UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


South Carolina Army National Guard

The story of the South Carolina National Guard is history in the making. The citizen soldier has evolved through a proud, rich history that extends from 1670 -- when South Carolina was known as "Carolana" -- to our modern Military Department of South Carolina, Office of the Adjutant General. From the moment the first colonists set foot on the Carolina coast, in every war in which the United States has been involved, the South Carolina citizen soldier has faithfully fought for what has become the highest of American ideals -- freedom.

The SC Counterdrug Task Force provides military support to Law Enforcement Agencies in the conduct of counterdrug operations and supports Community-based Organizations in drug demand reduction activities within the State of SC. Two OH-58 helicopters modified for the counterdrug support mission; LEA-compatible hand-held radios; thermal imaging systems; night vision systems; hand-held LORAN & GPS devices; desktop and notebook computers; cellular telephones; pagers; etc.

The Armory Operations Program is responsible for the day to day operations and funds for the maintenance of 80 plus armories and their related buildings, totaling approximately TWO MILLION square feet under roof. Funding for operation and maintenance is well below average cost per square foot for state buildings. After utility costs are subtracted out, funds remaining for maintenance equate to $0.26 per square foot. Lack of adequate funding causes the quality of the facilities to decrease and increases the requirements for capital improvements. Lack of funding also prohibits this agency from matching defense dollars for capital improvements when such funds are available.

The South Carolina National Guard was tasked by the Governor through the South Carolina Emergency Operations Plan to be the primary coordinating agency for Urban Search & Rescue (Emergency Support Function #9). Urban Search and Rescue is the process of locating, extricating, and providing initial medical treatment to citizens in trapped collapsed structures. US&R is primarily required for earthquakes and man-made disasters, such as explosions, like the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal building. This tasking has required the South Carolina National Guard to develop procedures, mutual aid agreements and educational seminars in an effort to identify US&R resources in the state. This program requires extensive man-hours on the part of the full-time staff of the Military Support Branch. Currently, the State of South Carolina through the municipal fire services are only capable of performing basic and light urban search and rescue operations. Medium and heavy rescue must be performed by federal US&R teams. Basic and light is defined as one to two story wooden structures. Medium and heavy is defined as multi-story concrete structures.

Although the State of South Carolina has a diverse ethnic and cultural population, the potential for a civil disturbance continues to be a concern. Sensitive issues, such as the Orangeburg Massacre, the Confederate Flag, the Abortion issue, Nuclear Waste and Taxes provide a common thread for otherwise separate ideals. The growing number of organized events attracting large numbers of people have created problems for law enforcement authorities. The most significant is the ability of law enforcement authorities to deploy and control these huge numbers of people.

The National Guard in South Carolina started with the original colonists as they realized the need for a Colonial Militia. The defense in 1670 was against possible Spanish invasion. The Spanish expedition returned to St. Augustine when they saw the extent of defense the new colony had erected. The danger from a second enemy, a tribe of Westoes on the warpath, was also quickly ended when they encountered the determined new soldiers. The Colonial Militia, during most of its early history, was organized into regiments (normally on a geographical basis) with a colonel as the commanding officer. The colonial Militia was armed, uniformed and equipped by the colonial government on the model of the British Militia. Just as in England, the Militia uniforms were dark blue with different regimental facings. Regimental musters were held once a year until 1721, when the regiments were divided into subdivisions. The subdivisions consisted of two or more companies. They were divided this way to better cover the ever increasing size of the new colony.

In the South Carolina National Guard's early history, there were two militias: the Militia and the Volunteer Militia. The "Militia" was really an enrolled Militia which was little more than a vast, unorganized manpower pool. Virtually ever man in the state between 18 and 60 years of age was a member of the enrolled Militia with certain exceptions allowed for lawmakers and such. The Volunteer Militia consisted of persons, were legally part of the enrolled Militia, and who formed units, met and drilled on a regular basis. The voluntary Militia was considered the "skilled Militia" and were the ones the colony would mobilize first if needed.

The colonists had many skirmishes with their various enemies. The experience the colonists gained while fighting these skirmishes forged the military skills of the colonial Militia. The battle skills proved invaluable for the colonists' next challenge, the Revolutionary War.

One month after the Revolutionary War had begun the South Carolina General Assembly met and organized a Committee of Safety to provide protections for the Carolinians. A regiment of cavalry and two regiments of infantry were authorized.

