California During The Civil War.

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major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Just read an article titled Some Aspects of California's Military Problem During the Civil War" by Leo P. Kibby.

According to Kibby: "The Confederate government hoped to gain control of not only New Mexico and Arizona but also of California. Confederate authorities often cited reports that the state was on the eve of revolution and that southern men there were eager to join the Confederate Army."

It would appear the Californians with southern backgrounds were in fact very supportive of the Confederacy as were many of the southern Californians of Mexican heritage and those of French heritage as well. It appears to me that even though the governor was generally pro southern, the majority of the citizens of California were not. Once Albert Sidney Johnston left the Military Department of the Pacific, the U.S. Army combined with the local Union supporters made the secession of California unpractical. But if California had seceded and joined the Confederacy the effect on the war would have been considerable.
 

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
Large parts of Oregon - generally southern and eastern counties - were also very pro-Confederate and Lincoln barely won election here although northern Oregon generally supported him. Our boy Joe Lane ran with Breckenridge remember. While there were many sympathizers I don't think secession was ever really a possibility in California or Oregon.
 

kevikens

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Location
New Jersey
What I found most interesting about California during the war was their unwillingness to accept the Green Back paper currency issued by the US Government, despite their legal tender status. California businesses remained on a strict gold standard. US military personnel were paid in Greenbacks at the California market value but even then they complained mightily about their difficulty in getting merchants to accept them, even at a discount.
 
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diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Southern California might have seceded - in Santa Barbara secession missed by one vote! The state might have split then. In 1859 Californio state assemblyman Pico proposed the state of Colorado - there wasn't one yet - comprising the five southern counties of San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles. At that time, the heavy population was in the north - miners. It got all the way to Washington. Buchanan, an expert hot potato tosser, punted the proposal to the next administration where it died peacefully in its sleep. With South Carolina's secession, Angelenos formed a secessionist militia, the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles and that alarmed Unionists. Our friend Albert Sydney Johnston was commander of the Department of the Pacific and noted that he had heard of plans to take the US arsenal and fort at Benicia, and that he would prevent it. He had not yet resigned his position. (We can just be happy Twiggs wasn't in command there...) Meantime, Ft Sumter erupted and the Los Angeles militia headed for Texas. Once they left the state, Union dragoons entered and spread out - the mining camps in the north were heavily in sympathy with the South and the presence of the soldiers in the streets of various camps and towns put a real damper on secessionist impulses. As the war progressed, the Federal soldiers were recalled and the state had only its own militias an volunteers, but the heat for secession had died down to mere embers by that time. A peculiar little plot to steal a ship from the Port of Oakland - which was full of pirates, by the way - was foiled with the help of a rusty old Spanish cannon from Yerba Buena... That's a story that Buster Keaton could have done as well as he did stealing the General!
 

Sons of Liberty

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 18, 2013
Location
State of Southern Illinois
Southern California might have seceded - in Santa Barbara secession missed by one vote! The state might have split then. In 1859 Californio state assemblyman Pico proposed the state of Colorado - there wasn't one yet - comprising the five southern counties of San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles. At that time, the heavy population was in the north - miners. It got all the way to Washington. Buchanan, an expert hot potato tosser, punted the proposal to the next administration where it died peacefully in its sleep. With South Carolina's secession, Angelenos formed a secessionist militia, the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles and that alarmed Unionists. Our friend Albert Sydney Johnston was commander of the Department of the Pacific and noted that he had heard of plans to take the US arsenal and fort at Benicia, and that he would prevent it. He had not yet resigned his position. (We can just be happy Twiggs wasn't in command there...) Meantime, Ft Sumter erupted and the Los Angeles militia headed for Texas. Once they left the state, Union dragoons entered and spread out - the mining camps in the north were heavily in sympathy with the South and the presence of the soldiers in the streets of various camps and towns put a real damper on secessionist impulses. As the war progressed, the Federal soldiers were recalled and the state had only its own militias an volunteers, but the heat for secession had died down to mere embers by that time. A peculiar little plot to steal a ship from the Port of Oakland - which was full of pirates, by the way - was foiled with the help of a rusty old Spanish cannon from Yerba Buena... That's a story that Buster Keaton could have done as well as he did stealing the General!
Very interesting Diane! Miners, and pirates, and secesh, oh my! Good stuff.
 

yellowthornoftexas

First Sergeant
Joined
Apr 3, 2015
Location
lost in the sands of time
Hmmmm, here in the state Capitol, there's nothing at all ever mentioned about the Civil War. All the "history" presentations talk absolutely, mining, River Boats, RR, and pony express.
In doing some research about CA in the war, very limited and this is new info, thank you. Guess that explains why there were so many federal CA militias about the state. A couple of units were sent to NV to guard the silver interests, AZ to help quell Confederate sympathizers there.
 
