• A Brief History of the Georgia National Guard


    Georgia's long and rich military history began in England in the early 1730s. Under the direction of London aristocrat, Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, the future colonists were trained by Sergeants of the Guard. Soon after settling Georgia in 1733, now General Oglethorpe's militia, along with his British regulars were called upon to drive Spanish invaders from the colony's shores at the battle of Bloody Marsh, 7 July 1742.
    Georgia's militia forces joined with General George Washington to secure American independence. At Fort Morris near Sunbury, Georgia, General John McIntosh responded to a British demand for surrender with the spirit which exemplified Georgia's military forces throughout the decades: "We would rather perish in a vigorous defense than accept your proposal sir," wrote McIntosh. "We sir, are fighting the battle of America and therefore disdain to remain neutral til its fate is determined. As to surrendering the Fort receive this reply, Come and take it!"

    Patriotic volunteer militia highlighted the frontier period of the new state. Men of the "Georgia Battalion" aided Texas in its fight for independence from Mexico in 1836. That same year, the Macon Volunteers, among other militia companies, volunteered to help remove the Seminole Indians from Florida and engaged Osceola at the Withlacoochee swamp during the second Seminole War.

    In the War Between the States Georgia responded by filling volunteer regiments, battalions, and batteries, numbering 130, second in number only to Virginia. Georgia troops fought in both the Eastern and Western theaters, and state defense militia tried desperately to stem Sherman's juggernaut 'March to the Sea' after the burning of Atlanta.

    Following Reconstruction and the reestablishment of a state military force in late 19th century, Georgia Guardsmen trained and prepared for service both domestically and abroad. In 1898, Georgia raised 3,000 troops for the Spanish-American War effort, the last major conflict prior to the dawning of the Georgia Guard's modern era. This new modern era began in 1903 with the designation of the militia as the "National Guard" and the end of the separate Black Militia. As Georgia National Guardsmen, the state's military forces were called on innumerable times to quell domestic disturbances -- for the most part sparked by labor strikes -- assist in carrying out court mandated death sentences or aid in recovery from natural disaster.

    In 1916, Georgia National Guardsmen deployed to the Mexican border as American troops under General John J. Pershing hunted the Mexican bandit chief, Pancho Villa who had been raiding U.S. settlements.

    A year later, 1917, Georgia boys were "over there" fighting for victory in the Great War in Europe. The 151st Machine Gun Battalion of the Georgia National Guard became part of the 42nd 'Rainbow' Division and experienced 167 days in combat with the enemy.

    Some 23 years later, (1940) the Georgia National Guard, as was the National Guard of every state, mobilized for one year ostensibly for training. "Goodbye dear, I'll be back in a year" was a popular tune of the day as Guardsmen left their homes throughout Georgia, but before they could return Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered the war. During World War II, Georgia Army National Guardsmen as part of the 30th and 8th Infantry Divisions, served with distinction in France, landing there just after D-Day. In Italy Georgia Air Guardsmen flew bombing runs; and in the Pacific Georgia Guardsmen fought on Guadalcanal, New Guinea and many other areas.

    Following the war, the Georgia Army and Air National Guard was reorganized. In the 1950s Georgia Air National Guardsmen were activated for the Korean Conflict and again in the 1960s and 1970s, Air National Guardsmen were called upon to fly airlift missions into South Vietnam.

    In 1990-1991, more than 5,000 Georgia Army and Air National Guardsmen were mobilized to serve during the Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. More than 700 of the Georgia men and women called to active service saw service in Saudi Arabia while others served in the United States in a variety of missions.

    Today's Georgia National Guard is part of the total force policy and trains to fight and to win on today's battlefields with the technology and weaponry of tomorrow; they carry on the historic tradition of yesterday's Georgia militia and National Guard.