Militia (Lat. Miles A Soldier), a body of armed citizens trained to military duty, who may be called out in certain cases, but may not be kept on service, like standing armies, in time of peace. It differs from the levee en masse in having a regular organization at all times. Something equivalent to a militia seems to have existed in England in the time of the Saxons. The ceorles or peasants held their lands on condition of military service, every five hides of ground in most counties being charged with the equipment of one man, and were banded in bodies or companies, the command of which was given to the ealdormen elected by the people in the folkmotes. The peasants were enrolled under the banners of their immediate lords, but in case of rebellion or invasion the state had a paramount claim upon their services, and the lords had no further authority over them than the privilege of leading them in battle. The organization of this species of militia has been attributed to Alfred, but it seems certain that a national force called the fyrd, regulated probably by similar principles, existed before his time. Under the Normans the fyrd continued to be maintained simultaneously with the feudal armies, and ultimately it became the source both of the modern British militia and of the sheriff's posse comitatus.
It was not till the reign of Edward III. that a statute was passed providing that no militiaman should be sent out of his own county except in case of invasion or other grave danger to the realm, nor out of the kingdom in any case. In the fifth year of Henry IV. a law was enacted empowering the king's "commissioners of array " to array and train all men-at-arms, to cause all able-bodied men to arm themselves according to their substance, to amerce those unable to bear arms, and to require the services of persons so armed at the seashore or elsewhere in season of danger. The command of the militia was often given to the persons charged with these commissions of array, but more frequently it rested with the sheriffs or high constables, each in his own county. Such was the organization of the militia when the parliament of Charles I. in 1642 passed a bill vesting the control of this force, as well as the command of all the forts, castles, and garrisons, in certain commissioners in whom they could confide. The king refused his assent to the bill; and when the parliament thereupon declared the kingdom in danger and issued orders to muster the militia, he issued commissions of array to some of the nobility for the same purpose. Thus began the civil war.
After the restoration, the peculiar state of things which had sprung from feudal tenures no longer existed, and the militia was reorganized mainly on its present basis. The king was . acknowledged as its sole supreme commander, and no other army was recognized by the law. Lords lieutenant of counties were charged with raising the force, as they had been indeed since the time of Queen Mary; every man who possessed a landed estate of £500 a year, or personal property to the amount of £6,000, was bound to provide, equip, and pay one horseman; every man whose property was one tenth of either of those amounts was charged with one pikeman or musketeer; and smaller proprietors united to furnish a soldier, each contributing according to his means. But it was not until 1757, when a bill to reconstruct the militia was passed, that the force acquired much vitality. The act then passed, though amended several times, is in its main features still in force. The able-bodied men of each parish between the ages of 18 and 35 are enrolled annually, and by ballot a certain required number are to be selected for service.
Certain classes are exempted: peers, yeomanry, resident members of universities, clergymen, parish schoolmasters, articled clerks, apprentices, seafaring men, crown employees, free watermen of the Thames; in England any poor man with more than one child born in wedlock; in Scotland any man with more than two lawful children and not possessed of property to the value of £50; in Ireland any man with more than three lawful children, who pays less than £5 a year rent, or has less than £10 of property. Substitutes may be accepted for the men chosen by ballot, and for many years it has been customary to suspend the ballot, and make up the requisite number by volunteering. The time of service is five years. The command is in the lord lieutenant of the county and his deputies^ under commission by the crown. The militia are required to assemble for 27 days' training each year, but in time of peace the requirement is not strictly enforced. The mutiny law is applicable while they are under arms. The militia cannot be compelled to march out of their respective counties except in case of invasion or actual rebellion, nor in any case to march out of the kingdom. Their pay while in service is the same as that in the regular army.
In 1873-'4 the militia force of the kingdom consisted of 133,952 men and 5,066 commissioned and non-commissioned officers, of whom only about one half appeared on the day of inspection. There are also volunteer organizations consisting of: 1, yeomanry cavalry, numbering about 15,000; 2, infantry, artillery, etc, including enrolled pensioners, numbering 195,750. These are only liable to be called out in case of actual or apprehended invasion, for service within the kingdom. - In France all able-bodied males are liable to military duty from the age of 20 to that of 40; the first five years in the active army, then four years in the reserve, then five years in the territorial or district army, and then six years in the territorial army of the reserve. Exemptions are made as follows: the eldest of orphans having neither father nor mother; the only or oldest son or grandson of a widow or wife separated from her husband, or of a father more than 70 years old; the elder of two brothers liable to service at the same time; the younger of two brothers when the elder brother is actually in service in the army; the younger son of a family, whose elder brother has died in the service, or been discharged for wounds or illness contracted in the field.
