Militias, male citizens formally banding together for their mutual defense, is a concept that was found in Europe after the Roman Empire fell apart. Militias were part of the early American colonies and participation was required by governments of the day.

Military training was done in 1781 at Robbinston under Captain Brewer.

In 1792 Congress established the Militia. It was placed under the states and called for all free, white, able-bodied males between 18 and 45 to be enrolled. They were to supply their own weapons and equipment and to muster annually. Generally the Militia was not effective. In some urban areas it turned into social, ethnic or political groups. Many regiments did not hold their musters and were not of value to the nation at the time of the War of 1812, the Aroostook War, the Mexican War and even the Civil War when Lincoln called up 75,000 Militia members. Pennsylvania called out its Militia in 1863 when Lee invaded that state. The militia law was repealed in 1903 and the National Guard established.

In 1804 the command on the St Croix was divided; In Calais Shubael Downes was the first Captain. Jarius Keene was Captain in 1816 with 25 active men.

In our area, John Cooper of Machias, a storekeeper, sheriff and land agent for TWP 16 (Cooper) was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts as a General in the Militia. Cooper resigned in 1810.

WAR OF 1812

The people along the eastern half of the coast of Maine were extremely fearful of attack by the British during this time. Fort Sullivan in Eastport was built in 1808. A-CHS member Karen Smith Howell collected material from the Internet that is shared here.

For the purpose of defending the lives and property of the inhabitants of Eastport and Robbinston, a order was issued on July 15, 1812 for the third regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Shead and a company of artillery to …repel any invasion of the enemy. Shead’s regiment consisted of seven companies. The captains were Thomas Vose, Jerius Keene, John W. Raynolds, William Hill, John N. Peary, Thomas George and Bela Wilder. The men of these companies likely lived near the captains. The terms of active duty for these companies was short, most in service only to September 1 when, apparently, three full companies of Massachusetts infantry arrived. The Captains were Thomas Vose, Thomas George and Joshua Chamberlain (not of the Civil War). Likely some of the men of the militia were also part of the state infantry. On June 12, 1813 Commonwealth of Massachusetts ordered payment to Shubael Downes for the Calais Militia for services.

Alexander probably sent no men to Eastport; the nearest militia company was in Calais. However a few men at Eastport eventually settled in Alexander. They were:

Annaniah Bohanon in Jerius Keene’s Company (Calais)

William Crockett in Jerius Keene’s Company (Calais)

Joseph Davis in Thomas Vose’s Company (Robbinston)

Warren Gilman in John N. Peary’s Company

James Perkins, Musician, in William Hill’s Company

John Miner Sprague in Jerius Keene’s Company (Calais)

Jesse Stephenson, Sergeant, in William Hill’s Company

One man who agreed to settle on a lot in Alexander was listed in 1816 by Dinsmore & Ulmer as “killed in the last war”. That was John Kelley

Local militia, but not of Washington County, were called out for other scares, real or perceived.

In March 1813 a force of 130 men under Lieutenant Colonel John Black of Ellsworth went to Mount Desert Island in response to an alarm that the enemy had been sighted.

Herbert Silsby tells of the Militia of Aurora and Amherst starting for Eastport in 1814 when the British threatened to attack. The Militia turned back at Beddington when told that the British controlled Eastport and Moose Island. It was on July 11, 1814 when the British came ashore. They did not leave until 1818.

On August 6, 1814 one company was directed to march to Castine, a false alarm.

On September 1, 1814 - 551 men mustered at Hampden. Captain Morris of the US Navy had brought his warship ‘John Adams’ to Hampden for repairs at the mouth of Souadabscook Stream. Some cannons were placed on shore for defense. The British force landed at Bald Hill Cove and marched three miles up what is now Route 1A to Hampden. Greatly outnumbered and out-gunned, the militia withdrew and Morris blew up the ship to keep it from the enemy.

On September 2, 1814 Colonel Jacob Ulmer commanded his regiment of 458 men at Belfast after the British had landed over 500 men in relation to the British capture of Castine the previous day. The British held Castine until 1818 and collected duty on goods imported. The British collector took the money to Halifax in 1818 and Dalhousie University was started with those funds.

Machias was captured by the British on September 9. 1814, but the British withdrew a few days later.

