Establishment of the West Virginia National Guard

Excerpts from Acts of the Legislature of West Virginia at its Nineteenth Regular Session, commencing January 9, 1889. Charleston: Moses W. Donnally, 1889.


AN ACT to amend, re-enact and reduce into one act chapters 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Code of West Virginia, second edition, relating to the militia.

[Passed February 22, 1889.]

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

1. All male citizens of this state between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, not expressly exempt by law, shall be subject to military duty and designated as the militia.

2. The active militia shall be organized as hereinafter mentioned, and designated as the West Virginia National Guard, and said guard shall be liable at all times to be ordered into active service, and shall first be called out by the commander-in-chief on all occasions for military service and may be by him turned over into the service of the United States, on requisition by the President, for services without the state, not exceeding three months in any one year. In time of war, invasion, rebellion, or riot, or reasonable apprehension thereof, or upon requisition by the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief may order out for active service, such further portion of the militia as he may deem necessary, designating the same by draft, if a sufficient number shall not volunteer, and may organize the same and appoint and commission officers thereof, and when so ordered out for service, the militia shall be subject to like regulations and receive from the state like compensation, as that prescribed for the army of the United States.

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13. The West Virginia National Guard shall consist of not exceeding twenty companies of infantry, which divided into regiments, shall constitute the West Virginia National Guard, and it shall not be lawful for anybody of men whatsoever, other than the regularly organized National Guard or militia or the troops of the United States, to associate themselves together as a military company or organization, or to parade in public with arms, in any city or town in the state, without the license of the governor therefor, which may at any time be revoked, nor shall it be lawful for any city or town to raise or appropriate any money towards arming, equipping, uniforming, or in any way supporting or sustaining or providing drill rooms or armories, for any such bodies of men.

Whoever offends against the provisions of this section or belongs to or parades with any such unauthorized body of men, with arms, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding the sum of twenty five dollars, or by imprisonment for a time not exceeding six months.

14. All enlistments shall be for five years, but any person who has received, or who is entitled to receive an honorable discharge from said Guard, by reason of expiration of term of service, may be re-enlisted for a term of two years.

All enlistments shall be made by signing duplicate enlistment papers, in such form as may be prescribed by the adjutant-general. One to be forwarded forthwith to him by the enlisting officer, and one to be filed with the records of the company, in which such enlistment is made. Every enlisting officer may administer the oath required upon enlistment. No enlistment shall be allowed of other than able-bodied male citizens of this state, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, residing within the county where the armory of the company is situated, or an adjoining county; except musicians and members of regimental bands, may be enlisted between the ages of sixteen and fifty years. No minor shall be enlisted without the written consent of his parent or guardian, and no uniform, allowance, pay or compensation shall be given by the state, to any enlisted man not certified by the surgeon, to be able- bodied, in accordance with the standards prescribed therefor by the surgeon-general.

15. The West Virginia National Guard shall constitute one brigade, under the command of a brigadier general appointed by the commander-in-chief with the consent of the senate. The brigadier general shall nominate on his staff an assistant adjutant general with the rank of lieutenant colonel, a brigade inspector, a brigade quartermaster, a brigade commissary and a brigade inspector of rifle practice, each with the rank of major; a medical director with the rank of lieutenant colonel, an engineer and signal officer with the rank of major, and two aid-de camps, each with the rank of captain. The medical director must be a graduate of a lawfully established medical college and have been in practice for at least five years, prior to date of appointment. The engineer and signal officer must be a civil engineer of at least three years standing, prior to date of appointment.

Provided, That if there should be any colored troops organized or in military service under the provisions of this chapter, said colored troops shall be enlisted and kept separate and apart from other troops, and shall be formed into separate companies and regiments.

The brigadier general may appoint and warrant two orderlies and one trumpeter, each with the rank of sergeant, who shall appear mounted on all days of review and parade, when so ordered by him.

16. Each regiment shall consist of ten companies and a regimental band, and the field officers shall consist of a colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major, all nominated by the line officers. Each colonel shall nominate on his staff an addjutant [sic] with the rank of captain, a quartermaster and a paymaster, each with the rank of first lieutenant, a surgeon with the rank of major, an assistant surgeon with the rank of first lieutenant, an inspector of rifle practice with the rank of captain, a signal officer with the rank of first lieutenant, and a chaplain who shall be commissioned without rank, but entitled to pay and allowance of an adjutant. The non-commissioned staff of a regiment shall consist of a sergeant major, a quartermaster sergeant, a commissary sergeant, a hospital steward, a chief trumpeter and a drum major, to be appointed by the colonel, and warranted by him.

17. In case of officers for whose appointment the consent of the senate is required, the commander-in- chief, during any recess of the senate, may make appointments which shall be valid till the further action of the senate thereon, or suspend from office, for cause, until an order of a court martial has been had thereon.

Each company shall consist of a captain, a first lieutenant and a second lieutenant, nominated by the company, a first sergeant, four sergeants, four corporals, one trumpeter and two musicians, all appointed by the commandant of the company, and not more than sixty-four nor less than thirty-two enlisted men. Each regimental band shall consist of not more than twenty nor less than twelve members, one of whom shall be appointed and warranted chief musician, with the rank of sergeant.

18. The commandant of such company shall, from the enlisted men, appoint its sergeants and corporals, but no warrant shall be issued to any person until he shall have passed a satisfactory examination in the tactics in the school of the soldier. The musicians of each company shall be appointed by its commander.

19. All persons serving five years consecutively in the active militia, shall be thereby entitled to an honorable discharge, exempting them from military duty thereafter, except in case of war, invasion, rebellion, riot, or reasonable apprehension thereof.

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23. The commander-in-chief shall maintain the West Virginia National Guard, by organizing new companies and bands and disbanding inefficient companies and bands, from time to time, as he shall deem expedient. Its system of discipline, exercise and administration, save as otherwise expressly provided in this act, shall conform as nearly as practicable to that prescribed from time to time for the army of the United States.

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Parades and Encampments.

38. The West Virginia National Guard shall parade for drill within this state, one day in the month of May and one day in the month of November of each year, by company or regiment, as ordered by the commander-in-chief, and encamp for drill and instruction six successive days, between the fifteenth day of July and the twentieth day of October, by regiment or brigade annually, as the commander-in-chief shall order.

The place of said encampments shall be designated by the commander in-chief. Orders for encampment shall be given at least fifteen days prior thereto, and for said parades at least three days prior thereto, by depositing the same in the mail, properly addressed to the person to be notified, or leaving the same at his usual place of abode, or reading the same in his hearing.

No member of the active militia shall be exempt or relieved from military duty by membership or service in any fire company.

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67. All acts and parts of acts inconsistent with this act are hereby repealed.

[Approved February 25, 1889.]


The foregoing act takes effect at the expiration of ninety days after its passage.

Military and Wartime