California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Brooklyn Guard
Organizational Data
Military Unit Designation: Brooklyn Guard, 2nd Brigade, California Militia (after 1866, National Guard of California)
Date of Organization: 8 July 1865
Date of Disbanding: 5 January 1868
Inclusive dates of units papers at State Archives: 1865-1868
Geographical Location or Locations: Brooklyn (now San Leandro/East Oakland), Alameda County
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 1 document (1865)
b. Bonds 1 document (1866)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 7 documents (1865-1868)
d. Election Returns 1 document (1866)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 8 documents (1865-1868)
g. Oaths Qualifications 6 documents (1865-1866)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 5 documents (1865-1868)
j. Requisitions 2 documents (1865-1866)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports 1 document (1867)

Commanding Officers:

William H. Hamilton, Captain: Elected July 8, 1865; commissioned July 24, 1865; reelected October 23, 1866
John H. Compher, First Lieutenant: Elected July 8, 1865; commissioned July 24, 1865;
Eben E. Webster, First Lieutenant: Elected July 1866; commissioned October 24, 1866
Official History:

The Brooklyn Guard was. organized at San Leandro, Alameda County, July 8, 1865. William H. Hamilton was elected Captain and John H. Compher, First Lieutenant . A bond of $2,000 was filed August twenty-ninth. of that year, to secure the cost of arms and accoutrements which. were shipped by steamer early in September. Seventy-five stand were ordered, but due to some error only thirty-five stand consisting of muskets were shipped . This proved a handicap to the company during their drills as the corps had a membership of forty-seven. An allotment of fifty dollars a month was granted by the military authorities to cover the cost of renting an armory and the company employed an armorer for the purpose of keeping the arms in good order and repair.

In compliance with the newly enacted Military Law of 1866, which reorganized the National Guard of the State, the Brooklyn Guard was reorganized and mustered into the service as an unattached company August thirty-first of that year . The Board of Organization and Location was formed under this Law, and it was their duty to decide which companies were to be retained or disbanded according to the unit's location in reference to the need of military defense , and their ability to keep their organization up to the stringent requirements of the law. Consequently, the National Guard was materially reduced which put into force the economy measure the Government had in view when the Act was contemplated.

After reorganization,the corps received a shipment of uniforms and new arms to replace the ones condemned as unfit for use at the Inspection and Muster of the unit early in September. The uniforms were a keen disappointment to Captain Hamilton and his men and he advised Adjutant General G. Smiley that the clothing would not be accepted, stating the uniforms were badly soiled, torn, and that the majority of coats were without buttons. Also most of the trousers had been turned inside out and that only ten of the seventy-five were presentable. The clothing formerly belonged to the California Volunteers, but it is assumed, despite their condition, these articles were retained by the company as there was a shortage of uniforms available at that time.

The arms and uniforms had the desired effect on the company, increasing their membership and the efficiency of military routine which is evidenced from the following report of June 2, 1867:
"Seventy-one active members, discipline good, company in fine condition, regular squad drills held each Saturday evening , although unit still drilling under difficulty having only thirty-five stand of arms, and that uniforms although not in the best condition, would be kept until better ones could be provided."


The Legislature of 1868 reduced the military force in the State to a minimum as an economy measure. The Board of Location and Organization in pursuance of this Law, ordered disbanded all companies deemed necessary for the public good and those who had failed to comply with the law. Although the Brooklyn Guard was an efficient and well officered corps, under the ruling due to their location, the unit was ordered to disband and was honorably mustered out of the service, July 5, 1868.
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Updated 23 June 2017