California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Alvarado Guard
 
Organizational Data
 
Military Unit Designation: Alavarado Guard, 5th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, California Militia. After 18 October 1866: Alvarado Guard, Company F, 5th Infantry Battalion, National Guard of California
Date of Organization: 19 August 1863
Date of Disbanding: 12 June 1868
Inclusive dates of units papers at State Archives: 1863-1868
Geographical Location or Locations: Alvarado (now Union City), Alameda County
 
 
Unit Papers on file at the California State Archives, Sacramento:

a. Organization Papers 8 documents (1863)
b. Bonds 1 document (1866)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 20 documents (1863-1867)
d. Election Returns 3 documents (1863-1867)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 19 documents (1863-1868)
g. Oaths Qualifications 16 documents (1863-1867)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 5 documents (1866-1868)
j. Requisitions 3 documents (1863-1867)
k. Resignations 2 documents (1863)
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other Public Property, 1 document (1867)
 
 
Commanding Officers:

F. B. Granger, Captain: Elected August 19, 1863; commissioned September 1863; resigned November 14 1863
Charles P. Johnson , First Lieutenant: Elected August 19, 1863; commissioned September 1863

E. L. Dyer, Captain: Elected November 27, 1863, commissioned December 3, 1863
E. L. Dyer, Captain: Relected September 15, 1865; April 6, 1867
Charles P. Johnson, First Lieutenant: Reelected September 15, 1865
Joseph McKeown, First Lieutenant: Elected April 6, 1867, commissioned June 28, 1867.

An extract of the Alvarado Guard's muster roll
 
Official History:
 
The Alvarado Guard was organized at Alvarado, Alameda County on the ninteenth of August 1863, pursuant to a petition bearing the signatures of fifty-three citizens, residents of said county, who were subject to military duty. The petition was presented to the Honorable Noble Hamilton, County Judge, and the company was mustered into the service of the State on the date of its organization and became a unit of the State Militia, Second Brigade, First Regiment of Infantry. On October 18, 1866, the company was reorganized under the same command and mustered in as Company F, Fifth Infantry Battalion, Second Brigade, California National Guard, in conformity with the new military r egulations of that year.

The Alvarado Guard was an active unit from the day of its organization, taking part in parades and patriotic demonstrations and its members were justly proud of their appearance and proficiency in military tactics . The membership of the company increased gradually until in June 1867 there were sixty-eight names on the muster roll . About this time considerable dissatisfaction was expressed by the officers and members of the company because of their inability to secure uniforms and other essential equipment. On June 12 , 1868, incompliance with Special Order No. 30 the arms and equipment of the Alvarado Guard were turned over to the State and the company was mustered out of the State Service.[1]
 
Footnotes:

1. Adjutant General Report 1867-1869, page 147.
 
 
Additional Histories and News Clippings
 
From a November 1863 edition of tthe Oakland Tribune:
Ephraim Dyer has been appointed Captain and Commander of the Alvarado Guards. Their purpose will be the first line protection of our people and our property. His staff includes: 1st Lieutenant, C. P. Johnson; 2nd Lieutenant, Joseph McKeown; 3rd Lieutenant, H. C. Smith, and Orderly, Sgt. Frank Gilman. The Alvarado Guards were formed in 1862
From The Daily Alta California, San Francisco, October 24, 1863:
The loyal legislature of California, impressed with the necessity of placing the State in a better condition for defence in these days of treason and rebellion, considered, and wisely so, that the first step taken in that direction should be to foster the military spirit of the people, by encouraging the organized militia.
 
With this view, a law was passed last winter, authorizing the Governor to order a Camp of Instruction for the officers and non-commissioned officers throughout the State, to take place in the spring, and an Encampment for each Brigade within its own limits in the fall; each to last for ten days. The cost of these Encampments to be defrayed by levying a poll tax of two dollars on every male inhabitant of California.
 
General Orders No. 7:
 
I. The assignment to regiments of unattached companies during this Encampment will be as follows: The Vallejo Rifles, Capt. Barbour, to the First Regiment; The McClellan Guards, of Vallejo, to the Second Irish Regiment; the Watsonville Guards, Capt. Porter, and Butler Guards, Capt. Haslam, to the First Regiment of artillery; the Napa Guard, Capt. Allen, the San Jose Union Guard, Capt. Owen, the Alviso Rifles, Capt. Rowley and the Alvarado Guard, Lieutenant Johnson commanding, to the First Infantry Battalion, which will be designated during the Encampment as the Fourth Regiment.
 
