“M” is for Militia. South Carolina’s early settlers brought with them the traditional English concept of a militia, the idea that every citizen had a duty to assist in the defense of the community. A 1671 ordinance required all men (sixteen to sixty) to serve in the militia and provide their own weapons. The Militia act of 1792 required all white males (eighteen to forty-five) to serve and supply their weapons and ammunition. The militia served primarily as a source of manpower for the regular patrols used to enforce the laws on slave activity. Militia musters were a focal point for social and political gatherings. The National Defense Act of 1916 required all members of state militias-- now called the National Guard--to swear a dual oath to both the state and federal government.