California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
History of the California State Militia, 1942-1943
 
 
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the California State Militia, 1942-1943
 
 
History of the California State Militia
by Sgt. Maj. (CA) Daniel M. Sebby, Military Historian, California Military Department

 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Californians were anxious about the defense of their state from possible attacks by the Japanese. This was concern was heightened during Christmas week of 1941 when submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began attacking commercial shipping along the West Coast of the United States and Canada. Several ships were attacked, and many were sunk. Later in February 1942, the IJN returned to California waters to again attack commercial shipping and launch a gunfire attack on the Ellwood Oil Fields, north of Santa Barbara. These attacks, coupled with the panic caused by a possible INJ overflight of Los Angeles on the night of 24-25 February 1942, caused many officials to believe that California was about to be invaded.

Although California already had the California State Guard, the force that replaced the then Federalized California National Guard, that had 13 infantry regiments and supporting troops, these troops were primarily in major metropolitan areas and then only two of these were in Northern California. These left large portions of rural California where there were no Army, Marine Corps or State Guard land forces to guard important infrastructure and lines of communications. Governor Olson envisioned a 100,000-member force of rural Californians guarding bridges, telephone and power lines, natural gas, oil and water pipelines and other infrastructure from sabotage and possible invasion.

On 24 April 1942, Governor Culbert Olson authorized the formation of a tertiary state defense force known as the California State Militia (CSM). Like the antebellum and Civil War-era California Militia (1849-1866), the CSM would consist of locally raised independent licensed military units. The CSM numbered over 300 units ranging in size from a rifle squad to an reinforced infantry battalion. These were almost universally infantry formations known as "Rifles" (i.e., Red Bluff Rifles, Arvin Rifles, etc.). There were also a handful of cavalry troops and even a coast artillery searchlight battery.

Although primarily a rural defense force, the State Militia allowed units to be formed in the same areas of operation that California State Guard regiments operated in. The CSM also allowed may ethnic units to be formed from the African-American, Hispanic, Chinese, Korean and Filipino communities, as well as at least one unit of Free French nationals known as the California Foreign Legion.

It appears that units, although formed and functioning, did not receive their licenses from the Adjutant General until the fall of 1942. Units were formed by American Legion and VFW posts, county sheriffs, city and county defense councils and groups of concerned citizens. In one case, the Army Air Forces' Sacramento Air Depot at McClellen Field organized many of its civilian workers into four rifles companies to augment its air base defense forces.

Unfortunately, the CSM suffered from a lack of funding and equipment and was almost universally self-equipped by unit members. There was no standard issued weapons and "rifle" units using personal hunting rifles and shotguns was the norm. One member of the St. Helena Rifles even reported for duty with a Civil War-era .50 caliber Spencer Repeating Rifle and bayonet. The proscribed uniform of the CSM was the standard Army khaki uniform with a one-inch wide navy blue band on the cuffs of their shirts and jackets. Officers had navy blue shoulder straps on their shirts and coats and the "CAL." Or "C.S.M." insignia in place of the Army's "U.S.". In practice, it's not know if this was regulation was generally followed.

In 1942, the California State Guard underwent a reorganization that dropped the 1st Quartermaster Regiment, 1st Engineer Regiment, 1st Evacuation Regiment and several smaller support units from their order of battle. Many of these units were almost immediately reestablished in the State Militia as licensed units. These were almost universally in Los Angeles County.

In 1943, Earl Warren became Governor and Commander in Chief of the state's military forces and ordered a review of the roles and missions of both the CSG and CSM. This resulted in a reorganization and expansion of the CSG into many rural communities and replacing its active defense mission to one of internal security. Many CSM units were transferred to the new CSG force structure while the rest were disbanded. On 1 October 1943, the Adjutant General revoked all outstanding licenses and the California State Militia ceased to exist.

The history of the California State Militia has never been documented officially. All that exists are some mentions in the 1946 History of the California State Guard, a handful of primary source documents and about 2,000 news articles on the internet. If you know of any information or images of the CSM, please contact the author at daniel.sebby@militarymuseum.org.

