Lexington Arsenal and Virginia Militia Records
Manuscript # 244

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In 1816 the Virginia legislature provided for the establishment of three arsenals to care for the state's accumulation of munitions. One of the three was constructed in Lexington, Virginia, on the site of what is now the Virginia Military Institute. The arsenal opened in 1818 under the command of Captain James Paxton, and the guard stationed there was responsible for approximately 30,000 stand of arms. Although the size of the detachment stationed at the Lexington Arsenal varied somewhat from year to year, it generally consisted of the captain, a sergeant, one or two corporals, ten to thirteen privates, and a few employees among whom were musicians. This arrangement was maintained until 1839, when the Virginia Military Institute opened on the site of the arsenal and the arsenal guard was replaced by the new VMI cadets.

The collection consists of two series. The first series contains miscellaneous records (1702; 1793-1814) relating to the Virginia Militia, including regimental returns for various militia units. This material pre-dates the establishment of the state arsenal at Lexington, Virginia, but the documents were found among the Lexington arsenal records also contained in this collection. Two of the documents date from the British colonial period (1702).

The second series (1819-1839) contains 30 items concerning the operation of the state arsenal at Lexington, Virginia. Included are payrolls and other financial records, guard returns and muster rolls, and two enlistment documents.