The American Home Guard
The State Militia in the Twentieth Century
Military History
6.125 x 9.25, 336 pp.
Pub Date: 06/04/2002
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $44.95 s

978-1-58544-181-5
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The American Home Guard

The State Militia in the Twentieth Century

By Barry M. Stentiford

Since colonial times Americans have used the militia to maintain local order during both war and peacetime. States have intermittently created, maintained, deployed, and disbanded countless militia organizations outside the scope of the better-known National Guard. Barry M. Stentiford tells the story of these militia units—variously called home guards, State Guard, National Guard Reserve, and State Defense Forces. Stentiford traces the evolution of the militia over the past century, demonstrating its transformation from an amalgamation of state militia units into the National Guard, a reserve of the army. Ironically, the very existence of the National Guard made the creation of other militia forces necessary during periods of war. The home guards or State Guard were organized to fill the vacuum left when the National Guard was called up, depriving states of an organized militia that could be mobilized for repelling invasions, suppressing riots, controlling strikes, or guarding the waterfront. Stentiford carefully analyzes the challenges that faced the State Guards as states sought to build their new militia with leftover men and material. He also examines the role of the State Guard: providing relief during and after natural disasters, providing military training for future draftees, and broadening participation in military units during wartime by giving a role to men who, because of their age or occupation, could not join the federal forces. The State Guard gained a new significance in the Cold War, especially as the political unpalatability of a draft and reductions in the size of the full-time military expanded the functions of the National Guard in military policy. Today modern state militias, born to an ancient tradition, must define a role for themselves in a society that increasingly views them as anachronistic. They mut also compete ideologically with so-called unorganized militias for the title of true heir to the American militia tradition.

Barry M. Stentiford, an assistant professor at Grambling State University, holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Alabama. He spent nine years as an armor officer in the Army National Guard before moving into the U.S. Army Reserve, where he holds the rank of captain.

What Readers Are Saying:

“The best account ever of State and local forces mobilized in times of crisis to maintain domestic order. Analyzes an important aspect of national security that has been all but overlooked.”--Michael D. Doubler, author of I Am the Guard: A History of the Army National Guard, 1636-2000

“The State Militia in the Twentieth Century is a thorough and well-researched account that shows how the desire of citizens to serve on the home front intersected with the wartime needs of state and federal governments. Sensitive both to the particular nature of the various state militias and to larger patterns, this book is a valuable contribution to expanding our understanding of the American military experience in the twentieth century.” --William Donnelly

“The American Home Guard is a very highly recommended contribution to Political Science and Military History academic reference collections and supplemental reading lists.” --The Bookwatch

“This competent work breaks new ground, dealing with phenomena overlooked by historians and ignored by the public.” --CHOICE

“The book is clearly written and devoid of jargon . . . well organized . . . broadly researched . . . The American Home Guard offers a useful description and analysis of a topic that has received little scholarly attention.” --The Journal of America’s Military Past

“Given the heightened national interest in internal security, this is a timely account of one of the most obscure features of American’s military system, the ‘state defense forces’ or ‘state guards.’ . . . particularly useful for its treatment of the increased national interest in state defense forces during the late 1980s and early 1990s. . . A valuable work.” --NYMAS Newsletter

“Stentiford has written what will probably be the definitive book on those state militias, tracing their origin through the nineteenth century and up to the present...Theirs is an interesting story, and Barry Stentiford has told it well. --Journal of American History

Since colonial times Americans have used the militia to maintain order during both war and peacetime. Here, Stentiford tells the story of these militia units–variously called home guards, State Guard, National Guard Reserve, and State Defense Forces. “. . . the best account ever of state and local forces mobilized in times of crisis to maintain domestic order . . . “ --Michael D. Doubler, author, I Am the Guard: A History of the Army National

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