 
 
Other Online Historical Resources
 
Rules and Regulations: California State Militia and Licensed Military Companies (1942)
 
 
Units of the California State Militia, 24 April 1942-1 October 1943

Alameda County
Hayward
Hayward Rifles
Livermore
Livermore Valley Rifles
Butte County
Biggs
Biggs Rifles
Chico
Chico Cavalry
Chico Rifle Company/Chico Rifles
Durham
Durham Rifles
Feather Falls Rifles
Gridley
Gridley Rifles
West Gridley Rifles
Oroville
Wyandotte Rifles
Palermo
Palermo Rifles
Pentz
Pentz Rifles
Richvale
Richvale Rifles
Sterling City
Sterling City Rifles
Calaveras County
Murphy's
Murphy's Rifles
White Pines
White Pines Rifles
Colusa County
Arbuckle
College City Johns-Arbuckle Rifles
Colusa
Colusa Rifles
Maxwell
Maxwell Rifles
Stonyford
Stonyford Rifles
Unspecified Community
Sacramento River Valley Rifles
Williams
Williams Rifles
Contra Costa County
Antioch
Antioch Rifles
Concord
Ygnacio Valley Rifles
Marsh Creek
Marsh Creek Rifles
Del Norte County
Crescent City
Crescent City Rifles
Smith River
Fort Dick Rifles
Klamath
Klamath Rifles
El Dorado County
El Dorado
El Dorado Rifles
Fresno County
Coalinga
Coalinga Rifles
Fresno
Fresno Rifles
Vinland
Vinland Rifles
Glenn County
Elk Creek
Elk Creek Rifles
Glenn
Glenn-Ord Rifles
Willows
Willows Rifles
Humboldt County
Alderpoint
Alderpoint Rifles
Carlotta
Carlotta Rifles
Holmes
Holmes Rifles
Loleta
Loleta Rifles
Orick
Orick Rifles
Imperial County
Highline
Highline Rifles
Holtville
Alamitos Rifles
Lamont
Lamont Rifles
Mount Signal
Mount Signal Sharpshooters
Mulberry
Spruce-Mulberry Rifles.
Niland
Alamo Rifles
Silsbee
Silsbee Sharpshooters
Unspecified Communities
1st Imperial Rifles
Eastside Rifles
Jasper Rifles
Rose Minute Men
Verde
Verde Rifles
Westmoreland
Westmoreland Rifles
Kern County
Arvin
Arvin Rifles
Bakersfield
Bakersfield Rifles
North of the River Rifles
Delano
Delano Rifles
Kern River Valley
Kern River Valley Rifles
Lamont
Lamont Rifles
Magunden
Magunden Rifles
McKitterick
.McKittrick Rifles
Randsburg
Rand Rifle Company
Tehachapi Pass
Tehachapi Pass Rifles
Unspecified Communities
Kern Delta Rifles
Pon Rifles
Sierra Vista Rifles
White River
White River Rifles
Kings County
Avenal
Avenal Rifles
Hanford
Guernsey Sharpshooters
Hanford Rifles
Lemoore
Lemoore Sharpshooters
Stratford
Stratford Rifles
Lake County
Clearlake Oaks
Clearlake Oaks Rifles
Clearlake Highlands
Clearlake Highlands Rifles
Kelseyville
Kelseyville Rifles
Lakeport
Clearlake Emergency Rifles
Lakeport Rifles
Middletown
Middletown Rifles
Upper Lake
Upper Lake Rifles
Lassen County
Bieber
Bieber-Nubueber Rifles
Janesville and Milford
Janesville-Milford Rifles
Johnstonville
Johnstonville Rifles
Juniper Ridge
Juniper Ridge Rifles
Susanville
Susanville Veterans
Los Angeles County
Los Angeles
1st Aero Regiment
1st California Mechanized Cavalry Regiment
1st Engineer Regiment
1st Evacuation Regiment .
1st Infantry Regiment
1st Mechanized Quartermaster Regiment
1st Mobile Power Engineer Regiment
1st Mounted Patrol
1st Nationalist Reserve (Filipino)
1st Rifles Regiment:
Company A
2nd Cavalry Regiment:
Headquarters and Headquarters Troop
Troop B
2nd Engineer Regiment
2nd Regiment
3rd Regiment
4th Regiment
7th Women's Ambulance and Nursing Corps
California Chinese Reserves
California Foreign Legion
California Korean Reserves
Signal Corps Motion Picture Division
United Mexican Reserves
Lancaster
