California State Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
First Light Dragoons
(San Bernardino)
Other or Official Titles: First Light Dragoons, First Brigade, California Militia
Location: San Bernardino, San Bernardino County
Mustered in: July 24, 1856
Reorganized: 1857
Commanding Officers
Robert Clift, Captain, Commissioned: September 6, 1856
I. H. Rasor, First Lieutenant, Commissioned: September 6, 1856
Records on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 3 documents (1856)
b. Bonds 1 document (1856)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 4 documents (1856-1861)
d. Election Returns 1 document (1856)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns none
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices none
j. Requisitions 1 document (1856)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none
8. Miscellaneous:

Official History

It is interesting to note how simple, yet thorough was the procedure in forming a volunteer company of militia.First an application by a sufficient number of citizens would have to be made to the County Judge, who then would appoint a certain citizen to open a book for enrollment in a volunteer company, and also give notice of meeting place and date of said company. When a sufficient number of names were enrolled the enrolling officer would call and preside at a meeting, at which time officers would be elected. He then would certify the copy of the meeting, and along with it send a copy of the muster roll to the Adjutant-General, who-would sanction the rank and commission of the officers and the company.

Apparently in some communities there resided people who were patriotic and zealous and who would ill advisedly begin a militia organization, but after a short existence the company would be found to disband due to lack of proper organization and supervision. In looking through the files and papers relating to the First Light Dragoons of San Bernardino, it is very evident that this company belongs to that class. The company measured up to all requirements in organization and apparently had bright prospects of becoming a well drilled and loyal company. The unit's Bond was filed with the Adjutant General's Office and the usual requisition sent to Headquarters. A notation on the requisition stated that the company was uniformed and well mounted and upon receipt of arms would be ready to engage in active service at any time on short notice.

The fine morale that this company showed in its infancy soon weakened and finally broke down completely. This situation was brought about by the failure to receive the necessary arms from the Adjutant-General. The explanation offered from Captain Andrew Lytle was information conveyed to him verbally, that the allotment of arms for the First Light Dragoons were forwarded to a Los Angeles company instead. Failure to receive the new arms caused the disbandment of this unit. Even though a company is composed of brave uniformed men, fully mounted, the lack of arms renders the company valueless in respect to State militia service.

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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Updated 8 February 2016