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Otsego Herald

September 12, 2013

Otsego men drafted

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, September 11, 1813

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

MILITIA DRAFT

Agreeably to General Orders ... received last evening ... by Lieut. Col. Elijah M. Metcalf, of this village, it appears that this county has to furnish as its quota of Artillery, 1 captain, 2 first lieutenants, 2 second do., 5 sergeants, 6 corporals, 1 drummer, 1 fifer, and 90 privates, total 108,whom we understand, by Col. are to rendezvous in this village, as soon as they can be organized ...

The quota of Militia, of this county, is as follows: 1 Captain, 2 Lieutenants, 2 Ensigns, 5 Sergeants, 5 Corporals, 1 Drummer, 1 Fifer, and 90 privates of Infantry, and the same of Light Infantry; total 216 ...

The detachment is required under the authority of the act of Congress, passed 28th February, 1795,and will not serve a longer term than three months.

COMMENT: All told, this draft of militia covered eight counties, and called for 1,496 infantry, 540 light infantry, 106 riflemen, 432 artillery, and a company of horse artillery. The field artillery were to be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Hyde Metcalf (1778-1821) of Cooperstown.

Virtually all able-bodied white males were required to serve in the militia. When a draft of them was called, volunteers could take their place to the extent available. A major problem with New York militia during the War of 1812, aside from the fact that most were untrained and badly equipped, is that many units refused point-blank to serve outside the boundary of New York State, thus wrecking a number of American attempts to invade Canada.

“Light Infantry” were units intended to march outside the main heavy infantry units, to screen them from attack, and its “members were often smaller, more agile men with high shooting ability and capability of using initiative.” Rifle-men, of course, carried rifles — as opposed to the smooth-bore muskets of regular infantry.

Direct Tax

By the “act to lay and collect a Direct Tax (of three millions) within the United States,” the following apportionment is made among the several states ... New York $480,141.62 ... The quota of the state of New-York ... is apportioned among the several counties, as follows: ... Otsego $11,690 ...

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