Bill for Raising Six Additional Battalions of Infantry
[28 October 1776]
Whereas it has been thought necessary by the American Congress that the armies of the United States should be augmented to eighty eight battalions, to be enlisted to serve during the continuance of the present war unless sooner discharged, and that fifteen of the said battalions should be furnished by this Commonwealth; and the said Congress by their resolutions have engaged to give to every non-commissioned officer and private soldier a present bounty of twenty dollars an annual bounty of a suit of clothes to consist for the present year of two linen hunting shirts, two pr. of Overalls, a leathern or woollen waistcoat with sleaves, one pr. of breeches, a hat or leathern cap, 2 shirts, 2 pr. of hose, and 2 pr. of shoes, amounting in the whole to the value of 20 dollars or that sum to be paid to each soldier who shall procure these articles for himself1 and to provide the following portions of lands to be given at the close of the war, or whensoever discharged to the officers and soldiers who shall engage in the said service, or to their representatives if slain by the enemy, to wit, to every noncommissioned officer or soldier one hundred acres, to every ensign one hundred and fifty acres, to every Lieutenant two hundred acres, to every captain three hundred acres, to every Major four hundred acres, to every Lieutenant Colonel four hundred and fifty acres and to every Colonel five hundred acres:
And whereas there are already in the Continental service eight battalions of regulars raised in this Commonwealth who were enlisted to serve for certain terms only; and one other battalion formerly in the same service and dissolved by the expiration of the time of their enlistment, has been ordered to be reestablished by new levies; which nine battalions are to be taken as part of the fifteen from this commonwealth provided they shall re-enlist for the continuance of the war: and there are also in the service of this Commonwealth [nine companies of marines and]2 five companies of land forces stationed at different posts on the river Ohio whom it may be expedient to engage in the six new battalions now necessary to be raised to complete the said number of fifteen battalions.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that3 it shall and may be lawful for the Governor with the advice of his privy council and he and they are hereby required to take such measures as to them shall seem most expedient for engaging the said nine battalions and also so many [of the said marines and]2 of the companies stationed on the Ohio as shall be willing to be of the armies of the United States on the new establishment before recited; and for that purpose to give recruiting powers to the officers commanding the same, or to send special Commissioners if that measure shall appear more effectual, or to adopt any other ways or means most likely to procure their speedy enlistment.
And whereas it will be necessary, in order to augment and form the said marines into one complete battalion, that an additional company or companies should be raised for that purpose, but the numbers which may be wanting of officers and men being now unknown, the appointing and raising the same cannot be precisely directed, be it therefore enacted that it shall and may be lawful for the governor by warrant under his hand to authorize such of the County committees as he shall think proper to appoint such and so many captains and other inferior officers as may be wanting completely to officer the said battalion, who shall immediately proceed to raise their quotas of men: and in case any officer of the Marines engaging in the said service shall fail to raise the quota of men hereafter prescribed for his office before the day of next it shall be lawful for the governor with the advice of the privy council either to appoint another in his stead or to continue him as shall appear most likely to expedite the raising his said quota.4
And be it further enacted that the Committees for the counties of Fincastle, Botetourt, East-Augusta, Hampshire, and shall each of them appoint one captain, 2 Lieutenants, one Ensign and four Sergeants to be added to the Officers of the five companies stationed on the Ohio or to such of them as shall be willing to engage as aforesaid in the Continental service and shall with them be formed into one battalion; provided that if all or any of the officers of the said five companies stationed on the Ohio shall refuse to enter into the said service it shall be lawful for the Committee of the county from which such officer or officers received his or their appointment to appoint others in their room.4
And for raising the said six additional battalions be it further enacted that the Committee for the district of West Augusta5 shall have power to appoint ten captains twenty Lieutenants and ten Ensigns and the Committees6 for the other counties in this Commonwealth to appoint the following officers respectively, to wit,7
the Commee. for the county of Accomack (1208 militia)
which several officers so to be appointed shall immediately proceed to enlist the several quotas of men following, that is to say, every Captain shall enlist 28 men, every first Lieutenant 20, every 2d. Lieutenant 16, and every ensign 10 and shall be at liberty to do the same as well within their respective counties as without.8
And if any officer shall fail to recruit his quota of men before mention’d on or before the day of next9 the Committee of the county by whom such officer was appointed may either appoint another in his stead, or may continue him if it shall appear to them that the quota of such officer may be sooner completed by his continuance. But if he or the officer appointed in his stead shall further fail to raise the said quota before the day of next,10 then the committee of the county who appointed such officer shall make report of the whole matter to the Governor, who with the advice of the privy council shall take such measures thereon as shall seem most likely to expedite the raising the said quota, whether it be by continuing the same officer, or by making a new appointment; and wheresoever any new appointment shall be made on failure of any officer or officers to raise their quota, the men enlisted by such officer or officers so failing shall be delivered over to the officer appointed to succeed him, he refunding to the officer who enlisted the same such recruiting expences as the committee shall judge reasonable.11
And be it further enacted that to each of the said six additional battalions 1 Colonel, one Lieutenant Colonel and one Major shall be appointed by joint ballot of both houses of assembly and one chaplain and one Surgeon by the feild officers and captains of each battalion respectively, and that all chaplains and Surgeons as well of the said six battalions as of the nine battalions now in Continental service shall at all times be removeable and others appointed in their stead by the said feild officers and captains of their respective battalions for good reason to them shewn: and the Surgeon’s mates shall be appointed by the Surgeon himself with the approbation of the Commanding officer of the battalion and the Adjutant, Regimental Quarter master, Serjeant Major, Quarter master, Serjeant and Drum major by the said Commanding officer of the battalion.
