"Rules for Regulating the Army of Observation, Raised by this Colony"
- On June 2, 1775, the General Assembly of Rhode Island adopted these "Rules for Regulating the Army of Observation, Raised by this Colony." This primary source gives a glimpse of Rhode Island's reasons for raising troops and how they expected those soldiers to behave.
It is Voted and Resolved, That the following Rules and Orders for regulating the Army of Observation raised by this Colony, be and they are hereby approved, and that the Secretary procure the same to be printed, and supply the Brigadier-General, each Field Officer, the Commissary, and each Commissioned Officer, with a copy thereof.
Whereas, the lust of power, which of old oppressed, persecuted, and exiled our pious and virtuous ancestors from their fair possessions in Britain, now pursues, with tenfold severity, us, their guiltless children, who are unjustly and wickedly charged with licentlousness, sedition, treason and rebellion; and being deeply impressed with a sense of the almost incredible fatigues and hardships our venerable progenitors encountered, who fled from oppression for the sake of civil and religious liberty for themselves and their offspring, and began a settlement here on bare creation, at their own expense; and having seriously considered the duty we owe to God, to the memory of such invincible worthies, to the King, to Great Britain, our Country, ourselves and posterity, do think it an indispensable duty, by all lawful ways and means in our power, to recover, maintain, defend, and preserve, the free exercise of all those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our forefathers fought, bled, and died, and to hand them down entire, for the free enjoyment of the latest posterity:
And whereas the keeping a Standing Army in any of these Colonies in times of peace, without the consent of the Legislature of that Colony in which such an Army is kept, is against law: And whereas such an Army, with a large Naval Force, is now placed in the harbour of Boston, for the purpose of subjecting us to the power of the British Parliament: And whereas we are frequently told by the tools of Administration, dupes to ministerial usurpation, that Great Britain will not, in any degree, relax in her measures, until we acknowledge her "right to make laws binding upon us in all cases whatsoever;" and that if we refuse to be slaves, if we persist: in our denial of her claim, the dispute must be decided by arms, in which it is said by our enemies "we shall hare no chance, being undisciplined, cowards, disobedient, impatient of command, and possessed of that spirit of levelling which admits of no order, subordination, rule, or government:" And whereas from the Ministerial Army and Fleet now at Boston, the large re-enforcement of Troops expected, the late circular letters to the Governours upon the Continent, the general tenour of intelligence from Great Britain, and the hostile preparations making here, as also from the threats and frequent insults of our enemies, we have reason to apprehend that the sudden destruction of this Colony is in contemplation, if not determined upon:
And whereas the great law of self-preservation hath required our raising and keeping an Army of Observation and defence, in order to prevent or repel any farther attempts to enforce the late cruel and oppressive Acts of the British Parliament, which are evidently designed to subject us and the whole Continent to the most ignominious slavery: And whereas, in keeping such an Army, it will be necessary that the officers and soldiers in the same be fully acquainted with their duty, and that the articles, rules, and regulations thereof be made as plain as possible; and having great confidence in the honour and publick virtue of the inhabitants of this Colony, that they will readily obey their officers, and will cheerfully do their duly, when known, without any such severe articles and rules (except in capital cases) and cruel punishments, as are usually practiced in standing armies, and will submit to all such rules and regulations as are founded in reason, honour, and virtue:
It is therefore Resolved, That the following Articles, Rules and Regulations, for the Army raised by this Colony for the defence, and security of our lives, liberties, and estates, be, and hereby are established and required to be strictly adhered to by all officers, soldiers, and others concerned, as they regard their own honour and the publick good; and upon the penalties and forfeitures hereinafter mentioned.
