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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
In early days in Missouri all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were required to organize into companies, choose officers, and meet at stated times and places for drill and exercise in military evolutions. The company commissioned officers were a captain and lieutenants. Companies were organized into battalion; battalions into regiments; with colonels, lieutenants, majors and other field officers; regiments into brigades, with a brigadier-general in command; brigades into divisions, with a major-general in command, and the whole under the charge of the Governor, ex officio commander-in-chief of the military forces of the state.
The militia of the county were all required to attend these musters or present a satisfactory reason for a failure, or else suffer a fine. They were also required to bring their arms with them, if they had any, and in early days, these arms must be "in good order." As not every man had a gun, numbers went through the manual of arms with sticks, cornstalk and other implements. All of the drilling that was done, however, was not of a very effective sort. The drill-masters were not very efficient to begin with, and their tactics differed very widely from the modern ones of Hardee and Upton.
The provisions of the militia law were changed from time to time, but as a general rule company musters were held once a month, battalion musters twice a year, and general musters yearly. As the rule the men were not uniformed. The officers were compelled to uniform themselves, at their own expense. The state furnished a great many arms and equipments, chiefly holster and dragoon pistols, belts, sabers and the like.
One thing surely the musters produced - a bountiful supply of military titles. The county was abundantly furnished with captains and majors and colonels, many of whom, though they never set a squadron on the field, or knew the evolution of a legion, yet were glorious to behold when they were clad in their showy uniforms, and mounted upon their prancing steeds, leading their commands to the drill ground. But though at times the parades were conducted with all the pomp and circumstances of glorious war, they came to be considered, as they were, nuisances, and the performance rediculous and farcical.
There were not drillings and meetings enough to render the militiamen trained soldiers, and there were too many for comfort. Courts martial convened at the courthouse quite frequently for the trial of offenders against the militia law, and many a lackless delinquent was fined for his nonattendance at drills or musters, or for other offenses.
There was always fun at the musters, more or less in quantity or better or worse in quality. Great crowds attended the general musters. Old darkies were there with spruce beer and ginger cakes; refreshment stands abounded; horse races were made and run; foot races, wrestling matches, and other athletic sports were indulged in, and many a fisticuff was fought on muster day. At all these things, and at the drilling and evolutions of the militiamen, the crowd stared and admired.