The War of 1812 and the civilian rifleman?


June 5, 2003, 11:30 PM
I've recently been looking up the history of the War of 1812. For some reason I don't remember much about the History of this war. By the time 1812 rolled around our standing Army must have been more sophisticated than in the Revolutionary War, right?

The British invaded the United States and tried to take it back.

Did our 2nd Ammendment pay off by now?

How much of an impact did the armed civilian population play?

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Sir Galahad
June 5, 2003, 11:51 PM
Actually, in the beginning of the War of 1812, the militia was not much help at all. They didn't think they had to serve outside of their home states, for one thing. Or even their home counties, for some of them. Militias are great as irregulars and guerillas, but as an army, they stink. They have little in the way of discipline or professionalism. (Sorry, anarcho-capitalists, your idea of a civilian militia saving our bacon against a seasoned, professional army just doesn't hold water.) Now, if our civilian militia was along the lines of Israel where just about everyone serves, that is one thing. (Of course, there goes the rugged individualism of the anarchos when they have to show up for training and follow orders, including, perhaps later, orders to take that machine gun nest even if it means their death.) But the average civilian with no military experience is going to turn to liquid excrement the first artllery barrage or napalm run. This was the lesson learned in the War of 1812 and what led to a progressively larger standing army. No one just decided to have a standing army. The professional British Army showed it was a necessity if one was to hold the country just created. I assume everyone saw how well the Iraqi fedayeen kept the U.S. Army at bay, hmmm?

(Tidbit: The National Anthem was written during the War of 1812.)

Mike Irwin
June 6, 2003, 12:46 AM
Well, the militia actually acquitted themselves fairly well against battle-hardened British regulars during the War of 1812, at least in the lower part of the United States. American operations against Canada, for both the militia and the regular Army, were much more hazy.

The war was, by and large, rather unpopular, especially in New England, whose seaborn trade was badly hurt by the war.

The Battle of Bladensburg is one instance in which the militia, in combination with some regular Navy forces, acquitted themselves fairly well against the British even though the ultimate results were a failure.

The American militia troops, including naval militia that had earlier harassed the British fleet in the Cheasapeake and in the rivers leading to the Chesapeake, held their own against assaults by several thousand British troops, but when they tried to take the initiatitive and drive the British back, the attack faltered through poor coordination and was broken, leaving the road to Washington open to the British.

American militia troops also helped blunt the British attempts to take Fort McHenry. The Battle of North Point saw the Maryland militia blunt the British land attempt to take Baltimore. The action also saw the death of British General Ross.

The true shining example of the American citizen's militia in the War of 1812 was at the Battle of New Orleans.

The battle included a small force of American regular army and about 2,000 to 3,000 local militia. Everyone who's heard Johnny Horton's song "The Battle of New Orleans" knows how it turned out -- fewer than 100 American casualties, nearly 1,500 British casualties, including the commanding general.

June 6, 2003, 05:11 AM
IIRC at the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost and had so many losses due to the fact that the Americans were well prepared and entrenched and the British conducted a frontal assualt "in parade formation". What was the outcome whenever a militia force tried to stand toe to toe with the British on equal footing? The burning of the White House is one result. A militia has always been a "poor man's army" and their performance in history has pretty much been laughed at by the professionals. The Viet Cong are one of he few examples to the contrary.

BTW The War of 1812 was already over by the time the Battle of New Orleans was fought, a peace treaty had been signed but word had not reached the commanders yet.

June 6, 2003, 05:26 AM
IIRC at the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost and had so many losses due to the fact that the Americans were well prepared and entrenched and the British conducted a frontal assualt "in parade formation".

Makes the redcoats sound a whole lot less professional than their amateur opponents, dontcha think? ;)

June 6, 2003, 05:31 AM
(Sorry, anarcho-capitalists, your idea of a civilian militia saving our bacon against a seasoned, professional army just doesn't hold water.) ... (Of course, there goes the rugged individualism of the anarchos when they have to show up for training and follow orders, including, perhaps later, orders to take that machine gun nest even if it means their death.)

Boy, you really have a bee under your bonnet about this, don't you? :scrutiny:

(PS: "Private" and "rag-tag" do not necessarily equate with each other. This is happening already, BTW; research DynCorp, a subsidiary of Computer Sciences Corporation. ;) )

June 6, 2003, 08:12 AM
Many "Letters Of Marque and Reprisal" were issued in the War Of 1812.
Private ship owners used them to go after British shipping in the Carribean. and other oceans, and the English Channel! While not a "militia" in the sense mentioned in the post above, these were individual captains fighting well-armed ships. They had a pretty good record overall.

Capt. Boyle from Baltimore, captain of the Chasseur issued a proclamation in which he, and other American privateers, declared England to be blockaded. He claimed he had as much ability to blockade England as the Brit fleet in America had to blockade all the creeks, estuaries and flowages in America.

If Congress had the guts it could issue Letters Of Marque and Reprisal against the terrorists today.

Art Eatman
June 6, 2003, 08:18 AM
Well, now, telewinz, I don't know that the Viet Cong were that good, as an example. They were effective as troublemakers as long as they stayed in the first levels of Mao's doctrine of guerilla warfare. They tried to move up to the Third Level in the 1968 Tet offensive and were tumbled all the way back down to the basic level of insurrection. Their quality, their "victory" was solely in the minds (?) of the mediahcrity folks.


El Tejon
June 6, 2003, 08:49 AM
An American standing army? Perish the thought.

The militias worked as intended with mixed results. The year before the War of 1812 the Indiana Militia kicked the snot out of the Mongolian-Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Soda, I think there is still a "webbook" by Reed Beard published early last century about the battle and the militia's involvement if you are interested.

During the War of 1812, some fought like tigers, others broke and ran. The problem is that militia are defensive in nature. When the US wanted to invade Canada, several militias staged a sit down strike and demanded "triple pay, and double rations" and went through the motions in operations.

In Congress, many were hesitant to endorse an invasion of Canada as "every cabin a fortress and every tree a rifle." However, that is the reason for a militia, defense, exactly as the Framers intended.

