From R. S. Dills' History of Fayette County
THE OLD MUSTER
As it may be a matter of interest to many to know the military discipline to which the youth of early days were subjected, we devote a page to its explanation.
July 25, 1788, a law was published at Marietta for "regulating and establishing the militia," which was confirmed by the territorial legislature, and approved by the governor (St. Clair).
This law provided that all male citizens between the ages of sixteen and fifty, should perform military duty, be armed with a musket and bayonet, cartridge-box and pouch, or powder-horn and bullet-pouch, one pound of powder and four of lead, priming wire, brush and six flints.
For the promotion of health, civilization and morality they were required to drill on the first day of each week, at ten a. m., armed and equipped, adjacent to the place of public worship, and at all other times and places as the commander in chief should direct. For failing so to appear on the first of the week, they were fined twenty-five cents; and for failure on the day designated by the commander in chief, fifty cents; for refusing to do guard duty, one dollar, and for refusing to serve in case of invasion, they were considered guilty of desertion and court martialed.
On the 23d of November, 1788, the governor and judges published a law providing that all who should not furnish arms and accoutrements according to law, after thirty days' neglect, should, for a musket and bayonet, be fined five dimes ; for every pound of powder and four pounds of lead not furnished in fifteen days, two dimes and five cents; for every powder-horn and bullet-pouch, two dimes; for every six flints not provided within ten days, one dime and five cents, and brush not provided within thirty days, one dime. They were also to be inspected by the commandant of companies, on the first Sabbath of each month. By a law passed July 2, 1791, all commandants of companies were to drill their men two hours on each last day of the week, and inspect their arms, ammunition, etc. All who attended the drill on Saturday, were excused from church or drill on Sunday. Also if they attended church, armed and equipped, they were not required to drill on Saturday. Thus the law remained until December 13, 1799, when the whole was revised by the territorial legislature, which fixed the ages at eighteen and forty-five, men were to be armed and equipped in six months, oflicers to have sword or hanger and espontoon (spontoon or pike), arms exempt from execution. It also provided for districting and officering the militia; the commissioned and non-commissioned officers to be drilled by the brigadiers, six days, five hours each, during the year. Company musters once in every two months, except December, January, February and March. Each batalion to muster in the month of April every year, and a muster of the regiment in October. For non-attendance at company muster, one to three dollars; regimental or battalion, one dollar and a half to six dollars.
By act of December 30, 1803, Quakers, Menonites and Tunkers were exempt from military duty on payment of three dollars each year. Privates were allowed twelve months to equip, and fine reduced from one dollar to a dollar and a half.
February 14, 1809, all laws for organizing, etc. were repealed. Only two company musters a year, in April and September. Battalion once in April and September. Commissioned to meet in August of each year for two days' exercise, according to Steuben's tactics.
February 2, 1813, a bounty of twelve dollars per month was allowed soldiers whose term of service had expired, in case they continued until their places could be supplied.
Passing over all the intermediate laws, continually changing the mode of organizing, times of drilling, fines, etc., we finally reach the act of 1844, which declares military duty a failure in so far as the improvement of morals is concerned, and excuses the rank and file from drilling in time of peace, thus verifying the words of Dryden —
"Raw in fields the rude militia swarms;On the prairie, north of Oldtown, was a favorite place for drilling, as was also Washington, in this county. It was a day looked forward to with a great deal of pleasure. At the command of the captain to "stand at ease," the sergeants passed along the line with a bucketfull of whisky, tin cup in hand, to which every man helped himself according to his calibre. The officers were more highly favored.
Mouths without hands; maintained at vast expense,
In peace a charge, in war a weak defense
Stout once a month they march a blustering band
And ever, but in times of need, at hand."
Day of regimental and battalion muster were agreeable occasions, but officer muster was creta notandam.
Then these men swelled out with warlike pride, and "set the teeth and stretched the nostrils wide," and "gave the eye a terrible aspect," and as sable—save the blue coats and brass buttons —knights of old, they pranced upon their pampered steeds, with the glitter of the polished saber, the waving white plume, the brilliant sash and flashing epaulet, the proud recipients of many admiring smiles from fair ladies whose sparkling eyes rivaled their own gay uniforms in brilliancy; while the stolid anti-bellum Quaker, looking on, exclaimed with the sentiment of the frogs, "It may be fun for you, but it is death to us."
We subjoin a few of the names given us by J. L. Myers, from the muster-roll of the third company, odd battalion, third brigade, of the militia of the State of Ohio.
Samuel Myers, captain.
David Allen, lieutenant.
Enoch Harvey, ensign.
Peter Coon, fifer.
Jacob Dickason, jr.
Richard M. McCafferty.