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California State Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Gibsonville Blues
 
Official or Other Names: Gibsonville Blues, Company E, Sierra Battalion, Second Brigade, Fourth Division
Location: Gibsonville, Sierra County
 
Mustered In: October 10, 1858
 
Commanding Officers
George A. Burkett, Captain
R. L. Wash, First Lieutenant

George A. Burkett, . Captain
Joseph P. Hargrave, First Lieutenant

Kimball, Captain (1)


History

Residents of Gibsonville, Sierra County were desirous of having a military organization in their immediate vicinity so a movement was started toward this goal, with the result that Major Hungerford formally mustered in the Gibsonville Blues as Company E of the Sierra Battalion, Fourth Division, Second Brigade on October 10,1858. Although the company was mustered in at Gibsonville (from which place it took its name), the greater number of members were residents of Newark, a neighboring mining settlement. George A. Burkett was elected Captain and R. L. Wash, First Lieutenant.

A newspaper item was published regarding the organization of the new company in which it was called the Sierra Rangers and at the same time stated that the muster roll contained sixty-two names. (2) The Sierra Rangers were organized at Alleghany, Sierra County on January 9, 1858, presumably for service in the anticipated Mormon War. Considering the fact that news in the early days was sometimes slow in traveling, it is apparent that in giving the news to the publisher the informer had inadvertently confused the two companies.

A requisition for arms and other necessary equipment was promptly sent to the Adjutant-General, but there was no evidence on record to indicate if the required Bond was furnished or whether the equipment had been issued. In fact, a communication from Captain Burkett on April 26, 1859, to the Adjutant General, requested information regarding the filling of the requisition and the issuance of commissions for the officers.

Although, there were no records indicating the activities of the company nor any reports of the Adjutant-General for the years of 1858 or 1859 available, it is apparent that the Gibsonville Blues was maintained as there are several muster rolls for the corps. Major Hungerford endeavored to keep his Sierra Battalion active and was instrumental in the organization of many companies in his district. On August 9, 1861, Captain Burkett communicated with Governor Downey tendering the services of the company to the State for the War of the Rebellion, at the same time stating that 'It was his pleasure in saying that it was the unanimous consent of his command to offer their services, and that they were ready to march on six hours' notice." (3) A muster roll was duly forwarded at the same time to the Adjutant General's Office. Another communication of the twenty-sixth of August, was sent to Governor Downey signed by George A. Burkett and Captain Kimball of the Gibsonville Blues wherein they endeavored to clarify a misunderstanding on the part of the military headquarters. Quote:

"Yours of August twenty-second was received today in regard to the Gibsonville Blues being united with the Sierra Grays, it was entirely a misunderstanding upon the part of the Sierra Grays. We are distinctly separate, the Grays have gone below--and we remain ready at your call with our services proffered as before." (4)

Captain Burkett had resigned from the command and Kimball had been elected to fill the vacancy. Captain Burkett enlisted in Company F of the Fifth Infantry Regiment, California Volunteers, as First Lieutenant, was promoted to Captain of Company I of the same regiment, and later was transferred from there to the First Veteran Infantry where he was Captain of Company G until the unit was mustered out, September 20, 1866. He was appointed Brevet Major of the United States Volunteers by the President on March 13, 1865.

In comparing the names on the last muster roll of the Gibsonville Blues with the roster of Company F of the First Infantry Regiment, it was noted that the majority of the men had enlisted with the Sierra Greys which eventually was accepted into service and became Company F. Although Captain Burkett and the majority of his men had enlisted in the California Volunteers, the depleted ranks were immediately refilled and its members were still anxious to be accepted as a company in the same manner as the Sierra Greys. It was the intention to accept the company as proffered as James H. Carleton, Colonel of the California Volunteers telegraphed Governor Downey, "Send the Gibsonville Blues sure. I am afraid Van Gueldon who has failed twice will fail again. No time to lose." (5) For some reason unknown, the company failed to arrive at Camp Downey for mustering in as Colonel Carleton, again communicated with the Governor. Quote:

"The Gibsonville Blues, which you designed for the tenth company of this regiment, have not reported here. I suppose the company will not come judging from the lapse of time since I received your telegram that it would come. In case you have no company which you can send at once to complete this regiment, I will be greatly obliged to you if you will give me authority to appoint in your name some suitable.person here, or at San Francisco to raise one. It is important that the regiment be filled at once.

I regret you were not here on the day when the colors were presented to your first regiment. I shall answer your letter about the commissions in a day or two. I am sending off troops to Los Angeles as fast as possible." (6)

Through some quirk of fate these exceedingly patriotic men, who comprised the Gibsonville Blues, were thwarted in their desire to be included as a definite unit of the Volunteers, but there is no doubt that the majority of those men remaining after the first contingent had left enlisted in companies that were recruited at a later date. As there are no further records to show that the company was maintained it is assumed that the Gibsonville Blues were disbanded by mutual consent of the members.

Footnotes

(1) The only source of information of Captain Kimball's election is taken from the letter he signed jointly with George A. Burkett (the former Captain) to Governor Downey, August 26, 1861, wherein he signed himself as "Captain Kimball".

(2) San Francisco Daily Herald, September 22, 1858, page 2, column 3.

(3) Letter on file State Archives

(4) Letter on file State Archives

(5) Telegram on file State Archives

(6) Letter on file State Archives


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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