Ohio History Journal

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The Ohio National Guard

and Its Police Duties, 1894





During the depression year of 1894, Ohio, like other states, experienced a number of

severe labor disturbances caused by unemployed or striking workers, the most

serious being the coal miners strike during April, May, and June. In addition to

these disturbances, there were severe fires in Springfield and Toledo, and three

times lynch mobs attempted to short cut the system of justice. These crises made

demands upon city and county law enforcement agencies which they often were

unable to meet, and as a result the Ohio National Guard was called out repeatedly

during 1894 to preserve public order. At one time 3,647 guardsmen were on active

duty, patrolling the greatest area under military occupation since the Civil War.1 In

spite of the strain placed upon often inexperienced young men, the Ohio National

Guard performed its duties effectively with loss of life in only one incident.

The Ohio National Guard in 1894 was the third largest in the country, consisting

of 6,039 men enlisted for five year terms.2 Its purpose, according to the revised stat-

utes of Ohio, was ". . . to aid the civil officers, to suppress or prevent riot or insur-

rections, to repel or prevent invasions .. ." Units of the Guard could be called up

by the governor, the sheriff of any county, the mayor of any municipal corporation,

or any state or federal judge "whenever .. . there is a tumult, riot, mob, or any body

of men acting together with intent to commit a felony, or to do or offer violence to

person or property, or by force and violence to person or property, or by force and

violence to break or resist the laws of the State, or there is a reasonable apprehen-

sion thereof...."3 Guard units were required to respond immediately to these calls

and place themselves under the orders of civil officials. However, the Code of

Regulations for the National Guard required that all instructions be in writing and

stated that local officials were not to interfere with the tactical arrangement of


The Ohio National Guard was organized into eight three-battalion infantry regi-





1. Ohio, Annual Report of the Adjutant General to the Governor of the State of Ohio, 1894, p. 16.

2. Ibid.; New York had 13,254 men and Pennsylvania had 8,959. U.S. Department of War, Annual

Report of the Secretary of War, 1894, I, 24.

3. Ohio, Revised Statutes (Bates, 1897), 3054, 3096.

4. Ohio, Code of Regulations for the Government of the Ohio National Guard, 1887, pp. 90-95. This was

the code in force in 1894.


Mr. Peckham is currently serving with the United States Air Force.