Jon Coppenbarger
June 6, 2003, 08:54 AM
lets see civilian rifleman?

man thats a tough one.
rifleman verse's tank, bradly, f15 or what ever is going to be a big time loser.
you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out! WOW!!!
now back in 1812 when both sides including the british infrantryman had pretty much the same weapon and I would give a slight edge to the militia in accrucy of rifles back then.

it only takes a fanatic like those fedayne if that s how you spell it to see what a Idiot should never do against troops that are alot better armed that you are.

army's at least the smart one's pretty much learn from the previous conflicts what you should do and not do (at least the one's that plan on sticking around)

most every country has and will if they have the ways and means to make the invaders pay big time.
but only I believe if you have the majority of the people behind your effert.

the militia backed by its people can make you wish you never ever heard of the country you just invaded.
you will not ever want to leave the armed camp or fort with out alot of you being armed.
go to the movies, market, garage sale, graveyard or what ever because theirs a very good chance if you go with out your tank you will not get back alive.

lets see iraqi irregulars, taliban, russians, isralies, germans, british, greeks, romans you name it will lose in the long run.
oh how about solmalia we got out of their fast enough kinda like lebenon also. theirs two shinning late example's of when the people turn against you we got the heck out of their fast.
Its alot easier to invade a country that kinda wants you there to overthrow the leaders and displace the standing army.
come on now how long do you think we would stay in iraq when almost every citizen of that country would be out to kill us. not long.
you take the average american soldier right now he can hardly pass a marksmanship course in the real world but he is still alot better than most everyone else.
and yeah the army and other branches has units like the amu and the such but thats not alot of folks to go around in a country the size of the us.
the mititia's in the us are not really as far as I see much better than the local troopies of the armed forces if at all.
now if say the chinese invaded the us do you really think they would want to stay long after the people started their militia up and started to kill those commie b@#$#'s by the score. I think not.
but if you disarm the polulace you will have a better chance of attaining that goal. makes me wonder how american the democrats ar or are they really commies trying to disarm us to let eithe rthemselfs or another country walk in and take over someday. ummmm!

June 6, 2003, 10:06 AM
(Sorry, anarcho-capitalists, your idea of a civilian militia saving our bacon against a seasoned, professional army just doesn't hold water.) ...

Vietnam c. 1950'-70's...
The Phillipines c. 1900-1915...
Afghanistan c. 1980's...
French-Indian War c. 1740-50's...

Just a few "waterlogged" examples...:D

June 6, 2003, 10:20 AM
Just a thought on the militia in todays battlefield. If this country were invaded as an example, it would of course be foolish to attack tanks directly with rifles. Note however that every strength has a weakness and tanks have several :
As an example the men inside will presumably come out at night to eat and sleep - give ground and wait til nite and attack them while they're resting/eating, etc.
A tank has to refuel. The tanker trucks are susceptible to rifle fire.
Ammo/food resupply trucks and drivers would be susceptible to rifle fire.
We're seeing some of this today in Iraq.

In the game of chess, the queen and the rooks are powerful pieces, but the knight is not without its advantages. It would be foolish to use the knight as a queen. It wouldn't last long. Yet when used correctly, the knight can be an invaluable piece.
The same could be said of the rifleman.

June 6, 2003, 11:03 AM
Wasn't the war of 1812 a financial war? They wanted control of the banks or wanted us to use their money or something like that? Pardon my ignorance.:D

June 6, 2003, 11:49 AM
Boer war, anyone?

Mike Irwin
June 6, 2003, 01:48 PM
"IIRC at the Battle of New Orleans, the British lost and had so many losses due to the fact that the Americans were well prepared and entrenched and the British conducted a frontal assualt "in parade formation". What was the outcome whenever a militia force tried to stand toe to toe with the British on equal footing? The burning of the White House is one result. A militia has always been a "poor man's army" and their performance in history has pretty much been laughed at by the professionals."

How the militia is used, as opposed to their ultimate performance, is rather immaterial, actually.

By its very nature the militia is a defensive, not offensive, organization. As such, it's expected that it would take up defensive positions if time and circumstance allowed.

The height of stupidity is to attempt to meet your enemy on his terms. Ideally, you want to dictate the terms of engagement to him.

At Bladensburg, when the American militia attempted to shift from a defensive to an offensive posture its ability to protect Washington was broken.

At New Orleans, the militia and regular army dictated the terms of the battle by preparing fortified positions and remaining in them.

The British obviously thought that the American units weren't going to be much trouble, or else they wouldn't have attempted a long formation march up to the American lines in broad daylight.

Guess the professional British soldiers, given the numbers I quoted in my first message, were laughing pretty hard at the abilities of the militia the next morning.

June 6, 2003, 03:38 PM
I don't believe the reason we left Somalia was because our military wasn't up to the task of handling the local militia. It was more likely because the CIC did not want to risk public opinion turning against him due to news of more American soldiers being killed. Once again, it was politics -- not military failure -- that led to withdrawal without accomplishing the ultimate objective.

Keep in mind, TFR succeeded in its mission in Mogadishu. The American warriors performed admirably and the Somali militia suffered horrendous losses. But because of Clinton's actions afterward, the American lives lost ended up being for nothing. That is the tragedy.

June 6, 2003, 04:12 PM
. Soda, I think there is still a "webbook" by Reed Beard published early last century about the battle and the militia's involvement if you are interested.

Pass the info!?

Also....... Can someone tell me what year the War of 1812 took place?;)

That questions stumps a great many people these days.:D

June 6, 2003, 04:23 PM
I didn't mean to imply that the Viet Cong were as effective as a regular army unit but they came close and went the distance. 1968 (Tet) caused a change to their command structure and almost wiped them out but but they went the distance as a fairly reliable, (well regulated) effective fighting force. They were my enemy but they could still be held up as a role model for a militia.


