This introductory chapter argues for the importance of studying the interactions between war and society in early American militias. No one before now has systematically examined the identity of soldiers in the seventeenth century, the structure that selected them to fight (and left others safe at home), and the way in which those choices reflected early colonial values. Contrary to some early preliminary studies of military historians, the men sent off to war in seventeenth-century New England were not a representational cross section of their communities. While the peacetime general militia operated under a universal military obligation (of every man from sixteen to sixty) such was not the case during wartime. The militia committees worked hard to protect their towns, families, and the entire society by choosing the right men to send to war and the right men to keep at home.
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