Historic California Militia and
National Guard Units
Military Unit Designation: Ellsworth Rifles, Company K, 1st Infantry Regiment,
2nd Brigade, California Militia (after 1866, National Guard of
California) Date of Organization: 22 October 1861 Date of Disbanding: 5 June 1872 Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1872 Geographical Location or Locations: City and County of
C. McDonald, Captain, Elected 22 October
1861, commissioned 24 October 1861, reelected 29 October 1862,
resigned 11 May 1863
C. H. Williams, First Lieutenant: Elected
22 October 1861, commissioned 24 October 1861.
C. C. Keene, First Lieutenant: Elected
29 October 1862, commissioned 14 November 1862.
T. J. Dixon, Captain: Elected 18 May 1863,
commissioned 12 June 1863.
Edward Newhoff: First Lieutenant: Elected
28 October 1863, commissioned 2 November 1863.
John Drum, Captain, Elected 24 June 1864,
commissioned 2 July 1864, resigned 10 December 1864.
Charles Haskell, First Lieutenant: Elected
1 November 1863, commissioned 18 November 1864, resigned 20 April
Edward C. Newhoff, Captain: Commissioned
15 November 1865, resigned 10 April 1866.
James G. Carson, First Lieutenant: Commissioned
15 November 1865.
James G. Carson, Captain: Elected 5 November
1866, commissioned 9 November 1866, reelected 1 June 1869, 7
November 1870, and 16 January 1872.
John Sampson, First Lieutenant: Elected
5 November 1866, commissioned 9 November 1866.
Thomas Handly, First Lieutenant: 1 June
1869, commissioned 24 June 1869, reelected 7 November 1870.
James Brynes, First Lieutenant: 16 January
1872, commissioned 5 March 1872.
The Ellsworth Rifles was a volunteer military
company organized in San Francisco, October 22, 1861, under the
command of Captain McDonald. This company was composed of 59
members and high hopes were held of its future usefulness by
officers of the 2nd Brigade.
With the close of the Civil War in 1865,
the military system of the State was changed, and several of
the various companies were either mustered out of service or
reorganized. The Ellsworth Rifles was among the latter. On August
21, 1866, the unit was reorganized and became known as the Ellsworth
Rifles, Company G, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade.
There are no records concerning this company's activities for
the next few years with the exception of participation in the
usual company drills and brigade encampments.
The State Legislature passed a Law in 1872, limiting the number
of National Guard companies to 40 and appointed the Board of
Location and Organization , created in 1866, to have the power
to disband or reorganize the units with reference to military
needs. This Board recommended that the Ellsworth Rifles be
mustered out of the State service which was done on June 5, 1872.
1. Political Code of California 1872, Sections 1912 and
This history was completed
in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction
with the California National Guard and the California State Library.
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth:
Prior to his becoming the first conspicuous
casualty of the Civil War, Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth led a short
but interesting life. During his 24 years, he was a lawyer, a
colonel, and a close friend of President Abraham Lincoln, whom
he met in Springfield, Illinois after moving there to work in
Lincoln's office and who he followed to Washington.
With an interest in military science that
began well before the start of the Civil War - he would have
gone to the U.S. Military Academy if he could have afforded it
- Ellsworth responded enthusiastically to Lincoln's 1861 call
for troops by raising of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry,
which he dressed in distinctive Zouave-style uniforms, fashioned
after those worn by French colonial troops.
Ironically, perhaps, for all of his drills
and militia training, Ellsworth's death came not in a battle,
but instead inside the long-demolished Marshall House hotel in
Alexandria, Virginia. The building's owner had a raised a large
Confederate flag from its roof, which was visible from the White
House. Offering to retrieve the flag for the president, Ellsworth
led his 11th New York across the Potomac River and into Alexandria.
Ellsworth succeeded in removing the flag, but as he descended
the stairs from the building's roof, the hotel's owner, James
W. Jackson, shot and killed Ellsworth with a single shotgun blast
to the chest.
Lincoln had the body of Ellsworth, whom
he called "the greatest little man I ever met," laid
in state at the White House before it was taken to his home state
of New York for burial. His memory lived on throughout the war
as "Remember Ellsworth" became a rallying cry for supporters
of the Union, regiments were named in his honor and artifacts
related to his death became popular souvenirs.
Source: National Park Service
Ellsworth Rifles Uniform, circa 1870:
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