State militias in California go back to the early days of the Golden State. Militiamen from California fought Indians and bandits and even took part in the American Civil War.
The “modern” CSMR can trace its history back to 1917, when the federal government called most National Guard units to service in World War I. To fill the gap, Congress authorized the Home Guard Act of 1917, authorizing the precursors to today’s state defense forces. Over 100 companies were formed and served from 1917 to 1920.
With World War II threatening, Congress authorized the creation of state military forces to replace those National Guard units taken into the U.S. Army. The California State Guard included over 70,000 Soldiers from 1941-46, who provided security for important infrastructure and military installations,
as well as performing other duties. There was also a more loosely-organized California State Militia, located generally in rural areas.
The California State Guard was renamed the California State Military Reserve, and during the Korean War went by the name California National Guard Reserve. The CSMR name was restored in the Sixties, but the organization was disbanded in 1969. In 1976 the CSMR was revived by Gov. Jerry Brown, and it has since grown to a military force of over1,000 Soldiers.