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Record 1 of 1

  • Rhode Island State Militia Records
Call Number:
  • MSS 673, Sub Group 7
Record Level:
  • Subgroup
Physical Description:
  • 1.5 ft.
  • RB, AB, 3 vol. and 2 OF in LB
Inclusive Dates:
  • 1774-1920
Bulk Dates:
  • 1774-1920
Cataloged By:
  • Rick Stattler, November 1997
  • Miscellaneous records of Rhode Island militia companies and regiments.
Scope and Content:
  • This collection documents the peace-time local militia units from the post-Revolutionary period to the early twentieth century. The militia was composed of regular citizens who might meet once a month or less for drills and conviviality. Service was mandatory for able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45. In many towns there was the option of serving in an "independent" company, specially chartered by the General Assembly, that maintained local traditions and distinctive uniforms. During times of war, the state or federal government would create new regiments for combat duty. Although the militia units themselves rarely took an active role in any conflict, they helped supply trained troops to the regular army. In addition, the militia remained active during the various wars; men unable to serve in combat acted as a home guard in case of emergency while the regular troops were at the front. The militia units were only called into active service when a local emergency presented itself. Generally, this meant a natural disaster, or the use of state force against popular unrest. The militia was sometimes used to break or subdue strikes by labor unions. The most famous use of the Rhode Island militia was undoubtedly the Dorr Rebellion, when it was used to suppress a movement for popular sovereignty. There are several documents in the collection relating to the Dorr Rebellion; a list is provided at the end of the finding aid. The Rhode Island Militia was organized into brigades consisting of one or more counties; the brigades were divided into regiments, which were then divided into companies. Each town had at least one company of the regular militia, in addition to any independent companies that might exist within its bounds. This collection includes records of various state militia units not on active duty. For records of soldiers in federal service, or the colonial militia, see the guide to the Rhode Island Military Papers collection. Also, the records of five militia companies have been cataloged separately because of their volume: the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, the Kentish Artillery, the First Light Infantry Company, the Westerly Rifles and the First Machine Gun Battery. This collection consists mostly of the miscellaneous records that had remained in the hands of company officers; it is far from a comprehensive file. For a more complete collection of state militia records, the researcher should investigate the resources at the Rhode Island State Archives.
Accession Number:
  • 1827.2.1
  • 1866.2.2
  • 1874.9
  • 1896.12.1
  • 1897.8.1
  • 1897.8.2
  • 1897.8.3
  • 1897.8.4
  • 1897.8.5
  • 1915.22.1-
  • 1916.16.2
  • 1924.27.2.1-
  • 1969.40.4-20
  • 1972.70.2.1-2
  • 1974.39.5
  • 1974.109.2
  • 1978.84.1-2
  • 1982.144.5
  • 1982.144.6
  • 1982.144.7
  • 2000.3
  • 2002.79.1
  • This collection was built up through dozens of small donations over the past 175 years. Accession numbers are written on the right side of the folders when known; the accession records at the repository will provide more information on individual gifts if needed.
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