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After the Civil War, people's prevalent thought seemed to be that war was so terrible there would never be another among civilized people. Thus, all military organizations became suspect. There were still some companies organized though, and it was the habit of these independent companies to go on little tours of camp duty each year by themselves. For example, in 1867, the Light Guard camped at Orchard Lake and in 1869 at Whitemore Lake.
Despite the sincerity of these troops, in 1870 the affairs of the militia were at such a low ebb there were only three companies in state service. These units, anxious to maintain their existence, obtained Governor Baldwin's approval to hold a joint encampment in August 1870, at Slocum's Island. This encampment aroused the interest of the public and the state militia began to grow again.
Birth of the Michigan State Troops
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 also fueled the public's interest in the state militia. The conflict had such an effect the legislature passed an act authorizing the establishment of the "Michigan State Troops." The plan was to take existing volunteer companies and, if they desired, incorporate them into the Michigan State Troops. The organization was similar to the National Guard, as far as the state was concerned. In 1891, the name was changed to Michigan National Guard.
The organization of volunteer companies was finally recognized as a sensible and logical move, so upon the reorganization of 1870, the old idea of the "militia" was dropped and total reliance for state defense was placed upon the Michigan State Troops. Units in the following cities were once part of the Michigan State Troops, and are still active in the Michigan National Guard today: Ann Arbor, Adrian, Jackson, Lansing, Ypsilanti, Coldwater, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Calumet.
At the end of 1872, the state's military force consisted of nine companies. However, during 1873-74, seven more companies were added, forming two regiments (the First and Second) of eight companies each.
Letter designations, locations, and original dates of muster of the First Regiment, under Colonel William H. Withington, of Jackson, were as follows:
--Company A, Detroit, November 16,1855
--Company B, Ann Arbor, September 22, 1868
--Company C, Detroit, March 25, 1870
--Company D, Adrian, August 15, 1970
--Company E, Tecumseh, December 29,1870
--Company F, Monroe, December, 29,1870
--Company G, Hudson, April 1, 1872
--Company H, Ypsilanti, December 25,1872
Letter designations, locations, and original dates of muster of the Second Regiment were as follows:
--Company A, Coldwater, November 17,1871
--Company B, Flint, October 18, 1872
--Company C, Grand Rapids, November, 26,1872
--Company D, Kalamazoo, March 4,1873
--Company E, Bay City, April 18, 1874
--Company F, East Saginaw, April 13,1872
--Company G, Port Huron, April 16, 1874
--Company H, Marquette, July 24,1874.
During the years between the 1870 reorganization and the Spanish-American War in 1898, the State Troops increased in number, efficiency, and preparedness. New units were added and those that dropped below standards were disbanded.
By 1876, the State Troops' strength stood at 1,792 and was organized into 24 companies. Rifle practice was emphasized and the soldiers participated in many civil celebrations and parades and aided the civil authorities in keeping law and order on several occasions.