Potential slave revolts kept Virginia militia strengths at high levels. By 1840, Virginia’s organized citizen-soldier militia fielded over 111,000 men (compared to a U.S. Regular Army of over 8,000). Maintained throughout the antebellum period, historian Kelly O’Grady relates: “Militias, as state-level military organizations, were mustered by counties and even small communities like Hartwood. They included all male citizens of a certain age (usually 18 and above). Yearly or sometimes twice annually, musters were held to drill and otherwise train and organize members.”
Stafford’s militia tradition was reinvigorated especially by four revolts: The 1800 Gabriel Prosser slave revolt in Caroline County; the 1804-1805 slave revolt at “Chatham;” Nat Turner’s 1831 Revolt; and John Brown’s 1859 Raid on Harper’s Ferry.