OK, how many battles did militia win offensive or defensive? If militia is defensive by nature, then I presume their is a record of militia winning at least 51% of the defensive battles they were committed to. One of the the most successful engagements the militia was ever engaged in AND played an important role (their are very few) was the battle of the Cowpens. Their success was based on demanding the militia fire only 2 shots before they retreated and went home regardless of the situation on the battlefield. Little was expected of them and the militia met those expectations, hardly the stuff legends or heroes are made of. Sorry, the American militia earned the reputation the regulars gave it, performance matters, not PR and excuses. Now against the primitive American Indians they did much better in OFFENSIVE actions, but what western culture didn't?

Art Eatman
June 6, 2003, 06:00 PM
Seems to me that the key point of a militia is that it's a pool of men who already know how to use a rifle and have a certain amount of "in the boonies" knowledge. They are readily trained into at least small-unit tactics at the platoon or company level. They can easily be integrated into a more formal organization.

The effectiveness, then, is a function of the competency of the leadership. ("Gee, Art, how'd you figure that out?") I guess that from the Second Amendment standpoint of "well regulated", the leadership makes the difference between a true militia and an armed mob...


June 6, 2003, 06:30 PM
So whats a modern Militia to do?:D If Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson were alive today, they'd get locked up or taken out quick. Prolly charged with terrorism if they lived.:cuss: :D

June 6, 2003, 08:03 PM
I far as I can tell their is no "modern militia" in the United States and their probably hasn't been an effective militia for decades. Their are many para-military organizations that claim the mantle of militia but are they recognized as being a valid militia at ANY level of government? The few so called militia units that have had any measure of effectiveness are closely watched and are viewed as a threat. Considering some of the deeds that have been committed by these "bandits" in the name of self-serving patriotism, I support my government's wisdom in keeping tabs on them.

IMHO the militia evolved into the reserves and national guard for no better reason than that we can afford them and we need/demand a "regular and well maintained" force of true citizen soldiers. Just because we furnish them training, uniforms, payment and weapons doesn't mean they aren't qualified to be our modern day militia.

The militia most people envision still lives on in the World, mainly in poor third world countries (as we once were) who can't afford the high quality militia we here in America enjoy. The quality of our American militia is so high that most people don't recognize the direct linage that goes back several hundred years.

Art Eatman
June 6, 2003, 09:39 PM
The luck of geography gave us breathing room and recovery time after Pearl Harbor. By 1945, however, we still hadn't learned that the days of no standing army just couldn't work any longer. The Cold War and Korea, along with technological advances, brought us to our large military structure of today. (A bit smaller in numbers of personnel than in recent decades, but far larger in firepower.)

The big problem from the standpoint of rights and militias and such is that our fundamental documents consider a population which is mostly comprised of mature, rational and responsible citizens. It was assumed that this population would forever live in a large world full of faraway places of little importance to our way of life.

I sometimes think we're in really deed doodoo.


June 6, 2003, 09:39 PM
Ain't there supposed to be an organized militia and an unorganized militia?
If the US was invaded by Canada tomorrow, who here would show up with their '06 to show them they had had a brainfart?
If you raised your hand, you are most likely part of the unorganized militia.
The National Guard and the Reserves are good, and I appreciate their service, but I would still have a personal responsibility to resist if the day ever came.

Nando Aqui
June 6, 2003, 10:01 PM
Bought another book at Sam's Club last week; under $10:

"History of the US Army", by James M. Morris

Copyright 1984 - 2002. Hardbound, over 250 (numbered) 9" x 12" pages, glossy, most with color or black & white pictures.

It's more than just the history of the US Army; it is an excellent overall history of the United States from political and military points of view. Written with enough details to keep your interest, but not too many as to be boring.

Eight pages cover the War of 1812 rather well.


June 6, 2003, 10:46 PM
Seems to me that the key point of a militia is that it's a pool of men who already know how to use a rifle and have a certain amount of "in the boonies" knowledge. They are readily trained into at least small-unit tactics at the platoon or company level.

Isn't there something that goes along with that about how most of the soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor were from upstate New York?

Rednecks tend to fit into a rifle company real nice.:D

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 12:29 AM
What's hilarious is how when Mogadishu is brought up, the general consensus is that if we had been permitted to stay and win, win we would have because what ragbag militia can stand against the U.S. Army. Same about the ragbag Viet Cong. No militia can stand against the American military. BUT----if it was an AMERICAN militia, well, now, the reverse is opposite. In SOME folks minds, an American militia composed of some people who've never missed a meal in their lives (much less eaten a coyote or some other unsavory thing), never had to follow a direct order, and prize their individual wants above a collective goal are always going to defeat ANY foreign professional army. Uh, yeaahhhh....very consistant thinking.

Mike Irwin
June 7, 2003, 03:43 AM

Go back and reread my first message on this subject.

First off, the Battle of the Cowpens was a Revolutionary War battle, well into the war, by which time the United States had developed the core of a fairly functional army.

Militia troops did not comprise the majority of Morgan's force at the Cowpens, either -- contemporary accounts indicate that there were fewer than 150 local militia troops engaged in the battle.

You also fail to take into account what Morgan's militia troops did at the Cowpens after they were ordered to fall back.

They didn't break and run in the face of British regulars, they withdrew in an orderly fashion, and in doing so encouraged the British to over extend themselves to the point where Morgan's regulars were able to hit them along an elongated flank, begin to turn them in confusion.

At that point, even more tellingly, the militia troops, on command, stopped, turned, and delivered another volley into the advancing regulars.

This, combined with Morgan's regulars attacking from the flanks, combined to turn what the British thought was going to be an easy battle into a collapse.

Essentially, in this situation, Morgan's militia troops were used in a defensive manner. They weren't expected to advance, or to participate in coordinated tactics (even though they did). Their performance certainly is much better than what would be indicated by Morgan's fighting instructions to the.

Now, if we forward on to the War of 1812, we have the Battle of New Orleans.

2/3rds or more of Jackson's force comprised militia.

The results of that battle speaks for itself.

As I've also noted previously, most of the American forces opposing the British outside of Bladensburg were militia.

When used statically, they fought the British regulars to a standstill, turning back several British advances.

