Primary Resource

An Act for speedily recruiting the Virginia Regiments on the continental establishment, and for raising additional troops of Volunteers (May 20, 1777)

In this act, passed on May 20, 1777, the General Assembly levies quotas on county militias for men to serve one-year enlistments in the Continental army, to be filled through a draft lottery to be held in February 1778.

Transcription from Original

CHAP. I.

An Act for speedily recruiting the Virginia Regiments on the continental establishment, and for raising additional troops of Volunteers.

WHEREAS it is indispensably necessary that the regiments of infantry raised by the laws of this commonwealth, on continental establishment, be speedily recruited, and such alterations made therein as may assimilate them to the regiments raised by the other United American States for the continental army: Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That fourteen of the said regiments be reduced to eight companies each, and be completed by recruits or draughts in manner herein after mentioned; that the officers of the reduced companies be provided for, by appointments, to fill up vacancies in the remaining companies, as they shall happen; and that the battalion on commonwealth establishment, under the command of colonel George Gibson, and now in continental service, be continued in the said service instead of the ninth Virginia regiment, made prisoners by the enemy in the battle of Germantown,

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until the officers and men of the said regiment shall be exchanged, or the time of service of the men in the said first battalion shall be expired.

And be it farther enacted, That the officers of the said fourteen regiments, as well as those of the said ninth regiment, if they shall be exchanged, shall use their best endeavours to re-enlist all the men therein whose times of service are near expiring, to serve for three years, or during the present war; and each of the men so re-enlisting, as well as those who have already re-enlisted, shall be entitled to a bounty from this commonwealth of twenty dollars, over and above the continental bounty, and the governour and council are desired to take such measures as to them shall seem best for enabling the officers to pay such additional bounty out of the publick money in the hands of the treasurer of this commonwealth.

And as our numbers in continental service, which, according to the proportions heretofore stated by congress, should be eight thousand one hundred and sixty men rank and file, may for some time be deficient: Be it farther enacted, That the troops raised for the service of this commonwealth, by an act of assembly passed in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six, and intituled "An act for making farther provision for the internal security and defence of this country," shall be forthwith regimented by the governour and council, who, for completing the work as speedily as possible, are hereby authorised to transfer the men enlisted by such officers as procure the smallest proportions of their quota to such others as come nearest the raising their full quotas; and that a battalion of such troops, to consist of eight companies, if there be sufficient to make such a battalion, and if not, then so many as there are, be marched to join the grand army, there to continue till a sufficient number of recruits may be raised to make good our just proportion, or until the terms of their enlistments shall expire. And the officers and soldiers of the said troops, and the officers and soldiers of the said battalion, under the command of colonel George Gibson, shall be entitled to and receive the same bounty, pay, rations, and clothing, as are allowed to the officers and soldiers in the continental service, so long as they continue therein.

It is farther enacted, That, for securing the completion of the said regiments, a number of men shall be

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draughted from the single men of the militia of the several counties, and the city of Williamsburg, whether officers or privates, above eighteen years of age, who have no child, in the following proportions, that is to say: From the county of Accomack for they eight, from the county of Albemarle thirty six, from the county of Amelia forty four, from the county of Augusta ninety seven, from the county of Amherst thirty two, from the county of Bedford fifty four from the county of Berkeley fifty two, from the county of Botetourt sixty, from the county of Brunswick fifty two, from the county of Buckingham twenty six, from the county of Caroline forty one, from the county of Charles City eleven, from the county of Charlotte twenty eight, from the county of Chesterfield thirty, from the county of Culpeper sixty four, from the county of Cumberland sixteen, from the county of Dinwiddie twenty eight, from the county of Dunmore forty, from the county of Elizabeth city five, from the county of Essex twenty two, from the county of Fairfax thirty three, from the county of Fauquier forty eight, from the county of Fluvanna ten, from the county of Frederick forty, from the county of Gloucester thirty two, from the county of Goochland twenty three, from the county of Halifax thirty nine, from the county of Hampshire thirty three, from the county of Hanover thirty nine, from the county of Henrico twenty four, from the county of Henry twenty four, from the county of James City eight, from the county of Isle of Wight twenty four, from the county of King and Queen twenty, from the county of King George fourteen, from the county of King William twenty, from the county of Lancaster eleven, from the county of Loudoun sixty eight, from the county of Louisa twenty four, from the county of Lunenburg twenty two, from the county of Middlesex eight, from the county of Mecklenburg thirty four, from the county of Monongalia forty, from the county of Montgomery thirty, from the county of Nansemond twenty five, from the county of New Kent sixteen, from the county of Norfolk thirty five, from the county of Northampton seventeen, from the county of Northumberland twenty nine, from the county of Orange twenty three, from the county of Pittsylvania thirty six, from the county of Powhatan thirteen, from the county of Prince Edward twenty two, from the county of Prince George twenty, from the county of Princess Anne twenty three, from the county

