African American Soldiers in the National Guard

Recruitment and Deployment During Peacetime and War
Charles Johnson, Jr.

Establishing African American Militia Organizations

Reconstruction legislation provided an opportunity for African American participation in the militia. Although many southerners were opposed to the formation of African American militia companies, state officials were confident that the guardsmen did not represent a political or military threat, and, more important, white guardsmen formed the majority of the state militia in every state with the exception of South Carolina. Adjutants general controlled the allocation of arms and equipment, and they had the authority to terminate any militia organization. After an agreement was reached at the Wormley House in the District of Columbia on February 26, 1977, the compromise of 1877 permitted the southern states to exercise complete control over their internal affairs. Governors authorized the reorganization of their militia and state volunteer forces and permitted the enlistment of African American personnel. However, the Arkansas governor disbanded the militia, and when the militia was reorganized African Americans were not recruited for militia service.

Virginia established the 1st Battalion of Colored Infantry in Richmond on June 16, 1876. It consisted of the Attucks Guard, Carney Guard, and Richmond Light Infantry in Richmond and the Union Guard in Manchester. Five independent companies served in Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, and Richmond as unattached infantry. This organization was expanded after 1877 with the formation of the 2nd Colored Battalion in Petersburg on May 31, 1881. This battalion recruited the Hannibal Guard in Hampton, the Langston Guard and National Guard in Norfolk, and the Virginia Guards and Seaboard Elliott Grays in Portsmouth. Also eight additional unattached companies were recruited.  1 The state adjutant general was concerned about the composition of the National Guard because federal appropriations received by the state had not been increased since 1808. He recommended the militia service for every male between the ages of 18 and 40 and the imposition of an assessment tax on anyone who refused enlistment. The accrued taxes were designated to augment the militia appropriation. Anticipating a larger enrollment of African Americans under such a plan, the adjutant general stressed that the governor would prescribe by color the number of volunteer companies within any geographical area. The plan was not detrimental to the African American organization because it was expanded with the addition of the Staunton Light Guard on July 10, 1882, and the Garfield Light Infantry in Fredericksburg by March 30, 1882.  2

North Carolina recruited the Brogan Guards Battalion, which consisted of five companies in 1874; the Newbern Rifle Cadets, Newbern Guards, and Oak City Blues in Raleigh the next year; and in 1876 it accepted the Fayetteville Rifle Guard and Howard Light Infantry of Fayetteville. After Democratic gubernatorial and legislative victories, Adjutant General Johnston Jones reported to Governor Zebulon B.Vance on January 8, 1877, that the previous adjutant general had left the office in a state of confusion. Records were incomplete and disorganized, militia rosters were missing, and there were no requisition records for ammunition, weapons, or ordnance. The former adjutant general failed to leave correspondence pertaining to the condition of the militia, so it was impossible for Jones to ascertain the status of his department. Adjutant General Jones determined that 16 military organizations in the Volunteer Militia were available for duty. He recommended that all commissions in the militia or volunteer militia issued before January 1, 1877, be revoked and that commanders report the status of their organizations. The adjutant general implemented militia legislation enacted on March 12, 1877, which established the State Guard. Militiamen in the Oak City Blues, Newbern Rifle Cadets, Newbern Guards, and Oberlin Vance Guards formed the 4th Infantry. Personnel in the Hanover Light Infantry, Cape Fear Light Infantry, Howard Light Infantry, Fayetteville Rifle Guard, and Charlotte Blues composed the 5th Infantry Battalion on November 8, 1877. Other companies were recruited, but the last company assigned to the 4th Battalion on July 15, 1879, was the Edenton Guards, which was redesignated as the Chowan Guards in 1880.  3

South Carolina established the State Volunteer Troops for white soldiers and the National Guard for African American personnel. The National Guard had 6,932 officers and enlisted men in 1875 and was organized into four divisions with infantry and cavalry companies. African Americans had served as commanding general, adjutant general, and division, brigade, and regiment commander. They also performed duties as staff officers and served in every staff and command position with the appropriate rank from second lieutenant to major general. After the reestablishment of the militia, Robert B.Elliot became the assistant adjutant inspector general and the commanding general of the South Carolina National Guard with his promotion to major general on August 1, 1870. Brigadier General Stephen A.Swails became commander of the 1st Division. Brigadier Robert Smalls commanded the 2nd Division, and Major General Prince Rivers commanded the 3rd Division. Brigadier Generals William B.Nash and William J.Whipper in July 1873 commanded the 1st and 2nd Brigades, respectively, in the 3rd Division. Brigadier General Henry Purvis, who had previously served as adjutant general, became the chief of staff. Brigadier General Samuel J.Lee, after serving in the 9th Regiment, was also appointed as chief of staff in 1872. After a reorganization of the National Guard, he commanded the 1st National Guard Brigade. Colonel Martin R.Delany was appointed Aide to the Commander in Chief, Governor Robert K. Scott, on April 1, 1870. All the officers were active in state politics in addition to serving in the National Guard.  4

Governor Wade Hampton directed his adjutant general in 1877 to reorganize the state militia. National Guard companies in Richland County were required to appear for an inspection, and all companies that failed to meet the requirements of the militia law were disbanded immediately after their inspection. The Beaufort Light Infantry and the Sumner Light Infantry in Beaufort County were inspected and were combined with companies in Charleston to form the 1st National Guard Regiment. In addition to the Beaufort companies, the National Guard companies organized in Charleston by 1882 were the Attucks Light Infantry, Lincoln Light Infantry, Carolina Light Infantry, Randolph Riflemen, Lincoln Republican Guard, Hawkins Rifle Guard, Douglass Light Infantry, Garrison Light Infantry, South Carolina Light Infantry, Hunter Volunteers, Simpson Light Infantry, Hampton Volunteers, Jonathan Light Infantry, Governors’s Rifle Guard, U.S.Grant Cavalry, Sumner Light Dragoons, and Wagener Cavalry. These companies were formed into the 1st Brigade, which consisted of the 1st Regiment and 1st Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Allen M.Bland and two separate companies in Beaufort. Colonel J.C.Claussen commanded the brigade and was promoted to brigadier general on June 25, 1881. He was succeeded by Brigadier General Samuel J.Lee on August 31, 1887.  5

Georgia by 1877 had recruited several infantry companies in addition to artillery and a cavalry company, which became the Georgia Artillery and the Savannah Hussars Cavalry, respectively. This organization made Georgia unique because it was the only state to simultaneously form artillery, cavalry, and infantry companies for African American guardsmen. Although several companies were disbanded while others were established, the state legislature enacted a revised military law on October 13, 1885, which limited the African American militia to 1 artillery, 1 cavalry, and 20 infantry companies. Governor Henry D.McDaniel implemented legislation on January 26, 1886, that assigned all the companies—except the Atlanta Washington Guards and the Atlanta Light Infantry, which served with the Independent Volunteers—to the Georgia Volunteers. Since the Tolbert Light Infantry was virtually disbanded, Adjutant and Inspector General John A.Stephens accepted the Atlanta Attucks Infantry as substitute for the disbanded company. The Georgia Volunteers were subsequently organized into the 1st and 3rd Infantry Battalions in addition to several unattached infantry companies, the Georgia Artillery and the Savannah Hussars. Lieutenant Colonel John H.Deveaux, editor of the Savannah Tribune and Collector of the Ports of Brunswick and Savannah, commanded the 1st Battalion of Georgia Volunteers, and Lieutenant Colonel H.R. Johnson, the 3rd Battalion. Georgia segregated its guardsmen, but at least three African American musicians, Andrew Yosprey, John Campbell, and Austin Brighthampt, served with the Macon Volunteers.  6

The Louisiana Militia is significant because, similar to South Carolina, Thomas Morris Chester was commissioned a brigadier general in 1873, and Lieutenant Governor Pinckney B.S.Pinchback commanded the militia while serving as acting governor from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873. Louisiana disbanded its militia in 1877, and the Militia Act of March 30, 1878, prohibited military service by citizens who had been disfranchised. The editor of the New Orleans Weekly Louisianian criticized state officials for restricting civil rights and advocated the enlistment of African American personnel into the state militia. The Attucks Guards was the first independent company organized after 1877, and its military bearing and discipline encouraged the formation of a female organization known as the Broom Guards. The Attucks Guards, New Orleans Louisiana Rifles, and Point La Hache Larendon Rifles petitioned for state affiliation. A militia committee appointed by General W.J.Behan met on April 29, 1881, to consider their petitions. General Behan insisted that all officers become familiar with their responsibilities and be capable of performing their duties during emergencies and that each company be inspected before state affiliation. He granted state recognition to the New Orleans Louisiana Rifles in 1882 and to the Larendon Rifles during the following year.  7

Florida Adjutant General John Varnum reorganized the state militia and announced on June 27, 1870, that the volunteer companies and regiments would be segregated similar to organizations in the regular army. When the state regained home rule on January 2, 1877, and federal soldiers by April 24, 1877, African Americans were not accepted into the militia until the formation of the Pensacola Garfield Guards was recognized in 1883. An expansion of the militia by 1888 provided the recruitment of the Duval Light Infantry, Perry Guards, Jackson Guards, L’Engle Guards, and Arlington Guards in Jacksonville; the Brico Guards in Pilatka; and the Leon Guards and Floral Guards in Tallahassee. The Key West Rifle Team was accepted two years later, and all the volunteer companies were assigned to the Detached Infantry together with 14 other companies. However, the Brico Guards in Pilatka was disbanded because it failed to maintain ammunition for its personnel.  8

Alabama formed African American companies during the administration of Governor William H.Smith, but his successor denied their service in the militia. A split in the state Republican Party in 1874 led to the formation of National Guard organizations by the Republicans who left the party. These organizations were subsequently disbanded, and the state did not recruit another African American company until the Capital City Guards in Montgomery, Gilmer Rifles in Mobile, and Magic City Guards in Birmingham were formed by 1884. Although the latter company was disbanded on July 16, 1887, the remaining companies were attached to the 1st and 2nd regiments, respectively, as separate companies before they were combined into the 1st Battalion under Major Reuben R.Mims on June 25, 1895.  9

Mississippi disbanded its militia in 1877 and did not require the adjutant general to submit an annual report. The adjutant general did not have any African American personnel until the recruitment of the Vicksburg Blues on July 15, 1886, and the Lincoln Rifles in Jackson on April 20, 1887. These separate companies were the last African American militia companies recruited by the state.  10

In Tennessee, the Langston Rifles were organized in Nashville in addition to the Chattanooga Light Infantry and the Memphis Zouave Guards in 1885. The Douglass Guards were organized and disbanded that same year. By 1888, Tennessee had accepted 11 more companies. It would have been feasible to have organized the companies into battalions because five companies were located in Nashville. Several others located in Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Columbia, and Clarksville could have formed another battalion, and another battalion with two companies was possible in Memphis. The existence of such an organizational structure would have provided more adequate command and control and established the basis for a regiment. The only instance where two companies operated under close administrative control was in 1888 when the Bluff City Guards and the Memphis Rifles were attached to the 2nd Battalion.  11

The only African American company that existed in Missouri in 1877 was the Attucks Guards, which had been organized in St. Louis on December 17, 1873. An extension of the militia permitted the recruitment of the St. Louis Sumner Guards on September 5, 1878. Adjutant General Leigh O.Knapp recommended the companies be formed into a battalion, but such an organization was never established. The American Rifles was formed in Kansas City in 1880 and was redesignated as the Jordan Rifles in 1884.  12

On October 16, 1882, Indiana recruited the Streight Rifles of Indianapolis, which was accepted as a separate company 11 days later. Redesignated as the Will E.English Guards, it was assigned to the 2nd Regiment on June 16, 1886, until it became a separate company on April 25, 1896. The Ross Guards was also formed in Indianapolis and accepted by the state on January 2, 1885. It was assigned to the 3rd Regiment until April 25, 1896, when it became a separate company. The companies were separated from their regiments because white guardsmen who objected to having African American officers eligible for promotion to regimental staff positions had complained to Governor Claude Matthews. Captain John J. Buckner resented their separate status and blamed Adjutant General James K.Gore for their exemption from the regimental alignment. Charged with insubordination and breach of discipline, his commission was revoked while he was temporarily relieved of command. Ironically, the amended state constitution in 1881 did not provide for the enlistment of African American guardsmen.  13

