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The Florida Naval Militia existed during three periods: 1897-1903, 1911-1917, and 1934-1941. Formed to assist in the protection and defense of Florida's extensive coastline, the first Naval Militia organized in 1897. It consisted of one battalion of four divisions, located at Jacksonville, Pensacola, Port Tampa, and Tampa. Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Federal government took control of the militiamen, with many serving in the Navy or Coast Guard. After the war, only the Jacksonville Division reorganized, existing until its disbandment in 1903.
During the second period of its existence (1911-1917), the Naval Militia operated divisions at Key West, Jacksonville, and Sarasota. When the U.S. entered World War I, the Naval Militia came under direct control of the federal military as it had during the Spanish-American War. Following the war, the organization was not reconstituted.
From 1934 to 1941, Florida again attempted to maintain a state naval force. The interest and support of Governor David Sholtz, himself an officer in the Naval Reserve, was largely responsible for this third incarnation of the Florida Naval Militia. In 1941, with the threat of U.S. involvement in the Second World War increasing, the personnel of the Florida Naval Militia were inducted into federal service. When the war was over in 1945, the federal government made no attempt to reorganize the Naval Militia.
The series contains some information on each of the three periods of the Florida Naval Militia's existence. Included are reports, muster and pay rolls, enlistment and discharge records, correspondence, budget information, and variety of other records. Most of the material covers the period of the third Naval Militia, 1934-1941. Also included are some correspondence and records of commission in the Florida Volunteer Naval Force. These were complimentary commissions issued by Governor Sholtz to honor those Floridians holding commissions as U.S. Naval officers.
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Additional Physical Form:
Militia rolls from this series dating from 1900 and earlier have been digitized and are available on the Florida Memory web site: https://www.floridamemory.com/discover/historical_records/muster_rolls/