- California State Military
- The California Military Museum
- Preserving California's Military Heritage
Regiment: First Regiment of New York Volunteers
- by Captain Jim Balance
- California Center for Military
History, California State Military Reserve
- Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson of New York
City, a colonel of militia, and a member of the New York Legislature
selected by President James K. Polk to raise a regiment of New
York volunteers for service in California.
- Secretary of War William L. Marcy, and
General Winfield Scott, the Commanding General of the Army thought
the appointment a good one and assented to it. Stevenson was
granted official permission to raise the regiment on June 26,
1846. Secretary Marcy's instructions were that the regiment should
be composed of unmarried men, of good habits and varied pursuits,
and such as would be likely to remain in California or adjoining
territory at the close of the war. Colonel Stevenson was informed
that it was desired that he start early in August, 1846. In a
communication dated June 30, Stevenson wrote to Silas Wright,
the Governor of New York, for the necessary permission to raise
a regiment in the State. To this the Governor graciously consented
Seven companies were recruited in New York City; three were recruited
outside of New York City, one each at Albany; Bath, Stueben County,
and Norwich. The recruiting otticers were, for the part, those
who became commissioned officers of the respective companies.
No secret was made of the regiments destination and prospective
- These companies were, on the 1st of August
1846, gathered together in general encampment on Governor's Island,
New York Harbor. Here, on the same day, the regiment was mustered
into Federal service by Colonel Bankhead, commanding the 2d U.S
Artillery as the "Seventh" New York Volunteers. The
uniform of the regiment was designed by Major James A. Hardie.
The pantaloons were of dark, mixed grey, with scarlet strip or
cord up the seam of the leg, blue coats with scarlet trimmings,
and a new style of French cap.
- During the summer of 1848, an order was
received by Colonel R.B. Mason, commanding Tenth Military Department,
from the War Department, directing that Colonel Stevenson's Regiment
should be designated thereafter the ''First Regiment New York
Volunteers" instead of the"Seventh" as heretofore.
This fact was never generally known outside of California, and
the regiment, subsequently organized and commanded by Colonel
Ward B. Burnett, which served in Mexico, has always been known
as the First Regiment, New York Volunteers, when it should have
been designated as the "Second," and was so designated
in an official order by the War Department in 1847. There were
two regiments in the State of New York during the Mexican War.
- Many ex-members of Stevenson's Regiment
joined the California militia thereby providing a source of trained
personnel for the newly admitted State's military force. Some
of the more prominent members were the following:
- Captain Henry M. Naglee became the first
Commander of the First California Guard, Light Artillery.
- Lieutenant Theron R. PerLee became the
first Adjutant General of California.
- Captain William G. Marcy became Secretary
of State Constitutional Convention, Monterey, 1849.
- Lieutenant Thomas E. Ketchum became Captain,
Third Regiment, California Volunteers during the Civil War and
later served as a Brigadier General in the California National
- Lieutenant Palmer B. Hewlett became a
Brigadier General in the California National Guard.
- Captain Joseph Folsom, the regiment's
quartermaster, became a prominent California citizen who is memorialized
by the City of Folsom.
- Major General Thomas Jefferson Green was
the first of four Major Generals elected by the California State
Legislature at San Jose on April 11, 1850.
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