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     The “Military Company of Massachusetts” was organized on the first day of June, 1638. An earthquake shook Boston that afternoon, and Winthrop adds in his Journal: “It came with a great noise like a continued thunder or the rattling of coaches in London, but was presently gone. . . . It shook the ships, which rode in the harbour, and all the islands. The noise of the shakings continued four minutes.”

     The company, afterwards, known as the “Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts,” and now the oldest military organization in America, may have assembled in the market-place, where tradition says their colors were set early in the morning. They were probably in motley array, though, as time passed, they assumed a certain uniformity of dress and weapons. After much debate a charter had been granted by Governor Winthrop to the members of this new company which had been chosen from the volunteer militia, nearly as old in Boston history as the church and the governor. Among the officers were: Robert Keayne, captain; Daniel Howe, lieutenant; Joseph Weld, ensign; John Oliver and Joshua Hewes, sergeants; John Johnson, clerk; and Arthur Perry, drummer. After roll-call and prayer the company marched to the First Church on King Street, where with solemn tread and much creaking of boots and clang of arms they entered the pews. There is a tradition that the sermon in honor of the first muster of an organized company was preached by Captain Robert Keayne’s brother-in-law, the Rev. John Wilson, clad in black gown with white bands and wearing a white wig. He preached a long sermon behind the hour-glass which monotonously dropped its sands before the eyes of the company. An authority claims it is altogether probable that after the sermon the company marched to one of the Boston taverns—possibly Cole’s Tavern, the first in town—where dinner was served, and that afterwards they marched up School House Lane to the training-ground or Common. Governor John Winthrop, who in the face of much opposition granted a charter to the company, was present, and was later escorted home by the company. On the day of organization, officers were elected who afterward treated the company “to punch, made of old West India and New England rum, Havana sugar, and ‘lemons or limes for souring.’”

     The captain’s duties were laid down in the “Book of Discipline,” which called for him “to be a good posture man himself, that when he sees any of his souldiers handling their arms in an indecent and slovenly manner, he may better reprove them for the same. And although many Captains regardeth them not, but leaveth them to be instructed by the inferiour officers; yet it is a great deal of honour to him, when his souldiers shall be taught by himself, they more cheerfully and confidently marching along with him, when as they perceive that he is thoroughly knowing in all things belonging to his charge. His place of marching with his company, is some six foot before the first division of muskettiers; but if his company be drawn up, he is either upon a stand, or upon the march, to be on the head of the Pikes, six foot before the Ensign.”

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