ARTICLE I. All Officers and Soldiers, not having just impediment, shall diligently frequent divine service and sermon in the places appointed for assembling of the Regiment, Troop, or Company, to which they belong; and such as wilfully absent themselves, or being present, behave indecently or irreverently, shall, if Commissioned Officers, be brought before a Regimental Court-Martial, there to be publickly and severely reprimanded by the President; if Non-Commissioned Officers or Soldiers, every person so offending shall, for his first offence, forfeit one Shilling, to be deducted out of his wages; for the second offence he shall not only forfeit one Shilling, but be confined, not exceeding twenty-four hours; and for every like offence, shall suffer and pay in like manner; which money so forfeited shall be applied to the use of the sick Soldiers of the Troop or Company to which the offender belongs.
ART II. Whatsoever Non-Commissioned Officer or Soldier shall use any unlawful oath or execration, shall incur the penalty of six Pence; and if a Commissioned Officer be thus guilty of profane cursing and swearing; he shall forfeit and pay for each and every such offence the sum of nine Pence, lawful money.
ART III. Any Officer or Soldier who shall behave himself with contempt or disrespect towards the General or Generals, or Commander-In-Chief of the Rhode-Island Forces, or shall speak words tending to his or their hurt or dishonour, shall be punished according to the nature of his offence, by the judgment of a General Court-Martial.
ART IV. Any Officer or Soldier who shall begin, excite, cause, or join in any mutiny or sedition in the Regiment, Troop, or Company, to which he belongs, or in any other. Regiment, Troop, or Company of the Rhode-Island Forces, either by land or sea, or in any party, post, detachment, or guard, on any pretence whatsoever, shall suffer such punishment as by a General Court-Martial shall be ordered.
ART V. Any Officer, Non-Commissioned Qfficer, or Soldier, who being present at any mutiny or sedition, does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same, or coming to the knowledge of any mutiny or intended mutiny, does not without delay, give information thereof to the commanding Officer, shall be punished by order of a General Court-Martial, according to the nature of his offence.
ART VI. Any Officer or Soldier who shall strike his superiour Officer, or draw, or offer to draw, or shall lift up any weapon, or offer any violence against him, being in the execution of his office, on any pretence whatsoever, or shall disobey any lawful commands of his superiour Officer, shall suffer such punishment as shall, according to the nature of his offence, be ordered by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART VII. Any Non-Commissioned Officer or Soldier who shall desert, or without leave of his Commanding Officer, absent himself from the Troop or Company to which he belongs, or from any detachment of the same, shall, upon being convicted thereof, be punished according to the nature of his offence, at the discretion of a General Court-Martial.
ART VIII. Whatsoever Officer or Soldier shall be convicted of having advised or persuaded any other Officer or Soldier to desert, shall suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART IX. All Officers, of what condition so-ever, shall have power to part and quell all quarrels, frays, and disorders, though the persons concerned should belong to another Regiment, Troop, or Company, and either order Officers to be arrested, or Non-Commissioned Officers or Soldiers to be confined and imprisoned, till their proper Superiour Officers shall be acquainted therewith; and whoever shall refuse to obey such Officer, (though of an inferiour rank,) or shall draw his sword upon him, shall be punished at the discretion of a General Court-Martial.
ART X. No Officer or Soldier shall use any reproachful or provoking speeches, or gestures to another, nor shall presume to send a challenge to any person to fight a duel; and whoever shall knowingly and willingly suffer any person whatsoever to go forth to fight a duel, or shall second, promote, or carry any challenge, shall be deemed as a principal; and whatsoever Officer or Soldier shall upbraid another for refusing a challenge, shall also be considered as a challenger; and all such offenders, in any of these or such like cases, shall be punished at the discretion of a General Court-Martial.
ART XI. Every Officer commanding in quarters, or on a march, shall keep good order, and, to the utmost of his power, redress all such abuses or disorders which may be committed by any Officer or Soldier under his command; if upon any complaint made to him, of Officers or Soldiers beating, or otherwise ill-treating any person, or of committing any kind of riot, to the disquieting of the inhabitants of this Continent, he, the said Commander, who shall refuse or omit to see justice done on the offender or offenders., and reparation made to the party or parties injured, as far as the offender' s wages shall enable him or them, shall, upon due proof thereof, be punished as ordered by a General Court-Martial, in such manner as if he himself had committed the crimes or disorders complained of.