It wasn't until the commander on the scene (his name escapes me at the moment) decided to attempt a coordinated, advancing attack, that things went to hell.

The failure of American offensive operations in Canada can also be traced, in part, to the attempted offensive use of militia troops who had no real concept of how to maneuver with regular army troops.

I'm not sure why you're now attempting to put a "51% success" qualifier on American militia when you attempt to say that the Viet Cong were a successful example of militia operations when the VC didn't win a single battle that engaged more than a few dozen men, and their largest attempt at coordinated actions, Tet, resulted in their virtual extermination as a cohesive force.

Mike Irwin
June 7, 2003, 03:47 AM
"No militia can stand against the American military. BUT----if it was an AMERICAN militia, well, now, the reverse is opposite."

I don't think anyone is claiming the reverse to be opposite, Galahad. At least certainly I'm not.

I'm simply pointing out that the militia had a better track record during the War of 1812 than what you were giving them credit for.

June 7, 2003, 08:15 AM

I understand that the Cowpens happened during the Revolutionary War but in my mind it was one of the very few engagements in our country's history in which the militia stood toe to toe against a professional army, and performed their duty well.
IMHO the secret to their success in that battle was Morgan's correct understanding of the limited usefullness/reliability of our militia and the very poor respect the British commander had for militia. The Redcoats were sucked-in and chewed-up but the ploy could only work a few times and I don't recall it being used again in battle.

The result of the Battle of New Orleans does speak for itself, the winners didn't win on the field of battle, they won in the trenches. The militia never came close to standing toe-to-toe against the British troops, it was like shooting ducks in a barrel. Jackson emptied the jails and prisons to find enough "militia" to man the trenches, and used force and the threat of death to "encourage" the local population to participate in their own defense. There had been a serious effort to surrender to the British before the battle was fought by members of the militia leadership (the mayor for one).

I agree that in a battle where all the advantages heavily favor the militia they could walk away the victors. But I don't think the battle of New Orleans is a shinning example of the courage and discipline of the American militia any more than the Alamo proved how great the Mexican Army was.

If the American "militia" (bandit group) ever went against the US Army, the results would be the same as throughout American history (contary to some "redneck" paperback books) the militia would be destroyed in short order, only this time even retreat would offer little respite. I know which direction my gun would be pointed.

Performance counts, the win/loss record of the American militia in battle and their earned reputation by Army Regulars both friend and foe stands very heavily in the negative column. The concept of a militia is a bad ideal that rarely worked, hence the developement of the National Guard and Army Reserve.

Art Eatman
June 7, 2003, 09:24 AM
telewinz, your comments are part of why I spoke of leadership. Irregulars are best used in either a static situation with the advantages of cover, or in a "fadeaway" shoot and scoot deal for a war of attrition.

What takes the most time and effort in creating a real army is in getting a collection of individuals to think and work as an organized group. It's relatively easy for a guy to learn to shoot, but far harder for the "rugged individualist" to think of himself as part of "us" and learn to rely on the rest of his squad or platoon. "Male bonding" ain't an overnight deal. :)

I'm a bit hesitant to sneer at modern "militia" guys. They go out on weekends and train from military field manuals in small-unit tactics. sounds like some others of which I've read. :D After a year or two, some militia groups might not be clueless...


Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 01:33 PM
A militia has value to harrass or deny support to an invading army. In the case of communist partisans operating against the German Wehrmacht in WW2, they were pretty effective at cutting German rail and supply lines. Ambushing convoys, cutting rail lines, destroying bridges, ambushing small units of troops who think they're in a "safe" area (which has a tremendous benefit in inculcating fear in the enemy), stealing anything from the enemy that isn't guarded (and stealing anything lightly guarded), observing and reporting troop movement, and general resistance to the yoke are the goals of guerilla warfare. To use guerillas against regular forces in open battle is asking for defeat. And a serious misallocation of valuable resources. As long as the limitations of partisans is recognized and they are used to augment a regular army, they can be very effective and beneficial in defeating an enemy. Now, some point to the mujahadeen victory in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Yet, where would they have been without the CIA and the Stinger missiles the U.S. gave them? In fact, the use of the captured RPG-7s to shoot at the tail rotors of helicopters was a CIA idea that came back to bite us in Mogadishu. So, even here, the partisans relied upon the expertise and aid of professionals. Without which, they might not have won. Indeed, they had no such help in fighting us when we went into Afghanistan and, hence, they lost. The Viet Cong had advisors from the Warsaw Pact as well as aid rolling in from there. The communist partisans fighting the Germans in WW2 were getting aid from the Soviets, Britian, and the U.S. combined. The Soviets mostly suppied those in Eastern Europe and tens of thousands of PPSh submachine guns and Mosin rifles were handed out to partisans who also captured German hardware. But, the death toll among guerillas is high and frightful and the civilian populace that hides them often gets punished for the acts of the partisans. Now, the question is, would the American of today be able to see his entire family executed one at a time until he came down and surrendered? Would he be able to see his friends die daily around him and others die from lack of medical care? Would he be able to do these things and still remain committed to the Cause? That is what is impressive about some guerilla movements is the ability to walk 30 miles on a bowl of rice, sleep 2 hours, walk another 30 miles on, this time, a single banana, fire a few shots at an enemy patrol and then fade away to do it all over again. Or blow up a rail bridge even when the town one's relatives live in is right near there and will bear the brunt of punishment for the act. That is what makes for the "Hard" guerilla, not marksmanship alone.

"The guerilla must move among the people as fish in the sea..."
-----Mao Tse-Tung

June 7, 2003, 01:44 PM
Sir Galahad - The Mujahideen held their own pretty darn well for 6 or 8 years before the CIA started handing out Stingers. The biggest lessons to be learned from Afghanistan are (1) if you have the will to fight and engage on your own terms, even a 'rag-tag' militia can hold off a professional army and (2) an effective militia MUST have some sort of defense against airpower (in a free-market, this would be achieved with cheap portable missiles like Stingers).

