California State Military Department
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California State Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Los Angeles Mounted Rifles
 
Assigned to: First Brigade
Location: Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
 
Organized: March 7, 1861
Mustered Out: 1861
 
Commanding Officers
Alonzo Ridley, Captain; Elected March 7, 1861
Joseph Cattick, First Lieutenant; Elected March 7, 1861


History

At a meeting held under the supervision of George W. Gift, the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles was organized in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County March 7, 1861, and mustered into the service of the State under the command of Captain Alonzo Ridley. Anxious to obtain arms for his company, Captain Ridley wrote Governor Downey that there were with Banning and Hunchman Company in Los Angeles, forty rifles in storage, the property of the State, and were originally intended for the then disbanded militia company commanded by Captain Moore. The Captain stated that these guns would prove acceptable to his company and if this transfer could be made the mounted Rangers would need but an additional forty muskets to make up their requisition. (1) Governor Downey on March 22, 1801, sent Captain Ridley an order upon the firm of Banning and Hunchman for the arms, but did not include any further equipment to make up the shortage.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Brevet Brigadier General Albert Sidney Johnson, commander of the Pacific Division of the United States Army, who was stationed in Los Angeles, resigned his commission to join the Confederate Army. Many citizens of Los Angeles who were southern sympathizers, including the entire membership of the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles, tried to follow General Johnson's example.(2) On June 8, 1861, the Governor received information from Major James Carleton of the United States Army to the effect that he (Major Carleton) had been informed that a party of persons about to leave Los Angeles for Texas, intended to remove beyond the limits of California certain arms belonging to the State. He understood these arms included those recently issued to the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles as well as those belonging to the disbanded Los Angeles Greys. Bonds to insure the State of California from loss in case these arms were not produced when required by the State had undoubtedly been .issued; but in those times the question of money security was of little importance in comparsion with the possession of arms in the hands of the enemy to be used as weapons against the Government of which California formed so important a part.

The Major further stated that if these rumors had good foundation and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of the militia of the State, did not have in that vicinity a sufficient force to sustain the civil authorities in the matter, he with his command would lend all possible aid should it become necessary to protect or recover the arms from, this company by force. And even should the contingency arise that these arms should be taken in spite of any precautions that might be inaugurated for their additional security, if notice of the fact was communicated to Major Carleton, pursuit would be made by the, troops under.his command for their recovery. In the event of the Governor having no secure place where they might be kept the Major would receive them in custody, and hold them subject to the Governor's orders. (3)

There was no further records of this company, but it is assumed that under these conditions the Governor recalled the arms already issued and the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles were mustered out of the service of the State in the latter part of 1861.

For a more detailed history, see California's Confederate Militia: The Los Angeles Mounted Rifles

Footnotes

(1) Letter from Captain Ridley, Los Angeles, March 9, 1861, to Governor Downey, on file State Archives

(2) History of Los Angeles County, published 1921, Page 104. Vol. 1

(3) Letter to Governor Downey from James Carleton, Major, United States Army, Los Angeles, June 18, 1861, 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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