In English, the word "militia" dates to 1590 when it was recorded in a book by Sir John Smythe, Certain Discourses Military with the meanings: a military force; a body of soldiers and military affairs; a body of military disciplineAustralian Army between 1901 and 1980. After Australian federation, the six former colonial militias were merged to form the CMF. Initially the CMF infantry forces formed the vast bulk of the Australian Army, along with standing artillery and engineer units.
The Defence Act of 1903 granted the Australian federal government the powers to conscript men of military age for home defense. However, these powers were unpopular and were used only for short periods at a time. The government was also forbidden by law from deploying the CMF outside Australian territories, or using it in strikes and other industrial disputes.
As a result of the ban on foreign service, during World War I and World War II, all-volunteer Australian Imperial Forces were formed for overseas deployment. CMF units were sometimes scorned by AIF soldiers as "chocolate soldiers" or "chockos", because "they would melt under the pressure" of military operations; or in an alternative version of the story of the origin of this term, as a result of the 1930s' uniforms of Militia soldiers, these soldiers were considered by AIF volunteers and some civilians as soldiers only for show like the soldiers in garish 19th century dress uniforms shown on tins of chocolates that were commonly sold in Australia in the 1930s, hence the name "chocolate-tin soldiers" for Militia members.
Nevertheless, some Militia units distinguished themselves in action against the Empire of Japan during the Pacific War, and suffered extremely high casualties. In mid-1942 Militia units fought in two significant battles, both in New Guinea, which was then an Australian territory. The exploits of the young and poorly trained soldiers of the 39th (Militia) Battalion during the rearguard action on the Kokoda Track remain celebrated to this day, as is the contribution of the 7th Brigade at the Battle of Milne Bay.
Later in the war, the law was changed to allow the transfer of Militia units to the 2nd AIF; of these Militia units, 65% of their personnel had volunteered for overseas service. Another change allowed Militia units to serve anywhere south of the Equator in South-East Asia. Consequently they also saw action against Japanese forces in the Dutch East Indies.
After the war, CMF units continued to form the bulk of the peacetime army, although the creation of standing infantry units — such as the Royal Australian Regiment — from 1947, meant that the regular army grew in importance. By 1980, when the name of the CMF was changed to the Army Reserve, the regular army was the more significant force. Australian Reservists have a comparatively high level of commitment, with an expected obligation of up to 4 nights and 2 full days per month, alongside a two week annual course. Since September 2006, Reservist Salaries have been streamlined with those of regular forces as a reflection of overall higher standard of training. This initiative shows that since 1975, there are now many positions for which there is little training gap at all between Reservists and Permanent Force membersWorld War I, multiple militias formed as soldiers returned home to their villages, only to find many of them occupied by Slovene and Yugoslav forces, especially in the southern province of Carinthia. During the First Republic, increasing radicalization of politics led to certain militias associating with certain political parties. The Heimwehr (German: Home Defense) became affiliated with the Christian Social Party and the Republikanischer Schutzbund (German: Republican Defense League) became affiliated with the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria. Violence increasingly escalated, breaking out during the July Revolt of 1927 and finally the Austrian Civil War, when the Schutzbund was defeated by the Heimwehr, police, and federal army.Canadian Army. The term Militia continued from then to the present day to refer to the part-time army reserve component of the Canadian Forces. Currently, Militia troops usually train one night a week and every other weekend of the month, except in the summer. Summertime training may consist of courses, individual call-outs, or concentrations (unit and formation training of one to two weeks' duration). In addition, Primary Reserve members are increasingly used for voluntary service as augmentation to the regular force overseas—usually NATO or United Nations missions. Most Canadian cities have one or more militia units. Since the mid 1990s, the term Militia has all but vanished in favor of the term Primary Reserve. 'Milita' is generally associated with an earlier, less professional organization than the reserve forces that directly support the regular forces in Canada today. Communist Party of China (CCP), forms part of the Chinese armed forces. Under the command of the military organs, it undertakes such jobs as war preparation services, security and defense operation tasks and assistance in maintaining social order and public security. Milicias de Tropas Territoriales of about one million people (half women) , the Youth Labor Army Ejército Juvenil del Trabajo devoted to agricultural production, and a naval militia. The assault on Copenhagen in 1659.
