California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
First California Guard
Membership Certificate (Anne S. K. Brown Collection, New York Public Library)

Official or Other Titles:
Company A, First Regiment, Light Artillery; Light Battery First Brigade
Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County
Organized: July 27, 1849
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1854-1875

a. Organization Papers none
b. Bonds none
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 15 documents (1858-1874)
d. Election Returns 3 documents (1854-1875)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 6 documents (1870-1875)
g. Oaths Qualifications 12 documents (1871-1875)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 14 documents (1864-1865)
j. Requisitions none
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none

Commanding Officers
Henry M. Naglee, Captain, Elected July 27, 1849
W. D. M. Howard, First Lieutenant Elected July 27, 1849

W. D. M. Howard, Captain, Elected May 4, 1851
Myron Norton, First Lieutenant, Elected May 4, 1851

Richard H. Sinton, Captain, Elected May 7, 1852
F. H. Lippitt, Captain, Elected June 1852
Fred Woodworth, First Lieutenant, Elected May 7, 1852

Fred Woodworth, Captain, Elected May 3, 1853
E. C. Kemble, First Lieutenant, Elected May 3, 1853

Thomas D. Johns, Captain, Elected September 1854
James F. Curtis, First Lieutenant, Elected 1854

John S. Ellis, Captain,Commissioned January 18, 1861
Frank Wheeler, First Lieutenant, Commissioned January 18, 1861

Isaac Bluxome, Captain, Date of Rank: October 3, 1861; Commissioned October 3, 1861
John Hill, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: October 3, 1861; Commissioned October 3, 1861

Isaac Bluxome, Captain, Re-elected May 4, 1864
George Osgood, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: January 13, 1863; Commissioned: January 30, 1863; Resigned: February 9, 1864
W. C. Burnett, First Lieutenant; Date of Rank: January 28, 1864; Commissioned: February 9, 1864

W. C. Burnett, Captain: Date of Rank: September 8, 1865; Commissioned: April 2, 1866; Resigned April 17,1867
Ruben G. Brush, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: September 8, 1865; Commissioned: April 2, 1866

Marcus Harloe, Captain, Date of Rank: May 30, 1867; Commissioned: June 6, 1867, Resigned September 24, 1867
Walter W. Wilson, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: May 30, 1867; Commissioned: June 6, 1867

Samuel Brannan, Captain; Date of Rank: September 24, 1867; Commissioned: October 30, 1867, Resigned June 5, 1868
Henry J. Pippy, First Lieutenant. Date of Rank: May 1, 1868; Commissioned: July 14, 1868

Isaac Bluxome, Captain: Date of Rank: June 5, 1868; Commissioned: July 14, 1868
Henry J. Pippy, First Lieutenant, Resigned March 18, 1869
R. G. Brush, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: June 1, 1809 Commissioned: July 21, 1869

R. G. Brush, Captain; Date of Rank: January 6, 1873; Commissioned: January 22, 1873, Re-elected April 5, 1875; May 31, 1877 and June 9, 1879
George W. Chapin, First Lieutenant; Date of Rank: January 6, 1873; Commissioned: January 22, 1873, Re-elected April 5, 1875 and May 31, 1877
Grant Lapham, First Lieutenant Date of Rank: June 9, 1879; Commissioned: June 25, 1879

A Short History

The First California Guard was formed July 27, 1849 and was officially called the Company A, 1st Regiment, Light Artillery, under the Military Governor of California, Brigadier General Bennett S. Riley. It was formed to prevent situations similar to the "Hounds" of San Francisco (a lawless gang) from forming.

A number of prominent citizens dreading a reoccurrence of a similar situation, conceived the idea for organizing a permanent volunteer company. Although it was designated as a light artillery organization, it was initially equipped as an infantry unit. General Riley commissioned Henry M. Naglee, Captain and Company Commander. Other volunteers who received appointments were: First Lieutenants O.H. Howard, and Myron Norton; Second Lieutenants Hall McAllister, and David F.Bagley; Company Surgeon Samuel Gerry, and Company Sergeant R.H. Sinton. By September 1849, Captain Naglee had recruited 100 volunteers, outfitting them in deep blue uniforms with artillery red trim. And, in February 1850, a joint-stock company was formed for the purpose of constructing the first militia armory in California.The First California Guard was given the honor of firing the salute on the first anniversary of California's Admission to the Union, they attended the first military encampment of the California State Militia and this company provided several of the leaders for U.S. Volunteers and the expanded militia of the State during the Civil War.

