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Kansas State Guard


The organization of the Kansas State Guard was authorized by the Governor on February 15, 1918. During the preceding year there had existed in the state a civilian organization known as the Home Guard, a brief history of which is set out in the foregoing pages. A number of causes led to the abolishment of the Home Guard and its reorganization as the Kansas State Guard. Principal among these causes was the absence of statutory authority for the maintenance of such a force in the state. Questions relative to authority and police power of officers and organizations of the Home Guard were constantly confronting the state officials, and with no definite authority of law for the existence of the organization, these officials were often placed in an embarrassing position in solving the problems submitted to them. The control of each unit by a committee composed of civilians, whose interest in many cases was either merely passive or wholly lacking, led to dissatisfaction and inactive organizations. It was believed that through a reorganization the weak companies of the Home guard might be disbanded and the active units formed into an organization of value to the state and community.

The original draft of the reorganization plan submitted to the Adjutant General provided for the organization of two infantry regiments of twelve companies each, organization of the regiment, to conform to the peace-time organization of like units of the Regular Army. Provision was made for physical examination of applicants for commission and enlistment in the new force and the rejection of those not physically qualified for active service. So far as possible, requirements for membership and commission and the obligation of the officers and enlisted men were made to conform to regulations governing the National Guard of the state as it existed prior to entry into United States service. It was desired, if possible, to establish a force which might be at some later date easily converted as a National Guard organization. The proposal to limit the number of units of State Guard to be organized, and the requirements for membership, failed to meet the approval of the Adjutant General, and a compromise plan was adopted, providing for the organization of an unlimited number of battalions and separate companies, with no requirement for membership other than that the applicant be a citizen of the United States over the age of eighteen. The organization plan finally adopted and approved by the Governor is set out in Executive Order No. 1, dated February 15, 1918, reading as follows:

TOPEKA, February 15, 1918.
Executive Order No. 1.

1. Executive order of this office, bearing date of August 5, 1917, is hereby revoked, and the following substituted therefor:

2. The Kansas State Guard shall be subject to the call of the Governor for active service within the state, and shah be organized and maintained under the following conditions:

(a) OBJECT. The object of the formation of the Kansas State Guard shall be to promote, develop and foster loyalty and patriotism for flag and country; to furnish elementary military training and knowledge to its members for the purpose of enabling them to enter the service in defense of the country when called upon to do so, and to aid and assist in the federal military service locally in such matters as the promotion of enlistments; the raising and distributing of funds for military purposes; to form, constitute and act as a constabulary force in and for the state, county or city in which organized; to perform services for the nation, state or municipality in the protection of property and persons.

(b) ORGANIZATION. Authority for organization of a unit of the Kansas State Guard will be given by the Adjutant General. Whenever it is deemed advisable to organize a company or other unit of the Kansas State Guard, the sheriff of the county, the mayor of the city of the first or second class, or any reliable citizen of the county or city in which it is desired to organize such unit, shall make application to the Adjutant General for authority to organize, setting out in such application the approximate number of applicants for membership in such organization, a statement of the probable moral and financial support to be, given to the organization by the community, and such other facts as will be of value in determining the advisability of the organization.

(c) DESIGNATION. If deemed advisable by the Adjutant General, units of the Kansas State Guard may be grouped into battalions of four companies. Such battalion shall be designated by number, and the companies comprising such battalion shall be designated by letters, A, B, C and D. Additional companies may be attached to such battalions for administrative purposes, such attached companies to be designated by letters, E, F, G, etc. Separate companies not comprising a part of, or attached to, a battalion shall be designated by letters A, B, C, etc., followed by the name of the county or city in which organized.

(d) MEMBERSHIP. Every loyal male citizen of the United States over the age of eighteen years shall be eligible to membership in the Kansas State Guard: Provided, That such membership shall be in a unit whose station is within the county of the applicant's residence.

(e) OFFICERS. There shall be commissioned by the Governor one Major, commanding officer of each battalion, and in addition thereto, for each battalion, one Captain (adjutant), one Captain (supply officer), and one Captain (surgeon). In each company there shall be commissioned one Captain, one First Lieutenant, and one Second Lieutenant.

(f) ORGANIZATION OF COMPANIES. It is recommended that companies be organized with the following personnel:

1 Captain, commanding.
1 First Lieutenant.
1 Second Lieutenant.
1 First Sergeant.
1 Quartermaster Sergeant.
4 Sergeants.
6 Corporals.
2 Cooks.
2 Musicians.
1 Artificer.
48 Privates.

68 Total.

(g) EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. The sheriff of the county or the mayor of the city of the first or second class in which a unit or units of the Kansas State Guard are located shall be ex officio chairman of an executive committee, which shall have charge, under supervision of the Adjutant General, of all financial and administrative affairs of the units represented on such committee.

(h) Regular meetings of each organization of the Kansas State Guard shall be held at least four times each month, on such dates and at such hours and places as may be designated by the executive committee. Special meetings may be called at any time.

(i) Attention is called to the state and federal laws prohibiting unauthorized organizations to bear arms, and emphasizing the necessity of obtaining authority of the Governor before armed organizations can be allowed.

