Guard History


One hundred years before the Bill of Rights…long before Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence…before our 13 original colonies raised a flag, there were Americans fighting for freedom.

These brave Americans were not Soldiers by trade. They were everyday people: farmers, blacksmiths, doctors, and shopkeepers. But to protect their new homes in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they joined hands and formed militia units in times of common danger. They became known as the famous Minutemen – ordinary colonists who could be called upon at a minute’s notice to defend their colony.

It’s a proud heritage that includes the names of some of our proudest heroes: Paul Revere, Ethan Allen, and John Hancock. It also includes the names of 19 of our presidents, like Colonel George Washington, Captain Abraham Lincoln, and Captain Harry S Truman.

In 1787, a subject of extensive debate and compromise during the Constitutional Convention concerned the provisions for a National Guard. In the United States Constitution, the original language for the provision of a National Guard reads, in part:

“…to provide trained units and qualified persons available for active duty in the armed forces, in time of war or national emergency and at such other times as the national security requires, to fill the needs of the armed forces whenever, during, and after the period needed to procure and train additional units and qualified persons to achieve the planned mobilization, more units and persons are needed than are in the regular components.”

During the colonial period, the Guard was largely confined within the nation’s borders. Later in the 1800’s, other conflicts found the Guard contributing to the nation’s defense both at home and abroad. The Guard contributed greatly to United States participation in both World Wars. The Guard’s evolution continued in the years following the World War II, with participation in Korea, Vietnam, and in several Cold War mobilizations. Since its inception, the Guard has found a dramatically increasing role at home and throughout the world.

The spirit that empowered those settlers to become Citizen Soldiers is part of the Guard’s centuries-old heritage. They were the backbone of our fight for independence at Concord and Lexington. They camped with Washington at Valley Forge. They charged up Kettle Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and stormed the cliffs of Normandy. They marched through the jungles of Vietnam and the sands of Desert Storm. The Guard has participated in every United States conflict from the Pequot War of 1637 to current operations supporting the Global War on Terrorism.


For more National Guard history visit the National Guard Education Foundation or visit the New Jersey State Archives to view a collection of National Guard photos.


In World War I virtually the entire New Jersey National Guard was assigned to the 29th “Blue and Gray” Division, which was organized at Camp McClellan, located at Anniston, Alabama. There was one exception – the First Ambulance Company from Red Bank. That company was sent to Camp Mills at Mineola, New York and became part of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division.