From Looking Back:A Glimpse of Early Union City, City of Union City, 1978:
One of the most valuable clues to the families living in the Union City-Decoto-New Haven area during the Civil War period is preserved in the original Roll Book Military Company, Light Infantry, organized at Alvarado, Alameda County, August 1863.

This State of California Militia Guard organization was commissioned by Governor Downey to protect the State from potential invasion by forces of the Confederate States of America, or from subversive forces, or to repel attacks from Confederate privateering armed vessels which might be operated and attacking ports along the Pacific Coast.

The first roll call in August of 1863 had 55 names. Some of the names are from families who remained in the Washington Township area for generations.

Some unusual aspects of the Guard's By-Laws:

"Any person over 15 years of age who sustains a good moral character and believes in a Supreme Being who rules our destiniesand will support the Constitution of the United States and of the
State of California is eligible to become a member."

Fine Schedule:
  • For absence from parade: $1.00
  • For absence from Drill: $ .50
  • Neglect of Duty: $ .50
  • Absence from Meetings $ .25

And from the Minutes of Meetings -
"Met at Templar Hall, September 25th with Captain F. B. Granger in the chair. Mr. A. L. Fuller elected Secretary and Senior 2nd Lieutenant. On motion a committee of three was appointed to confer with the Odd Fellows to see what can be done about securing a room for an armory and drill room - The company will agree to pay $35 per month for an Armory at Odd Fellow Hall."
 
"Lieutenant Johnson reported that 0. P. Feasel would put the room over the blacksmith shop in order to receive the guns (armory) and take care of them for $50 per month and that the exclusive use of Stokes Hall could be had for $15 per month. November 24, 1863 met at Stokes Hall."
 
"A formal ballot was taken to elect a permanent Captain of the Corps. Ephraim Dyer was elected with 25 votes to 7 for T. 0. Hopkins. A. L. Fuller was elected Senior First Lieutenant, with 21 votes to 12 for John Brizzee. Junior First Lieutenant was declared to be John Brizzee by a vote of 19 to 15 for T. 0. Hopkins. The Secretary reported that he had purchased 150 pounds of ammunition in cartridges in San Francisco for the use of the Company. William Scarf was engaged as Armorer at a salary of $15 per month."
 
December 29, 1865, "On motion the Chairman of the Armory Committee, Wm. M. Liston was fined 25 cents for scratching matches on walls."

May 25, 1866 - "On motion, W. H. Cockefair, that the Company have a large picture taken at a cost not to exceed $25."

The last entry in the Old Roll Book is dated Armory Hall, Alvarado, January 4, 1869. The Civil War was over and the Company was soon disbanded.

The Alvarado Homeguard never fired a shot in anger and confined itself to drills, parades, target matches and social balls. Union City had an impressive Civil War record, however.

A local hero was C. S. Eigenbrodt, the son of an early day farmer. Young Eigenbrodt was born in New York and came to California with his parents, who were immigrants from Germany. He graduated from West Point and was on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors from Washington Township. As soon as the Civil War erupted, Eigenbrodt organized a small group of volunteers from Southern Alameda County, took them to San Francisco and enlisted them for immediate action on the Virginia front. The Company of 100 dragoons of which Supervisor Eigenbrodt was part, was soon known as the California Hundred and was adopted with enthusiasm by all of South County as their very own fighting men. It was mustered into the Army on December 10, 1862. The next day the men marched down Market Street in San Francisco to the docks to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and boarded the 2,600-ton-side wheeler, "The Golden Gate," for the East Coast.

"A real hero, patriot and friend to church and community was Captain C. S. Eigenbrodt, who lived on a farm near Alvarado. (He) was killed in action during the Civil War, in Shenandoah Valley, September 2, 1864. To the town he left a sum of money to be used for the founding of a library. This was the nucleus of the present Odd Fellows' Library," wrote the Washington Township History authors.

The California Hundred was attached to the Second Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, largely from Boston. The troopers fought through many cavalry engagements including Gettysburg. In 1864 they were attached to Sheridan's cavalry command and fought through battles at Winchester, Halitown, and Cedar Creek.
 
From the 24 March 2011 edition of the the Tri-City Voice: History: The Civil War Affected Washington Township
Alameda County was only eight years old when the Civil War broke out in 1861. The Board of Supervisors adjourned a meeting to raise "the glorious old flag of the Union and salute it with three cheers and a tiger." A rally in support for the Union cause was held in the ballroom of the Brooklyn House in Alvarado.
 
The scene of actual warfare was far away, but there was great concern and preparation for conflict. Several military groups were organized to maintain the peace and protect against violence.
 
