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Military and Naval Department - RG 301 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Military and Naval Department - RG 301
Variant Name: Adjutant General


Historical Note:

All four Illinois constitutions have named the Governor commander-in-chief of the militia and state laws have charged his appointee, the Adjutant General, with the administration and coordination of militia activities. The Adjutant General preserved militia records, attended public military reviews, transmitted gubernatorial orders to military units, and reported to him on the condition of their equipment, discipline, and finances.

The Adjutant General also was designated to serve as Inspector General, Quartermaster General, and Paymaster General; enjoined to preserve brigade and regimental reports and election certificates of militia officers; and was to send commissions to those officers (L. 1819, p. 270; L. 1821, p. 106; L. 1826, p. 3).

The Adjutant General's duties increased significantly during the Civil War. In 1861 the General Assembly instructed him to maintain township or county census returns of citizens subject to military service and to gather information on Illinois soldiers serving in federal or state units (L. 1861, Extra. Sess., p. 17). As the Governor's chief of staff he was responsible for conducting all state military correspondence; licensing recruiting agents; recording all general and special orders; and retaining rosters, muster rolls, and lists of promotions, resignations, and discharges. In addition the General Assembly required him to collect and safeguard all military records and papers held by the Secretary of State (L. 1865, pp. l, 63). In 1869 the Adjutant General was named chief of ordnance and thus became responsible for the State Arsenal (L. 1869, p. 5).

Following the Civil War, the Adjutant General was directed to publish reports based on his office records that disclosed the names, residences, and dates of enrollments, musters, discharges, and deaths of Illinois men who had served during the conflict (L. 1867, p. 192). In subsequent years he was authorized to publish similar information about the soldiers of the Black Hawk and Mexican Wars. In order to do so the Adjutant General employed a clerk to transcribe federal records relating to the service of these soldiers (L. 1879, p. 24; L. 1881, p. 37; L. 1895, p. 340). After the Spanish-American War the Adjutant General also prepared for publication rosters of Illinois regiments involved in that conflict (L. 1899, p. 3).

The state militia was reorganized in 1877 and divided into an active volunteer reserve (National Guard) and an inactive reserve (militia). A naval militia was established by the General Assembly in 1893 and it too was overseen by the Adjutant General (L. 1877, p. 130; L. 1893, p. 151). The Military and Naval Code was revised again in 1897 and in 1909 the state militia was reformed into organized (National Guard and Naval Reserve) and unorganized reserves (L. 1897, p. 252; L. 1909, p. 437). At the next legislative session the General Assembly appointed the Adjutant General to a commission that was charged with building armories throughout the state for the National Guard and the Naval Reserve (L. 1911, p. 73).

Additional duties were delegated to the Adjutant General during World War I including investigating charges of misconduct against militiamen, convening efficiency or court martial boards to hear the cases, and forwarding dishonorable discharges to clerks of counties where veterans resided (L. 1917, p. 784). After World War I he coordinated the transfer of federal camps (especially Camp Grant near Rockford) to his supervision and prepared them as storage or training bases for the National Guard (L. 1923, p. 22; L. 1925, p. 11).

The Adjutant General also served on the Spanish-American War Memorial Commission (L. 1923, p. 93), the World War Veterans Commission (L. 1931, p. 192), and the Service Recognition Board which was established to make bonus payments to veterans of World War I (L. 1921, p. 66). The General Assembly abolished the Service Recognition Board in 1927 and transferred all its books, records, and documents to the Adjutant General (L. 1927, p. 110). Some of these records were later destroyed in a fire at the State Arsenal in Springfield in 1934.

During World War II the Adjutant General assumed control of all state armories and acquired other duties related to the war effort, including investigating deaths or injuries resulting from actions taken by reservists and deciding upon disability pay for reservists who were injured or killed while in active service (L. 1943, vol. 1, p. 1320).

On July 8, 1957, the Governor approved a new Military and Naval Code repealing the 1909 act. Under the new code the Adjutant General's office officially was designated the Military and Naval Department, a non-coded agency of the executive branch (L. 1957, p. 2141). The legislation stipulated that the department was to act as "the channel of communication between the Federal government and the State of Illinois on all matters pertaining to the state military and naval forces," and that the Adjutant General was to continue to advise on and carry out the Governor's policies, issue orders in his name, and perform the responsibilities previously assigned by state laws.



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