And be it further enacted that the Quotas of men raised by the officers to be appointed by the Committee of West Augusta12 shall be formed into distinct companies by the said Committee which companies shall constitute one of the said six additional battalions: and the Quotas raised by the officers to be appointed by any other Committee shall by the same Committee be formed into one or more companies or parts of a company according to the nature and number of the Quotas: and the said companies and parts of companies shall be formed into battalions of ten companies each by the Governor or in his absence by the President who shall allot to each battalion such of the feild officers to be appointed by the two houses of assembly as he shall judge best suited to the same and shall deliver to the Continental commander in this colony a roll of each battalion as soon as the same shall be so embodied and officered.13
And whereas it is apprehended that sufficient care and attention hath not been alwais had by officers to the cleanliness, to the health and to the comfort of the soldiers entrusted to their command be it therefore enacted that so long as any troops from this commonwealth shall be in any service to the Northward thereof it shall and may be lawful for our delegates in Congress and they are hereby required14 from time to time to enquire into the state and condition of the said troops and the conduct of the officers commanding them and where any troops raised in this Commonwealth are upon duty within the same or any where to the Southward thereof the Governor and council are required to make similar enquiry by such ways or means as shall be in their power; and whensoever it shall be found that any officer appointed by this commonwealth shall have been guilty of negligence or want of fatherly care of the soldiers under his command they are hereby respectively15 required to report to this assembly the whole truth of the case who hereby reserve to themselves powers of removing such officers:16 and whenever they shall find that such troops shall have suffered thro’ the negligence or inattention of any officer of Continental appointment they are in like manner to make report thereof to this assembly whose duty it will be to represent the same to Congress: and they are further respectively required from time to time to procure and lay before this assembly exact returns of the numbers and condition of such their troops.
Dft (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand. Although much of the text is crossed out and interlined (some parts of which are indicated in notes below), the Bill was apparently in final form and was passed with such alterations as are indicated below. Dft contains marginal headings similar to those in the Act (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 179–84), but these are not given here. A rough draft of the tabulation of troop quotas by counties is in MHi.
On 15 Oct. 1776 TJ was appointed member of committee to draw up Bill; 19 Oct. committee was given instructions as to what numbers of officers and rank and file each battalion was to consist of, and it was stipulated that field officers should be chosen by joint ballot of both houses, and captains and subalterns be appointed by committees of the counties (the last was changed by amendment; see note 6 below); the Bill was presented by TJ and read first time on 28 Oct.; it was amended by committee of the whole on 1 Nov.; it passed the House on 2 Nov.; having been carried to the Senate by TJ, it was agreed to by that body on 7 Nov. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1776, 1828 edn., p. 13, 19, 21, 26, 27, 31, 36, 38, 45).
