Citizens More Than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic

By Harry S. Laver | Go to book overview

2
THE HUNTERS OF
KENTUCKY

The militia was not designed as an agent of social, economic, or political transformation, nor did citizen-soldiers necessarily see themselves in that role. Yet that was indeed the role the militia played in the early republic, and it played the role well. Nevertheless, citizen-soldiers maintained their traditional responsibility as a military force commanded by community leaders, and the history of battlefields and the militia's organizational evolution warrants a brief overview.1 In addition, this chapter includes an analysis of the militia participants' financial well-being and the offices held by enlisted men and officers, which further demonstrates the influence that citizen-soldiers held in their communities.

The conclusion of the Seven Years' War in 1763 eliminated for British settlers the centuries-old annoyance of their French neighbors to the north and west. For royal officials, however, the victory initiated new challenges in governing the colonies. More adventurous-minded Americans began to trek westward, crossing the Appalachian Mountains in search of land, furs, and fortune. Ignoring the ill-conceived Proclamation Line of 1763, settlers traveled through passes such as the Cumberland Gap and into the fertile Kentucky District of Virginia. By 1775 the westward flow of Americans had grown from a trickle to a torrent, and although the French were gone, the Native American population posed a serious threat to western whites. Encounters with Shawnee, Miami, Mingo, and Wyandot warriors meant sleepless nights for white settlers and political consternation in the halls of government as first colonial and then federal officials sought a policy to avoid increasingly violent confrontations.

The linchpin of an effective frontier strategy was the militia. Settlers who journeyed west carried with them the framework of Virginia's mili-

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Citizens More Than Soldiers: The Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Rethinking the Social Role of the Militia 1
  • 2 - The Hunters of Kentucky 9
  • 3 - Public Gatherings and Social Order 20
  • 4 - Stability and Security in a Time of Transition 48
  • 5 - Proponents of Democracy and Partisanship 66
  • 6 - A Refuge of Manhood 98
  • 7 - Fighters, Protectprs, and Men 128
  • Conclusion - Citizens More Than Soldiers 144
  • Appendix 147
  • Notes 155
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 211
  • Studies in War, Society, and the Military 217
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