California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Placerville Guard

Official or Other Titles:
Placerville Guard, 4th Brigade, 1st Division, California Militia
Location: Placerville El Dorado County
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1853-1856
Mustered in: January 30,1855

Commanding Officers (1)
Rank L. A. Norton, Captain, Elected January 30, 1855
Albert W. Bee; First Lieutenant, Elected January 30, 1855

Alexander Hunter, Captain, Elected November 28,1855
William Jones, First Lieutenant. Elected November 28, 1855

Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 3 documents (1855)
b. Bonds 1 document (1855)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 19 documents (1853-1856)
d. Election Returns 1 document (1855)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 4 documents (1855)
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 10 documents (1855)
j. Requisitions 1 document (1855)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none
Official History
Placerville being situated in a very mountainous section of this State gave cause for the organization of a company of volunteer militia, as a protection to the citizens of Placerville and the Immigrant Trains, from attacks by the hostile Indians that inhabited the rugged regions. Therefore, a volunteer independent company was formed by the citizens of the community during the year of 1853.

There is very little material on record of this company prior to 1855 except for two letters on file in the Adjutant General's Office. One of these written by R. M. Anderson in September of 1853 requested a supply of arms and accoutrements for the company. The other letter was a reply from William C. Kibbe, the Quarter- Master General, stating the inability of the Government to furnish this company with arms until later in the fall of 1853 or spring of 1854.

It is evident that owing to the inability of the State to supply the arms requisitioned for by the volunteers at that time, caused a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the instigators of the movement to develop a permanent company, and a second effort was and carried out in January of 1855, for the organization of a militia company under the new Military Law of 1855 concerning the inde pendent companies already in existence prior to that year. This law embodied the principle that all independent companies were to reorganize as new companies, otherwise they could claim no benefits of the pending Act. With this in view it is assumed that this volunteer company in Placerville disbanded to reorganize, as there is no further record until a reorganization on January 30, 1855, when the company became designated as the Placerville Guard and was termed as Volunteer Infantry, attached to the Fourth Brigade. The election of officers on January thirtieth for this reorganized company is the first to be found in the records inthe Adjutant General's Office. This election placed L.A. Norton as Captain and Albert W. Bee as First Lieutenant of the newly organized Placerville Guard which was the third military company organized in the State. The company received their arms and accoutrements on February twentieth with Captain Norton and Lieutenant Bee taking out a Bond for the same.

One of the special duties performed by the men of the Placerville Guard was to stand guard at the executions of Mickey Free and Crane, two notorious bandits of the;early days. On another occasion these troops were ordered to San Francisco on behalf of the State Government to uphold laws which the Vigilante Committee had taken into their own hands. Some opponents of the Governor's movement stole the company's arms and stopped the expedition, after which Captain Norton resigned but not, however, until the trouble was over and the arms returned. (2)

In November of 1855, Lieutenant Bee wrote to theAdjutant-General asking that the company be disbanded as Captain Norton had moved to Carson Valley and that left him alone in command of the company. He also felt the citizens were losing interest and did not give much encouragement to a military organization when they felt there was little prospect of seeing active service. Captain Norton, however, did not approve of the letter written by Lieutenant Bee, as he felt the company could be rejuvinated by discharging some of the members for non-attendance to duty, and electing a new captain, tendering his own resignation.

From returns made to the Quarter-Master General on November 28, 1855, it appears that an election was held by the company to fill the vacancies occasioned by the resignation of Captain Norton, who had accepted a position elsewhere, and of Lieutenant Bee for reasons unknown. In these returns another statement appeared to the effect that there were no evidences on file that any of the officers had been commissioned since the company first organized. Neither was a record of any arms having been returned to the State. However, it is assumed through the lack of interest shown by members the company was disbanded the latter part of 1855.

(1) No record of commanding officers in the Adjutant General's Office until 1855.
(2) From a letter written to the newspaper, The Mountain Democrat of Placerville. This letter was from L. A. Norton, whose father was Captain Norton of this company.
This history was compiled in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library.


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Updated 8 February 2016