Labor disorders in Kansas during 1877 encouraged citizens to become more interested in protecting their property. The adjutant general responded by accepting numerous independent companies into the militia. Companies for African American personnel were established in Topeka on April 7, 1879, and in Lawrence on January 21, 1879. When the legislature sought to increase the proficiency of the militia, the African American companies were among the organizations that were disbanded. However, a revised Kansas constitution in 1885 specified that African American citizens were eligible for militia service, and the Leavenworth Garfield Rifles and Elaine Rifles were accepted into the National Guard in 1887. John Thomas was also responsible for recruiting an independent company in Wichita on December 31, 1894.  14

Iowa defeated a constitutional amendment that would have extended militia service to African American personnel. State residents reversed this decision after the 1st Iowa Volunteers was enlisted into the United States Bureau of Colored Troops during the Civil War. A General Assembly resolution that removed the term “white” from the state militia law was approved by the electorate, but African Americans did not serve in the National Guard until Adjutant General John H.Looby accepted the Des Moines Looby State Guards as an unattached company on March 5, 1877. This decision may have been influenced by the adjutant general who had served in the 1st Missouri Volunteer Regiment, which was redesignated as the 62nd United States Colored Regiment during the Civil War.  15

Between the end of the Civil War and February 1866, 33 organizations in the Bureau of Colored Troops were disbanded in Texas. Personnel discharged from these organizations were excellent candidates for the Coke’s Rifles in San Antonio, Lincoln Guards in Galveston, Austin City Rifles, and Austin Capital Guards. Although the Austin Capital Guards was disbanded in 1876, other independent companies recognized by the adjutant general included the Hubbard Rifles of Waco in 1878. The African American organization was expanded with the recruitment of the Brenham Blues, Robert’s Rifles in Corpus Christi, Solter Rifles in Calvert, Gregory Rifles in Bryan, Grant Rifles in Galveston, and Houston Davis Rifles by 1880. Personnel in these companies requested that their organizations be formed into a battalion, but Inspector General F.W.James recommended the establishment of a regiment to Adjutant General John B. Jones because all the companies, except the Davis Rifles, had qualified for state recognition. Colonel A.M.Gregory, formerly commander of the Hubbard Guards, assumed command of the 1st Volunteer Colored Infantry Regiment on May 20, 1880.  16

Colonel Gregory commanded the regiment until 1883 when he was accused of violating the military code. Texas Adjutant General W.H.King investigated the alleged charges and determined that Colonel Gregory, without authorization, had recruited companies in Harrison County. Officials in the county had opposed an expansion of the African American militia and thought the formation of more companies would affect racial relations in Marshall. Governor John Ireland was also informed of efforts to establish a company in Marion County where two African American residents had been lynched. Adjutant General King alleged some incidents were instigated to ensure social equality for African Americans, and he considered the organization of companies in Harrison and Marion Counties a threat to white residents. He concluded that Colonel Gregory had attempted to impress citizens with his authority and gained funds for himself through levying a tax on African American citizens to raise a local company.

The Austin Statesman reported that African Americans in Marshall informed the adjutant general that they did not have any complaints against the local white community because their rights were recognized by the courts, but they were dissatisfied by the general conditions in Marshall, which curtailed their civil rights. The adjutant general did not accept their grievances but warned them of the utilization of the National Guard in the event of any civil disturbances.  17

Colonel Gregory had eagerly performed his duties as commander of the 1st Colored Volunteer Regiment, and he was confident that the adjutant general was aware of his activities. His inspection of the Grant Rifles, Davis Rifles, and Hubbard Rifles revealed that only the Hubbard Rifles was deficient. Because its personnel were not uniformed and its weapons were not properly maintained, he recommended disbanding the Hubbard Rifles and transferring its serviceable weapons to the newly organized Ireland Guards in Marshall. He assured the adjutant general that the Harrison County company was composed of men who supported the Democratic Party and who were respected by the white community. Colonel Gregory also explained his response to Marshall residents who had requested the recognition of their company in August 1883. He informed them that the adjutant general would not accept additional organizations and urged them to join the Ireland Guards.

Senator William Polk, the chief of police, and approximately 25 armed white men interrupted his meeting at the residence of Henry Jones and ordered him to leave Marshall on the next train. Senator Polk questioned his authority to organize militia companies and stressed that it was the intention of the mob to lynch him in September 1883 should he remain in Marshall. Colonel Gregory denied all allegations against him and emphasized his support for the Democratic Party, but the adjutant general relieved him of his command. His vacancy was not. but Lieutenant Colonel P.H. Henderson assumed command of the regiment.  18

Disturbed by the reluctance of Adjutant General King to recognize additional African American companies, personnel in the Fort Worth Queen City Rifles, with the support of city officials, petitioned for state affiliation. Failing to obtain state recognition, Captain David H.Black concluded that his company had been misrepresented by Colonel Gregory. He alleged that Colonel Gregory was displeased because he had not been employed as the company drill master with a salary higher than the Queen City Rifles were capable of paying. Captain Black was also confident that his staff could perform military training without additional assistance. Disregarding that state recognition of the Queen City Guards would have benefited the entire African American Fort Worth community, Governor John Ireland still rejected the petition. However, the San Antonio Excelsior Guards formed by Captain John F.Van Duzor was recognized on July 26, 1883, but a request by Captain Burrell McNeil of the Grant Rifles to form a Ranger company for frontier service was denied.  19

Reactions to the recruiting activities of Colonel Gregory, fear of insurrection by African Americans in Gauze located in Milan County against discrimination railroad policies, coincided with civil rights activities by African Americans. An investigation revealed that some citizens had assembled to raise funds for a new church, but the excitement surrounding this cause had led white citizens to conclude that African Americans were preparing to purchase enormous quantities of ammunition. The investigation further revealed that their ammunition purchases were normal for the winter season. These conditions coincided with the reduction of the 1st Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The organizational changes commenced with the disbanding of Coke’s Rifles, Hubbard Rifles, Brenham Blues, Solter Rifles, Gregory Rifles, and Grant Rifles, followed by the removal of the Davis Rifles, which had been organized on January 15, 1882, and the Cochran Blues, which had been formed on April 6, 1882. The five remaining companies were reorganized into a battalion under G.W.Wilson. Major Jacob Lyons assumed command of the battalion in 1887, and its structure was maintained although the same companies did not remain in the organization and the headquarters for the 1st Colored Battalion was relocated from Galveston to San Antonio in 1888.  20

In the District of Columbia, the independent Butler Zouaves and Stanton Guards were formed, and after the establishment of the territorial government in 1871 the Territorial Guards were recruited. Reorganization of the District of Columbia National Guard in 1875 extended recognition to the Butler Zouaves. The Washington Cadet Corps was recruited on June 12, 1880, and was expanded into a battalion by Major Christian A.Fleetwood, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism during the battle at Chaffin’s Farm near Richmond, Virginia, on September 24, 1864. The District adjutant general in 1882 also accepted the Capital City Guards, which consisted of four companies commanded by Major Frederick C.Revels. The Butler Zouaves, Washington Cadets Corps, and Capital City Guards were respectively redesignated as the 5th, 6th, and 7th Infantry Battalions in 1887. The Butler Zouaves was consolidated with the Washington Rifles in the 5th Battalion, but the organization failed a special inspection and was disbanded on March 31, 1888.  21

Maryland did not muster the independent Lincoln Zouaves and Henry W.Davis Guards into the state militia, but several other companies gained state affiliation. The Monumental City Guards was organized in Baltimore on February 20, 1879, and exactly three years later the company was accepted into the state militia. In celebration of their militia affiliation, the Monumental City Guards paraded from the Samaritan Hall to the Douglass Institute where Captain Thomas H.Lewis was presented a sword. Captain Lewis served until Captain William R.Spencer was appointed the commander of the company in 1882. The adjutant general in 1884 accepted the Baltimore Rifles, commanded by Captain George M. Matthews, and the Baltimore City Guards under Captain James H. Casey. Two years later the Allegany County Guards of Cumberland organized by Captain Frederick Burgee joined the National Guard. Although each company was a separate entity in the Unattached Infantry, they were formed into a provisional battalion during field maneuvers.  22

Pennsylvania raised several regiments that were assigned to the United States Bureau of Colored Troops. Some of the companies formed a basis for the recruitment of personnel into the state militia after the war. In Philadelphia, selected companies of the National Grays and the Zouaves de Afrique in 1869 formed the William B. Thomas Regiment, which became the 6th Regiment in 1872. The 5th Provisional Infantry Brigade, organized in Philadelphia in 1871, was composed of the 11th, 12th, and 13th Regiments and had 24 companies. Unlike African American militia in other states, the major command and staff positions in these regiments were occupied primarily by white officers.

Major Octavius Catto, an African American political activist and faculty member at the Institute of Colored Youth in Philadelphia, joined the brigade on May 6, 1871. During an election when sporadic riots occurred throughout the city, he was attacked and fatally wounded by Frank Kelly. Catto was carried to a nearby police station where he died within minutes after the attack on October 10, 1871. Former African American abolitionists Robert Purvis and Isaac C. Wears were astonished by his death and other incidents that had occurred in Philadelphia. They and other citizens adopted resolutions that deplored disorder and violence and that condemned police inefficiency. The Pennsylvania Peace Society expressed sympathy over the loss of three African American citizens and offered assistance in presenting their grievances to city officials. A detachment of African American guardsmen from New Jersey was among the numerous military and civilian dignitaries who attended the funeral of Major Catto.  23

African American companies were also recruited in other cities throughout the state. The Pennsylvania adjutant general accepted the Blue Mountain Sharpshooters, Geary Guards, Delaney Guards, and Russell Guards in Harrisburg in addition to the Cameron Guards in Middleton. All of these Dauphin County companies were assigned to the 5th Division. The Chester City Safeguards of Delaware County on July 8, 1870, petitioned and received militia status two weeks later in the 2nd Division. In that same year, the Cumberland Guards in Carlisle, Union Guards in Shippensburg, and Lincoln Guard of Mercersburg were assigned to the 15th Division, and the Douglass Zouaves of Pittsburgh were assigned to the 18th Division. Joining the state militia in 1871 were the Hartranft Guards of Norristown, which served in the 2nd Division, the Lycoming County Taylor Guards of the 11th Division, and the Keystone Guards of Monongahela City in the 17th Division. The Colored Company of Titusville was recruited in Crawford County in 1872 and assigned to the 20th Division. It was the last African American company enrolled in the Pennsylvania militia before 1877. The establishment of these militia organizations represented the largest African American militia in the northern states.  24

The disbandment of militia companies in Pennsylvania coincided with the formation of other companies. The llth Regiment lost two companies in 1871, and the 12th and 13th Regiments, combined, lost three companies the following year. A reduction in force caused the adjutant general to disband the 5th Brigade in 1873, and the implementation of the military law of April 15, 1872, established new quotas for each military division. Instructions issued on August 1, 1873, eliminated 161 companies, including the companies in the 12th and 13th Regiments in addition to the Chester City Safeguards, Hartranft Guards, Russell Guards, Blue Mountain Sharpshooters, Delaney Guards, and Lincoln Guards. Some personnel in the disbanded regiments were recruited by the 6th Battalion, which joined the 11th Regiment to form the 3rd Brigade. However, four of the companies failed their inspections and were disbanded. In addition, Governor John F.Hartranft on June 30, 1874, announced the reduction of the National Guard from 21 to 10 divisions. This reduction eliminated the 3rd Brigade. The remaining companies were organized into the 4th Provisional Battalion until it was similarly disbanded. The Geary Guards, Cumberland Guards, Union Guards, and Douglass Zouaves were terminated on November 24, 1874, and the Colored Company of Titusville was disbanded on June 12, 1875. The only African American militia company that survived the reorganization policies of Adjutant General James W. Latta in 1877 was the Gray Invincibles in the 1st Brigade, formerly assigned to the 4th Provisional Battalion.  25

