California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Chico Guard
 
Chico Armory Hall, circa 1880
 
Organizational Data
 
Military Unit Designation: Chico Guard, 5th Brigade, National Guard of California
Date of Organization: 29 April 1875
Reorganized: 15 February 1890 [1].
Inclusive dates of units papers at State Archives: None
Geographical Location or Locations: Chico, Butte County
 
 
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives

a. Organization Papers None
b. Bonds None
c. Correspondence None
d. Election Returns None
e. Exempt Certificates, None
f. Muster Rolls, 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
 
 
Commanding Officers:
 
William T. Turner, Captain: Elected 30 April 1875, commissioned 28 May 1875, reelected 24 April 1877 and 30 April 1879
Hiram T. Batchelder, First Lieutenant: : Elected 30 April 1875, commissioned 28 May 1875, reelected 24 April 1877 and 30 April 1879
Hiram T. Batchelder, Captain: Elected 22 December 1879, commissioned 13 January 1880, reelected in 1881, 1883 and 1885.
W. R. Williams , First Lieutenant: Elected 22 December 1879, commissioned 13 January 1880, reelected in 1881 and 1883.
C. S. Coggins, First Lieutenant: Elected 11 July 1885, commissioned 7 August 1885

R. M. Jones, Captain: Elected 26 March 1887, commissioned 23 May 1887.
C. B. Swain, First Lieutenant: Elected 26 March 1887, commissioned 23 May 1887.

C. B. Swain, Captain: Elected 26 March 1889, commissioned 7 June 1889.
J. H. Gunley, First Lieutenant: Elected 26 March 1889, commissioned 7 June 1889.
 
 
Official History

The Chico Guard was organized and mustered into the service of the State , May 18, 1875 . William T. Turner , Captain, and Hiram T. Batchelder, First Lieutenant , were the elected officers. The unit was armed with Springfield Rifles , caliber 45 (breech loaders) and uniformed in accordance with the military regulations. This new company gave every indication of becoming one of the most efficient and dependable units in the National Guard. Prior to the formation of a new Battalion in 1890, the armory of the Chico Guard was destroyed by fire . Little of the State's property was injured and the company's loss was small as the unit carried ample insurance. The new Battalion consisted of five companies, and was designated as the Eighth Battalion of Infantry.[2] In 1895, when the National Guard was reorganized , Companies A and F of the 8th Infantry Battalion of Chico were consolidated and designated as Company A, 2nd Infantry Regiment.[3]

After its organization the Guard participated in varied activities . One of these was the reviewing of the troops by Major General Vernon, when the Brigade to which the corps was attached paraded for the celebration of the anniversary of Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1876. Another interesting event was the Field Day activities at the Presidio in San Francisco on July, 3, 1876. The Commander-in-Chief , his staff, Major General and his staff, and thirty thousand people witnessed the evolutions of the Brigade . A sham battle concluded the impressive display of the military maneuvers of the day. The Fourth of July procession of 1876, in honor of the centennial was well attended despite the previous day's strenuous activities. Other functions in which the company took an active part during that year were the reception of Major General Irwin McDowell , United States Army, Commanding the Military Division of the Pacific; the annual muster of troops required by law; and the commemoration of California's admission as a State .

Encampments were always a source of keen interest and were well attended by the members of the Chico Guard. Their desire for military efficiency was always apparent from the gratifying reports of the authorities after these events . In 1889, the Chico Guard and the Colusa Guard encamped together at Camp Montgomery for seven days. The camp was named for J . W. B. Montgomery, commanding the Fifth Brigade, National Guard of California . Another encampment was attended by the unit from July 18 to 26, 1890, at Camp Allen, Santa Cruz.
 
The company's activities were not all routine in nature and the corps was always ready to assist civic or military authorities, when and wherever their services were required . The first occasion was in March of 1867, when the unit was called to assist the County Sheriff in the transportation of a number of prisoners from Chico to Oroville for trial. On a former occasion a group of lawless persons had attempted to free a prisoner held in custody of the Sheriff, and he had information that another such plot was under way. No doubt the appearance of the uniformed corps discouraged the would-be law-breakers, for no trouble ensued and the unit was only called upon to do guard and patrol duty.

