California State Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Black Hussars
(San Francisco Hussars)
Membership certificate for the Black Hussars, California Militia, circa 1859. Anne S. K. Brown Collection, Brown University Library.
Other or Official Titles: Black Hussars (after 1881, San Francisco Hussars) Company B, First Battalion of Cavalry, Second Brigade, California Militia (after 1866, National Guard of California)
Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County
Armory: 110 Sacramento Street (1858)
Organized: 1857
Mustered in: December 16, 1859
Consolidated and redesignated: June 1, 1881 [1]
Redesignated: September 19, 1891 [2]

Records on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1859)
b. Bonds 2 documents (1867-1868)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 60 documents (1859-1887)
d. Election Returns 23 documents (1859-1884)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for 4 documents (1871-1883)
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 160 documents (1861-1891)
g. Oaths Qualifications 400 documents (1861-1889)
h. Orders 112 documents (1882-1889)
i. Receipts, invoices 24 documents (1863-1887)
j. Requisitions 11 documents (1864-1883)
k. Resignations 14 documents (1861-1889)
l. Target Practice Reports 18 documents (1866-1890)
m. Other Public Property, 1 document (1867)
n. Report of Inspection, 3 documents (1880-1887)
o. Parade Report, 6 documents (1882-1888)
p. Court Proceedings, 1 document (1895)
q. Certificate of Service, 1 document (1870)

Commanding Officers

G. G. Bradt, Captain; commissioned December 26., 1859
A. H. Houston; First Lieutenant; commissioned December 26., 1859

Charles H. Seymour, Captain; elected October 29, 1861; commissioned November 1, 1861
Thomas 0. Larkin, First Lieutenant; elected October 29, 1861; commissioned November 1, 1861

G. G. Bradt, Captain; elected October 28, 1863; commissioned November 2, 1863; reelected November 29, 1865
Jacob Strahle, First Lieutenant; elected October 28, 1863; commissioned November 2, 1863
John Schrieber, First Lieutenant; elected November 29, 1865

D. A. McDonald, Captain; elected December 18, 1867; commissioned December 12, 1868; reelected November 25, 1868; resigned September 14, 1870
William Moker, First Lieutenant; elected November 28, 1866; commissioned January 2, 1867
Christopher Krambeck, First Lieutenant; elected November 25, 1868; commissioned December 12, 1868

John Schrieber, Captain; elected October 5, 1870; commissioned October 24, 1870; reelected November 25, 1874
Christopher Krambeck, First Lieutenant; reelected November 30, 1870
Charles C. Keene, First Lieutenant; elected December 4, 1872; commissioned December 17, 1872; reelected November 25, 1874

Charles C. Keene, Captain; elected November 29, 1876; commissioned December 18, 1876; reelected December 4, 1878; November 24, 1880; November 22, 1886; December 7, 1887; November 28, 1888
Richard Harrold, First Lieutenant; elected November 29, 1876; commissioned December 18, 1876
Charles L. Howard, First Lieutenant; elected June 4, 1879; commissioned June 17, 1879
Martin Brunsen, First Lieutenant; elected June 22 1881; commissioned July 14, 1881
Samuel P. Blumenberg, First Lieutenant; elected December 2, 1885; commissioned January 5, 1885
Robert W. Reynolds, First Lieutenant; elected December 7, 1887
George P. Thomas, First Lieutenant; elected January 15, 1890

Samuel P. Blumenberg, Captain; elected January 7, 1891
John . Bronson, First Lieutenant; elected October 28, 1891
Official History
A member of the San Francisco Hussars, June 1877. Image courtesy of Jérôme Lantz.

The Black Hussars were organized on December 16, 1859, as a cavalry company. Their first Captain was G. G. Bradt, and A. H. Houston their First Lieutenant. The company was destined to have a long and useful existence in the service of the State. The Hussars apparently was a well drilled, well organized, independent company of cavalry for a few years prior to being mustered into the service of the National Guard.

