California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Butte Mounted Rifles

Official Name: Butte Mounted Rifles, 4th Brigade, California Militia

Location: Oroville, Butte County

Mustered in: July 11, 1861
Mustered out: Unknown

Commanding Officers

 Name  Date of Rank  Date of Commission
J.M. Vance, Captain
July 11, 1861
M.A. McLaughlin, First Lieutenant July 11, 1861  Unknown


Although in 1861, California had not entered in the War of the Rebellion, the Federal Government was. experiencing heavy combat and it was necessary as a precautionary measure to guard the Overland Mail Route from Carson Valley to Salt Lake and on to Fort Laramie. Colonel H. T. Templeton, a man of foresight for that period, realized the need of a well trained and efficient group of men and, therefore, organized a regiment of mounted men for service on the plains. He spent June and July of 1861 in raising the military organizations, consisting of five cavalry companies for the service. Great care was used in selecting the men, most of whom had seen service in the Indian and Mexican Wars, and were better fitted to take the field than raw recruits. Colonel Templeton notified the Governor he had made arrangements to mount the Battalion and if the companies were accepted, he could have them fully equipped and ready for duty within ten days.*

The Butte Mounted Rifles was one of the five cavalry companies organized by Colonel Templeton. The organization of the corps was perfected, July 11, 1861, at which time an election was held. J. M. Vance was elected Captain and M. A. McLaughlin, First Lieutenant. The unit had a roll call of ninety-five members.

Colonel Templeton'ss foresight was borne out in Governor Downey's Proclamation dated August 12, 1861, which officially recognized the need of a permanent guard for the Overland Mail Route. The Governor accepted Colonel Templeton's five cavalry companies for a period of three years' service one of which was the Butte Mounted Rifles.**

*Letter to Governor Downey from Colonel H. T. Templeton, August 5, 1861, State Archives, State Capitol.

**Adjutant General Report 1861, page 23.

California State Archives Records

1. Military Unit Designation: Butte Mounted Rifles, 4th Brigade, California Militia
2. Date of Organization: July 11, 1861
3. Date of Disbanding:
4. Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861
5. Geographical Location or Locations: Oroville, Butte County
6. Records Series Descriptions:

a. Organization Papers 2 docs (1861)
b. Bonds none
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) none
d. Election Returns none
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns none
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices none
j. Requisitions none
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none

7. Miscellaneous: Although there is little documentation to verify the amount of time this company existed, the Outline History of Calif. National Guard (Vol. 2, #113) states "the Governor accepted Colonel Templeton's five cavalry companies for a period of three years' service one of which was the Butte Mounted Rifles."

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