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From History of Clarion Co., Pennsylvania, edited by A. J. Davis, 1887.

The earliest militia in the backwoods were "rude and raw in arms" indeed.  Although existing under the law of 1807, requiring regular organization, uniform and arms, there was little of any of those adjuncts.  On parade they presented a sorry appearance, rivaling General Von Poffenburgh's battalion (from Irving's Knickerbocker) in diversity of array.

"The militia held their reviews at Abram Standford's, near Curllsville, twice a year, and a gay time it was, with plenty of whisky and gingerbread.  The uniforms were not all uniform, neither were the arms all arms, as some marched with one kind of clothing on and some with another, and while some had guns, others marched with sticks, corn-stalks, or anything that looked like guns at a distance.  The field-officers were well uniformed, and looked well; such as brigade inspectors, general, colonels, etc., etc.  The free circulation of the above named whisky caused any amount of black eyes and bloody noses, for there were men then, as now, we are sorry to say, who only needed some whisky to stir up all that was evil within them."  (Judge Clover in Atlas).

The first[,] and for a long time the only[,] uniformed company in the county was Captain Neely's Richland Rifles.  George Kribbs succeeded Captain Neely in command; Michael Weaver was first lieutenant, and Daniel Wingard, second.  Their uniform was the same as that of 1814, with a few elaborations. In 1830 the company numbered sixty-nine men.

The Washington Rangers, of Callensburg and vicinity, Captain John L. Reed, was one of the earliest volunteer companies in the south.

The mustering places north of the river were at Neely's, now the Mong farm; south, at Stanford's, Curllsville, and Colonel John Sloan's.

Under the old organization all able-bodied persons between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five, with several exceptions, were bound to militia service, and were organized into companies, regiments, brigades, etc.  They were to drill one day in the year by companies, and one day by battalions or regiments.  A service of seven years entitled to exemption from further service.  Those who did not chose [sic] to serve were subject to a militia tax, exoneration, or commutation, as it was called.

The citizen soldiery were divided into two classes; the un-uniformed, commonly known as "militia" simply, and the uniformed or "volunteers."  The first were those who shouldered the gun or broomstick, as the case might be, not out of love for the martial field, but perforce, to escape the alternative fine.  When called into service they were drafted singly and not by companies.  This branch was always absurdly defective in equipments and organization; they were dubbed the "cornstalk" militia, and were the subject of much ridicule and pleasantry.  Once a year they met to go through the form of a drill and review; the whole was a huge farce.

The volunteers where those who were regularly equipped and disciplined, and made a virtue of a military necessity.  They disdained to be classed with the common herd of "militia," and were supposed to be always ready for the field.  Three companies formed a battalion; the commander of a battalion of five companies ranked as lieutenant-colonel, and seven were a full regiment.  The volunteers held battalion encampments of three days' duration every May, meeting the previous day for drill and preparation.  This was the only time during the year at which they were required to meet for duty.  The militia of Clarion county belonged originally to the Fifteenth Division; those south of the river were attached to the Second Brigade of which General Robert Orr, of Kittanning, was the first commander; those north, to the First Brigade.

In 1849 the militia organization was entirely overhauled; the old system of un-uniformed militia was abolished, and each citizen subject to militia duty was obliged to furnish himself with a suitable uniform.  According to this act, each county possessed a separate brigade.  Clarion county became the Second Brigade, and with McKean, Elk, and Forest counties formed the Twelfth Division.

The uniforms varied; the predominating color was blue with white facings (for artillery yellow); white pantaloons were the rule for dress parade.  Two of the most notable companies were the Clarion Artillerists, of Rimersburg and vicinity, and the Clarion Guards of Strattanville.  On festive occasions they appear to have been favorites, and called forth the most glowing and patriotic toasts.  The artillery company was only nominally so, their battery consisting of one small gun; they had very gay uniforms of blue coat and buff vest, the standing collar of the coat turning yellow; trimmings of cap-cord, and pompon tassels; brass shoulder plates.  The uniform of the Clarion Guards was gray swallow-tailed coats, with white facings and golden epaulettes, pants of the same, and high-crowned grenadier caps, with white cockade and cord.

Captain Feely's Shippenville company was the best uniformed in the county north of the river.  Their equipments were of the U. S. Army standard, viz., blue coat and waistcoat, etc.

The field and staff officers in full uniform, with tinsel broidery, chapeaus de bras and gold epaulettes, presented a glittering spectacle.

About 1845[,] interest in militia matters began to abate; there was a temporary revival in 1849 upon the reorganization, but in a few years indifference and disorder again thinned the ranks.  The organization, however, was preserved, and at the annual May encampment at Curllsville, in 1861, the commander of the brigade, General Reynolds Laughlin, offered the services of his command to Governor Curtin.  The governor replied that he had no authority from the national government to send a brigade into the field, but requested him to hold the companies together.  General Laughlin put the question to the company offices, but there were differences of opinion, and difficulties arose; many of the officers and men were anxious to join the army, and the brigade dissolved.

There was practically no militia, except the three months men of '63, during the war.  The present effective and uniform system of volunteer militia was completed by the act of June 12, 1878.

The battalion encampment places for the companies of the First Brigade were on the George Berlin farm on the turnpike, and at Jacob Sweitzer's near Edenburg.  The most usual camps of the southern battalions were at Curllsville, and at Colonel John Sloan's, Limestone township.  Under the system of 1849 the whole brigade met annually at Curllsville for a three days' review and inspection encampment.

The following is a list of Clarion county volunteer companies and captains, compiled as perfectly as possible:

Fifth Battalion, One Hundred and Ninety-eighth Regiment

Majors: Colin McNutt and J. Bittenbender.

  • Clarion Guards, Strattanville and vicinity.  Captains:  Robert Barber, Archibald Borland, S. S. Burnham, William Lemon.
  • Town Creek Rangers, Redbank township.  Captain:  J. Algeo.
  • Jackson Blues, Porter township.  Captain:  F. Case.
  • Redbank Artillerists, Redbank township.  Captain:  A. Space.

Sixth Battalion

Majors: R. D. Lawson and Peter Reed.

  • Washington Rangers, Callensburg and vicinity.  Captains:  John L. Reed, ____ Kirk, George Means, Reynolds Laughlin, James Galbraith.
  • Perry Guards.  Captains:  _____ Nichols, Robert Stuart.
  • Clarion Artillerists, Rimersburg and vicinity.  Captains:  George Means, Peter Reed, R. Huey.
  • Washington Blues.  Captain:  I. S. Thompson.

Second Battalion, Venango Volunteers

Major: P. Neely; Lieutenant-colonels: B. Junkin, William Wilson, C. Neely.

  • Clarion Blues, Beaver township.  Captains:  William Wilson, Joseph Myer.
  • Richland Rifles, Richland township.  Captains:  John Kribbs, Paul Neely, _____ Prior.
  • Beaver Riflemen, Beaver township.  Captain:  D. Feely.
  • Shippenville Riflemen, Shippenville and vicinity.  Captains:  Jacob Kahl, D. Feely, J. Thompson, William Nickles.
  • Greenwood Rangers, Highland and Farmington.  Captain:  John Hulings.
  • The Perry Infantry, Perry township, was organized in 1872, with A. J. Davis, captain, succeeded by Captain J. W. Roney[;] he by O. E. Nail.  They were mustered out in 1877.  At present the only militia company of Clarion county is Company D, of Clarion, Fourteenth Regiment, N. G. P., M. A. K. Weidner commanding.
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