Mike Irwin
June 7, 2003, 02:22 PM
You know, Telewinz, I'm not really certain why you're so concerned about HOW the militia accomplished the task in front of it, rather than the simple fact that it accomplished the task in front of it.

What next? Wondering if the militia is truly effective because they didn't dress right properly?

Come off it. You've asked for examples where the militia performed its job.

I've given you several where the militia either performed well, or at least better than the criteria that you seem to be establishing.

We've already stipulated that the militia isn't an offensive force, and isn't trained, and can't be expected to perform, to the same level of battle hardened veterans.

That fact alone, however, makes the performance of the militia at Bladensburg and New Orleans even MORE amazing.


Imagine what's passing through the minds of the untrained, unblooded men as they watch the British approach.

"These guys have been fighting Napoleon all over Europe. They're tough, they're experienced, they've faced troops in emplacements before, and WON! What the hell am I doing here, these guys are supermen!"

Look, you want to think that the militia has never proven itself to be of any benefit at any time, that's fine. I've already given you several examples, which are now being met with a wall of "criteriaism."

That's cool, but somehow I suspect that the militiamen at Bladensburg and New Orleans didn't really stop to think about the criteria that would apparently be used to condemn them a few centuries later.

Mike Irwin
June 7, 2003, 02:30 PM
"telewinz, your comments are part of why I spoke of leadership. Irregulars are best used in either a static situation with the advantages of cover, or in a "fadeaway" shoot and scoot deal for a war of attrition."

A point which I've made repeatedly, Art.

But yet, that sort of battle apparently doesn't count, because it's not standing toe-to-toe against the British square!

Why those cowardly bastards even took cover behind cotton bales at New Orleans.

Does it matter that the militia helped secure a crushing victory at New Orleans?

Does it matter that militia troops turned back I believe 4 British assaults at Bladensburg?

Does it matter that the militia performed exactly as Daniel Morgan wanted it to at the Cowpens?

Does it matter that militia troops A) died, and B) didn't break and run at the first sight of the enemy at these battles?

Does it matter that 2 of these battles were unqualified victories, achieved with the assistance of the militia?

I guess not.

And all because the militia didn't form line ahead formating and stand close enough to the British line to exchange pleasantries before trying to kill them?

June 7, 2003, 02:45 PM
During the early 70's while in the service, I was told by a person in the know that the Army did (does ?)have plans to use armed civilians to combat any invading force. Our regulars would be conserved and would ONLY be used to fight key and decisive battles against the invader.

Because of the time factor, no training would be supplied to the "militia" and an absolute minimum amount of support would be rendered by the professional services. The objective would be to arm the populace and transport them near the battlefield using local/private sector resources as much as possible.

The "militia" would indeed be used to wear-down the enemy in hopeless battles and force him to consume his supplies and resources. Volunteering for the militia or being drafted would have the same ruthless requirement, follow orders and fight or be shot on the spot.

Kind of like the last months of WW2 Germany and we all know the how effective the "Peoples Army" was in halting the Red Horde. In our country, cannon Foder and militia seem to have evolved into the same definition. What percentage of our population do you feel would submit to this form of patriotic duty?

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 05:44 PM
Telewinz makes some good points. I ask, what are some Americans willing to sacrifice? And I answer, not much since many do not even feel they should defend the country at cost of their convenience, much more their lives. Some of those Americans might even join the other side. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union, partisans caught were executed on the spot. The razing of Lidice off the map was a response to the partisan assassination of SS head Heydrich. The guerilla must be hard. We think now (and back then) that the VC executing village leaders that collaborated with U.S. and ARVN forces (or refused to provide porters for the movement) was an "atrocity", but this is how traitors are dealt with in a guerilla band sans such civilized fripperies as JAG. This is how Americans that collaborated with invaders or refused to become porters would be dealt with. How many have the will to look into the abyss and laugh? Good question.

Ian, one thing you are forgetting and one thing I did not touch on is the value of fanaticism. Religious fanatics are capable of accomplishing things the average American would have already surrendered rather than endure. Communist fanatics are just as committed when they are "peoples liberation" movements. But, even so, they must be supplied. Even prior to the CIA involvement in Afghanistan, millions of dollars in Arab oil money was already purchasing arms for the mujahadeen on the black market. This is where people like Osama bin Laden came in as Saudi millionares to fight jihad. You can kill the people, but you can't kil the idea. In this country, what idea are you going to see to raise that kind of fanaticism? There will be no political movements that can raise that kind of conscienceness unless the government starts shoving people into death camps. As it is now, as long as people can watch MTV, they don't care to even get out and freakin' VOTE. To think a guerilla army could be pulled from that rabble is laughable. First engagement, they'd surrender and ask for MTV and a Swanson's Hungry Man. A war of liberation ain't happenin'. Neither is an invasion. There are not any nations that could attempt this and we are only getting stronger every day militarily. Not even the Russians scare us any more.

Art Eatman
June 7, 2003, 05:58 PM
One thing about those "civilians" available to the Unorganized Militia of the U.S. is the body of knowledge of Military Science and Tactics plus the knowledge of combat on the part of veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, etc.,etc.

A lot of us Old Farts are out of shape and stove up, but we do have a good bit of knowledge to pass along to the young and healthy. Gummint does not have any sort of monopoly on How To Do Bad Things.

:), Art

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 06:23 PM
Yeah, Art, but the respect I see the brats of today giving their elders, they wouldn't listen anyway.

June 7, 2003, 06:33 PM
The majority of the Mujahideen were not fanatics. Certainly they were dedicated Muslims, but they had no desire to do anything more than kick the Soviets out of their country. The fanatacism you're talking about didn't really form until the civil war after the Soviets had pulled out. The Mujahideen as a whole were quite tolerant of 'infidels', so long as those infidels weren't trying to take over their land. They extended a great deal of hospitality to westerners in their midst, including Jews.

In one account I've read, a reporter had hired a guide to accompany him to the Pakistani frontier (from inside Afghanistan). En route, the man tried to rob him and then rode off, leaving the reporter on foot in the mountain. The reporter made it back to his destination and when he related the story to his Mujahideen host, the host asked for a description of the man, and then took an AK and set out to find the guide (if he was in the city) and punish him for his crime (the reporter, sick and weak at the time, does not know if the guide was ever found).

