California Naval History
Uniforms of the California State Naval Forces
Mark J. Denger
The Naval Battalion and the California Naval Militia
The uniforms worn by the officers and enlisted men of the Naval Battalion of the National Guard were prescribed in General Order 18, issued September 26, 1891, the dress being similar in design to those in use in the United States Navy.

As no financial aid was available, either from the State or Federal Government, each officer of the Naval Battalion furnished his own uniform. Those for the enlisted men were purchased with funds secured through private subscriptions of patriotic citizens in San Francisco and San Diego. In San Francisco alone, according to the Adjutant General, over $2,600 was subscribed for that purpose.

The Adjutant General Report, 1891-1892, pages 89-92, describes both officers and enlisted men's uniforms as follows:
Uniforms for Officers
Naval Officer, circa 1917
Service Dress.
Blue service coat, blue trousers, blue caps and service sword belt. Leggings to be worn when on duty with the Naval Brigade or Landing Party. White gloves always to be worn with the sword, except at sea and on drills.
Service Coat.
For all officers, a coat of dark navy blue cloth. The collar, edges of coat and side seams of the back trimmed with lustrous black mohair braid, one and one fourth inches wide, besides which at a distance of one eighth of an inch, a narrow black silk braid, one eighth on an inch wide shall be placed. On each side of the collar, to be embroidered in high relief, one inch in width, the corps badge and grade devices. The grade mark on the sleeve shall be:
For Lieutenant-Commander. Two stripes of half inch gold lace with one stripe of quarter inch gold lace between, each a quarter of an inch apart. The lower edge of the sleeve lace to be two inches from the edge of the sleeve. A star of five rays, embroidered in gold, one inch in diameter, on the outer side of each sleeve, with one of the rays pointing directly downward and the point one fourth an inch from the upper edge of the upper strip of lace.
For Lieutenants. Two stripes of half inch gold lace on fourth inch apart, and star as described for Lieutenant-Commander.
For Lieutenants Junior Grade. One stripe of half inch gold lace, with one stripe of one fourth inch gold lace one fourth inch above it, and star as described for Lieutenant-Commander.
For Ensign. One stripe of half inch gold lace, and star as described for Lieutenant-Commander.
For Staff Officers. All staff officers shall wear the same lace on the cuffs as is prescribed for line officers with whom they have a relative rank, with bands of colored cloth around the sleeve between the stripes of gold lace as follows:
Medical Officers. Dark maroon velvet.
Pay Officers. White cloth.
Engineer. Red cloth.


Staff officers entitled to but one stripe of lace on the sleeve will wear the colored cloth so as to show one fourth inch above and below the stripe. Service coat to be worn entirely buttoned.
For commissioned officers line and staff, to be or regulation Navy pattern with the same device; white cap cover may be worn.
For all officers, shall be of dark navy blue cloth, to have a strip of lustrous black mohair braid, one and one fourth inches wide, down the outer seam.
For Lieutenant-Commander. A gold leaf and a gold foul anchor.
For Lieutenants. Two gold bars and a foul anchor.
For Lieutenants Junior Grade. One gold bar and a gold foul anchor.
For Ensign. A gold foul anchor.
Gloves to be of white lisle thread, except for open air service in cold weather, when white leather or heavy white cotton shall be worn.
Swords for all officers to be a cut and thrust blade not less than twenty-six nor more than thirty-two inches long, slightly curved, half basket hilt, grip white, scabbards of black leather, mountings of yellow gilt and all as per United States Navy pattern.
Sword Belts.
For all officers shall be of plain black grained leather or morocco with sling straps of the same. The belt plate to be of yellow gilt two inches in diameter.
Naval Militia Officer Ranks
Lieutenant Commander shoulder board (left), Lieutenant sleeve insignia (right)

Uniform For Enlisted Men
Enlisted uniforms, circa 1917
The naval uniform shall be worn by all enlisted men of the Naval Battalion, National Guard of California, when attending drills or parades on shore, or when on board vessels of the United States Navy for drill or instruction.
Dark navy blue flannel with large square collar of same material, small pocket on right side, tape around the collar shall be white, three sixteenths of an inch wide and three sixteenths of an inch apart, the outer stripe to be one fourth an inch from the edge. In each corner of the collar there shall be worked in white a star three fourths an inch in diameter.
Dark navy blue cloth or flannel.
Caps to be of dark navy blue cloth. Hats of eight one ounce cotton duck. Hat ribbon to be of black silk, one and one fourth inches wide with the words, "NAVAL BATTALION" through the center of the ribbon, the words to be preceded and followed by a five pointed star.
Winter cap for a seaman or petty officer assigned to California's training ship USS Farragut, circa 1915-1917. Note the Naval Militia Distinguising Insignia on either side of the ship's name.
Knife Lanyard
Knife Lanyard to be of white cotton and of seamanlike make.
Neckerchief to be black silk, Navy pattern.
Working Clothes
White, of unbleached cotton duck or drilling. Collar of jumper of same material, covered on outer side with thin dark navy blue flannel.
Summer Naval Militia Distinguishing Insignia. Summer
Enlisted White Jumper wiith Naval Militia Distinguising Insignia in the front
California State Naval Guard Units
Lieutenant (Junior Grade), California State Guard Deck Divisions, 1940-1943
During the Second World War the California State Guard formed a naval force called the California State Naval Guard. The Naval Guard consited of several deck divisions and two companies of Marines. Officers work a modified US Navy Uniform with State of California buttons and the branch insignia pictured above in lieu of the line officers' star. It appears that they also wore the cap badge of the US Coast Guard.


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Updated 8 February 2016