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of Prince William thirty two from the county of Richmond twenty two, from the county of Southampton forty, from the county of Spotsylvania eighteen, from the county of Stafford twenty, from the county of Surry fourteen, from the county of Sussex twenty eight, from the county of Warwick four, from the county of Washington thirty three, from the county of Westmoreland twenty six, from the county of Yohogania forty, from the county of York nine, from the city of Williamsburg eight, and from the counties of Kentucky and Ohio such a number as is equal to one twenty fifth part of their militia. And where any county shall have been divided, during this present session of assembly, the number herein before required from the whole, as it stood undivided, shall be furnished by the counties into which it shall have been divided, in proportion to the numbers of their respective militia; and where two or more counties shall have been formed into a greater number, the numbers herein before required for the said counties, as they stood before such alteration, shall be added together, and each of the counties into which they shall have been formed shall furnish a part of the whole number of men, in proportion to the militia it shall contain, for adjusting which proportions the field officers of the said counties so divided or reformed shall meet to together, at such time and place as shall be appointed by the commanding officer of the oldest of the said counties respectively, and each man so draughted shall be entitled to a bounty of fifteen dollars, to be paid by this commonwealth, and be compelled to serve one year, or find an able bodied man to serve in his room in one of the said Virginia regiments on continental establishment. And as well such draughts, as those who enlist under this act, shall after such service be exempted from all other draughts for the regular service, for so long a time after their discharge as they shall have actually served.

And be it farther enacted, That where any county or corporation shall not, either by enlistment or draught, have raised their quota of men for completing the six additional battalions, according to the directions of the act of the former session of assembly, such county or corporation shall respectively proceed to enlist or draught men for such deficiency, according to the said act, whether such deficiency arose from the number not having been recruited or draughted at first, or from their

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having been since discharged as irregularly drawn out, or being unfit for service, at the time of the draught, over and above the number hereby required of such county or corporation.

And to the end that the draughts to be made under this act may be fairly and equally made, It is farther enacted, that the county lieutenant or commanding officer of the militia in each county or corporation shall, on or before the second Monday of February next, summon the field officers, captains, and first lieutenants of his militia, to meet at the courthouse, and with them, or such as shall appear, collect from the muster rolls the names of all the officers and men of their militia who have not a wife or child, or who are not exempted by this act, or from militia duty by having a substitute in the army, adding thereto the names of any other such single men as are in the county and not enrolled, and who by the militia law ought to be enrolled, and shall direct all such single men to be summoned to meet at such place and time as the said officers shall appoint, not exceeding ten days thereafter, then and there to determine, by fair and equal lot, which of them shall enter into the service; and at the time and place so appointed, the said field officers and captains, together with two of the four senior magistrates who are not field officers in such county or corporation, having taken an oath to do impartial justice therein, which either of the said justices may administer to the others, shall carefully review the said single men, and examine into their bodily abilities and state of health, and set aside such as shall appear to them to be unfit for service, and shall proceed to draw the lots between the others as followeth, that is to say: they shall cause to be written the word "service" on so many distinct pieces of paper as will amount to the number of men hereby required to be raised in such county or corporation, and shall put the same into a covered hat or vessel; they shall cause also to be written the word "clear" on so many other pieces of paper, of the same form and dimensions, as, with the former, will amount to the number of single men, out of which the draughts are to be made as aforesaid, and put the same into the hat or vessel aforesaid, shaking the same well together, and shall then call the said single men one at a time, as they stand upon the roll, to draw a paper fairly out of the said hat or vessel, the same remaining covered, and being frequently shaken,