As for foreign aid money, very little was available to the fighters until the late years of the conflict. For several years at the beginning the heaviest weapons any mujahideen had were 82mm mortars. Most of their weapons were captured from Soviet forces or given to them by defecting Afghan Army troops.

However, I do agree that the will to fight (against tyranny , invaders, or anyone else) seems to be in weak supply here in the States. Still, it does exist, among those who are probably some of the best suited to make use of it. MTV addicts would make lousy guerillas anyway ("dude.....I'm like Che! Down with the capitalist oppressors!"). :)

A battle I haven't seen mentioned yet, where the civilians fought with incredible effectiveness (in an attack, no less) was Majuba Hill (

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 06:46 PM
Ian, most, if not all, of the foreigners who went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets went there to defend Islam. It is just that simple. But we're back to the "Guerillas couldn't defeat Americans if we 'wanted to win', but American guerillas will defeat any enemy in any future war no matter the variables."

"Winners? Like North Vietnam? Yup, they whupped yore hide reeeel goooood!"

"No they didn't! It was a tie!"

June 7, 2003, 07:05 PM
I ask, what are some Americans willing to sacrifice? And I answer, not much since many do not even feel they should defend the country at cost of their convenience, much more their lives. Some of those Americans might even join the other side.

And what percentage of Americans picked up arms and spanked the British during the Revolutionary War?

We won with a minority.

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 07:20 PM
Yes, and the face of warfare has changed quite a bit since the biggest weapon on land was a smoothbore cannon firing round balls. Partisans are useful, as I have said earlier. But they have to be dedicated. In this supermarket of plenty, not to many would be willing to endure the hardship unless in a situation where the alternative of probable death was certain death. What might be called "the militia" is not, to me, the reason for owning firearms. That makes gun ownership dependant overly much on foreign influence and treaties. The reason for gun ownership is first self-defense of one's own person against criminals and paramilitary groups in remote areas and THEN against tyranny and/or invaders. Putting too much stock into the "militia" mention of the 2nd is going to suggest public armories and compulsory training to the liberals, as well as an age cut-off date for owning a firearm.

June 7, 2003, 07:37 PM
I ask, what are some Americans willing to sacrifice? And I answer, not much since many do not even feel they should defend the country at cost of their convenience, much more their lives.

Yeah, Art, but the respect I see the brats of today giving their elders, they wouldn't listen anyway.

Would he be able to do these things and still remain committed to the Cause?

Since you have the rest of us pigeonholed so well, may I ask what you are doing about it? ;)

What kind of rifle does the neighbour on your left plan to use should the need arise? Your right? Behind you? Across the street? Do y'all shoot together? Go in on ammo orders together? Have y'all discussed and walked through what y'all would do in various kinds of crises? Or are you too busy "eating Swanson's and watching MTV"? (Your own words) ;)

BTW, you never took me up on the differences between "disorganized militia" and "privatized defense". Did you look into DynCorp?

June 7, 2003, 07:40 PM
I always found it amusing how many folks on these various boards ramble on about what kind of AR/AK/FAL/G3 they have for a militia rifle, at which point someone else says "What are you going to do, shoot at tanks?"

You'd think more folks would look into 7mm Mag scoped bolt guns or suppressed .300 Whisper scoped Contender pistols. ;)

June 7, 2003, 07:54 PM
He has stated what I have long felt, the RKBA will be decided on current events not what a long dead forefather's explanation of the 2nd amendment. Then the 2nd amendment wasn't a political hot potato it is now and has been for several decades.

An emotional arguement is not enough to maintain our 'right' to bear arms. Intelligent, well educate Americans will in the end make the final decision be it in the legislature or the courtroom. I'll be suprised if our current gun rights are as "liberal" 25 years from now.

The same worn-out arguments about militia and what Jefferson or Adams felt about the RKBA just don't carry enough weight. New pro-gun material needs to be discovered/developed to convince the 2/3's in this country who could not care less about the second amendment.

Only about 1/3 actively supported the War of Independance, today I think we would be hard pressed to get 20%, but their would be alot of talking.

And yes how the militia won their few battles does matter, if they are ever needed again it won't be against a rag tag army, it will be against well armed and well lead professional soldiers, just like 225 years ago. Winning one or two battles out of 20 won't cut it any longer.

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 11:07 PM
Tamara, I couldn't care less about "DynCorp" and will not waste my time looking it up. I can look up "tinfoil hat" on the net and find out that microwave relay towers are actually mind control experiments run by the government. Doesn't mean I believe it.

My neighbors would most likely call the FBI if I started discussing bulk ammo buys so we could defend against the government or what-have-you. Talking about forming a "militia" is asking for trouble. I can do what I need to do to survive---for me and my family. But I don't sit here and freak myself out over it. FYI, Tamara, I don't HAVE nutwork or cable TV and have not seen a TV show for going on ten years now. My "TV" is the console for this web tv and the VCR. I watch perhaps two movies a month. Otherwise, I read. I read close to five books a month on average. Usually, two at one time alternating between them; one will be non-fiction. If you doubt that, ask folks here who knew me over at the 1911 forum. I went by a different name over there, but ask about the historian. Swansons? Why I know how to cook. What would you prefer? Middle Eastern? Mexican? Thai? Russian? I can do it all. And I make the best chili in Flagstaff and I don't put no damn beans in it, either. I'll outshoot most of the people who show up at the cinder pits to shoot iron sights-to-iron sights. I shoot traditional bow and never held a compound bow in my life. Now, you talk about knowing what so-and-so is doing and thus-and-so is doing but I'm not in my neighbor's business. Lots of gun owners don't own guns because we seek to use them against our own government. If things come to that, we have failed as a people. Invaders? Who? The Chinese? For what? They can't sell products to other communists, so it suits them for us to remain as we are---good customers. I own guns to protect my family against criminals. I own guns to put food on the table. I own guns because shooting is fun. Now, Tamara, you wonder about my training. Well, let's see....served in the 101st Airborne. Qualified "Expert" with M-16A1 rifle and have a Certificate of Achievement and two letters of commendation from my captain and a lt. colonel for it. Served as a small arms repairman and fixed it all from M1911A1 to 4.2 mortar and even the 90mm recoilless rifle which I was not trained to repair but taught myself because I had to. Graduate of Air Assault School and have my wop-wop wings. When I joined the army, I was 20 pounds underweight and they put a lead X-ray vest on the scales at MEPS to hustle me in. And I made it through just fine even though I was not up to army standards. Because when I set out to do something, I do it. Any "militia" in hard times will come looking for ME, not the other way around. And what is your military experience, Tamara?

