Historic California Militia and National Guard Units
Emmet Guard
(Emmet Rifles)
Patrick Neary of the Emmet Guard. It is not clear what color the uniform is. However, it is known that they wore a dark blue shako. This image was hand colored to add Rifle Green trim, the traditional color for "Rifles" . It is possible that following the British tradition of grey uniforms for militia.
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: December 18, 1861
Date of Disbanding: August 20, 1866
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1884
Geographical Location or Locations:
Petaluma, Sonoma County

Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1861)
b. Bonds 2 documents (1871-1872)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 45 documents (1861-1872)
d. Election Returns 3 documents (1865-1871)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 12 documents (1861-1884)
g. Oaths Qualifications 16 documents (1862-1871)
h. Orders 2 documents (1871)
i. Receipts, invoices 10 documents (1862-1872)
j. Requisitions 2 documents (1861-1871)
k. Resignations 2 documents (1862-1864)
l. Target Practice Reports none
Commanding Officers:

William M. Dowling, Captain [1]: Elected December 18, 1861; Commissioned December 23, 1861; Resigned May 20, 1862
Edward Commins, First Lieutenant: Elected December 18, 1861; Commissioned December 23, 1861

T. F. Baylis, Captain [2]: Elected May 20, 1862; Commissioned May 20, 1862, Resigned November 19, 1863
Edward Commins, First Lieutenant: Reelected may 20, 1862; Resigned July 7, 1862

Edward Commins, Captain: Elected January 4, 1864, Commissioned January 12, 1864, Resigned August 17, 1864
James Culligan, First Lieutenant: Elected January 4, 1864, Commissioned January 12, 1864

James Culligan, Captain: Elected and commisioned January 2, 1865; Reelected January 4, 1866
Thomas Edwards, Jr., First Lieutenant: Elected and commisioned January 2, 1865
Michael Sullivan, First Lieutenant: Elected January 4, 1866

Official History:

The Emmet Guard was a voluntary military corps organized at Petaluma, Sonoma County on December 18, 1861. Captain Dowling and First Lieutenant Commins were the elected commanding officers. The unit's membership was composed chiefly of men of Irish birth who were citizens and had, therefore, taken the oath of allegiance of the United States. The company gave every indication of becoming a loyal and efficient organization.

Early in 1862, the name of the company was changed from Emmet Guard to Emmet Rifles, Company F by a majortiy vote of the company. A Bond for $1,000 was posted and the arms and accoutrements received on October 27, 1862. In June 1863, Captain Baylis informed General Kibbe that Secessionists practically surrounded Petaluma, and asked for an exchange of arms wishing a stand of more modern design. He deemed it necessary to have his unit well armed fearing an outbreak from the Southern sympathizers at any time. His fears were well founded for on September 22, 1863, the Emmet Rifles were ordered to report to the Sheriff of Sonoma County in pursuance of Special Order No. 27.

The Settlers' difficulties in Sonoma County were the outcome of land grants issued by the Mexican Government in 1844, to Captain Fitch, of eleven leagues of land in Sonoma Valley known as the Late Toma Ranch. Captain Fitch died in 1849, leaving an immense fortune to his profligate heirs who soon squandered the estate. A large number of the emigrants from the middle western States were agriculturists and when they came to Sonoma during the two years from 184~ to 1851, it was only to be expected they would settle on the best unoccupied farming locations not knowing of the Spanish grants. The new settlers believed the land belonged to the United States. In 1854, a Mr. Baillache married one of the daughters of the late Mr. Fitch; Mrs. Fitch had been sole administrator of the estate and at the insistence of the heirs' debtors a forced sale of the property took place, although this sale violated the rights of the minor heirs. Mr. Baillache purchased as equivalent to the interest of his wife as heir of Captain Fitch 1,460 acres of land and at this point the difficulties between the Settlers and Grant Owners reached the stage where a settlement was imperative. In 1858, in order to avoid the Statute of Limitations, Mr. Baillache sued the Settlers on his ranch. The Patent had been confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1856. However, the controversy continued over the years, the Settlers contending that the property in dispute was not on the Fitch ranch and felt there was still a loophole for them to escape the law, due to the minor heirs trying to have the sale of the property set aside contending it was not legal. The Settlers were very bitter toward the Court, feeling they had been swindled and wronged unjustly therein and Mr. Baillache decidedly unpopular. However, he had the Law on his side and, therefore, was protected.[3]

The bickering continued and on June 12 and July 15, 1862, the Sheriff of Sonoma County attempted to serve writs of evacuation on five settlers, Cornelius Rice, Thomas L. Forser, J. N. Stapp, Alexander Scaggs , and A. M. Green without success . He and his posse of citizens were forcibly resisted . On September eleventh of that year in a letter to Governor Stanford, Sheriff Bowles advised the Governor on conditions connected with the Grant Owners and Settlers dispute and stated that inasmuch as the County provided for the maintenance of two well organized and drilled companies within their boundaries, he and the citizens felt it was the duty of the militia to render aid to the civil authorities on occasions where the need was necessary, contending that the indiscriminate use of firearms by certain individuals in a posse could result in serious accidents . Another reason for military intervention was the secrecy and speed with which the units could be armed and called into action. Sheriff Bowles' chief desire was the restoration of peace and harmony without bloodshed and believed this possible with the cooperation of the militia.[4]

