California Civil War Rosters
From the book “Records of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867”
by Brig.-Gen. Richard H. Orton, pub. 1890
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler, © June 2004, pp 826-831.
FIRST BATTALION OF MOUNTAINEERS
This battalion was raised during the year 1863 for service against the Indians in Humboldt County and the northwestern portions of the State. The following is the correspondence regarding the formation of the battalion:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE PACIFIC,
SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., January 21, 1863.
His Excellency LELAND STANFORD, Governor State of California, Sacramento, Cal.:
SIR: After a careful consideration of the Indian difficulties in the District of Humboldt, comprising the northwestern counties of this State, and deeming it for the best interest of the Government that volunteer troops raised within the district should be employed against the hostile Indians, I have, by virtue of authority vested in me by the War Department, respectfully to request that your Excellency may be pleased to organize within said district six companies of infantry, to be mustered into the service of the United States.
My design is to retain these companies in service only so long as our difficulties in the district may render necessary. Should your Excellency respond favorably to this request, I will designate an officer of the regular army to muster in the companies at such points as may be convenient for their organization.
Each company will consist of one Captain, one First Lieutenant, one Second Lieutenant, four Sergeants, eight Corporals, two Musicians, and sixty-four and eighty-two privates.
Very respectfully, I have the honor to be your Excellency’s obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U.S. Army, Commanding.
Governor Stanford then issued the following proclamation calling for volunteers:
SACRAMENTO, February 7, 1863.
Whereas, Brigadier-General Wright, of the United States Army, commanding the Department of the Pacific, has called on me for a battalion of six companies of troops (infantry) for special service against the Indians, in the Humboldt District, in this State, to serve until discharged by him: Now, therefore, I, Leland Stanford, Governor of the State of California and Commander-in-Chief of the militia thereof, do call upon the citizens of the frontier counties of Humboldt, Mendocino, Trinity, Klamath, Siskiyou, and Del Norte, of this State – as many as shall be necessary to fill up the foregoing requisition – to organize themselves into companies, to be mustered into the service of the United States, as hereby required. The requisite officers for this force will be commissioned by the Governor.
Done at Sacramento, Cal., this seventh day of February, in the year of our Lord 1863.
ATTEST: WM. H. WEEKS, Secretary of State.
The following letter was then written by General Wright regarding the standing of troops so called into service:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE PACIFIC,
SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., March 2, 1863.
His Excellency LELAND STANFORD, Governor State of California, Sacramento City, Cal.:
SIR: Apprehensive that there may be some misunderstanding as regards the raising and organizing the volunteer companies for special service in suppressing Indian hostilities in the military district of Humboldt, I deem it important to say that when I called upon your Excellency for those six companies, it was understood that they were to be called out not under the laws calling for volunteers to suppress the rebellion, as for that purpose I had no power, but simply for service in their own neighborhood and for their own safety and protection against the Indians, and when no longer required for that purpose to be discharged.
I am under the impression that these troops, when called out for the purpose above stated, may supposed that they are entitled to be placed on the same footing with the volunteer troops called for by the Government to serve for three years, or during the war, and so they should be by rights; but if they enter the service in this special call, I wish it distinctly understood that I cannot guarantee that they will receive all the allowances made to men enlisted for three years or during the war.
To be explicit, if those companies are raised and mustered into the United States services I can provision them and furnish arms and everything necessary to make a campaign, but I have no means of defraying expenses of recruiting such companies, or of paying the officers and men their monthly allowances; all these things would require a special appropriation by Congress. All the moneys in hands of disbursing officers in this department have been furnished to meet the demands under existing laws, and I have no power to divert any portion of such funds to other purposes.
I have said thus much because I did not want to get these companies enrolled and then have dissatisfaction and complaints of not being placed on the same footing as other volunteers.
Under these circumstances, it is submitted to your Excellency whether it would be better to call out these companies at once or wait the action of the War Department.
With great respect, your Excellency’s obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, U.S. Army, Commanding.
The battalion, however, after being organized, was put upon the same footing as other volunteers. They were regularly mustered into the United States service for a term of three years, and received the same bounty and pay as other troops. This battalion was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen G. Whipple, who was mustered in and assumed command of the battalion June 22, 1863. The headquarters of the battalion was stationed at Fort Humboldt, Cal., until September, 1863; then at Fort Gaston, Cal., until September, 1864; then at Fort Humboldt until the thirteenth of June, 1865, when the field and staff officers were mustered out.
This company was raised in Humboldt County by Captain C.W. Long, and was mustered into the United States service on the thirtieth of May, 1863, at Fort Humboldt. It was stationed at Camp Baker, Cal., until October, 1863; then at Camp Jaqua, Humboldt County, until April, 1864; then at Fort Gaston until November, 1864; then at Camp Jaqua during the balance of its term of service, and was mustered out at Fort Humboldt, Cal., April 25, 1865.
