Riots, Protests, and Other Civil Disturbances
"Kelley's Army" and the Sacramento Emergency, March 1914
by Brigadier General Edwin A. Forbes, Adjutant General of California (1911-1915)
This vacant lot at 3rd and I Street, became the encampment of nearly 2000 unemployed migrant workers known as “Kelley’s Army.”
Today it's the site of the Amtrak passenger depot. (Center for Sacramento History)

In March, 1914, a large band of Industrial Workers of the World, styling themselves as "Kelley's Army," and another band of IWW's traveling with them, invaded Sacramento and established a camp near the Southern Pacific Depot.

This group of about 2,000, trained into companies in military order, refused to obey orders of the police, refused to leave town and threatened-to scatter over the town and commit various crimes unless fed by the citizens and given transportation to Ogden, Utah.

The city authorities appealed to the Governor for help. The Governor directed the city authorities to try their forces first. In the meantime he ordered The Adjutant General to get enough of the militia together to suppress this lawless assemblage, which was continually making threatening speeches, in case trouble should occur and the city authorities should prove inadequate to preserve order. The Adjutant General ordered Companies A, E, F, G and I, 2d Infantry Regiment; Troop B, 1st Squadron of Cavalry; and Battery C, 1st Battalion, Field Artillery, to assemble at the State Armory at 12th and W Streets in Sacramento. These organizations fell in under arms, ready to take action at a moment's notice.

The Adjutant General went to the camp of the IWW's and watched the fight between the police and deputies, the sheriff and deputies and the firemen upon one side and the IWW's on the other side, to determine whether it would be necessary to intervene with the militia. The Governor was adverse to shedding blood by the troops unless it was absolutely necessary, his instructions being not, to bring the troops into the fight unless to prevent bloodshed or great destruction of property. Fortunately the troops did not have to intervene, as the civil authorities, by the free use of pick handles and other clubs, and the hose from the city's fire department, routed the invaders and made it unnecessary for the militia to take part. The troops were retained at the armory from six to ten days, until the civil authorities were satisfied that there was no cause to fear further trouble.

Extracted from the 1940 History of the California compiled by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library,
Additional History:
Sacramento Midtown Monthly:
Golden Notes: Bulletin of the Sacramento County Historical Society:
Updated 10 February 2015


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Updated 8 February 2016