On November 29, 1858, M.C. Blake, County Judge of San Francisco County, appointed Major Isaac Rowell to enroll members in a volunteer military company to be known as the California Fusileers. The name fusileer (or fusilier) originally applied to a soldier armed with a fusil. In the British Army the designation Fusiliers is still retained by ten regiments distinguished from the other regiments of the line only by wearing a kind of busby and other peculiarities in costume.
Accordingly on December 9, 1858, Major Rowell presided at the meeting and superintended the election of officers of this new organization. F. G. E. Tittel was elected Captain and Peter Lesser, First Lieutenant. The company was composed almost entirely of German citizens of San Francisco and was a well drilled unit.
Their first recorded appearance in public was in connection with the elaborate military reception tendered to General Winfield Scott on October 18, 1859. Governor Weller and other dignitaries attended the reception and tendered their respect to the famous hero of the Mexican Campaign. (1)
The path of the California Fusileers proved to be rough and rather stormy for in the latter part of 1863, a bitter feud between Captain Tittel and Colonel West, commanding the First Regiment of Infantry, culminated in the refusal of Colonel West to deliver uniforms to Company E, California Fusileers as long as Captain Tittel was in command. When Captain Tittel was promoted to Colonel of the Sixth Infantry Regiment, First Lieutenant John Obeneimer made a new demand to Colonel West for their uniforms.
The Colonel again refused to deliver the uniforms until the company should show that their bona fide active members were sufficient to comply with the law, and that the officers evinced a disposition to do their duty and obey proper orders and regulations. In reply to this letter, the Lieutenant urged the Colonel to prefer charges against him if he had been negligent in duty or disobeyed orders. The Lieutenant was a "fighter" evidently, for he not only contradicted the Colonel but he took the matter up with Brigadier-General Ellis, who then ordered.an inspection of the company by Major Hill on December 10, 1863. The inspection showed their arms and equipirient in good and serviceable order, their books well kept but in German language, the discipline of the company good and their drill passable. Thirty-seven members were in old and badly worn uniforms, and seven without any uniforms. These uniforms belonged to the old company and were private property.
The records do not reveal the outcome of the strife, but it is assumed that the unit received their uniforms for soon after the passing of the Inspection, the California Fusileers were transferred to the Sixth Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade as Company A. The Colonel of this Regiment was the California Fusileers' first Captain (F. C. E. Tittel) and no doubt the new assignment ended the ill-feeling between Colonel West and the California Fusileers.
With the conclusion of the Civil War the
need for a large militia force was lessened and the Legislature
passed a law reducing the number of the militia. This law provided
for the organization of a Board of Organization and Location.
The duty of this Board was to select companies that were to be
mustered out, their selection being decided according to local
requirements, ability.to concentrate on short notice, and the
ability to meet the standards required regarding efficiency and
enrollment of individual companies. It is assumed the California
Fusileers was mustered out because of their location in relation
to military need, since a large number of companies were mustered
out in San Francisco for that reason. Their mustering out occurred
on July 23, 1866.
(1) Sacramento Union, October 19, 1859, page 3, column 3.