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State of Ohio Militias - General Information

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Founding militia[edit]

The Ohio National Guard can be traced back to the initial settlement at Marietta, Ohio, in July 1788. Rooted in the English and early colonial tradition of citizen-soldiers providing local protection and law enforcement, these Revolutionary War veterans and their families quickly organized into local militia units. The federal government passed the Militia Act of 1792 which required all able bodied men ages 18 to 45 to serve in their local militia units and provide their own weapons and equipment. It further authorized the Governor of each state to appoint an Adjutant General to enact the orders of the Governor and to supervise unit training and organization. Reflecting the Founding Fathers' distrust of a large standing army, it strictly limited the ability of the militia to serve outside of their state borders and placed effective control with the Governor rather than the federal government.


The occupation of the Ohio Territory by the United States was contested by the region's native inhabitants. A confederation of Indian tribes with British backing engaged in a campaign of raids and depredations upon the scattered settlements, resulting in full-scale war by the 1790s. The disastrous campaigns led by Generals Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair only intensified Indian resistance to white migration and threatened the existence of white Ohio settlements. The decisive victory of General "Mad" Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794), outside of present day Toledo and the subsequent Treaty of Greenville(1795) removed the combined British-Indian military threat to Ohio settlers for the time being. While only limited numbers of Ohio militia played a part in these campaigns, the local militia units formed an important bulwark defending their local communities against potential attack.


War of 1812[edit]

After achieving statehood in 1803 Ohio continued the law creating a body of "state troops" and each significant village or county providing its own local unit. The military readiness of these local militia units varied greatly as did their uniform and armament. The monthly militia muster was supposed to train the members in close order drill and marksmanship, but in many cases was more of a social and political event. Moreover, each unit was responsible for electing its own officers with the victors often being the most popular or the one best able to furnish a ready supply of sour mash.


With the advent of war with Great Britain in 1812, there was renewed interest in beefing up the size and effectiveness of the militia. Ohio Governor Josiah Meigsformed three regiments of Ohio militia in response to the proposed invasion to drive the British and their Indian allies from Canada with a view towards annexing it to the United States. The first attempt ended with the surrender of Fort Detroit to the British by General William Hull in late 1812. Although not present in large numbers, Ohio militia were present and paroled shortly thereafter with the promise not to engage in any further hostilities. Ohio militia also played a role in the efforts of Gen. William Henry Harrison to re-capture Fort Detroit and decisively defeat the British at the Battle of the Thames.


Mexican-American War[edit]

After the end of the inconclusive War of 1812, the militia system in Ohio abandoned its regimental formations and reverted to multiple small units representing the various municipalities throughout the rapidly growing state. With the last Indians expelled from the state's borders and peaceful relations along the Canadian border, there seemed little need for a fully armed and trained militia. With the brief exception of a border dispute with Michigan that caused the Governor to issue a militia call up, meaningful local militia musters and drills again became more the exception than the rule. The Mexican-American War in 1848 saw a renewed interest in vitalizing the militia throughout the entire country. With the regular U.S. Army at a strength of just over 13,000, it became evident that any successful military campaign against Mexico was going to require extensive militia involvement. Ohio played a significant role, raising several regiments of infantry and artillery batteries from existing militia units and volunteers. The 1st Ohio Volunteers comprised part of the army under Gen. Zachary Taylor and took part in the battlefield victories of Monterrey and Buena Vista.


The American Civil War[edit]

It was during the great Civil War however, that the Ohio National Guard can directly trace its start. Ohio played a critical part in the Union war effort and was one of the leading contributors of manpower (including a crop of gifted generals to include Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, McPherson, Griffin,). As most of the existing militia units were incorporated into federalized volunteer regiments, the mission of local defense and order fell to organized units of those exempted from federal service, youths, middle aged men and a sprinkling of veterans who had completed their active duty enlistments. Numerous battalions were organized statewide that were for the first time titled "National Guard.". During the war the Ohio National Guard served in a variety of roles, providing not only guards at the Camp Chase and Johnson Island POW camps, but serving in a number of combat situations. During the September 1862 Confederate incursion into southeast Ohio and the famed Morgan's Raid in July 1863, Ohio guardsmen were actively involved. While subjected to ridicule as a result of the lackluster performance of some poorly trained and armed local units, the Ohio National Guard in actuality played a key role in the ultimate defeat of Morgan and his much vaunted force of Confederate cavalry. Instrumental in defending the approaches to Pomeroy and its river fords, Ohio Guardsmen also were responsible for blocking Morgan's escape route at Buffington Island until pursuing Union forces caught up and administered a stinging defeat to Morgan on July 19, 1863 – the last battle fought on Ohio soil.


Over 35,000 Ohio Guardsmen were federalized and organized into regiments for 100 days service in May 1864. Shipped to the Eastern Theater, they were designed to be placed into "safe" rear area duty to protect the railroads and supply points thereby freeing regular troops for Grant's push on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. As events transpired, many units found themselves in the thick of combat, stationed in the path of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's veteran Army of the Valley during its famed Raid on Washington. These Guard units participated in the battles of Monacacy, Fort Stevens, Maryland Heights, and in the siege of Petersburg. Ohio Guard units met the battle tested foe head on and helped blunt the Confederate offensive thereby saving The District of Columbiafrom capture. Significant casualties were incurred but the Ohio Guard had proved itself the equal of regular units on the field of battle.


Mexican Border Crisis[edit]

With the end of the Civil War, the Ohio National Guard was rapidly demobilized and its extensive inventory placed into mothballs maintained by a few non-commissioned officers. From a war-time strength in excess of 50,000, by 1870 the Ohio National Guard had been allowed to dwindle to fewer than 500 officers and enlisted men. Yet Ohio officials soon rediscovered that the Ohio Guard was an essential asset in situations other than war. Like the rest of the nation, labor unrest started to spread in the latter part of the century resulting in violent strikes and crippling shutdowns, especially in the railroad industry. Ohio Governors repeatedly called upon Ohio Guardsmen to keep the peace. In numerous situations the Guard's intervention resulted in the immediate restoration of peace and order and succeeded in keeping violence and property damage to a minimum. Having demonstrated its value beyond the battlefield, the Ohio Guard was boosted in numbers and funding to a meaningful level.


The breakout of hostilities with Spain over Cuba in 1898 also led to an increase in the size and improved equipment and training for the Ohio National Guard. Several regiments of infantry and artillery were formed and shipped to Tampa, Florida for training and eventual transport to the front lines in Cuba. Due to the rapid American success, the war ended prior to any of these units actually being deployed in a combat situation. The Spanish-American War thrust the United States into the role of a world power and both military and civilian leaders recognized that it was necessary to maintain a uniformly trained and armed military force. This reflected the slow evolution of the Ohio militia into a National Guard which in addition to being a state force for quelling civil disturbances, was assuming a key role in the national defense.


Leading the effort to accomplish this was Major General Charles Dick of the Ohio National Guard. After serving in the Spanish-American War he was later elected to the U.S. Senate where he was instrumental in passing the Dick Act of 1903. This benchmark legislation repealed the antiquated militia laws and effectively converted the various volunteer militias into the National Guard as we know it today. Under the Dick Act Guard units received increased federal funding and equipment. In return each state National Guard was required to conform to federal standards for training and organization. Rather than the periodic muster, each unit was expected to muster for a set number of monthly drills and an extended summer camp. Also, for the first time state Adjutant Generals had a formal relationship with the War Department. These common sense reforms were to pay their first dividends in 1916 when Ohio National Guard units were mobilized to serve as part of Gen. John Pershing's punitive expedition against Pancho Villa along the Mexican Border. Although the expedition failed to capture or dispatch the notorious Villa and his army of bandits, valuable lessons were learned in combined operations and mobile warfare. The relatively speedy and seamless mobilization and deployment to the desert regions of the southwest also served as a confidence builder for the units and their active duty counterparts. The errors and problems of the 1916 mobilization also proved to be excellent teaching tools that were to pay dividends when the entire Ohio Guard was to be mobilized by President Woodrow Wilson a scant 10 months later in April 1917


World War I[edit]