ART XII. If any Officer shall think himself to be wronged by his Colonel, or the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, and shall, upon due application made to him, be refused to be redressed, he may complain to the General, or Commander-in-Chief of the Rhode-Island Forces, in order to obtain justice, who is hereby required to examine into said complaint and see that justice be done.
ART XIII. If any inferiour Officer or Soldier shall think himself wronged by his Captain, or other Officer commanding the Troop or Company to which he belongs, he is to complain thereof to the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, who is hereby required to summon a Regimental Court-Martial for the doing justice to the complainant, from which Regimental Court-Martial either party may, if he thinks himself still aggrieved, appeal to a General Court-Martial; but if, upon a second hearing, the appeal shall appear to be vexatious and groundless, the person so appealing shall be punished at the discretion of the General Court-Martial.
ART XIV, Whatsoever Non-Commissioned Officer or Soldier shall be convicted at a Regimental Court-Martial of having sold, or designedly, or through neglect, wasted the Ammunition, Arms, or Provisions, or other Military Stores delivered out to him to be employed in the service of this Colony, shall, if an Officer, be reduced to a Private Sentinel; and if a Private Soldier, shall suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XV. All Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers shall be allowed the limits of one mile from the place of encampment, unless the Commander-in-Chief shall think proper to mark out shorter limitations. Every Officer or Soldier found without those limits, without leave in writing, shall suffer such punishment as shall be inflicted by a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XVI. No Officer or Soldier shall lie out of his quarters or camp without leave from the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, upon penalty of being punished according to the nature of his offence, by order of a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XVII. Every Non-Commissioned Officer and Soldier shall retire to his quarters or tent at the beating of the retreat; in default of which, he shall be punished according to the nature of his offence, by order of the Commanding Officer.
ART XVIII. No Officer, Non-Commissioned Officer, or Soldier, shall fall of repairing at the time fixed, to the place of parade, or exercise, or other rendezvous, appointed by the Commanding Officer, if not prevented by sickness, or some other evident necessity, or shall go from the said place of rendezvous, or from his guard, without leave from his Commanding Officer, before he shall be regularly dismissed or relieved, on penalty of being punished according to the nature of his offence, by the sentence of a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XIX. Whatsoever Commissioned Officer shall, be found drunk on his guard, party, or other duty under arms, shall be cashiered for it; any Non-Commissioned Officer or Soldier so offending, shall suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XX. Whatsoever Sentinel shall be found sleeping upon his post, or shall leave it before he shall be regularly relieved, shall suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART XXI. Any person belonging to the Rhode-Island Army, who, by discharging of Fire-Arms, beating of Drums, or by any other means whatsoever, shall occasion false alarms in camp or quarters, shall suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART XXII. Any Officer or Soldier who shall, without urgent necessity, or without leave of his superiour Officer, quit his platoon or division, shall be punished according to the nature of his offence, by the sentence of a Regimental Court-Martial.
ART XXIII. No Officer or Soldier shall do violence, or offer any insult or abuse to any person who shall bring provisions or other necessaries to the camp or quarters of the Rhode-Island Army; any Officer or Soldier so offending, shall, upon complaint being made to the Commanding Officer, suffer such punishment as shall be ordered by a Regimental Court-Martial. Thursday, March 17, 2005
ART XXIV. Whatsoever Officer or Soldier shall shamefully abandon any Post committed to his charge, or shall speak words inducing others to do the like in time of an engagement, shall suffer death immediately.
