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A Rabble in Arms
Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip’s War
Kyle F. Zelner
 
340 pages
21 illustrations
November, 2010
ISBN: 9780814797341
 
Introduction
Table of Contents
 
$24.00 Paper
also available in Cloth, eBook
click here for exam copies
 
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Subjects: History
Part of the  Warfare and Culture Series
 

While it lasted only sixteen months, King Philip’s War (1675-1676) was arguably one of the most significant of the colonial wars that wracked early America. As the first major military crisis to directly strike one of the Empire’s most important possessions: the Massachusetts Bay Colony, King Philip’s War marked the first time that Massachusetts had to mobilize mass numbers of ordinary, local men to fight. In this exhaustive social history and community study of Essex County, Massachusetts’s militia, Kyle F. Zelner boldly challenges traditional interpretations of who was called to serve during this period.

Drawing on muster and pay lists as well as countless historical records, Zelner demonstrates that Essex County’s more upstanding citizens were often spared from impressments, while the “rabble” —criminals, drunkards, the poor—were forced to join active fighting units, with town militia committees selecting soldiers who would be least missed should they die in action. Enhanced by illustrations and maps, A Rabble in Arms shows that, despite heroic illusions of a universal military obligation, town fathers, to damaging effects, often placed local and personal interests above colonial military concerns.


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