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Citizens of Crescent City
 

Official Title: Citizens of Crescent City, Sixth Division., Second Brigade

Location: Crescent City, Klamath County (now Del Norte County)

Mustered in: May 3. 1856

Mustered out: May 3. 1856

Commanding Officers


History:

The pioneer settlers of Northern California had been having continuous trouble with the Indians who were hostile to the white newcomers settling on Indian native territory. On January 10, 1856, the citizens of Crescent City in then Klamath County, desiring to have military protection, petitioned Governor J. Neely Johnson for his assistance and asked for a volunteer company to be supplied with the necessary arms. Following is the petition. (2)
 
To his Excellency J. Neely Johnson, Governor of the State of California
 
We the undersigned petitioners,, do most respectfully urge upon your Excellency's consideration, the dangerous and alarming position of many of the inhabitants of the northern portion of the State, and more particularly those of the County of Klamath, in the vicinity of Crescent City,
 
And for the benefit and general safety of fellow citizens in that portion of the State from the aggression of the numerous hostile Indians, from whom they have already suffered so much, and who are at the present time at open warfare with our citizens;
 
We therefore respectfully urge upon your Excellency the necessity of giving them some immediate and prompt relief, and for that purpose respectfully petition your Excellency to call out in the service of the State, one volunteer company. Knowing the same to be necessary for the protection of the lives and property of its inhabitants.
 
Hoping your Excellency will give this appeal the prompt and decided action the necessity of the case demands,
 
We have the honor to subscribe ourselves your Excellency's most obt. svts.
 
(Signed)
I. D. Bosh
Walter McDonald
A. G. Whipple
C. A. Hillman
L. D. Watkins
 
Sacramento City
January 10, 1856
 
These five signers were all prominent men in civic affairs throughout the northern counties. J. D. Cosby was a Brigadier General of the Sixth Division Staff; Walter McDonald was one of two Commissioners appointed by the Governor to examine all claims held by the citizens of Siskiyou, Klamath, and Humboldt Counties for services and supplies during the Indian campaigns, later he became Representative in the State Legislature from the district; and Stephen G. Whipple became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Humboldt Military District in 1863.
 
Five days later Governor Johnson presented the petition to the Senate and Assembly then in session with the following message (3)

Executive Department January 15, 1856

 

To the Hon:
The Senate and Assembly of the State of California
 
I herewith present a communication in relation to Indian disturbances, in the northern portion of this State, signed by the Honorables J. D. Cosby, and Walter McDonald, besides by otherwell known citizens.
 
It will be seen that the signers of such petition request the aid of one volunteer company for the protection of the citizens against hostile Indians; but deeming the authority of the Executive, to accede to such request, under existing circumstances, at least a matter of doubtful propriety, I would therefore respectfully call your immediate attention to this subject., that you may take such action herein, as a due regard for the best interests of the State, and the protection of her citizens demand, at the hands of the Government.
 
I would also inform your Hon. Bodies that my predecessor in office on the 19th Inst. issued an order directing thirty men, to be called into the service of the State for the purposes indicated in the petition herein referred to.
 
'The only information known., on which this statement is founded is derived from a memorandum to that effect in the order Book of the Sect. of State, and I am therefore unable to furnish any additional information as to the action, if any, taken in pursuance of such order.
 
I have the honor to be
 
Very respectfully,
 
Your obt. svt.
 