June 7, 2003, 11:20 PM
A) Where did I ask about your training? I'm happy for all you have. (See Art's post.)

B) Whatinnahell does DynCorp have to do with Reynold's Wrap Yarmulkes? You somehow equated (completely out of the blue in this thread, I might add) "anarcho-capitalists" with "rag-tag militias". I suggested you may wish to look into the concept of privatizing certain national defense functions. DynCorp is doing this right now. DynCorp is a private corporation that handles many things folks assume are done by the military. Spraying coca fields in Columbia? DynCorp. Hamid Karzai's bodyguards? DynCorp. The contract for armed police forces in Bosnia? DynCorp. The initial construction of the forward deployment areas for troops in the latest Iraq fracas? DynCorp. Operation and security at White Sands? DynCorp.

Q: "However could we do all this stuff if it was left to private companies?"
A: "You'd be surprised at how much already is."

C) Since when is knowing your neighbours being "up in their business"? I thought it was part of having a community. :uhoh:

D) Who's talking about using guns "against our own government"? I own mine partially to "do what I need to do to survive---for me and my family" and my friends and neighbours, too. But mostly, as you pointed out, for fun.

E)"I read close to five books a month on average." Anybody who knows me in person is gonna get a chuckle out of that, if it was meant as some kind of smackdown. ;) (Today's yummy and satisfying reads were Osprey's histories of Adrianople and Stirling Bridge/Falkirk; I recommend them both, especially the latter for Angus Macbride's beautiful artwork. Hopefully I can stretch the rest of Falkirk out 'til beddy-bye so's I won't have to go downstairs and start Marston Moor tonight. If I do, I'll stay up 'til I finish it and then wind up having to spend more money at Border's before brunch tomorrow. :uhoh: )

Bring back letters of marque and reprisal!

June 7, 2003, 11:22 PM
I suppose we need to come up with a better excuse than the First Amendment for freedom of speech, too, huh? ;)

June 7, 2003, 11:34 PM
I think it all depends on what type of person is in this militia.
If you are talking about the average spoiled American, then you could be in trouble.
Actually, you could find yourself short of a militia.
But if you are talking about former military, children of a WWII vet, etc., you could end up with a pretty committed bunch.
Think about the possibility.
I doubt that the US would ever be invaded, but imagine it was.
Naturally, the US armed forces would pound the hell out of an enemy.
But suppose that there were areas that had no defensible positions, no high ground, nothing. Those areas could be overrun.
There would probably be places that weren't worth losing men and equipment for. The idea is to save the country as a whole, remember. Maybe you have to break a few eggs to make an omlet.
But say you have a handful of ex-servicemen in one of those given areas. They are likely to have a wide variety of knowledge with different weapons and tactics, and more importantly, a loyalty to their country. They can also remember that it isn't about the individual. They were in the military.
These guys look and sound just like the other people that are either aiding or at the least not resisting the invaders.
How you gonna tell them apart?
You can't.
They hit you, then fade away.
Maybe you make reprisals against the locals, but that just gives the "militia" more supporters.
No, militias aren't regular forces, but that is their strength.
No uniform to identify them to the enemy.

Sir Galahad
June 7, 2003, 11:39 PM
Tamara, again, I don't care about DynCorp.

The thing about books was not aimed at you. It was a response to you asking if I sat and watched MTV all day. You asked, I answered. How is that a slam? And I'll still outcook you any day of the week. You simply cannot touch my homemade hummus b tahini or my roast lamb. Not even with a ten foot shashlik!

Community is fine. But, for me, fences make great neighbors most of the time. I live in an apartment complex and there are people here who couldn't pour urine out of leather footwear with step-by-step instructions recited to them. My remarks about "MTV and Swansons" are about the average non-shooting sheeple who thinks milk comes from the store and from there, um, from a bigger store. I know that most folks on this board can hold their own. But the people I see with bumper stickers that say "Visualize world peace" and "Stop global warming"---I wouldn't fight a troop of dispepsic codgers to save those thralls. Nor would I serve alongside them. As far as I am concerned, they're on their own. "Save us, save us!!" Save yourselves. I'm busy. You had the same access to gun shops I did.

June 7, 2003, 11:52 PM
And I'll still outcook you any day of the week.

No doubt; I could burn orange juice. ;)

(My idea of a recipe is "Slit film over entree and beans, remove film over rice." :) )

June 8, 2003, 12:01 PM
Back to my initial question....

We beat the British in the Revolutionary War. We created a Constitution that allowed the common man to arm themselves. Did that in any way raise the ratio of armed vs. unarmed civilians by 1812?

Where did people buy guns back then? Who were the firearms manufacturers that sold to the public?

El Tejon
June 8, 2003, 12:47 PM
Soda, I'm sure it was an oversight on your part, but the Bill of Rights did no such thing. The Bill of Rights merely recognizes rights that existed before time. It does not "allow" anything. Sorry, about being picky, but words mean things.

The book you need to read is, Charles W. Sawyer, FIREARMS IN AMERICAN HISTORY (1990) which will answer the questions you raise, brasshopper.

