Old Militia Days in Raby and Brookline.
At the time of the outbreak of the Revolution, and for many years prior thereto, the colonies had an organized militia, established under the laws of the mother country. Under this system every New England town of a sufficient number of inhabitants maintained a company of militia men. In the early days these companies were called "Training bands." Raby had its training band which it kept up during the continuance of the Revolution, and of which Robert Seaver, during that period, when not absent on war service, was captain.
After the country had established its independence, the State of New Hampshire proceeded to the organization of a militia system of its own; which was of course based upon the laws of the United States for organizing the militia in the country at large.
In 1817, this system, after undergoing many changes and modifications at the hands of successive legislatures had reached a condition which, though far from being perfect, was so satisfactory that, except for occasional changes in regimental and other minor formations, it remained substantially the same until the advent of the war of the rebellion.
Under this system, the State's militia in 1819 was constituted of thirty-eight regiments divided into three divisions of six brigades each. Brookline's company at that time was in the fifth regiment, in which regiment also were the companies in the towns of Amherst, Merrimack, Litchfield, Mount Vernon, Milford, Dunstable, Hollis and Nottingham West (Hudson). In the regimental organization of the fifth, Brookline's company was known as the eleventh. Locally, throughout its existence of more than fifty years, it was known as "the Slam Bang's."
In its ranks during the years of its existence, every able-bodied male resident in town, of the age of eighteen and under the age of forty-five years, at some period in his life marched as a private; and from it originated a crop of captains, lieutenants, ensigns, sergeants, corporals, and other military titles, which, appearing as they do upon the town's records during this period, as prefixes to the names of so many of its citizens, have a tendency to create in the minds of its readers today the impression that the number of the town's citizens who at that time were possessed of military titles, preponderated to the extent that the number of those who served as private soldiers was an exception to the rule.
By the state laws at that time, an infantry company with full ranks consisted of sixty-four men, rank and file. Its officers were a captain, one lieutenant, one ensign, four sergeants and four corporals, the corporals to be included in the rank and file.
The writer has lying before him at the time of this writing the Journal--commencing in
June, 1817--of the Brookline Militia company. From its pages it appears that at the
company's annual May training in June, 1817, it mustered sixty-nine men in its rank and
file; and as a matter of interest today, because the company was supposed to contain
within its ranks all the able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five in
town at that date, and also because many of those whose names appear upon its rolls were
then, and for many years afterwards, prominent men in town affairs, and are
represented in town at the present time by their descendants, I give herewith the roll's list of names, as follows:
"Officers of the eleventh Company year one thousand eight hundred and seventeen.
Captain, Samuel Smith; Lieutenant, Eli Parker; Ensign, Joseph Boynton; sergeants, James Parker, 1st, Nathaniel Shattuck, Jr., 2nd., John Smith, 3rd, Jonathan Foster, 4th.
Rank and File.
James Parker, Jr.
Nathaniel Shattuck, Jr.
Abel Gran, Jr.,
Philip Farnsworth, Jr.,
Caleb G. Jewett,
John Colburn, Jr.,
Joseph C. Jackson,
Stephen Perkins, Jr.,
Robert Seaver, Jr.,
Benjamin Brooks, Jr.,
William S. Crosby,
William Hall, Jr.,
David G. Kemp,
George H. Verder,
In addition to the commissioned and non-commissioned officers and the rank and file, each company was entitled to two musicians, a fifer and a drummer.