Early on the morning of September 15, 1775, Charles Town residents awoke to find the South Carolina Militia holding Fort Johnson, which had been a British stronghold the day before. The Militia, acting upon the orders of the Committee of Safety, had crossed the harbor during the night and captured the contingent of British soldiers in the fort. They then hauled down the British flag and replaced it with a blue flag with the word "Liberty" in the center and a crescent in the left-hand corner. With the raising of the flag, South Carolina committed itself to the Revolution.

This was also the origin of the South Carolina State Flag. Colonel Moultrie, directed by the Council of Safety to provide a flag, chose the indigo blue uniform of the First and Second Regiments as the background color for the flag. He then selected the Regiment's silver crescent, which adorned their einthercaps, to be placed upon the blue. After Moultrie's historic defense of the palmetto log fort in 1776 (after which the name was given Fort Moultrie), the palmetto tree was added. To this day, the same flag is used that was designed for the Palmetto State during the Revolutionary War.

South Carolina also had it's share of fiery patriots. Christopher Gadsden, a long time advocate of independence, was a politician and a soldier. Pierce Butler, the state's first adjutant general, was the 40th signer of the constitution. Francis Marion, dubbed the "Swamp-Fox," by an angry and frustrated foe, was one of the best known of South Carolina's patriots. Two others of equal distinction were Andrew Pickens and Thomas Sumter (the Gamecock). Sumter received his name for his shrewdness in continuously outwitting the British. Before the War Between the States divided the country in two, South Carolina's citizen-soldier would gain valuable military experience in three more wars: the War of 1812, the Seminole War and the Mexican War.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded, December 20, 1860. Four months later, on April 12, 1861, the war began with a single shot fired over a federalist-held Fort Sumter from the Battery at Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor. South Carolina contributed approximately 60,000 of her sons to the Confederate cause and of those about 20,000 never returned home.

Following the war came the North's plan for Reconstruction of the South with the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 and 1868. With the sudden liberation of slaves and the lawlessness which pervaded the government after the war effort failed, newly elected Governor James L. Orr sought permission to organize a militia to suppress crime in the state. It was short-lived, for as soon as "Radical Republicans" came to power in the United States Congress and in the state, they refused to accept a confederate Militia. All ex-Confederates were to be disfranchised.

On April 16, 1868, the new Constitution of South Carolina was ratified. It contained an article which gave the voters the right to elect their Adjutant General by popular vote (a process still followed to this day with South Carolina being the only state in the United States that elects it's Adjutant General). With no militia to lead, the title was officially called the "Adjutant and Inspector General." In March of 1869, congress once again allowed the state to have a militia. At this time, South Carolina began calling her state forces the National Guard.

Due to the exclusion of ex-Confederates in the Militia, the National Guard, was a Black Militia. Later in 1882, the Federal Law of 1869 and its amendments were repealed. The Militia in South Carolina lost its close association with county government. It was authorized to consist of volunteer troops of whites and the National Guard consisting of blacks.

By the mid-1890's, the states had patterned their militia's after the Regular Army. Men enlisted in the Militia for terms ranging from three to five years, depending on the state's requirements. They continued their civilian pursuits, except when called to duty. These soldiers devoted a certain number of days per month and usually a week in the summer to training.

The Dick Militia Law of 1903 established the essential character of the modern National Guard. It created a federally recognized and supported National Guard, an organized volunteer militia. It provided for cooperative training with the Regular Army. To conform to the new act, South Carolina's legislature passed a new South Carolina Military Code which resulted in a reduction of strength in the Guard. The strength of the militia fell from over 3,000 men in 1904 to 1,786 officers and men by 1905. This was due mainly to the lack of federal funds.

In 1905, the first South Carolina National Guard Armory was built on Assembly Street in Columbia. The organized state militia became known nationally as the South Carolina National Guard, with no distinctions made to race.

In 1916, Congress passed the National Defense Act. The Act permanently established the National Guard as a first-line reserve for the Regular Army in the time of war. It also established a Reserve system which was separate from the National Guard.

The basic principal was that a federalized National Guard was an integral part of the Regular Army. It also specified, once called into federal service, Guardsmen became individual volunteers for national service and ceased to be Guardsmen. As a result, when the two World Wars broke out, most mobilized Guard members were taken from their original units and scattered to where ever the Regular Army sent them. Fortunately, South Carolina was able to keep several of her companies intact throughout World War I.

