Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - Bill of Rights

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Preservation and Proposition

Our mission is to document the pivotal Second Amendment events that occurred in Frontier Mercersburg, and its environs, and to heighten awareness of the importance of these events in the founding of our Nation.

We are dedicated to the preservation of the place where the Second Amendment was "born" and to the proposition that the Second Amendment (the "right to bear arms") is the keystone of our Liberty and the Republic.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More on the Conococheague Rangers of 1763 (Part II)

By Eric I. Manders

When I wrote the text to accompany the drawing I did of the Conococheague Ranger, I was satisfied that the Conococheague Ranger Company represented an ad hoc attempt at local defense in Pennsylvania during Pontiac’s War.[1] The only record of it I could find was in the memoir of its commander, James Smith, published some thirty-six years after the fact.[2]

Since then I have found a contemporary account of the unit in an obvious enough place, the Pennsylvania Archives. That the Great Cove and Conococheague settlements petitioned for official recognition of their little band of defenders is recorded in the journal of the Pennsylvania Assembly for 17 September 1763:

"A Petition from the Inhabitants of the Great Cove, and Conococheague, in the County of Cumberland, was presented to the House and read, setting forth, that the Petitioners, by the late Depredations and Ravages of the Indians committed on their Neighbours, being in very imminent Danger, were under the Necessity of taking into Pay a Number of Men, amounting to about Thirty, accustomed to hunting, enured to Hardship, and well acquainted with the Country, for the Protection of themselves and Families:

That the said Men (being a Body of intrepid, resolute Fellows, under the Command of one who was a Captive with the Indians for several years) scouted at a considerable Distance, and, by dispatching Runners, gave the Inhabitants timely Notice of any impending Danger, by means whereof they have been enabled to continue on their Plantations, and stand a Barrier to the interior neighbouring Settlements:

That had not this Expedition been fallen upon, they must have deserted their Habitations, and depended upon the Charities of others: and that they are very sensible of, and gratefully acknowledge, the Care of the Legislature, in granting a Number of Men for the Protection of the Frontiers, yet they find themselves under the Necessity of employing this Body of Men, inasmuch as the Soldiers granted for their Department are not acquainted with the Country, or the Indian Manner of fighting:

That the Petitioners are poor, and incapable of supporting this Body of Men, having already advanced greater Sums than they could afford: and unless they are assisted by the Government, shall be obliged to abandon their Plantations to the Savages, to the Ruin of themselves, and great Injury to their Neighbours: For which Reason they humbly pray the House would take the Premises into Consideration, and enable them to continue the aforesaid Body of Men, in such Manner, and subject to such Directives, as they shall judge most proper and advantageous."

Ordered to lie on the table.[3]

The company was being supported by local subscription; acceptance of the petition would mean both financial assistance and legal commissions for the officers. It wasn’t to be. Three days later the Assembly made its decision:

The Petition from the Inhabitants of the Great Cove, and Conecocheague, was, upon Motion for that Purpose, again read and, after some Debate thereon, unanimously rejected.[4]

[1]Eric I. Manders, “Conococheague Rangers, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1763.” MC&H, 46. No. 3 (Fall 1994): 128-29. Conococheague Creek runs through modern Franklin County.

[2] An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels of Col. James Smith (Lexington, KY, 1799: facsimile edition, An Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1977), 59-60.

[3] Charles F. Hoban, ed.. Pennsylvania Archives, Eighth Series, 6 (n.p., 1935).5437-38. The “soldiers granted for their Department” who were “not acquainted with the Country, or the Indian Manner of fighting” were likely part of a frontier guard of seven hundred raised by government in July. Ibid..5430.

[4] Ibid. 5440. Smith accepted a lieutenancy in the Pennsylvania regulars. Remarkable Occurrences.60.

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