On September 27, 1858, San Francisco staged a celebration in honor of the completion of the laying of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable. They were eight military companies participating in the event one of which was the Black Hussars. The company evidently associated their uniforms with their name for they were garbed in black uniforms trimmed with silver cord and during the celebration of the laying of the cable, they were mounted on black horses making a very striking appearance. [3] The Black Hussars also took part in a reception tendered to General Winfield Scott on October 18, 1859, when the General arrived in San Francisco. Governor Weller and other high state dignitaries were among those tendering their respects to the noted soldier and hero of the Mexican campaign. Other militia companies participating in the reception were the First California Guard, San Francisco Light Guard, Independent National Guard, Independent City Guard, California Fusileers, and the Marion Rifles. [4]

The name Black Hussars was changed to San Francisco Hussars when in 1862, the company changed the color and style of their unifornm to one more elegant than the old.[5]

On July 23, 1876, the entire Second Brigade was ordered under arms in anticipation of a riot that undoubtedly would result from mass meetings to be held denouncing the Chinese. The San Francisco Chief of Police requested that the troops be held in readiness and prepared for any emergency. Several times during the night, word came that the number of rioters was increasing and asking the militia to stand by. The police force was unable to cope with the situation or at least made no arrests, although Chinese washhouses and places of business were burned and destroyed, and the Chinese intimidated. This riotous condition existed for several nights until it culminated at seven o'clock in the evening of July twenty-ninth when the Chief of Police requested the troops to stop the disorder. At eight o'clock, the troops fully armed and equipped were on their way to the various destinations assigned to them. After remaining on duty until five a.m., the troops were dismissed at the request of the Chief of Police. The cavalry battalion to which the San Francisco Hussars was attached was very useful on occasions of riot and disorder, and performed excellent service during the outbreak.[6]

The agitation of the Workingmen against the Chinese continued to increase, causing the San Francisco Hussars to be called to arms subject to the direction of the Mayor of San Francisco on the tenth day of November 1877, remaining on duty nine days. On January 16, 1878, the troops were again called into active service at the request of the Mayor and approval of the Governor.

The anti-Chinese sentiment was a continual source of disturbance until the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.[7] The radical element of the unemployed had threatened to seize the arms of the National Guard in an unguarded moment. During the periods of unrest the authorities would place a guard at the armories to protect their property, and on occasions of threatened riots all units of the National Guard would be held in readiness at the armories.

On September 21, 1881, upon the recommendation of the Board of Survey, the First Light Dragoons were consolidated with the San Francisco Hussars and redesignated the San Francisco Hussars, unattached. Any members of the Dragoons not wishing to join the Hussars and all officers of the Dragoons were honorably discharged.[8] In August 1885, the San Francisco Hussars was the only cavalry troop in the National Guard,also the only unattached company. [9] The Hussars attended the annual Encampment held at Santa Cruz, California, from August 15 to 23, 1885. Major Royal T. Frank, United States Army, September 5, 1885, reported that the San Francisco Hussars was a small, but an efficient troop of cavalry; that the men were accustomed to horses, rode well, and were well drilled; the horses were good saddle horses, and many of them owned by their riders. [10]

The Twentieth National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic held in San Francisco, August 1886, was the occasion for a grand military parade. The First Division was led by the United States Troops from the Presidio and local posts, and consisted of a Battalion of Artillery and a Battalion of Infantry, under command of Colonel W. R. Shafter, First United States Infantry. Five regiments of the National Guard which acted as escort to Commander-in-Chief Burdette and the Grand Army of the Republic, followed the regulars. Major General Turnbull, who was accompanied by his staff, commanded the column. The First Infantry Regiment, Colonel J. H. Dickinson commanding, headed the National Guard. The troops were formed in double rank, and in column marched in platoons of sixteen files front. The Fifth Infantry, Colonel H. D, Ranlett commanding, followed the First Regiment in line. The splendid showing made by this regiment deserves great credit, since all the companies in the Fifth Regiment were out of town units. The Third Infantry, under command of Lieutenant Colonel Boland, came next and paraded three hundred and seventy-five men. Following the Third Regiment came the Second Artillery, under command of Colonel John T. Cutting. The artillerymen had a reputation of always parading full rank and making a neat appearance. With the red facings on their uniforms, which when on parade showed to advantage, they presented a handsome appearance. Bringing up the rear was Captain Keene's. gallant troop, the San Francisco Hussars. This troop was always greatly admired upon parade and received its full share of praise for its cavalier-like appearance. Its ranks were well dressed, the men looked like soldiers, and altogether the company was one of the best in the National Guard. Captain Keene's company paraded over sixty men. [11]

On January 6, 1891, Captain Charles C. Keene on his own request was placed on the retired list with the rank of Captain. [12] Captain Keene had a record of twenty-three years of continuous active service beginning in November 1868 when he was elected Junior Second Lieutenant; being promoted to First Lieutenant, December 1872, and made Captain, March 29, 1876. Captain Keene gave freely to the service of the National Guard, having given the best years, the prime years of his life.