South Carolina National Guard units were called to border duty on the Texas and New Mexico borders, joining Guardsmen from Tennessee and North Carolina. The discipline and training they received helped prepare them for the upcoming World War I.

During World War I, a total of 72 Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to Army units. Of those , six were awarded to the 118th Infantry of South Carolina. One of the medals was awarded to Lieutenant James C. Dozier, who was destined to become the State's thirteenth Adjutant General and one of South Carolina's leading citizens. Former Adjutant General Dozier was the South Carolina National Guard's most decorated soldier. The 118th was also recognized by the French government for their six campaigns in North Africa with the Croix de Guerre and the 107th Coast Artillery Battalion, where they served in England, Italy, Algeria and in the Tunisian and Sicilian Campaigns.

South Carolina Guardsmen from the 118th Infantry participated with the 30th Division in the climatic battle to halt Von Runstedt's armored drive on Mortain (this National Guard division, known as the "Old Hickory" Division, gained the reputation as the "Workhorse on the Western Front). They were also part of the Normandy Invasion in June, 1944 during the St. Lo breakthrough. For its participation in the hard-fought battles with the 30th Division, the regiment now carries campaign honors for Northern France and Rhineland. The unit was deactivated in October, 1945 upon its return from the war.

The years between the Wars found the Guard being reorganized and ready to be called up to quell disturbances statewide. Land at Fort Jackson was turned over to the Guard to be turned into a National Guard training site (now Leesburg Training Center). They were also called out to participate in several celebrations as well as assisting law enforcement officials during festivities.

On June 15, 1933, the National Guard Status Bill was passed by Congress. The bill was designed to fix the status of the National Guard and give it a dual capacity as a state and federal force. This also brought more money and better equipment, uniforms and training for the Guard. They also became motorized. With the reorganization of the United States Military, South Carolina acquired her own Air Force and in 1946 the South Carolina Air National Guard was organized. The South Carolina Air National Guard has continued to be a front-runner in our nation's defense plan since it's beginning.

Even while undergoing reorganization, the South Carolina National Guard continued to be called to duty for disaster relief, crowd control and locating missing persons; all state missions which had long been the tradition for the citizen-soldier. As the Army Guard continued to grow in strength, units became more diversified. As they became more diversified the high demand for their use became greater.

In the 1970's the first women were enlisted into the South Carolina National Guard. Female enlistment in the National Guard has continued to grow.

The South Carolina National Guard has now become one of the best and highly recognized reserve forces in the Nation and the World. Their high standards are evident in the continuously high ratings received on Composite Performance Profiles (CPP), gaining the first 100% rating ever given, in 1988.

Along with the South Carolina National Guard soldiers are the unpaid volunteers of the South Carolina State Guard. The State Guard consists of men and women ready to step in and assist the National Guard and Emergency Preparedness Division.

The South Carolina National Guard is now comprised of six Army Brigades and an Air Guard fighter wing that have both a federal and state mission. These Guardsmen and Guardswomen stand ready to deploy with active duty units in case of a national emergency or come to the aid of it's own citizens when state emergencies arise. The South Carolina National Guard has maintained the highest level of professionalism in every sense of the meaning, earning them the consistent ranking as one of the top programs in the nation.

With this designation, however, comes duty. In 1991, during Desert Storm/Shield, 22 South Carolina Army and Air National Guard units were called to active duty, many seeing duty in the Persian Gulf.

In FY99 the South Carolina Army National Guard enjoyed frequent opportunities to share its vast materials and personnel resources in the state's communities and throughout the world.

The SCARNG's international reach was extended when South Carolina aviators flying Apache attack helicopters were called to Kuwait as part of Operation Southern Watch. In Honduras, SCARNG Combat Engineers rotated teams during a four-month period to assist with recovery from Hurricane Mitch. Engineers rebuilt roads and bridges and constructed new schools and medical facilities. For the third straight year, SCARNG members dealt with a hurricane of their own as 1,000 troops were activated when Hurricane Dennis skirted the state's coastal area. The state's largest brigade, the 218th Heavy Separate Brigade, began an intense year of trainup in preparation for an important FY00 evaluation at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA.

The South Carolina Army National Guard also made great strides during FY99 in its plans to incorporate the very latest in video transmitting technology as a communication tool to be used between the Adjutant General's office and the state's 86 armories.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:34:35 ZULU