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Kansas Guard Origins

Early Kansas Militia

Early Kansas Militia

Citizen-soldiers began protecting Kansas homes and families when our state was still a territory, leaving farms, businesses and other work places when called to defend the state and nation.

As members of the National Guard of the United States, they trace their roots to the organized “militia” regiments formed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in December 1636. “Militia,” from the Latin “miles,” means “soldier.” The concept of armed citizenry comes from the Greeks who required military service of free male citizens to defend their own land and the city-state, generally for short durations. That concept, which came to the colonies from England through the Saxons, brought with it an enduring fear of standing armies – the repressive forces of monarchs. The posting of British Regulars in the colonies reinforced that fear and distrust of full-time soldiers among Americans.

“Minutemen” from that same colony’s militia fired the “shot heard around the world” at Concord River’s North Bridge on April 19, 1775, and began our nation’s struggle for independence from Britain. We gained that independence with the help of the Marquis de Lafayette, a volunteer commander for American troops, and on his return to America in 1824, members of a New York militia took the name “National Guard” in honor of the Marquis, who was the commander of a French militia unit called the “Garde Nationale de Paris.” By the end of the 19th century, militia units in nearly all states were designated “National Guard” and with the passage of the Militia Act of 1903, the name “National Guard” became official.

Video showcasing the origins of the National Guard

The Minuteman

Both the Army and Air National Guard seals are built around the “Minuteman,” the symbol of the National Guard. During colonial times, the Minutemen were the members of the militia who volunteered to respond within 30 minutes with their own arms. The plowshare in the Minuteman symbol represents the civilian job the Citizen-Soldier leaves to pick up a musket and answer the call to serve our state or nation.

Topeka and Wichita militia, Batteries A & B, in formation at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, during the Populist War.

Topeka and Wichita militia, Batteries A & B, in formation at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, during the Populist War.

The forerunner of the Kansas National Guard, the Kansas Militia, was formed Aug. 30, 1855, when the governor and Legislative Assembly of the Kansas territory established “An Act to organize, discipline and govern the militia of this Territory.” The act also provided for the territorial governor, with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council, to appoint and commission one adjutant general to oversee the territorial militia.




Hiram J. Strickler

The first territorial adjutant general was Hiram J. Strickler, who was appointed on Aug. 31, 1855. On Jan. 29, 1861, six years after the formation of the territorial militia, Kansas became the 34th state and the militia was organized into units of the Kansas National Guard. Article 8, Section 4 of the Kansas Constitution designates the governor of Kansas as the commander in chief for state duties. The U.S. Congress passed the Militia Act of 1903, providing the same organization and equipment for the National Guard in each state as provided to the U.S. Army.

The Kansas National Guard consists of the Kansas Army National Guard and the Kansas Air National Guard. The latter was established on Sept. 18, 1947.