#Lookback: Historical Roots of the Wyoming National Guard

A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

One month after the territorial government of Wyoming was formed in 1869, Native American raids in the Wind River Valley and the South Pass mining district clarified the need for a territorial militia. Governor John Campbell in March of 1870 created three militia districts authorized to organize a regiment from among its citizens. During the second Legislative Assemble that convened in Cheyenne on November 7, 1871, Governor Campbell spoke of the “imperative necessity that exists for the passage of a militia law.” The legislature passed a militia law on December 13, 1871, which gave legal sanction to the formation of volunteer militia companies of not less than 40 men. The governor was designated the commander in chief of the militia with the power to call the militia for the reason of  “repelling invasion, preventing insurrection, suppressing riots, aiding the civil authorities in executing the laws, and preventing Indian depredation.” The state legislature appropriated $600 for the State militia.

In Lander, the Pushroot Rangers, also known as the Wyoming Rangers, were organized as a volunteer militia in 1876 and petitioned the governor for arms and ammunition. The State Constitution which was approved in 1889 provided for a State militia to “consist of all able-bodied male citizens of the State between the ages of 18 and 45 years; except such as are exempted by the laws of the United States or of the State. But all such citizens having scruples of conscience averse to bearing arms.”

The recognized companies of 1891 had a total membership of 287 men in Laramie, Cheyenne, Buffalo, Rock Springs, Green River, and Douglas. In November of 1893, a new company was mustered up in Lander and given the designation of Company B.

In 1897, the legislature formalized the dress uniforms for the Militia officers which would be the same as prescribed for officers of the US Army. All officers had to provide their own arms, uniforms, and equipment. Buttons, belt plates, and collar insignia would contain the word “Wyo”.

In 1904, 287 officers and guard members from all over the state participated in an encampment on the edge of Casper in the CY pasture. The encampment lasted 10 days. Company B of Lander and the Lander Coronet Band marched the entire way to get to the encampment 150 miles each way.

In 1916 Company B of Lander was called into service to potentially defend the Mexican border from raids by Pancho Villa during WWI. The boys were sent to Fort Russell now F.E. Warren Airforce base. In a snafu, the US Army issued underwear to the men that were either much too big or much too small. Company B held a demonstration where they burned some of the ill-fitting BVDs and then dyed the remaining underwear pink and put them on over their uniforms. Nearly 100 enlisted men from Company B started marching to Camp Kendrick in Cheyenne in their pink BVDs. Company B officers were not amused by this demonstration, but the boys enjoyed their impromptu parade.

Company B did go to the border and chased Villa in Mexico in what was dubbed the” Punitive Expedition” before being sent to France in 1917 to fight in WWI.

Next up for the Fremont County Museums

September 26th Noon at the Pioneer Museum “Apple Pie Baking Contest”

              Baily Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

Consider supporting The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander, or the Riverton Museum with a monetary donation. The museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector to continue to provide quality programs, collections management, exhibits, and services that have become their hallmark. Please make your tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.  

Related Posts

Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?