Union County Conventions were held in 1862 and 1863. Feelings for the Union were so strong that many patriotic celebrations and bazaars were held to aid the Sanitary Commission, a national organization formed to help Union soldiers. A May Day picnic at Alameda in 1865 drew 6,000 people from all parts of the county. Festivities included crowning the May Queen "attended by a long retinue of young ladies attired in white and acting as maids of honor. A dance around the May pole by 16 couples was followed by an oration and dancing in the open air." In 1863, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors levied a war tax of 15 cents on each 100 dollars worth of property and a poll tax on each man between the ages of 21 and 60.
 
A company of dragoons formed at Centerville in 1861 under C. S. Eigenbrodt of Alvarado, a supervisor of Washington Township. Hiram Clark and John Campbell from Alvarado were privates and John R. Sim was first lieutenant. Clark was later chosen to be a cavalry leader. The company became part of the famous "California One Hundred" attached to a Massachusetts cavalry regiment and fought in many battles including Gettysburg. Captain Eigenbrodt was killed leading a charge in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864. The news of his death was received with great sorrow by local citizens who honored him with awards and memorials.
 
A California State Militia [Alvarado] Guard was organized at Alvarado in 1863. The 55 names on the first roll call include many famous local families: Captain Ephriam Dyer was a pioneer sugar developer; Edwin Richmond was postmaster at Alvarado and Dr. J. M. Selfridge, the first regular physician in Centerville. Farley Granger and Wm. Morris Liston were pioneer Alvarado business men.
 
Their rules provided that any person over 15 years of age, who sustained good moral character, believed in a Supreme Being and agreed to support the constitution could join. Members were prohibited the use of intoxicating liquors and vulgar language when in drill, on parade or around the armory. Fines were $1.00 for missing parade, 50 cents for missing drill, talking in rank or neglect of duty and 25 cents for absence from a meeting. One member was disciplined for being intoxicated on parade and another was fined 25 cents for striking matches on the walls. Members could be expelled by a two-thirds vote of those present.
 
Guns and ammunition were purchased and used for drill, parade and target practice. Uniforms were obtained for parades and medals for shooting contests. Meetings were held in Stokes Hall, Templar Hall, Fountain Hall, Dyer's building and in the Armory. The guns were stored in Captain Benson's Warehouse or the Armory. The new Armory was dedicated with a grand ball in September 1864 which was declared the greatest social event of the year.
 
Not all citizens were unionist supporters. James Lewis, proprietor of the United States Hotel in Centerville, was said to be a southern sympathizer. When he hoisted a Confederate flag on his flagpole, a group of Union men showed up with axes and told him to lower the flag or they would lower the pole. He pulled down the flag ending the crisis.
 
William Jordan kept a hotel and saloon in the village of Vallejo Mills (now part of Niles.) He was a bitter partisan of the South and early in the war, he hoisted the American flag upside down on the pole in front of his hotel. The story is that "Old Mr. Harlan" saw the flag and was deeply insulted. He grabbed an axe, confronted Jordan in his saloon and ordered him to "right the flag" or he would cut down the pole. Jordan quickly obeyed and righted the flag.
 
The Guard accepted invitations to parades, drills and shooting contests in Hayward and San Jose. They even granted the free use of the Armory to the Ladies of Alvarado for a Christmas party. The guards never fired a shot in anger and disbanded in 1869.
 
Feelings for the union were so strong that many patriotic events were held. The Fourth of July celebration in 1863 drew complaints from nearby towns because the people of Alvarado fired their cannon too often. The next year the gun blew up and sliced the skirts off Captain Benson's coat. Bazaars were held to raise funds to assist sick and wounded soldiers.
By 1868 it was considered safe and not necessary to have military units so they were mustered out of service. The war was finally over.
 
Union City History Blog: The Alvarado Guard: Local residents formed a home guard during the Civil War.
By Timothy Swenson
Updated October 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm
 
During the Civil War, local Home Guard units were established because of the “necessity of placing the State in a better condition for defence in these days of treason and rebellion.”
In 1863, the Alvarado Guard was formed, with Captain Ephraim Dyer as Commander. The other officers were 1st Lt. C. P. Johnson, 2nd Lt. Joseph McKeown, and 3rd Lt. H. C. Smith. Once the Odd Fellow Hall was built in 1864, the Alvarado Guard used it as its armory and headquarters.
 
The Alvarado Guards did not have much to do other than to practice drills for parades. In 1863, they did attend a California military encampment for training purposes and the Alvarado Guard was assigned to the First Infantry Batallion. A poll tax of two dollars was levied against all male inhabitants of California to pay for the encampment.
 