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diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Barbary Coast, you know! :wink: Jack London was with the pirates in Oakland when he wasn't in the bar named for him - they specialized in oysters, which was big loot. The J M Chapman Plot involved members of the Knights of the Golden Circle obtaining a letter of marque from Davis to raid the California coast for anything the Union could use but especially the shipments of gold. California really kept the Union afloat with that. (The J M Chapman was a schooner.) The mayor of San Francisco heard of the plot and frantically got some bodies together to defend the Bay from the massive Confederate armada slogging its way to California - they got rusty old cannons from the last Spanish outpost in Alta California - Yerba Buena island. They hadn't been fired since the Spaniards had California last, either, and they used them lightly at that. At any rate, they set these up at Fort Alcatraz and Angel Island. The Cyane, another sloop-of-war, loaded with revenue men and the San Francisco cops, intercepted the J M Chapman just as she left the Port of Oakland, and the plotters were locked up on Alcatraz. It did get Ft Mason, the Presidio, Camp Reynolds, Camp Baker all beefed up. The Marin Headlands and the Peninsula were liable to attack from the British or French as well, depending on who decided to throw their hat into the ring with the Confederacy. Then...Russians! The Russian fleet paid a friendly visit, just letting everybody know it was possible for them to take a little time out from building their Asian empire to maybe regain their foothold in California...


Oh, and speaking of Albert Sydney Johnston - his words were stalwart and duty-bound, but just a few days later he resigned and vamoosed with the LA Rifles...which is why they headed for Texas. On the way they passed through the erstwhile Republic of Arizona, which existed as an independent state for a rousing six weeks before becoming a territory of the Confederacy. (The Confederacy wouldn't have bothered with that stretch of desert inhabited by decidedly unfriendly Indians except as a pathway linking them to California.)
 

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Hmmmm, here in the state Capitol, there's nothing at all ever mentioned about the Civil War. All the "history" presentations talk absolutely, mining, River Boats, RR, and pony express.
In doing some research about CA in the war, very limited and this is new info, thank you. Guess that explains why there were so many federal CA militias about the state. A couple of units were sent to NV to guard the silver interests, AZ to help quell Confederate sympathizers there.
There is some information regarding California and the Civil War, especially units and uniforms, in Frederick P. Todd's American Military Equipage 1851-1872.

Todd lists the units formed there and gives available information about their uniforms, for example:
1st Infantry Regiment in gray including the State Guard/City Guard/ Light Guard.
2nd Infantry Regiment (Irish) to include McMahon Guard/Montgomery Guard Emmet Rifles/ Sarsfield Guard and others.
6th Infantry Regiment (German) to include California Fusilers/Sigel Guard/ California Grenadiers/ Steuben Guard San Francisco Yagers and others.
Also there were several Zouave units in various commands.
 
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diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Diane, no idea what you're talking about.

MajorBill, I don't have that book.
I'm talking about the J M Chapman plot, the CW fortifications around the Bay, Marin Headlands and the Peninsula, and the visiting Russian fleet.

P S
And A S Johnston after he decided not to defend Benicia, and that was a good reason!
 

garyknowz1

Cadet
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
A couple years ago, Charles Fracchia of the San Francisco Historical Society spoke on the subject (link below). The forward reads: "Charles Fracchia, former president of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, talked about California’s role in the Civil War. He spoke about the strong partisan feelings about secession among Confederate sympathizers, particularly in Southern California, and the measures taken to protect the state against the Confederates. He also talked about the troops from the state who volunteered for both the Union and Confederate armies. This event took place at the Old Mint building in San Francisco." Pretty interesting lecture.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?312349-1/california-civil-war
 
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garyknowz1

Cadet
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Apr 16, 2015
Hmmmm, here in the state Capitol, there's nothing at all ever mentioned about the Civil War. All the "history" presentations talk absolutely, mining, River Boats, RR, and pony express.
In doing some research about CA in the war, very limited and this is new info, thank you. Guess that explains why there were so many federal CA militias about the state. A couple of units were sent to NV to guard the silver interests, AZ to help quell Confederate sympathizers there.
There were more than just militia. Ten USV regiments were formally mustered into the Federal army in California, but their duties were much different than those east of Colorado. When the regular units like the 2nd, 6th, and 4th Infantry departed for the east, they left a void in a region undergoing a dramatic societal flux. So the volunteers here mainly took over the old outpost -type duties left by the regulars, such as border disputes, Indian affairs (Bald Hills War), secessionist antagonism, and general dyspeptics amongst a very diverse populace. They never engaged in "Civil War" battles per se. Yet, by taking on the regulars' duties, they allowed the regulars to leave the area and later become among the famed members of Sykes' Regular division in the AotP. So they did have an indirect affect on the war, without actually fighting.

