Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Massachusetts Militia Orderly Book, 1805-1811

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2010

Summary Information
Title: Massachusetts Militia orderly book
Creator: Massachusetts. Militia. Division, 1st
Inclusive dates: 1805-1811
Extent: 325 pages (1 volume)
The Massachusetts Militia orderly book consists of general, division, brigade, infantry, sub-legion, and company orders sent to the 1st Division Massachusetts Militia, organized by Captain Daniel Badger of the 5th District of Boston.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2008. M-4650.3 .

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Massachusetts Militia Orderly Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


After the revolution, the United States army consisted primarily of local militias. State and local governments maintained volunteer armies to put down insurrections and protect the country from foreign enemies. As tensions grew between the United States and Britain before the War of 1812, particularly after the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair of 1807, the federal government became concerned about the lack of a centralized military. Fearing the expansion of presidential power, Congress passed the Insurrection Act, which limited the military powers of the executive branch. Though the President could request militia quotas from each state, state governors held authority over the state militias.

Captain Daniel Badger commanded the militia from Boston’s 5th district and Samuel Howe was clerk for this company. Other members of Badger’s family, including Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Badger and Joseph Badger, were also involved with the Boston military.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Massachusetts Militia orderly book (325 pages) consists of general, division, brigade, infantry, sub-legion, and company orders sent to the 1st Division Massachusetts Militia, organized by Captain Daniel Badger of the 5th District of Boston. Entries span from March 2, 1805 to May 7, 1811, and were copied almost daily between 1806 and 1809. The orders provide information about the operation of the militia and the day-to-day lives of the soldiers. Entries touch on a wide range of topics, such as: dress requirements, arms maintenance, company drills and exercises, parades, inspections, attempted mutinies, courts martial, punishments, discharges, recruitment, and promotions. Also mentioned were meeting times and places for the officers, which often took place in the evening at concert halls and captains' houses. While several clerks copied orders into the volume, the majority were recorded by Sergeant Samuel Howe. A label on the item’s inside cover reads: “1812 Relic of the Revolution property of Mrs. S. P. Badger.”

Orders span many levels of command, from the state-level to the company-level.

Below is a list of order types and the officers who gave the orders:

  • General orders: Commander-in-Chief William Donnison and Governor James Sullivan
  • Division orders: Major General John Sargeant, Major General Simon Elliot, Major General Elijah Crane, and Aide-de-camp Minott Thayer
  • Brigade orders: Brigadier General John Winslow, Brigadier General Charles Clement, and Major Bryan P. Tilden
  • Infantry orders: Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Badger
  • Sub-legion/regiment orders: Major Peter Osgood and Major Jacob Stern
  • Company orders: Daniel Badger and Adjutant George Bass

Entries of note include:

  • Page 21: Description of soldiers' clothes
  • Page 25: Regulations for number of band musicians allowed per regiment
  • Page 41: Punishments for soldiers discharging muskets in the streets while parading
  • Page 135: An order from the President of the United States (Thomas Jefferson) to fill state troop quotas
  • Page 204: General order from the President, by Congress’s Insurrection Act, to secure troop levels for state militias
  • Page 222: Funeral orders to commemorate the death of Governor James Sullivan
  • Page 248: Detailed instructions for multiple companies of Massachusetts militia, including captains Binney, Rhoads, Hudson, Cutler, Canterbury, Badger, Crookens, Homer, Dean, Howes, Curtis, Ellery, and several new companies

The ordely book contains reports on the following courts martial:

  • Page 49: Lieutenant John F. Valentine
  • Page 51: Lieutenant Nathan Bacon
  • Page 62: Lieutenant Reuben Sanborn
  • Page 111: Captain Joseph Loring, Jr.
  • Page 200: Captain Amos Binney
  • Page 287: Captain Thomas Howe
  • Page 324: Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Hubbell

The volume contains 3 loose items: a small card with a ribbon labeled "1778 Mrs. S.P. Badger #13 Fort Green Place"; a printed general order from June 15, 1807); and a printed company order from April 19, 1810.

Subject Terms

    • Bacon, Nathan.
    • Badger, Daniel.
    • Binney, Amos.
    • Boston (Mass.)
    • Courts-martial and courts of inquiry.
    • Howe, Thomas.
    • Hubbell, Calvin.
    • Loring, Joseph, Jr.
    • Massachusetts. Militia. Division, 1st.
    • Military Parade.
    • Militia movements--United States.
    • Sanborn, Reuben.
    • United States. Army--Drill and tactics.
    • United States. Insurrection Act.
    • Valentine, John F.
    Genre Terms:
    • Orderly books.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Massachusetts Militia orderly book,  1805-1811 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The following Clements Library collections contain material related to the Massachusetts militia in the early 19th century:

    Alvan Boyden papers

    Isaac Story papers

    The following two volumes in the Clements Library Book Division concern courts martial in the Massachusetts militia:

    For the history of the Massachusetts Militia, see also: Welles, John. Papers, on the Defence of Boston and Other Places. Boston, 1813.