On March 15, 1891, the San Francisco Hussars participated in the elaborate funeral rites for Senator George Hearst. A guard of honor from the Third Regiment kept watch over the remains as they rested in the Grace Episcopal Church for two days. The main feature of the funeral procession was the Second Brigade of the National Guard, under command of Brigadier-General John H. Dickinson. The casket was borne gently from the cathedral by six young soldiers of the National Guard. General Dickinson with his Staff Officers headed the procession. Then followed the San Francisco Hussars, under command of Captain Blumenberg and Light Battery A, Second Artillery, under command of Captain Hugh I. Sime. Then followed the Second Artillery Regiment, First Infantry, Fifth Infantry and the Third Infantry, completing the military part of the parade.[13]

On April 25, 1891, President Benjamin Harrison visited San Francisco. Unusual excitement prevailed as the President's boat arrived at the Ferry Building. For five minutes the bugles sounded the advance of the procession which proceeded up Market Street to the President's Headquarters at the Palace Hotel, and on to the Mechanics Pavilion. During the parade the San Francisco Hussars assisted the San Francisco Police in clearing the streets. This unit, under the leadership of Captain Blumenberg, rendered splendid service during the parade. [14]

The Hussars were again called upon for service at the ceremonies in connection with the transfer of the remains of the late King Kalakaua I, ruler of the Hawaiian Islands, from the Palace Hotel to the USS Charleston, Flagship of the United States Pacific Fleet, which was to carry all that was mortal of the King back to a sorrowing Kingdom. Six weeks earlier the Flagship Charleston had brought the Monarch to the United States in hopes that the change would bring rest, pleasure, and also restore his health.[15]

On January 7, 1891, Samuel P. Blumenberg was elected Captain of the San Francisco Hussars, but his election was disapproved by his Brigadier General, and by the Major General, for the reason that he had applied to the Civil Courts: First, for an order to compel the calling of an election; and secondly, to prevent the transfer of men to the company. It was deemed proper to call the attention of the National Guard to the gross impropriety of such proceedings, as they were taken contrary to all military law and precedent. There was no necessity that such a step be taken, as the Military Department was fully competent, and it was its duty to determine all such cases, and have exclusive jurisdiction as was decided in said proceedings. The commission was issued to Captain Blummenberg after he had proved satisfactorily that he was guided entirely by the advice of his attorneys in the premises, and did not realize until too late that it was wrong; with which explanation the officers who disapproved of his election expressed themselves as fully satisfied[16]

In September of 1891, the San Francisco Hussars decided by unanimous vote to change the name of San Francisco Hussars to First Troop Cavalry. The action was approved by Adjutant General C. C. Allen, and the top was to be known as First Troop Cavalry after September 19, 1891; and for continued activities refer to First Troop Cavalry, unattached, Second Brigade.

Marksmanship badge, San Francisco Hussars, circa 1863 (Image courtesy of Mr. Bob Albertini)


1. San Francisco Hussars, Company B and First Light Dragoons, Company A consolidated and resumed the designation of San Francisco Hussars, Company B, September 23, 1881. Adjutant General Report 1881-1882, General Order No. 21, page 87.
2. San Francisco Hussars, unattached, redesignated as First Troop Cavalry, September 19, 1891. Adjutant General Report 1891-1892, General Order No. 16, page 88.
3. San Francisco Daily Herald, September 28, 1858, page 2, column 2.
4. Sacramento Union, October 19, 1859, page 3, column 3.
5. San Francisco Daily Herald, January 9, 1862, page 1, column 2.
6. Adjutant General Report 1875-1877, page 73.
7. Adjutant General Report 1877-1879, page 76.
8. Adjutant General Report 1881, General Order No. 21, page 87.
9. Adjutant General Report 1885-1886, page 117.
10. Adjutant General Report 1885-1886, page 125.
11. San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 1886, page 1, columns 1-9.
12. Adjutant General Report 1891-1892, Special Order No. 1, page 138.
13. San Francisco Chronicle, March 16, 1891, page 10, columns 1-5.
14. San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1891, page 11, columns l-7.
15. San Francisco Chronicle, January 23, 1891, page 10, columns 1-4.
16. Adjutant General Report, 1891-1892, page 71
17. Adjutant General Report 1891-1892, General Order No. 16, page 88.
This history was written in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the Office of the Adjutant General and the California State Library
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