Lancaster-Roosevelt Rifles
Pomona
1st Pomona Rifles
Rivera and Pico
Rivera- Pico Rifles
Madera County
Chowchilla
Ashview-Alamo Rifles
Dixieland
Dixieland Rifles
Madera
Madera High School Rifles
Madera and Storey
Madera-Storey Rifles
North Fork
North Fork Rifles
Marin County
Bolinas
Bolinas Rifles
Ignacio
Ignacio Rifles
Inverness
Inverness Rifles
Mill Valley
Mill Valley Rifles
Nicasio
Nicasio Rifles
Novato
Novato Rifles
Point Reyes
Point Reyes Rifles
Point Reyes Station
Point Reyes Station Rifles
San Geronimo
San Geronimo Rifles
Tomales
Tomales Rifles
Mariposa County
Cathay
Cathay Rifles
Coulterville
Coulterville Rifles
El Portal
El Portal Rifles
Mariposa
Mariposa Rifles
Mendocino County
Albion
Albion Rifles
Casper
Casper Camp 20 Rifles
Comptche
Comptche Rifles
Elk
Elk Rifles
Gualala
Gualala Rifles
Hopland
Hopland Rifles
Laytonville
Laytonville Rifles
Manchester
Manchester Rifles
Mendocino
Mendocino Rifles
Navarro
Navarro Rifles
Point Arena
Fish Rock Rifles
Potter Valley
Navarro Rifles
Redwood Valley
Redwood Valley Rifles
Ukiah
Ukiah Rifles
Willits
Willits Rifles
Merced County
Delhi
Delhi Rifles
Gustine
Gustine Rifles
Hilmar
Hilmar Rifles
La Grand
La Grand Rifles
Planada
Planada Rifles
Modoc County
Alturas
Alturas Rifles
Goose Lake
Goose Lake Rifles
Providence and Adin
Providence-Adin Rifles
Surprise
Surprise Rifles
Mono County
Antelope
Mono Antelope Rifles:
Monterey County
Carmel Valley
Carmel Valley Cavalry:
Castroville
Castroville Rifles
Indian Valley
Indian Valley Rifles No. 2
King City
King City Rifles
Lonoak
Peach Tree Rifles
Parkfield
Parkfield Rifles
Salinas
Corral de Tierra Rifles
Salinas Filipino Rifles
San Ardo
San Ardo Rifles
Soledad
Gonzales-Soledad Rifles
Napa County
Monticello
Monticello Rifles
Napa
Napa Rifles
Saint Helena
Saint Helena Rifles
Yountville
Yountville Rifles
Orange County
Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa Rifles
Cypress
Cypress Rifles
Tustin
North Fork Rifles
Placer County
Loomis and Rocklin
Loomis-Rocklin Rifles
Plumas County
Indian Valley
Indian Valley Rifles
Vinton
Vinton Cavalry
Riverside County
Mira Loma
Mira Loma Rifles
San Jacinto
San Jacinto Mountain Scouts
San Jacinto Rough Riders
Sacramento County
Sacramento
3rd California Cavalry Regiment
East Sacramento Rifles
Western Pacific Rifle Company
Herald and Galt
Herald-Galt Rifles
McClellan Field
McClellan Field Rifle Companies No. 1, 2, 3 and 4
North Sacramento
North City Rifle Company
San Benito County
Hollister
San Benito Battalion
San Bernadino County
Redland
Redland Rifles
San Diego County
Alpine
Alpine Rifles
Carlsbad
Carlsbad Rifles
El Cajon
El Cajon Rifles
Encinitas
Encinitas Rifles
La Mesa
La Mesa Rifles
Oceanside
Oceanside Rifles
Ramona
Ramona Rifles
San Luis Rey
San Luis Rey Rifles
San Ysidro
San Ysidro Rifles
Spring Valley
Spring Valley Rifles
Unspecified Community
De Anza Rifles
San Francisco County
San Francisco
1st Cavalry Regiment
Troop A
17th Infantry Regiment
American Chinese Reserve
San Joaquin County
Liberty
Liberty Rifles
Ripon
Ripon Rifles
Stockton
Stockton Rifles
Thornton
Thornton Rifles
San Luis Obispo County
Avila Beach
Avila Rifles
Cayucos
Cayucos Rifles
Cholame
Cholame Rifles
Harmony
Harmony Rifles
Nipomo
Nipomo Rifles
Oceano
Oceano Rifles
Paso Robles
Paso Robles Rifles
Pozo
Pozo Rifles
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo Rifles
Shandon
Shandon Rifles
Templeton
