The 15TH OHIO NATIONAL GUARD REGIMENT, formed in June 1879 and disbanded in 1881, was composed of local and regional militia companies and was the period's dominant military organization in Cleveland. Its principal officers were Col. Allan T. Brinsmade, Lt. Col. George A. McKay, and Maj. Henry Richardson. The regiment was a federation of 5 Cleveland companies--the Emmett Guards (Co. A), the Veteran Guards (Co. C), the Forest City Guards (Co. D), the Townsend Light Guards (Co. E), and the Washington Guards (Co. I)--and 5 units from other towns: the Brooklyn Blues (Co. B), the Buckeye Guards (Co. F) from Geneva, the Ely Guards (Co. G) from Elyria, the Chagrin Falls Guards (Co. H), and the Berea Light Guards (Co. K).
Of the 5 Cleveland units, the oldest and best-known was the Emmett Guards, formed in 1873 by Irish-American CIVIL WAR veterans. Led by Capt. MARTIN A. FORAN, the Emmett Guards was one of the most active local military units in the mid-1870s, participating in public ceremonies and parades and holding social events and fundraisers. Members met weekly at 99 Bank (W. 6th) St. in 1874. The Washington Guards, led by Capt. Vincent Shafer, may have been older than the Emmetts: a German unit known as the Washington Guards formed in 1850 and was active until at least 1857 (drilling on Lorain near Abbey), but apparently did not last into the 1860s. The Veteran Guards, with an armory at Erie (E. 9th) and Sumner in 1878; the Townsend Light Guards, armory at Scovill and Kennard (E. 46th) in 1878; and the Washington Guards, armory on Garden (Central) near Greenwood (E. 28th) in 1878, all first appeared in the city directory in 1877 or 1878, although each may have existed prior to 1877.
In 1881 local newspaper criticism of the 15th Regiment's inefficiency prompted the adj. gen. to order an inspection of its companies. The regiment was subsequently disbanded, and 4 of the 5 Cleveland companies were dissolved. Other units, such as those from CHAGRIN FALLS and BEREA, later became part of the new 5th Regiment of the Ohio National Guard. The only Cleveland troop which survived was the Forest City Guards. It was begun in Nov. 1876 by George A. Fiske (its first captain) and had its first regular meeting on 2 Jan. 1877. In early 1878 it occupied its first armory at St. Clair and Muirson (E. 12th) streets. When the 15th Regiment was dissolved, the Forest City Guards became Co. A of the 5th Regiment of the Ohio National Guard (10 July 1881).