Like the U.S. Army, the Navy always kept a pool of trained reservists who could be called up in times of national emergencies. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Army relied on each state to keep and maintain a state militia, eventually formalizing the institution into what is now known as the National Guard.
The Navy had no such system of "citizen-sailors" until New York and Massachusetts each established their own naval militias in 1891. By 1896, fourteen more states created their own naval militias. Though Congress refused to establish a national reserve component of the U.S. Navy, it did provide Federal support for the various state naval militias. Part of this support came in the form of surplus U.S. Navy ships. North Carolina received the monitor USS Nantucket, a veteran of several Civil War battles with Confederate forts on the Atlantic Coast, in 1895.
After the war, the North Carolina Naval Militia lost Nantucket. They later acquired the gunboat USS Hornet, the armed yacht USS Elfrida (SP-988), and then the torpedo boat USS Foote (TB-3).
|North Carolina Naval Militia, Elizabeth City Detachment. Rutter is standing on the far left, back row.|