Modern times See Danish Home GuardGauls to invasion by the Romans until they were defeated by Julius Caesar.
The next notable militia was organized and led by Joan of Arc until her capture and execution in 1431. It settled the succession to the French crown and laid the basis for the formation of the modern nation of France.
During the Franco-Prussian War the Parisian National Guard, which was founded during the time of the American Revolution, engaged the Prussian Army and later rebelled against the Versailles Army under Marshal McMahon.
During World War II under German occupation, militia usually called the French Resistance emerged to conduct a guerrilla war of attrition against German forces and prepare the way for the D-Day Allied Invasion of France. The French Resistance militia were opposed by the Milice Francaise - the paramilitary police force of the German puppet state of Vichy.hundreds which was described in 98 A.D. by Tacitus as the centeni. It was similar to the Anglo-Saxon fyrd.
The name Freikorps (German for "Free Corps") was originally applied to voluntary armies. The first freikorps were recruited by Frederick II of Prussia during the Seven Years' War. The freikorps were regarded as unreliable by regular armies, so that they were mainly used as sentries and for minor duties.
However, after 1918, the term was used for nationalist paramilitary organizations that sprang up around Germany as soldiers returned in defeat from World War I. They were one of the many Weimar paramilitary groups active during that time. They received considerable support from Gustav Noske, the German Defence Minister who used them to crush the Spartakist League with enormous violence, including the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg on January 15, 1919. They were also used to put down the Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919. They were officially "disbanded" in 1920, resulting in the ill-fated Kapp Putsch in March 1920.
The Einwohnerwehr, active in Germany from 1919 to 1921 as a paramilitary citizens' militia consisting of hundreds of thousands of mostly former servicemen. Formed by the Prussian Ministry of the Interior on April 15, 1919, for the purpose to allow citizens to protect themselves from looters, armed gangs, and revolutionaries. The Einwohnerwehr was under the command of the local Reichswehr regiments and which supplied its guns. In 1921, the Berlin government dissolved the Einwohnerwehr. Many of its members went on to join the Nazi Party.
In 1944-45, as World War II was coming to a close in Europe the German high command deployed increasing numbers of Volkssturm units to combat duties. These regiments were composed of men and women to old or otherwise unfit for service in the wehrmacht (German Regular Army). Their primary role was assisting the army with fortification duties and digging anti-tank ditches, but would as the shortage of manpower became severe be used as front line infantry, most often in urban settings. Due to the physical state of members, almost non-existent training and shortage of weapons most there was not much the Volkssturm could do except act like shields for regular army units. However, armed with Panzerfausts and deeply entrenched a unit of Volkssturm could cause serious trouble for Soviet armor.Basij militia, founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in November 1979 is composed of 90,000 regular soldiers, and 300,000 reservists and ultimately draws from about 11 million members, and is subordinate to their Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Several armed militia groups are presently active in Iraq. The Mehdi Army is a sectarian armed force created by the Iraqi Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in June 2003. The Badr armed force based in and around Karbala. The Anbar Salvation Council is a Sunni armed group in Iraq formed by members of baathist and nationalist elements to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, is estimated to number upwards of 50,000.
The Awakening Councils or "concerned citizens" are emerging to defend their neighborhoods against insurgents of every kind, functioning as a form of vigilante "militia" similar to the model of militia in the U.S..Old Testament and particularly the Book of Judges, when the Israelites fought as militia against threatening neighboring tribes. A prominent instance of that was the militia led by Deborah against the Canaanites.