New Jersey Adjutant General William S.Stryker reported on October 31, 1872, that the state had raised only 2,500 men for the regular army during the Civil War, but it also received credit for providing more than 4,000 soldiers of African descent. The enlistment of African American soldiers influenced the state legislature in 1872 to authorize the formation of an Unattached Infantry, not to exceed ten companies. Eight companies of the 8th Regiment were located in Camden, Elizabeth City, Jersey City, Newark, New Burnswick, and Trenton.  26 However, a company in Jersey City was disbanded in 1873 for not maintaining the required strength of 60 enlisted personnel. Although the regiment maintained the required militia standards and had the largest state attendance during the inspection of 1874, Inspector General J.Augustus Fay in 1875 recommended eliminating a company in Trenton for failing to muster enough personnel for his inspection and for withholding annual appropriations from three other companies because of their inefficiency and the funds required to maintain the organizations. When the regimental field and staff did not parade for the annual inspection in 1876, the inspection officer recommended disbanding the 8th Regiment to eliminate the state expense of $2,800 in annual appropriations in addition to transportation and care of weapons and equipment. The inspecting officer also alleged that officers could not provide the necessary instruction to the enlisted guardsmen.  27 When legislation was enacted on March 9, 1877, that reduced the strength of the National Guard and repealed legislation that had authorized the establishment of the 8th Regiment, the adjutant general disbanded the regiment on March 12, 1877.  28

Veterans and citizens were eager to form militia companies in Connecticut. Lloyd G.Seymour petitioned Governor William A. Buckingham on August 14, 1865, to recruit a company in Hartford. Another petition from John C.Day, a former officer in the 29th Connecticut Regiment of Colored Volunteers, urged the governor and other citizens to extend a cordial welcome to the returning African American soldiers because the state had rejected a suffrage amendment that would have enfranchised African American residents.  29 However, the General Assembly did not enact legislation requiring the formation of four independent companies for African American guardsmen until March 21, 1879. The companies were specifically restricted from being attached to any regiment except when ordered by the governor in cases of war or rebellion. The adjutant general was also authorized to organize the companies into a battalion at his own discretion. To expedite the recruitment, he could accept any existing company of the independent Wilkins Battalion. Mustering officers were impressed with the organization, which was accepted into the National Guard on February 26, 1880, as the 5th Infantry Battalion. The battalion was commanded by Major William H.Layne, Jr., and it had companies located in Bridgeport, Hartford, and Norwich.  30

State officials in Rhode Island recognized the service of its African American regiments during the Civil War by extending militia service to the returning veterans and other citizens. The Burnside National Guards Battalion was formed in Providence in 1867 and assigned to the 1st Brigade. The Burnside Guards Company in Newport was recruited on March 13, 1867, as part of the 2nd Brigade. Major Zebedee Rowland, who commanded the battalion, had served as a sergeant in the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment during the Civil War. Captain Aaron C.Buchanan commanded the Burnside Guards Company. Emphasizing that battalions usually were composed of more than three companies and attempting to eliminate African American guardsmen from their assigned brigades, the adjutant general consolidated the organizations into the 6th Infantry Battalion established on May 1, 1875. Colonel John H. Monroe and his battalion cadre assumed their position on May 10, 1875.  31

Massachusetts in 1863 aggressively recruited the 54th and 55th Infantry and 5th Cavalry Regiments, which served in the Civil War. The establishment of an independent division in Boston enabled residents to organize their company, which was inducted into the militia on September 10, 1863. The 14th Unattached Infantry Company in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia performed militia duties from March 27, 1864, until the war ended in 1865. The adjutant general formed the 2nd Infantry Battalion on August 20, 1866, with companies established in Boston and New Bedford.  32 Major Lewis Gaul was commissioned as the commander of the battalion. In 1875 his chaplain was George W.Williams, the first African American historian. When the Massachusetts General Assembly in 1876 reduced the operating expenses of the militia and urged the adjutant general to improve the military efficiency of the National Guard, the volunteer militia was reduced to 60 infantry, 3 cavalry, and 3 light artillery in addition to 2 cadet corps. This required the elimination of 26 infantry, 2 artillery, and 2 cavalry companies. The inspector general was directed to inspect each militia to determine which organized companies would be retained under the revised militia legislation. The companies in the 2nd Infantry Battalion were ranked among the lowest organizations, and they were disbanded on July 6, 1876. Charles F.A.Francis, a messenger for the governor and former commander of the Boston company, petitioned the General Assembly to establish another company. On June 1, 1877, an unattached infantry company was recruited in Boston, and it was assigned to the 6th Infantry Regiment as Company L on March 12, 1878.  33

Anticipation of a revision of the militia law encouraged a meeting at the East End School House in Cincinnati, Ohio, to consider the organization of a regiment. The revised militia code of October 18, 1870, permitted the independent company, the Muskingum Blue Jackets in Zanesville that was mustered on July 20, 1870, and the 2nd Battalion in Cincinnati that was organized on October 10, 1870. The adjutant general further accepted the Portsmouth Light Guard on April 3, 1871, the DuQuesne Blues in Springfield on April 21, 1874, and the Barnett Guards in Cleveland on April 19, 1875. Because many companies were deficient and Adjutant General W.A.Knapp had contemplated their removal, his successor, Adjutant General James O.Amos, revised the militia and disbanded several organizations. The 2nd Infantry Battalion was disbanded on December 19, 1875, the Muskingum Blue Jackets on May 5, 1875, and the Portsmouth Light Guard on March 1, 1875. The only African American companies that remained in 1877 were the DuQuesne Blues and Barnett Guards; however, the latter organization was disbanded on August 16, 1877. A revised militia law restricted militia service to white guardsmen, and it was a major factor for the elimination of African American militia. However, the DuQuesne Blues survived the reorganization and realignment, and its commander, Captain Henry Harper, was the second senior company officer in the entire state militia.  34

Labor violence in 1877 prompted revisions in the Ohio militia law and an expansion of the Ohio National Guard. The restriction against African American enlistment was eliminated, and on February 9, 1878, the Palmer Light Guards was formed in Columbus. The excellent training program established by the company and its winning military honors in Columbus, and Chicago, Illinois, clearly vindicated the Ohio General Assembly for elimination of the term “white” in the militia law. The organization was praised by the adjutant general, and he referred to the Palmer Light Guards as the special protege of the state militia. The unattached companies were organized into the 9th Infantry Battalion on July 18, 1881, under the command of Major Henry Harper and redesignated as the Bushnell Guard and Duffy Light Guard when the Martin Light Guard joined the battalion in 1884.  35

African Americans in Illinois organized the Chicago Hannibal Guards and the Cadets as independent companies in 1871. Although the Cadets was a disciplined organization with experienced military personnel, the company was not accepted by the adjutant general. However, the proficiency of this independent company influenced the formation and recognition of the McLean County Guards in Bloomington on July 16, 1872. A reorganization of the militia consolidated companies into battalions and regiments. Integration of the state militia was obviously not desired. The McLean County Guards was not included in the consolidation, and the company was disbanded in 1874. The passage of a new military code on July 1, 1877, permitted the organization and muster of 98 infantry, 4 cavalry, and 3 artillery companies, which were assigned to battalions or regiments. Through the efforts of Richard Edward Moore and Alexander Brown, the 16th Battalion was established in Chicago and accepted by the adjutant general on March 31, 1878. Major Theodore C.Hubbard commanded the 16th Battalion, which had two companies in addition to two independent companies, the Clark County Guards of Marshall and the Cumberland County Guards of Greenup.  36

Washington rejected requests to organize an African American militia in Seattle, but it was the only state in addition to South Carolina to have an African American adjutant general. Captain Frazier A.Boutelle had served in the 5th New York Regiment during the Civil War and had enlisted in the 1st United States Cavalry Regiment in 1866. Participating in the Modoc War and serving as acting superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, he retired from the regular army on August 27, 1895. Appointed the first adjutant general of Washington by Governor John A.McGraw in 1895, Colonel Boutelle inherited a former territorial system that was inefficient and difficult to enforce. He revised military code, which standardized National Guard operations, and assisted in resolving the Sand Island boundary dispute in Baker’s Bay between Washington and Oregon fishermen.

After he indicated his African American ancestry, the state attorney general became antagonistic toward him and led the movement to remove Colonel Boutelle from the office of adjutant general. Governor John R.Rogers accepted the advice of his attorney general and removed Adjutant General Boutelle from office on January 13, 1897. The position of adjutant general was temporarily abolished, and Boutelle’s name was removed from the Washington list of adjutants general. Boutelle later served as a recruiter for the regular army as a retired officer and was promoted to the rank of colonel, but he was the last African American to serve as an adjutant general in the National Guard until the appointment of Colonel Cunningham C.Bryant in the District of Columbia during the Vietnam War.  37

African American Californians met at the Athenaeum Hall in San Francisco on June 10, 1863, to organize the Lincoln Invincibles, Branan Guards, and Richmond Blues. Another group in Sacramento formed the Sacramento Zouaves. These organizations were never mustered because state regulations prevented their induction. Ironically, African American Californians had emigrated to Victoria in Vancouver, Canada, where they established the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps in 1860, the first organized militia in Vancouver. However, racism and the lack of financial support forced the organization to disband.  38

The growth of African American National Guard organizations had reached its zenith and had already begun to decline before the Spanish American War. Several significant factors were responsible for their reduction or demise, but animosity and racism contributed toward their lack of support. The limited availability of financial resources also influenced adjutants general to allocate funds to divisions, regiments, and other organizations that they considered vital to the existence of the National Guard and whom they depended upon for service during labor disputes, civil disturbances, natural disasters, and national emergencies.

Improving the efficiency of the National Guard invariably meant eliminating companies that provided the least amount of service, removing organizations that had difficulty in maintaining their unit integrity, or excluding companies that would not be deployed because of adverse citizen reaction. Adjutants general were also cognizant of racism within their organizations. White guardsmen refused to serve in operations that involved African American officers in the chain of command and would not attend social functions that included African American personnel. Mandatory reductions not only affected the organization of African Americans, but with restrictions on African American enlistment, a reduction in force eventually meant eliminating all African American guardsmen in some states. Reorganizing and realigning the National Guards with the intention of eliminating excess organizations usually pertained to battalions and companies not assigned to regiments, brigades, or divisions. These were additional methods employed to disband African American guardsmen.

Eliminating National Guard organizations was a phenomenon that affected African American companies in areas where they had been recruited. Iowa disbanded the Looby State Guards as a result of the revised military code in 1880, which did not provide adequate funding for its National Guard. There were only two companies in Louisiana, and the adjutant general disbanded the Louisiana Rifles in 1885 and the Larendon Rifles in 1889. Legislation proposed in 1887 by the Mississippi adjutant general not only revised the military code but disbanded the Vicksburg Blues and Lincoln Rifles. Florida in 1891 attempted to increase enlistment by expanding the militia to 20 infantry companies and eliminating the Detached Volunteer Militia. Because the eight African American companies were not an integral part of the Florida State Troops, they were disbanded on June 11, 1891, with the passage of the revised militia code.

