This comprehensive work explores the militia system and its role in the development of colonial New England. Ahearn contends that the militia and the military sermon created an atmosphere of Christian soldiery and warfare that exercised a powerful, long-lasting hold upon New Englanders. Ministers reinforced martial drill and militancy in their sermons. The language and attitudes of warfare became part of the society. New England's military sermons deeply encoded the biblical language of Christian warfare into the patterns of everyday life and into the fabric of American consciousness; its influence continues to the present day. The study is organized into three major sections. The first part introduces the New England colonial institution of the part-time military, furnishing an overview of origins, organization, and operation. Part Two demonstrates the ways in which the tradition of aggressive martial discourse helped to galvanize colonists to militant resistance and prompted New England's aggressive responses to real or perceived enemies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The third part of the book addresses the main branchings in the pattern of martial argument in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, as well as three different strands of the military sermon. The Rhetoric of War is a unique study that will be of value to students of American history, religion, and rhetoric.