In modern times there is a universal military service requirement for male Israeli citizens that leaves most of them in the reserves of the Israeli Defense Forces, authorized to keep certain military weapons in their homes and workplaces.Righteous army of Korea resisted Japan's invasion and occupation of the peninsula. New Spain, Colonial Mexico.
The RuralesNew Zealand land wars. The Militia were disbanded and reformed as the Territorial Army in 1911.
In 1861 the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers were raised as a militia, but soon became a military reserve force. This became the Ceylon Defence Force in 1910 and consisted of militia units. These were the Colombo Town Guard and the Town Guard Artillery formed during the two world wars.
With the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War, local villagers under threat of attack were formed into localized militia to protect their families and homes. According to the Sri Lankan Military these militias were formed after "massacres done by the LTTE" and in the early 1990s they were reformed as the Sri Lankan Home Guard. In 2007 the Home Guard became the Sri Lanka Civil Defence Force. In 2008, the government called for the formation of nearly 15,000 civil defence committees at the village level for additional protection.
In 2004, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam established a voluntary "Tamil Eelam auxiliary force". According to the LTTE's head of police, the force would be assigned to tasks such as rehabilitation, construction, forest conservation and agriculture, but would also be used to battle the Sri Lankan military if the need arose.
The Janjaweed militia consists of armed Arab Muslims fighting for the government in Khartoum against non-Arab Muslim "rebels". They are active in the Darfur region of western Sudan and also in eastern Chad. According to Human Rights Watch these partisans are responsible for abuses including war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.Swedish Home Guard Swiss Armed Forces. Switzerland long maintained, proportionally, the second largest military force in the world, with about half the proportional amount of reserve forces of the Israeli Defence Force, a militia of some 33% of the total population. Article 58.1 of the 1999 Swiss constitution provides that the armed forces (armee) is "in principle" organized as a militia, implicitly allowing a small number of professional soldiers. In 1995, the number of soldiers was reduced to 400,000 (including reservists, amounting to some 5.6% of the population) and again in 2004, to 200,000 (including 80,000 reservists, or 2.7% of the population). However, the Swiss Militia continues to consist of most of the adult male population (with voluntary participation by women) required to keep an automatic rifle at home and to periodically engage in combat and marksmanship training.
The obligation to serve in the militia in England derives from a common law tradition, and dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. The tradition was that all able-bodied males were liable to be called out to serve in one of two organisations. These were the posse comitatus, an ad hoc assembly called together by a law officer to apprehend lawbreakers, and the fyrd, a military body intended to preserve internal order or defend the locality against an invader. The latter developed into the militia, and was usually embodied by a royal warrant. Obviously, service in each organisation involved different levels of preparedness.
With the decay of the feudal system and the military revolution of the sixteenth century, the militia began to become an important institution in English life. It was organized on the basis of the shire county, and was one of the responsibilities of the Lord Lieutenant, a royal official (usually a trusted nobleman). Each of the county hundreds was likewise the responsibility of a Deputy Lieutenant, who relayed orders to the justices of the peace or magistrates. Every parish furnished a quota of eligible men, whose names were recorded on muster rolls. Likewise, each household was assessed for the purpose of finding weapons, armour, horses, or their financial equivalent, according to their status. The militia was supposed to be mustered for training purposes from time to time, but this was rarely done. The militia regiments were consequently ill-prepared for an emergency, and could not be relied upon to serve outside their own counties.
This state of affairs concerned many people. Consequently, an elite force was created, composed of members of the militia who were prepared to meet regularly for military training and exercise. These were formed into trained band regiments, particularly in the City of London, where the Artillery Garden was used as a training ground. The trained bands performed an important role in the English Civil War on the side of parliament, in marching to raise the siege of Gloucester (5 September 1643).
Except for the London trained bands, both sides in the Civil War made little use of the militia, preferring to recruit their armies by other means.