Animosity toward the Missouri National Guard caused many citizens to form independent organizations known as Police Reserves. The Police Reserves were permitted to utilize state ordnance and facilities to sustain their operations while the National Guard had difficulty in recruiting personnel, maintaining its armories, and paying its financial obligations. Adjutant General James C.Jamison felt compelled to disband some of the older companies because the state legislature had not enacted a revised military law. When the legislature enacted the militia law of March 1, 1887, funding for guard activities was reduced, and an adjutant general who opposed the African American enlistment disbanded the last African American guard, the Jordan Rifles, and established a policy that prevented their enlistment. The Garfield Rifles remained as the last organized African American company in Kansas until it was disbanded in 1897.  39

By 1897 several states had reduced their African American organizations significantly, but separate companies were maintained. Pennsylvania reduced its African American National Guards to the Gray Invincibles in 1877 and did not accept any additional companies. The Rhode Island adjutant general recognized the necessity of reorganizing the state militia because the railroad strikes of 1877 revealed the importance of having a highly efficient state force. He planned the elimination of 200 guardsmen to establish a maximum enlisted strength of 1,600. This permitted adequate equipment for 1,200 guardsmen who were organized into battalions or regiments. His plan further required the disbanding of the Burnside Guards in the 6th Battalion in 1879. The remaining three companies of the battalion in Providence were consolidated into two companies and redesignated as the 5th Infantry Battalion. When Major George T.Smith resigned his commission in 1887, the adjutant general took advantage of the resignation by abolishing the battalion and honorably discharging the battalion staff on January 31, 1887. The companies became the 1st and 2nd Separate Companies until consolidated in 1895 to become the 1st Separate Company. Massachusetts eliminated a battalion in 1876 and accepted only a company of unattached infantry that was assigned to the 1st Brigade in 1877 before it became Company L of the 6th Infantry Regiment. This was the only African American organization that was integrated on a company basis into a white regiment in 1898.  40

The Connecticut General Assembly reduced the militia by four companies to improve the efficiency of the remaining 44 companies. Militia legislation reserved four companies for African American personnel, but some state officials wanted the legislation to apply to all companies. They urged the adjutant general to evaluate all the companies by the same standards and insisted that the merits of each organization would provide the basis for its retention in the National Guard. The officials also thought the representation of African Americans was larger in proportion than other companies and alleged the legislation was designed to favor the 5th Battalion. Simultaneously, Captain Paul Brewster had been selected to replace Captain John Williams, the commander of the Buckingham Guard, which was located in Norwich, but the state adjutant general refused to accept his nomination despite adamant support by personnel in the company. The Hartford Daily Times alleged that the guardsmen were unworthy citizens and dishonored the reputation of former Governor William A.Buckingham. Major Layne was unsuccessful in his attempt to discipline the company and it was disbanded on June 21, 1881.  41 When Company C was disbanded February 1, 1890, the adjutant general decided to eliminate the battalion. He disbanded the headquarters, hospital corps, and signal corps and designated the remaining companies as the 1st and 2nd Companies. The presence of African Americans was further reduced with the elimination of the 2nd Separate Company on July 12, 1896.  42

The longevity of the Maryland Provisional Battalion was also destined for elimination. The General Assembly in 1894 authorized the governor to disband, at his discretion, any company that had lost strength and efficiency. Adjutant General Hy.Kyd Douglas stressed that militia funds had been drastically depleted during guard participation in the labor strike of 1894 and advised against replacing any company disbanded. To ensure the capability of activating and deploying an equipped force during another emergency, he disbanded the Baltimore City Rifles on January 21, 1895, and the Allegany County Guards five days later. The only remaining African American organization in the state was the Monumental City Guards, which became the 1st Separate Company on April 1, 1896.  43

Reorganization of the Tennessee State Guard in 1888 initiated the demise of all established African American companies in the state. The Richland Rifles was disbanded when its term of enlistment expired on December 5, 1888. The Carson Rifles, Scipio Guards, Bluff City Guards, and Langston Rifles were ordered to disband but were subsequently allowed to remain in the National Guard until May 19, 1891, when they were disbanded together with the Rock City Guards. The Maury Rifles were permitted to reenlist on January 16, 1889, but were similarly disbanded with other companies by 1892. However, Tennessee established Company G in Nashville on April 15, 1897, as an unattached company. Many of the officers and noncommissioned officers were graduates of Fisk University.  44

In North Carolina, 12 companies were assigned to the 4th and 5th Infantry Battalions. All companies in the 5th Battalion except the Howard Light Infantry and Charlotte Blues were disbanded in 1880. The remainder of the battalion was disbanded the following year in addition to the Newbern Guards, Newbern Rifle Cadets, and Oberlin Vance Guards in the 4th Battalion, which was redesignated as the 1st Battalion in 1882.  45 The existence of the 1st Battalion was extremely similar to the longevity of the 5th Battalion. The Goldsboro Vance Guards and Chowan Guards were disbanded on December 20, 1883. Personnel formerly in the East Raleigh Guards were consolidated with the Raleigh Oak City Blues in 1882. The elimination of the Howard Light Infantry in 1886 left the Oak City Blues as the last African American company in the State Guard. Failure to comply with State Guard orders and requirements was the official explanation for the elimination of the battalions. Increased opposition and protests from white residents to Governor Alfred M.Scales and the mayors of Fayetteville and Wilmington against arming African Americans were significant factors for the reduction. Despite their opposition, the Charlotte Light Infantry was recognized by the adjutant general on March 5, 1887, to form, together with the Oak City Blues, the 1st Battalion. Major Bennett B.Goins commanded the battalion, which was headquartered in Kittrells until the Oak City Blues was disbanded. He submitted his resignation, and upon its acceptance the commissions of the other staff officers were revoked. The Charlotte Light Infantry remained in the State Guard as an unattached company.  46

A reorganization of the District Militia consolidated personnel within the 6th and 7th Battalions, reduced each battalion to two companies, and redesignated the respective organizations as the 7th and 8th Separate Battalions. Supporters of the guardsmen who were angered by the reduction considered the feasibility of organizing another independent military company. They accepted the recommendation of Captain Thomas S.Kelly to form the Excelsior Light Infantry. Although the company was never incorporated into the militia, it became one of the more exciting independent military organizations in the District of Columbia, and Captain Kelly became a prominent member of the Colored Presidential Inauguration Committee.  47 Aggravating this situation was the refusal of Adjutant General Albert Ordway to invite African American guardsmen to a social affair that he regarded as a private affair for Army, Navy, and Militia officers. Major Fleetwood and his staff officers considered it strange that the adjutant general did not extend invitations to the officers in the 7th and 8th Battalions and recalled other occasions when Adjutant General Ordway and most of his staff had dined at the expense of African American guardsmen. William Calvin Chase, editor of the Washington Bee, emphasized that the affair was held at the new District Militia Headquarters and that all subordinate officers were ordered to attend in uniform except the African American cadre. Chase maintained that Adjutant General Ordway had violated his oath of office and the laws of the United States Postal Service because the invitations were mailed as official correspondence. He insisted that the African American guardsmen should have demanded equal treatment and, if necessary, they should have immediately withdrawn from the District National Guard.  48

The adjutant general also notified the 7th and 8th Battalion commanders that their organizations were scheduled for elimination because the Congressional Appropriations Committee had rejected a request for additional funds required to operate the brigade consisting of eight battalions. He concluded that his only alternative was eliminating the battalions to retain a trained reserve police force capable of enforcing civil law during civil disorder and natural disaster. In support of his decision, he stressed the battalions were not assigned to regiments and their release would not disrupt established regiments. Although his report to the secretary of war included the battalion as part of a regiment, he alleged that African American guardsmen preferred separate battalion status. However, congressional opposition to this plan forced the adjutant general to consider a compromise that reduced the militia to 28 infantry companies and necessitated a reevaluation of his requirements to eliminate the battalions.  49

The scheduled disbandment of the battalions surprised and antagonized many citizens. Blanche K.Bruce, Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbus and former United States senator from Mississippi, regarded the reduction as a stupendous blunder. An officer in the battalion commanded by Major Fleetwood concluded that the adjutant general had finally found a method of disarming African American guardsmen in order to appease southerners who resented the expenditure of funds to maintain the battalions. He considered their elimination as an outrage to all citizens, especially African Americans who paid taxes and comprised one-third of the District population. They had experienced racial bias and prejudice in the militia, had been denied attendance to several official affairs, and had been required to march at the rear of militia parades. Without the separate battalion, they would never have had the opportunity to serve in the militia because the segregationist policies of the War Department prevented integration of the National Guard. William C.Chase denounced the prejudicial manner used to eliminate African American guardsmen because their records proved that they were the best soldiers in the District. He urged that the expense of maintaining armories for the battalion be prorated among the other organizations and that, if a reduction were necessary, a consolidation of the battalion for retention was appropriate.  50

A conference to elicit recommendations to support the retention of the battalions was held on March 13, 1891. Lewis H.Douglass was selected chairman and Robert H.Terrell, Harvard University graduate, recipient of a law degree from Howard University and subsequently a District Municipal Judge, served as the secretary. A resolution requesting the nullification of action by Brigadier General Ordway was adopted and sent to President Benjamin Harrison. The delegation elected to present the resolution to President Harrison included George N.Arnold, Henry E.Baker, Blanche K.Bruce, John F.Cook, John W.Cook, E.M.Hewlett, Milton M.Holland, D.W. Jones, John R.Lynch, William Matthews, John A.Smith, R.W. Tompkins, J.M.Townsend, Lewis H.Douglass, and Charles Remond Douglass.  51

The president assured the delegates that the National Guard would not be partitioned on color alone, that it was probably necessary to consolidate the battalions, and that their supporters would have to absorb any additional operational cost of the O Street Armory. This agreement did not satisfy Major Fleetwood, Major Frederick C.Revels, or the members of their commands. The delegates and guardsmen representatives discussed the proposed consolidation with the adjutant general on March 17, 1891. The delegation was convinced that a harmonious consolidaton was impossible under either commander and recommended their resignations. Major Fleetwood and Major Revels submitted their resignations but requested that the officers in the consolidated battalion select their commander. Adjutant Ordway explained that the militia law did not permit company officers to select field grade officers and that this was a responsibility of the commanding general who submitted the appointees to the president for approval. Chase felt that process missed an important opportunity to reveal obvious racism in the National Guard.  52

The battalion consolidation occurred on March 20, 1891. Quartermaster General Frank Aldrich presided over the meeting to select the commander. Major Fleetwood and Captain James A. Perry, an M Street High School honor graduate, commander of a company in the Capital City Guards, and a member of the District Military Examining Board, were nominated to compete for the position. The inability of each officer to obtain a majority of the votes cast caused the commanding general to select Captain Perry. Opposition to his selection disturbed Captain Perry, and he requested that the adjutant general withdraw his nomination. Major Revels accepted the command of the battalion, which was designated as the 1st Separate Battalion, to prevent any possible recrimination by former guardsmen in the disbanded 7th and 8th Battalions. Major Revels served in the 1st Separate Battalion until his death on August 20, 1897. The failure of Major Fleetwood to obtain the leadership of the battalion ended his affiliation with the National Guard after 11 years of service.  53

The Virginia adjutant general was concerned about the composition of the National Guard and federal appropriations received by the state. Emphasizing the lack of sufficient federal appropriation, he recommended the enrollment of every male between the ages of 18 and 40. An assessment tax would have been imposed on anyone refusing enlistment, and the accrued taxes would have been used to augment the militia appropriation. Anticipating a larger enrollment of African Americans under such a plan, the adjutant general stressed that the governor would prescribe by color the number of volunteer companies within any geographical area. The immediate effect on the African American organization was not detrimental because the Staunton Light Guard was organized on July 10, 1882, and by March 30, 1882, the Garfield Light Infantry was located in Fredericksburg. However, the state commenced the reduction of African American companies with the disbanding of the Seaboard Elliot Grays in the 2nd Battalion on February 26, 1887, the Richmond Light Infantry in the 1st Battalion on April 12, 1887, and the Hannibal Guard, an unattached company in Danville, on October 10, 1887. The 2nd Battalion also lost the Virginia Guard and the Norfolk Hannibal Guard the following year, and the Libby Guard and Light Guard of Staunton were disbanded. However, the Lynchburg Hill City Guard and Virginia Guards were unsuccessful in retaining their status.  54 The adjutant general also eliminated the unattached status of companies by assigning them to battalions. The 1st Battalion returned to its original strength with the addition of the State Guard and Garfield Light Infantry. Because some guardsmen in the Garfield Light Infantry had to seek employment beyond Fredericksburg, the difficulty in maintaining efficiency led to disbanding the Garfield Light Infantry in 1895. The 2nd Battalion regained its strength with the assignment of the Petersburg Guards, Petersburg Blues, and Flipper Guard.  55

