Neha Patil (Editor)

Massachusetts National Guard

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Notable commander
John Winthrop

"The Nation's First!"

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England (1636-1707) Great Britain (1707-1776)  United States (1776-Present)

United States  Massachusetts

United States Army  United States Air Force National Guard of the United States

Federal Reserve Force State Militia (Militia Act of 1903)

World War II, Operation Enduring Freedom

Army National Guard, National Guard of the Unite, New York Army National, New Jersey Army Nati, Air National Guard


The Massachusetts National Guard was founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia on December 13, 1636, and contains the oldest units in the United States Army. It is currently headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base and commanded by Major General L. Scott Rice.


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Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are trained and equipped as part of the United States Army and Air Force, identical ranks and insignias are utilized. National Guardsmen are eligible for all US military awards in addition to state awards. Soldiers and Airmen are held to the same uniform, physical fitness, and marksmanship standards as their Active Duty counterparts.

Massachusetts National Guard Massachusetts National Guard commander Paul G Smith of Ashburnham

Deployed massachusetts national guard members send condolences to boston families

Organization and Missions

Massachusetts National Guard National Guard supports 2015 Boston Marathon Article The United

The Massachusetts National Guard is organized into an Army National Guard and an Air National Guard component. Officers in the Guard hold two commissions - one from the Governor of Massachusetts and the other from the President of the United States. This emphasizes the Guard's dual role as both and state and national military force.

In its mission as a state organization, the National Guard can be called on by the Governor to assist in national disasters and public safety emergencies. In its national role, the National Guard can be mobilized for active service with the United States Armed Forces. Units of the Massachusetts National Guard have been mobilized during the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Gulf War, the War in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Massachusetts National Guard Massachusetts Guard complex gets new lease on life gt National Guard

The National Guard is technically commanded by the Governor who is assisted by the State Adjutant General when not Federalized, who holds the rank of Major General.

National Guard members, as with all other Reserve Components, train one weekend a month and conducts Annual Training (15-30 days).

The Massachusetts State Defense Force (MSDF) is state military force which can be mobilized by the governor to augment the National Guard. The MSDF is composed of former members of the United States Armed Forces who live in Massachusetts and serve on a voluntary basis unless called to active duty. The MSDF's three major specialties are administrative support, professional support and medical support.

Colonial Era

While December 13, 1636 is often cited as the "birthday" of the National Guard, it was on that day that the Massachusetts militia was organized into three regiments. Prior to that date, each town had its own militia company (also known as "trained bands") which was commanded by an officer with the rank of captain. The militia companies were nominally under the command of the colonial governor, but, in practice, operated as independent units. The regimental organization did much to improve the organization and leadership of the militia.

During King Philip's War (1675-1678), 25 of New England's 90 towns were attacked and pillaged by native tribal warriors and a further 17 colonial towns such as Springfield and Scituate were burnt to the ground. Approximately 3,000 colonists perished. A colonial force of about 1,000 militiamen (mostly from Massachusetts but also from Plymouth Colony and Connecticut) fought a brutal and punishing campaign of reprisal which resulted in the deaths of about 6,000 Native Americans and thousands more being sold into slavery in the West Indies. This war was the bloodiest, in terms of the percentage of the population that died in it, in American history. More than 10% of the total population (native and colonial) of New England perished. The economic, social, and political consequences of King Philip's War (named after the Wampanoag sachem that led them) would echo into the following centuries.

As time progressed, larger towns would usually have more than one militia company and the companies of adjacent towns would be organized into regiments commanded by colonels. The regiments, in turn, were organized into brigades commanded by brigadier generals.

In 1692 Plymouth Colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and its militia became part of the Massachusetts Militia.

American Revolution

Prior to the American Revolution, Massachusetts' armed citizens were organized into two major elements. There was the "regular" militia which consisted of all white males age 16 to 60, and the Minutemen who were better trained and equipped and who could react more quickly to an emergency - theoretically on a minute's notice.

In the early morning hours of April 19, 1775, the militia company of Lexington, commanded by Captain John Parker, confronted British forces heading to Concord to search for stores of munitions. This led to the "shot heard round the world" and the beginning of the American Revolution. While the Lexington militia retreated in the face of superior British forces, militiamen continuously engaged the British as they retreated from Concord back to Boston later the same day.

After the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Massachusetts militia units were called into service, along with militia units from New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, to form the Army of Observation whose purpose was to ensure that the British did not travel to locations outside of Boston which they occupied. The Army of Observation fought the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775.

General George Washington assumed command of the Army of Observation at Cambridge in July 1775 and the militia units then became units in the newly formed Continental Army. Massachusetts regiments were a major component of the Continental Army throughout the Revolution.

War of 1812

After the British seizure of Eastport and Castine, Maine in 1814 there was great concern that the British would attack other cities on the New England coast. Massachusetts militia units were called into service to reinforce coastal fortifications protecting Boston and other locations.

Militia Law of 1840

The Massachusetts Militia Law of 1840 brought significant changes to the Massachusetts Militia. The first change was that it drew a distinction between the enrolled militia and the volunteer militia. The enrolled militia was simply a list of able bodied men age 18 to 45 which would only be called upon in time of war. There was no military training requirement for members of the enrolled militia.

The volunteer militia, named the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (MVM) were those individuals who joined MVM and conducted regular training. The MVM was organized into three divisions with two brigades each. Each brigade consisted for two or three regiments. Regiments were organized into companies which would be from one or more municipalities.

