The Foot Guard is Created

by Lloyd W. Fowles

     The Foot Guard had its origin in a venerable colonial celebration known as Election Day which had indeed, in the earliest days of the colony, been the day when the governor was elected. But in the latter part of the eighteenth century, it was the day in May when the governor was inaugurated. As the real significance of the day developed, it became the most important holiday in the colony, combining religious, political, social and festive elements into one gigantic extravaganza. . . .

     Although there had been no military parades until 1768, in the preceding year the General Assembly had voted the sum of fifteen pounds and eight shillings to defray the expenses of a train band of sixty soldiers and officers from Hartford to accompany Governor Pitkin and the members of the General Assembly on Election Day. No record of the conduct and performance of this group exists, but apparently the train band was more in tune with the boisterous spirit of the day then it was with the important obligations which it had assumed and failed to carry into effect. At this point the soldiers learned a hard lesion: - that the civil authorities do not condone disgraceful military conduct which ridicules them. . . .

     Here the whole unpleasant episode might have ended as a casualty of Election Day exuberance but, instead of a loss to Hartford's civic pride, the events led to the creation of a military company that was to bring credit and renown to the city. . . .

     Consequently, a group of sixty-five men formally addressed themselves to the General Assembly in two petitions dated Oct 2 and October 8, 1771. . . .

     The General Assembly was pleased, as was indicated by its speedy action; the people of Hartford felt vindicated and the "Memorialists" were ready and eager to faithfully assume their obligations. The resolution officially creating the military organization was passed in both houses with no votes recorded. After listing the names of those signing the petition, the public record states:

"Resolved by this Assembly, that the memorialists before named be and they hereby constituted a distinct military company, by the name of the Governor's Guard, consisting of sixty-four in number, rank and file to attend upon and guard the Governor and General Assembly annually on the election days and at all other times as occasion shall require. . . ."

In this manner, therefore, a distinctive military company was created.

Captain Samuel Wylls was chosen to be the commanding officer of the Company.

 

February 22, 2004
Article edited for inclusion in "Battalion Review" by Major L. Schave

From An Honor to the State, by Lloyd Fowles.
Used with permission

 

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