June 8, 2003, 05:47 PM
From what I know the Brown Bess was still in use by the British Army in 1812 as in the Revolutionary War. Brown Bess's were stolen or rewards were given to any British soldier who would "sell" his or someone elses. We robbed as many armories as we could. Battlefield pickups were not an option because we seldom won, We left far more on the battlefield than we ever gained. We got many muskets from the French and Spanish. It was such a sad state of affairs that Ben Franklin suggested we arm our troops with bows and arrows:D

June 8, 2003, 06:07 PM
Battlefield pickups were not an option because we seldom won, We left far more on the battlefield than we ever gained.

Yeah, you could tell by how dismally we were defeated. :uhoh:

What books are you reading, anyway? :scrutiny: (Harry Turtledove is not actually a military historian, BTW... ;) )

June 8, 2003, 06:38 PM
How many battles did we we win? I'll even let you count the battles in which the French and militia helped us. Of those great many victories how many British Soldiers fled the field in disorder and threw down there weapons?

Saratoga, The Cowpens and Yorktown come to mind as our only major victories. Our 'other' victories are considered minor skirmishes by most historians. Even so what is our record for winning "minor" battles? I will confess the Revolutionary War is not my specialty the HISTORY of it is somewhat depressing if you are pro-American and leave the high school history books behind.

Now, how many battles did we lose with the help of the militia (or without, same result) and fled the battlefield in disorder?

Numbers please, I'm not talking about bar room fights.

I've read one of Harry's books, it was interesting. About the South having AK47's and winning the Civil War. How silly, you and I both know Ben Franklin invented the AK47 and issued it to our militia who used it to run the British off the continent.:D

Almost all historian agree that the British could have beaten us if they wished. They had enough resources to keep India or us, not both. They chose India and let us go.

June 8, 2003, 07:53 PM
The Bill of Rights merely recognizes rights that existed before time. It does not "allow" anything.

If you compared the civilian population of Europe to the United States, in 1812, are you saying that our "Rights" did not further our own firearm ownership?

Most European countries did not allow private firearm ownership, right? Look at Europe now. How did we end up with more guns?

El Tejon
June 8, 2003, 08:21 PM
Soda, our BoR merely acknowledged rights pre-existing the Constitution. The BoR creates nothing. The RKBA did nothing to further our rights; it merely recognizes them.

The right to arms is European. The RKBA was codified by the Saxons, the Italian republicans, the Scot Whigs and the English.

We ended with more guns because we are more free than the Euros who have a history of tyranny and submission.

June 9, 2003, 01:30 AM
US milita vs. Canadian milita ;) Remember the British in Canada had a regular army backed by Canadian milita forces.

My recollection of the land war along both sides of the Canadian/US frontier was that neither side had marked lasting successes at invading the other. At one of the US invasion attempts, US Milita refused to pass across the Niagra River at Queenstown out of the US Territorial boundaries. The British force along with Canadian milita units pretty much annihalated the 900 US Regulars who had already crossed. :mad:
When US forces under William Henery Harrison retook Detroit from the British/Canadian/Indian force, Canadian Milita units at the Battle of the Thames broke under an attack of a US milita cavelry unit made up of mounted Kentuckey rifleman.

I was taught that the Milita of both sides of that war were effective at defending their home turf, but were ineffective
as an invasion force.

Interesting non-milita note: The only battle between equally matched regular forces of both sides was at the Battle of Chippewa, where 1700 British regulars ran headlong into Brig. General Winfield Scott's brigade of 1300 regulars. The US forces
were uniformed in grey due to a shortage of blue cloth, and the British commander took them to be a milita unit - till they formed ranks under fire, fixed bayonets and charged! The British commander was said to have exclaimed: "Those are Regulars, by God!" as his force was driven back across the Chippewa river with about 500 casualties. ... The Dress Uniforms of the US Military Acadamy at West Point are grey to commerate that victory.

June 9, 2003, 11:53 AM
Sir Galahad-

I'm not sure if you were referring to my post regarding Somalia or not, but the point I was making was not to judge the effectiveness of an American militia one way or another. I simply took issue with the idea that we pulled out of Somalia because the local militia was more than we bargained for. This was not the case. In fact, prior to the release of M. Durant, our military had made it very clear that if he were not released we would go back into the city with the gloves off. Aideed wanted no part of a full-blown American reprisal and released Mr. Durant with all due haste. We left for political reasons, not military.

The issue of how good a fighting force an American militia would be is another matter altogether. On that argument, my opinion is that it could potentially be an effective force with the right kind of leadership and if used for the right job. Comparing it to the professional military is pointless, and any discussion of it opposing the American military is also pointless IMO. I would much rather think of it as supporting our military for the good of our country.

June 10, 2003, 02:56 PM
If the ruskies invade through S America, they have to go through Texas first!

June 10, 2003, 04:04 PM
When the Fins spanked the Russians, was that a standing Army or a civilian militia type military?

June 10, 2003, 06:51 PM
The Russian Army was in such a terrible condition that a militia could have beat them. The Germans continued where the Finns left off. But I think by and large it was the Finnish Army that bore most of the burden and inflicted most of the damage.

June 10, 2003, 08:14 PM
The Russian Army was in such a terrible condition that a militia could have beat them. The Germans continued where the Finns left off. But I think by and large it was the Finnish Army that bore most of the burden and inflicted most of the damage.
Actually, the Finnish Army was the number one reason why the Russian Army was in such terrible condition. The Finns directly targeted Russian morale and warmth; they destroyed Russian field kitchens, sniped at anyone around a campfire, and harassed them to no end. Granted, the Russians' "political officer" leadership and lack of winter preparations didn't help, but the Finn resistance was an amazing feat of arms.

According to Doug Bowser, "During the Winter War, 25,000 Finns were killed and 55,000 were wounded. The Russians lost 1,000,000 dead out of 1,500,000 men that participated in the Winter War. The Finns also destroyed 1,000 aircraft, 2,300 tanks and captured great quantities of war material from the Russians."

June 11, 2003, 04:47 PM
IIRC, it was Stalin's purge (of good leadership) of the military that occurred Before the invasion of Finland that was the major factor. Russia's poor performance with Finland lead directly towards Hitler's decision to invade Russia. This in no way is intended to downplay Finland's super human acheivement.

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