The Draft ~ 233 Years Ago

{Posted   07 February 2013}

  Two hundred and thirty three years ago, this Saturday (09 February 1780), the first draft (i.e. the forced enrollment into the army) was initiated by the Second Continental Congress. The delegates assembled in Congress called on the various states of the fledgling United States of America to furnish approximately 35,000 more troops for the Continental Army.

  The American Revolutionary War was not yet concluded. Active fighting was still underway throughout the southern colonies; the siege of Yorktown would not begin for another year and a half (in September 1781). So the prospects of the need for troops to continue the fight were very real. On the 1st of February, the delegates assembled in Congress were presented with a report of the Board of War which noted the quota of troops they felt would be needed for the ensuing year's campaigns. The state of Pennsylvania's quota was 4,855 men.

  The subject was tabled a couple days, and finally was put to a vote on 09 February, at which time it was "Resolved, That for the ensuing campaign the states be respectively required to furnish, by draughts or otherwise, on or before the first day of April next, their respective deficiencies of the number of 35,211 men, exclusive of commissioned officers, which Congress deem necessary for the service of the present year."