenient speed furnish himself with a good Musket or firelock & Bayonet Sword or Tomahawk, a Steel Ramrod, Worm, Priming Wire and Brush fitted thereto, a Cartouch Box to contain 23 rounds of cartridges, 12 flints and a knapsack agreeable to the directions of the Continental Congress under forfeiture of five shillings for the want of a musket or firelock and of one shilling for the want of a bayonet, sword or tomahawk, cartridge box, cartridge or bullet, the whole to be judged by the Captain or next commanding officers.
That every man shall at his place of abode be also provided with one pound of powder and three pounds of bullets of proper size to his musket or firelock.

7th. That each Company (not Minute Men) do meet the first Monday in every month and spend at least four hours in each of the said days to perfect themselves in military discipline. Provided, that if the commissioned Officers of any Company shall judge it inexpedient to meet on that day, they have power to put off the meeting to some other day, notifying the Company thereof.

8th. That the Colonels and commanding Officers of each Regiment do assemble and exercise their respective Regiments at least two days in every year at some convenient place to be fixed Upon by the Field Officers.

9th. That the several Companies of Horse already formed or to be formed in this Colony shall be under the direction of the Colonel of the Regiment, where their respective Captains do reside and be considered a part of such Regiment,--that the Officers and Privates shall assemble as often, as by these regulations it is required of the Companies of Foot (not Minute Men) and be subject to the same penalties and forfeitures for non-attendance,--That every man belonging to the Horse shall, with all convenient speed, provide himself with a good serviceable horse, not less than 14 hands high, with a good saddle, bridle, hostlers, housings, breast plate and crupper, a case of pistols, a sword or hanger, one pound of gunpowder and 3 lbs. Of sizeable bullets, a pair of boots with suitable spurs and a carabine, well fixed with a good belt, swivel & buckle under the penalty of 10s. for the want of a sizeable horse & 5 s. for the want of each or either of the articles of the Trooper’s furniture. And also that every trooper be provided at their respective places of abode with 1 lb. of powder and 3 lbs. of bullets.

10th. That in case any persons shall refuse or neglect to serve as Sergeant, Corporal or Drummer in any Company being thereto requested by the Captain or commanding Officer or shall refuse or neglect to warn the men to appear under arms, when required by the Captain or commanding Officer, shall for every such neglect forfeit the sum of 40 shill.

11th. That all Officers commissioned by this Congress Do subscribe the following declaration:

We, the subscribers, the Officers of the ________Battalion or Regiment in the County of __________and the Colony of New York do hereby promise and engage under all the ties of religion, honour and regard to our country, that we will respectively duly observe and carry into execution to the utmost of our power, all and every the orders, rules and recommendations made or to be made by the Continental Congress and the Congress or Convention of this Colony. That we’ll also give the Continental Congress and the Congress or Convention of this Colony. That we’ll also give in our respective ranks due obedience to the regulations by them established for the forming of the Militia of this Colony, as also due obedience to such Officers, who either by rank or superiority are placed above us in such order, as is directed by the said Continental or Provincial Congress.

12th. That the following penalties be inflicted on those, who do not attend and obey orders on the days appointed for exercise, not having a reasonable excuse to be allowed of by the Officer commanding, to wit: a Colonel 5 pounds, a Lieutenant Colonel 4 pounds, a Major 3 pounds, Captains, Lieutenants and Adjutants 30 s. each, Ensigns and Quartermaster 20 s. each, Sergeants, Corporals, Drummers, Fifers and Privates 10 s. each for the first default and double for the second. And in case any person make default three times successively or refuse to enlist and do duty, such person shall be advertised and held up as an enemy to his country. All fines under the degree of a Captain to be levied on the goods and chattels of the offender by warrant from the Captain directed to a Sergeant of the Company and those of a Captain and all Field Officers under the degree of a Colonel to be levied on the goods and chattels of the offender by a warrant from the Colonel of the Regiment directed to the Adjutant, and those of a Colonel by a warrant from a Brigadier General directed to the Major of the Brigade, and for want of the goods and chattels to take the body of the offender and him keep in safe custody, until such fine together with the charges be paid. The monies arising by the fines in any Company be applied by the Captain, (after paying for the Drum and Fife for the Company) towards purchasing Arms, Ammunition and Accoutrements for such persons in such Company, as are unable to furnish themselves. The monies arising by the fines of the Field Officers (after paying for a set of colours for each Battalion) be equally divided between the several Companies for the above mentioned use.

13th. That the members of his Majesty's Council, Justices of the Supreme Court, of the Vice Admiralty Court, of the Mayors Courts and Inferior Courts of Common Pleas, his majesty’s Att7orney General, Secretary of the Province or his Deputy, Clerks of the Courts, Collector, Comptroller, Naval Officer and Searcher and Surveyor of his Majesty’s Customs, Ministers of the Gospel, Physicians and Surgeons, Members of the Continental Congress and of the Provincial Congress and the several Committees, while immediately engaged in the public service, Sheriffs, Gaolers, Ferrymen, one Miller to each mill, and the people, Called Quakers, be excused from military duty, except in cases of invasion and in case of an invasion in any part of this Colony, the Physicians and Surgeons there or such of them as shall be directed by the Officers commanding the Militia (that shall march to oppose the Enemy) shall attend with proper medicines, instruments and other necessaries to take care of the sick and wounded.

