01 February 2007

The Men Who Volunteered For Duty

Interestingly enough it is the Libertarians that make the case of a volunteer military as they do point out that it is NOT a power granted by the People to the Federal Government and has only been used when the Nation has been seen at danger during a huge conflict. While the First National Conscription Act signed by George Washington did require each man to do his duty to own a musket and muster for training, that was for the State-based militia system and would serve the Union at need. Men 18-45 were required to arm themselves with musket, bayonet and other provisions. But that had its problems, over the years and the volunteer armed forces were something that the Nation actually was founded on, because the Revolutionary Army was requisitioned from the States, but that service was voluntary and limited to one year tours.

This wealthy land owner led them.

Mind you he would only lose his remaining son to the conflict and so have no children left to survive him. Somehow these all-volunteer soldiers fighting on promises of pay, short rations, short supplies, little equipment, and surviving harsh winters and combat were able to carry on as they came forward and left to fight for their right to be free.

So mercenary of them!

Still America would depend on volunteer forces through Indian wars and even a little imbroglio that saw the Nation invaded, sometimes known as the Second Revolutionary War: The War of 1812.

The Map of the Burning of Buffalo

One town was torched down to a single building left standing as *proof* of the power of the British forces that could destroy everything in a town and spare one building.

The Nation's Capitol in Flames

The Capitol city of Washington, D. C. was set ablaze by British forces to demonstrate the futility of fighting them.

The final battle was led by a man who had been captured at the ripe age of 13 by the British in the Revolutionary War and would defeat them at New Orleans.

And go on to be the 7th President of the United States: Andrew Jackson.

After the Civil War the US had little want of a Draft Army and did without and those forces that did fight were volunteers and some were more of the do-it-yourself volunteer forces than what we would consider to be regular armed forces.

San Juan heights

Like this scruffy group known as the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. Or the "Rough Riders", as they were better known.

This widely diverse set of retired cavalry, cowboys, Pawnee scouts, Ivy league athletes, policemen and ranch hands were recruited by the Second in command, Theodore Roosevelt who passed up leading the group so that an experienced Cavalry Officer could do so, Col. Leonard Wood.

Col. Leonard Wood

Not the average forces one expects to deal with, but Col. Wood did very well, indeed, for the time he had with them. One day his Second in Command would lead them to further battles.

Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt

I am sure that they were given a 'free pass' by society. And that they were seen as just being out for themselves and not for their Nation living in the lap of luxury in places that did not have much in the way of towns or even buildings.

Then there are the brave soldiers of America that took to the air in the American Volunteer Group. They were known as the Flying Tigers. The Nation had problems actually finding a way to support an Ally in those days, but saw it as necessary and put forward good pay for highly lethal duty. These men went to areas that had no modern facilities, where sanitation was little known and fought a war over jungles against an enemy numerically superior to them. And won.

Go here to see the faces of the men who volunteered for some of the grittiest air combat of World War II.
Courtesy and Copyright: WW2incolor

Yes, such the lap of luxury in places like Burma where the water was untreated and the men could not drink from the taps and were even advised not to brush their teeth with it. Five star living to be assured.

No, to those who say the brave Volunteer Citizen Soldiers are 'living in the lap of luxury' or 'mercenaries' or any such, needs deal with how the United States was formed BY Volunteers, defended BY Volunteers and had wars in far off lands fought BY Volunteers long before this little dust up in Iraq.

While many point to conscription and the draft as a way to 'involve the Nation', we forget the legacy of volunteer fighters, Privateers and other Citizens who have volunteered for military duty both as regular and not-so-regular fighters. Be they under the uniform of the United States or holding a Warrant and Letter of Marque or Reprisal, these volunteers have knowingly taken up to defend their Nation often for little or no pay, in areas of very little glamor and doing things that would lead to their demise if they did not trust their skills and the backing of the Nation for their fights.

We need more such forces in this day and age, and damn Congress for not having the guts to actually put forward how those less than fit may still find a way to Serve, even if in totally irregular capacity as only THEY can put forth how the Citizens of this Nation may go after its Enemies... and the long lists at the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of State and Dept. of Defense points to a lot of people and groups that the Nation can't get to.

But that the Citizen answering the Call of Congress *can*.

We did not start this war, which began as far back as Thomas Jefferson and ran through Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt into the modern era.

No this fight is not one the United States has ever looked for.

We didn't start this fight.

But we sure, as hell, must end it.

In Victory.

Or allow that Empire will rise again and soon end the dream of Liberty and Freedom forevermore.

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