California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Calaveras Light Guard
Organizational Data

Official Name: Calaveras Light Guard, Company A, Second Battalion, Third Brigade, First Division,(In 1861 was known as Second Brigade, Third Division) (After 1866, National Guard of California)

Location: Murphys, Calaveras County
Mustered in: May 4, 1861
Mustered out: June 12, 1868

Records on File at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers none
b. Bonds 1 document (1866)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 46 documents (1853-1868)
d. Election Returns 13 documents (1861-1866)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 29 documents (1861-1868)
g. Oaths Qualifications 22 documents (1862-1868)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 16 documents (1854-1868)
j. Requisitions 7 documents (1852-1867)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports 2 documents (1866-1867)
m. Other Company Fund Certification, 1 document (1864)


Calaveras Light Guard originated during 1861 and mustered out June 12, 1868. August 27, 1866 company organized as a National Guard unit. Muster Rolls & Oaths indicate company designation was 3rd Brigade, 2nd Battalion, Co. A from 1863-1865.


Commanding Officers

 Name Date of Rank  Date of Commission  Remarks
 Charles W. Smith, Captain May 1861  1861  Joined the US Army
 T.J. Matteson, First Lieutenant May 1861  1861  
 A.H. Stevens, Captain August 21, 1862  October 7, 1862  
 William P. Griffith, First Lieutenant September 26, 1962  March 24, 1862  
 A.J. Berry, First Lieutenant January 6, 1863  February 13, 1863  
 Edward Scott, Captain January 23, 1864  February 9, 1864  
 Morris Cohen, First Lieutenant January 23, 1864  February 9, 1864  
 William C. Crispen, Captain January 7, 1865  February 4, 1865  
 R.L. Berry, First Lieutenant January 7, 1865  February 4, 1865  
 William C. Crispen, Captain August 27, 1866  October 24, 1866  
 James Talbot, First Lieutenant August 27, 1866  October 24, 1866  
 Michael Mooney, First Lieutenant January 4, 1866  February 3, 1866  


Official History:

The Calaveras Light Guard was organized May 4, 1861, with headquarters at Murphys, Calaveras County. The company was established in order to protect the citizens from the lawlessness of the foreign element: composed chiefly of Mexicans and Chileans, who had been troubling the vicinity for a number of years. The unit received their uniforms and arms, May 20, 1861, which was an exception to the usually long delay new units experienced in receiving their desired accoutrements. Captain Smith was very proud of his men's skill and their fine appearance in the new uniforms. In a letter to General Kibbe in July of that year, he informed the Adjutant General of the company's maneuvers during a recent parade and wished to exchange the corps' arms for more modern ones and also informed the General that they have secured a. fire-proof armory.

Captain Smith had excellent military experience having served two years in command as First Lieutenant during the Mexican War and was anxious to see active service again. He, therefore, tendered his services together with seventy-five or hundred good loyal, young men who held themselves in readiness for a call to serve the State of California, or the United States Government during the War of the Rebellion, Later in the year 1861, he resigned as Captain of the company and with eight of his men joined the Volunteer Service.,

The Calaveras Light Guard was active in social and civic affairs A newspaper article of that period (1861) gave an interesting account of the Fourth of July Celebration and the part the company played in it is recounted here. Quote:

"The day was ushered in by a National Salute under the direction of the Light Guard. At nine A.M.the unit, numbering forty-one men, under command of Captain Smith proceeded with martial music to the residence of their surgeon, Dr. William Jones, where they were presented with a beautiful silk standard--the Stars and Stripes, by Miss McVicker on behalf of the ladies of Murphys This was received with three rousing cheers and Captain Smith responded in an appropriate and gallant manner. At four o'clock the Guard went through a grand dress parade and made a fine appearance in their neat and beautiful uniforms of blue frock coats, faced with white, white epaulettes,light blue pants with white stripes, and regulation caps. They were a fine body of men, and under their excellent drill officer, Captain Smith, will in a short time, rank with the best Corps in the State. The company attended the Grand Ball in the evening which climaxed the days festive activities [1]"

On September 8, 1866, the corps was reorganized as an unattached company of the National Guard of California. In 1868, the Legislature reduced the National Guard to minimum strength as a rigid economy measure. Companies located in the interior which were deemed unnecessary for defense purposes were ordered disbanded, and also those companies failing to comply with the Military Law. The Calaveras Light Guard came under the first section of the Law and were ordered mustered out by the Board of Location and Organization, March 31, 1868. This order was protested by the citizens of the community, who went so far as to enlist the aid and cooperation of the Honorable Matt Canovaus of San Francisco in their behalf to have the Guard continue their activities. However, after careful consideration by the military authorities, the disbandment order was upheld as it was apparent military protection was no longer necessary, and that the only reason for the corps remaining in service was the color and life it instilled in an otherwise quiet community. Therefore, on June 12, 1868, the Calaveras Light Guard was mustered out of service of the State; Brigadier General W. A. Davies was the officer appointed to muster out the unit.[2]


1. Newspaper.clippings,on file, State Archives
2. Letter signed by Michael Mooney, First Lieutenant of the Calaveras Light Guard, State Archives, State Capitol

This history was written in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the office of the Adjutant General and the California State Library


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