As successful English settlement of North America began to take place in 1607 in the face of the hostile intentions of the powerful Spanish, and of the native populations, it became immediately necessary to raise militia amongst the settlers. The militia in Jamestown saw constant action against the Powhatan Federation and other native polities. In the Virginia Company's other outpost, Bermuda, fortification began immediately in 1612. A Spanish attack in 1614 was repulsed by two shots fired from the incomplete Castle Islands Fortifications manned by Bermudian Militiamen. In the Nineteenth century, Fortress Bermuda would become Britain's Gibraltar of the West, heavily fortified by a Regular Army garrison to protect the Royal Navy's headquarters and dockyard in the Western Atlantic. In the 17th Century, however, Bermuda's defence was left entirely in the hands of the Militia. In addition to requiring all male civilians to train and serve in the militia of their Parish, the Bermudian Militia included a standing body of trained artillerymen to garrison the numerous fortifications which ringed New London (St. George's). This standing body was created by recruiting volunteers, and by sentencing criminals to serve as punishment. The Bermudian militiamen were called out on numerous occasions of war, and, on one notable occasion, to quell rioting privateers. In 1710, four years after Spanish and French forces seized the Turks Islands from Bermudian salt producers in 1706, they were expelled by Bermudian militia. By this time, the 1707 Acts of Union had made Bermudian and other English militiamen British.
Up until the Glorious Revolution in 1688, the Crown and Parliament were in strong disagreement. The English Civil War left a rather unusual military legacy. Both Whigs and Tories distrusted the creation of a large standing army not under civilian control. The former feared that it would be used as an instrument of royal tyranny. The latter had memories of the New Model Army and the anti-monarchical social and political revolution that it brought about. Consequently, both preferred a small standing army under civilian control for defensive deterrence and to prosecute foreign wars, a large navy as the first line of national defence, and a militia composed of their neighbours as additional defence and to preserve domestic order.
Consequently, the English Bill of Rights (1689) declared, amongst other things: "that the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law..." and "that the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law." This implies that they are fitted to serve in the militia, which was intended to serve as a counterweight to the standing army and preserve civil liberties against the use of the army by a tyrannical monarch or government.
The Crown still (in the British constitution) controls the use of the army. This ensures that officers and enlisted men swear an oath to a politically neutral head of state, and not to a politician. While the funding of the standing army subsists on annual financial votes by parliament, the Mutiny Act is also renewed on an annual basis by parliament. If it lapses, the legal basis for enforcing discipline disappears, and soldiers lose their legal indemnity for acts committed under orders.
With the creation of the British Empire, militias were also raised in the colonies, where little support could be provided by regular forces. Overseas militias were first raised in Jamestown, Virginia, and in Bermuda, where the Bermuda Militia followed a similar trajectory over the next two centuries to that in Britain.
In 1707, the Acts of Union united the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland. The Scottish navy was incorporated into the Royal Navy. The Scottish military (as oppsed to naval) forces merged with the English, with pre-existing regular Scottish regiments maintaining their identities, though command of the new British Army was from England. How this affected militias either side of the border is unclear.
The militia was widely embodied at various times during the French and Napoleonic Wars. It served at several vulnerable locations, and was particularly stationed on the South Coast and in Ireland. A number of camps were held at Brighton, where the militia regiments were reviewed by the Prince Regent. (This is the origin of the song "Brighton Camp".)The militia could not be compelled to serve overseas, but it was seen as a training reserve for the army, as bounties were offered to men who opted to 'exchange' from the militia to the regular army.
The 1757 Militia Act did not apply in Scotland. The old traditional system continued, so that militia regiments only existed in some places. This was resented by some and the Militia Club, soon to become the Poker Club, was formed to promote the raising of a Scottish militia. This and several other Edinburgh clubs became the crucible of the Scottish Enlightenment. The Militia Act of 1797 empowered Scottish Lord Lieutenants to raise and command militia regiments in each of the "Counties, Stewartries, Cities, and Places" under their jurisdiction.