On September eleventh, the Sheriff sent a requisition to the Governor for the two companies of Infantry, namely the Emmet Guard and Petaluma Guard, and asked that the Emmet Guard be armed with muskets . [5] On September 15, 1862, Adjutant General Kibbe issued Special Order No . 27 ordering the Emmet Guard and Petaluma Guard to the scene of conflict to aid the Sheriff in the serving of the writs issued by the Courts, wherein Josephine Baillache was plaintiff and Cornelius Rice, Thomas L. Forser, J. N. Stapp, Alexander Scaggs , and A. M. Green as defendants . [6]
A report of P . B. Hewlitt commanding officer, September 30, 1862, testifies to the success of the expedition and much praise is due Captain Baylis and.his men for their soldiery conduct in the performance of their duty in averting a civil war . The report received by Adjutant General William C. Kibbe is as follows:
"After reporting to the Sheriff, we preceded on the Healdsburg Road to Mark Vest Creek, where we ' pitched tents ', and encamped for the night, subject to the orders of the Sheriff . On the day following we preceded to Healdsburg , and encamped about three-fourths of a mile North of the town and near the disputed territory. The balance of the day was spent in an unsuccessful attempt to compromise matters between the grant owners and the settlers. On the twenty fourth inst. having been joined by the 'Sheriff's Posse', consisting of about fifty men, twenty of whom were armed with muskets , we marched to the ranch of Mr. Miller, for the purpose of executing the writs mentioned in Special Order No. 27. On approaching said ranch we were threatened by bands of horsemen, when I ordered Captain Baylis to deploy a platoon of his company to clear the woods on our left, and also to take possession of an eminence covered with timber, and which commanded a cornfield in the rear of Mr. Miller 's house, all of which was faithfully executed. On arriving at the house, we found a collection of men, women, and children, assembled there, who were in a high state of excitement, we also noticed a band of armed men, with blackened faces, in the cornfield in the rear of the house. I then ordered the armed portion of the Sheriff 's Posse to pass around the cornfield to the left, under cover of a fence, and, if possible, intercept the 'black faces', to prevent their escape by the rear of the cornfield. Seeing our movements, and anticipating, perhaps, that if they remained, their retreat would be cut off, they 'skedaddled'. The women, children and effects of Mr . Miller, were then removed from the premises, and we returned to camp. On the following day we preceded to another portion of the ranch, and removed two families. A great deal of excitement prevailed here and violence was resorted to by a few men and the women, but no firearms were used, nor did we discover any men with "painted faces". We preceded, from day to day, to execute the writs, until Sunday, the twenty-eighth inst., when, having executed all the writs mentioned in said Order, we returned to Santa Rosa, and encamped for the night. On Monday , the twenty-ninth, having been dismissed by the Sheriff, we returned to Petaluma, and resumed our usual avocations."



The commissioned and non-commissioned officers at tended a Camp of Military Instruction near Oakland, Alameda County. May 21, 1863. Their uniforms consisted of a dark blue cloth cap, a colored frock coat, and dark colored trousers. Arms and camp equipage were furnished by the State, also the expenses of transportation and subsistence were assumed by the State . The daily duties were divided as follows: [7]
The officers' Camp of Instruction was followed by an Encampment of the company from October sixth to the sixteenth near San Antonio, Alameda County together with other organized militia companies of the Second Brigade. Subsistence for the company as well as transportation to and from the Encampment was furnished by the State . Tents, cooking utensils, and camp tools were all provided, the corps furnished the blankets. The Emmet Rifles made favorable progress in elementary military science and duties of camp life.
In the month following the Encampment, Captain Baylis resigned on November twenty-eighth over some unexplained difference of opinion between he and Colonel Thomas W Cazneau, commander of the Second (Irish) Infantry Regiment. The Captain's efforts to have the unit withdrawn from the Second Regiment, were futile as the members were in sympathy with Colonel Cazneau's ideas.
After the War of the Rebellion, the Legislature passed the Military Law of 1866, which provided a Board of Location and Organization to determine the companies to be retained in service or disbanded, according to their importance to defense purpose, and their ability to maintain their organizations up to the stringent requirements of the Law. This Act materially reduced the National Guard thus affecting a great economy measure.
The Emmet Rifles, although having an efficient record, was among the companies ordered disbanded under the first section of the Law, and were mustered out, August 20, 1866. [8]
1. Captain William M. Dowling gave up his command when he changed his residence to San Francisco, thereby forfeiting his commission. Captain T. F. Baylis replaced him as commander in an election held, May 20, 1862. In San Francisco, Captain Dowling was commissioned Captain of the Irish Invincibles.
2. According to Special Orders from Brigade Headquarters at San Francisco, an election for Captain of the Emmet Rifles took place at the Petaluma Armory on May 20, 1862, and T. F. Baylis was elected Captain of the company.
3. Letter from J. H. Warwick to Governor Leland Stanford, July 21, 1862, on file State Archives, State Capitol.
4. Letter from Sheriff J . M. Bowles, Santa Rosa to Governor Leland Stanford, September 5, 1862, on file State Archives, State Capitol.
5. Letter from Sheriff J. M. Bowles, Santa Rosa to Governor Leland Stanford, September 11, 1862, on file State Archives, State Capitol.
6. Adjutant General Report 1862, Page 20.
7. Adjutant General Report 1863, Pages 24 and 29.
8. Adjutant General Report 1865-1867, Page 7, 8.

Robert Emmet
Robert Emmet (4 March 1778 – 20 September 1803) was an Irish nationalist and Republican, orator and rebel leader. He led an abortive rebellion against British rule in 1803 and was captured, tried and executed for high treason.
Robert Emmet came from a wealthy Protestant family who sympathised with Irish Catholics and their lack of fair representation in Parliament. The Emmet family also sympathised with the American Revolution. While his own efforts to rebel against British rule failed, his actions and speech after his conviction inspired his compatriots.
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Updated 8 February 2016