ART XXV. Any person belonging to the Rhode-Island Army, who shall make known the watchword to any person who is not entitled to receive it, according to the rules and discipline of war, or shall presume to give a parole or watchword different from what he received, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as shall be ordered by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART XXVI. Whosoever, belonging to the Rhode-Island Army, shall relieve the enemy with Money, Victuals, or Ammunition, or shall knowingly harbour or protect an enemy, shall suffer such punishment as by a General Court-Martial shall be ordered.
ART XXVII. Whosoever belonging to the Rhode-Island Army, shall be convicted of holding correspondence with, or of giving intelligence to the enemy, either directly or indirectly, shall suffer such punishment as by a General Court-Martial shall be ordered,
ART XXVIII. All Publick Stores, taken in the enemy' s camp or magazines, whether of Artillery, Ammunition, Clothing, or Provisions, shall be secured for the use of the Colony of Rhode-Island.
ART XXIX. If any Officer or Soldier shall leave his post or colours in time of an engagement, to go in search of plunder, he shall, upon being convicted thereof before a General Court-Martial, suffer such punishment as by said Court-Martial shall be ordered.
ART XXX. If any Commander of any Post, Intrenchment, or Fortress, shall be compelled by the Officers or Soldiers under his command, to give it up to the enemy, or to abandon it, the Commissioned Officer, Non-Commissioned Officers, or Soldiers, who shall be convicted of having so offended, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as may be inflicted upon them by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART XXXI. All Sutlers and Retailers to a camp, and all persons whatsoever serving with the Rhode-Island Army in the field, though not enlisted Soldiers, are to be subject to the Articles, Rules, and Regulations of the Rhode-Island Army.
ART XXXII. No General Court-Martial shall consist of a less number than thirteen, none of which shall be under the degree of a Commissioned Officer, and the President shall be a Field-Officer; and the President of each and every Court-Martial, whether General or Regimental, shall have power to administer an oath to every witness, in order to the trial of offenders; and the Members of all Courts-Martial shall be duly sworn by the President, and the next in rank on the Court-Martial shall administer the oath to the President.
ART XXXIII. The Members both of General and Regimental Courts-Martial shall, when belonging to different Corps, take the same rank which they hold in the Army; but when Courts-Martial shall he composed of Officers of one Corps, they shall take their ranks according to their commissions, by which they are mustered in the said Corps.
ART XXXIV. All the Members of a Court-Martial are to behave with calmness, decency, and impartiality, and in the giving of their votes, are to begin with the youngest or lowest in commission.
ART XXXV. No Field-Officer shall be tried by any person under the degree of a Captain; nor shall any proceedings or trials be carried on excepting between the hours of eight in the morning and three in the afternoon, except in cases which require an immediate example.
ART XXXVI. The Commissioned Officers of every Regiment may, by the appointment of their Colonel or Commanding Officer, hold Regimental Courts-Martial for the inquiring into such disputes or criminal matters as may come before them, and for the inflicting corporal punishments for small offences, and shall give judgment by the majority of voices; but no sentence shall be executed till the Commanding Officer (not being a member of the Court-Martial) shall have confirmed the same.
ART XXXVII. No Regimental Court-Martial shall consist of less than five Officers, excepting in cases where that number cannot be conveniently assembled, when three may be sufficient, who are likewise to determine upon the sentence by the majority of voices, which sentence is to be confirmed by the Commanding Officer, not being a member of the Court-Martial.
ART XXXVIII. Every Officer commanding in any Fort, Castle, or Barrack, or elsewhere, where the Corps under his command consists of detachments from different Regiments, or of independent Companies, may assemble Courts-Martial for the trial of offenders in the same manner as if they were Regimental, whose sentence is not to be executed till it shall be confirmed by the said Commanding Officer.
ART XXXIX. No person whatsoever shall use menacing words, signs, or gestures, in the presence of a Court-Martial then sitting, or shall cause any disorder or riot, so as to disturb their proceedings, on the penalty of being punished at the discretion of the said Court-Martial.