The history of the California National Guard responding to the emergency needs of citizens is traced to this company. They were called for duty at the scene of the wreck of the steamer "Yankee Blade." This ship, on September 30, 1854, with nearly 800 passengers, ran into a reef at Point Arguello and nearly 200 people lost their lives. The survivors were assaulted by an armed band of 60 men and some of the survivors were murdered. The First California Guard was called to the scene to preserve life and property and to maintain law and order.

The first commander of the First California Guard, Captain Henry Morris Naglee, came to California with the First New York Volunteers. He went into the banking business from 1849 to 1861. He was a West Pointer and when the Civil War came about, he was reappointed as a Lieutenant Colonel. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General in 1862.

The First California Guard did not take part in the Civil War as a unit but made its contribution to the Union indirectly. The unit drilled frequently at the Presidio of San Francisco and was the only artillery company in California. It aided in the formation at the First Regiment, California Volunteers; the California 100; and the California Cavalry Battalion.

Official History

After the capture, trial, and expulsion of the "Hounds" from San Francisco in 1849, a number of prominent citizens dreading a recurrence of like activities, conceived the idea of organizing a permanent volunteer company, and on July 27, 1849, the first company of militia was formed, which remained the only one in existence up until 1851. (1) This company was called the First California Guard, Light Artillery, although h it was equipped as an infantry unit. Forty-one men joined the first night, and Henry M. Naglee was elected Captain.

The following Preamble was signed by the members:

"W the undersigned do hereby form ourselves into an association under the style and name First California Guard, and for the good government thereof, have adopted a Constitution and By-Laws for support of which we mutually pledge ourselves."

There was no suitable room for an armory and those who organized the company being men of means formed a stock company among themselves and built an armory at the corner of DuPont and Jackson Streets. This building was destroyed by fire in 1350, rebuilt and again destroyed by fire in 1851.

The men were always ready for service when ever duty called them to sustain the law and maintain peace. This well officered and efficient corps furnished many officers and trained men to new companies that were organized at a later date. (2)

At the annual meeting held.May, 1851, W.D.M. Howard was elected Captain and Myron Norton, First Lieutenant. That evening a great fire broke out in the city causing the loss of several lives and an estimated loss of about $5,000,000. The California Guard was under arms that night, and also Sunday and Monday nights, patrolling the streets for the purpose of protecting the property of the citizens. The conduct of the corps during that catastrophe was a source of pride to all San Francisco and to the State as well.(3)

At a celebration of the "Society of California Pioneers" held New Year's Day 1851, the California Guard acted as escort to the society during their parade through the principle streets to the plaza, where an address was delivered by a Captain John Frisbie. When the procession reached the Plaza a salute of thirty-one guns was fired by the Guard. During the celebration held in the armory one of the toasts was given to the California Guard thus:

"The Volunteer Militia, The spontaneous effort of the first love of liberty, and the quickening consciousness of the power of self-defense; so was it shown in the colonies of '76, and so it has been seen in the first new State on the Pacific, the minute men of Lexington, and the California Guard of San Francisco." (4)

To the California Guard, was given the honor of firing .the salute on the first anniversary of California's Admission into the Union as a State. The salute was fired in quarter minute time with two brass six-pound field pieces. The celebration was held in the City Plaza and the guards gave a splendid exhibition drill, which was greatly admired by all. (5)

When news reached the coast in 1852 of the death of tie great statesman Henry Clay, San Francisco arranged for a memorial service. The four military companies, First California Guard, National Lancers, Eureka Light Horse Guard, and Marion Rifles, dressed in their striking uniforms, preceded the hearse which was drawn by four gray horses led by four African-American boys. The coffin was very ornamental with silver clasps and plates, and the hearse was attended by thirty-three of the most prominent men of the time. Following the hearse, came the civic orders, clubs, and the fire companies. After marching over the principle streets, the procession assembled at the Plaza where prayer was offered by Dr.. Ver Mehr, of the Grace Church, followed by the oration delivered by.Judge Hoffman.(6)

On December 10, 1852, the California Guard and Marion Rifles were called out in response to the request of the Sheriff, who was conducting the execution of a Spaniard named Jose Formi, convicted of murder. The demonstration at the jail was more of excitement and curiosity than any aim of mob violence.(7)