(signed)
J. Neely Johnson
Governor
 
J. B. Rosborough, a citizen of Klamath County, also wrote to General Kibbe in regard to the formation of a volunteer company and the provision of arms for the unit. In his letter he gave a summary of information about arms which had been distributed in the district previously. To quote a portion: "Arms sent up in late 1853 or early 1854 in care of the County Judge had been let out on deposits (i.e. sold for $15 each) and a considerable portion of the same had been taken to Gold Beach and Port Oxford where they had been disposed of in the "Squaw Trade". Two companies had been formed in 1854, at least nominally organized, one, the Klamath Rangers by Captain Terry (a gambler) and the other, Coast Rangers by Captain Thorpe (a filibuster). Each unit drew arms and equipment which were dispersed as follows: some to Oregon, some to the Klamath River, and the rest, no one knew where, in fact,, not over a dozen remained at the service of the community." Mr. Rosborough further stated in the letter that "there was not more than enough material on hand to equip the United States Army under command of Captain Jones. In view of the lawless and cowardly ruffians who were creating difficulties in the immediate vicinity by indiscriminate slaughter of unarmed and, as yet, quiet Indians, there was a backwardness on the part of the residents to send assistance to the mouth of the Rogue River". Mr. Rosborough made a double-request in the letter to the Governor, "First to forward arms, and second to call out a volunteer company". As regards the first request, it was urged for immediate action, and for the second, Mr. Rosborough suggested that the arms for the proposed unit be put in the charge of responsible parties for their safe keeping and return to the Benicia Arsenal. He thought this suggestion the more important, due to the "Procrastinating and imbecile management of the Indian affairs in California, in fact and effort, such as to leave the selections of the same utterly to the control of the most brutal and worthless of the white population". In ending this letter, Mr. Rosborough "Begged to be excused for having spoken so plainly of this matter upon only a casual acquaintance, and gave as reference, Honorable Walter McDonald, Representative in the Legislature from the Klamath district". (4)
 
Mr. E. H. Burns, who had been given a letter of introduction to Adjutant General William C. Kibbe, apparently delivered this letter of Mr. Rosborough's to the Adjutant General. (5) There is no doubt but that Mr. Rosborough's letter carried enough influence to add to the petition which been presented with the Governor's message to the Legislature, so as to induce the two Legislative bodies to rush the necessary steps through in order that the residents in the northern counties be given the necessary assistance. The Governor's message and petition were formally acted upon on March second, it by the Governor and passed and the resultant Act was approve on March 12, 1856. (6)
An Act to Call out a Company of Volunteers for the Suppression of Indian Hostilities in Klamath County, and to Make an Appropriation for same
 
Section 1: The Governor of this State is hereby authorized and required to call into the service of the State, for the suppression of Indian hostilities in Klamath County, a Mounted Volunteer Company, consisting of not more than fifty men; said company shall be mustered into the service of the State., under the provisions of the Act entitled "An Act concerning the Organization of the Militia.," passed April twenty-fifth, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and fiftyfive.
 
2: The Governor is hereby authorized to appoint a suitable person to enroll and organize said company; he shall also appoint and commission some suitable person to act as Quartermaster and Commissary of said company, with the rank of Lieutenant, who shall transmit to the Quartermaster and Adjutant General of this State at the end of each and every month during the time said company shall be continued in service, a statement of all moneys expended, and a copy of each and every voucher made.
 
3: The sum of fifteen thousand dollars is. hereby appropriated, out of any moneys in the General Fund not otherwise appropriated., for the purpose of defraying the expenses of said company while in service.
 
4: The Governor shall continue the said company in service for such length of time as the emergencies of the case may require.

 

 
While the Legislature was considering the request of the citizens for guard protection., Governor Johnson appointed David W.. Gilmore to go to the Klamath territory to investigate for him. It was the Governor's belief that the United States forces in that quarter could not render efficient and necessary protection. Mr. Gilmore was authorized to instruct Mr. Rosborough, if the situation was urgent, to take steps as desired by the citizens, also, to order out the stand of arms that had already been sent north by the Governor. If a company was organized, Edward Y. Naylor was to act as Ouartermaster and Commissary of the unit. and their subsistence while in service of the State. (7)
 
