Rhode Island State Guard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rhode Island State Guard
Rhode Island State Guard Patch.png
The patch worn on the uniform of Rhode Island State Guardsmen during World War II.
Active 1918 - 1919
1941 - 1947
1950 - 1951
Country  United States
Allegiance  Rhode Island
Branch Army
Type SDFBranchInsigniaColor.jpg  State defense force
Role Military reserve force
Size 18 companies (World War I)
1 regiment (World War II)
Part of Rhode Island Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs
Garrison/HQ Providence, RI
World War I equipment .38 revolvers
1,100 Springfield rifles
250 Krag–Jørgensen rifles
Civilian Leadership Governor of Rhode Island
State Military Leadership Adjutant General of the State of Rhode Island

The Rhode Island State Guard is the currently inactive state defense force of Rhode Island. As a state defense force, the Rhode Island State Guard served as a state military unit which assumed the stateside duties of the Rhode Island National Guard when the National Guard was in federal service. However, unlike the National Guard, the State Guard, when organized, answers solely to the Governor of Rhode Island and by law cannot be federalized or deployed outside the borders of Rhode Island.


History of predecessor units[edit]

Prior to the creation of the National Guard of the United States, the United States maintained a small professional army which, in times of war, would be supplemented by volunteer militia units raised by individual states. During the American Revolutionary War, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was raised to serve in the Continental Army. Rhode Island raised multiple units to fight for the Union Army during the American Civil War. During the Spanish–American War, the 1st Regiment, Rhode Island Volunteers, was mustered into federal service but did not see combat.

World War I[edit]

The Militia Act of 1903 federalized state militias and placed them under federal control. When the National Guard was deployed abroad during World War I, states were forced to raise replacement units to provide homeland security capabilities. During World War I, Rhode Island raised 18 companies of State Guard, composed of 100 men each, and established a headquarters and supply company, a machine-gun detachment and a sanitary detachment.[1]

In order to equip the State Guard, the state purchased .38 revolvers from private dealers, and obtained five hundred .45 caliber Springfield rifles and two hundred fifty .30 caliber Krag–Jørgensen rifles from the federal government. The state also possessed an additional six hundred .45 caliber Springfield rifles.[2]

World War II[edit]

The State Guard was reactivated in 1940, reaching the size of one regiment.[2] The Rhode Island State Guard reached a strength of over 1,300 men during the war.[1] Rhode Island also formed the Rhode Island State Guard Reserve during the war.

Korean War[edit]

On the onset of the Korean War, several states, including Rhode Island, reactivated their state defense forces at cadre strength as a safeguard against the possibility of their National Guard units being federalized.[1]

Cold War[edit]

The Rhode Island State Guard was reactivated in 1987 and renamed the Rhode Island State Defense Force. By 1990, it consisted of only three members.[3]

Legal status[edit]

State defense forces are given legal recognition by the federal government under Title 32, Section 109 of the United States Code.[4] The authority to maintain independent chartered military organizations separate of the National Guard is recognized under Rhode Island Law.[5]

Chapter 30-5, section 30-5-5 of the Rhode Island General Laws allows the Governor of Rhode Island to call and organize portions of the unorganized militia whenever he or she deems it necessary, and requires him or her to do so when the Rhode Island National Guard is in federal service.[6]

Legal protection[edit]

Under Rhode Island law, no employer may fire an employee due to the employee's membership in the Rhode Island State Guard, or due to their obligation to perform military service, or attempt to hinder their ability to perform military service. Nor may employers threaten or otherwise insinuate that an employee will suffer repercussions from the employer as a result of his or her service with the Rhode Island State Guard. Any employer or agent of an employer who is guilty of these offenses is guilty of a misdemeanor offense.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Tulenko, Thomas; Chase, Bradley; Dupuy, Trevor N.; Hayes, Grace P. (March 1981). "US Home Defense Force Study" (PDF). California Military Museums. Historical Evaluation and Research Organization. Retrieved 12 December 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Stentiford, Barry M. (2002). The American Home Guard: The State Militia in the Twentieth Century. Texas A&M University Press. pp. 50, 267. ISBN 1585441813. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "State Volunteers Replace Activated Guardsmen". The Washington Post. 24 December 1990. Retrieved 13 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "32 U.S. Code § 109 - Maintenance of other troops". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "§ 30-1-4 Classes of militia". State of Rhode Island General Assembly. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "§ 30-5-5 Organization of reserve units for active duty". State of Rhode Island General Assembly. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Chapter 30-11-2 - Discrimination in employment against members of militia". Justia. Retrieved 24 November 2017.