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Union Blue and Militia Gray:
The Role of the New York State Militia
in the Civil War

Enrolled Militia Forces. Local lists of names and addresses of men within the statutory ages for military service did not necessarily imply compulsory service. After 1792, the term is associated with the efforts of the several states to implement the Federal Militia Act of 8 May 1792.

Organized or Embodied Militia. This term is synonymous with the earlier "Trainband" of colonial times. It suggests evidence of patriotism above and beyond the normal requirement of militia responsibility and implies the existence of specifically organized units (normally company or regimental size).

Volunteer Militia. Specifically, and with a capital "V," denoted men in units of the organized militia called into Federal service. Such units were made available to the Federal government by state authorities. Volunteers in the Civil War were raised exclusively for war-time service, and formed the bulk of forces engaged in actual combat operations. Individual militiamen often volunteered for particular duty, usually for the limited duration of the operation. If they volunteered for a longer term of service beyond the boundaries of state or colony, they entered into a different category, that of war volunteer. Some elite militia units often volunteered in toto. War volunteers became subject to laws different from those for the militia. [2]

National Guard. A term which is synonymous with active and organized militia. It was adopted by statute in 1862 for all New York State Militia forces. During his 1824 tour, the Marquis de Lafayette, who commanded the National Guard during the French Revolution, popularized the term in America by applying it to all organized militia units in the United States. [3]

Glossary Footnotes

1. Jim Dan Hill, The Minute Man in Peace and War (Harrisburg, PA: The Telegraph Press, 1964), 25.

2. John K. Mahon, History of the Militia and the National Guard (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1983), 5.

3. Hill, Minute Man, 29.


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New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: April 6, 2006

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