South Carolina improved the efficiency of the State Volunteer Troops and National Guard through the elimination of deficient companies. The adjutant general also influenced the governor to deny appropriations to companies that did not improve their military efficiency. The Attucks Infantry Battalion was reduced to a company, and the Wagener Cavalry was disbanded by 1884, leaving only the Grant Cavalry and Sumner Light Dragoons in the 1st Cavalry Battalion. There were other deficient organizations whose allocations were withheld by the adjutant general. During this reduction, the National Guard gained a company with the formation of the Mishaw Rifle Guard. Under the capable leadership of Brigadier General Samuel J.Lee, the National Guard was expanded into a brigade when the unattached companies joined with the 1st Battalion.  56 However, the state adjutant general reinstituted an efficiency policy that disbanded the 1st Brigade and reduced the National Guard to 11 companies in 1895. Two years later only the Carolina Light Infantry, Mishaw Rifle Guards, South Carolina Riflemen, Garrison Light Infantry, Sumner Rifle Guards, Capital City Guards, and Carolina Guards remained in the National Guard.  57

The Georgia Militia Advisory Board was established on October 13, 1885, to assist the governor in improving the Georgia Volunteers. The board recommended the suspension of weapons and equipment of deficient companies and that the adjutant and inspector general, upon determining unsatisfactory conditions in any organization, require commanders to submit reports designed to eliminate those deficiencies. Companies were permitted to remain in the militia until December 1, 1888, to correct their adverse conditions. This policy affected the Atlanta Light Infantry, Gordon Cadets of Macon, Glynn Guards of Glynn County, and Andrew Hill’s Company of Atlanta in the Unattached Infantry when the board did not approve their applications for continued militia service. The Advisory Board also requested Adjutant General John M.Kell to ascertain the status of nine other companies. Governor John B.Gordon disapproved a recommendation requiring the Georgia Artillery to disband because the organization operated at no expense to the state. All of the companies inspected during the spring inspection in 1890 were also successful in retaining the volunteer status. A realignment of the Georgia Volunteers assigned the Atlanta and Columbus Companies to the 2nd Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Grant, leaving only the Georgia Artillery, Savannah Hussars, and four infantry companies designated as Unattached Infantry. The strength of the African American organizations in 1891 was 1,268.  58

The disbandment of several Ohio companies in 1896 for inefficiency included two in the 9th Ohio Battalion. The elimination of the company in Xenia on May 27, 1896, and another company in Springfield on June 5, 1896, caused the adjutant general to dissolve the battalion, but the remaining company in Columbus was assigned to the Unattached Infantry. These organizational changes reduced the African American guardsmen strength to 2 officers and 57 enlisted men.  59

The Illinois state militia exceeded the authorized strength of 8,000 by 229 personnel, and the available military appropriation was not sufficient to sustain the existing companies. Reducing the force to 5,000 required eliminating 37 companies. Although the 16th Battalion, which had already lost its independent companies, was eventually disbanded in 1881, the Chicago Light Infantry was established as a separate company on July 12, 1882, under Captain Alexander Brown. However, the state legislature was unable to ensure adequate funding to the organization, and similar to its predecessor, the company was disbanded on May 2, 1887.  60

African American Chicagoans were convinced of the value of having militia affiliation, and at a meeting held at Central Hall chaired by James E.Bish, who was subsequently elected to the state legislature, a committee was selected to canvass citizens concerning the formation of the 9th Infantry Battalion. The committee, consisting of Benjamin G.Johnson, John C.Jordan, W.J.Delancy, John Clinton Buckner, C.D.Taylor, J.E.Carter, Alexander Taylor, C.Lenox, and James Ellis Bish, was assisted by Henry E. Chamberlain, editor of the Illinois Guardsmen. It petitioned Governor Joseph Fifer in October 1890 to recognize a battalion that had been recruited but was rejected by the adjutant general because militia appropriations did not include funds for the battalion. A delegation composed of Bish, Buckner, and Johnson successfully lobbied during the next legislative session for a larger military appropriation, but the governor refused to allocate authorized funds for the organization. Through the efforts of Major Benjamin G. Johnson, the independent battalion commander, and a citizens association, uniforms were purchased and weapons were borrowed from the Chicago Police Department and the state adjutant general. When the Thirty-Seventh General Assembly enacted legislation that provided for the admission of the 9th Battalion and the Hibernian Rifles, Governor Fifer signed the legislation and approved the admission of the Hibernian Rifles but rejected the 9th Battalion. The governor also directed Adjutant General J.N.Reese to secure the weapons that had been loaned to the battalion. African American Chicagoans were infuriated by the obvious bias and racism exemplified by the governor. They had returned the weapons in better condition than when loaned. The failure to attain recognition of the 9th Battalion attributed to the successful political campaign of Buckner to represent the 5th District in the state legislature. His legislation providing for recognition of the battalion was signed by Governor John P.Altgeld, and the 9th Battalion was mustered into the National Guard on November 4, 1896. The governor was also assured that the organization was not allied with his political opposition known as the Hull faction and that the politics of the personnel associated with the battalion was known to all.  61

Many officers in the 9th Battalion were distinguished for their public service in Chicago. Major Johnson relinquished command to Major Buckner who had served as a clerk in the United States Supreme Court and as Collector of the Port of Chicago before his promotion to Inspector of Customs. Major Buckner served two terms in the Illinois legislature before accepting an appointment from President William McKinley to serve as a deputy collector of Internal Revenue. Captain James E.Bish was the battalion adjutant, and he also served in the state legislature. Captain J.Norman was the Inspector of Rifle Practice. He had attended Wilberforce University and the Medical College of Northwestern University before being graduated from Rush Medical College in 1889. First Lieutenant Robert J.B.Ellington had served with the Vermont Infantry Volunteers during the Civil War in the battles of the Wilderness, Shenandoah, and Fredericksburg. Other officers had previous militia experience in the Rhode Island Burnside Guards and the Baltimore Rifles in Maryland.  62

The most notable staff officer in the battalion under Major Buckner was Captain Daniel Hale Williams, who served as the assistant surgeon. Born in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1856, Williams was financially assisted by an African American barber before he became an apprentice in 1878 to Henry Palmer, an outstanding physician who had served as surgeon general of Wisconsin. Two years later, Williams enrolled in the Chicago Medical College, an affiliate of Northwestern University, and was graduated in 1883. He secured an appointment to the staff of the Protestant Orphan Asylum and the surgical staff of the South Side Dispensary. Williams subsequently served in the Chicago Medical College as a clinical instructor and as a surgeon for the City Railway Company. In 1889, he was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Health but was not admitted to the Chicago Medical Society. However, racism prevented his admission to the South Side MedicoSocial Society. Williams on July 9, 1893 performed the first successful open heart surgery on James Cornish, a patient at Provident Hospital. The following year President Grover Cleveland appointed him as the surgeon-in-chief of Freedmen’s Hospital in the District of Columbia. Resigning the position in 1898, Williams served on the Cook County Hospital staff from 1900 to 1906 and was an attending surgeon at St. Luke’s hospital from 1907 until his death in 1931. During that time, he was visiting professor at McHarry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and a founder of the National Medical Association. When the American College of Surgeons was organized in 1913, he was the only African American member.  63

African American presence in the National Guard was increased after many states had reorganized their state forces. Experience in the National Guard afforded former soldiers and recruits the opportunity to participate in militia activities. Adjutants general were reluctant to establish companies for African Americans, and rarely were companies organized to enable personnel to attain the senior field grade positions. South Carolina and Washington were the only states where African Americans served as brigadier general after 1877. All of the companies were infantry except for several artillery and cavalry companies located in Georgia and South Carolina. Although drastic reductions eliminated or severely reduced the African American presence in the National Guard, personnel in the remaining organizations were available for militia duties during any civil disturbance, major disaster, or declaration of war.


1.  Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Virginia, 1876, p. 4; Stern, Roster of Commissioned Officers, Virginia Volunteers, 1871–1920 (Richmond: Virginia Adjutant General’s Office, 1921), p. 281. MAJ R.H.Johnson commanded the 1st Battalion and MAJ William H.Palmer commanded the 2nd Battalion. The additional unattached companies were the State Guard in Richmond, Hill City Guard in Lynchburg, Lynchburg Virginia Guard, Douglass Guard in Danville, Petersburg Guard, Petersburg Blues, Flipper Guards in Petersburg, and the Libby Guards in Hampton. During this period the Richmond Lincoln Guard, Virginia Grays and L’Ouverture Guard were disbanded, and some of their personnel were recruited to form the Richmond Light Infantry. For battalion staff and companies officers, see the Biennial Report of the Adjutant General of Virginia, 1880–1881, pp. 18–23. Hereafter, AGRVA will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the Adjutant General of Virginia, AGO for adjutant general’s office, and AG for adjutant general.

2.  AGRVA, 1882–1883, pp. 28–29; AGRVA, 1884–1885, p. 27.

3.  Annual Report of the Adjutant General of North Carolina, 1877, pp. 5, 7; Annual Report of the Adjutant General of North Carolina, 1878, pp. 4–5, 7; Annual Report of the Adjutant General of North Carolina, 1879, pp. 16, 23; AG Jones to Governor Vance, February 8, 1877, Vance Letter Book, North Carolina State Library and Archives, Raleigh, NC; General Order 2, AGO, Raleigh, NC, March 17, 1877; General Order 17, AGO, Raleigh, NC, November 8, 1877; Frenise A. Logan, The Negro in North Carolina, 1876–1894 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1964), pp. 203–4. The 4th Battalion in 1878 was composed of the Raleigh Oak City Blues, Newbern Guards, Newbern Rifle Cadets, Oberlin Vance Guards in Raleigh, Goldsboro Vance Guards, and East Raleigh Guards. Hereafter, AGRNC will be used for Annual Report of the AG of North Carolina and GO for general order.

4.  Record of Commissions from Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office, South Carolina Military Department, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, SC; Annual Report of the AG of South Carolina, 1870, pp. 523, 529, 540; Annual Reports of the AG of South Carolina, 1872–1876, p. 522; Biennial Report of the AG of South Carolina, 1875–1876, pp. 44, 674; Annual Report of the AG of South Carolina, 1880, p. 635; Annual Return of the AG for the State of South Carolina, 1870–1880, Records of the National Guard Bureau, Record Group 168, The National Archives, Suitland, MD; South Carolina Department of Archives and History to the Author, April 8, 1975; Dorothy Sterling, The Making of an Afro-American: Martin R.Delany, 1812–1885 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1971), pp. 122– 35, 293–98; William E.B.Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880 (New York: Atheneum, 1969), pp. 231, 233, 395–96; Victor Ullman, The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 419, 457; Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1969), p. 8; Emma L. Thornbrough, Black Reconstructionists (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972), pp. 175, 177; Lerone Bennett, Jr., Black Power, U.S.A (Chicago: Johnson, 1967), pp. 8, 23, 145–46, 152, 168, 170, 178–80, 191, 305–6; Monroe N.Work, “Some Negro Members of Reconstruction Conventions and Legislatures and of Congress,” Journal of Negro History 5 (January 1920): passim; Peggy Lamson, Glorious Failure: Black Congressmen Robert Elliot and Reconstruction in South Carolina (New York: W.W.Norton, 1973), pp. 23, 33, 86–92, 267–77; Commissioner of Pensions John C. Black to AG, January 20, 1887, Assistant AG to commissioner of pensions, February 15, 25, 1887, Assistant Surgeon to Army AG, February 10, 1887, Susan Aspinall Swails Claimants Affidavit, June 21, 1900, Susan A.Swails Widow’s Declaration for Pension or Decrease of Pension, June 2, 1900, Stephen Atkins Swails Pension File, Records of the Veteran Administration, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, DC; Dudley T.Cornish, The Sable Arm (W.W.Norton, 1966), p. 215; Robert E. Greene, Black Defenders of America (Chicago: Johnson, 1974), pp. 92–93, 98–99; James M.McPherson, The Negro’s Civil War (New York: Pantheon, 1965) p. 199; Massachusetts AGO, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 vols. (Norwood: Norwood Press, 1932), 4:689; Okon E.Uya, From Slavery to Public Service: Robert Smalls, 1839–1915 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 11–17, 18–23, 30, 87–88, 91–120, 125, 152, 162; Ray A.Billington, ed., The Journal of Charlotte Forten (New York: Collier, 1967), p. 155; George B.Tindall, South Carolina Negroes, 1877–1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966), pp. 60, 81, 84–87, 310; Thomas E.Miller, president of the Colored Normal Industrial, Agricultural, and Mechanical College, Orangeburg, SC, to President William McKinley, April 30, 1898, Robert Smalls to President McKinley, May 10, 1898, AG to T.Miller, May 11, 1898, Robert Smalls to secretary of war, July 8, 1898, General Correspondence to the AGO, Records of the AGO, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, DC; Jesse J.Johnson, Black Armed Forces Officers, 1736–1971 (Hampton: Hampton Institute, 1971), p. 5; U.S. Bureau of Census, Department of Commerce and Labor, Official Register, Persons in the Civil, Military, and Naval Service of the United States and List of Vessels, 2 vols. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), 1:226; James M.McPherson, The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964), p. 379; Rayford W.Logan, The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B.Hayes to Woodrow Wilson (New York: Collier, 1965), p. 135; Norman P.Andrews, “The Negro in Politics,” Journal of Negro History 5 (October 1920):424; William Simmons, Men of Mark (New York: Arno Press, 1969), p. 463; New York Times, January 8, 1968; Charleston News and Courier, April 2, 1895; Journal of the Senate of the State of South Carolina, 1871–1872 (Columbia: Republic, 1872), pp. 1–3. Hereafter, AGRSC will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the AG of South Carolina, RG for record group, and NA for National Archives.

