48th Annual Reunion of the 17th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, at General William Tecumseh Sherman's Birthplace, Lancaster, Ohio, September 26, 1928.
By the 1820s and 1830s, the militias of most states were in decline. The U.S. Army increasingly relied upon volunteers or draftees to create a sufficient fighting force to serve with the soldiers in the regular army. The infantry units from Ohio came to be known as Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Typically, volunteers formed their own units and initially elected their own commanders. Often, the officers and men had no formal military training. Quite commonly the men in a company or even an entire regiment came from a single town or county.
The Ohio Volunteer Infantry first fought in the U.S.-Mexican War. They also participated in the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
Following the Spanish-American War, men could still volunteer for military duty. However, they were incorporated into the regular army and no longer served in the state volunteer infantry. Under this new system, volunteers served under well-trained officers and alongside veteran soldiers. This method helped create confidence in the less experienced or untrained volunteers.