California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Kibbe Rangers

Official or Other Titles:
Kibbe Rangers
Location: Red Bluff, Tehama County
Mustered in: August 16, 1859
Mustered Out: January 10, 1860
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 1 document (1858)
b. Bonds 1 document (1858)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) none
d. Election Returns none
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 2 documents (1857-1858)
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices none
j. Requisitions none
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none

Commanding Officers
William Byrnes, Captain; Date of Rank: August 16, 1859
Robert Bailey, First Lieutenant; Date of Rank: August 16, 1859

Official History

In 1858, Governor John B. Weller of California received a petition from several citizens of the northern counties stating that the Indians infesting the mountains between the waters of Humboldt Bay and the Trinity River were in a state of hostility, and the lives and property of the citizens were at the mercy of the savages. In fact the United States Mail was transported over that section only at the risk of life of the carrier who had to pass that portion of the route during the darkness of night. Parties of citizens had been sent out to check the depredations of these Indians and punish them for their outrages, but the small companies voluntarily raised and supplied by the citizens had become disheartened at the prospect of a long Indian campaign at their own risk and expense. In the meantime a band of sullen Indians, well supplied with firearms and ammunition were hiding in the gulches of the mount ains, prepared to continue their depredations on a more effect ive plan against the whites with less risk to themselves.

Believing it to be the duty of the Federal Government to protect the citizens from depredations by the hostile tribes, either by force or by removing them to reservations and compelling them to remain there, the citizens petitioned the commander of the United States Troops in that section for aid, but due to the lack of troops at his disposal the commander was unable to render them any assistance. Their demands to the United States Department of Interior in charge of Indian Affairs, failed to receive any favorable response, and the savages were allowed to roam at large, and commit depredations on the lives and property of the citizens whenever they chose to do so. Under this condition of affairs the citizens requested the Governor to call out a sufficient number of State troops from the northern counties to drive the Indians from their haunts of plundering in the mountains, and place them on a reservation as the only means of restoring peace to that section of the State.[1] Governor Weller in response to the appeal for help requested Adjutant General William C. Kibbe to leave for the northern part of the State at once, to organize volunteer military companies to check the Indian depredations and place the "savages" on the Federal Reservation.

On August 16, 1859, in Red Bluff, Tehama County, General Kibbe mustered into service for the period of three months one of his newly organized military companies known as the Kibbe Rangers; under the command of Captain William Byrnes. This company was composed of ninety-three volunteer members anxious to aid in suppressing the Indian hostilities in the northern counties. In the following months the Kibbe Rangers had many minor conflicts with roving bands of Indians. On October tenth of the same year, while scouting in the vicinity of Eagle Lake, the Rangers came upon a band of five Indians who on being observed started running but were shot. Captain Byrnes who was on the opposite shore killed another Indian who attempted to get away.[2] On November eleventh the Kibbe Rangers captured one hundred and fifty Indians from the mountains in the Pitt River Country. They were brought to Red Bluff and then taken by water to the Tejon Reservation. The snow was so deep on the trails that it was impossible to take them to Mendocino where the Federal Reservation was located.[3] The Rangers captured thirty-three members of the Shave Head Tribes on December 11, 1859, but nine of the warriors escaped and returned to the hills.[4] General Kibbe, together with the various volunteer military companies left Red Bluff on December twelfth, with nearly five hundred hostile Indians bound for the Reservation. The citizens of the northern counties were then able to live in peace and security. The cost of General Kibbe's expedition it was estimated, would not exceed the loss in property sustained by the people of Tehama County for any one year since 1855. [5]

The following Act passed by the Legislature and approved March 20, 1860, illustrates the manner in which the State appropriated money for payment to various districts, for their efforts in endeavoring to subdue the hostiles and maintain peaceful re lations with the Indians. Quote:[6]


 The Act

1: The sum of sixty thousand four hundred and seventy-five dollars and eighty-five cents, is hereby appropriated, for the payment of the in debtedness incurred by the expedition against the Indians in the counties of Tehama, Shasta, Plumas, and Butte, during the year A. D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine.

2: The following schedule of pay is hereby established for the officers and men engaged in the expedition, to wit:

For pay and allowance of Captain, one hundred dollars per month.

For surgeon, one hundred dollars per month.

Commissary, eighty-five dollars per month.

First Lieutenant, seventy-five dollars per month.

Second Lieutenant, sixty-five dollars per month.

Second Brevet-Lieutenant, sixty dollars per month.

Orderly Sergeant, fifty-five dollars per month

Three Duty .Sergeants, fifty, each, dollars per month.

Four Corporals, forty-five, each, dollars per month.

Privates, forty _dollars, each, per month.

3: The Board of Examiners created by an act entitled "An Act to create a Board of Examiners, to define their Power and Duties, and to impose certain Duties upon the Controller and Treasurer," approved April twenty-first, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight, are hereby required to audit and allow all legal claims against the State, for services rendered, supplies furnished, and ex penses incurred, in the late Indian war in Tehama, Shasta, Plumas, and Butte counties, in the same manner that they are required to audit and allow other claims against the State; and the Controller shall draw his warrants on the Treasurer for such amounts, and in favor of such persons, as shall be audited and allowed by said Board under the pro visions of this act.

4: Should any surplus remain, after paying such claims, it shall be returned to the General Fund.

5: This act shall take effect from and after its passage.


The Indian hostilities finally suppressed and the company?s three month period ended, General Kibbe on January 10, 1860, mustered the Kibbe Rangers out of service. In mustering this company out the General was instructed by Governor Weller to thank the officers and privates for the gallant manner in which they conducted the campaign, and to inform the members of the company that the Governor did not doubt that the people would appreciate the valuable and patriotic service which they had rendered to the State.
[1] Petition on file, State Archives, State Capitol..
[2] Sacramento Union, October 28, 1859, page 2, column 4.
[3] Sacramento Union, December 3, 1859, page 2, column 4.
[4] Sacramento Union, December 17, 1859, page 2, column 1
[5] Sacramento Union, December 12, 1859, page 3, column 1
[6] Act for Payment of Expenses incurred in the Suppression of Indian Hostilities, March 20, 1860, 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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Updated 8 February 2016