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Michigan's Early Organized Militias


The history of the Michigan National Guard is one of long and honorable service that predates the state itself. As one of Michigan's first settlements, Detroit is looked upon as the birthplace of the early Michigan Militia. The first indication of an effort to organize a militia is the reference in the Cadillac Papers of a proposal made by Sr. de LaMothe. His proposal, dated November 13, 1708, called for forming four companies of "savages" to act as a militia for the colony. People opposed this idea because they were afraid that if the "savages" became educated in the ways of warfare, they would become formidable.


Fort Detroit in 1701The first evidence of an organized, formal militia is the mention of the participation of the First Regiment of Wayne County in a parade in Detroit on May 11, 1803. However, neither the occasion for the parade nor the strength of the regiment was recorded.


On June 30, 1805, the act organizing the Territory of Michigan took effect, with General William Hull as the first Governor. Although the act provided for the creation of a militia consisting of 18- to 45-year-old males, organization never proceeded further than being placed on paper.


> NEXT: The War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War

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