- Series: Warfare and Culture
- Paperback: 340 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (November 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814797342
- ISBN-13: 978-0814797341
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #984,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip’s War (Warfare and Culture)
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“Zelner provides a valuable corrective to longstanding assumptions and misunderstandings about the English soldiery in King Philip’s War while shedding new light on the powers and values of the elites of the town militia committees….[He] has fundamentally altered the discussion.”
-New England Quarterly
“Zelner’s meticulously researched A Rabble in Arms provides an important corrective to an accepted narrative about democratic egalitarianism in New England towns. Indeed, Zelner’s findings on the social composition of armed forces, rural democracy and localism in colonial New England correspond with modern works on popular and political culture in early-modern England, as well as Revolutionary and early-national America.”
“Zelner has done meticulous research on the social composition of the Essex men who went to war in 1675-76. He has done a model job of mining sources to show the complexity of social and economic forces at work in raising military expeditions in Essex County.”
“A carefully researched account of how and why certain men from Essex County, MA, were chosen to fight in King Philip’s War.”
“Rock-solid research, cleanly presented, answers for one corner of early New England the timeless question: Who serves, fights, and dies? For all the scholarly attention lavished on that part of American history, Zelner is the first to discover the truth.”
-John Shy,author of A People Numerous and Armed
About the Author
Kyle F. Zelner is Associate Professor of History and a Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Top customer reviews
The powerless and expendable seem to have been impressed for King Philips War.It was a near run thing.The Indians were formidable fighters.I liked it a lot.
Kyle F. Zelner
New York University Press, 2009
Hardcover, $50.00, 325 Pages, Illustrations, Maps, Appendices, Tables, Bibliography, Notes
The militia in the English colonies evolved from the ancient Anglo-Saxon fyrd, which was based on the obligation of every member of society to participate in the common defense. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, the military responsibilities of the militia, as the Latinized fyrd was called, gradually dwindled as medieval monarchs relied more and more on mercenaries and a hereditary warrior class to fight their wars. By 1600, the English militia was essentially moribund. Only a fraction of the middle and upper classes were enrolled; training was infrequent and ineffective; and weapons were scarce and often obsolete. The peculiar nature of the English colonial experience in North America led to a revival of the militia in the New World. Because the early English colonies were under-capitalized commercial enterprises rather than government projects, the colonists couldn't rely on royal military forces or expensive mercenaries for protection. As no one else would defend them, they had to defend themselves. The initial landing parties in Chesapeake Bay and New England usually included veterans of the wars in Ireland or the Netherlands, such as John Smith and Miles Standish. Their responsibility was to train the rest of the colonists in the military arts and provide military leadership in times of crisis. As the years passed and the early colonies became established, these ad hoc military arrangements were formalized by law and custom into English-style militias. The early settlements at Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay weren't products of cross-Atlantic military assaults on hostile New World beachheads, but colonizing efforts by civilians for whom a professional military was anathema. Thus, as civilian-colonists whose only thoughts were of self-protection, their fundamental military organization was simple, defensive in nature, and based on the long-held English tradition of a citizen-soldiery, or militia. Militia represented a classical (and biblical) tradition of free people dropping scythes and shouldering weapons to defend hearth and home against invaders; then, the battle won, of returning to resume cutting hay. For a people with neither resources nor inclination-based on both religious and secular philosophical convictions-to maintain full-time defenders, a community-based militia wholly made up of citizen-soldiers dovetailed prefectly with their basic credos. Initially, militia service was universal. Varying slightly from colony to colony, every able-bodied male from 16 to 60 (which sometimes included slaves and indentured servants) was expected to keep and maintain a firearm and sufficient ammunition, and to willingly appear for regularly schedule drill. In a new book, A RABBLE IN ARMS: MASSACHUSETTS TOWNS AND MILITIAMEN DURING KING PHILIP'S WAR, author Kyle F. Zelner provides an insightful portrayal of Massachusetts soldiery in one of the most important but overlooked wars in this nation's history-King Philip's War. Drawing on muster and pay lists as well as numerous historical records, Zelner demonstrates that Essex County's more upstanding citizens, such as yeoman farmers, church members, and family heads, were often spared from impressments, while the "rabble"-criminals, drunkards, the poor-were forced to join active fighting u8nits, with town militia committees selecting soldiers who would be least missed should they die in action. He carefully peels away myths that have been reinforced so strongly through the mediums of popular culture (literature, movies, and television) that fact and fiction have blurred, but the reality was quite different. Zelner's book is a welcome addition to the literature of pre-Revolutionary War America.
Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard