Citizen Soldier and the American Militia

Fix Bayonets!

Background

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus

The story of Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus, as with most of what we know about the ancient world, is wrapped in both fact and myth. Historians believe this because ancient record-keepers were more storytellers than historians. It is also likely that what they didn’t know as an absolute fact, they made up. That’s what storytellers do — and it usually does make for a good story.

In any case, according to the story, Cincinnatus saved Rome on two occasions. In 458 BC and 439 BC, the Senate of Rome summoned Cincinnatus, a modest farmer, and gave him dictatorial powers to raise an army to defend Rome — which he accomplished. Then, when the fighting was over, Cincinnatus promptly relinquished his power and returned to his beets.

If the story is true, then the account of Cincinnatus could provide us with the earliest example of a citizen-soldier (also…

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