(j) Such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this order shall be published from time to time by The Adjutant General in the form of orders, circulars, memoranda, etc.

ARTHUR CAPPER, Governor of Kansas.

The state's interest in the new organization was immediately reflected in the various communities of the state. Men active in public affairs throughout the state gave to the organization their heartiest support and encouragement. Public meetings were held in hundreds of towns of the state and scores of companies were immediately recruited. In many instances the muster-in of the new companies was made a public ceremony of importance in the community. Chambers of commerce, community clubs and similar bodies pledged their moral and financial support to the organization, and funds were raised by popular subscription for the purchase of uniforms for many companies. Notwithstanding an opinion of the attorney-general that such action was contrary to law, county commissioners in a number of counties voted public funds for purchase of equipment for units of the State Guard. Instances of this character are cited as an evidence of the enthusiasm with which the organizations were supported in many communities of the state.

In the judgment of those interested in reorganization of the Horne Guard, it was believed probable that approximately fifty companies of State Guard could be organized in the state. This number of organizations was recruited within a few days after organization was authorized. The hundred mark was soon passed. In all, 281 companies of State Guard were organized, with an average membership per company of sixty-five men. It is probable that during the existence of the State Guard, from its organization on February 15, 1918. to its muster-out on November 11 of the following year, at least 20,000 men served in the organization. The numerous organizations and large personnel made it impossible for the state headquarters, with the few clerks authorized for the work, to administer the organization in the manner necessary to secure the best results. A great number of the organizations were uniformed at personal or public expense. Weekly drills, by company or battalion, were held. Men anticipating induction into United States service under the selective-service law joined the organization in order to benefit by such military instruction as might be imparted by its officers. The desire to take an active part in patriotic movements in their community induced many men to join the organization. In the public mind, every citizen was expected to become active in some war work, and the State Guard offered to many citizens the opportunity of giving public testimony of their patriotism. In peace time, an organization of this character, offering no financial returns for the time devoted to its activities, would probably have failed in the initial stages of its development. The entire character and viewpoint of the people of the state was so changed by the war that little was required to stir them into a patriotic fervor, the only outlet for which was to join some organization engaged in warlike activities.

Lack of military equipment greatly hampered the organizations in their desire to assume a military appearance and to give color to the organization's claim of being state troops. Innumerable inquiries were received at the state headquarters relative to the possibility of securing arms for the various companies. The Russian revolution left the United States ordnance department with several million military rifles on hand, manufactured under orders from the imperial government, the shipment of which had been held up pending establishment of a stable government in that country. Information having been received from the War Department that these rifles were available for issue to Home and State Guard organizations of the various states, requisition was forwarded to Washington, and 1,273 rifles, with a large quantity of ammunition, were received by the state. A few of these rifles were shipped out to two or three companies of the State Guard as trial issues. It was later decided, however, that the better policy would be to hold the remainder of the shipment in original packing cases in the state arsenal, rather than to distribute the entire lot among the organizations. The Governor had assumed responsibility for the proper care and ultimate return of the rifles to the government, and it was found after a short trial that rifles furnished the organizations were in certain cases not given the care necessary to keep them in serviceable condition. A few months after the armistice, guns in the hands of organizations were recalled, and on April 30, 1919, the entire lot was returned to the government arsenal.

On May 4, 1918, authority was received from the War Department for the organization in Kansas of two regiments of National Guard infantry. Circular letters, setting out the requirements for organization and membership in the National Guard, were mailed out to all State Guard units, it being the desire of the department to recruit the National Guard from among the units of the State Guard then existing in the state. The War Department having announced that the newly organized National Guard units would not be called for service overseas, it was considered that many of the State Guard units would probably embrace the opportunity of entering the service of the state and nation as members of a military force recognized by the government and fully equipped and maintained at state and government expense. Much to the surprise and disappointment of those interested in the organization of the National Guard, the opportunity of entering the National Guard service met with little response from members of the State Guard units. in some localities of the state in which recruiting for the National Guard was begun there was evidence of an undercurrent of antagonism on the part of officers and enlisted men of the State Guard. Of the 281 companies of State Guard there were but six companies whose entire eligible membership was enlisted in the National Guard. The remaining units were mustered out on November 11, 1919, by order of the Governor.

The activities of the State Guard were confined to participation in weekly drills, patriotic parades, assistance in Liberty Loan, Red Cross and kindred "drives," instruction of men anticipating early induction into the army, and in a few cases to the furnishing of guard details for property protection. Other than such expense as was incurred for postage and clerical hire at state headquarters, and for the transportation of rifles and ammunition referred to in a preceding paragraph, the maintenance of the State Guard was without expense to the state. The duties performed were rendered voluntarily and without pay, and such expenses as were incurred by the organization were met by personal or community contributions.

The Governor's proclamation demobilizing the State Guard was signed on October 15, 1919, Copy of this proclamation, together with copies of orders from this office providing for the closing of records and affairs of the various units, the organization's participation in the Armistice Day celebration, and the designation of the official service button, follow: