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Powell, Patricia (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 33, Number 3 (June 1987)

Muto, Peter
The Wisconsin militia,   pp. 32-33

Page 32

      By Peter Muto
The Iron Brigade's Lucius Fairchild.
Courtesy State Historical Society of
The Eagle Brigade, July 1863.
Courtesy State Historical Society of
T       his article attempts to
        show how Wisconsin has
        contributed, through its
        militia, to "provide for the
common defense" and to "insure
domestic tranquility."
  The concept of the militia was
brought over from Great Britain.
The Massachusetts Bay Colony had
a formally organized militia as early
as 1636. This made the American
militia 150 years old when our
Constitution was signed.
  The militia is considered in the
Constitution in Article I, which cre-
ated Congress, Section 8, which
specifies the powers of Congress,
and in two clauses: the fifteenth,
which reads, "to provide for calling
for the militia to execute the laws
of the union, to suppress insurrec-
tions, and to repel invasions" and
the sixteenth which reads, "to pro-
vide for organizing, arming, and
disciplining the militia, and for
governing such part of them as may
be employed in the service of the
United States, reserving to the
States respectively, the appoint-
ment of the officers, and the au-
thority of training the militia ac-
cording to the discipline prescribed
by Congress."
  Congress passed a Militia Act in
1792 which defined the militia as
all male citizens between the ages
of 18 and 45. The state govern-
ments were assigned the responsi-
bilities of organizing, equipping,
and training the militia. Each en-
rolled member of the militia was
required to furnish his own firearm.
In 1791 Governor St. Clair of the
Northwest Territory called out 300
regular army troops and 1100 mi-
litia soldiers to pacify the Miami
Tribe; the 1400 soldiers suffered 900
casualties on the Wabash River.
  For 111 years the militias of the
various states were dissimilar in or-
ganization, equipment, and train-
ing, largely 'because Congress had
been reluctant to provide funds
during peace to assure a uniformly
developed militia in time of war.
  The "Dick Bill" of 1903 gave the
name National Guard to that part
of the militia which was organized
by the states in accordance with the
Act of 1792. The unorganized mi-
litia would be subject to call to ser-
vice thereafter only by a conscrip-
tion act. The national guard had to
be equipped, payed, trained, and
organized similarly to the regular
army. A 1916 act defined the Army
of the United States as the collec-
tive term for its three components:
regular army, army reserves, and
the national guard.
  Wisconsin National Guard had a
naval militia with units at Ashland
and Bayfield until World War I. The
naval militia was reorganized in
1927 with units in Milwaukee and
Madison. Naval militias no longer
exist in any state.
  The airplane was introduced in
the New York National Guard in
191 1. When the U.S. Air Force was
created, the Wisconsin National
Guard acquired a second branch.
The two branches are called the
Wisconsin Army National Guard
and the Wisconsin Air National
Guard. As a part of the executive
branch of state government, the
governor commands the national
guard through a military officer, the
adjutant general.
  The Wisconsin National Guard
has served in diverse capacities to
"insure domestic tranquility." A
Wisconsin governor has called out
units to assist in the capture of a
murderer; to quell riots evolving
from strikes; to protect UW-Mad-
ison campus during Vietnam War
protests; to fight fires, in cities and
in forests; to assist with cleanup af-
ter tornadoes; to relieve and rescue
flood victims; to defend a prisoner
32/Wisconsin Academy Review/June 1987

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