"...They were ready to fight when men of Fortune & monopolizers did."
In this installment of Letters from the Front, we skip ahead of the dreary late winter days of 1777 and into the spring, when the recruiting service started up again. As discussed in a previous entry, most Continental regiments recruited annually, enlisting men for one year of service at a time. In 1777, this practice began to change, but many regiments still felt the crunch to recruit their full quota of men. As the letter from Thomas Cartwright and James Jones below demonstrates, the recruiting service was extremely difficult. Colonel Henry Jackson dispatched the two men from his headquarters in Boston to head north, towards New Hampshire, "beating up for men" (as recruiting was sometimes called in period speech) along the way. Their report highlights the many difficulties involved in this task. While communities were expected to provide a certain quota of able-bodied men for Continental Service, they generally lacked the coercive power to actually do so. The drafting referred to below is the one exception: in later years, militia companies were formed and a certain number of the men therein were drafted into Continental service. Personally, I did not think this practice caught on until much later in the war, so I welcome comments from other researchers here. Also of note is the fact that a clear gulf was beginning to emerge between the rich and the "monopolizers" (merchants benefiting from the sale of now-rare goods) and the common men who did most of the actual fighting. This is one version of the age-old theme of "rich man's war, poor man's fight" that echoes throughout world history. Please see below for the full text of the letter. Our thanks go out to David Swain for this transcript.