The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts is the “Third oldest chartered military organization in the world and the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.” The company’s charter was granted on January 31, 1638 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but the company was formed in 1637. The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts has a long history and many historic and modern members of varying distinctions. In the case of this company that makes its home in Boston, honorable is a modest description.
The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts at war
The first war that members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts fought in was the American Revolution. They fought in many major battles of the American Revolution. Members since have served the United States in the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.
The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts has some very distinguished members
The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts has had no less than nine members who are Medal of Honor recipients. These distinguished men’s names are Private George H. Maynard, Corporal Lowell M. Maxham, Colonel Francis Snow Hesseltine, First Lieutenant Gardner C. Hawkins, Commander George Levick Street III, Lieutenant Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr., Sergeant Charles A. MacGillivary, Lieutenant Commander Thomas G. Kelley and Private First Class Jacklyn Harold Lucas.
Four Honorary Members of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts were Presidents of the United States of America. The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe was the first president to become an Honorary Member of the company. After him came the 21st President of the United States, Chester Alan Arthur, 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge (who was also a Commander-in-Chief of the Company) and 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. John F. Kennedy had a lot of support from the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. Seventy-five members took part in his inaugural parade in Washington, DC.
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts and Boston tradition
Every year on the first Monday of June, the company holds their officer elections on Boston Common. They have done this every year since the company was chartered.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read to Boston citizens from the balcony of the Old State House. To honor that occasion, the Captain commanding of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts reads the document from the balcony every Fourth of July.
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts Headquarters, Armory & Museum
The very first Captain commanding of the company willed a room in a three-story townhouse in Boston to the company. The company kept their headquarters there until the house burned down in 1711. The Old State House was later built on the same property.
The company moved to the fourth floor of Faneuil Hall in 1746 and has remained there ever since. They currently keep their armory and a museum, with memorabilia from every war the U.S. has ever been involved in, there.
With all of the history in Boston, Massachusetts, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts is often overlooked. The throngs of visitors to Faneuil Hall often miss the staircase outside of the Great Hall that leads up to the company’s wonderful museum. If you ever get a chance to visit, admission is free. Just climb those stairs.
History of the Company (Summary), retrieved 10/7/10, shac.us.com/history.htm