[AMERICAN REVOLUTION -- PENNSYLVANIA MINUTEMEN]. Muster Roll and Orderly Book for the First Battalion, York County Associators & Militia (the "York Blues,"), signed by Pennsylvania patriot and Signer of the Declaration of Independence JAMES SMITH (1720-1806) as ranking Captain, and by many other patriots. [York, Pennsylvania and other localities], 22 March--5 August 1775, later entries to 23 March 1783.
4to (7 7/8 x 6, 1/8 in.), in a blank book of 88pp.: 13pp. comprising records of the York Blues, 12pp. devoted to the 1783 orders of the 2nd Regiment; many versos and later pages with personal accounts of a later owner, some pages removed, stains and browning, heavy in places, first few leaves detached, in original calf-backed boards, inside front cover bears large printed label of "Samuel Taylor Bookbinder and Stationer," Philadelphia; boards quite worn.
PENNSYLVANIA'S "MINUTEMEN" ORGANIZE TO FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE, A MONTH BEFORE LEXINGTON AND CONCORD, WITH A FUTURE SIGNER IN COMMAND
The concept of armed, trained, part-time local militia, capable of mustering under arms on short notice in defense of their homes and freedoms was familiar from the days of the earliest settlements in North America. But the term "Minuteman" took on a special meaning in the years leading up to the American Revolution. In Massachusetts especially, the Minutemen came to constitute a separate group of ardent patriots within the larger state militia who could be expected to respond within a minute to the urgent summons of an officer. It was these minutemen who mustered in arms on April 19 at Lexington and faced the British regulars at Concord Bridge. In the wake of that signal success, in July 1775 the Continental Congress urged other colonies to establish similar forces of Minutemen. These would, in the end, prove to be powerful democratizing forces in addition to their military usefulness.
The Associators or "York Blues," one such patriot volunteer force, were THE FIRST ORGANIZED IN THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA and were later incorporated into the Continental Army. Their formation, elections and by-laws are fully chronicled here. The unit was founded and elected officers on 22 March 1775 (at Sam Getty's Tavern, near Gettysburg): "...In order to make ourselves perfect in the Art military we the Subscribers have associated, and do (severally) agree promise and resolve as follows...That James Smith be the Captain, Thomas Hartley the First Lieutenant, David Grier the second Lieutenant and Henry Miller the Ensign, of the Company in York Town called the York Blues, which said officers according to their respective Station to have the Command of said Company whilst under Arms, mustering or in active C[ontinental] Service & that the said officers shall remain till altered by a majority of the Company...." Members are enjoined to strict obedience to their officers' orders "whilst under Arms, or mustering, or in actual Service." In addition, "each Person of the Company shall...as soon as possible, provide himself with a Gun or Musket at least three Feet and a half in length in the Barrel, in good order and repair, with a Cartouche [cartridge] Box, and half a pound of Powder and two Pounds of Lead, formed into cartridges." The volunteer nature of the unit is apparent; they are required to muster "weekly on Saturday and on such other Times as the officers or a majority of them shall appoint in York Town or at such places as the said Officers shall deem necessary...."
The next six pages are filled with the signatures of the members of the company. The first bold signature beneath the by-laws and regulations is that of James Smith (1719-1806), the Irish-born patriot, leading citizen of York and an early advocate of the revolutionary cause. He attended the provincial assembly in 1774 (where he urged a boycott of British goods) and again in 1775, but returned to York to helped organize the present volunteer company, which is THE FIRST VOLUNTEER CORPS RAISED IN PENNSYVANIA. He joined the 2nd Continental Congress in mid-session on 20 July 1776, after the historic vote for the Independence resolution, but signed the engrossed Declaration of Independence in August 1776 along with 55 fellow delegates. (Smith was later elected Colonel of the York regiment, but never served in the field).
Following the armed conflicts at Lexington and Concord, Congress voted in June 1775 to form 10 rifle companies, six from Pennsylvania. So many rushed to enlist that Pennsylvania alone raised nine regiments, generally known as Thompson's Rifle Battalion, later the 1st Continental Regiment. The York Blues were assigned to this and to other Pennsylvania units under command of General Washington (the entries from 1783 were evidently made by William Huston, Lt. of the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment).
Among the York Blues who have signed are David Hartley, later Colonel of the 6th Pennsylvania, which fought at Brandywine, Paoli, and Germantown and wintered at Valley Forge; Hartley later served as a delegate to the Pennsylvania convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution. David Grier, later Major, was wounded at Paoli and also served as a delegate to his state's ratification convention. Michael Doudel became Captain of Company C, Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifles and saw action during the Boston siege. Henry Miller served in Thompson's Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, and as Lt. Col. of the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment, which saw considerable wartime service. (See J.B.B. Trussel, Jr., The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organizations and Operations, 1776-1783, 1977).
As one historian has written, "Fortunately for America's success, its army was not merely the trained and disciplined force, obedient throughout the years of war to its patriot leaders, but the ill-trained farmers, citizens, shop-keepers, ready to leave their work, and fight when the enemy approached, and forming at all times a potential force far beyond the army..." (C.H. Van Tyne, England and America: Rivals in the American Revolution, p.153).