Historic California Militia and National Guard Units
Douglas City Rifles
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: October 19, 1861
Date of Disbanding:
August 22, 1866
Inclusive dates of units papers:
1861 - 1866
Geographical Location or Locations:
Douglas City, Trinity County

Unit papers on file at California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 5 documents (1861)
b. Bonds 1 document (1864)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 37 documents (1861-1866)
d. Election Returns 4 documents (1861-1864)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 11 documents (1862-1866)
g. Oaths Qualifications 2 documents (1863)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 6 documents (1863-1866)
j. Requisitions 1 document (1861)
k. Resignations 1 document (1863)
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none

Commanding Officers:

John H. Hough, Captain: Elected October 19, 1861, commissioned October 24, 1861
Charles Stanhope, First Lieutenant: Elected October 19, 1861, commissioned October 24, 1861

E. A. Kelton, Captain: Elected 29 August 1863, commissioned September 18, 1863
A. R. Earl, First Lieutenant: Elected 29 August 1863, commissioned September 18, 1863

Official History:

On August 26, 1858, seventy-two citizens of Trinity County sent the following information to Governor Weller of California;[1]

"We the undersigned citizens of the County of Trinity, would most respectfully represent that the Indians inhabiting the County have assumed a hostile position toward our citizens, and have already perpetrated numerous outrages. In this particular locality the Indians, have in the past four or five years killed some fifteen or twenty of our citizens, besides causing much loss of property and greatly impeding the commerce which has grown up between this county and Humboldt. These outrages call for immediate redress, and we deem it of the most vital importance to our coast trade, and wellbeing generally that these Indians should be driven from their present hiding places, and if not exterminated, at least driven to some place where there is no such opportunities to do mischief."

In answer to this appeal, Governor Weller sent Adjutant General Kibbe to the northern counties to take charge, and General Kibbe secured a company of United States Cavalry under the command of Captain Edward Underwood. At the same time the citizens organized an auxiliary company of volunteers under the command of Captain J. G. Messic , to act with the Regular troops. These companies had by the first part of 1859, gathered together all the hostile Indians in that region and placed them on a Federal Reservation, under strict guard.[2] In order to maintain the peace that had been secured for these counties through the initial efforts of Governor Weller, the various towns started to organize their own military companies. On October 10, 1861, County Judge E. I. Curtis appointed John H. Hough to act in behalf of the citizens for the purpose of organizing a company of volunteers to serve the vicinity of Douglas City. The first meeting was held in the School House on Saturday evening on the nineteenth of October. John H. Hough, the presiding chairman, was elected Captain and Charles Stanhope, First Lieutenant. Two committees were named at this meeting one to draft a Constitution and By-Laws, and another to designate a name for the company. The meeting then adjourned for one week at which time the company was formally designated as the Douglas City Rifles after the town in which they were located. This company comprising fifty-five men was well officered but not armed until nearly a year after they were organized, although their Bond had been duly posted. Captain Hough communicated with Adjutant General Kibbe on September 11, 1862, requesting an additional supply of arms, explaining to the General that they had enough applicants to swell t heir number to eighty, providing they could have more arms. The Captain expressed his opinion in that Trinity County was considered as one of the strongest Secessionist counties in the State, and for this reason he felt it was to the interest of the State to supply the volunteers with more equipment. The Captain's requisition was filled and the arms were shipped by steamer to Red Bluff and from there were taken by wagon to Douglas City. The thirty-eight stand of rifles, together with the uniforms were returned to the State Arsenal when the company was mustered out.

On January 23, 1863, Captain Hough again communicated with Adjutant General Kibbe regarding an order which he (Captain Hough) had received through Brigadier-General Hannah for an inspection of the Halleck Rifles and Douglas City Rifles. The order provided that Captain Hough inspect the two companies at Weaverville on the twenty-fifth of December, but he (the Captain) had immediately forwarded a request to the Brigadier:General to postpone the review until the twenty-third of February, as by that time both companies would have received their uniforms and the Halleck Rifles would have perfected their drills, and at t he same time it would provide the companies with an opportunity to celebrate the birthday of George Washington, the "Father of his Country." There is no available information to give t he date on which t he inspection was finally held.

Captain Hough was obliged to resign his commission on August 10, 1863, as he had moved from Trinity County; when the Captain sent in his resignation to the Adjutant General he recommended Ed. D. Surft, who had been acting as Captain temporarily be commissioned Captain of the company. This suggestion could not be complied with, as according to the Militia Law in force during t hat period it was necessary for a Special Order to be issued to call an election. This was done, and on August twenty-ninth, E. A. Kelton was elected as Captain and A. R. Earl, First Lieutenant. Both of these officers were reelected on the twenty-ninth of August 1864, to remain in office until the company was mustered out. The Douglas City Rifles under the command of Captain Kelton attended the Encampment held at Camp Ellis the first week of November 1863. Brigadier-General Bidwell reported t hat he had reviewed the troops on the third of November and found them in splendid condition. Their appearance was creditable and soldierly and all movements were executed with a precision which would have done credit to older troops.

The Muster Rolls give various dates as the official Muster In of the company, but the Adjutant General's Report gives the date of October 19, 1861, the date of their organization, as the official date. On several of these Rolls the corps is titled Douglas City Rifles, Company H, although no other record can be found to substantiate their claim of being an attached company; in fact, one Muster Roll designated them as Company A with the notation "unattached". When the company was organized in 1861, that section of the country was listed as the Sixth Division, Second Brigade, then in 1863, when the Brigades were rearranged into one Division and six Brigades, the Douglas City Rifles were assigned to the Fifth Brigade.

This district was not only menaced by the constant threat of Indian depredations, but also by the Secessionists of Trinity County, and this company which had been organized at the outbreak of the Civil War, had been an efficient home guard. How well they managed to maintain law and order, can only be seen by the fact that no serious troubles occurred in the county. In 1866, when the militia was reorganized into the National Guard, many companies were disbanded. With t he Civil War over and the Indians peaceable, there seemed no particular need f or home guard protection in Douglas City. As a result upon recommendation of Adjutant General George S. Evans, the Douglas City Rifles were mustered out of the service of the State of California on August 22, 1866.
1. Petition to Governor Weller, August 25, 1858, State Archives, State Capitol.
2. Letters from General Kibbe to Governor Weller, State Archives, State Capitol.
This history was completed in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library
Muster Rolls:
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Updated 8 February 2016