Historic California Militia and
National Guard Units
Ellsworth Guard Zouaves
Military Unit Designation: Ellsworth Guard Zouaves, Company C, 1st Artillery
Regiment, 2nd Brigade, California Militia Date of Organization: 24 January 1862 Date of Disbanding: 12 July 1866 Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1866 Geographical Location or Locations: San Francisco City
John T. Hill, Captain: Elected 25 January 1862, commissioned
24 February 1862, resigned 29 May 1862
W. H. Lentz First Lieutenant: Elected
25 January 1862
Harvey Lake, Captain: 18 June 1862, commissioned
3 July 1862, reelected 7 January 1863
George Birdsall, First Lieutenant: Elected 6 January 1863, commissioned
14 January 1863
George Birdsall, Captain: Elected 20 July 1864, commissioned
15 August 1864, resigned 10 November 1864.
John Middleton, First Lieutenant: Elected
20 July 1864, commissioned 15 August 1864.
Charles McMillan, Captain: Elected 11 November 1864, commissioned
15 November 1865, reelected 15 January 1865, resigned 38 September
John Middleton, First Lieutenant: Reelected
12 January 1865.
Hampton Hutton, Captain: 28 September
1865, commissioned 6 November 1865, reelected 5 January 1866.
Richard G. Robinson, First Lieutenant:
4 January 1866, commissioned 6 January 1866.
On January 13 , 1862, County Judge M. C. Blake appointed Lieutenant
Colonel J. W. McKenzie to open a book and enter the names of
persons subject to military duty desiring to form a militia company.
53 members enrolled and formed themselves into a volunteer military
company called the Ellsworth Guard Zouaves. Captain John T. Hill
and W. H. Lentz , First Lieutenant were elected as comrnanding
Due to a shortage of arms Captain Lake was forced to borrow the
necessary equipment for a time from two companies, Company A,
Union Guard, Captain Gorham;
and Company E, Franklin
Light Guard, Captain McComb. Later Captain Lake filed the
proper Bond and received 35 muskets and the necessary equipment
from the same two companies, as these units decided to move to
different armories. After a few months the unit exchanged their
old arms and equipment for new.
This company participated in an encampment at Encinal, Alameda
known as Camp Allen. It was
the largest encampment during the year, and although the majority
of the troops present were inexperienced, the men made rapid
progress in acquiring a knowledge of elementary military science,
and of the duties of camp life. Aside from the military drills
and parade routines of annual and special occasions, no further
activities were recorded concerning the Ellsworth Guard Zouaves
except that the company changed its name to the Pioneer Zouaves
on September 26, 1865. 
However , in the Adjutant General's Report 1865-1857, the company
was still officially recognized as the Ellsworth Guard Zouaves.
Under a new Military Law of 1866, it was decided to reduce the
existent, force of the State Militia, and this company with many
others was mustered out of the State service, July 12, 1866.
1. Daily Alta California, September 26, 1865, page l,
2. Historical Record, Second Brigade 1851-1868, page 45.
This history was completed
in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction
with the California National Guard and the California State Library.
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth:
Prior to his becoming the first conspicuous
casualty of the Civil War, Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth led a short
but interesting life. During his 24 years, he was a lawyer, a
colonel, and a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln, whom
he met in Springfield, Illinois after moving there to work in
Lincoln's office and who he followed to Washington.
With an interest in military science that
began well before the start of the Civil War - he would have
gone to the U.S. Military Academy if he could have afforded it
- Ellsworth responded enthusiastically to Lincoln's 1861 call
for troops by raising of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry,
which he dressed in distinctive Zouave-style uniforms, fashioned
after those worn by French colonial troops.
Ironically, perhaps, for all of his drills
and militia training, Ellsworth's death came not in a battle,
but instead inside the long-demolished Marshall House hotel in
Alexandria, Virginia. The building's owner had a raised a large
Confederate flag from its roof, which was visible from the White
House. Offering to retrieve the flag for the president, Ellsworth
led his 11th New York across the Potomac River and into Alexandria.
Ellsworth succeeded in removing the flag, but as he descended
the stairs from the building's roof, the hotel's owner, James
W. Jackson, shot and killed Ellsworth with a single shotgun blast
to the chest.
Lincoln had the body of Ellsworth, whom
he called "the greatest little man I ever met," laid
in state at the White House before it was taken to his home state
of New York for burial. His memory lived on throughout the war
as "Remember Ellsworth" became a rallying cry for supporters
of the Union, regiments were named in his honor and artifacts
related to his death became popular souvenirs.
Source: National Park Service
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