People's Militia

People's Militia (Narodna samooborona; German: Landsturm). A peasant levy en masse organized by the Austrian government in November 1848 in the Subcarpathian Galician districts of Kolomyia, Sambir, Sianik, Stanyslaviv, and Stryi to protect the population from raids by Hungarian revolutionaries (see Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy). All Ukrainian men aged 18 to 50 were conscripted. The militia was divided into districts made up of 10–14 villages. A district was under the control of a commander and each village had its own commander as well as captains and sergeants if the number of armed men was large enough, and it maintained a continuous armed watch and an armed communication team. Effigies surrounding the village were set on fire to signal the approach of the enemy. Some districts had their own cavalry. Stanyslaviv district also had an artillery unit, whose men wore blue jackets with yellow epaulets and sheepskin hats with yellow tops. The unit forced the Polish National Guard to leave Stanyslaviv in November 1848. Altogether there were some 50,000 militiamen. Stanyslaviv district had the largest number, over 17,000. After the Hungarian revolution was suppressed at the end of 1849, the Austrian government disbanded the militia.

Shankovskii, Amvrosii. ‘Vospominaniia,’ Rodimyi listok (Chernivtsi, 1881–3)
Krevets’kyi, Ivan. ‘Oboronna organizatsiia rus’kykh selian na halyts’ko-uhors’kim pohranychu v 1848–1849 rr.,’ ZNTSh, 63–4 (1905)

Lev Shankovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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