Caption: Farm militia drill, Credit: Jamestown Yorktown Foundation
Image by: Jamestown Yorktown Foundation 
Farm militia drill 

Colonial Militia

From: Steve Clark
Series: Virginia: Colony to Commonwealth
Length: 02:30

The colonial militias played an important role in the struggle for independence, but then, as now, not without some misunderstanding. Read the full description.

Yvc-visitors_take_part_in_farm_militia_drill_small

British colonies in America formed militias to serve during local emergencies. In the 17th century they were largely successful in defending the colonies in conflicts with Native American societies. By the 18th Century these militias had become almost laughable. In the run-up to the American Revolution, George Washington soon realized he couldn't fight the British Army with the militia alone, but militias still made important contributions especially in the suppression of resistance to the patriot cause from Loyalists and  Native Americans allied with the British. Toward the end of the war the army learned how to use the militia in conjunction with regular soldiers, significantly contributing to some victories.

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Piece Description

British colonies in America formed militias to serve during local emergencies. In the 17th century they were largely successful in defending the colonies in conflicts with Native American societies. By the 18th Century these militias had become almost laughable. In the run-up to the American Revolution, George Washington soon realized he couldn't fight the British Army with the militia alone, but militias still made important contributions especially in the suppression of resistance to the patriot cause from Loyalists and  Native Americans allied with the British. Toward the end of the war the army learned how to use the militia in conjunction with regular soldiers, significantly contributing to some victories.

Broadcast History

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Transcript

The Virginia Militia

Lead: The colonial militias played an important role in the struggle for independence, but then, as now, not without some misunderstanding.

Edward Ayres: When the American Revolution started there was something of a disconnect between what people thought the militia could do and what in fact it could do.

Intro: I’m Steve Clark with “Virginia: Colony to Commonwealth”… Sponsored by Yorktown Victory Center, a living history museum in Virginia’s Historic Triangle.

Content: British colonies in America formed military forces called militias… comprised mostly of free, white, able-bodied male citizens who could be called to service during local emergencies. Historian at Yorktown Victory Center, Edward Ayres says the militia in the 17th century became very important and was largely successful in defending the colonies in their conflicts with Native American...
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