1. The preceding lines, beginning “an annual bounty of …,” are interlined.
2. Brackets are in original. This, together with one of the two paragraphs deleted (see note 4), was undoubtedly thrown out by one of the amendments offered on 1 Nov. For on 25 Oct. the House instructed the committee to insert a clause in the Bill respecting marines. In DLC (TJ Papers, 2:309) there is an undated petition signed by Captains John Allison and John Lee “in behalf of themselves and the other officers of the marine companies” and stating that “they do with great concern find themselves, in their present situation, of very little use to their country, a circumstance the more distressing as they ardently wish to serve effectually the cause they have engaged in. That the smalness of the vessels, and the manner in which most of them are employd, render their establishment useless at present; and before larger vessels can be ready, the time for which the privates enlisted will be expired. That they find, amongst their men, a general willingness to engage during the war, upon the terms proposed by Congress; and have no doubt, that their companies can speedily be recruited, to the number requisite for a continental Battalion. That the marines are a body of active, robust young fellows, well fitted for the land service, to which they are strongly enclined, whilst at the same time they have withstood all endeavours to engage them in that of the sea. That they have thought it their duty to represent these facts, and with due respect submit to the wisdom of the Assembly, whether such a disposition of them may not be made, as will greatly facilitate the raising the troops required by Congress.” On the verso of this petition are two items in TJ’s hand: (1) calculations of quotas for the various counties of Virginia with the names of some of the officers; (2) the following Resolution: “That it be an instruction to the Committee appointed to prepare a bill for raising 6 additional battalions to insert in the same a clause or clauses for regimenting and engaging in the Continental service so many of the marine officers and privates in the service of this commonwealth as are willing, and making the same part of one of the said 6 battalions.” This resolution was adopted by the House, as an instruction to the committee, on 25 Oct. (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1776, 1828 edn., p. 27). Despite this fact, TJ’s Bill was amended so as to exclude all reference to the marines.
3. The following was deleted in the Bill, probably before being introduced since it is not bracketed: “a Committee of three persons shall be chosen by joint ballot of both houses to proceed immediately.”
4. This entire paragraph is crossed out, probably by amendment of the House.
5. The Bill to divide West Augusta was introduced 29 Oct. (same, p. 32); consequently, the name of West Augusta was afterward deleted from the present Bill and the names of “Yohogania, Monongalia, and Ohio” substituted therefor, so that they occur for the first time not in the Act by which they were created but in the one concerning the six battalions (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends IX, 180, 262–6).
6. Despite the instruction given the Committee on 18 Oct. by the House, this was amended to read “and the field officers and captains of the militia, or a major part of them” (same, p. 180).
7. On the verso of the petition referred to in note 2 (TJ Papers, 2: 309) and also in another undated document (DLC: TJ Papers, 2: 308, 309 verso), TJ calculated the various quotas. The draft of the Bill from which the present text derives has, after each county, two additional numbers that have been deleted: thus the entry for Warwick reads as follows: “7 Warwick (100)  7,” the last two figures having been crossed out, as was done for almost all other counties. The deleted figures are not represented in the present text, and the two documents noted above are not given because they are merely TJ’s progressive calculations for the various quotas. His procedure was as follows: on the basis of the known or estimated militia rolls of each county (the figures given to the right of the name of the county), TJ arrived at a quota of enlistments for each county (the figures given at the left of the name of the county). However, since the instructions given the committee on 18 Oct. designated the number of officers and men of each battalion, the quotas of men here given are not, of course, in the Act; these quotas were in turn used by the House as the basis for determining the number of captains and subalterns to be chosen by the field officers and captains of militia of each county, and the allotment as thus determined is given in the Act (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 180–1). On the recto of the second of the two documents referred to at the beginning of this note, in an unidentified hand, is the following: “Heads of the bill for raising six battalions of infantry on continental account. That the six battalions consist of ten companies each, and each company of sixty eight men rank and file with their proper officers to serve during the continuation of the war, unless sooner discharged by Congress. That each of the battalions be commanded by a colonel a lieutenant colonel, a major, ten captains twenty lieutenants ten ensigns and forty serjeants, and each company to be allowed a drummer and a fifer. The nine companies of marines to be included in the six battalions.” This meant that each company of non-commissioned officers and men (68 men plus four sergeants, one drummer and one fifer) totalled 74, or 740 in a battalion. The total number of militia tabulated by TJ on the verso of the document just quoted was 47,255; this figure he divided by 3330 (740 multiplied by 4.5), obtaining the quotient 14; thus one-fourteenth of the militia strength of the county was set as the quota for that county, and this in turn was the figure used in calculating the number of officers to be appointed in each county. TJ arrived at the figure 4.5 by deducting the half-battalion on the Ohio and the whole battalion of West Augusta from the total of six.
8. The Act adds the following at this point: “and be allowed a dollar and one third for each man for recruiting expenses.”
9. The Act reads: “first day of January next.”
10. The Act reads: “first day of February next.”
11. The words “as the committee shall judge reasonable” are not in the Act. At this point the Act includes a paragraph concerning the fixing of places for rendezvous, the reviewing of troops, the issuing of commissions, and the establishing of seniority.
12. See note 5.
13. The remainder of the Bill was deleted by amendment and does not appear in the Act; it is instructive, however, as revealing TJ’s concern for the men who were to be furnished by Virginia for the Continental establishment.
14. The following was deleted in the MS: “to send one or more of their body to such encampments.”
15. The following was deleted in the MS: “empowered and charged to suspend such officers and.” The words are inclosed in square brackets, which would seem to indicate that they were deleted by amendment before the whole passage was struck out by the House.
16. The words following this point are crossed out in the MS.