Mexican War

During the Mexican War the Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers was formed. It served from January 1847 to July 1848. Its first commander was former congressman and future United States attorney general Caleb Cushing.

American Civil War

At the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, Massachusetts Militia units were mobilized to serve in the Union Army. From April to December 1864 at total of 27 Unattached Companies Massachusetts Volunteer Militia were called to active service to garrison coast defense forts in Massachusetts. Most of these companies were drawn from existing units of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. Terms of service ranged from 90 days to one year and all of the companies had been demobilized by July 1865.

Spanish American War

During the Spanish-American war six Massachusetts Volunteer Militia regiments were called into Federal service between May and July 1898. The regiments were the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th infantry regiments and the 1st Heavy Artillery regiment.

The 2nd, 8th and 9th regiments engaged in combat in Cuba and the 6th saw action in Puerto Rico. All units were demobilized by May 1899.

Dick Act of 1903

The Dick Act of 1903 brought into being the National Guard in its current form. In exchange for federal funding, state militia units could join the National Guard with the obligation to serve in the event of a federal emergency.

The name National Guard was applied to units receiving Federal financing and subject to Federal mobilization and regulation. The primary result of the Dick Act was that the state militias were transformed into better trained, better equipped and more professional military forces.

The National Defense Act of 1916 built upon the Dick Act by requiring National Guard units to increase their number of annual training assemblies (commonly called "drills") from 24 to 48 and the number of annual training days from 5 to 15.

The result of these reforms is that when National Guard units were called into Federal service during the First World War, they were better prepared than their forbearers in previous wars.

World War I

During the First World War, the 26th Division (nicknamed the "Yankee Division") was formed from units of Massachusetts National Guard. The division spent 210 days in combat and participated in the St. Mihele and Muese-Argonne offensives. Additionally, Guard units were mobilized for coastal defense at forts in the Boston and New Bedford areas.

World War II

As in the First World War, Massachusetts National Guard units were called into Federal service. Most units were either in the 26th Infantry Division (United States) or the 242nd Coast Artillery Regiment. The 181st Infantry Regiment served as a coastal patrol unit in Massachusetts and other locations in New England.

Post World War II

The Massachusetts Army National Guard reorganized in 1946 after five years of active duty. The 26th Infantry Division was the largest unit; however, there were now two major non-divisional units in the state: the 182d Infantry Regimental Combat Team and the 104th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade. The Guard was still in the process of rebuilding when the Korean War broke out in June 1950. The 26th Division was considered for active duty, but eight non-divisional units were ordered into active duty as part of the Army’s expansion instead.

During the Vietnam era (1965-1972) service in the National Guard was used by tens of thousands of men as a means of avoiding being drafted into the active Army and, probably, being sent to fight in Vietnam. While this enabled the National Guard to fill its personnel requirements there was a diminishing of readiness as many members of the Guard had a low level of motivation for military service.

In the early 1980s the National Guard received more Federal funding and evolved into a better trained, better equipped and more professional force. The National Guard was in a high state of readiness when units were activated to serve in the Gulf War of 1990 to 1991.

The end of the Cold War resulted in force restructuring and reductions. As a result, the Army decided to downsize the 26th Infantry Division into a brigade, and put it under the command of the 29th Infantry Division. On 1 September 1993, the division was inactivated, and the 26th Infantry Brigade remained in its place, based in Springfield. The 3rd and 43rd brigades, 26th Infantry Division were inactivated, and the 86th Infantry Brigade was put under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division. On 1 October 1995, the brigade was formally designated the 26th Brigade, 29th Infantry Division. In 2004, the 26th Brigade transitioned into the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Post 9/11 Era

Numerous Massachusetts National Guard units have been called into Federal service to serve in both Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2001 to the present and in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

In 2005 the 26th Infantry Brigade was reorganized into the 26th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division. In 2008, the 26th IBCT was reorganized as the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), a combat support brigade, located at Camp Curtis Guild, MA.

Units of the Massachusetts Army National Guard

Major units of the Massachusetts Army National Guard include the following:

  • 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
  • 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment
  • 101st Field Artillery Regiment (1636)
  • 101st Engineer Battalion (1636)
  • 101st Infantry Regiment (1798)
  • 126th Aviation Regiment
  • 151st Regional Support Group
  • 164th Transportation Battalion
  • 181st Infantry Regiment (1636)
  • 182nd Infantry Regiment (1636)
  • 211th Military Police Battalion (1741)
  • D Company, 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion
  • Camp Edwards in the Massachusetts Military Reservation, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is the major training site for Army National Guard units. Armories for the MA ARNG include Hudson Armory.

    Former Units
  • 102nd Field Artillery Regiment (United States) (Inactivated in 2006.)
  • 104th Infantry Regiment (United States) (Inactivated in 2005.)
  • 110th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
  • Historical Notes:

    The 104th Infantry Regiment was raised in 1639 as the Hampshire Regiment in Springfield, MA.

    The 101st Engineer Battalion (United States), 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 181st Infantry Regiment (United States) and 182nd Infantry Regiment (United States) are the oldest combat regiments in the United States Army.

    The 181st Infantry Regiment (United States), 182nd Infantry Regiment (United States), 101st Field Artillery Regiment and the 772nd Military Police Company are four of only twenty Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812.

    Massachusetts Air National Guard

    Otis Air National Guard Base and Barnes Air National Guard Base, are the major Massachusetts Air National Guard bases.

    Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives

    The Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives is located in the armory in Concord, Massachusetts (not the historic Concord Armory.)


    Massachusetts National Guard Wikipedia