Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 11 June 1807

11 Jun 1807

Outlines of a system for organizing the Militia

in three Classes—.

1st. Class to include all free, white, male citizens between the ages of 19. & 26. to be formed into companies of from 50. to 72. privates, in Battalions of 4. or 5. companies. Regiments of from 2. to 4. Battalions, Brigades of from 3 to 4. Regiments, & Divisions of two Brigades—in suitable proportions of Infantry, Cavalry & Artillery, & armed at the expense of the United States—to be exercised 6. days in each year, & be liable to be called into actual service for any time not exceeding 8. months.

2d. Class to include all &c. &c. between the ages of 26. & 33. & organized like the first class, & armed at their own expense, or by their respective states, to be exercised 3. days in each year, & be liable to be called into service in their own States, or the adjoining States for 4. months.

3d. Class to include all &c. &c. between the ages of 33. & 43. to be formed into companies, Battalions & Regiments, and armed as the second class, & to be exercised one day in each year, to be liable to be called into actual service in their respective States for a term not exceeding 3. months.

The Captains & Subalterns of each class to be exclusively appointed from the class in which they shall be enrolled those appointed in the 1st. Class may serve in that class until they may be 30. years of age. Those appointed in the second class may serve in that class until they are 40. years old, & those appointed in the 3d. Class may serve until they are 48. years old. The field Officers of the 1st. & 2d. Class may be appointed from either of those two classes, & may serve in either until they shall be 40. years of Age. The General Officers may be Appointed from either of the three Classes & may serve until they shall be 48. years of age.

By the latest returns & such estimates as have been made for those States & territories from which no returns have been received the total number of Militia enrolled agreeably to the existing Laws amount to   636,000

The proposed system would reduce the number at the rate of above 11. per cent, of course the number would be 566,000
It is presumed that the respective classes would contain the following numbers.
1st. Class 185,000
2d. Class 174,000
3d. Do. 207,000

a Draft of 74. of the 1st. Class for actual service would form an army of 25,000. & two others of from 10. to 11,000 each, & by a Draft of 1/10 from the second class, & of 1/16 from the third class, corps of observation, & guards for exposed places might be formed to the amount of 30,000 men.

By the present system each man has to turn out for exercise 4. days in each of 27. years, which amounts to 108. days. By the proposed system each man would be liable to turn out for exercise only 73. days in the course of his life.

To arm & accoutre the 1st. Class including 10,000 Cavalry & 10,000 artillery, allowing the Infantry muskets, Bayonets, & Cartridge boxes, the Cavalry each one Pistol & a Horsemans Sword, & the Artillery 300 field pieces with the necessary apparatus will probably cost about   $2,000,000

Those who shall serve in the 1st. Class 4. years or upwards should (except the Artillery) be allowed to hold their arms until they shall have passed thro’ the second class, & then (or sooner if they die or leave the United States) the arms to be returned to the Public.

10,000 of the 1st. Class ought to be rifle-men

50,000 Muskets might be supplied from the stock on hand.

25,000 might probably be purchased from the Militia of the 1st. Class. Contracts may be made in different parts of the U.S. for eighty thousand Muskets & 10,000 Rifles, 10,000 Pistols & 10,000 Swords to be delivered in one, two, or three years, & the field Pieces could be obtained from Foxall.

An Annual Appropriation of $500,000 for three years would be sufficient for arming the 1st. Class.

The Officers of the 1st. Class should be exercised two days in each year by suitable characters under the direction of the General officer & be subjected to fines for non-attendance.

If this system should be legally & practically established, we might by calling out 73. of the 1st. Class have our main Army of 30,000, & two other armies of 15,000 each for actual field service, while small drafts from the 2d. & 3d. Classes would be sufficient for garrisons & guards to the most exposed Ports & Harbours, at a distance from the principal theatre of war.

Militia of the U.S.

New Hampshire 25.524.
Massachusetts 68.178.
Vermont 17.157.
Rhode Island 5.445 
Connecticut 21.286.
New York 78.636.
New Jersey 32.342.
Pennsylvania 96.436.
Delaware 4.000 
Maryland 36.000 
Virginia 71.309.
North Carolina 43.753.
South Carolina 35.823.
Georgia 19.559.
Kentucky 32.229.
Tennessee 16.814.
Ohio 15.350.
District of Columbia 2.201.
Mississippi Territory 2.158.
Indiana Territory 2.067.
Orleans Territory 5.543.
Louisiana Territory 2.200
Michigan Territory      1.028
Total 636.038.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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