California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Alpine Rifles
(Markleeville Guard)
Organizational Data
Military Unit Designation: Markleeville Guard, 4th Brigade, California Militia; later Alpine Rifles, 4th Brigade, California Militia
Date of Organization: April 2, 1864
Date of Disbanding: July 10, 1866
Inclusive dates of units papers at State Archives: 1864-1866
Geographical Location or Locations: Markleeville, Alpine County
Unit Papers on file at the California State Archives, Sacramento:
a. Organization Papers 1 document (1864)
b. Bonds 1 document (1864)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 11 documents (1864-1865)
d. Election Returns 4 documents (1865-1866)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 7 documents (1864-1866)
g. Oaths Qualifications 10 documents (1864-1866)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 4 documents (1864)
j. Requisitions 1 document (1864)
k. Resignations 5 documents (1864-1865)
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none
Commanding Officers:

D. C. Mitchell, Captain: Elected April 2, 1864; commissioned May 18, 1864; reelected February 28, 1865; resigned September 14, 1865.
R. M. Jersey, First Lieutenant: Elected April 2, 1864; commissioned May 18, 1864
G. W. Mank, First Lieutenant: Elected February 28, 1865; commissioned March 16, 1865; resigned October 3, 1865

William L. Apperson, Captain Elected September 14, 1865; commissioned October 3, 1865
I. G. Ayers, First Lieutenant: Elected October 3, 1865; commissioned November 1 1865
Official History:

At the time of the organization of the Markleeville Guard, a series of depredations consisting of burning and plundering of homes were committed in Alpine County. An attempt was also made to overthrow the then existing county government by refusing to pay taxes or obey local ordinances. These depredations committed by the so-called "Copperheads", who, although residents of the North during the Civil War , deeming it impossible to conquer the Confederacy, were earnestly in favor of peace and consequently opposed to the war policy of the President and Congress. The term "Copperheads" originated in the Autumn of 1862, and its use spread throughout the North quietly but persistently, because of t he fancied resemblance of the peace party to the venomous copperhead snake which strikes without warning. Some of the more zealous advocates of the peace policy even wore badges of heads cut from one cent pieces, fancying that such display emphasized their attitude more fully.[1]

Alpine County was a stronghold for these "Copperheads" and their attitude and acts of violence and sabotage aroused in the loyal Union men, feelings of bitterness and fear. The local peace officers were either unable or unwilling to cope with the situation within their county, and law enforcement was seemingly impossible. The law abiding citizens, therefore, deemed it necessary and expedient to organize a company of militia for local duty which would have authority under the laws of the State to take the situation in hand.

Due to the existing conditions the Markleeville Guard (later changed to the Alpine Rifles) was organized at Markleeville, Alpine County, April 2, 1864, pursuant to a petition signed by sixty-eight loyal citizens of the county, and approved by the County Judge as provided by law. The name of the company was changed a few months after its organization in response to a general feeling that inasmuch as the company was a county wide organization it should bear the county name--Alpine.

Apprehension was felt that an attempt would be made by the "Copperheads" to seize the rifles and ammunition to be shipped by the State for the use of the volunteers, but the attempt did not materialize and the arms and equipment were received in due time and in good condition. The organization of the company of militia had the desired effect in the county and within a short period of time conditions were much improved. The fear and dread that had haunted the population of the county for so long disappeared and confidence was restored. The presence of the militia had a demoralizing effect on the element which was responsible for the crimes and depredations committed, and acts. of hostility and vandalism soon ceased.

The Alpine Rifles maintained their organization only about two years and on July 10, 1866, the company was mustered out of the service of the State under Special Order No. 2 [2] of that year, with the full knowledge of duties well and faithfully performed and the heartfelt thanks of their friends and neighbors.
1. Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 6, page 409.
2. Adjutant General Report 1867, page 93.

Posted 26 December 2014

Search our Site!
Search the Web Search California Military History Online
View My Stats
Visitors since 8 December 1998
Questions and comments concerning this site should be directed to the Webmaster
Updated 23 June 2017