The California Guard was next called upon for duty at the scene of the wreck of the Steamer Yankee Blade. This ship, with Henry Randell, Esq., Commander, sailed from San Francisco on September 30, 1854, with nearly eight hundred passengers and $163,000 in specie. On September 1st, while encompassed in a dense fog the steamer ran on the reef of Point Arguello. The life boats were launched, but before all could be reached nearly two hundred lives had been lost. Passengers on reaching Santa Barbara reported that an armed band of sixty men had committed assault and battery, and had murdered several passengers of the Yankee Blade and plundered all valuables and baggage from the wreck. These reports led to the midnight calling of the California Guard to embark on the Steamer Brother Jonathon, enroute to the scene of the wreck to preserve life and property and maintain law and order. (8)

The California. Guard was one of the San Francisco companies that took a prominent part at the inaugural of Governor-elect J.Neely Johnson in January 1856 at Sacramento. The day before the inauguration was occasion for a combined parade of the militia, followed by exhibition drills by the different companies. On the inaugural day the California Guard with seven other militia companies paraded to Governor-elect Johnson's s home on F Street and escorted him to the Capitol for the inaugural ceremonies. (9)

Five months later the same companies that honored the Governor at his inauguration were refusing to support Governor Johnson's Proclamation issued on June 3, 1856, which declared San Francisco in a "State of Insurrection", as a result of the activities of the Vigilante Committee. The Vigilantes obtained possession of two cannons belonging to the California Guard and rifles from nearly all companies. Apparently this was accomplished when just after the shooting of James King, editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, the militia was called to the City Jail to protect James P. Casey who had done the shooting, from an angry mob. After the dispersal of the mob, the Sheriff requested that the militia leave their arms in the jail where they would be available in an emergency. The Vigilante movement increased in power, as the sentiment of the citizens seemed to be ripe for a movement that would rid the city of the influence of corruption, as carried on by crooks and gangsters in that day. Undoubtedly it would have been the height of folly for the militia companies to take up arms and shoot their fellow citizens when the sentiment of the people was with the Vigilance Committee in meting out quick justice to all criminals, after having been tried by a Vigilante tribunal. A San Francisco Exchange made this statement in regard to the Proclamation of Governor Johnson:

"The elite of our military have signified, in a very distinct manner, that Governor Johnson holds no authority over them, in opposition to the will of the people; viz. California Guard, First Light Dragoons, City Guards, Wallace Guards, and National Lancers. " (10)

Although the Vigilance Committee had possession of their arms, on June 5, 1856, Captain Johns issued a statement that the California Guard had not disbanded as reported. (11)
A re-echo of the activities or inactivities of Captain Johns was heard on June 9, 1858, when in pursuance to General Orders, Captain Thomas D. Johns of the California Guards was arrested by Colonel J. P. Haven and brought to trial before a Military Court. The first charge against the Captain was refusing to obey an order issued by Major General William T. Sherman on June 6, 1856, when troops were notified to mobilize to put down the Vigilance Committee; second, that he took arms belonging to the State from the company's armory and turned them over to the Vigilantes.

The members of the Court Martial were Major General H. W. Carpenter, Brigadier General J. N. Cazneau, Brigadier General E. F. Allen, Captain S. 0. Houghton, Judge Advocate, Colonel J. P. Haven, and Adjutant General William Kibbe, the latter, however, not being present in any official capacity.

Captain Johns' defense was that the Commander-in-Chief, Governor Weller, lacked the legal authority to have tried any member of the militia under the rank of a field officer; that his trial should have been authorized by a Commandant of a regiment and that it had already gone beyond the statute of limitations. The trial was held in the rooms of the District Court Building in San Francisco and drew large numbers of persons as spectators. It was considered a farce, and according to some legal authorities of that day, was not conducted legally for the reason that the Court adjourned for a period of three days, whereas it should have specified its adjournment as from day to day. In ordering a Court Martial two years after the offense was said to have been committed, General Kibbe had taken a very unusual step. If Captain Johns violated the Law in 1856, he should have been required. to answer during that year, or not at all. To commence such a proceeding at such a late date was a mistake that brought ridicule for the militia authorities and, if such a policy had been persisted in, would have resulted in reviving the feelings of the Vigilance and anti-Vigilance sentiment, which would have accomplished no good. When on June 30,1858, Captain Johns was acquitted by the Court, the verdict met with the general approval of the public and press. (12)

