The Study of America’s History

Student’s Name

The Configuration’s Regulars: A social Profile of Enlisted Service in America’s First Standing Army”, William B. Skelton, OCT 1989.

The study of America’s history has experienced a significant evolution over the past few years. Initially, historians focused on strategy and operations as well as leadership. Historians studying modern military are currently extending their studies to forces composition, their recruitment, motivation, among other factors like post-military effects on the lives of veterans (770). In this study, we shall analyze the first regiment in America of the first federation. Military of the first regiment suffered financial challenges with hardship in adapting and only attracted young, poor men with no property, most of them coming from agricultural societies where they worked as farm laborers, unskilled artisans, and manual laborers.

The first regiment was established by the American Congress back in 1784. The regiment involved a force of seven hundred men who pushed authority (771). The administration was responsible for driving northwest. The service offered by the first militants was limited to a period of one year, after which the servicemen were discharged. However, Congress changed the norm by enlisting soldiers for three-year terms in 1785. This became the standard term. The regiment suffered significant and chronic inadequacy of finances to pay the servicemen and acquire equipment. They also had inadequate supplies that resulted from the inability possessed by Congress to generate revenue.

Congress developed the first regiment by organizing volunteering quotas in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Of the four regions, Connecticut was significantly overrepresented. Congress used economic incentives to attract volunteers because many people needed to get sources of income to support their families and own property. Due to the desperation that many people had, volunteering became insufficient. Too many people were volunteering to join the army, and Congress had to start recruiting new members instead of taking volunteers. Most of the recruits in the first regiments were immigrants and formed 55% of the total recruits (774). The huge representation was due to poverty.

Most of the militants in the first regiment pursued manual and non-agricultural occupations before they joined the military. As a result, they lived in poverty since their primary sources of income were farm labor and unskilled artisan works (777). Their wages were minimal, and they could not own any property. Only 3% of the soldiers were farmers, while 1% pursued non-manual occupations. The proportions resulted from the hardships in the army. Soldiers received very little pay that was also not guaranteed. Besides, it was not comfortable adapting to the difficulty experienced. The people who were willing to tolerate the hardships came from extreme poverty. They viewed military service as an opportunity to save some finances for them to invest in property ownership in the future. 

However, the case was quite different in Connecticut. Most of the recruits there were native-born and not foreigners. The native-born recruits constituted 80% of the total and mostly came from rural agricultural communities (778). They worked in the farms back in their rural communities as laborers. The commander in charge of the company in Connecticut in 1788 wrote that about 69% of recruits in his company were “young lads farmers’ sons.” According to Anderson’s research, the ranks in Massachusetts, a company in Connecticut, were filled with native-born and poor young men who owned no property. The poor conditions of the military at the time could not attract men from well-off families. Others were discouraged by the difficulty in adapting to military life.

The author of the article provides several examples of soldiers who came from agricultural backgrounds. Oliver Everett, for instance, was given 41 acres of land by his father after completing his service in the military, Daniel Hickox was a son to a farmer in Watertown (784). Generally, the military provided an excellent opportunity for property less young men to earn a living. However, some soldiers remained in poverty even after completing their service in the military. Samuel Marsh, for example, served a total of 16 years in the army, but on completion of the terms, he owned no property apart from his wearing clothes (784).

The author of this article made significant use of secondary sources. One of the secondary sources utilized is, “The New American Military History” by Peter Karsten. He also used “The Early American Way of War” by William and Mary. The most commonly used book is the “Regimental Book of the First Regiment.”

From the article, we can conclude that the conditions in the military during the first regiment were poor. They suffered insufficient to pay that affected pay for soldiers, supplies, and equipment. Apart from finances, life in the military was challenging to adapt and had severe punishments. As a result, the military service attracted poor young men who did not own any property and lived in extreme poverty. Most of them came from agricultural societies and worked as manual laborers in farms, while others were unskilled artisans.

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