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Immediately following the Revolutionary War, the territory which was to become Indiana was opened up, and free lands were offered to veterans of that war. They came by the thousands and established many towns, including Vincennes, Terre Haute, Greencastle and Indianapolis. Immediately, it became apparent that the citizens must be prepared to defend the settlements. In these days, there was an informal agreement that all-able-bodied men would come to the defense of the settlement, typically from natives, but sometimes from marauding outlaw bands. This informal arrangement for the defense of the early settlements of the Indiana Territory lasted until just before the Civil War.
In 1861, the Indiana Legion was organized with the stated mission of settling internal disorders, and repelling attacks from without. The Indiana Legion endured for almost 35 years and culminated with the establishment of the Indiana National Guard in 1895. Around 1910, the Liberty Guard was established, which was the first suggestion of an organization that could be construed as a precursor to the Indiana Guard Reserve came into being. This was a very informal organization to say the least; the members met sporadically, primarily for the purpose of social interaction. They participated as a unit only in parades, fairs and patriotic celebrations. At this time a relationship between the Indiana National Guard and the Liberty Guard did not exist, except for occasional overlapping of membership.
In November 1920 the Liberty Guard of Indiana was transformed into a more formal organization called the Indiana Civil Defense Force, which had a defined mission; for the first time there was a clear recognition of a need for a military contribution in the event the National guard was called into federal service. For the first time there was an effort, albeit not very successful, to provide more formal military training. The members of the Indiana Civil Defense Force were organized into brigades, battalions, and companies, in a structure which continued to exist almost without change until the Indiana Civil Defense Force was transformed into the Indiana State Guard on March 10, 1941, an organization which was to exist as an adjunct to the Indiana National Guard.
With the onset of World War II and the national shock caused by Pearl Harbor, the Indiana State Guard achieved new status and importance. An annual operating budget was made available; pay, although minimal, was also provided as was insurance coverage. Considerable equipment was allocated, including 2-1/2 ton cargo trucks, scout cars, ambulances, jeeps, .45 cal. revolvers, 1,738 M1917 Enfield rifles, as well as sub-machine guns, telephones, radio sets, and large amounts of medical supplies and other equipment. Uniforms were provided and training given by officers and NCOs from the National Guard and Army. Several of the topics covered included aircraft identification, poison gas protective measures, riot control, and drivers training for trucks and jeeps. The average strength of the Indiana State Guard was about 2,100 men and this remained fairly constant during the six years of its' existence, regardless of attrition occasioned by regular Army and National Guard enlistment. Altogether 10,577 men served before the Indiana State Guard was deactivated in 1947.
The Indiana Internal Security Corps was created in 1954. With no money to support it, little happened except the development of a roster of people who would be ready to serve in case the need arose. With no people on board, there could be little planning for activation should it occur. The Indiana Internal Security Corps was disbanded in 1957.
However, in 1956 the United States Congress revised the National Defense Act of 1916 to authorize "State defense forces" permanently under Title 32, Section 109, of the United States Code (32 U.S.C. § 109). Two years later, Congress amended the law and changed the name from "State defense forces" to "defense forces."
Finally, another attempt was made in 1961, by then Governor Matthew Welch and his Adjutant General, Brigadier General John Anderson, to develop a new, if not completely different military auxiliary organization. The new organization was designated the Indiana Guard Reserve (IGR) and has maintained a healthy involvement and fairly constant membership now for some 35+ years. It should be noted that it was very similar to the organization which preceded it, with one major exception; the word "state" was removed from the title in order to avoid any misconception that it was the Indiana State Guard which by Indiana law can only be activated if the National guard is mobilized for federal service.
The Indiana Guard Reserve was stipulated to have a number of duties to perform. It would become the Indiana State Guard if and when the National Guard was federalized. When the National Guard was federalized the Indiana Guard Reserve would take over the armories of the state and assume responsibility for all state property in these armories. It was also stipulated that the Indiana Guard Reserve would remain active and be trained to perform a number of other duties.
In summary, the mission of the Indiana Guard Reserve is to maintain, organize, and train military forces capable of timely and effective response; in support of orders from the Governor under all conditions prescribed by the civil statutes of Indiana; to provide military assistance to civil authorities under conditions of disaster or emergency and to assume the state's responsibilities of the Indiana National Guard upon their mobilization into federal military service. The mission has been expanded to include care and counseling for family members of the Indiana National Guard once they are federalized.
Condensed and revised from The Indiana Guard Reserve, by COL Felix Goodson(ret)
For more information on the history of the Indiana Guard Reserve, refer to the book The Indiana Guard Reserve, by COL Felix E. Goodson (ret). The book was published by The Indiana Guard Reserve Retired Association (TIGRRA).