Reading Infantry Company and the Richardson Light Guard

  • Reading Infantry Company and the Richardson Light Guard
  • Richardson, Solon O.
  • "The first militia organized in Wakefield was a train-band known as the Reading Infantry Company, established in 1644, one year earlier than the Great and General Court order of 1645 which ordered all settlements to keep a military guard. This company remained active in various forms (infantry, cavalry and rifle companies) until 1840 when old militia laws were abolished and a new plan was adopted. During its nearly 200 year history, the Reading Infantry Company heeded the call and fought in several battles with several leaders, its first Captain being Richard Walker, its last Asaph Evans. In 1675 Reading troops marched against the Pequots in King Philips War in 1711 and 1745 they enlisted in armies which fought against the French and Indians in Nova Scotia and in 1774, 104 Reading men joined train-bands known then as the Minutemen. Of these 104, 86 officers and men fought under the command of Captain John Walton and their pastor Rev. Caleb Prentiss. These men went to Lexington on April 19, 1775 and were among the first troops to engage in battle when the British retreated from Concord. As the war continued, many men joined the army and navy and were at the battle of Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, West Point, Long Island, among others. Captain James Bancroft of Reading was detailed to serve at Washington's headquarters in Cambridge and was with the 8th Massachusetts at Valley Forge. After the militia laws were abolished in 1840, volunteer systems sprang up throughout the Commonwealth and in 1849 a new military law was adopted by the State. Under the wise and vigorous administration of the leader of the militia, chosen in 1851, companies and regiments became more efficient. It was during this time that Wakefield's best known militia was formed. The Richardson Light Guard was officially established on October 11, 1851, one of only 14 new companies recognized by the office of the Adjutant-General. Three local youths, James F. Emerson, George O. Carpenter and Joseph L.R. Eaton, are credited with initiating a light infa
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1989
  • Photos courtesy of the Wakefield Historical Society.
  • [Wakefield, Mass.] : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


Richardson, Solon O., “Reading Infantry Company and the Richardson Light Guard,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 29, 2020,


Please let us know if you have any corrections, additional information or questions about this item.