California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
California: The Civil War Years
by Brigadier General Donald E. Mattson, Chief of Military History, California State Military Department
 
 
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 51 Regimental Band, 3d Regiment California Volunteers,  Fort Douglas, Utahbattles, 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 Indian depredations.
 
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, Gudion, California Cavalry Battalionnotwithstaning 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.


Recommended Reading on Californians and the Civil War


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