- California: The Civil War Years
- by Brigadier General Donald E.
- The California Battalion consisted of
Companies A, C, F, L and M and were known as the California 100
and California Cavalry Battalion. These companies were part of
the second Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment and participated in
campaigns and skirmishes. The California Troops, known as the
California Column, were under the command of General James H.
Carleton and was composed of the 1st Regiment of Cavalry, 1st
Battalion of Native Cavalry, and the 1st, 5th and 7th Infantry
Regiments which served in Arizona New Mexico and Texas.
The 2nd Regiment of Cavalry and the 3rd Regiment of Infantry
under P. Edward Conner kept the overland
route to California open. The 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th Infantry
Regiments and 1st Battalion of Mountaineers provided internal
security in Northern California, Oregon and Washington by preventing
- During the Civil War approximately 17,000
Californians served the Union as U.S. volunteers. With the exceptions
of the Californians who served in the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry,
the California forces took no part in any of the great battles
of the Civil War; yet the service they rendered was of as great
importance as that rendered by those of other states. It was
as severe, entailing long and fatiguing marches across burning
deserts and among almost inaccessible mountains. They were engaged
in hundreds of fights with Indians and small forces of Confederate
troops on the frontiers in Texas and New Mexico. It was a constant
source of regret that they were never ordered east. The Federal
Government deemed it wisest to keep them on the Pacific Coast
and in territories. They occupied nearly all the posts from get
Sound, Washington Territory, to San Elizano, Texas, and they
performed their duty faithfully, notwithstaning their
disappointinent. It was out of absolute necessity that Californians
maintained military posts vacated by the regular Army units which
were ordered east.
- California did not follow the usual custom
of mustering militia companies into regiments, although 12 companies
did offer their services and were accepted. It was deemed a wiser
policy to let local militia companies remain under state status
because of the great amount of Southern sympathizers, Indian
depredations, and possible foreign intervention.
- In summary, the California Volunteers
of 1861-1867 were magnificent troops. The particular composition
and character of the population, the proportion of veterans,
many experienced in high commands; the infulance of active and
retired Army officers, especially the influance of Generals Sherman, Sumner, Wright, Halleck,
Hooker and Allen, a good militia; careful
selection of officers and a good system of promotion were the
main reason foe the excellence of the troops.
Reading on Californians and the Civil War