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every of which papers so drawn shall be read aloud, and truly entered on the roll against the name of the person drawing, whether it be "service" or "clear," until the whole papers be drawn out. And if any person liable to the said lot shall fail to appear, or being present shall refuse to draw for himself the said justices, field officers, and captains, shall cause one of the byestanders to draw for the person so failing or refusing, who shall be bound thereby; and the several persons by or for whom a paper with the word "service" shall be so drawn, shall from thenceforth be deemed soldiers, and compelled to serve or find an able-bodied man to serve in his room as aforesaid. And a list of their names shall be by the commanding officer of such militia transmitted to the governour, or to the commanding officer of the continental troops in this commonwealth, without delay, to whose order they shall be delivered by the said commanding officer of the militia at the courthouse of his county. And in order that the said commanding officer of the militia may be enabled to have the men forthcoming when called for, it shall be lawful for him to restrain them by furlough to such limits as he shall think reasonable; and if any of them shall depart from such limits, or shall fail to appear at any rendezvous by him appointed, they shall be deemed deserters, and treated accordingly.

But as an encouragement to persons to enter voluntarily into the said service, and thereby avoid the necessity of making such draughts, as far as may be done, It is farther enacted, That any justice of peace or magistrate, or a commissioned officer of the militia in any county or corporation, as well as such recruiting officers as may be appointed by the governour or the continental commanding officer in this commonwealth, shall have power to enlist any able-bodied men willing to enter into the service, except apprentices and hired servants under written contracts at any iron works, or persons solely employed in the manufacture of fire arms, not having leave in writing from the owner or manager of such works, except also imported servants, and those who are by law obliged to serve to thirty one years of age, aud to offer a bounty of ten dollars each from this commonwealth, over and above the continental bounty; to all such as will engage to serve in the said regiments for three years, or during the present war, and to offer a bounty to twenty dollars in the whole to

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such as will engage to serve therein for one year only; and so many men as can be thereby enlisted into the said regiments, before the time of drawing the lots as aforesaid, in any county, or corporation, shall be deducted from the number of men to be draughted in such county or corporation wherein they shall be listed. And if any single man subject to the draught aforesaid shall procure an able-bodied man so to enlist, such single man shall be thereby exempted from the draught.

It is farther enacted, That if any of the men who shall be draughted into the service shall, after joining the army, enlist to serve therein for three years, or during the present war, every person so enlisting shall be entitled to a bounty of ten dollars, over and above the continental bounty of lands and money; and that the several men to be recruited or draughted pursuant to this act shall have the same pay, rations, and clothing, and be subject to the like rules and regulations, with the other soldiers of the Virginia regiments in the continental army, and shall have the option of entering into such of the companies in the said regiments as they shall choose, in which there shall be room for their admission.

In order to supply the officers and soldiers in the said Virginia regiments with the necessaries of life at moderate prices, and prevent the ruinous exactions they have hitherto been subject to, It is farther enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the governour, with the advice of the council, to appoint an agent, or agents, to import or purchase such necessaries upon the best terms for which they can be had, and cause them to be transported to the encampment of the said regiments, there to be retailed to the officers and soldiers at such prices, to be settled by the governour and council, as articles of the same sort and quality are furnished to other continental troops, either by the continent or their respective states. Or the governour, with the advice of the council, may contract with any person or persons for the delivery of any such necessaries at the camp, at a certain price or prices agreed on, as they shall think most beneficial to the said officers and soldiers. And the governour may from time to time draw on the treasurer of this commonwealth for so much money as shall be necessary for the purposes of this act, taking bond and sufficient security from the agents or contractors for the faithful performance of their trust, and for their

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accounting for the money so received, and repaying the same into the treasury, as they shall receive it of the officers and soldiers, by sale of the goods; and the treasurer is hereby required to pay such draughts, out of the publick money in his hands.

