California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Klamath Mounted Rangers
Assigned to: Klamath Mounted Rangers, 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, California Militia
Location: Crescent City, Klamath County
Organized: April 27, 1854
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1854-1856
Commanding Officers
W. J. Terry, Captain, Captain, Commissioned: June 5, 1854
Henry Kenedy, First Lieutenant, Commissioned: June 5, 1854
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1854)
b. Bonds 1 document (1854)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 6 documents (1854-1856)
d. Election Returns none
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 1 document (1854)
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 5 documents (1854)
j. Requisitions 2 documents (1854)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none


Crescent City, Klamath County, was in continuous danger from the hostile Indians, and to protect themselves the residents formed a military company. This company known as the Klamath Mounted Rangers, organized April 27, 1854, was composed of sixty-six men with W. J. Terry as their Captain.

Many of the encounters carried on against the Indians were in densely wooded sections, and consequently, many members of this company who were expert trackers were of great value to the military forces. Captain Terry's.command was noted for its ability to push on in spite of every obstacle thrown in the way by the enemy. The troop saw a great deal of action when the unit in company with the Union olunteer's, took the field against the Indians of the Tule Lake Region, in a short but bloody campaign. (1) Another encounter that the Klamath Rangers undertook against the.Indians was an engagement on Smith River which resulted in the death of five Indians. This combat was in retaliation for attacks made upon white settlers by the Indians. (2)

Three times Captain Terry corresponded with Adjutant General William C. Kibbe, in regard to his command.. In the first letter dated June 25, 1854, he expressed his regrets that the arms had not been received in time for the Fourth of July, as they had planned to give that glorious day a grand celebration. He further remarked that it had come to his attention that another militia company had been organized in that county, and that it was his opinion this was altogether unnecessary as one company was sufficient to keep the hostile Indians in subjection. He further remarked that this new company of Coast Rangers, under Captain Thorpe was composed of beach combers and sailors who had no
experience in the mountains.

Evidently some other person had communicated the same information to the Adjutant General to the effect that it was Captain Terry's company which was composed of "beach combersn, as on August seventh the Captain wrote again to General Kibbe to inform him that the arms and equipment had been received by express. He informed General Kibbe that he was aware that news had reached the General' ears that

"The company in his charge was made up of 'beach combers'. On the contrary it was composed of men from among the county residents. Forty-four of them had belonged to his old command that was in service at the Rouge River War where he had received a commission from the Board of Commissions for Southern Oregon and Northern California, to command seventy men."

These first two letters were addressed from Crescent City, Klamath County, but the third communication of October 30, 1855, is directed from Yreka and signed simply William J. Terry. From the manner in which the letter was written it is apparent that Headquarters was endeavoring to call together all the State Militia in an effort to attend an Encampment as (Captain) Terry acknowledged a receipt of a circular which had been addressed to all Captains of the organized companies throughout the State. He informed the Adjutant General that it would give him great pleasure to comply with the solicitation, as expressed in the circular, if it were not for the fact it was utterly impossible to do so, as the company was disbanding. The company which he had been honored to command had been composed chiefly of miners, mechanics and merchants, who had been organized to meet any emergencies arising at that time. Most of them had left their occupations to serve for the time necessary, and he presumed they would be reluctant to break off their business to attend the proposed Encampment in Sacramento. As far as he knew, there was no regularly organized fancy dress military company in Klamath, Siskiyou, or Humboldt Counties. He concluded this letter by stating that it was readily perceivable to see that it was impossible to accede to the General's wishes, but that he was in hopes
he would be able to attend the Camp of Instruction, also that the prudent and well timed call might be responded to by the militia throughout the State.

The Muster Roll of this company of sixty-six men is dated "From.May 2 to June 5, 1854", which shows that the Klamath Mounted Rangers served that length of time in actual service during Indian depredations.

Although there is no further record of activities of this company, it is evident from the few items available, that the Klamath Mounted Rangers' activities to halt Indian depredations, were effective for the time being. The remarks of the Adjutant General's Report for April 1861 noted that this company had been organized during the Indian hostilities, and was now disbanded.


(1) Sacramento Union, October 30, 1855, page 2, column 2.
(2) Sacramento Union, January 19, 1855, page 2, column 1:


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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Updated 8 February 2016