The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia,
Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records
3.25 linear feet (7 boxes)
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.
SERIES I. Communications SERIES II. Executive Committee Records SERIES III. Financial Records SERIES IV. Other
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.
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).
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. Brigade, Naval. Company E
United States. Navy. Company E
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
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
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).
Collection processed by Hilary Streifer, December 2016.
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,
Massachusetts Naval Volunteer Militia, Company E-Lynn, Massachusetts Records
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum
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.
Massachusetts. Militia; Massachusetts. Militia. Brigade, Naval. Company E; United States. Navy. Company E; Lynn (Mass.); Invoices; Letters; Military history
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.