Ohio History Journal

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Dress Rehearsal For World War I:

The Ohio National Guard

Mobilization of 1916


The Ohio National Guard, like the National Guard of other states,

has a long history of service to its citizens and to the United States. Its

heritage is rooted in the militia system that has played such a vital role

in the nation's history. In times of crisis-natural disasters, civil

disturbances, or wars and rebellions-it has often been called upon to

serve until the crisis subsides and either order or peace is restored.

However, the role of these local organizations within the national

defense structure has gone through many changes. Early militia units

provided local defense for the community and belonged entirely to

state governments for use in civil or military emergencies. States

seldom permitted their militia to serve outside their own borders, and

the federal government had little authority to compel them to do so. In

times of national crisis-the Civil War, for instance-the federal

government relied on its regular standing army and on newly-created

volunteer units that it used to bring the Regular Army up to sufficient

strength. These volunteers normally were untrained, and it took time to

train these units to where they could fight effectively in wartime.1

In the ensuing years, Ohio's militia and those of other states slowly

assumed a greater role in the national defense. The Ohio militia evolved

into a part of the National Guard, distinct from the old militia in that it

now had a clear dual responsibility to both the state of Ohio and the

federal government. In state internal matters, it still served the

Governor of Ohio in quelling civil disturbances or providing assistance

to areas hit by natural disasters. Its role in the nation's defense,




Captain David A. Niedringhaus recently completed a three-year assignment as an

Assistant Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. He received

his M.A. in history from The Ohio State University in 1987 and is currently a student at

the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.


1. Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski, For the Common Defense: A Military

History of the United States of America (New York, 1984), 165-67.