The California Guard was one of the companies that attended the first Military Encampment, held in Sacramento, September 21 to September 26, 1859, which was very successful and helpful in promoting the essentials of actual camp life under military orders. At the Encampment the California Guard won and was presented with a silver bugle,and the committee complimented Captain Johns and his company on their efficiency. (13)

On February 4, 1869, Captain Bluxome wrote a letter to Governor Haight informing him that the proprietors of the armory building would eject the company if the rent was not paid, and Spring Valley Water Company had shut off the supply of water for non payment of the water bill, and the San Francisco Gas Company had notified him to be more prompt in paying the gas bill or the gas would be shut off. He estimated the indebtedness of the company at.$2,000, which was contracted before he took command, and requested the Governor to give the matter his serious attention, and threatened to resign his commission as Captain if something was not done about it. The monthly appropriation of $150 would not the rent which was $200 per month. That state of affairs was a decided contrast with the beginning of this famous old company that built one armory with their own funds and when it burned down built another,which was also destroyed by fire; then twenty years later, 1869, was threatened with ejection from their rented armory for non-payment of rent.

On the twenty-third day of August 1879, the entire Second Brigade was called to arms at the request of the Chief of Police of San Francisco in anticipation that an attempt would be made to lynch Charles De Young, editor and owner of the San Francisco Chronicle. De Young shot Dr.. I. S. Kalloch as the climax of a bitter political fight preceding the city election for the office of Mayor. Dr. Kalloch was the candidate of the Workingmen's Party, and the Chronicle was using their paper in an attempt to defeat him. Witnesses to the shooting stated that De Young had driven to the Temple where Kalloch had been speaking; then sent a messenger in to tell Dr. Kalloch that a lady in a closed carriage outside wished to see him. As Kalloch was within a few feet of the carriage, De Young whipped out a revolver and shot him twice.

The report of the shooting in such a cowardly manner incensed the citizens to the point of threatening to lynch De Young; in fact, the prompt action of the San Francisco police in rescuing De Young after his carriage had tipped over, prevented his being lynched on the spot where the shooting took place. The Chief of Police called on Brigadier General McComb for assistance which was promptly given. That evening about 11:00 P. M. three companies of the National Guard were quietly moved into the City prison. The three present were the First California Guard Artillery unit, Union Guard Gatling unit, and San Francisco Cadets, Company H, Infantry. These companies were on duty for about ten days, or until it was ascertained that Dr. Kalloch would not die, and the excitement had abated. The other companies of the National Guard were stationed at the several armories to protect their arms and be ready if needed. (14) De Young was never brought to trial because on April 23, 1880, just ten days before the date set for his trial, Isaac M. Kalloch, son of Dr. Kalloch, shot and killed De Young in the latter's office. (15)

During the year 1881, in accordance with the reorganization law of that year, the First California Guard was designated as Company B, and for further activities of the unit refer to Company B, Second Artillery Regiment, Second Brigade.

(1) Historical Sketches--The California Militia, 1849-1800. California Guardsmen April 1926, page 5.
(2) Adjutant General Report 1855, page 16.
(3) Daily Alta California, May 5, 1851, page 2, column 4.
(4) Daily Alta California, January 3, 1851, page 2, column 2.
(5) Daily Alta California, September 10, 1851, page 2, column 4.
(6) Daily Alta California, August 11, 1852, page 2, column 2
(7) Daily Alta California, December 11, 1852, page 2, column 2
(8) San Francisco Daily Herald October 10, 1854, page 2, column 2
(9) Sacramento Union, January 10, 1856, page 2, column 2
(10) Sacramento Union, June 7, 1856, Page 2, Column 5
(11) Sacramento Union, June 6, 1856, Page 2, Column 5.
(12) Sacramento Union, July 1, 1858, Page 2, Column 5.
(13) Sacramento Union, September 24, 1859, Page 2, Column 2.
(14) Daily Alta California, August 24,.1879, Page 1, Columns 1, 2, 3, and 4.
(15) Daily Alta California, April 24, 1880, Page 1, Column 2.
Regimental March

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Posted 30 December 2008 Updated 10 November 2017