Militia

Five Years Later: A Look Back at the ‘Bundy Sniper’ and America’s Patriot Militia

Apr 12, 2019

The “Bundy Sniper” photos were stark and disorienting, like wartime images from a Third World hot zone, not a blocked-off interstate highway one hour from Las Vegas.

In one of the photos, a lariat-thin white man in a heavy beard and tactical jacket lies belly flat on the concrete, his semiautomatic rifle wedged in the narrow gap between two concrete jersey barriers. Eyes concealed by dark sunglasses, the rifleman sights down on a group of federal agents who were overseeing a roundup of cattle belonging to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Division of Tourism

On February 17, 1735, pioneer Morgan Morgan was commissioned a captain of militia in present Berkeley County. Nearly three centuries later, a successor to Morgan’s militia regiment is still going strong.

The militia’s original purpose was to protect settlers against Indian raids. Then, in the early decades of the nation, the militia took part in every American conflict: from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War. One of the first state militia units reorganized after the Civil War was the Berkeley Light Infantry.

A self-styled militia in eastern Oregon grabbed national headlines Saturday when members broke into the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. There the armed group remains Sunday, occupying the federal building in protest of what it sees as government overreach on rangelands throughout the western United States.