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During the Civil War, the State Adjutants General was responsible for a number of duties and tasks. Most of the military force of Texas at the time was occupied fighting for the Confederacy outside of the state. However, Texas still needed military protection at home and in the frontier from the Union soldiers, as well as Native Americans and outlaws. It was one of the State Adjutants General's duties to acquire troops to defend Texas at home. He also served as the State Inspector General, Commissary General, and Quartermaster. This position was held from 1861-1865 successively by NH Darnell, Dallas; Wm. Byrd, Austin; JY Dashiell, San Antonio; DB Culberson, Jefferson; and John Burke of Marshall.

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In addition to the duties of the State Adjutants General listed above, this extremely difficult position also included the following responsibilities: handling state correspondence concerning military affairs, distributing orders and forms, keeping records of state troops and assembling registers of Texans in Confederate service, keeping general charge of all military property, collecting and repairing arms, and receiving and distributing munitions.

This position is still in existence today. Each state has someone occupying this position. The state adjutants general is de facto commander of a state's military forces, that is he or she practically serves as commanding officer of the state's military forces but does not necessarily do so officially or by legal right. Jurisdiction includes the National Guard, the naval militia, and any state defense forces. In most states, this is a position appointed by the governor. The exceptions to thus are Vermont, where the appointment is by state legislature, South Carolina, where the position is elected by popular vote, and the District of Columbia, where the appointment is by the President of the United States. In 2016, the position will start being by appointment of the governor rather than by popular vote in South Carolina.