In July 1877, when news of the labor riots throughout the country, especially in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where the toll of life and property was heaviest, reached San Francisco, similar disturbances were expected to occur in this State. The trouble was directed particularly against the Chinese, and the white population held meetings denouncing the Orientals and threatened attacks on the Chinese quarters. The authorities felt that the small number of policemen, one hundred and twenty in all, would be an insufficient force to quell the strike sympathizers who had formed themselves into groups bent on destruction. Therefore, they issued ammunition to the military companies and ordered them to hold themselves in readiness to aid the police immediately if the situation proved beyond civil control. The Chico Guard, which was in San Francisco at the time, received five hundred rounds of ammunition, and Captain Turner was placed in command of the corps.
 
Anti-Chinese rioting in San Francisco, 1877.
 
During the first day the feeling against the Chinese reached a fevered height and arson was the common activity engaged in by the rioters. The mob tried to prevent a number of Chinese from escaping a burning building and disorders continued throughout the night with no less than 28 buildings, mostly Chinese wash-houses, lying in out of the way places being burned. Despite these flagrant acts of wrong doing, the Chief of Police did not call on the military aid at his disposal, and apparently was in sympathy with the strikers. This situation aggravated Commanding Brigadier General John McComb and he called a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce of two hundred representative citizens of the city on the second day of the riot. From this group a Committee of Safety was established to give moral support to the officers of the law. The Committee provided means for a permanent guard at the private and public depots of arms until the excitement should die down. A large number of recruits immediately joined the Committee's ranks and were sworn in as special policemen and armed with clubs and sent to patrol the streets. · A conflict took place during the fire at the Beale Street Wharf, in which stones were used by the rioters and the clubs of the special police did active duty. On July 29th the Chief of Police called out the troops who did duty at designated points throughout the city. However, after remaining on duty from 7:00 pm until 5:00 am the following morning, they were dismissed as the mob's violence had subsided , and quiet was restored to the city.[4]

The Chinese Labor trouble was the last major activity in which the Chico Guard participated prior .to the unit becoming attached to the Eighth Infantry Battalion, February 15, 1890. On this date a new battalion consisting of five companies was organized and designated as the Eighth Battalion of Infantry, Fifth Brigade. The Chico Light Guard, unattached, became Company A, Eighth Infantry, Fifth Brigade.[5]
 
Footnotes:
 
1. Chico Guard, unattached, designated Company A, 8th Infantry Battalion, 15 February 1890 . Adjutant General's Report 1890, page 4 .
 
2. Adjutant General Report 1890, page 4.

3. Adjutant General Report 1895-1896, page 27.
 
4. Adjutant General Report 1875, pages 6, 7.

5. Adjutant General Report 1890, pages 4 , 56.


Extract, History of Butte County: From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Volume II (1882):
 
The Chico Guard were mustered into the service of the state on the twenty-ninth of April,. 1875. The first muster-roll of the company shows that there were fifty-eight privates and seventeen officers, together with a drummer, marker and lifer. The original officers of the company were as follows: captain, William T. Turner; lieutenants, H. F. Batchelder and Samuel T, Black. Meetings were held for two years in the old pavilion building, now torn down. Then a room was rented by the Guards in the present armory building, and with the addition of another large room for business meetings, the same place has been occupied by them to the present time. At the organization of the company General Bidwell donated the Guards one hundred dollars, and since that time has on several occasions received them in a body at his palatial residence. For some, time the Guards had to parade without uniforms. When the demand for them became urgent, General Bidwell again came to the rescue and put his signature to a document to the extent of one thousand dollars in aid of such improvement. In the month of June, 1876, the Guards appeared on dress parade with the elegant suits now used by them. In the spring of 1877, seven hundred and fifty dollars were expended in fitting up the armory with racks, tables, carpets and other paraphernalia. No more perfect state military organization than the Chico Guards can be found in northern California. Among the various associations of Chico the company stands the very highest in the esteem of the citizens. The present officers are: captain, H. T. Batchelder; lieutenants, W. R. Williams and C. N. Johnson. The ladies of the town have presented the company with an elegant silk flag, used only on state occasions.
 

Posted 31 December 2014.
 
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016