There are also partial or conditional exemptions of pupils, teachers, ecclesiastics, etc.; and the local authorities may grant further exemptions, subject to the revision of the military councils, of young men who contribute to the support of their families, and who are engaged in studies or avocations which would suffer from the interrupr tion. (See Guard, National.) - In Switzerland a standing army is for.bidden by the constitution. Military instruction is given in the schools, though not made compulsory. The military forces are divided into: 1, the Bundes-auszug, or federal army, consisting of all able-bodied males between the ages of 20 and 30; 2, the army of the reserve, consisting of all between the ages of 31 and 40 who have served in the first class; 3, the landwehr, or militia, embracing all the men from 41 to 45. Their numbers in 1872 were: of the first class, 84,-369; of the second, 50,069; of the third, 65,-981; total, with the staff added, 201,257. The federal army and the army of the reserve are drilled once a year in their respective cantons, and they also meet once or twice a year in general muster. In Belgium the militia includes all males able to bear arms between the ages of 21 and 40, and they number about 125,000 regular militia and 275,000 reserves.
The regular army is supplied by conscription, to which citizens become liable at 19. In the Netherlands the regular army is kept up by conscription of those who have reached the age of 20. The militia consists of those between 25 and 55, who for the first ten years are called active, and afterward the "resting " militia. In Denmark all able-bodied males who have reached 21 are liable to serve eight years in the regular army and afterward eight years in the army of the reserve. The national militia of Sweden is raised and paid by the landowners, assisted to some extent by the income of state domains. The infantry practise a month annually, and the cavalry 45 days.
The militia system of the German empire is the most complete and effective in the world. Every subject becomes liable to military duty on reaching the age of 20, and he must serve three years in the regular army, and afterward four years in the army of the reserve. After this, at 27, he enters the landwehr or militia, where he remains for five years, liable to be railed upon for regular drill, and in case of war to be incorporated in the regular army. Finally, at the aire of 32, he is enrolled in the landsturra, where he is subject to military duty within the realm in case of invasion. The reserve, when necessary, are capable of being mobilized for service in two weeks' time. On a war footing the army, according to the latest returns, falls a little'short of 1,300,000 - In the Austro-Hungarian monarchy the standing army is formed by conscription of those who have reached the age of 20, and those drawn serve three years in the regular army and seven years in the army of the reserve. The obligation to serve in the landwehr is general, and the period of service is 12 years, but is limited to the respective divisions of the empire from which the body is drawn.
There is also the landsturm. corresponding to that of Germany, but enrollment in it is not compulsory except in Tyrol and on the exposed .frontier. The army in 1873 numbered on a peace footing 278,470, and on a war footing 838,700. - In Russia all who have reached the age of 21 are liable to conscription for seven years1 service in the regular army, and eight years in the reserve. The regular army in 1872 consisted of 765,S72 on a peace footing, and 1,213,25!) on a war footing. In peace only so many are kept embodied as are necessary to keep the army on the proper peace footing, and the remainder are on furlough. Besides these, the militia is organized whenever emergencies render it necessary. The Cossacks perform military service in lieu of the payment of taxes, and in case of necessity every man from 15 to 60 is liable to serve. - In Italy the regular army is kept up by conscription of those of the age of 21, and those not drawn pass into the army of the reserve, where they practise annually for 40 days, and then are on furlough, subject to be called upon in the ewnt of war.
The strength of the army is about 200,000 on a peace footing and 450,-000 on a a war footing. - In Turkey every man is liable to Berve four years in the regular army, and then for two years longer to remain subject to summons for like service; afterward he enters the first reserve for three years, and then the second reserve for three years, after which he passes into the sedentary army, liable to be called out only in time of war. The total available force in time of war is estimated at 700,000. - The militia system of the United States, like that of Great Britain, had its origin in jealousy of standing armies, and the purpose of its establishment was to provide a military force that should be ready and effective for all sudden emergencies, but only required to serve when the emergency should arise. The constitution of the United States confers upon congress authority to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasion, and also to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress.
It also makes the president commander-in-chief of the militia of the several states when called into the service of the United States. Acting under the provisions of the constitution, the congress of 1792 passed an act for the enrollment in the militia of all able-bodied white male citizens of the age of 18 and under 45, excepting the judicial and executive officers of the federal government, members and officers of congress, custom-house officers and clerks, persons employed in the postal service, inspectors of exports, pilots and mariners, and such persons as should be exempted by state laws. Each person was to be provided with suitable arms and accoutrements, which were made exempt from taxation, and from all process for the collection of debts. The organization was to be effected within one year, under state laws and under officers of state appointment. The act provided that in the organization there should be infantry, cavalry, and artillery in suitable proportions, and designated the number and grade of officers for each division, brigade, regiment, battalion, and company.
