California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Oroville Guard
Organizational Data

Official or Other Titles:
Oroville Guard, California Militia (after 1866, National Guard of California)
Location: Oroville, Butte County
Mustered in: December 22, 1856 and July 8, 1861
Mustered out: May 23, 1868
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1856-1868
Geographical Location or Locations: Oroville, Butte County

Papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 3 documents (1856-1861)
b. Bonds 2 documents (1857-1867)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 48 documents (1857-1868)
d. Election Returns 6 documents (1861-1867)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 32 documents (1856-1868)
g. Oaths Qualifications 87 documents (1861-1867)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 7 documents (1857-1868)
j. Requisitions 4 documents (1861-1866)
k. Resignations 10 documents (1861-1867)
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other Public Property, 1 document (1866)

Commanding Officers

M. A. McLaughlin, Captain, Date of Rank: December 27, 1856 Commissioned: May 27, 1857
C. G. Hubbard,, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: December 27, 1856 Commissioned: May 27, 1857

A. H. Connelly, Captain, Date of Rank: July 8, 1861, Commissioned: July 24,1861 (Resigned February 28, 1863)
H. B. Hunt, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: July 8, 1861, Commissioned: July 24,1861

H. B. Hunt, Captain, Date of Rank: March 28, 1863, Commissioned: April 18, 1863 (Reelected July 7 1864 and May 6,1865)
D.C. Burlingame, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: March 28, 1863, Commissioned: April 18, 1863 (Reelected July 7 1864)
Isaac Upham, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: May,1865, commissioned: May 20,1865

A. G. Simpson, Captain, Date of Rank: January 31,1866 Commissioned: February 19, 1866
William L. Perkins, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: January 31,1866 Commissioned: February 19, 1866 (Vacated 1866)
George E. Crossett, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: July 6, 1866, commissioned: August 23, 1866

Herman P. Downer, Captain, Date of Rank: September 14,1867, Commissioned: November 1, 1867 (Reelected 1868)
George H. Crossett, First Lieutenant (Reelected in 1867 and 1868

Official History

At a meeting held in the Court Room of I. T. Elliott on December 22, 1856, an independent military company was organized. The name decided upon was Oroville Guard with Headquarters to be located at Oroville, Butte County. An election of officers took place at the same meeting. M. A. McLaughlin was chosen Captain and C. G. Hubbard, First-Lieutenant. Officers were to be elected every two years at the December meeting.

Bonds were posted and the company received the arms and accoutrements soon after organization. However, the disastrous fire of July 5, 1857, ended their activities for nearly four years, as the armory was a frame structure, and like the surrounding buildings burned in a few minutes. The Board of Examiners detailed by the Adjutant General, William Kibbe in Special Order of December 21, 1861, relative to the destruction of the arms in the fire, exonerated the officers and members of all blame, reporting it was impossible to save any of the arms or accoutrements as the fire started in the adjoining building.(1)

A reorganization of the Oroville Guard occurred May 27, 1861, when the unit enrolled as a company of infantry in the First Regiment of Volunteers and tendered their services for an indefinite period to assist the United States Government in the War of the Rebellion which had been declared the month previous to the above date. However, it is evident the corps was not accepted for Federal service as they were mustered into the service of the State on July 8 of that year. An election of officers followed and A. H. Connelly was elected Captain and H. B. Hunt,, First Lieutenant. During the Civil War the corps used the Oroville's brick theater for an armory which provided for the safety of the arms against fire and theft. The reorganization of the Guard was also particularly advantageous to the citizens of Butte County, as the need of military protection at that time was important due to the constant uprisings and merciless raids of the Indians in that territory. The seriousness of the disturbances was evident when a short time later forty men of Company F, 2d Infantry, California Volunteers were stationed at Chico to assist in quelling the Indian depredations. In 1863 Captain Hunt and a number of the Guardsmen made an expedition through the Concow and Oregon townships. Although they were not called upon to subdue any unfriendly Indian their presence restored the people's courage and allayed their fears after the frightful hostilities of the previous year. It was decided by the Government to send all the Indians to a reservation but the scheme was not wholly a success, and in 1864 the Indians returned to commence their usual depredations of murder and plunder. A serious outbreak in which the company played an important part, occurred in 1863 when the Mill Creek (also known as the Yahi) Indians raided Butte County resulting in the massacre of Concow Valley. One particularly bloody incident was the supposed murder of the three Lewis children. The three Lewis children were taken captive in July 1863. The two boys, Jimmy, age 11 and Johnny, age 6 were killed by their captors. The girl, Arenia, age 9, escaped after a harrowing experience at the hands of her abductors. Under Captain Hunt a number of the Guards pursued the Indians and punished them (2)

The ranks of the Oroville Guard were filled with patriotic and loyal members as evidenced from the manner in which the unit responded to the call for volunteers for the regular army, during the Civil War, and also their activities in quelling the Secession its movement by punishing the Rebels.(3) One of the punishments for a minor offense committed by the southern sympathizers was to give the prisoner a bag filled with as much sand as he could carry and he was compelled to walk up and down with it on a given beat until his punishment was deemed complete. A number of men were sent from the County to Fortress Alcatraz spreading seditious doctrine.

The victories of the Union Army were always occasions of celebration. After one of these successful battles, the Oroville Guard, lead by Captain Hunt marched through the streets followed by the citizens carrying torches the light gleaming on the company's bayonets. When the news that Richmond, the Rebel Capital, had been captured reached the company drilling in the armory, a number of cheers were given for the President, for the Army and for the Generals. Commotion reigned on every side with drums beating, bells ringing and the company's little cannon roaring.

An elaborate demonstration was held preceding the November 1864 Presidential Election and people from all parts of the County participated. The Guard was unceasing in its attentions to the military companies from Chico, Bangor and Marysville, meeting and escorting each into town as they arrived in the suburbs. A military tournament was held in Marysville November 2, 1865, which was the occasion for much rivalry among the companies participating. The Oroville Guard was the successful contestant and won the prize of seven hundred dollars.(4)

Despite the eventful and useful existence of this company during the earlier years of the unit's reorganization, Captain Downer, in a letter, March 27, 1868, requested an early disbandment of the company. Lack of interest on the part of members in attending drills, and other military activities were the reasons advanced by him for this act. In accordance with the Captain's wishes, the Oroville Guard was discontinued and mustered out of service by Brigadier General J. C. Roley, May 23, 1868. The arms and accoutrements were reported in good condition and were accepted by the State.
(1) Adjutant General Report, 1861, page 174.
(2) Butte County History, H. L. Wells, San Francisco 1882, page 196-225.
(3) Adjutant General Report 1861, page.134.
(4) Butte County History, H. L. Wells, San Francisco 1882, pages 227-237.
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