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Chapter XXV

The Militia.

§1. It is the practice of governments to keep their respective countries prepared to defend themselves against foreign enemies. For this purpose all men liable to do military duty are enrolled, and are required to meet on certain days every year for instruction in the art of war, in order to be ready for actual service whenever it shall be required. The body of soldiers thus enrolled are called the _militia_. There are other words which are sometimes applied to bodies of soldiers; as _infantry_, which means the soldiers or troops who serve on foot; _cavalry_, the troops on horses; _artillery_, those who manage the cannon and other heavy weapons of war. But all troops are comprehended in the general term, _militia_.

 

§2. The militia of a state, or a portion of them, may also be needed to aid in executing the laws of the state, and in suppressing insurrection or rebellion. An _insurrection_ is a rising against the public authority, or the attempt of persons to prevent the execution of a law. _Rebellion_ generally means nearly the same as _insurrection_; but more properly it signifies a revolt, or an attempt to overthrow the government to establish a different one. As it is the duty of an executive to see the laws executed, power is given by the constitution to the governor to call out a sufficient military force for this purpose.

§3. All able-bodied white male citizens of the United States, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, are liable to perform military service in the states in which they reside, except such as are exempt by the laws of the states and of the United States. Persons exempt by the laws of the states are generally the following: Ministers of the gospel; commissioned officers of the militia having served a certain number of years; members of uniformed companies having served for a specified time; members of fire companies; certain public officers while in office; and in some states teachers and students of colleges, academies, and common schools; and a few others.

§4. Persons exempt by the laws of the United States are the vice-president, the subordinate executive and all the judicial officers of the government of the United States; members of congress and its officers; custom-house officers and their clerks; post-officers and drivers of mail stages; ferrymen employed at ferries on post-roads; pilots and mariners.

§5. By the constitutions of the several states, the governors are made the commanders-in-chief of the militia of their respective states; and by the constitution of the United States, the president is made commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, and also of the militia of the states when called out into actual service. It has already been remarked, (§2,) that the military force of the state is at the command of the executive to protect the government and its citizens. So the president was thought the proper person to have command of the public forces, to execute the laws of the United States, to repel invasion, and to carry on war. Hence the governors and the president are not among the public officers who are exempt from military duty.

§6. Persons who, having been duly notified, refuse to appear at military parades, or, appearing without being equipped as the law directs, are tried by a military court, called _court martial_, consisting usually of three military officers, or of such other persons as may be appointed according to the law of the state. If the persons tried do not show good cause for their delinquency, they are fined in such sums as the law prescribes. In certain cases courts may consist of more than three members.

§7. The highest militia officer, except the governor, is the _adjutant-general_ of the state; who keeps a list of all the higher commissioned officers, containing the dates of their commissions, their rank, the corps (pronounced _core_) they belong to, the division, brigade, and regiment, and their places of residence. He distributes all orders from the commander-in-chief (the governor,) to the several divisions; attends public reviews where the commander-in-chief reviews the militia; and obeys all orders from him relative to carrying into execution the system of military discipline established by law.

§8. There is also in some states a _commissary-general_, who has the care of the arsenals and magazines, and the articles deposited in them. An _arsenal_ is a building in which are kept cannon, muskets, powder, balls, and other warlike stores; all of which are to be kept in repair and ready for use.

§9. There are persons who, believing all wars to be wrong, can not conscientiously do military service. As it is the object of our government to secure to every person the liberty of conscience as well as other rights, the constitutions of many of the states provide, that those who are averse to bearing arms, may be excused by paying annually a sum of money instead of rendering the service. But it may well be doubted whether compelling a man to pay the money is not itself a violation of the right of conscience. Many persons conceive it to be no less morally wrong to commute for the service than to perform it. In some states, all persons belonging to the society of Friends, usually called Quakers, are exempt without the payment of an equivalent in money.

§10. In the states of New York and Ohio, the rank and file of the militia are not required to train in time of peace. Persons liable to perform military service, except those connected with the uniformed companies, are enrolled in the militia; but instead of doing duty, they pay annually a small tax, which is in New York fifty cents, and in Ohio fifty cents, or a day's highway labor.

§11. Laws abolishing trainings and musters of the great body of the militia, are, it is believed, growing into favor, and for these among other reasons: First, the militia system produces no material improvement in discipline; secondly, the expenditure of time and money in these useless exercises, and for arms and equipments, are burdensome to many citizens; and thirdly, there is no probability of an occasion requiring a large portion of the militia to be so suddenly called into service as to allow no time for preparation. Volunteer companies like those kept up and disciplined in the states above named, and the standing army of the nation, are deemed sufficient for any supposable emergency.

§12. Happily the practice of settling disputes between nations by war, is becoming less popular in civilized and Christian communities. War is a dreadful evil, and ought to be discouraged, and, if possible, avoided. Were governments so disposed, they might in most cases settle their differences as individuals do, by submitting them to the judgment of a third party. If the love of military honor were less encouraged, and the principles of peace duly inculcated, the time would be hastened when "nations shall learn war no more."