In Mr. Gilmore's first report to the Governor on the day of his arrival, he stated, "There was no immediate danger, as the United States Army troops, under General Wool, were apparently able to take care of the situation, and although, the residents were anxious to obtain the guns, Messrs. Rosborough, Naylor and Burns, had refused to turn the arms over to the the necessity should occur to use them. (8) Two weeks later Mr. Gilmore was still of the opinion that there was no necessity for calling together a militia, unless, "The United States troops should get whipped, and if that happened it would require all the available forces in that part of the country" A rumor reached Crescent City in regard to the Hoopa Valley Indians and Mr. Rosborough had gone to ascertain necessary information.(9) Should these Hoopa Indians, who were a part of the Klamath Indians, commence hostilities, serious consequences might ensue as they could raise from twelve thousand to thirteen thousand warriors in a short time. In fact, Mr. W. Whipple, the Indian Agent, was afraid of the hostiles' committing mischief. At this time news came from Port Oxford that Indians had burned two homes, and had attacked another one in Smith River Valley. (10) Therefore, the residents again met to petition Mr. Rosborough for the enrolling of the military company. Having already received his instructions to proceed along these lines if the necessity arrived, Mr. Rosborough enrolled thirty mounted men into a militia company designated as the "Citizens of Crescent City". The men were to be in service for a period of thirty days if not discharged sooner. He also directed Mr. Naylor to act as Quartermaster and Commissary as prearranged. It was expected that ten days would be sufficient time to clear up this trouble and that the whole expenditure would not exceed $2,000. Although Mr. Gilmore was averse to calling out a company, yet upon direct appeal from the citizens he felt compelled to concede to their demands, and recommended to the Governor that a volunteer corps be mustered into service in the Klamath region.
 
In reaching this decision he considered the possibility of persons being killed by some of the struggling bands of Indians who might be driven in that direction by the Regular troops who were operating against the Indians on Rogue River. If trouble did occur where the citizens were unprotected, the public would censure Mr. Gilmore and Governor Johnson; therefore,, the Governor's appointee reasoned it was wiser to allow the residents to carry the responsibility. There seemed to be a determination on the part of a great many to secure the $1,500 appropriated for the establishment of a company; the only difference of opinion was in regard to the available means of getting it.
 
Mr. Naylor, Quartermaster and Commissary gave a detailed Report of the activities of the volunteers,, which had been mustered in May third, for service against the Indians. Immediately after mustering in, the company was ordered to Smith River Valley, locating its headquarters at Lieutenant Crook's home, where they were divided into two squads. One command under Lieutenant Coyle encamped at the mouth of Smith River, the other command under Captain Gordon remained at Lieutenant Crook's home. These two points were considered the most exposed in the valley, being most adjacent to trails leading to the coast and from the headwaters of Chitco River. On the morning of the tenth, Lieutenant Coyle surprised and killed one Indian up the river, sighted others who were too far away, and returned to camp. Nothing further of interest occurred until about the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth when Captain Gordon ordered both commands to proceed across Smith River on a reconnaissance to Chitco and they were gone some ten days, but returned without affecting anything. On the thirty-first, Lieutenant Coyle was ordered up the river, divided his command into two parties, putting Sergeant Van Pelt in command of the second group. The Sergeant's command surprised a party of six or eight prowling Indians, succeeded in killing three of them, wounding one and capturing one woman, from whom they obtained the information that there was a large body of Indians on the headwaters of the Chitco. These Indians were awaiting the return of their Chief who had gone to the Big Meadow on Rogue River for the purpose of drawing up a peace treaty with Colonel Buchanan. The woman was kept prisoner until the first of June, when she made her escape. Nothing further transpired and the volunteers returned to Crescent City to be mustered out June third. It was the opinion of Mr. Naylor that the presence of the company had saved the inhabitants from being murdered and the property destroyed.(12)

The itemized abstract of expenses for this volunteer-company was submitted by Adjutant General Kibbe to Governor J. Neely Johnson in the Annual Report of his Department for the year of 1856, and is quoted in full: (13)
"Abstract of Expenses of a Company of Volunteers mustered into the Service of the State by Order of his Excellency, Governor Johnson, to suppress Indian Hostilities in Klamath County,, Under the Act of March 12, 1856.