The following remarks are found in the muster roll for July and August, 1863: On the seventh day of July Sergeant Sevier took the field against the Indians on Mad River, northeast from Camp Baker. On the eleventh attacked a small band, killing two and wounding one. Returned to post on the twelfth.
This company was raised by Captain George W. Ousley at Arcata, Humboldt County, and it was mustered into the United States service June 2, 1863. It was stationed at Fort Gaston, Humboldt County, until January, 1864; then at Camp Anderson, Humboldt County, until October, 1864; then at Camp Curtis during the balance of its term of service, where it was mustered out May 13, 1865.
The following remarks are found in the muster roll of this company for November and December, 1863: On November 17, 1863, Captain Ousley, with a detachment of fifteen men, had an engagement with the Indians on Willow Creek, about eight miles from Fort Gaston, Cal., in which Captain Ousley and two privates were wounded.
On December 26, 1863, Captain Ousley, with a detachment of thirty men, with mountain howitzer, attacked Indian fortifications on Christian Prairie, about twenty-three miles from Fort Gaston. Private C. Smith was wounded in the arm. The amount of damage done the enemy was two killed and several wounded. Two horses, two mules, four guns, several saddles, and some other articles of property were recovered, and the houses destroyed, together with a large quantity of Indian provisions. This engagement was participated in by detachments of Companies A, B, and C of the battalion.
This company was raised by Captain Abraham Miller in Humboldt and Trinity Counties, and was mustered into the United States service on the twenty-ninth of August, 1863. It was stationed at Camp Curtis until October, 1863; then at Fort Gaston until May, 1864; then at Burnt Ranch, Trinity County, until November, 1864; then at Fort Gaston until April, 1865; and it was at Camp Jaqua during the balance of its term of service. It was mustered out at Fort Humboldt, May 23, 1865.
The following remarks are found on the muster rolls and monthly returns of this company:
Remarks on Muster Roll of August, 1863. – Before the company had been mustered into service a detachment of eighteen men under Sergeant E.U. Day, while doing escort duty for a Government train, was attacked at Redwood Creek by a band of Indians numbering about eighty strong. After a severe fight of six hours they routed the Indians, killing six and wounding many others.
Remarks on Muster Roll of October, 1863. – On the fifteenth day of September, 1863, William T. Terry, who was doing escort duty to the United States mail between Hoopa Valley and Weaverville, was shot and killed by the Indians at Sandy Bar, Trinity River, Cal.; at the same time Orion Washington was severely wounded and the mail carrier killed.
Remarks on Muster Roll of November and December, 1863. – On the seventh of November Captain Miller, with fifteen men of Companies B and C, was ordered from Fort Gaston up the Trinity River to search for Indians. On November twelfth, at Thomas’ Ranch, twenty miles from Fort Gaston, they surprised a party who were killing a beef, and succeeded in killing two Indians and wounding two others. On the thirteenth, while crossing the South Fork of Trinity River, seventeen miles from Fort Gaston, they were fired upon by Indians, and two men were wounded – J.F. Heckman, of Company C, and S. McCracken, of Company B. After gaining the top of the bank the fire was returned, when the Indians fled. The command arrived at fort on the evening of the thirteenth. On the fourteenth Captain Ousley, of Company B, with a detachment of fifteen men, was ordered to go up the river to try and find three mules which in the fight on the thirteenth had escaped from Captain Miller’s party. On the seventeenth, at Willow Creek, seven miles from the fort, they were attacked by Indians. At the first fire one man was disabled, and shortly after the Captain was shot in the leg. During the engagement private A.V. Dusky, of Company C, was severely wounded in the thigh. The men fought until night, when the Indians left the ground, carrying their dead and wounded with them. It has since been found from friendly Indians, that of the Indians, seven were killed and eleven wounded. The party arrived at the fort late at night on the seventeenth, bringing two of the mules with them. On the first of December Lieutenant Hempfield, with a detachment of thirty men, eight of whom belonged to Company C, was ordered by Major Taylor towards the Klamath River, to try and catch Big Jim and party, who were reported to be among the Klamath River Indians endeavoring to raise them against the whites. They returned on the fifth unsuccessful. On the twenty-third of December Lieutenant Middleton was ordered to take thirty men of Company C and scout for Indians in the vicinity of Christmas Valley, twenty-five miles from Fort Gaston. The Indians were found living in strong log rancherias, with portholes through which they could fire upon an enemy approaching from either way. If was found impossible to take the place with rifles, and a messenger was sent to the fort for the howitzer and ammunition, which was sent, and thirty men of Company B under command of Captain Ousley. After the arrival of Captain Ousley a fire of shell was kept up as long as the ammunition lasted, doing some damage to the rancherias, but not dislodging the Indians, who had covered ways through which they passed from house to house. Lieutenant Middleton was ordered by Captain Ousley to take a detachment of men and proceed to the fort for more shell. During his absence, the Indians, taking advantage of the darkness, succeeded in making their escape. The fight commenced on the morning of the twenty-fifth, and ended on the night of the twenty-seventh.