Yet, California regiments did fight in the east (in proxy form). The 71st, 69th, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania were initially given the designation as California regiments (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th California respectively) in honor of the brigade commander, Col. Baker's, effort to keep California in the Union. The Philadelphia Brigade of Pickett's Charge fame was once known as the California Brigade. Not very useful pertaining to California's role in the war, but hailing from California, I found it a fun little fact.

Here's a good source on California in the ACW:

http://californiamilitaryhistory.org/HistoryCW.html
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
There were more than just militia. Ten USV regiments were formally mustered into the Federal army in California, but their duties were much different than those east of Colorado. When the regular units like the 2nd, 6th, and 4th Infantry departed for the east, they left a void in a region undergoing a dramatic societal flux. So the volunteers here mainly took over the old outpost -type duties left by the regulars, such as border disputes, Indian affairs (Bald Hills War), secessionist antagonism, and general dyspeptics amongst a very diverse populace. They never engaged in "Civil War" battles per se. Yet, by taking on the regulars' duties, they allowed the regulars to leave the area and later become among the famed members of Sykes' Regular division in the AotP. So they did have an indirect affect on the war, without actually fighting.

Yet, California regiments did fight in the east (in proxy form). The 71st, 69th, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania were initially given the designation as California regiments (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th California respectively) in honor of the brigade commander, Col. Baker's, effort to keep California in the Union. The Philadelphia Brigade of Pickett's Charge fame was once known as the California Brigade. Not very useful pertaining to California's role in the war, but hailing from California, I found it a fun little fact.

Here's a good source on California in the ACW:

http://californiamilitaryhistory.org/HistoryCW.html
It was a bad thing for California Indians, particularly those above San Francisco, when the regular army left. The volunteers and militias were paid scalp bounties and all that sort of horrible thing. But, then, the regulars didn't help matters sometimes - Bloody Island down south was where dragoons under Nathaniel Lyon annihilated the Pomo there about 1850, I think. Up here, after the Bald Hill War, the Wintun War, the Modoc War, the Redcap Uprising... Nobody can say we didn't go down without a fight! That's one of the biggest myths about California Indians - they never fought or stood up for themselves. That's why all the photos are of whipped Indians, ragged and all. That was representative of the remnants, after the wars and removals.

I think Baker rounded up the Philadelphia Brigade from former Californians, who were living in Pennsylvania, didn't he?
 
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yellowthornoftexas

First Sergeant
Joined
Apr 3, 2015
Location
lost in the sands of time
"up here", "we",...diane, you up here in NorCal?
There's a place somewhere in the "bay" area that hosts a CW event, the location was a fort (?). Not the Presidio, or Alcatraz....Angel Island (?). In Oct down in Monterey they're having a big CW encampment and demonstrations for the public, I think it's Oct 2-4.
I've always been confused about the 'California' units in the eastern theater. Scenario's posted above make sense. All I know is Dog Island is this coming weekend! LOL
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
"up here", "we",...diane, you up here in NorCal?
There's a place somewhere in the "bay" area that hosts a CW event, the location was a fort (?). Not the Presidio, or Alcatraz....Angel Island (?). In Oct down in Monterey they're having a big CW encampment and demonstrations for the public, I think it's Oct 2-4.
I've always been confused about the 'California' units in the eastern theater. Scenario's posted above make sense. All I know is Dog Island is this coming weekend! LOL
I'm so far north I'm pret'near in Oregon! I've lived all over California, though, and love the history of the state. Haven't been to Monterey for many years but it was a beautiful place when I lived there in the 70s on Lighthouse Ave.

The California units didn't do very much back east, mostly in the Arizona and Colorado territories. There were some more or less real battles here - the battle of Sonoma, for instance! That was more like the glaring contest at the end of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
 
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diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson
Bear Flag Revolt, 1846 Sonoma Barracks?
That's it - I remembered too late that was way before the CW. Must be thinking Solano, with the arsenal in it! Sherman thought that Benicia was a great place to found a city, right along the Carquinez Straits with good shipping and a good port, and if he'd had money and backing he'd likely been the founder. Would have gotten rich, once the sugar and oil came in! But that was later. Gen. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo owned that huge hacienda, at least until adversity struck after the Mexican War... Joe Hooker got a juicy chunk of that, and Sherman was forever more looking askance at Hooker!
 
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