14th That the commissioned Officers of each Company of Minute Men form their Companies into four subdivisions in such manner, as they shall think most convenient for their frequent meetings. The subdivisions under their respective Officers to meet once in every week and to employ half a day or at least four hours each time in perfecting themselves in military discipline, the whole Companies to meet once every fortnight, to spend the same time for the same purpose. That the several Companies of Minute Men be formed into Regiments, to consist of about seven Companies each. That there be commissioned by the Congress to each Regiment, one Colonel, one Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors, and Adjutant and Quarter Master.

15th. That those Regiments be formed into Brigades, each Brigade to consist of about ___ Regiments. That there be commissioned by this Congress to each Brigade one Brigadier General and a Major of Brigade.

16th. That the whole body of Minute Men shall be under the direction of the Major General appointed by this Congress, while within the Colony, unless a Continental Officers of superior or equal rank be present.

17th. That the Minute Men, when called out in defence of their country shall be subject to the Articles of War established by the Continental Congress and be entitled to the same allowance as to pay and provisions with the Continental Forces. To be under the direction of the Commander in Chief of those Forces.

18th. That they be subject to the like penalties and forfeitures for not attending on the days appointed for exercise as above mentioned. The said fines to be levied and applied as above directed.

19th. That in case of any alarm, invasion or insurrection every sabaltern and soldier is immediately to repair properly armed and accoutred to his colours or Parade, (which Parade shall be understood to be the habitation of his Captain unless otherwise ordered) and the Captain or commanding Officer nearest to the place, where such invasion or insurrection shall be, shall immediately march his Company to oppose the enemy, at the same time send off an express to the commanding Officer of the Regiment or Brigade, to which he belongs, who is to march with the whole or part of the Militia under his command, as he shall judge necessary, and use all possible diligence to prevent the Enemy from landing or penetrating into any part of the country and to quell every insurrection. That every non-commissioned Officer and Private, who shall neglect or refuse to perform his duty in this case, shall be subject to such pains, penalties and forfeitures, as shall be adjudged by a general Court Martial.

20th. That at least twice in every year the Captains or in their absence the next commanding Officer of every Company of Militia, as well as of the Minute Men as others, shall deliver to the Colonel of the Regiment a true and compleat Roll containing the names of all the men belonging to his Company, under the penalty of two pounds to be recovered and applied, as hereinbefore directed And the Colonels of the Regiments shall within one month after the receipt of every such roll deliver or send a copy of every such roll to the Brigadier General of the Brigade, to which he belongs, who is directed to send the same or a copy to the Major General of the Colony.

21st. That in case of an alarm or an invasion the Officer commanding in each district shall leave a proper detachment of his Company, to guard against the insurrection of slaves, or if judged more expedient and safe, may take the slaves or part of them with him and employ them in carrying baggage, dragging cannon or the like.

22nd. That all persons, as well Minute Men as others, able to bear arms, who shall leave or attempt to leave a place actually invaded without leave of the Officer commanding such place or who shall refuse to obey order in time of actual invasion or insurrection shall be liable to such punishment, as shall be inflicted by a Court Martial.

23rd. That in case it shall be judged necessary at any time and place by this Congress, by the Committee of Safety or by the several Committees of the respective Counties or districts, that a military watch be established, All persons able to bear arms, where such watch is judged to be necessary, shall upon due warning be obliged to serve on such watch under the penalty of the 12s. for every neglect, A commissioned Officer in turn to mount said guard in person under the penalty of 40s.

24th. That every Centinel, who shall leave his post, be found asleep, when he is posted, shall be liable to such punishment, as shall be inflicted by a Court Martial.

25th. That when the Militia, as well Minute Men as others, in case of Invasion or Insurrection shall be called out on actual service, They shall be subject to the same Rules and Orders, as directed and ordered by the Continental Congress of the associated Colonies held at Philadelphia on the 10th day of May last for better government of the Continental Troops.

A letter from Capt. John Lamb, dated this day, soliciting this Congress to ascertain the pay of the Artillery Company under his command was read and filed.

Agreed and Ordered, That the Artillery Company raised in the Colony as part of the Continental Army and enlised under Capt. John Lamb shall have such pay, as the Continental Congress shall agree to and order, and that in the meantime Capt. Lamb’s Company shall have the like pay, as the Rhode Island Company of Artillery are allowed,* until the Continental Congress shall have fixed and ascertained the pay of Capt. Lamb’s Company. And ordered that Capt. John Lamb and his Company be considered as an additional Company to, and a part of Colo. McDougall’s Regiment and subject to his commands.

*Capt. Lamb, in the letter mentioned, refers to the pay of the R. I. Company and points out as a mistake in that arrangement, that the pay of a 2d. Lieutenant and Lieut. Fireworker is not equal to the pay of Lieutenants of Foot Companies, also that a Bombardier receives more, than a Sergeant.

Note: There were subsequent revisions and additions to the able, but will not be included in this book except for a few interesting additions:

Page 105. That the distincition between Minute Men and common Militia which seems to be a consequence of the aforesaid Resolve of the Continental Congress be henceforth abolished, that thereby the Militia of the Colony may be again reduced to one Common mass. That all the commission for Minute Officers be forthwith recalled and that every private be placed under his proper Militia Officer, leaving each Regiment of be Officered according to the Mode prescribed, that is to say, those under the degree of Field Officers by Election of the privates and those above that Degree by the appointment of the provincial Congress.

Source Material:

New York State Archives
New York In The Revolution
Prepared under direction of the Board of Regents
By Berthold Fernow.
Weed, Parsons and Company, Printers
Volume I, 1887

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