And be it farther enacted, That every county or corporation shall be entitled to a deduction from the number of their draughts of one man for every able-bodied deserter from the continental army, enlisted within this commonwealth, who shall be apprehended by any of the inhabitants of such county or corporation, and who shall have one year at least to serve in the said army at the time of his apprehension; and every single man draughted, or subject to the draught, who shall apprehend such deserter and deliver him to the county lieutenant or commanding officer of the militia of his county or corporation, shall be thereby discharged from service, or exempted from the draught; and where more than one of such single men are engaged in such apprehension, they shall settle the matter between themselves by lot or otherwise, so as to entitle one of them to such discharge or exemption, provided the apprehending a deserter the second time shall not be the cause of another exemption. And if any person (except in the case of husband and wife, or of a child concealing a parent, or a widow her son) shall wilfully harbour or conceal any deserter from the army of the United States, or any of them, and be thereof convicted, the offender, if a man capable of military duty, shall be obliged to serve in one of the Virginia regiments on continental establishment during such deserter's time of service, and be entitled to the pay, rations, and clothing, and be subject to the same rules and regulations, as the other troops in the said regiments; and if the offender be a woman, or man incapable of military service, he or she shall pay a fine of fifty pounds, to be recovered by action of debt or information in any court of record, with costs, one moiety thereof to the use of this commonwealth, and the other to the informer, or, in default thereof, suffer three months close imprisonment. All deserters heretofore or hereafter enlisted or draughted in this commonwealth, and not otherwise punished by martial law, shall be compelled to serve double the time of their absence from duty.

And be it farther enacted, That the several county courts be empowered and required to make a reasona-

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ble provision at the publick expense for the immediate support of the widows within their respective counties whose husbands shall have died or been slain in the service of the commonwealth, or the United States, if such widows shall have received no support from the general assembly, and for payment thereof may draw orders on the treasurer for the time being, distinguishing therein whether the soldier was in the continental or commonwealth service; and the said treasurer is hereby required to pay the same, out of the publick money in his hands.

And be it enacted, That quakers and menonists who shall be so draughted shall be discharged from personal service, and that the field officers and justices who attend the draught shall, and they are hereby empowered, to employ any two or more discreet persons to procure, upon the best terms they can, proper substitutes to serve in their stead, and to adjust and divide the charge thereof among all the members of their respective societies of quakers or menonists in the county, in proportion to the number of tithables in the family of or belonging to each member, and to authorise the sheriff of the county, by warrant under their hands, to levy such charge by distress, in case of any member refusing or neglecting to make payment thereof within ten days after the same shall have been demanded, upon the goods and chattles of the member so refusing or neglecting; and the said commanding officer shall transmit to the governour a list of the names of the substitutes so procured, and a duplicate to the commanding officer of the continental troops in this commonwealth, as aforesaid. Every field officer or magistrate failing to perform any duty herein before imposed on him shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, and every captain or lieutenant for such failure shall forfeit the sum of twenty five pounds, recoverable in any court of record by any person who will sue for the same, as well for himself as for the commonwealth, one moiety thereof to the person so suing, and the other to the commonwealth.

And whereas it is of the greatest importance to the American cause to open the ensuing campaign as early as possible, and to render its operations more decisive and effectual, that the army under the command of his excellency general Washington should be reinforced by

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an additional number of troops to be raised for that purpose in this commonwealth: Be it farther enacted, That every man who shall voluntarily engage to enter into such service, to continue therein for the space of six months from the time of his arrival at the place appointed for the general rendezvous, unless sooner discharged, shall receive a bounty of ten dollars, to be paid in such manner as the governour, with the advice of the council, may direct, so soon as the company to which he belongs shall be complete; and the several officers and privates shall be entitled to the like pay and rations as are allowed to the continental troops. And that each volunteer so serving shall be exempted from any future draughts for the regular service for the space of six months after his discharge, provided that no apprentices, or hired servants under written contracts at any iron works, not having leave in writing from the owner or manager of such works, nor any imported servants, shall be admitted as volunteers. The volunteers so engaging shall be formed into companies of sixty eight men each rank and file, under the command of a captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, and four serjeants, and allowed a drummer and fifer. Every eight companies shall compose a regiment, under the command of a colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major, and be allowed a chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, surgeon, two surgeons mates, and a quartermaster serjeant, and the whole shall be under the command of two brigadiers general, if the number of volunteers who may enlist shall make it necessary to appoint them, and shall be subject to the same rules and regulations as are directed for the troops in the continental service. The general and field officers shall be appointed by the governour, by and with the advice of the privy council, and commissioned by the governour, having regard to the appointments of the field officers to the situation of the country, making them as diffusive as may be; the chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, and surgeon, by the commissioned officers of the regiment; and each surgeon and quartermaster shall choose his own mates and serjeant respectively.

