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

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

by Kyle F. Zelner

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814797228
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Series: Warfare and Culture , #5
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 344
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Maps, and Tables Acknowledgments  Introduction  A Note on Method  1 “For the best ordering of the militia”: English Military Precedent and the Early Massachusetts Bay Militia 2 The Massachusetts Bay Militia and the Practice of Impressment during King Philip’s War 3 Many Men, Many Choices: Impressment in Essex County’s Thriving Towns 4 Few Men, Few Options: Impressment in Essex County’s Small Towns 5 The Pressed Men of Essex County: The Social Identity of the Soldiers of King Philip’s War 6 The Effects of Impressment: War and Peace in Essex County Afterword: Military of  Massachusetts Bay Transformed Appendix 1: The Soldiers of Essex County in King Philip’s War Appendix 2: Rowley’s 1662 Tax List: Ranked by Family with Soldiers’ Families Highlighted Appendix 3: Topsfield’s 1668 Tax List: Ranked by Family with Soldiers’ Families Highlighted Appendix 4: An Examination of the Age of Essex County Soldiers and Officers in King Philip’s War Appendix 5: The Occupations of the Soldiers of Essex County Abbreviations Used in Notes Notes Selected Bibliography  Permissions  Index About the Author 

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