Although muster rolls were prepared as late as 1820, the element of compulsion was abandoned, and the militia was transformed into a volunteer force. It was intended to be seen as an alternative to the army. Men would volunteer and undertake basic training for several months at an army depot. Thereafter, they would return to civilian life, but report for regular periods of military training (usually on the weapons ranges) and an annual two week training camp. In return, they would receive military pay and a financial retainer, a useful addition to their civilian wage. Of course, many saw the annual camp as the equivalent of a paid holiday. The militia thus appealed to agricultural labourers, colliers and the like, men in casual occupations, who could leave their civilian job and pick it up again.
Until 1861 the militia were an entirely infantry force, but in that year a number of county regiments were converted to artillery. In 1877 the militia of Anglesey and Monmouthshire were converted to engineers.
Under the reforms introduced by Secretary of State for War Hugh Childers in 1881, the remaining militia infantry regiments were redesignated as numbered battalions of regiments of the line, ranking after the two regular battalions. Typically, an English, Welsh or Scottish regiment would have two militia battalions (the 3rd and 4th) and Irish regiments three (numbered 3rd - 5th).
The militia must not be confused with the volunteer units created in a wave of enthusiasm in the second half of the nineteenth century. In contrast with the Volunteer Force, and the similar Yeomanry Cavalry, they were considered rather plebeian.
The militia was transformed into the Special Reserve by the military reforms of Haldane in the reforming post 1906 Liberal government. In 1908 the militia infantry battalions were redesignated as "reserve" and a number were amalgamated or disbanded. Numbered Territorial Force battalions, ranking after the Special Reserve, were formed from the volunteer units at the same time. Altogether, 101 infantry battalions, 33 artillery regiments and two engineer regiments of special reservists were formed.
Upon mobilisation, the special reserve units would be formed at the depot and continue training while guarding vulnerable points in Britain. The special reserve units remained in Britain throughout the First World War, but their rank and file did not, since the object of the special reserve was to supply drafts of replacements for the overseas units of the regiment. The original militiamen soon disappeared, and the battalions became training units pure and simple. The Special Reserve reverted to its militia designation in 1921, then to Supplementary Reserve in 1924, though the units were effectively placed in "suspended animation" until disbanded in 1953.
The name was briefly revived in 1939, in the aftermath of the Munich Crisis. Leslie Hore-Belisha, the then Minister of War, wished to introduce a limited form of conscription, an unheard of thing in peacetime. It was thought that calling the conscripts 'militiamen' would make this more acceptable, as it would render them distinct from the rest of the army. Only single men of a certain age group were conscripted (they were given a free suit of civilian clothes as well as a uniform), and after serving for about a year, would be discharged into the reserve. Although the first intake were called up, the war broke out soon after, and the militiamen lost their identity in the rapidly expanding army.
Three units still maintain their militia designation in the British Army, two in the Territorial Army and one in the Army Cadet Force. These are the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (formed in 1539), the Jersey Field Squadron (The Royal Militia Island of Jersey) (formed in 1337), and the Royal Alderney Militia (created in the 13th century and reformed in 1984). Additionally, the Atholl Highlanders are a (ceremonial) private army maintained by the Duke of Atholl — they are the only legal private "army" in the United Kingdom.
The history of militia in the United States dates from the colonial era. Based on the British system, colonial militias were drawn from the body of adult male citizens of a community, town, or local region. Because there were usually few British regulars garrisoned in North America, colonial militia served a vital role in local conflicts, particularly in the French and Indian Wars. Before shooting began in the American War of Independence, American revolutionaries took control of the militia system, reinvigorating training and excluding men with Loyalist inclinations. Regulation of the militia was codified by the Second Continental Congress with the Articles of Confederation. The revolutionaries also created a full-time regular army—the Continental Army—but because of manpower shortages the militia provided short-term support to the regulars in the field throughout the war.
