Last Updated on February 19, 2023 by Constitutional Militia
The Senior Class.
The “Senior Class” was the name Rhode Island applied to the set of men between the ages of sixteen and fifty who were otherwise exempted from regular Militia service in the Trained Bands because of their important public offices or critical private occupations, (see statutes below) but who nevertheless were “at all Times [to] be armed, accoutred and provided, * * * and subjected to the same Regulations” as the Trained Bands. These requirements alone demonstrate that, as with the Alarm List, the Senior Class was not something separate from, but instead was integral to, Rhode Island’s Militia—its particular status being the product of nothing more than the commonsensical recognition that men whose offices or occupations warranted their exemptions from the normal duties of the Trained Bands should nevertheless be fully prepared to assume when necessary all of the fundamental Militia duties incumbent upon everyone else. Thus, the exemptions for these men did not operate as exclusions from the Militia, but simply caused them to be assigned to a component separate from the Trained Bands and the Alarm List.
The separate status of the Senior Class did not entail inferior organization, however. To the contrary: The Senior Class was highly organized throughout Rhode Island. Its members were to
“be officered in the same Manner as the Infantry Companies, with such Field and Staff Officers as their Numbers * * * entitle[d] them to, and who shall at all Times be armed, accoutred and provided * * * and subjected to the same Regulations as” the rest of the Militia. Members of “the Senior Class in the Town of Providence [were to] constitute one Company; those of the Town of Cranston, one Company; those of the Towns of Johnston and North-Providence, one Company; those of the Town of Smithfield, one Company; those of the Town of Cumberland, one Company; those of the Town of Scituate, one Company; and those of the Town of Gloucester, one Company: * * * the said Companies [to] be formed into one Battalion, to be commanded by one Lieutenant- Colonel Commandant, and one Major”—and on through the organization into Companies in a list of other Towns. In addition, “Companies of Horse” were “formed from the Senior Class of their respective Districts, at their own Election, * * * due Regard being had to their Abilities and local Situation”.