Guardsmen Questioning Man, 1919
The Illinois Militia (eventually the Illinois National Guard [ING]) first served in the
Black Hawk War
in 1832. As frontier threats faded, the antebellum militia offered volunteers excitement through military pomp and parade. The Illinois Militia nearly disappeared in 1865, after the volunteer regiments raised for the
demobilized, but revived in time for 5,000 volunteers to celebrate the centennial in 1876. Civil War veterans reorganized this new militia just in time to serve during the
Railroad Strike of 1877.
service would be the most controversial of ING duties from that point on. But volunteer companies actually spent the overwhelming majority of their time training for war, hosting balls and
performing in amateur theatricals, marching in military parades, fundraising, and lobbying for larger budgets and improved militia legislation at the state and federal levels. Achieving their goal of serving as the nation's reserve army, the ING served in Cuba in 1898–99, on the Mexican border in 1916, and in the American Expeditionary Forces in 1917–18. In the 1920s and '30s the ING continued to modernize and again provided trained personnel during
World War II.
Since 1945, the ING has been fully integrated into the nation's military reserve and training system.
The Rise of the National Guard.
Hannah, Eleanor. “Manhood, Citizenship, and the Formation of the National Guards, Illinois, 1870–1917.” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago. 1997.