We should note in 1818 when Township One became an organized town, the name Perry was selected in honor of Commodore Oliver H. Perry, the American hero of the War of 1812.

Brig General Gardner W. Pearson, Adjutant General of Massachusetts provided a list of Militia companies called out to suppress the threatened invasion by the British during the War of 1812. Calais, Lubec and Robbinston each had one company, Eastport had two.

MILITIA 1821 – 1838

In the 1830s Maine boasted 700 militia companies. Each company mustered each spring and fall. The men drilled with their own arms and equipment. Some company musters were serious affairs while others were more casual, even allowing liquid spirits. Some units had special names such as the Hampden Rifles Company from Hampden. That unit included men from Orrington on the east side of the Penobscot as well as Newburg and several other towns west of Hampden. Hannibal Hamlin was a member of the Hampden Rifles for years before his term as vice-president and actually spent two months with his unit guarding the Kittery Ship Yard while Vice President!

A scattering of material on militias in our area is found at the Maine State Archives. It appears that the men of Alexander were part of the Baring militia.

The Cooper Militia was formed in 1821. William Cooper was the Captain, William McPheters was the Lieutenant, and Otis Mitchell was the Ensign. William Cooper was a son of General John Cooper.

The Baring Militia was formed in 1827. Rufus Lane was the Captain, Mathias Vickery was the Lieutenant and Thomas Millett was the Ensign.

Rufus K. Lane had connections to Alexander, but he moved around. He was born in 1792 and came to this area from Buxton, Maine ca 1817. His first child, according to John G. Taylor, was born in 1818 in Baring, the second child born in 1820 in St Stephen; the next three were born in Baring in 1822, 1824 and 1826. The last child born to Rufus and Ann (Vance) was in 1828 when both mother and child died in Alexander. Rufus was on the 1830 census of Alexander with his two sons and three daughters plus two of Ann’s daughters by her marriage to Enoch Chase who had drowned in 1817. Rufus disappears from our area after 1830. Did he move to Charlotte County, NB? Sergeant Rufus K. Lane was mustered into active service in Augusta in 1839. His son Rufus William Vance Lane (1820) was back in Alexander in 1844. We find no connection of Vickery or Millett and Alexander.

A petition dated December 26, 1828 requested that the signers be part of the Alexander militia, Captain Rufus Lane being describes as 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade, 7th Division. Those who signed appear to be of South Princeton; William Bonney, William Colwell, Perez Sprague, Mathew Sprague, James Bonney, Asa Bonney and Eli Ingles. The reply to the petition stated that #17 (Princeton) was all ready within the bounds of Captain Lane’s Division.

This leads me to believe that Lane was drilling men in Alexander and also in Baring, probably on different days. The unnamed company mentioned above included Baring, Baileyville, Alexander and #17.

A petition dated November 1830 from Captain Lane and Lieutenant Vickery countersigned by theirs commanding officers Colonel George Downes, Colonel Matthew Hastings, Major William Goodwin and Brigadier General Charles Peavey requested that the Crawford Militia be annexed to Alexander. The reason given is that the Crawford men had to march too far. Were they part of the East Machias Militia? No reply was found.

An unsigned letter of 1832 asked that the 42 men of Alexander have their own company because the men had to march too far. The year and “Co 87” were written in a different hand on the letter. No response was found, but the following indicates the request was approved. .

A Militia Roster at the Archives gives the following on the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade, 7th Division G Company. The dates are apparently dates of appointment.

. Solomon Strout – Captain - August 11, 1832 (on 1830 census)

Asa Libby – Lieutenant - August 11, 1832 (on 1840 census)

Joseph Longley – Ensign – August 11, 1832 (on 1830 census only)

Solomon Strout – Major – June 29, 1837, he resigned on April 10, 1838

John B. Tyler – Captain – August 14, 1837, he died in 1838 aged 26. (Son of George on 1830 census)

Jacob Palmer – Captain – July 14, 1838 to June 3, 1846 (not on any census, here ca 1834 – 1839, in Baring for 1840 census, Baileyville for 1850 census)

Claudius Huff – Ensign – April 2, 1839 (parents on 1840 census)

Claudius Huff – Lieutenant – July 20, 1839 to July 25, 1846

Elijah Brown – Ensign – April 18, 1840 to July 11, 1848 (parents on 1830 census)

Jacob Palmer – Lieutenant Colonel – October 31, 1843 to November 12, 1851


The Aroostook War was a result of the United States and Great Britain not agreeing on the boundary line between northern Maine and New Brunswick. Things boiled over when loggers from both countries claimed rights to the timber in the Aroostook River Valley.