5.  Governor Wade Hampton to President Rutherford B. Hayes, March 26, 1877, Governor Hampton Letter Book I, SC Department of Archives and History, Columbia, SC; GO 1, SC Militia, Columbia, SC, June 13, 1877; GO 12, same headquarters, no date; Special Order, same headquarters, November 24, 1877; GO 3, same headquarters, January 9, 1878; AGRSC, 1882, pp. 773, 814; George B.Tindall, South Carolina Negroes, 1877–1899 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1966), pp. 146, 149, 158, 179, 292. Col. James A.Williams commanded the 1st Regiment, and COL Allen M.Bland commanded the 1st Battalion and the separate companies in Beaufort. White soldiers were assigned to the State Militia. Hereafter, SO will be used for special order and HQ for headquarters.

6.  Annual Report of the AG of Georgia, 1886, pp. 4–5, 19–22; Sidney Herbert, Roster of Georgia Volunteer Military Organizations (Atlanta: Georgia Executive Department, 1878), no pagination; F.G.DuBignon to General Baird, December 27, 1879, Muster Rolls, Georgia Volunteer (Colored), 1885–1886, Muster Roll, Macon Volunteers of Georgia, RG 22, Georgia Department of Archives and History, Office of the Secretary of State, Atlanta, GA. The Union Lincoln Guards, Lone Star Cadets, Savannah Light Infantry, Colquitt Blues, Forest City Light Infantry, and Chatham Light Infantry formed the 1st Battalion. The Augusta Light Infantry, Douglass Infantry, Augusta Cadets, Attox [Attucks] Light Infantry, and Georgia Infantry were in the 3rd Battalion. Unattached companies were the Colquitt Guards, Lincoln Guards, Fulton Guards, Governor’s Volunteers, Columbus Volunteers, Rome Star Guards, Bibb County Blues, and Central City Light Infantry. The Atlanta Washington Guards and Atlanta Light Infantry were designated as independent companies. Hereafter, AGRGA will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the AG of Georgia.

7.  Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Louisiana, 1882–1885, RG 168, NA; Annual Report of the AG of Louisiana, 1883, pp. 4–5; New Orleans Weekly Louisianian, April 30, May 14, 1881, January 28, May 20, 1882; New Orleans Daily States, April 29, May 2, 1881; John H.Franklin, Reconstruction (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1961), p. 214; Rayford W.Logan and Michael R.Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W.Norton, 1982), p. 107. Hereafter, AGRLA will be used for Annual Report of the AG of Louisiana.

8.  Annual Report of the AG of Florida, 1870, p. 13; Biennial Report of the AG of Florida, 1877–1878, pp. 30–37; Biennial Report of the AG of Florida, 1885–1886, p. 18; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Florida, 1883–1890, RG 168, NA; Otis A.Singletary, Negro Militia and Reconstruction (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), p. 12; Hereafter, AGRFL will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the AG of Florida.

9.  Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Alabama, 1880–1895, RG 168, NA; Biennial Report of the AG of Alabama, 1887–1888, pp. 6, 9. Singletary, Negro Militia and Reconstruction, p. 12. Hereafter, AGRAL will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the AG of Alabama.

10.  Biennial Report of the AG of Mississippi, 1886–1887, pp. 18–19. Hereafter, AGRMS will be used for Annual and Biennial Report of the AG of Mississippi.

11.  Muster Rolls, Tennessee National Guard, 1885–1890, Books I-II, War Records Division, Military Department of Tennessee, Nashville, TN; Biennial Report of the AG of Tennessee, 1886, pp. 3, 5; SO 47, Tennessee National Guard, Nashville, TN, October 1888. The Douglass Guards was formed on June 4, 1885, and the Langston Rifles on August 18, 1885, in Nashville. The Chattanooga Light Infantry was organized on October 17, 1885, Memphis Zouave Guards on October 19, 1885, Sparks Rifles in Murfreesboro in 1886, Bluff City Guards of Memphis on July 13, 1887, Carson City Guards in Nashville on July 9, 1887, Tennessee Rifles in Memphis on October 1888, Maury Rifles in Columbia on November 11, 1888, Trousdale Guards in Gallatin on September 20, 1888, Richland Rifles in Pulaski, Winter’s Guards in Nashville on June 12, 1888, and the Rock City Rifles, Nashville Guards, and Scipio Guards also formed in 1888. Hereafter, AGRTN will be used for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Tennessee.

12.  Biennial Report of the AG of Missouri, 1879–1880, p. 9; Biennial Report of the AG of Missouri, 1883–1884, p. 36; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Missouri, 1884, RG 168, NA. Hereafter, AGRMO will be used for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Missouri.

13.  Biennial Report of the AG of Indiana, 1881–1882, pp. 48, 54; Biennial Report of the AG of Indiana, 1885–1886, pp. 46, 49, 54; Biennial Report of the AG of Indiana, 1895–1896, p. 14; Biennial Report of the AG of Indiana, 1897–1898, p. 47; Indianapolis Freedman, October 6, 1888; Willard B.Gatewood, “Indiana Negroes in the Spanish-American War,” Indiana Magazine of History 69 (June 1973): 118– 19; W.D.Pratt, comp., A History of the National Guard of Indiana (Indianapolis: Pratt, 1901), p. 194. Hereafter, AGRIN will be use for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Indiana. The Ross Guards was commanded by CPT James H.Thomas, who also formed a youth company at the Independence School where he was principal.

14.  Second Biennial Report of the AG of Kansas, 1879–1880, pp. 3, 12; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Kansas, 1893, RG 168; Tenth Biennial Report of the AG of Kansas, 1895–1896, p. 3; Garfield Rifles Muster Roll, January, 1887, Elaine Muster-In Roll, Elaine Rifles, May 1887, Miscellaneous Independent Companies, 1876–1917, CPT Jackson to General Roberts, n.d., General Correspondence, 1890–1900, Kansas State Archives, Topeka, KS; Peoples Friend, July 20, August 25, September 24, 1894. Hereafter, AGRKS will be used for Biennial Report of the AG of Kansas.

15.  Biennial Report of the AG of Iowa, 1876–1877, p. 42; Annual Report of the AG of Iowa, 1879, p. 38; Leola N. Bergman, “The Negro in Iowa,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 46 (January 1948): 20–21; John E.Briggs, “The Enlistment of Iowa Troops during the Civil War,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 15 (July 1917): 330; Carl H.Erbe, “The Militia under the Constitution of Iowa,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 24 (April 1926): 278–81; Cyril B.Upham, “Historical Survey of the Militia of Iowa, 1865–1898,” Iowa Journal of History and Politics 18 (January 1920): 10–11. CPT George H.Johnson commanded the Looby State Guards until he was replaced by CPT Walter White on May 12, 1879.

16.  Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Texas, 1875–1878, RG 169, NA; Annual Report of the AG of Texas, 1880, p. 24. The dates of qualification for these companies were: San Antonio Coke’s Rifles, May 22, 1875; Austin City Rifles, December 1, 1879; Galveston Lincoln Guards, September 12, 1879; Waco Hubbard Rifles, October 4, 1879; Brenham Blues, September 20, 1879; Corpus Christi Roberts’ Rifles, December 23, 1879; Calvert Solter Rifles, January 2, 1880; Bryan Gregory Rifles, May 24, 1880; and Galveston Grant Rifles, May 21, 1880. The respective commanders were CPTs Charles Brown, Hector Johnson, Thomas Bates, Henry Kelly, C.C.Coleman and 1LTs Henry Chapman, S.M.Deckard, J.D.Jackson, and Lee R.Henderson. The Davis Guards of Houston never qualified for state recognition. Hereafter, AGRTX will be used for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Texas, 1LT for First Lieutenant, 2LT for Second Lieutenant, CPT for Captain, COL for Colonel, and MAJ for Major.

17.  AGRTX, 1883, pp. 5–6; State Senator W.H.Pope, Attorney S.T.Scott, Judge W.T.S.Keller, Treasurer W.P.Lane, Sheriff S.R.Perry et al. to Governor John Ireland, July 12, 1883, RG 401, TX AG Correspondence, TX State Archives. Hereafter, RG 401 will be referred to as TX Correspondence.

18.  COL A.M. Gregory to General King, July 27, September 10, 1883, CPT Sloan to General King, September 4, 1883, B.H. Abernathy to General King, September 26, 1883, AG 401 TX Correspondence. Also see Alwyn Barr, “The Black Militia of the New South: Texas as a Case Study,” Journal of Negro History 63 (July 1978):209–12; Christian G.Nelson, “Rebirth, Growth, and Expansion of the Texas Militia, 1868–1898,” Texas Military History 2 (February 1962): 12.

19.  CPT Burrell McNeil to General King, January 3, 1883, R.E.Beckham to General King, July 16, 1883, David H.Black to General King, June 6, July 11, 16, 20, 28, August 9, September 12, 1883, David H.Black to Governor Ireland, July 16, August 11, 1883, CPT Van Duzor to General King, June 25, July 11, 1883, TX Correspondence; AGRTX, 1883, p. 15. CPT Van Duzor retired from the TX NG on November 5, 1896. See GO 128, AGO, Austin, TX, April 28, 1898.

20.  AGRTX, 1883, pp. 6–9; AGRTX, 1886, pp. 28, 31; AGRTX, 1887–1888, pp. 22, 40; AGRTX, 1889–1890, p. 43; AGRTX, 1891–1892, pp. 28, 92; AGRTX, 1895–1896, p. 29; Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Texas, 1886–1896, RG 168, NA; Austin Stateman, October 30, November 2, 1883. The Colored Infantry Battalion in 1887 consisted of the Excelsior Guards formed in San Antonio on October 6, 1882, Brazos Light Guard formed in Bryan on June 8, 1887, Lincoln Guards formed in Galveston on September 1, 1876, Ireland Rifles formed in Seguin on December 22, 1887, and Valley City Guard formed in Columbus on July 26, 1886. However, the Robert’s Rifles in Corpus Christi was disbanded. The Capital Guard of Austin was organized on February 28, 1890, and replaced the disbanded Valley City Guards; the Sheridan Guard of Houston was formed on October 31, 1892, and replaced the Ireland Guards. The Sheridan Guard was formed into Sections A and B in 1896 but returned to its original structure during the following year. The 1st Colored Regiment Band was attached to the Capital City Guards although African American guardsmen had been reduced to a battalion. For additional information concerning racial tension in Texas, see Alwyn Barr, “The Texas Black Scare of 1883,” Phylon 41 (June 1980): passim.

