The Georgia Militia existed from 1733 to 1879. It was originally planned by General James Oglethorpe prior to the founding of the Province of Georgia, the British colony that would become the state of Georgia. One reason for the founding of the colony was to act as a buffer between the Spanish settlements in Florida and the British colonies to the north. For background with respect to the region’s Native Americans, see the Yamasee War (1715–1717).
Gordon Smith states, “… ‘ante-bellum’ Georgia was in an almost constant swirl of ‘war or rumors of war’.” This was due to the presence of Tories, Indians, bandits, privateers and border disputes with France and Spain. “Central to the American concept of a republican democracy, composed as it was of citizen-soldiers, the militia system was essential to the political and social structure. The basic building blocks at the bottom of the Georgia Militia pyramid were the general militia districts. Established pursuant to the Militia act of 1784, these theoretically contained one company of at least sixty-three men…the governor as commander-in-chief.” “The General Militia Acts of 1803, 1807, and 1818 directed that all district male residents from eighteen to forty-five years old, except those exempted by laws such as ministers, enrol in their district company and perform regularly scheduled drills, at the designated unit muster ground.” Campaigns included the Oconee Wars, 1787-1797, The Embargo Wars, 1807-1812, The War of 1812, 1812-1815, The First Seminole War, 1817-1819, The Second Seminole War, 1835-1843, The Creek War of 1836, 1836-1837, The Cherokee Disturbances and Cherokee Removal, 1836-1838, and The Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.
Three brigades of Georgia militia under the command of Brigadier General Pleasant J. Philips engaged Union forces on November 22, 1864, near Macon, Georgia, in the Battle of Griswoldville, the first battle of Sherman’s March to the Sea. On April 16, 1865, in response to Wilson’s Raid through Alabama, Georgia forces under the command of Brigadier General Robert C. Tyler engaged union force in the Battle of West Point. The desperate Battle of Columbus (1865), fought the same day, would prove to be the last battle of the American Civil War.