As war had broken out in Europe in 1914, the original intent of the United States was to avoid the conflict and maintain a stance of neutrality. As hostilities between the great European powers bogged down into a bloody stalemate, each side sought an edge to break the deadlock. For Germany, it was unrestricted submarine warfare. While this assisted in slowing down trade and supplies between the Allies and the United States, the end result was to propel the United States into war as American merchant ships began to be targeted. After the United States joined the war in April 1917, the manpower requirements for a modern field army were so great that only with a draft could the ranks be filled. Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which decentralized the selection to local draft boards within each state. With this massive mobilization the strength of the Ohio National Guard expanded and was eventually organized into the 37th Division. To preserve its Ohio identity, they adopted the nickname of the "Buckeye" Division. Again under the overall leadership of "Black Jack" Pershing, Ohio Guardsmen were a key component of the American Expeditionary Force sent over to France. Rated by the German General Staff as one of the best six American divisions for combat effectiveness, the "Buckeye" Division proved its worth in numerous battles including the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the St. Mihiel Salient. This reputation for being a crack unit came with a considerable cost as the Buckeye Division alone suffered almost 5400 casualties while in France. Ohio Guard units also formed part of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division which won an enviable combat record along the front lines.


World War II[edit]

During the period between the two World Wars, the Ohio National Guard found itself frequently called upon to perform relief duties during natural disasters. Noteworthy were efforts during the almost annual flooding of the Ohio River and the great tornado of 1924 in the Lorain and Sandusky area. Units were again utilized to keep the peace during a series of bitter strikes in the coal-mining region of southeast Ohio. Although initially perceived as being brought in to aid and assist the mine operators, they won begrudging respect for adopting a fair and even-handed approach. Unlike the bloody history associated with the use of the National Guard in labor disputes in many other states, the Ohio Guard's non-partisan approach alleviated numerous potentially explosive labor conflicts.


As the year 1939 brought yet another world war, the Ohio Guard found itself in a moderate state of readiness and under the leadership of Major General Robert S. Beightler. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared a state of emergency and brought the National Guard under federal control in October 1940, the Buckeye Division was among their ranks. Notably, Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, from Camp Perry, Ohio, joined a provisional unit sent to the Philippines to bolster the active duty and Filipino forces there. When the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 brought the country into a declared war, the Ohio tankers found themselves under attack as Japanese forces landed in the Philippines within days. As the remnant defenders withdrew to Bataan, the 192nd disintegrated as a unit, its members eventually captured along with the others in 1942. These Ohioans, who had fought from the very beginning of the war, remained as prisoners for the duration.


The Buckeye Division participated in the Pacific theater of the war, serving in the Northern Solomons and Luzon (Philippines) campaigns. Entering combat in June 1943, they fought at New Georgia and Bougainville (in November 1943) alongside the 3rd Marine Division and others. March 1944 saw a ferocious attack by Japanese forces against the division at Bougainville, one which the stretched and weakened division fought off. January 1945 saw the division go ashore in Luzon as part of the XIV Corps, and by February it had liberated Manila.


The Buckeye Division produced seven Medal of Honor recipients during World War II. MG Beightler led the Buckeye Division throughout the course of the war, the only one of 32 National Guard division commanders to accomplish this.


The Cold War[edit]

The 37th Infantry Division was reformed in the OH ARNG in 1945–46. During this time period the Air Force also broke off from the Army to become a separate service branch. Within the Ohio Guard this was reflected in the creation of the Ohio Air National Guard.


Korean War era[edit]

The demobilization from World War II had barely taken place when once again the Ohio National Guard was mobilized for the Korean War. As part of the mobilization of National Guard divisions across the country, in 1952 the Buckeye Division activated to serve as a training division at then-Camp Polk, Louisiana. While no major Ohio Guard units were deployed to Korea during hostilities, almost every soldier in the 37th Infantry Division was as an individual replacement.


After the Armistice Agreement was signed in Korea, the Ohio Guard's focus returned to its state mission and reorganization in accordance with federal mandates. Significant challenges were met by the continuing changes and advances in technology which required a flexible and better educated force. World events also continued to impact the Ohio Guard. The Berlin Crisis of 1961 resulted in the mobilization of ten Ohio Air and Army National Guard units to help counter the Soviet threat. It was during this period that the Ohio Guard's units switched over to the new Reorganisation Objective Army Division (ROAD) framework directed by the Department of Defense. Most notable among these changes was the deactivation of the storied 37th "Buckeye" Division on February 15, 1968. Much of the former division's units became part of the 73d Infantry Brigade, 38th Infantry Division.