 

 DATE  NO.  TO WHOM PAID  ON WHAT ACCOUNT  AMOUNT
 1856
June 3
 1  Ed. Y. Naylor  Amt. of Co. Pay-Roll  466.80
 3  2  Capt. J. H. Gordon  Amt. of Pay Account  88.33
 3  3  1st Lt. Theron Crook  "  59.21
 3  4  2nd Lt Ed.H. Burns  "  59.21
 3  5  Bt.2nd Lt. Alex Coyle  "  59.21
 3  6  Ed. Y. Naylor., Quartermaster  "  220.21
 May 12  7  M. Lilland & Co.  Horse Hire  21.00
 3  8  S. Hahn  30 pairs Blankets  180.00
 17  9  Wm. Lawless  400 lbs fresh beef  72.00
 3  10  B. F. Davis & Bros  Camp Equipage  75.00
 3  11  M. Lelland & Co.  3108 lbs Barley @ 7  217.56
 3  12  M. Lelland & Co  Hire of Animals  1485.00
 3  13  Pacific Express Co  Transportation of Arms  75.00
 3  14  John Marity  Hire of Animals  1215.00
 3  15  P. W. Bell  Hire of Pack Animals  630.00
 3  16  Olmstead, Arrington & Co  Subsistence Stores  341.30
 3  17  Morford & Mace  2250 lbs. Barley @ 7  157.50
 3  18  Olmstead Arrington & Co.  Camp Equipage  31.98
 23  19  John Miller & Co.  Shoeing Animals  105.00
 12  20  Morford & Mace  Ferriage of Animals  15.00
 16  21  Hamilton & Co.  5442 lbs Barley @ 7  380.94
 June 21  22  Ward Bradford  420 lbs. fresh beef  75.60
 25  23  Hamilton & Co.  Subsistence Stores  19.00
 3  24  Hamilton & Co.  30 pairs blankets  90.00
 3  25  J. B. Rosborough  Services Enrolling Officer  50.00


There are on file but three letters together with the Bond, Requisition and Receipt for the arms of the company. The Adjutant General Reported on April 1861, that no formal organization of this company could be found on file, nor any report relative to the disposal or disposition of the arms which had been bonded for the sum of $2500 by Walter McDonald and John D. Cosby. The "Citizens of Crescent City ", which had the distinction of having been formed by a special act of Legislature, March 12, 1856, illustrates the general procedure of the organization of many of the early militia companies.: First, the people's petition for protection; second, the Governor's aid to the people by presenting the petition to the Legislative bodies for their authority in providing the necessary funds and third, formal-passage of the Legislative Act to give the proper legality for the procedure of organizing the company.
 
This company which was organized for the purpose of checking Indian depredations committed in the region, was formally mustered out, June 3, 1856., after thirty days of active service in protecting the trails and property in Smith-River Valley., Klamath County.

Footnotes

(1) Listed because of their activities in the Smith River Valley campaign.

(2) Original on tile State Archives State Capitol. Photostatic copy on file Adjutant General's Office.

(3) Original State Archives., State Capitol. Photostatic copy Adjutant General's Office.

(4) Letter February 25, 1856, on file Adjutant General's Office. **

(5) Letter signed by John W. Park, Crescent City, February 26, 1856. ***

(6) An Act to Call out a Company of Volunteers for the Suppression of Indian Hostilities in Klamath County, and to Make an Appropriation for same, March 12, 1856, Original on file State Archives

(7) Letter of March 7, 1856, on file State Archives

(8) Letter of March 18, 1856, on file State Archives

(9) Letter of March 31, 1856, on file State Archives

(10) Letter of April 9, 1856, on file State Archives

(11) Letter of May 5, 1856, on file State Archives

(12) Adjutant General Report December 15, 1856, pages 10, 11.

(13) Adjutant General Report 1856, page 16.


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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