21.  Martin K.Gordon, “The Black Militia in the District of Columbia, 1868– 1898,” in Francis C.Rosenberger, ed., Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1971–1972 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1973), p. 412; A Factual History of the 372nd Infantry Regiment, National Guard of the United States in World War II (n.p.: n.p., 1945); Historical and Pictorial Review: National Guard of the District of Columbia (Baton Rouge: Army and Navy Publishing Co., 1940), p. 101; Washington Bee, November 22, 1884; GO 4, District of Columbia Militia, Washington, DC, July 18, 1887; GO 12, AGO, War Department, Washington, DC, March 31, 1888; GO 10, District of Columbia Militia, Washington, DC, March 31, 1888; GO 13, District of Columbia Militia, March 31, 1888. Hereafter, District Militia will be used for District of Columbia Militia, and District NG for District of Columbia National Guard. Officers in the 5th Battalion who were discharged included MAJ Charles B.Fisher; CPTs Thomas Martin, Benjamin Young, and Alexander Oglesby; 1LTs Irving H.Simms, Soloman H.Lomax, and Dorsey F. Seville; and 2LTs Robert Morton and Tasker Thompson. When the Washington Cadet Corps was organized at the residence of James H.Payne, the first commander was CPT George D.Graham.

22.  William R. Spencer War Service Record, AGO, MD NG, Baltimore, MD; Annual Report of the AG of Maryland, 1887, p. 23; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Maryland, 1884, 1886, RG 168, NA; Baltimore American, February 23, 1882; CPT Spencer to MAJ Howard, July 22, September 4, 1887, Miscellaneous Correspondence, AG Papers, Hall of Records, Annapolis, MD.Hereafter, AGRMD will be used for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Maryland. The Douglass Institute site was purchased for $16,000 by an African American businessman. The institute was opened with an address by Frederick Douglass. The site was formerly the property of Newton University.

23.  Samuel P.Bates, ed., History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861–1865, 5 vols. (Harrisburg: B.Singerly, 1869–1871), 5:925–1137; Annual Report of the AG of Pennsylvania, 1869, p. 21; Annual Report of the AG of Pennsylvania, 1870, pp. 36– 39, Annual Report of the AG of Pennsylvania, 1871, pp. 37–39; Annual Report of the AG of Pennsylvania, 1872, pp. 25–26; S.A.Barthoulot to Mayor Daniel M. Fox, March 8, 1869; 6th Regiment Muster Roll, 1872, Pennsylvania State Militia, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA; Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 27, October 11, 14, 17, 18, 24, 1871; W.E.B.DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (New York: Schocken, 1967), pp. 39–42; Ira V.Brown, “Pennsylvania and the Rights of the Negro, 1865–1887,” Pennsylvania History 28 (January 1961): 53–54; Catto to Jacob C.White, September 26, 1870, Jacob C.White Papers, Howard University Archives, Howard University, Washington, DC. Hereafter, the Jacob C.White Papers will be cited as White MSS and AGRPA for Annual Report of the AG of Pennsylvania. The Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia later became Cheney State College.

24.  CPT Caldwell to COL William B.Hart, March 9, 1879, Andrew Johnson to A.S.Russell, July 8, 1870, Chester City Guards Musters Rolls, PA State Archives; AGRPA, 1870, p. 40; AGRPA, 1871, p. 43; AGRPA, 1872, pp. 60, 70, 83; George E. Reed, ed., Papers of the Governors, 1871–1883, 12 vols. (Harrisburg: State Archives of PA, 1902), 9:80. Officers were commissioned in the Geary Guards on May 14, 1870, Russell Guards on May 18, 1870, Blue Mountain Sharpshooters on May 27, 1870, Delaney Guards on June 3, 1870, Cameron Guards on June 23, 1870, Cumberland Guards on May 23, 1870, Union Guards on July 9, 1870, Lincoln Guards on October 12, 1870, and Douglass Zouaves on May 27, 1870. See the Organizational Muster Rolls, PA State Militia, PA State Archives.

25.  SO 28, 1st Division, PA NG, Philadelphia, September 8, 1871; SO 2, same headquarters, January 25, 1872; SO 21, same headquarters, August 28, 1878; GO 9, same headquarters, September 22, 1878; AGRPA, 1873, pp. 4, 10, 29–30, 54; AGRPA, 1873, 4, 11, 56; Reed, Papers of the Governors, 9:160–62; 4th Provisional Battalion, 1874, Muster Roll, 11th Regiment Muster Roll, 1874, A. Oscar Jones to Major General James W. Latta, November 26, 1876, in Gray Invincibles Muster Roll, PA State Archives. Hereafter, MG will be used for Major General and GEN for General.

26.  William S.Stryker, comp., Records of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861–1865, 2 vols. (Trenton: John L.Steam, 1876), 2:1496–1574; Laws of New Jersey, 96th Legislature, 28th Session, p. 40; Muster Rolls, 8th Regiment, NJ NG, 1872–1874, State Archives and Research, New Jersey State Library, Trenton, NJ; GO 6, AGO, NJ NG, Trenton, NJ, November 23, 1872. The company, location, commander, and date of muster for each company were: Company A in Elizabeth, 1LT Bray Freeman, June 5, 1872; Company B in Trenton, CPT William H.Smith, June 12, 1872; Company C in Camden, CPT Christopher Berry, July 7, 1872; Company D in Camden, CPT William S.Darr, July 15, 1872; Company E in Camden, CPT James Quinn, July 15, 1872; Company F in New Brunswick, CPT Robert Hampton; Company G in Newark, CPT E.J.Jordan, February 14, 1873; Company H in Newark, CPT James W.Oliver, March 21, 1873; and Company I in Camden, CPT William Castle, February 18, 1873.

27.  Muster Rolls, 8th Regt, NJ NG, 1873–1877, State Archives and Research, NJ State Library, Trenton, NJ; Annual Report of the AG of NJ, 1872, p. 4; Annual Report of the AG of NJ, 1873, p. 4; Annual Report of the AG of NJ, 1874, p. 5; Annual Report of the AG of NJ, 1875, p. 9; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of NJ, 1873, RG 168, NA

28.  GO 2, AGO, NJ NG, Trenton, NJ, March 12, 1877; Annual Report of the AG of NJ, 1877, p. 4; Laws of New Jersey, 101st Legislature, 33rd Session, p. 162.

29.  Lloyd G.Seymour to Governor William A.Buckingham, August 14, 1865, John C.Day to Governor Buckingham, November 10, 1865, RG 5, Correspondence of Governor William A.Buckingham, Connecticut State Archives, Hartford, CT. There were only five states that had granted suffrage to African American males in 1865, the states with approximately 6 percent of the African American population —Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. New York permitted African American suffrage with the provision that all eligible voters possessed $250 of taxable property. Immediately after the Civil War, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin rejected legislation that would have granted suffrage to African Americans. However, Iowa and the Dakota Territorial Legislatures approved similar legislation. See C.Van Woodward, “The Political Legacy of Reconstruction,” Journal of Negro Education 26 (Summer 1957):232; W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1969), p. 8; Peter M.Bergman, comp., The Chronological History of the Negro in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), pp. 224, 252, 256; Leslie H. Fishel, Jr., “Northern Prejudice and Negro Suffrage, 1865–1870,” Journal of Negro History 39 (Summer 1954):8–26; Robert R.Dykstra and Harlen Hahn, “Northern Voters and Negro Suffrage: The Case of Iowa, 1868,” Public Opinion Quarterly 32 (Summer 1968):202–15; G.Galin Berrier, “The Negro Suffrage Issue in Iowa, 1865–1868,” Annal of Iowa 39 (Summer 1968):241–61.

30.  GO 2, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, April 7, 1879; Robert A.Warner, New Haven Negroes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940), p. 177; Annual Report of the AG of Connecticut, 1879, pp. 3–5, 22–23, 35; Hartford Globe, May 25, December 28, 1879; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Connecticut, 1880, RG 168, NA. Hereafter, AGRRI will be used for Annual Report of the AG of Rhode Island.

31.  Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Rhode Island, 1870, RG 168, NA; AGRRI, 1874, pp. 19, 24, 28; AGRRI, 1875, pp. 5–6, 10, 29–30. The aggregate strength of the 6th Regt in 1875 was 203.

32.  Annual Report of the AG of Massachusetts, 1864, p. 10; Annual Report of the AG of Massachusetts, 1865, p. 71; Annual Report of the AG of Massachusetts, 1869, p. 46. Hereafter, AGRMA will be used for Annual Report of the AG of Massachusetts.

33.  GO 9, AGO, MA NG, Boston, MA, April 29, 1876; GO 10, AGO, MA NG, Boston, MA, April 29, 1876; GO 18, AGO, MA NG, Boston, MA, July 6, 1876; GO 7, AGO, MA NG, Boston, MA, December 3, 1878; AGRMA, 1876, pp. 3, 5; AGRMA, 1877, p. 3; Eben Putnam, Report of the Commissioner of Massachusetts’ Part in the World War (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1931), p. 148; New York Globe, January 27, 1883.

34.  Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1870, p. 11; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1871, pp. 10–12; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1872, pp. 7–8; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1873, p. 13; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1874, p. 25; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1875, pp. 1, 6, 10, 33, 38, 40, 45–46; Annual Report of the AG of Ohio, 1877, pp. 1, 8, 53. Hereafter, AGROH will be used for Annual Report of the AG of Ohio.

35.  GO 208, AGO, OH NG, Springfield, OH, November 11, 1878; AGROH, 1878, pp. 6–7; AGROH, 1879, pp. 792–93; AGROH, 1881, pp. 6–7.

36.  Fourth Annual Report of the AG of Illinois, 1872, p. 5; Biennial Report of the AG of Illinois, 1873–1874, pp. 28–30; Biennial Report of the AG of Illinois, 1875– 1876, p. 17; Biennial Report of the AG of Illinois, 1877–1878, pp. 51–52; GO 3, AGO, Illinois AG, Springfield, IL, December 3, 1875; William T.Goode, The Eighth Illinois (Chicago: Blakely, 1899), pp. 5–6. Born on February 7, 1850, in Brownsville, PA, and migrating to Chicago, Moore’s interest in militia service influenced him to organize the Hannibal Zouaves in 1868. With the formation of Company A, 16th Battalion, he became the first commissioned African American captain in the state. Moore was employed by the American Express Company on April 1, 1871, where he eventually became the private messenger for Charles Fargo. He retired from the company with more than 46 years of service. For additional information concerning his social activities, see Clement Richardson, ed., TheNational Cyclopedia of the Colored Race (Montgomery: National, 1919). Hereafter, AGRIL will be used for Annual/Biennial Report of the AG of Illinois. CPT James W.Anderson commanded the Clark County Guards of Marshall, and CPT Kelley M.Smith commanded the Cumberland County Guards of Greenup.

37.  Assistant Attorney James A.Haight to Washington AG, RG II-2, Governor John H.McGraw Papers, Washington State Archives and Records Center, Tacoma, WA; Charles Johnson, Jr., “Frazier A.Boutelle: Military Career of a Black Soldier,” Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society 3 (Fall 1982): 102; Charles Johnson, Jr., “Frazier A.Boutelle,” in Rayford W.Logan and Michael R.Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W.W.Norton, 1982), p. 52.

