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Ohio Militia

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<p>The Ohio Militia was formed in 1803. At that time, every state within the United States had its own militia. The militia existed to protect a state's residents from attack, whether it was from Native Americans, other countries, or internal revolts. Most states required able-bodied white men to participate in the militia. Age limits existed in all states, with most states requiring men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to participate in the militia.</p>
<p>The Ohio Militia played an important role in the state's early history. Militiamen helped United States soldiers subdue Ohio's Native Americans. During the War of 1812, the Ohio Militia helped defend the Northwestern United States from British invasion. Following this conflict, the Ohio Militia still existed, but it declined in importance. With the death of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, most Ohioans no longer faced major threats from the Native Americans. The United States also remained at peace with other nations until the Mexican War began in 1846. During this prolonged era of peace, Ohio's state government increasingly reduced funding to the militia to set aside money for other programs.</p>
<p>With the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861, Ohio Governor William Dennison dispatched George McClellan and Jacob Cox to the state arsenal in Columbus to investigate the guns and other supplies that Ohio had on hand to help equip the state's militia units. The two men found unusable muskets, cannons that were useless, and some assorted equipment. Despite the lack of equipment, Dennison encouraged Ohio communities to revive the militia system and form units that they would send to Columbus, the state capital. Dennison entrusted McClellan with command of these units, asking him to create a cohesive and professional force out of the volunteers. Most of these units formed the basis of Ohio Volunteer Infantry units, which the State of Ohio eventually provided to the United States government for the war against the South.</p>