John Fairfield was Maine’s Governor and Commander in Chief of the Maine’s Militia that in 1838 numbered 41,000 men. His Adjutant General was A. B. Thompson. In early February 1839, Fairfield sent Land Agent Rufus McIntire and Major Hastings Strickland of Bangor with two to three hundred militia to remove British loggers; this action was not a success. On February 19, 1839, Order #7 required raising an army of 10,343 men; three divisions of cavalry (74 men), 8 divisions of artillery (541 men), 8 divisions of infantry (7482 men), 8 divisions of light infantry (1752 men) and 7 divisions of riflemen (584 men). In Washington, Congress authorized raising 50,000 men and ten million dollars for this conflict. The Maine Legislature appropriated $800,000 to defend public lands and the Federal Government paid Maine $200,000 in 1842 for defending the nation’s integrity. In its day, this was a very important issue and might have lead to another war between the United States and England. On February 27, 1839 an agreement was reached among the parities involved to have the dispute arbitrated (eventually by Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton aka Alexander Baring). The Maine militia men were sent home and the war was over except for a failed raid by New Brunswick in September 1839 on Fort Fairfield.

When we think of moving an army from Augusta, Bangor or Calais to Houlton and north we must realize that the first railroad in Maine was in 1836 from Bangor to Old Town. So the Militia did not move by rail. An 1835 map of Maine at Holmes Cottage in Calais shows a road from Calais to Hampden Academy Grant (Weston) and a road from Brewer up the east side of the Penobscot to Mattawamkeag then cross country to Haynesville. A military road existed between Bangor and Houlton in 1839; the road did not go north to the area of conflict.

Manly Butterfield Townsend of Calais was appointed aide-de-camp by Governor Fairfield; his job was to see that the necessary supplies got to the men. The supplies included ¾ pound pork, 1 ¼ pound salt beef, 18 ounces bread, 4 pounds soap, 1 ½ candles, 2 quarts salt, 4 quarts vinegar, 8 quarts beans, 2 pounds tea, and 12 pounds sugar (or the equivalent in molasses) to every 100 rations. Each man had to supply his first three days’ food and the towns had to transport men and camp equipment. Manly and his family moved to Alexander about 1842.

Harold Davis in An International Community on the St. Croix stated on page 145, “There had been a flurry of excitement along the border in 1839 during the ‘Bloodless Aroostook War’…. The militia companies were called out, alerted, and drilled and additional militia troops sent to Calais from other parts of the state; but apparently there were no incidents, and there was little evidence of hard feelings.” It is fair to say that men of Alexander were among those who mustered in Calais in February 1839, at least those not working in the woods.

The Aroostook War, Historical Sketch and Roster of Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Men lists the 45 companies called up; some to Augusta, some Bangor, one in Lincoln and five in Calais. Each company consisted of about a dozen officers and fifty or more men. The Regimental officers in Calais were Ezekiel Foster of Pembroke, Aaron Hayden of Eastport, Joseph Prescott of Calais and Surgeon Charles S. Porter also of Calais. This book has a complete index and no men from Alexander are listed. Obviously, the local Militia Company was not called up for active service.


Relative peace saw the men less active in marching. They didn’t need training to use their shoulder arms. Even the Aroostook War didn’t threaten life in this area. The Militia became important again with the Civil War, not only for local protection near the coast and Canadian border, but its members were the draft pool for the 1862 nine-month term draft, the first of four draft calls during the war. Granted, not many were drafted, most volunteered.

We have not found lists of Militia members, probably because all men 18 to 45 were members. A somewhat complete list of men in the Alexander Militia during the Civil War era can be made listing males on the 1860 census between ages 14 and 45. If 14 in 1860, the youth would be 18 in 1864. We give the age of each according to the census. Some of those men were soldiers and sailors who served and their names are bold. Hired men have been noted because they often had little to hold them to Alexander.

