California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
San Joaquin Mounted Rifles
Official or Other Names: San Joaquin Mounted Rifles, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, California Militia
Location: Knight's Ferry, San Joaquin County
Date of Organization: October 9, 1858
Date of Disbanding:
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1858-1862
Commanding Officers
John C. Dent, Captain; Commissioned November 1858
James S. Coleman, First Lieutenant; Commissioned November 1858
Official records on file at the California State Archives

a. Organization Papers 4 documents (1858)
b. Bonds none
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 16 documents (1859-1862)
d. Election Returns none
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 1 document (1859)
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 2 documents (1859)
j. Requisitions 1 document (1862)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none

Apparently a volunteer militia fever swept Knight's Ferry, as three militia units were, organized in that district during a period of three years. The San Joaquin Mounted Rifles was organized October 9, 1858, and commanded by able and experienced officers, who had come to California from Massachusetts, where militia forces were highly developed. It is possible the previous military experience of the officers later on led to jealousy and bickerings with the commander of another company organized in 1862 located in the vicinity.

The old question of the inability to get arms and supplies in the late fifties was repeated again, when on June 25, 1862, a letter written by First Lieutenant Coleman, Acting Captain, to Adjutant General Kibbe stated,

''not hearing anything from the requisition I forwarded on the eleventh instant, I take the liberty to ask what has been the disposition of the same. So many attempts have been made and so many obstacles have been thrown in the way by our opponents that we begin to think we are doomed to disappointment again. For myself I care not. I have been in the military some fifteen years and have held several commissions in a state whose military is her boast, that of Massachusetts, but I do care for the men of my command. If we are to be left without arms any longer it is better that we formally be disbanded. As far as I am concerned I have tried to keep politics from the question, and unlike the Franklin Guard recently organized, I have men of all shades of politics, but if politics is dropped into the military arena so be it. The San Joaquin Mounted Rifles have been the pioneers here and what little military spirit there is has been developed through them. I write freely and frankly, we have never put the county to any expense as yet, and intend to build an armory of our own, should arms be furnished us. I hope that any outside influences may not be suffered to interfere to prevent our going ahead. As soon as we get arms I can have a hundred men if I want them, men who will fight if called upon. The matter rests I suppose with the Governor, and as he decides we must submit as good citizens." (1)

Evidently the company was not immediatley disbanded as a letter dated September 21, 1862, from Lieutenant Coleman to the Adjutant General ' s Office inquired "if the company under his command was still considered as one of the organized units of the organized State Militia". On September twenty-fourth, Adjutant General Kibbe replied "that to his knowledge had not been reported as disbanded," However, this is the last information found on record. Apparently the arms were never received and although no date of muster out can be found, the company was disbanded the latter part of 1862.


(1) .Letter from Lieutenant J. S. Coleman to General W.Kibbe, on file Adjutant General's Office


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