Another act, passed Feb. 28, 1795, empowered the president, in case of invasion or imminent danger thereof, to call forth the militia of the state or states most convenient to the place of danger or scene of action, as he might judge necessary, and in case of insurrection in any state against the government thereof, on the application of its legislature or of its executive when the legislature could not be convened, to call forth such militia of any other state or states as he might deem necessary to suppress such insurrection. The president was also empowered by the same act, whenever the laws of the United States should be opposed or the execution thereof obstructed in any state by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the marshals, to call forth the militia of such state, or of any other state or states, as might be necessary, to suppress such combinations and cause the laws to be duly executed; and while in service the militia were to be subject to the rules and articles of war, as in case of regular troops.
These provisions still remain in force, except that in providing who shall be enrolled the word "white" was stricken out by act of March 2, 1867. The act of 1795 limited the period of service which the militia might be compelled to perform under such call to three months, but by act of July 29, 1861, when called out to suppress insurrection or assist in enforcement of the laws, it was provided that their continuance in service should not extend beyond 60 days after the commencement of the next regular session of congress, unless congress should expressly by law provide therefor. And the act of July 17, 1862, provided that whenever the president should call forth the militia he might himself fix the period of service, not exceeding nine months. All these acts contemplate that the officering and disciplining of the militia shall be by state authority, and the states have assumed this duty, and made provisions for its discharge. The exemptions from military service under state laws are few, and are confined in the main to members of the executive and legislative departments of the government, judges and clerks of courts, clergymen, teachers, regular physicians and surgeons, superintendents of hospitals, etc, justices of the peace, and active firemen.
The state constitutions will be found in general to recognize the value of a well regulated militia in a free government, and to require the passage of laws for organizing, arming, equipping, and disciplining the freemen of the state who are subject to military duty. Every state has laws for that purpose. The governor is the commander-in-chief, and under him are the usual officers, chosen by different modes in different states; in some by the governor alone, in some by the governor with consent of the senate, in some by the legislature, and in some by the persons liable to military duty. For many years it was customary to have annual drill or training days for the whole body of the militia in the several states, and they were called out for the purpose and compelled to attend under penalty; but for 30 years or more the conviction has been spreading that these annual trainings were of little value, and that they accomplished almost nothing in fitting men for active military duty. The consequence has been that the laws providing for them have generally been either repealed or allowed to fall into disuse, and in their place have been substituted provisions under which voluntary organizations are formed, which select their own uniforms and the branch of service to which they will attach themselves, and which are encouraged by small state bounties to perfect their drill and keep themselves in readiness at all times for prompt and effective action.
These organizations compose but a small part of the whole body of the militia, but they are ample for all the needs of government in ordinary times, and in extraordinary emergencies they serve as the nucleus of an army until the unorganized militia, or such portion thereof as may be called for, can be put into the field. The militia of the United States at the present time therefore consists of these voluntary organizations, fully officered, armed, equipped, and drilled, and also all other able-bodied male citizens of the age of 18 and under 45, with the exceptions provided by national and state laws, all of whom are subject to be summoned to perform military duty according to the laws of congress or of their respective states. - The militia has sometimes performed a conspicuous part in the military history of the country, though not always to the satisfaction of those who are disposed to rely upon it as the chief protection of the government. During the revolution the militia of the several states was often called out, but the want of discipline, which could not be adequately supplied during the short periods of their service, rendered them an unsatisfactory reliance.
The "whiskey insurrection," as it was called, of 1794, was put down by a levy of militia from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. During the war with Great Britain of 1812-'15, the inefficiency of the militia was increased by disputes between the national and state authorities regarding the right of the president to determine finally whether an emergency had arisen which authorized his calling them out, the right to place them under officers of the president's appointment, and the right to march them beyond the limits of the state. The militia of Massachusetts and Connecticut, when called out, were refused payment by the general government because they had not been .placed under the orders of the federal officer, and the militia of Vermont were at one time summoned home by the governor because in his opinion no cause existed which justified the president in demanding their services. The judicial decisions were in favor of the right of the president to decide finally and conclusively whether the militia should be summoned (Martin v. Mott, 12 Wheat on, 19); and his right to place them under the command of a federal officer ranking their own officers is now undisputed.
On the breaking out of the civil war in 1861, the militia organizations of some of the states proved of the very highest importance, as they enabled a formidable force to be placed in the field much earlier than would otherwise have been possible. The first call of the president for 75,000 men was mainly filled from this source. Afterward volunteers were relied upon in the main, and when the supply from this source proved insufficient, conscription was ordered. As the laws now are, the great majority of all the persons liable to perform military duty in the United States are unlikely to be summoned for discipline, or even to organize for the purpose, unless the military needs shall require a heavy force in the field, in which case, if summoned at all, it will be by conscription.