California State Military Department
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California State Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
San Francisco Blues

Assigned to: Second Brigade

Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County

Mustered in: 1852
Mustered out: 1859

Commanding Officers

William R. Gorham, Captain, Commissioned November 1852
David Scannell, First Lieutenant. Commissioned November 1852

Robert Farren,Captain Commissioned 1855
J. Martin Reese, First Lieutenant. Commissioned 1855


History

The San Francisco Blues were organized during the latter part of the year of 1852. While no organization papers are on file, there was an election held on November 9, 1852, at which Lieutenant Langerman of the National Lancers presided, and at said meeting William R. Gorham was elected Captain and David Scannell, First Lieutenant. At the same time the company ordered their new uniforms, which were to be made in New York and destined to reach the unit not later than February 22, 1853. (1)

The first public appearance of the company recorded was at the Fourth of July celebration, 1853 held in San Francisco. The parade of the military companies in their uniforms of various hues made a colorful and flashing sight. The celebration was also the occasion of honoring the beloved Major General John A. Sutter. The Sutter Rifles of Sacramento, named in honor of the General, was a visiting unit on this occasion. After passing in review before General; Sutter and his staff, the parade continued out Kearny Street to the Camp Ground, where the companies were drawn up in battalion formation and the colors were presented by Mrs. Catherine Sinclair, granddaughter of a soldier in the Revolutionary War who had paid the supreme sacrifice for his country. (2)

On the morning of January 7, 1854, the San Francisco Blues, with Captain Gorham commanding, marched from their armory to the Pacific Wharf where they took passage on the"Senator"for Benicia, for the purpose of attending the inauguration of Governor Bigler. They were accompanied by a newly organized brass band, which furnished excellent music. (3)

A military review comprising of four companies of the San Francisco militia was held in Sacramento on April 24, 1855. The companies participating were the San Francisco Blues, City Guard, First California Guard, and the National Lancers. The troops were reviewed by Governor Bigler, Lieutenant Governor Purdy, General John A. Sutter, and members of the State Legislature. The militia companies were feted that night at a number of social affairs, and the next morning returned to their homes in San Francisco. The review was evidently held for the benefit of the State Legislature. (4)

The San Francisco Blues was one of the companies that took part in the ceremonies of the inauguration of J. Neely Johnson as Governor of California on January 7, 1856. There were several parades and drills preceding the Inauguration, followed by social functions in which the militia from San Francisco were the guest of honor of the Sutter Rifles and Sacramento Guard. (5)

A few months later these militia companies were called upon to stand by the Governor when he issued his Proclamation declaring San Francisco in a "state of Insurrection". The San Francisco Blues loyally upheld the civil authorities of the City and stood guard at the County Jail in the evenings until the prisoners James P. Casey and Charles Cora were turned over to the Vigilance Committee. Mr. Cora was charged with murder of a prominent San Franciscan in November 1855. The Vigilance Committee at that time decided to let the law take its regular course in trying the accused, but in June 1656, Charles Cora's case had not been disposed of. This delay probably had a part in increasing the indignation of the citizens of San Francisco to the point of taking the law in their own hands. (6) During the time the Proclamation was in effect the "Blues were under arms, guarding the arms and property of the State, ready for any emergency. This condition existed for three months when the companies were relieved of further active service.(7)

Again in 1858, the San Francisco Blues participated in a gubernatorial inauguration. This time Governor-elect John B. Teller was inaugurated in all the pomp and splendor that can only be displayed by the militia. There was a dress parade and drill in the morning and a parade as escort in the after noon followed by a grand Military Ball in the evening. (8)

The San Francisco Blues was one of the companies in the early days that seemed to delight in social activities, although did not do so at the expense"of neglecting to maintain a high standard of efficiency as a military unit.

Among the strictly social activities was an excursion to San Jose on the second of September, 1855. They left San Francisco on the second and on the evening of the third a grand military ball was held at the Beatty Hotel. This visit was the first visit of the San.Francisco militia to San Jose, and created a great deal of,.military enthusiasm in that city.

There are no.further records of the activities of the San Francisco Blues, and since the company was not listed in the Adjutant General's Report of 1860, it is assumed that the company was disbanded sometime during the year of 1859, after seven years
of useful service rendered to the State.

 

 



Footnotes

(1) Daily Alta California, November 11, 1852, page 2, column.2 and 3

(2) Daily Alta California, July 6, 1853, page 2, column 1

(3) Daily Alta California, January 8, 1854, page 2, column 2.

(4) Sacramento Union, April 25, 1855, page 2, column 3

(5) Sacramento Union, January 9, 1856, page 2, column 2

(6) Sacramento Union, November 21, 1855, page 2, column 3.

(7) San Francisco Daily Herald, May 16, 1856, page 2, column 2.

(8) Sacramento Union, January 11, 1858, page 3, column 1


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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