ART XL. To the end that offenders may be brought to justice, whenever any Officer or Soldier shall commit a crime deserving punishment, he shall, by his Commanding Officer, if an Officer, be put in arrest; if a Non-Commissioned Officer or Soldier, be imprisoned till he shall be either tried by a Court-Martial, or shall be lawfully discharged by proper authority.
ART XLI. NO Officer or Soldier who shall be put in arrest or imprisonment, shall continue in his confinement more than eight days, or till such time as a Court-Martial can be conveniently assembled.
ART XLII. No Officer commanding a guard, or Provost Marshal, shall refuse to receive or keep any prisoner committed to his charge by an Officer belonging to the Rhode-Island Forces: which Officer shall, at the same time, deliver an account in writing, signed by himself, of the crime with which the said prisoner is charged.
ART XLIII. No Officer commanding a guard, or Provost Marshal, shall presume to release any prisoner committed to his charge, without proper authority for so doing; nor shall he suffer any prisoner to escape on the penalty of being punished for it by the sentence of a General Court-Martial.
ART XLIV. Every Officer or Provost-Marshal, to whose charge prisoners shall be committed, is hereby required, within twenty-four hours after such commitment, or as soon as he shall be relieved from his guard, to give in writing to the Colonel of the Regiment to whom the prisoner belongs (where the prisoner is confined upon the guard belonging to the, said Regiment, and that his offence only relates to the neglect of duty in his own Corps) or to the Commander-in-Chief, their names, their crimes, and the names of the Officers who committed them, on the penalty of being punished for his disobedience or neglect at the discretion of a General Court-Martial,
ART XLV. And if any Officer under arrest shall leave his confinement before he is set at liberty by the Officer who confined him, or by a superiour power, he shall be cashiered for it.
ART XLVI. Whatsoever Commissioned Officer shall be convicted before a General Court-Martial of behaving in a scandalous, infamous manner, such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, shall be discharged from the service.
ART XLVII. All Officers, Conductors, Gunners, Matrosses, Drivers, or any other person whatsoever, receiving pay or hire in the service of the Rhode-Island Artillery, shall be governed by the aforesaid Rules and Articles, and shall be subject to be tried by Courts-Martial in like manner with the Officers and Soldiers of the Rhode-Island Troops.
ART XLVIII. For differences arising amongst themselves, or in matters relating solely to their own Corps, the Courts-Martial may be composed of their own Officers; but where 3 number sufficient of such Officers cannot be assembled, or in matters wherein other Corps are interested, the Officers, of Artillery shall sit in Courts-Martial with the Officers of the other Corps.
ART XLIX. All crimes not capital, and all disorders and neglects which Officers and Soldiers may be guilty of, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, though not mentioned in the Articles of War, are to be taken cognizance of by a General or Regimental Court-Martial, according to the nature and degree of the offence, and be punished at their discretion.
ART L. No Courts-Martial shall order any offender to be whipped, or receive more than thirty-nine stripes for any one offence,
ART LI. The Field-Officers of each and every Regiment are to appoint some suitable person belonging to such Regiment to receive all such fines as may arise within the same, for any breach of any of the foregoing Articles, and shall direct the same to be carefully and properly applied to the relief of such sick, wounded, or necessitous Soldiers as belong to such Regiment; and such person shall account with such Officer for all fines received and the application thereof.
ART LII. All Members sitting in Courts-Martial shall be sworn by the President of said Courts, which President shall himself be sworn by the Officer in said Court next in rank; the Oath to be administered previous to their proceeding to the trial of any offender, in form following, to wit:
"You, A˙ B˙, swear that you will well and truly try, and impartially determine, the cause of the prisoner now to be tried, according to the Rules for regulating the Rhode-Island Army; so help you God."
ART LIII. All persons called to give evidence in any case before a Court-Martial, who shall refuse to give evidence, shall be punished for such refusal at the discretion of such Court-Martial; the Oath to be administered in the form following, to wit:
"You swear the evidence you shall give in the case now in hearing, shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; so help you God."