The Leicestershire Militia traced its roots back to the Middle Ages, to the days of ‘watch and ward’ when local notables were responsible for provision of men for defence in time of emergency. In the Napoleonic and Victorian eras, the force became more formalised, and was under the control of the Lord Lieutenant of the county. Finally, in 1881 the Militia and the Regular army were united. The Leicestershire Militia became the 3rd battalion of the regiment, with a role as a reserve force to train & supply recruits. The Leicestershire Regiment also acquired the Magazine, headquarters of the county militia.
Prior to the Boer War, the only active service wtnessed by the Leicestershire Militia had been a stint in Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. For this reason, the Militia badge featured not a Tiger but a Harp.
In the days before the Welfare State, the Militia had a reputation as a safety net for the urban and rural poor. The retainer paid for part time service was useful in times of economic hardship or when harvests were bad. In time of war, a militia unit could be embodied (mobilised), but its members were not liable for overseas service unless they so wished.
Twice during the Boer War the Leicestershire Militia was embodied, and on both occasions its members offered their services overseas. On the first occasion this was declined, the battalion instead being posted to the Curragh Camp in Ireland. The second time the offer was accepted and the battalion was ordered to South Africa to take over blockhouse lines in the closing stages of the Boer War.