38.  Delilah L.Beasley, The Negro Trail Blazer of California (New York: Negro University Press, 1969), pp. 283–87; Sacramento Daily Union, January 1, 1866, January 1, 3, 1867; Malcolm Edwards, “The War of Complexional Distinction: Blacks in the Gold Rush California and British Columbia,” California Historical Quarterly 56 (Spring 1977):43; Crawford Kilian, Go Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1978), pp. 76–79, 131–35; Robert W.O’Brien, “Victoria’s Negro Colonists, 1858–1866,” Phylon 3 (1st Quarter, 1942):15–17; Robin W.Winks, Blacks in Canada (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), pp. 279–80. The Branan Guards were commanded by John Jones who was born in Lexington, KY, and had lived in Palmyra, MO, before serving in the Mexican War. Jones was employed on a Mississippi ferry before emigrating to California where he was employed as port steward for a shipping fleet. Jones also served as valet for Congressman David C. Broderick. With the assistance of Congressman Morgan, he organized a company for young men, the Morgan Cadets. He married Sarah Rebecca Burke. Their eldest son has the distinction of becoming the first African American student to matriculate at the University of California. Jones also was a steward for the Idaho Club until his death on August 31, 1881.

39.  AGRIO, 1880–1881, pp. 3–5; AGRLA, 1885, p. 3; GO 1, AGO, FL NG, Tallahassee, FL, June 2, 1891; AGRFL, 1892, pp. 13, 15; AGRMO, 1888, p. 3; Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Louisiana, 1882–1889, Annual Return of the Militia of the Sate of Mississippi, 1887, Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Florida, 1891, RG 168, NA; Journal of the Senate of Missouri, 34th General Assembly, Regular Session, 1887, p. 23; John G.Westover, “The Evolution of the Missouri Militia, 1804–1919,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 1949, pp. 220–21.

40.  A.Oscar Jones to MG James W.Latta, November 26, 1876, Gray Invincibles Muster Roll, PA State Archives, Harrisburg, PA; SO 31, AGO, PA NG, Harrisburg, PA, August 28, 1878; GO 9; AGRMA, 1877, p. 3; AGRRI, 1877, pp. 5–7; AGRRI, 1878, p. 33; AGRRI, 1879, pp. 3–6, 42–44; GO 2, AGO, RI NG, Providence, RI, January 31, 1887; AGRRI, 1888, p. 6. The staff officers, all first lieutenants, discharged were Adjutant Thomas Brinn, Quartermaster William F. Jackson, Commissary Joseph S.Monroe, Paymaster John S.Brown, and Chaplain Mahlon Van Horne, GO 3, AGO, RI NG, Providence, RI, April 6, 1895.

41.  Hartford Courant, April 13, June 23, 1881; Hartford Evening Post, May 5, 26, 1881; Hartford Daily Times, May 4, 1881; Hartford Globe, May 26, 1881; GO 4, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, April 20, 1881; GO 8, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, June 20, 1881.

42.  GO 4, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, February 21, 1890; GO 7, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, March 22, 1890; GO 12, AGO, CT NG, Hartford, CT, July 6, 1896; AGRCT, 1891, p. 46.

43.  GO 3, AGO, MD NG, Annapolis, MD, January 21, 1895; GO 4, AGO, MD NG, January 25, 1895; AGRMD, 1895, p. 3; CPT William R.Spencer Service Record, AGO, MD NG, Baltimore, MD; Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Maryland, 1885–1896, RG 168, NA.

44.  TN State Troops Muster Roll Book II, AGO, Nashville, TN, pp. 287, 293; SO 70, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, December 2, 1888; SO 2, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, January 16, 1889; SO 34, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, May 20, 1889; SO 25, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, March 29, 1889; SO 10, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, May 18, 1891; SO 13, AGO, TN ST, Nashville, TN, June 19, 1891; H.W.Goeller, Chief, War Records Division, AGO, Military Department of Tennessee to author, May 19, 1975.

45.  AGRNC, 1880, p. 19; GO 48, AGO, NC NG, Raleigh, NC, March 31, 1880; GO 54, AGO, NC NG, Raleigh, NC, April 16, 1881.

46.  GO 66, AGO, NC NG, Raleigh, NC, November 1, 1882; GO 5, AGO, NC NG, Raleigh, NC, November 15, 1886; AGRNC, 1882, p. 14; AGRNC, 1886, p. 3; AGRNC, 1889, p. 123; Logan, The Negro in North Carolina, 1876–1984, p. 204.

47.  GO 9, AGO, District Militia, Washington, DC, March 31, 1889; Washington Bee, December 22, 29, 1888; Washington Evening Star, March 4, 1889; District of Columbia Inaugural Committee, Official Souvenir Program: Inaugural Ceremonies, March 4, 1901 (Washington, DC: Hungerford & Darrell Advertising Agency, 1901), no pagination. Other officers in the Excelsior Light Infantry were LTs L.A.Davis, Robert P.Ellis, George M.Sneed, Secretary Arthur Boston, and Treasurer G.B.Lucas.

48.  Washington Post, October 20, 1888; Washington Bee, October 20, 1888, January 12, 1889.

49.  Washington Evening Star, March 11, April 4, 1891. GEN Ordway requested $15,216, but only $12,700 was appropriated.

50.  Washington Evening Star, March 13, 1891; Washington Bee, March 14, 1891.

51.  Washington Bee, March 13, 1891; Commissioner John Black, Bureau of Pensions, Department of Interior to AGO, May 15, 1889, AGO to commissioner of pensions, November 11, 1889, Charles R.Douglass to Department of Interior, November 8, 1916, Douglass Certificate of Death, District of Columbia, March 3, 1921, Charles R.Douglass Pension File, RG 15, NA; “Man of the Month,” Crisis 22 (March 1921):215. Douglass had served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiments and the District of Columbia Capital City Guards. Douglass received a first class clerkship in the War Department in 1867, accompanied commissioners to Santo Domingo in 1871, and served as a district trustee for the Seventh School District in 1872. He was appointed as United States Consul to Santo Domingo in 1875 and served in the Pension Bureau. He died on August 1920 having served 53 years in federal service.

52.  Washington Bee, March 14, 28, 1891; Washington Evening Star, March 19, 20, April 4, 1891.

53.  SO 24, AGO, District Militia, Washington, DC, March 1891; SO 35, AGO, District Militia, Washington, DC, April 8, 1891; GO 11, AGO, District Militia, Washington, DC, June 30, 1891; GO 14, AGO, District Militia, Washington, DC, September 30, 1897; Annual Return of the District, 1891, RG 168, NA; Washington Bee, June 20, 1890, March 28, April 4, 11, 1891, September 1, 1894; Washington Evening Star, April 4, 1891. For additional information concerning MAJ Fleetwood, see Charles Johnson, Jr., “Christian Abraham Fleetwood,” in Logan and Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography, pp, 223–24.

54.  AGRVA, 1887, pp. 32–34, 37; AGRVA, 1888, p. 29; AGRVA, 1889, pp. 42–43; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Virginia, 1890, RG 168, NA.

55.  AGRVA, 1891, pp. 6, 27–29; AGRVA, 1895, p. 51; Colored Infantry Muster Roll, 1891, AGO, Richmond, VA; Annual Return of the Militia of the State of Virginia, 1891.

56.  AGRSC, 1882, p. 1278; AGRSC, 1883, pp. 772, 814; AGRSC, 1884, pp. 665, 706; AGRSC, 1893, p. 26; George B.Tindall, South Carolina Negroes, 1877–1899 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1966), pp. 146, 149, 158, 179, 292. Other brigade staff officers in 1893 were AG R.C.Browne, IG John A.Godfrey, Ordnance Officer Joseph Green, Judge Advocate John F.Fordham, Quartermaster George Williams, Commissary Officer F.P.Crum, who published the Charleston Messenger in 1895, Chaplain J.B.Smith, Paymaster John A.Nell, and Aides D.L.Adams and W. Deas. All were MAJs except the aides, who were CPTs. The Charleston companies in the 1st Regiment, Attucks Light Infantry, Lincoln Light Infantry, Carolina Light Infantry, South Carolina Volunteers, Randolph Rifles, Lincoln Republican Guards, Hawkins Republican Guards, Douglass Light Infantry, Garrison Light Infantry, and South Carolina Riflemen were commanded by COL W.H. Robertson. The Hunter Volunteers of James Island; Beaufort Light Infantry, Capital City Guards, and Carolina Guards of Columbia; and Simpson Light Infantry, Mishaw Rifle Guards, Governor’s Rifle Guards, and Sumner Rifle Guards of Charleston were in the 2nd Regiment commanded by COL J.J.Young. The brigade did not include the Moise Light Infantry and the Jonathan Rifles, which were disbanded in 1893. BG Lee had previously served as a chief of staff during the command of MG Robert Elliot and as a special federal land agent with the responsibility of investigating fraudulent land claims in Alabama. He was a solicitor and served as the speaker of the South Carolina House of Representative from 1872 to 1874. BG Lee was an advocate of the enforcement of civil rights legislation. He supported western migration as well as the Liberian movement.

57.  Annual Return of the Militia of the State of South Carolina, 1895, RG 168, NA; AGRSC, 1895, p. 229; AGRSC, 1897, pp. 255–56.

58.  AGRGA, 1888, pp. 10–11, 24–28; AGRGA, 1889, p. 37; AGRGA, 1890, pp. 12– 13, 33, 36–37; AGRGA, 1891, pp. 3, 22–24; SO 109, AGO, GA Volunteer Militia, Atlanta, GA, June 30, 1890. Citing neglect in the fundamental principles in the school of the soldier, inadequate instruction in the utilization of weapons during field maneuvers, and general inefficiency, the AG requested the Georgia Artillery, Bibb County Blues, and Colquitt Guards to explain why they should not be disbanded. Representatives of the Douglass Light Infantry, Atlanta Washington Guards, Attucks Light Infantry, Georgia Cadets, and Governors’ Volunteers appeared before the board and were permitted to remain in the militia until spring inspection in 1890. This decision was extended to the Colquitt Guards and Columbus Volunteers, which the AG had considered eliminating from the militia. The board decided that it was in the best interest of the Georgia Volunteers to retain the Augusta Cadets, Augusta Light Infantry, Columbus Volunteers, and Rome Star Guards. Responding to a petition from prominent Savannah citizens, Governor Gordon declined to approve the advisory board decision to disband the Georgia Artillery because the company operated at no expense to the state.

59.  AGROH, 1896, pp. 8, 29, 184.

60.  AGRIL, 1881–1882, pp. 4, 24–26; AGRIL, 1883–1884, p. 5; AGRIL, 1885– 1885, p. 247; AGRIL, 1887–1888, p. 4; William T.Goode, The Eighth Illinois (Chicago: Blakely, 1899), p. 6.

61.  GO 14, AGO, IL NG, Springfield, IL, November 30, 1985; GO 5, AGO, IL NG, Springfield, IL, February 29, 1896; AGRIL, 1895–1986, p. 154; Annual Returns of the Militia of the State of Illinois, 1895–1896, RG 168, NA; Goode, The Eighth Illinois, pp. 13–17; Springfield Illinois Record, July 23, 1898; W.G.Anderson to Governor Altgeld, Governor John P.Altgeld Papers, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; St. Clair Drake and Horace R.Cayton, Black Metropolis, 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1945), 2:345; John Clayton, The Illinois Fact Book and Almanac, 1673–1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), pp. 253, 255; Irving Dillard, “Civil Rights of Negroes in Illinois since 1865,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 56 (August 1963):603.

62.  Goode, The Eighth Illinois, pp. 20–21, 25–27, 112; Harold F.Gosnell, Negro Politicians: The Rise of Negro Politics in Chicago (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967), pp. 111–12.

63.  Edgar A.Toppin, A Biographical History of Blacks in America since 1528 (New York: David McKay, 1971), pp. 464–66; Goode, The Eighth Illinois, pp. 27–28; Logan and Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography, pp. 654–55.

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African American Soldiers in the National Guard -- : Recruitment and Deployment During Peacetime and War


"Establishing African American Militia Organizations." African American Soldiers in the National Guard : Recruitment and Deployment During Peacetime and War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992. The African American Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. 5 Oct 2015. <>

Chicago Manual of Style

"Establishing African American Militia Organizations." In African American Soldiers in the National Guard : Recruitment and Deployment During Peacetime and War, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992. The African American Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. (accessed October 5, 2015).