In the early 1850s when volunteer militia companies were being organized, there was a company organized in San Francisco on August 31, 1855, that was destined to remain in existence a long time. This company was organized by the appointment of David McDowell through the County Judge to organize and preside at the election of officers of said company. The company selected the name of National Guard at their meeting and was mustered into State service under that designation. This company which was commanded by Captain Pollock was well organized, as Adjutant General Kibbe in his Report of 1861 ranked this unit "as an excellent company, always in fine drill, and ready for service for any emergency, numbering sixty-three men, and furnished for the United States service one Lieutenant Colonel, four Captains, four Lieutenants, and six non-commissioned officers." (1)
The National Guard was one of ten militia. companies that partic participated in the first Military Encampment which was held in Sacramento during the Agricultural Society's State Fair. The encampment was successful though not well planned or equipped. Competitive drills for prizes were held on September 24, 1859, and the National Guard company was awarded first prize which was a silk flag, for being the best drilled and instructed company at the encampment. (3)
The activities of the company were varied. On May 30, 1856, they acted as a guard which completely surrounded the San Francisco County Jail when Nicholas Graham, a coal passer on one of the ships in the bay, expiated his crime on the gallows, for stabbing a shipmate to death during a drunken orgy. (3)
The civil authorities at that time found a critical situation facing them, and the people of the day were to see the queer irregularity with which volunteer military companies cooperated with the forces maintaining law and order. After the attempted assassination of James King of Williams, editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, by James P. Casey, a rival editor, the volunteer company with characteristic energy and promptness went into action and cooperated with the San Francisco Police in preventing the lynching of Casey, However, two weeks later they refused to lift a hand to prevent the sentence of death meted out to him by the Vigilance Committee.
On June 3, 1856, Governor J. Neely Johnson declared San Francisco in a "state of insurrection" and the National Guard as an organized militia company of the State was called upon to decide whether they would obey their Commander-in-Chief and support the Constitution or refuse to shoot down their fellow citizens, the Vigilantes who had decided to take things into their own hands. (5)
They called a meeting on June 12, 1856, and adopted the following resolution which is self explanatory. "Wheras, recent events; well known to all, having placed the corps in a false position before the public, it is hereby resolved: That as our arms have been taken from us by the Adjutant General of the State, this corps now disband, preferring this course to that of becoming slaughterers of our fellow citizens."
It was further resolved by the members of the company that they immediately reorganize under the name of the Independent National Guard, pledging themselves to promote to the best of their ability the cardinal interests of the community and repudiating all connections with the then state authorities.
Accordingly the Independent National Guard was organized January 3, 1859, with the same Captain and most of the old members signing the muster roll. At the annual election held January 21, 1861, Captain Pollock, who had been Captain since the organization of the company, declined a reelection and at a special meeting held on August 14, 1861, the National Guard unanimously adopted the following resolution: (6)
WHEREAS Robert Pollock was the founder, first signing member, and commander of the company; is at present Major of the First Regiment Infantry C. S. M.; has always been most active in promoting the best interest of our company and his regiment, and has proven indefatigable in all the duties of a soldier, being fully competent also to perform, in the most satisfactory manner, the responsible and difficult duties of a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and
WHEREAS such a position in the First Regiment of California Volunteers is now vacant therefore
RESOLVED that Messrs Hanna, Dawson, and Wilson be appointed to wait upon the Governor and present to him this, our request
RESOLVED that we most cordially and emphatically recommend him, for said position, to His Excellency, the Governor of this State.
The National Guard on September 25, 1865, acted as escort when the large oil portrait of President Lincoln was taken to the armory. The portrait was won by them at their regimental target excursion.(7)
The National Guard was called upon for service, during the labor trouble in Amador County in June 1871. It seems that what was intended to be a benevolent organization composed mostly of miners, developed into a miner's union. The association's headquarters was located at Sutter Creek, with branches scattered throughout the county. After organization the association demanded an increase in wages and certain regulations regarding working conditions. These demands were refused by the mine owners and a strike condition resulted. The mine owners claimed that through intimidation of their engineers by the miners, the engineers had stopped work, and the mines were fast filling with water.
In their predicament the mine owners appealed to Governor Henry H. Haight for the aid of the militia, as the local authorities were unable to cope with the situation. The owners offered to pay the expenses of the militia called out, since the State was without funds to undertake such an expedition. The result of the appeal was that Governor Haight issued a. Special Order on June 21, 1871, to Brigadier General John Hewston, Jr., to designate and order two companies of the First Infantry Regiment to report for duty and active service in suppressing violence and maintaining law and order in Amador County. One of the two companies selected for this service was the National Guard, Company C, First Regiment. The order calling out the companies was issued on the twenty-first, and on the twenty-second the two companies, National Guard and Sumner Light Guard, marched out of San Francisco, fully equipped for the field with munition stores, camp equipage, and every thing needed for the expedition.
The command reached Sacramento that evening
and made camp awaiting further orders. Before ordering the troops
into the troubled area, Governor Haight made a special trip to
Sutter City and endeavored in every way possible to settle the
difficulties without resorting to arms. The miners were obstinate,
however, and no agreement was reached.
On midnight of June 24, 1871, orders were received to proceed to Sutter Creek; at daybreak the two companies were ready to embark on the train that would take them to Latrobe. Arriving at Latrobe, the troops immediately were ordered to march to Sutter Creek where they arrived just after nightfall. The mines were opened up on June twenty-sixth. The presence of the militia had a quieting effect on the strikers, and after several days a conference was arranged between the miners and mine owners. This meeting resulted in agreeing that the previous wage scale would be the standard wage and that no Chinese labor should be used in the mines. The Chinese question was not settled, however, without a great deal of pressure being brought to bear on the mine owners. To Adjutant General Thomas N. Cazneau belongs the credit of applying the necessary pressure that eliminated the Chinese competition with Americans in the operation of the Amador mines. On Sunday, July 16, 1871, the militia broke camp and returned to Latrobe where they embarked on train for Sacramento. The troops were under arms for twenty-seven days and cost the mine owners approximately $36,000.
Aside from that slight deviation during
the Vigilante Reign and disturbances in Amador County, the National
Guard continuously served the State until 1880, at which date
the name National Guard was dropped and the company continued
in service under the designation of Company C. For additional
information refer to Company C, First Infantry Regiment, Second