Templeton Rifles
Unspecified Community
Santa Lucia Rifles
San Mateo County
La Honda
La Honda Rifles
Menlo Park
Fremont Rifles
Santa Barbara County
Carpenteria
Carpenteria Volunteers
Ellwood
Ellwood Rifles
Goleta
Goleta Guerillas
Lompoc
Lompoc Mission Marksmen
Orcutt
Orcutt Rifles
North Fork
North Fork Rifles
Santa Barbara
Coast Defenders
Santa Rita
Santa Rita Snipers
Sisquoc
Sisquoc Rifles
Santa Clara County
Almaden
Almaden Rifles
Alviso
Alviso Rifles
Campbell
Campbell Minute Men
Los Gatos
Los Gatos Rifles
Milpitas
Milpitas Rifles
Mount Hamilton
Mount Hamilton Rifles
San Jose
San Jose Commandos
San Jose Snipers
Sunnyvale
Sunnyvale Rifles
Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz
8th Area Rifles
Santa Cruz Rifles
Valley Rifles
Shasta County
Burney
Burney Rifles
Fall River Mills
Fall River Mills Rifles
Pit One Rifles
Glenburn
Glenburn Rifles
Igo
Igo Rifles
McArthur
McArthur Rifles
Pollack
Pollack Rifles
Whitmore
Whitmore Rifles
Sierra County
Loyalton
Loyalton Rifles
Siskiyou County
Callahan
Callahan Rifles
Dorris
Dorris Rifles
Edgewood
Edgewood Rifles
Fort Jones
Fort Jones Rifles
Grenada
Grenada Rifles
Hilt
Hilt Rifles
Hornbrook
Hornbrook Rifles
Macdoel
Macdoel Rifles
McCloud
McCloud Reserve Platoon
Tule Lake
Tule Lake Rifles
Solano County
Birds Landing
Birds Landing Rifles
Dixon
Dixon Rifles
Fairfield
Armijo Rifles
Rio Vista
Rio Vista Rifles
Vacaville
Vacaville Rifles
Sonoma County
Alexander Valley
Alexander Valley Rifles
Bennett Valley
Bennett Valley Rifles
Bloomfield
Bloomfield Rifles
Bodega
Bodega Rifles
Cazadero
Cazadero Rifles
Edgewood
Edgewood Rifles
Forestville
Forestville Rifles
Fulton
Fulton Rifles
Geyserville
Geyserville Rifles
Green Valley
Green Valley Rifles
Guerneville
Guerneville Rifles
Healdsburg and Windsor
Healdsburg-Windsor Rifles
Kenwood
Kenwood Rifles
Mark West Springs
Mark West Springs Rifles
Olivet
Olivet Rifles
Petaluma
Petaluma Rifles
Pocket Canyon
Pocket Canyon Rifles
Two Rock
Two Rock Rifles
Unspecified Communities
Freeburn Sharpshooters
Hall Rifles
Upper Dry Creek Rifles
Wilson-San Antonio Rifles
Valley Ford
Valley Ford Rifles
White "O" Ranch
West Side Rangers
Windsor
Windsor Rifles
Stanislaus County
Ceres
Ceres Rifles
Denair
Denair Rifles
Hughson
Hughson Rifles
Modesto
Modesto Rifles
Sutter County
Live Oak
Live Oak Rifles
Meridian
Meridian Rifles
Robbins
Robbins Sharpshooters
Unspecified Community
Franklin Volunteers
Wilson
Wilson Guerillas
Tehema County
Cottonwood
South Fork Scouts
Corning
Corning Rifles
Manton
Forward Mills Rifles
Campbell
Campbell Minute Men
Los Molinos
Los Molinos Rifles
Red Bluff
Antelope Rifles
Bend Rifles
Paskenta Rifles
Red Bank Rifles
Red Bluff Rifles No. 1
Red Bluff Rifles No. 2
Tehema
Tehema Rifles
Vina
Vina Rifles
Tulare County
Elderwood
Elderwood Rifles
Farmersville
Farmersville Rifles
Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe Rifles
Lemon Grove
Lemon Grove Rifles
Porterville
Poplar Rifles
Tipton
Tipton Rifles
Tulare
Tulare Rifles
Unspecified Communities
Aurora Rifles
Los Robles Rifles
Waukena
Waukena-Tulare Rifles
Ventura County
Camarillo
Camarillo Rifles
Fillmore
Fillmore Rifles
Ojai
Upper Ojai Rifles
Santa Paula
Santa Paula Rifles
Santcoy Rifles
Simi
Simi Rifles
Yuba County
Arboga
Arboga Rifles
Marysville
4th Observation Squadron
Yuba City
Barry Volunteers
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Updated 19 October 2017