California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Salmon Guard
Official or other designations: Salmon Guard, 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, California Militia
Location: Sawyers Bar, Klamath County (now Del Norte County)
Mustered in: September 11, 1855
Mustered out: 1861
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1855-1856
Commanding Officers
John S. Hughes, Captain,
William Hudson, First Lieutenant,

Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 1 document (1855)
b. Bonds 1 document (1855)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 3 documents (1855-1856)
d. Election Returns none
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns none
g. Oaths Qualifications none
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices none
j. Requisitions none
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none



The resident of Sawyers Bar, which is situated on the Salmon River in Klamath County were desirous of having armed protection from the hostile Indians in the vicinity. In the fall of 1855 Judge Ed. Fletcher.of Klamath County appointed Austin Wiley to act as Inspector for the organizing of a new military company, and on September 11, 1855, fifty-four volunteers were formally mustered in under the title of Salmon Guard. The name of "Salmon" had been given to one of the rivers of this district which in late years became one of the producing points for the salmon canneries. The first election of officers included, John S. Hughes, Captain; William Hudson, First Lieutenant; Isaac Grigg, and Joseph Church, Brevet Second Lieutenants. Inspector Austin Wiley, who was elected First Sergeant, and co-publisher of the Humboldt Times, was elected to the State Legislature in 1865, and was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in April 1864 as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California.(1) It was necessary to hold a second election on April 7, 1856, to fill the offices of the Second and Third Lieutenants and the Orderly Sergeant, as these men had left the county. At this election Daniel Bryant was elected Second Lieutenant, Benjamin March as Third Lieutenant and Alex Wilson was elected Orderly Sergeant.

Directly after the completion of the organization Sergeant Wiley, who had been Inspector for the formation of the company, communicated with Adjutant General Kibbe enclosing the Muster Roll and Bond of $2,500. This letter reported the completion of the organizing of the militia company, and at the same time expresses the desire that the arms and accoutrements be issued immediately, in order that they might be shipped before the winter weather set in. No requisition was filled out other than that the members desired "yagers" (2) with a fair supply of ammunition, as the company felt that the Adjutant General was better acquainted with their wants in this matter. Sergeant Wiley continued on to say that Judge Fletcher had assured the company that, "Governor J. Neely Johnson and the Adjutant General would give their attention to this affair". The Sergeant explained to the General that "He was uninformed as to the amount of the necessary fee for the commissions of the officers or the manner of forwarding the same, but that if Headquarters would issue the commissions he would be personally responsible for the payment of the money later." He also requested "That the ordnance stores be shipped to Nordham and Marx at Trinidad, Klamath County where the company would receive the equipment, and the receipt for the Captain's signature be mailed to Captain Hughes at Sawyers Bar." In conclusion Sergeant Wiley asked for a copy of Scott's Military Tactics for which he would forward the purchase price with the commission fees. Enclosed with this letter was a note from C. H. Randall, Second Lieutenant, Fourth Infantry, United States Army, "From my knowledge of the circumstances I would respectfully recommend the within application."

This requisition for arms was not filled, therefore, on April 6, 1856, Captain Hughes wrote to Governor Johnson requesting information about the delay in equipping the company. Following Captain Hughes' letter, Sergeant Wiley wrote to the Adjutant General from Bessville, North Salmon, (April 25, 1856) on the same matter, and stated in his letter "That the community was in a remote location, isolated from the County Seat, and the Indian difficulties with which they had been surrounded the past winter made it necessary to have protection." Sergeant Wiley informed the General that the company was ready to take up the required Bonds as security for the arms, and did not desire any remuneration for their services.

Although there is no definite record of activities of this company, these men who were so anxious to serve as an active unit in all probability were leaders and members of volunteer expeditions that went out at their own risk and expense after the marauding Indians. The mountain trails were so endangered that trade and travel had been almost cut off from the Humboldt Bay outlet. In 1858 a petition was sent to Governor Weller requesting assistance and stating that men could be supplied if they were equipped for the ordeal. However, during these troublesome times the State was experiencing considerable difficulty in obtaining the necessary allotment of arms from the United States Government, and in turn furnishing sufficient ordnance stores to the militia companies. It is, therefore, assumed that it was impossible to fulfill the companies request and that the Salmon Guard disbanded by mutual consent of its members as the Adjutant General Report of 1861, remarks that there was no evidence that arms had been received by the company and it was considered disbanded . ,. .


(1) History of Humboldt County, Wallace W. Elliott & Company, San Francisco, 1881, page 180.

(2) YAGER: A type of arm used by riflemen or sharpshooters

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