Defenders of the home front: State militias, home guards, emergency troops, and home protection in the Civil War north

John Michael Foster, Purdue University


Around a quarter million northern men served as active members of state militia organizations during the Civil War. Tens of thousands of additional northern men served in unofficial local home guard companies and temporary militia forces raised in the North during times of invasion. This dissertations examines the organization and of state and local military forces in the North between 1861 and 1865 and the contributions they made to the Union war effort. Organized principally for home defense, northern militiamen and home guards watched over coastlines, border regions, and frontiers, and served in an informal reserve capacity within the northern war machine, both as internal security forces and reservoirs from which additional military power could be drawn in times of need. While engaged in short-term federal service, northern militiamen also performed important auxiliary duties and worked in conjunction with Union troops in the field. "Defenders of the Home Front" attempts to shed light on a much overlooked aspect of the Civil War experience in the northern states and provide the first book-length study of the role local and state military organizations played in the conflict.




May, Purdue University.

Subject Area

American history|Military history

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