Skip to main content

Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia, Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records

Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia, Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records

1 of 2
Open Finding Aid
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution


Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Massachusetts. Militia
Title:Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia, Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records
Quantity:3.25 linear feet (7 boxes)
Abstract:The Massachusetts Volunteer Naval Militia, Company E-Lynn records contain communications, executive committee records, financial records, and miscellaneous items from the Company's first few decades of operation.
Collection Number:MH 159

Series List

SERIES I. Communications
SERIES II. Executive Committee Records
SERIES III. Financial Records

Scope and Content Note

The Massachusetts Volunteer Naval Militia, Company E-Lynn records contain communications, executive committee records, financial records, and miscellaneous items from the Company's first few decades of operation. This collection has been divided into four series.

Series I. Communications contains communications such as correspondence, circulars, general, and special orders. The general and special orders have been combined and arranged chronologically by year.

Series II. Executive Committee Records contains records from Company E's Executive Committee meetings and company by-laws.

Series III. Financial Records contains an account book of company funds and receipted bills.

Series IV. Other contains miscellaneous items such as various reports, a list of supplies, daily log book, and materials from the annual rifle competitions. Also included in this series is an unidentified photograph of a member of the naval militia.

Historical Sketch

The building of a new, larger United States Navy after the Civil War required an increase in the reserve of manpower; traditionally the Navy had relied on the commercial maritime industry to augment its strength in wartime, but this was no longer a large enough resource (Hart 263). In the 1880s and 1890s, repeated calls to Congress for an establishment of a naval reserve force were met with resistance for both fiscal and philosophical reasons; however, naval militias continued to grow (Naval History and Heritage Command). In March 1888, Massachusetts passed the nation's first Naval Militia bill, creating the Massachusetts Naval Militia (Hart 258). The Lynn division was mustered on September 30, 1892 (Navy Department 28).

The first few Naval Militia units were organized along the lines of a National Guard unit, because in many of the states, the Naval Militia was in theory part of the National Guard, although the latter seldom exercised any real control over it, and the Militia served the needs of the Navy not the state. Throughout its existence, the Naval Militia was used in minor riot or disaster duty but because of its very nature, could not play any major role in maintaining domestic order; however, it provided a reserve of men. On March 2, 1891, Congress passed the first annual appropriation of $25,000 for the "arming and equipping of a Naval Militia." The money was not given to the individual states, but was instead distributed by the Secretary of the Navy, who divided up the money according to the size of each state's militia. Bonuses were given to those units who drilled on a man-of-war vessel for four days (Hart 269-271).

Regular naval officers questioned the value of the militia, as training was sporadic and inconsistent across the units, naval discipline was lacking or absent, and the technical expertise needed to operate the steam powered vessels was complex. However, the Navy's lack of men led it to look to the militias during the Spanish American War in 1898 (Naval History and Heritage Command). In order to use these units, which were not under Federal jurisdiction, Governors had to grant the militiamen a leave of absence from their unit, so that the Federal Government could then enlist them (Hart 275). The militias from Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan, the most developed of the state militias, served together as a unit and were assigned blue-ocean fighting vessels that were captained by regular naval officers (Naval History and Heritage Command).

After the war, the Navy used their experience to plead for a national reserve, drawing up a National Reserve bill, while returning the Militia to its pre-war duties of manning coastal and harbor defenses (Hart 278). Naval militia officials opposed this bill out of fear that it would mean the end of their own state level organizations; this opposition played a large part in Congress' rejection of the bill. This opposition in Congress continued until 1915, when the Naval Reserve was established (Naval History and Heritage Command).

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Massachusetts. Militia
Massachusetts. Militia. Brigade, Naval. Company E
United States. Navy. Company E
Military history
Lynn (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia, Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records, MH 159, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was donated by Commander A. D. Cheney of the U.S. Naval Reserve Training Center in Salem, Massachusetts on July 16, 1951 (accession #12,289).

Processing Information

Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, December 2016.

Related Material

Hart, Kevin R. "Towards A Citizen Sailor: The History of the Naval Militia Movement, 1888-1898." The American Neptune: A Quarterly Journal of Maritime History 30 (Oct. 1973): 258-279.

Navy Department of the United States of America. Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Naval Militia of the United States: January 1, 1910. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910.

Naval History and Heritage Command. "Spanish American War: Naval Militia." Accessed 8 December 2016.

you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search