From 1959 to 1968, the 137th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was part of the force. 2-137 & 3-137 served with 371 AGAD from 1 September 1959 to 1 February 1968, which 1-137 served with the 137 AGAD, until 1 April 1963, and then transferred to the 371 AGAD, 1 April 1963, to 1 February 1972.[4]


Vietnam and Kent State[edit]

See also: Kent State shootings

With the escalation of the Vietnam War, the Ohio Guard was again called upon to engage in combat upon foreign shores. Both the Ohio Army and Air National Guards deployed units to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The mission to support state authorities still continued during this time with the Ohio Guard playing a key role in quelling a full-scale riot at the Ohio Penitentiary in 1968 and in helping to curb the violence associated with the trucker's strike in 1970. It was subsequent to this latter event that the Ohio Guard was involved in one of the most unfortunate events in its long history, the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970. Called to the campus Kent State University to quell demonstrations and anti-war protests, members of the guard — in what was recently described as "one of America's most horrific campus tragedies"[3] — killed four unarmed students and wounded several more, garnering severely negative international attention and criticism, especially as some of the victims were simply passersby.[3]


Later years[edit]

After the United States withdrew from Vietnam, the Ohio Guard, like the rest of the military, was faced by the challenges of significantly decreased funding and adapting to new missions. Increasing attention was directed towards peace-keeping and civic assistance missions. Of particular success were the efforts of the Ohio Guard in saving lives and aiding hard pressed local authorities during the winter blizzards of 1977 and 1978. Also of note was the extensive mission to Honduras which provided considerable infrastructure improvement and medical assistance to an impoverished nation while at the same time providing valuable training experience to Ohio Guard personnel.[citation needed]


In organization terms, the 73d Brigade was released from assignment to the 38th ID in 1977 and was redesignated the 73d Infantry Brigade, a separate brigade. During the draw down of forces after the Cold War, units of the 73rd and the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment consolidated to form the 37th Brigade, 28th Infantry Division. A year later, the brigade was reunited with the 38th Infantry Division.[citation needed]


Desert Storm and beyond[edit]

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the Ohio National Guard provided numerous transportation, logistical and other combat support units to assist in Operation Desert Storm. Additionally, numerous individual Ohio Guardsmen with specialty skills volunteered and served in Operation Desert Storm.[citation needed]


Although active hostilities ceased in February 1991 after a lightning campaign, the continuing presence of Saddam Hussein required continued military presence in the Persian Gulf region. The Ohio Guard continued in its role as key player as its Air National Guard units were routinely deployed to enforce the no-fly zones over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch. Other Ohio Guard units were periodically deployed to the Persian Gulf and Kuwait to engage in joint desert warfare training. Ohio Guardsmen also saw overseas service in a demanding environment when deployed to the Balkans to provide peacekeeping support in war–torn Bosnia and Kosovo. Units of the Ohio Guard continued to take a role in providing humanitarian assistance in impoverished areas of Central America. Engineering, transportation and medical detachments provided medical care as well as building roads, wells, bridges, schools and other infrastructure.[citation needed]


On the domestic front the Ohio Guard fulfilled its role in assisting civilian authorities in maintaining order in extraordinary circumstances. A significant number of Ohio Guardsmen were activated in 1993 to help quell the deadly prison riots at the Lucasville Correctional Facility. Personnel from the Ohio Guard also provided crucial advice and stood by to provide law enforcement support during rioting in Cincinnati and civic unrest surrounding the operation of a toxic waste incinerator plant near East Liverpool. Disaster relief also continued to be a priority mission with service during the Shadyside floods, tornadoes, snow emergencies and Ohio River flooding.[citation needed]


After the attacks of September 11, numerous units from the Army Guard supplemented by security police units of the Air Guard were mobilized on short notice in the following days and executed critical security missions at various locations for extended periods of time. Other communications and engineering units deployed to the Persian Gulf area and Afghanistan in support of the war on terrorism.[5]


In 2005 The Ohio Army National Guard deployed the 37th Brigade Combat Team, 73rd Troop Command, 16th Engineer Brigade, 416th Engineer group, 145th Regiment (Regional Training Institute), 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 112th Engineer Battalion, 216th Engineer Battalion, 731st Transportation Battalion in response to Hurricane Katrina.[ci

Law-abiding American citizens who are participating in legal activities shall never be fearful of government reprisal.