And for the greater expedition in raising and collecting the said volunteers, It is farther enacted, That the county lieutenant or commanding officer of the militia in each county or corporation shall immediately appoint a general muster or meeting of the several bat-

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talions of the militia upon receiving notice of this act, and in the warmest terms represent to them the utility and necessity of strongly reinforcing the continental army, and receive the subscriptions of such as shall be willing to engage in this service in the following terms, to wit: "We do severally enlist to serve in the corps of volunteers now raising to reinforce the continental army, at present under the command of his excellency general Washington, for the time and upon the terms directed by an act of assembly intituled An act for speedily recruiting the Virginia regiments on the continental establishment, and for raising additional troops of volunteers."

Provided, That no person so engaging shall be thereby exempted from the draught to be made for completing the Virginia regiments on continental establishment. And such commanding officer, as well as each other militia officer, or any justice of peace in the county or corporation, shall continue to receive such engagements at any time afterwards, until the volunteers shall march from such county or corporation; and the names of all persons so engaging shall be by the commanding officer of the county collected, and transmitted monthly to the governour. As soon as a sufficient number of men shall be engaged in any county or corporation to make a company, they shall be called together by the commanding officer of such county or corporation, and shall proceed to the choice of their captain, lieutenants, and ensign, by a majority of votes to be taken by ballot; and when a number sufficient to form a company shall not be enlisted in any county or corporation before the last day of March next, or part of a company shall remain after one or more are completed, in either case they shall be united to the parts of companies in some other county, so as to make up complete companies, who shall then proceed to the choice of their officers as aforesaid, observing to choose a commissioned officer from each part of a company, in rank, according to the numbers. The several officers so chosen shall be commissioned by the governour, and rank according to their priority of election; and where any elections shall happen on the same day, the priority of rank shall be settled by a general officer, by fair and equal lot between the officers. The governour, with the advice of the council is desired and empowered to form the several companies into regiments,

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and appoint the place or places of general rendezvous, and from time to time, as the regiments are completed, to call into duty the field officers for each regiment, from which time their pay, as well as that of the captains, subalterns, and other officers of each regiment, and the privates, shall respectively commence. The general officers shall be entitled to pay from the times they are respectively called into duty, after a sufficient number of regiments shall have been formed to require their superintendence by the governour and council, who have also power to direct at which time the said regiments, or any of them, shall march to join the continental army.

And whereas there are within this commonwealth some religious societies, particularly Baptists and Methodists, the members of which may be adverse to serving in the same companies or regiments with others, and under officers of different principles, though they would willingly engage in the defence of their country under the command of officers of their own religion: Be it enacted, That the governor, with the advice of the privy council, may, and he is hereby empowered, to appoint proper persons of either of the said religious societies to enlist any members of the same who will engage to enter as volunteers in the manner and upon the terms aforesaid, and such volunteers shall be formed into separate companies, and may choose their own captains, lieutenants, and ensigns; and when a sufficient number of companies shall be raised to form a regiment, the governour, with the advice of the privy council, may appoint proper field officers out of their own societies to such regiment or regiments, who shall be allowed a chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, surgeon, two surgeons mates, and a quartermaster serjeant, to be appointed in the same manner as herein before directed for the other regiments of volunteers, and as well the officers as privates of such regiments shall be entitled to the same bounty, pay, and rations, and subject to the same rules and regulations, with the other volunteers raised for the same service.

Provided always, That the number of volunteers to be raised pursuant to this act, for six months service, shall not in the whole exceed ten regiments. The governour, with the advice of the council, is hereby authorised to use the most expeditious and effectual means for furnishing the said volunteers with proper tents,

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arms, and accoutrements, and moreover, to appoint one or more paymasters, commissaries, or contractors, for the more regularly and punctually paying and providing necessaries for the said troops.