Thomas T Abbott 26 (see next section)

Maxwell Anderson 20 (hired man)

David Averill 22

Sewell Averill 32
Theodore Ayers 21

Edmund Bailey JR 20

Isaiah Bailey 37

James Bailey 24
Joseph Bailey 34

Simon Bailey 30 (Simeon)(hired man) (see next section)

Asa W. Berry 16 (see next section)
Manley Berry 18
Freeman Billings 14

Hiram Billings 21

Joel Billings 19

Stephen Billings 39

Thomas Blaney 22

Jones Bohanon 34

Asa Bonney 29

John Bridges 16 (hired man)

Adkins Brown 15

Francis W. Brown 25

Joel K. Brown 27

Robert C. Brown 32 (paid for substitute)

William H. Brown 30

Levi Call 18

Charles Card 29

George H. Clark 21

John Cottell 42 (hired man)

Shepard Cottell 15 (in school, with Crafts family)

Cox, Charles 29

Hiram Alonzo Crafts 31

William H. Crafts 19

Gordon Davis 20 (hired man)

William V. Davis 30

Michael Dowd 40 (hired man)

Benjamin Dwelley 36

Elisha Dwelley 22

Levi Flood 31

Wesley Flood 33

Michael Foley 21

Thomas Foley 16

Josiah Foster 20 (hired man)

Charles Frost 29 (hired man)

Dresden Frost 14

Simon Frost 39

Stephen Decator Frost 44

Thomas B. Frost 18

Wellington Frost 16

William Frost 35

James Garryman 28 (hired man)

Michael Gillespie 17

William Gillespie 42

William Gillespie JR 14

Charles W. Godfrey 14

Joseph Godfrey 40

Eugene Gooch 18

George Gooch 16

James P. Hammon 31

William Henry Higgins 21

Josiah Hodgen 14 (in school, maybe with married sister)

Charles Huff 16

Claudius Huff 42

John R. Huff 14

Andrew Hunnewell 25

Calvin Jellison Hunnewell 21

David Ebenezer Hunnewell 18

Winslow Hutchins 21

Edward Jameson 26 (hired man)

Paul Knight 31

Seth Lamb 28

Oliver Libby 35

Andrew Little 28

David Little 30

Joseph S. Little 20

William Little 25

Elbridge Lovering 16

Frederick Lovering 18

Gardner Lovering 26

William Lovering 14

Micheal Lydic 26

Greenwood Lyon, Jr. 17

Albion K. P. Moore 32

John A. Munson 22

Peter Orr 14 (hired man)

Alfred Perkins 16

Elisha Perkins 35

Charles A. Perkins 20

Frederick Perkins 16

Jasper H. Perkins 13

John J. Perkins JR 22

Joseph Perkins 37

Wesley Perkins 17

William Perkins 40 (‘idiot’)

Hugh Robb, Jr. 28

Thomas Robb 23

George S. S. Scribner 31 (see next section)

Samuel K. Seamans 37

Jeremiah Spearin, Jr. 31

John G. Spearin 24 (see next section)

Leonard Spearin 17

T. Jefferson Spearin 21

William Spearin 34

Obediah Spring 17

James Stephenson 32

Jessie Stephenson JR 39

Elisha Strout 14

Solomon Strout JR 33

Jonathan Taylor 22

Stillman Taylor 16

John K. Thistlewood 19

Robert K. Thistlewood, Jr. 21

Thomas Tobin 30 (hired man)

Abner Townsend 26

Manley B. Townsend JR 18

Thomas B. Townsend 15

John W. Trask 42 (hired man)

Belcher Tyler 44

Henry P. Whitney 39 (see next section)



Orderly Sergeant – Henry P. Whitney Captain Thomas T. Abbott

1861 enrollment - 66 1st Lieutenant – George S. S. Scribner

1862 enrollment - 69 2nd Lieutenant – Simeon Bailey

3rd Lieutenant – John G. Spearin

# in US service - 26 4th Lieutenant – Asa W. Berry

Joshua Chamberlain of Twentieth Maine fame reorganized the Maine Militia in 1868 while governor. We should note that in 1880 Governor Garcelon called for Chamberlain to act as Commander of the Maine Militia to prevent a civil war at Augusta over a contested election. Chamberlain by himself maintained peace among the various groups, some armed, for twelve days until the Supreme Court of Maine validated the election results.