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Law-abiding American citizens who are participating in legal activities shall never be fearful of government reprisal.

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Synopsis of the New Ohio Militia Law

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Monday, March 28, 1864.


The General Assembly of Ohio have passed the following Militia Bill. Last Winter a bill of this kind was passed, and for the past year the people have been working under its provisions; but it was found to be too cumbersome and expensive.The present law is a good one, and corrects many, if not all, of the crudities of the old law:


An Act to Organize and Discipline the Militia, and to repeal the Act of April 14, 1863.


The Assessors are required to enroll all white male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45, at the time of taking the assessment of personal property.


The Auditor is authorized to correct the rolls.


Those enrolled are required to perform military duty in volunteer companies, or pay a commutation of four dollars to the County Treasurer by the 15th of August in each year. In default of payment, the Auditor is required to collect the amount, with 30 per cent. penalty and costs, by distraint, as treasurers collect taxes.


The active or volunteer militia are called the National Guard, to be composed of the volunteer militia as now organized, and those hereafter organized under this act. They are required to muster for drill and inspection by regiment or battalion in May or June. Four other regular musters are required in each year, two by regiment and two by company, and are also to drill at their armories or other places of meeting at least once in two months.


A military fund is provided for, consisting of the four dollars commutation, and fines to be assessed against the National Guards for absence or misbehavior.


The fines are assessed by a Court of Inquiry, and if not paid within ten days after notice by the President of the Court, are to be left with a Justice of the Peace, who is required to issue execution therefor. Before a trial is had before the Court of Inquiry, the delinquent can demand a jury trial, when the case is certified to a Justice of the Peace, who must impannel a jury and by the case. Unless a jury is demanded, the Justice has no other power than to issue execution upon the judgment of the military court.


The National Guard are exempted from labor on the highways, and all who have heretofore uniformed themselves, or may do so hereafter, are entitled to five dollars from the military fund. Each company is entitled to $200 annually from the same fund.


Military encampments are abolished, as is also the present organization of the enrolled militia. The officers of the latter are mustered out of service.


Commanding officers at parades are empowered to preserve order, and prevent and prohibit the sale of all spirituous and intoxicating liquors on or about the ground, and abate all hucksters, auction sales or gambling.


For fines assessed against minors, fathers are jointly and severally liable with their sons, and guardians with their wards, to the amount of funds of their wards in their possession. Real and personal property is made liable therefor.


If it becomes necessary to call out the militia, in case of invasion or insurrection, or danger thereof, or to suppress mobs, riots, or to enforce civil law, the National Guard must first be called out, and are in such cases compensated for their services.


If companies become reduced below the required minimum, and the Commander-in-Chief deems it necessary to call them into active service, in case of invasion or insurrection, he may require them to be filled by a draft from the reserve or enrolled militia. The manner of drafting is provided for.


The Governor is authorized at any time during the existing rebellion, if in his opinion the public safety requires it, in case of insurrection or invasion, or imminent danger thereof, to call out the National Guard or any portion thereof, by regiment battalion, company or battery, and keep them in active service or encampment, so long as the cause continues for which they were called out; and at the expiration of sixty days they may be relieved by others called to take their place. [A bill was passed on Saturday, 26th, placing one million dollars in the hands of the Governor, which is designed to meet the contingency set forth in the above.]


No brigade organizations are authorized, unless it becomes necessary in case the militia are called into active service, and are to be dissolved when the public service ceases.


The act takes effect from its passage, and repeals the militia law now in force.


This bill is considered a great improvement on the old one, and looks, as will be observed, to a volunteer organization alone, which has always been found much more effective than a mixed organization. Under the old bill there are already organized over thirty thousand men, uniformed, partially drilled, and ready at a moment's notice to march to the menaced frontier. Yours, LOOKER-ON.

Law-abiding American citizens who are participating in legal activities shall never be fearful of government reprisal.

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The Assessors are required to enroll all white male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45, at the time of taking the assessment of personal property.



Law-abiding American citizens who are participating in legal activities shall never be fearful of government reprisal.

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