In colonial era Anglo-American usage, militia service was distinguished from military service in that the latter was normally a commitment for a fixed period of time, probably at least a year, for a salary, whereas militia was only to meet a threat, or prepare to meet a threat, for periods of time expected to be short. Militia persons were normally expected to provide their own weapons, equipment, or supplies, although they may later be compensated for losses or expenditures.
A related concept is the jury, which can be regarded as a specialized form of militia convened to render a verdict in a court proceeding (known as a petit jury or trial jury) or to investigate a public matter and render a presentment or indictment (grand jury).
With the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution, control of the army and the power to direct the militia of the states was concurrently delegated to the federal Congress. The Militia Clauses gave Congress authority for "organizing, arming, and disciplining" the militia, and "governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States", with the States retaining authority to appoint officers and to impose the training specified by Congress.
Proponents describe a key element in the concept of "militia" was that to be "genuine" it not be a "select militia", composed of an unrepresentative subset of the population. This was an argument presented in the ratification debates.
The first legislation on the subject was The Militia Act of 1792 which provided, in part:
During the nineteenth century, each of the states maintained its militia differently, some more than others. Prior to the Civil War, militia units were sometimes used by southern states for slave control. In free states, Republican militias - called "Wide Awakes" - sided with abolitionists in sometimes violent confrontations with Federal authorities.
During Reconstruction after the Civil War, Republican state governments had militias composed almost entirely of freed slaves because conservative whites did not participate. Their deployment to maintain order in the former Confederate states, caused increased resentment among Southern whites. The war did not end with Lee's surrender at Appomattox and continued to be fought by insurgent groups through Reconstruction.
The Militia Act of 1903 divided what had been the militia into what it termed the "organized" militia, created from portions of the former state guards to become state National Guard units, and the "unorganized" militia consisting of all males from ages 17 to 45, with the exception of certain officials and others, which is codified in 10 USC 311 Some states, such as Texas and California, created separate State Defense Forces for assistance in local emergencies. Congress later established a system of "dual enlistment" for the National Guard, so that anyone who enlisted in the National Guard also enlisted in the U.S. Army.
Privately organized citizen militia-related groups blossomed in the mid 1990s, which collectively became known as the constitutional militia movement. The supporters have not been affiliated with any government organization, although most of them have been military and law enforcement veterans. They support a restoration of the militia system as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and enforcement of a strict construction of the U.S. Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, according to their understanding of it. They assert that the right to keep and bear arms is not just a right, but that the people have a duty to be armed as a deterrence against crime and governmental tyranny. These militia units train in the proper and safe use of firearms, so that they may be effective if called upon by the sheriff of their county, governor of their state, or the president of the United States, to uphold liberty, protect the people in times of crisis (i.e. disasters such as Hurricane Katrina), or to defend against invasion and terrorism. U.S. Constitution, Art. I Sec. 8 Cl. 15 & 16.
In its original sense, militia meant "the state, quality, condition, or activity of being a fighter or warrior." It can be thought of as "combatant activity", "the fighter frame of mind", "the militant mode", "the soldierly status", or "the warrior way".
In this latter usage, a militia is a body of private persons who respond to an emergency threat to public safety, usually one that requires an armed response, but which can also include ordinary law enforcement or disaster responses. The act of bringing to bear arms contextually changes the status of the person, from peaceful citizen, to warrior citizen. The militia is the sum total of persons undergoing this change of state.
Persons have been said to engage in militia in response to a "call up" by any person aware of the threat requiring the response, and thence to be in "called up" status until the emergency is past. There is no minimum size to militia, and a solitary act of defense, including self-defense, can be thought of as one person calling up himself to defend the community, represented by himself or others, and to enforce the law. See citizen's arrest and hue and cry.
Public militias in Europe
Public militias in the United States
Private militias in the United States