The Minuteman statue located at Louisiana Veterans Memorial Park in Baton Rouge is based on an 1874 sculpture by Daniel Chester French in Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Massachusetts.
Inspired by Revolutionary War citizen Soldier Captain Isaac Davis, French modelled the face on Davis’ descendants and based the plow on Davis’ own plow that was on display at Acton Town Hall. Captain Davis was elected commander of Acton’s Minuteman Company in early 1775. As tensions continued to rise with the British government, Acton was proactive in drilling and training his Soldiers. The men in Davis’ and other nearby units were called “minutemen” as they had to be ready at a minute’s notice to leave their fields and defend their communities.
The original statue was unveiled in 1875 for the centennial of the Battle of Concord and later became the symbol of the National Guard.
The Louisiana monument was dedicated in an official ceremony on May 21, 2019 and serves as a memorial in honor of Louisiana National Guard men and women who died in service to our State and Nation.
Today’s National Guard is the modern incarnation of the militia forces that began in colonial times and later became a part of the US military. Traditionally, the American “First Muster” occurred in 1636 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The famous “minutemen” of the American Revolution, embodied by Isaac Davis, epitomized this citizen Soldier ethos. Over the course of the 19th century, the militia evolved as a state-based military system, driven by the federal structure of our constitutional government. States had organic and independent units that served when called upon to protect against attacks on the frontiers as well as to serve during greater conflicts, such as the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
By the turn of the 20th century, the United States was an economic and industrial world power. Officials and military leaders realized the need for a modern military that could compete with other powerful nations. The Navy expanded and the Regular Army saw improved training and professionalization. Top military brass and Congress understood that the state and community-based nature of American militia was essential to the spirit of our founding, but they still saw a need for a degree of reform and modernization.
In 1903, Congress passed an act that drastically altered militia policy. Pushed through by former Ohio militia officer, Congressman Charles Dick, it kept the militia system based within the states but with nationalized standards of uniform, conduct, policy, and training. Independent militia units were removed or integrated into the official system. Connections to the US Army were strengthened. Other reforms were initiated through later bills as this modernized militia system became officially designated as the National Guard. The National Defense Act of 1916 ensured the Guard’s legality of serving in foreign conflicts under higher US Army command. Almost immediately, National Guard units were serving in the Mexican Expedition and World War I. Going forward, the National Guard integrated more fully into the Army system while in federal service, simultaneously serving under governors for state and local missions.
The Louisiana National Guard’s origins begin with the French and Spanish colonial administrations. Early French militia in Louisiana was disorganized and decentralized. They assisted regular French forces in a war against the Natchez tribe in 1729. When the Spanish took over the colony, General Alexander O’Reilly reformed the militia into a centrally organized and professionally trained institution in 1770. Despite considerable evolution, the organization has maintained continuity of its existence from 1770 to today.
With the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and West Florida Revolt (1810), the Louisiana Militia became a US force. Louisiana’s diverse citizen Soldiers joined Regular Army Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and fellow militia from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi to repel the British attempt to invade New Orleans in 1814-1815. Louisiana militia Soldiers continued service through the 19th century.
In the 20th century, the Louisiana National Guard served in both World Wars, limited Cold War mobilizations, and the Gulf War. In addition to federal combat service, the Guard frequently activated for various natural disasters and industrial emergencies.
The early 21st century pushed LANG to the most active it had ever been. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks put the Nation back into a war posture. Soon, LANG units entered a heavy rotation of combat deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and beyond that persist to this day. that lasted well over a decade. In the meantime, mother nature ramped up its attacks on Louisiana as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Isaac, Harvey, Laura, Delta, Zeta, and Ida battered the state. Guard men and women provided search and rescue, security, engineering, logistics, and many other capabilities in response. Other major emergencies included the Gulf Oil Spill, the floods of 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the western Louisiana wildfires. The Louisiana National Guard continues to Protect What Matters – the Nation, the State, and our communities.