Remarks on Return of May, 1864. - - On May twenty-eighth, Sergeant Wilson with nine men was sent to Trinity River, near Thomas’ House, in search of Indians. Afternoon of same day a rancheria, in which were seven or eight bucks and several squaws and children, was discovered and attacked; three bucks and one squaw were killed, and one or two wounded. In endeavoring to advance on the rancheria, which was situated under a high and steep bank close to the river, they were fired upon by a band, supposed to be Frank’s, consisting of fifteen or twenty Indians, who now appeared upon the opposite bank of the river. Regaining cover of the timber before occupied the fire was returned, wounding two, and driving all farther up the mountains. Shots were exchanged with this band until after dark, when Sergeant Wilson, finding that he would be unable to go down to the rancheria without exposing his men to great danger, gave orders to return to Burnt Ranch, where they arrived at six o’clock the same day. On May thirtieth, Lieutenant Middleton, with twenty-five enlisted men and ten days’ rations, was ordered to proceed against Indians in the vicinity of Hiampom. No report was received from this command.
Remarks on Return of October, 1864. – Captain Miller has been absent since the eighteenth day of September, with Lieutenant Middleton and twenty-seven men from this company, and Lieutenant Herrick of Company D and thirty-seven men from Fort Gaston, collecting Indians living near the settlements in Trinity County for removal to Fort Humboldt. Seventy-nine prisoners were taken, seventy-two of whom were sent to Fort Humboldt in charge of Lieutenants Herrick and Middleton and the detachment from Fort Gaston.
This company was raised by Captain William C. Martin, and mustered into the United States service at Fort Gaston, Humboldt County, March 16, 1864. The company was stationed at that post during its whole term of service. It was mustered out at Fort Humboldt, Cal., May 20, 1865. There are no remarks on the muster rolls or monthly returns showing the service performed by this company.
This company was raised by Captain John P. Simpson in Mendocino County, and was mustered into the United States service at Fort Humboldt, August 31, 1863. It was stationed at Fort Humboldt until October, 1863; then at Camp Grant during the balance of its term of service, except the time spent in the field against the hostile Indians. It was mustered out at Fort Humboldt, June 14, 1865.
The following remarks are found on the muster rolls of the company:
Remarks on Muster Roll of September and October, 1863. – On the fifteenth of October Lieutenant Skinner, with Lieutenant Frazier and a detachment of twenty men, left Camp Grant to scout for Indians along Eel River, in the vicinity of Big Bend. Returned on the thirtieth, bringing five prisoners – four squaws and one child.
Remarks on Muster Roll of January and February, 1864. – By report of Second Lieutenant William W. Frazier, in command of a detachment of Company E, First Battalion of Mountaineers, California Volunteers, he has had several engagements with the hostile Indians on the upper Mattole, during the month of February, 1864, killing thirteen of their number and capturing twenty-one prisoners.
Remarks on Muster Roll of May and June, 1864. – Second Lieutenant Frazier, of Company E, commanding a detachment of his company at Mattole, Cal., reports having an engagement with hostile Indians in that vicinity on the twenty-sixth of May, 1864, killing two and routing the hostile band. Sergeant Hawes, commanding a detachment of his company, returned to this camp (Grant) on May thirtieth, after scouting for fifty days, during which time he followed a band of hostile Indians for forty-two days, and succeeded in finding them encamped on Grouse Creek the morning of the twenty-third, and gave them battle, killing nine, and capturing two women and two children, besides three guns, one horse and saddle, and all their camp equipage.
Remarks on Muster Roll of July and August, 1864. – Captain John P. Simpson, with a detachment of twenty-one men, has been scouting on the headwaters of Eel River since July 19, 1864. The Indians are very numerous, and there appears to be several hundred in this vicinity. No Indians have been killed by this command, the object being to induce them to come in voluntarily, which they express a desire to do, if they can be convinced that they will not be killed or badly treated. The country inhabited by them being very rough, and in many places almost inaccessible, the expense of hunting them would be very great and would also take several years. At the present date there are sixty-eight in camp, and appear well satisfied to go to the reservation if their lives will be spared. There is also a fair prospect of many more surrendering themselves as soon as they can be convinced of being kindly treated.
This company was raised by Captain Robert Baird at Fort Jones and other places in Siskiyou County, and was mustered into the United States service in San Francisco, February 19, 1864. It served at the following stations: Forks of Salmon River, then in Klamath County, but now in Siskiyou county, from date of organization until July, 1864; then at Fort Gaston until October, 1864; then at mouth of Klamath River and en route to Camp Lincoln during the month of October, 1864; then at Camp Lincoln during balance of its term of service. It was mustered out at Camp Lincoln, June 9, 1865. There are no remarks on the muster rolls or monthly returns showing the service performed by this company.
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