California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
California Fusileers (or Fusiliers)
Official or Other Names:
Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County
Armory: Initially the Turn-Verein Hall on Bush Street. Later, Armory Hall on the corner of Sacramento and Kearny Streets.
Organized: September 3, 1856
Mustered In: December 9, 1858
Mustered Out: July 23, 1868
Commanding Officers
F. G. E. Tittel, Captain; Elected December 9, 1858; Commissioned January 14, 1859
Peter Lesser, First Lieutenant; Elected December 9, 1858; Commissioned January 14, 1859

F. G. E. Tittel, Captain, Re-elected December 9, 1861
John Obeneimer, First Lieutenant; Elected December 9, 1861, Commissioned February 6, 1862

John Obeneimer, Captain; Elected March 17, 1864; Commissioned April 9, 1864
Rudolph Meiners, First Lieutenant; Elected March 17, 1864; Commissioned April 9, 1864

John Obeneimer; Captain; Re-elected December 9, 1864
Jacob Zech, First Lieutenant; Elected December 9, 1864; Commissioned December 16, 1864

John Obeneimer, Captain; Re-elected December 9, 1865
Christian Bohn, First Lieutenant; Elected December 9, 1865; Commissioned January 3, 1866
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1858)
b. Bonds 3 documents (1860-1862)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 17 documents (1855-1864)
d. Election Returns 6 documents (1859-1865)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 10 documents (1858-1866)
g. Oaths Qualifications 3 documents (1864)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 3 documents (1861-1864)
j. Requisitions 3 documents (1859-1861)
k. Resignations 1 document (1861)
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none


On November 29, 1858, M.C. Blake, County Judge of San Francisco County, appointed Major Isaac Rowell to enroll members in a volunteer military company to be known as the California Fusileers. The name fusileer (or fusilier) originally applied to a soldier armed with a fusil. In the British Army the designation Fusiliers is still retained by ten regiments distinguished from the other regiments of the line only by wearing a kind of busby and other peculiarities in costume.

Accordingly on December 9, 1858, Major Rowell presided at the meeting and superintended the election of officers of this new organization. F. G. E. Tittel was elected Captain and Peter Lesser, First Lieutenant. The company was composed almost entirely of German citizens of San Francisco and was a well drilled unit.

Their first recorded appearance in public was in connection with the elaborate military reception tendered to General Winfield Scott on October 18, 1859. Governor Weller and other dignitaries attended the reception and tendered their respect to the famous hero of the Mexican Campaign. (1)

The path of the California Fusileers proved to be rough and rather stormy for in the latter part of 1863, a bitter feud between Captain Tittel and Colonel West, commanding the First Regiment of Infantry, culminated in the refusal of Colonel West to deliver uniforms to Company E, California Fusileers as long as Captain Tittel was in command. When Captain Tittel was promoted to Colonel of the Sixth Infantry Regiment, First Lieutenant John Obeneimer made a new demand to Colonel West for their uniforms.

The Colonel again refused to deliver the uniforms until the company should show that their bona fide active members were sufficient to comply with the law, and that the officers evinced a disposition to do their duty and obey proper orders and regulations. In reply to this letter, the Lieutenant urged the Colonel to prefer charges against him if he had been negligent in duty or disobeyed orders. The Lieutenant was a "fighter" evidently, for he not only contradicted the Colonel but he took the matter up with Brigadier-General Ellis, who then inspection of the company by Major Hill on December 10, 1863. The inspection showed their arms and equipirient in good and serviceable order, their books well kept but in German language, the discipline of the company good and their drill passable. Thirty-seven members were in old and badly worn uniforms, and seven without any uniforms. These uniforms belonged to the old company and were private property.

The records do not reveal the outcome of the strife, but it is assumed that the unit received their uniforms for soon after the passing of the Inspection, the California Fusileers were transferred to the Sixth Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade as Company A. The Colonel of this Regiment was the California Fusileers' first Captain (F. C. E. Tittel) and no doubt the new assignment ended the ill-feeling between Colonel West and the California Fusileers.

With the conclusion of the Civil War the need for a large militia force was lessened and the Legislature passed a law reducing the number of the militia. This law provided for the organization of a Board of Organization and Location. The duty of this Board was to select companies that were to be mustered out, their selection being decided according to local requirements, concentrate on short notice, and the ability to meet the standards required regarding efficiency and enrollment of individual companies. It is assumed the California Fusileers was mustered out because of their location in relation to military need, since a large number of companies were mustered out in San Francisco for that reason. Their mustering out occurred on July 23, 1866.

The Armory Hall at Sacramento and Montgomery Streets, home of the California Fusiliers.



(1) Sacramento Union, October 19, 1859, page 3, column 3.


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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