California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Washington Continental Guard
(including the Washington Light Infantry, Veteran Guard, Warren Guard, Stratman Zouaves, and the Thompson Rifles)
Other or Official Titles:
Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County
Mustered in: December 15, 1855
Mustered out: February 26, 1878
Papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 1 document (1855)
b. Bonds 5 documents (1855-1866)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 60 documents (1855-1879)
d. Election Returns 31 documents (1861-1875)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 54 documents (1856-1880)
g. Oaths Qualifications 268 documents (1862-1879)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 19 documents (1857-1878)
j. Requisitions 11 documents (1861-1878)
k. Resignations 24 documents (1865-1878)
l. Target Practice Reports 8 documents (1866-1879)
m. Other Public Property, 1 document (1868)
Certificate of Commission, 1 document (1863)

Commanding Officers

F. G. M. Fenn, Captain, Commisioned February 1856
A. H. Clarke, First Lieutenant, Commisioned February 1856

G. A. Glasure, Captain, Elected May 23, 1861, Commissioned June 27, 1861
G. D. Wallace, First Lieutenant, Elected May 23, 1861, Commissioned June 27, 1861

James B. Storer, Captain, Elected January 23, 1862, Commissioned January 30, 1862
R. D. Smith, First Lieutenant, Elected May 27, 1862, Commissioned June 7, 1862

James B. Storer, Captain, Re-elected May 19, 1863
Alonzo H. Pennoyer, First Lieutenant Elected January 15, 1863 Commissioned February 3, 1863

James B. Storer, Captain, Re-elected May 31, 1864
Alonzo H. Pennoyer, First Lieutenant, Re-elected May 31, 1864

James B. Storer, Captain, Re-elected May 30, 1865
J. vi. Hurlburt, First Lieutenant , Elected May 30, 1865, Commissioned June 7, 1865

James B. Storer, Captain, Re-elected September 18, 1866
John M. Hoyt, Captain Elected November 6, 1666, Commissioned November 13, 1866 (Resigned February 8, 1867)
John S. Souther, Captain Elected February 19, 1867, Commissioned March 7, 1867 (Resigned October 22, 1867
John C. Jenkins, First Lieutenant Elected September 18, 1866; Commissioned September 28, 1866 (Resigned September 24, 1867)

James E. Hughes, Captain, Elected October 22, 1867, Commissioned November 30, 1867 (Resigned January 7, 1868)
James N. Finan, Captain, Elected January 7, 1668, Commissioned March 21,1867 (Resigned November 19, 1868)
Frederick Harrington, First Lieutenant, Elected September 24, 1867, Commissioned October 10, 1867 (Resigned January 7, 1868)
James Daupin, First Lieutenant, Elected January 7, 1868, Commissioned March 21, 1868 (Resigned August 6, 1868)
James E. Hughes, First Lieutenant Elected November 18, 1868, Commissioned December 12, 1868

James E. Hughes, Captain, Elected December 16, 1868, Commissioned: December 28, 1868
James F. Ray, First Lieutenant, Elected December 16, 1868, Commissioned: December 28, 1868 (Commission revoked)
James O'Brien, First Lieutenant, Elected May 6, 1870, Commissioned, September 7, 1870

James E. Hughes, Captain Re-elected March 2, 1871 (Resigned August l, 1871)
Theodore M. Wate, First Lieutenant, Elected March 14, 1871, Commissioned August 1, 1871

Theodore L. Wate, Captain, Elected January 11, 1872, Commissioned January 18, 1872 (Resigned May 10, 1873)
Henry Smith, First Lieutenant, Elected January 11, 1872, Commissioned January 18, 1872 (Resigned April 20, 1872)
James S. Swain, First Lieutenant, Elected May 11, 1872, Commissioned May 18, 1872 (Resigned May 10, 1873)

John Stratman, Captain , Elected January 16, 1873, Commissioned January 27, 1873
B. C. Mooney, First Lieutenant, Elected June 10, 1873, Commissioned June 27, 1873 (Resigned February 17, 1875)

Frederick W. Pierce, Captain, Elected August 30, 1875, Commissioned September 6, 1875
Henry Levy, First Lieutenant, Elected August 30, 1875, Commissioned September 6, 1875 (Resigned May 21, 1877)

Frederick W. Pierce, Captain, Re-elected September 24, 1877
Charles T. Tripler, First Lieutenant, Elected September 24, 1877, Commissioned October 11, 1877


Official History

A copy of the San Francisco Daily News of December 11, 1855 contained a legal notice reading thus:


    County Court of the County of San Francisco, State of California, SS

    F. C. M. Fenn, Esquire is hereby authorized to take the proper steps to organize the Military Company known as the Washington Continental Guard pursuant to petition.

                      J. W. Freelon,
                      County Judge

Accordingly the Washington Continental Guard was organized on December 15, 1855. In electing their first Captain, the polls were opened on December twenty-second at 7 A. M. and closed at 9 P. M. at which hour a meeting was held. The vote resulted in the unanimous election of F. C. M. Fenn, Captain and A. H. Clarke, First Lieutenant. The other officers were elected in the usual manner.
Under date of January 30, 1850, a letter to the Adjutant General by Captain Fenn reveals that the company was busy drilling,but he urged the Adjutant General to send .them muskets and equipment at an early date as they planned to parade on February twenty second at a Washington Birthday Celebration.