In 1864, the Alvarado Guard participated in a military parade in San Jose. In 1866, the Guard participated in a shooting match with a Guard unit from Hayward (then known as Haywards). The match was described as thus:
 
On January 1, 1866 a shooting match took place between the Haywards Guards and the Alvarado Guards at Haywards. Thirty men from each unit fired three shots each at the target. The Alvaradan’s made 985 points and the Haywardians made 1,030 points. Haywards prevailed by 45 points. In the evening the contestants were entertained by a ball at Hayward’s Hotel, at which many lovely ladies were present to smile upon the gallant defenders of the state.
 
After the Civil War was over, there was little need for guard units, so in January 1868, all of the local guard units were disbanded.

Alvarado Guard Armory
 
 
 
 
Union City History Blog: Odd Fellows Hall:: The Odd Fellows Hall existed in Alvarado for over 100 years.
By Timothy Swenson
Updated January 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm
At the corner of Smith and Vallejo Streets is an empty lot. One corner of this lot housed the Odd Fellows Hall, a two story wooden building built in 1864.
 
The Odd Fellows organized a lodge in Alvarado on November 26, 1859. Some of the charter members were Charles Eigenbrodt, E. H. Dyer, James Hawley, and William Liston. These men organized Crusade Lodge No. 93 (the 93rd lodge in California). A number of the charter members had previously been in lodges in California or back in their home state. They realized that in a small town, the Odd Fellows organization can have an positive impact on the town.
 
On January 12, 1864, the lodge created the Alvarado Odd Fellows Hall Association with the stated purpose of raising money to build a lodge. The Association created 400 shares of $10 each, for a total capital of $4,000. A shares receipt shows that the lodge itself purchased 50 shares. By the end of 1864, the Association had raised enough funds and the hall was built.
 
The lodge was a two-story building, 40 feet wide and 65 feet long, with a large hall on the first floor. The second floor had a smaller hall and a few rooms. The large hall on the first floor was used for community meetings, and later as a theater.
 
The building was used by other fraternal organizations as well. By the 1900's, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Native Sons of the Golden West were using the hall and had their names on the front of the building. When the Odd Fellows lodge grew too small, it merged with the lodge in Hayward. The Fraternal Order of Eagles took over the Hall and used it for many years
.
The building eventually suffered from the ravages of time and was demolished in 1967.
 
From the Alvarado Walking Tour, Museum of Local History
Odd Fellows Hall, NW corner of Smith and Vallejo Streets.

Kitty corner from Bronco Billy's Pizza was the Odd Fellows Hall, now an empty lot. It was builtin 1864 for the Odd Fellows and was used as the Armory for the Alvarado Guard, a local militiaduring the Civil War. On September 23, 1864 the Guards held a grand opening ball which was known as the "greatest social event of the year."
 
The building wasthe home of not only the Odd Fellows, but the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Ancient Order of UnitedWorkmen, all fraternal organizations. In the early 1900's, the building became the home of the Alvarado Eagles. The downstairs room of the building has been used as a dance hall and as a theater, and the upstairs room was used for the
meeting of the different organizations. From 1923 to 1933, Charles Browning operated a theater in the downstairs of the building. On 1935, the Odd Fellows celebrated the lodge’s 75 Anniversary. At the time, it was the oldest Odd Fellows lodge in Alameda County. In 1935, V. Naharro took over the theater operations, which sat about 327 people. In 1947, the Odd Fellows lodge consolidated with the lodge in Hayward. After many years of being abandoned, the building was torn down by the City on January 4, 1967.
 
 
From The Oakland Tribune, November 23, 1924 Alvarado Armory (IOOF Hall):
To halt the demolishing touch of time, the “Old Armory” at Alvarado, one of California’s most treasured relics of the Civil War, has been overhauled. This is the building where, in the time of Abraham Lincoln, the flower of Alameda County’s young manhood answered the call for volunteers. As result of that call, the “Alvarado Hundred” was organized and the hundred sturdy youths enlisted before the first battle of Bull Run. That group of men drilled, perfected their organization in that hall and went to war, carrying with them a large silk flag, which their sweethearts, wives and mothers had made for them.
 
That flag is still furled in their armory, their drill hall has changed little or none since, and though a new floor is going in, and the hall is being thoroughly renovated, its distinctive style will not be changed. Alvaradans have spoken and orders have been given the workmen that they must not change one iota of the former hall.
 
The unit fought through 54 battles in the Civil War and their lead Capt. Charles S. Eigenbrodt, whose picture still smiles form its frame on the wall, fell in a battle of the Shenandoah Valley and one by one his soldiers fell.

 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016

Posted 9 November 2014