North Carolina Militia and 
Home    Guard




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Colonial and early United States Period

          Unless excused by law, all white males between specified ages usually 16-18 to 45 - 50 years of age) were required to serve in the militia. Surviving militia records go back to the early 1700s. During that time, county regiments and local companies were known by their commanders’ names: Colonel Griffith’s Regiment, Capt. Daniel Simmon’s Company, etc. After the American Revolution, the state gave numerical designations to each regiment and required the men to attend formal drills on a set schedule, often six times each year: four company drills, one battalion drill and one regimental drill. The governor technically commanded the militia, but the state’s adjutant general handled all the administrative duties. There was no specified uniform for enlisted men.


Volunteer Militias

        As the Civil War approached, many energetic and highly motivated men joined local “volunteer militia” companies. This membership was in addition to their state service and not formally connected with the state government. These men often provided themselves with uniforms and were known by colorful company names: Brunswick Guards, Duplin Rifles, etc.


Home Guard

     In early 1863, a North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice, Richmond Pearson, disqualified the militia from Enforcing Confederate conscription. This ruling led Governor Vance and the legislature to create the North Carolina Guard for Home Defense (universally referred to as the “Home Guard”). Home Guard battalions and regiments were Organized and given numerical designations in the summer of 1863. Most North Carolina men who served in the Home Guard were also members of the militia. All of these men were excused from service in the Confederate army by virtue of their age, employment deferments, and physical disabilities or by their appointments as officers in the Militia, the Home Guard, or both. Thus by 1864, militia and Home Guard companies and regiments were very “Officer heavy” because the Confederate army had a large portion of the male population in its ranks.



An Act for the better Regulation of the Militia, and for other Purposes.

Whereas, the Militia of this Province requires to be well disciplined in their Duty, for the Defense of the Country against the common Enemy at this critical Juncture;


I. Be it Enacted by the Governor, Council and Assembly, and by the Authority of the same, That all Freemen and Servants within this Province, between the ages of Sixteen and Sixty, shall compose the Militia of this Province; and that the several Captains of the same shall, within three Months next after the Passing of this Act, and so annually, enroll the Names of all such Freemen and Servants, of which their several Companies shall consist, and return a Copy thereof to the Colonel of their respective Regiments... And that all Persons after having been so enrolled, appear at such Times and Places where they are ordered by the Colonel or Commanding Officer, there to be mustered, trained and exercised in Arms, and be provided with a well fixed Gun, and a Cartridge Box, and a Sword, Cutlass or Hanger, and have at least nine Charges of Powder and Ball, or Swan Shot, and three spare Flints...


        This is just a brief discussion of the clothing, arms and equipment necessary for properly outfitting the prospective re-enactor and a list of reliable suppliers of the same.


          The N.C. State Militia & Home Guard most often portrays the Civil War years and the years leading up to the war: 1840-1865. Some of our members also participate in programs involving the years from 1770 through the early 1800’s.


       Many of the clothing items, weapons and accoutrements used by the militiamen of the 19th century are available to us from modern day suppliers. A partial list of these “sutlers” is provided to your right.


         In outfitting ourselves as re-enactors of the N.C. State Militia it is important to remember that some items available to militiamen of 1865 were not available prior to 1840. Naturally, there were items that were common in the 1840’s and remained in use, to some extent, through the mid 1860’s. For example, Fall-front trousers were common during the late 18th century, but gradually gave way to the 1840’s button-fly trousers. Today, appropriately styled fall-front and button-fly trousers in various colors and materials are available from $40 to $75.


        The 19th century saw little transformation in the shirt styles. The common work shirt worn in earlier periods differed little from that of the mid 1860’s. The loose fitting, blousy-sleeved shirt with a single or multi-button closure was popular for mot of the Victorian period. These shirts can be purchased today for $25 to $50.


        In addition to the shirt and trousers, you will need a hat and appropriate footwear. Simple, wool felt, broad brimmed hat or Amish-style straw hats make good choices fro our impression. The round hat of wool felt is more durable and is currently available for $30 to $60.


       Footwear is more expensive and there area few options from which to choose. Shoes range from $80 to $150 while period boots cost from $175 to about $400. From early 1800’s, the low cut, round toed, black leather, lace-up shoe was common. The brogan, a half boot type work shoe was popular before and during the American Civil War. Boots were less common through the period. They were as expensive then as they are now.


       During the 19th Century. Men did not appear in public in shirtsleeves (or without a hat.) Thus, a mid 19th century vest is a “must have” item and was considered to be the first layer of outer clothing. A light-weight vest is comfortable under a light coat or jacket during the summer and is an added layer of warmth in the winter. A simple vest costs approximately $40.


       Like vests, coats of the 1840 to 1860 style will be the best choice. Prices range from $50 to $200. Hunting coats and Short Jackets of the 1840’s cost about $50 to $100.


      Most clothing items can be home made using patterns available for about $15.00 each. Fabrics consisting of natural fibers are the best choice.


      After acquiring the basic clothing, accoutrements will be the next in importance. A haversack or hunting bag (over the shoulder bags) made of cotton, canvas, or linen ($10-$20) plus a canteen or water bottle ($30 or less) should be the next purchase. Items which were carried in the haversack include a tin plate or wooden bowl, tin cup, fork, spoon, pen knife, tooth brush, comb and pencil: all of which can be purchased for a total of under $30.


       Mid-19th century military and civilian ordnance items (weapons, cartridge boxes, hunting bags, waist belts, should belts, etc.) were used by the militia. These items can be the most expensive aspect of getting started in the hobby. However, the costs need not be prohibitive. By looking at the weapons we display, talking over the choices with our members and reading some of the resources available, these purchases will not be out of reach. Mid-19th century shotguns and muskets cost between $350 and $700.


       Persons interested in joining our group will be allowed eighteen months or longer, if necessary to acquire their equipment. “Loaner” equipment will also be available to new members. Always check with one or more of our experiences members before making any purchase. There are many unauthentic or period incorrect items available on the market. For some of the best 19th reproduction items available in the hobby, see theses suppliers:

Militia Suppliers


James Townsend and Sons,  Middlesex Village Trading Co 

Dixie Gun Works

Mercury Sutler  Blockade Runner   Village Tinsmith