A letter of March 18, 1856, shows that the company was in possession of arms belonging to the
Sarsfield Guard, led by Captain Ryan, and wished to know if they were to retain the arms or would they receive new ones from Headquarters. Captain Ryan had been charged with unlawful use of the arms belonging to the Sarsfield Guard, in that he permitted the men to take a rifle home for the purpose of drilling. The Court Martial exonerated Captain Ryan of any wrong doing, and it is assured the arms were returned, since the Sarsfield Guard was one of the companies that remained loyal to the Governor's Proclamation, declaring San Francisco in a "state of Insurrection". On January 20, 1857, Captain Fenn received forty new muskets and forty gun slings, according to an Ordnance Receipt.
During the troublesome days of June, July, and August 1856 in San Francisco when the Vigilance Committee assumed control of affairs in that city, the Continental Guard was one of the companies that aided the Sheriff in protecting the life of James P. Casey from a mob desiring to lynch him. . After the Governor's Proclamation was issued, the company was loyal to their oath and served for three months, guarding the arms and property of the State from seizure by the Vigilantes. When the Vigilance Committee disbanded the latter part of August and quiet was again restored, the Washington Continental Guard was relieved of further active duties.

On January 24, 1857, Captain Fenn writes the Adjutant General informing him that he was drilling twenty-three new recruits every night and requested forty muskets so that the company could parade on the Fourth of July, 1857.

For a period of nearly four years no further record of the activities of this company are available, perhaps due to a waning interest among the members. However, on May 23, 1861, a letter written by Major J. R. West explaining to the Adjutant General that he had presided at a meeting of the company, which was reorganized, indicating a revival of interest among the members concerning the activities of their unit.
The newly organized company retained its old name, Washington Continental Guard and elected George A. Glasure, Captain and Charles D. Wallace, First Lieutenant.
Washington Light Infantry

On the twenty-seventh day of January 1862, the company changed its name to Washington Light Infantry, with the approval of the Brigadier-General, Charles Doan.

On March twenty-sixth, Captain Storer addressed a letter to Adjutant General William C. Kibbe stating that the arms of the company were worn badly and some of them broken.

Under Special Order No. 26, from Brigade Headquarters, Inspector John Hill examined the equipment and reported the rifles were very worn after four years of service and recormnended that a new supply of fifty Springfield Muskets, improved pattern, be issued along with necessary accoutrements to this old established company. After reading the records of this company we readily agreed with Inspector Hill.

In 1866 when the Legislature passed a law reducing the number of militia companies to eighty and providing a Board of Location and Organization, whose duty it was to reorganize the militia forces with a view of location and the concentration of regiments in emergencies in the least possible time, the Board's recommendation resulted in the Washington Light Infantry being transferred from Company D, First Artillery Regiment to Company B, Second Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade.
Veteran Guard

At a meeting of the Washington Light Guard held on September 28, 1867, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed "that the name of Washington Light Guard be dropped and that we assume the title of Veteran Guard." The reason for the change of the name was made obvious in a letter addressed to Adjutant General Evans and written by Colonel J. B. McKenzie. The Colonel requested the General to oblige him by a speedy issuing of the commissions of Captain McCabe and the First Lieutenant, Fred Harrington. He explained that as the commissions arrived, Captain Souther, who evidently was not a veteran, would resign and the company then would be 100 percent Veterans. The Colonel also stated that the company was one of the finest he had ever seen in this or any other State.
Warren Guard

On July 24, 1871, the company again voted unanimously to change their narne from Veteran Guard to Warren Guard, and gave as a reason for the change that it was impossible to keep the number of members required by law, if condition of membership was confined to those who had been in the Civil War, also the Veterans of the Mexican War. The change of name was permitted under Special Order No. 30, 1871.
Stratman Zouaves

When on January lo, 1873, John Stratman was elected Captain of the company, the members decided once more to change their name this time in honor of their Captain. So under Special Order No. 22, issued in 1873 their name was changed from Warren Guard to Stratman Zouaves.
Thompson Rifles
This designation was only carried by the company for two years when the unit became known as the Thompson Rifles under Special Order No. 19, issued on October 20, 1875. On October 2, 1877, Captain Fierce addressed a letter to Adjutant General Walsh stating, that the company would hereafter be known by the designation of the Regimental letter "B".

Although this company, which in the beginning was the Washington Continental Guard, changed its name five different tines, it was a very efficient unit and saw active service with the Second Brigade in all their parades, encampments and on the occasions when the Brigade was called upon during attempts to lynch accused murderers or when riotous conduct was displayed, such as occured in 1876, 1877, and 1878 during the anti-Chinese demonstrations.

The Muster Roll of September 1877 shows a loss of thirty seven members to the company, more than half of the number having been dishonorably discharged. This loss caused the membership to fall below the standard required by law, and subjected the unit to disbandment. However, the Adjutant General decided disband ment of this company would cause an unjust punishment on the remaining members and accordingly he issued : Special Order ho. 3 on February 26, 1878, stating that Company B and Company E, Second Infantry Regiment be consolidated. Company was likewise guilty of falling below the required standard in regard to membership. Company E refused to consolidate so was mustered out of the service. The commissioned officers of the two companies were honorably mustered out of the service of the State on March 14, 1878.

The old members of Company B were reorganized into a new unit and with the addition of new members, qualified as a company of the National Guard. They elected Herman Schaffner, Captain and William H. Bigger, First Lieutenant. The new company was designated Company B, Second Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade.

On April 1, 1880, the name Company B was changed to Company E, Second Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade, to which designation refer for further activities of this unit.(1)


(1) Adjutant General Report 1880, Special Order No. 25, page 77.

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