Historic California Militia and National Guard Units
Shields Guard
(San Francisco)
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: 3 January 1862
Redesignated: 22 March 1882 [1]
Reorganized: 18 April 1883 [2]
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1869
Geographical Location or Locations: San Francisco City & County
Armory: 567 Market Street

Papers on file at the California State Archives:
Commanding Officers

R. F. Ryan, Captain: Elected 3 January 1862, commissioned 8 January 1862, reelected 6 January 1863, January 1864 and 9 January 1965; promoted to Major 19 August 1865.
D. D. Sullivan, First Lieutenant: Elected 3 January 1862, commissioned 8 January 1862, resigned 9 February 1862
P. R. Hanna, First Lieutenant: Elected 20 February 1862, resigned 17 May 1862.
M. Coonan, First Lieutenant: Elected 5 June 1862, commissioned 17 June 1862, resigned 4 November 1862.
P. O'Brien, First Lieutenant: Commissioned 10 November 1862, commissioned 25 November 1862.
Jeremiah Baldwin, First Lieutenant: Elected5 January 1863, commissioned 14 January 1863, reelected January 1864 and 9 January 1865.

George T. Knox, Captain: Elected 22 August 1865, commissioned 4 September 1865, reelected 2 January 1866
Jeremiah Baldwin, First Lieutenant: Reelected 2 January 1866
John Flanagan, Captain: Elected 22 February 1868, commissioned 26 February 1868
John Leary, First Lieutenant: Elected 22 February 1868, commissioned 26 February 1868, 2 February 1869.
Bernard O'Farrell, First Lieutenant: Elected 3 February 1869, commissioned 15 May 1869.

John F. Meegher, Captain: Elected 8 June 1870, commissioned 13 June1870
Bernard O'Farrell, First Lieutenant: Reelected 8 June 1870.

Michael Flanigan, Captain: Elected 1 July 1872, commissioned 9 July 1872.
John J. Hand, First Lieutenant: Elected 1 July 1872, commissioned 9 July 1872.

Thomas O'Neil, Captain: Elected January 1874, commissioned 13 June 1874, resigned 12 November 1874
Joseph Monaghan, First Lieutenant: Elected January 1874, commissioned 13 June 1874

Michael J. Wrin, Captain Elected 10 December1874, commissioned 19 December 1874, reelected 14 December 1876, reelected 14 December 1876.
Joseph Monaghan, First Lieutenant: Reelected 14 December 1876.

Henry P. Filgate, Captain: Elected 9 January 1879 22 January 1879
John Blake, First Lieutenant: Elected 9 January 1879 22 January 1879

Offical History:

Dress uniform of the Shieds Guard, circa 1870.The Shields Guard of San Francisco was organized in response to a petition bearing the date, December 24, 1861, and signed by fifty-four citizens, residents of the city and county of San Francisco and· presented to the County Judge. as required by law. Organization was perfected and the company mustered into the service as a unit of the 2nd (Irish) Infantry Regiment, California Militia, on January 3, 1862. This company, named after the famous Brigadier General James Shields, who resided in Illinois about 1840, was sharply criticised by some of the newspapernof that State. As a result of anonymous charges made against him, Mr. Shields challenged to a duel Abraham Lincoln, (afterwards President of the United States) who shouldered some of the responsibility for the affair. Mr. Lincoln explained the situation and the matter was compromised and the principles became permanent friends.[3] Shields served as Brigadier General during the war with Mexico and was cited by Major General Winfield Scott for gallant conduct at Cerro Gordo, where he was dangerously wounded. In 1848 General Shields was appointed Governor of Oregon Territory where he discharged his duties faithfully and honorably and at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 was appointed Brigadier General of California Volunteers in which capacity he served until March 28, 1863.

At the organization meeting of the Shields Guard,Captain-elect Ryan commented on the brilliatit record of General Shields and urged the members of his troop to so conduct themselves that the company would be a credit to the honorable name it bore. The new company immediately became active in drill and target practice and although it was extremely difficult to procure suitable equipment and unirorms at that time, they lliade the best showing possible under existing conditions, by participating in public functions and parades.

In 1866 the company was mustered out of the service under the provisions of the military Law of that year [4], but immediately reorganized and was mustered back into the service. In 1868, pursuant to the provisions of Special Order No . 15, of that year, the company was again mustered out of the State service, again reeorganized and mustered in as Company B, First Infantry Battalion, Second Brigade, California National Guard.[5]

In July 1869 the company came into disrepute by disobeying orders in refusing to parade with the command on July Fourth, at a place designated by orders from headquarters, and accused of mutinous and disorderly conduct, and was dishonoraoly disbanded [6] and the company's arms returned to the State Arsenal. This order was rescinded later, however, and on June 3, 1870 Special Order No. 20 [7] was issued, reinstatlng the company in its old Battalion and Brigade. Everything proceeded as before until Special Order No. 8 was issued effective February 24, 1871, transferring Company H, as the Shields Guard was then known, to the Third Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade.[8]

From 1870 to 1882 the history of the company was uneventful, the activities consisting of participation in parades, escorts at inaugural ceremonies and routine duties. On March 22 , 1882 Company H was transferred to the First Infantry Regiment as Company G. The majority of members were dissatisfied and asked to be discharged. Captain Filgate also resigned and with his discharged troops organized an independent company.The newly organized unit joined with the old independent Third Infantry Regiment, and was designated Company B, Shields Guard. this independent company continued as such until April 18, 1883 When it was permitted to be mustered into the National Guard, and designated Company B, Third Infantry Regiment.[9] For a continuation of the history of the Shields Guard, refer to Company B, Third lnfantry Regiment, Second Brigade.
1. Shields Guard redesignated Company G, 1st Infantry Regiment, March 22, 1882. Adjutant General Report. 1881-1882, General Order No. 6, page 93.
2. Shields Guard redesignated Company B, 3rd (Irish) Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 18 April 1883, Adjutant General Report 1883-1884, General Order No.16, page 66.
3. Dictionary of American Biography, Page 106.
4. Adjutant General Report 1865-1867, page 91.
5. Adjutant General Report 1867-1869, pages 163, 180.
6. Special Order No. 15, Adjutant General Report 1867-1869, page 165 .
7. Adjutant General Report 1870-1871, page 105.
8. General and Special Orders 1870-l1874, Special Order No. 8, page 25.
9. Adjutant General Report 1883-1884, General Order No. 16, page 66.
This history was completed in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library.

Brigadier General James Shields

James Shields was born in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Ireland, December12, 1810. He was well educated and was fluent in four languages. Shields had numerous adventures as a sailor; he decided to settle in America after his legs were broken in a rigging accident in New York City. He emigrated to the United States in 1826, studied law and was admitted to the bar at Kaskaskia, Ill., when he was but twenty-one years old. He subsequently turned his attention to politics; Shields took part in the Black Hawk War and in 1836 was elected to the state legislature and in 1839 was made state auditor. While serving in the Illinois House, Shields met Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln was a Whig and Shields was a Democrat; the two clashed rhetorically and once even scheduled a duel. Initially in conflict with Abraham Lincoln, the two men eventually became good friends. In 1843 he was appointed judge of the Supreme Court and in 1845 was appointed commissioner of the U. S. land office.

James Shields served during the Mexican war, being severely wounded both at Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec, and for meritorious and gallant services on the former occasion was commissioned brigadier-general by President Polk, 1 July 1846, and brevet major-general He served under Gen. Taylor on the Rio Grande and under Gen. Wood at Chihuahua. After resigning from the army he was appointed governor of Oregon in 1848, which office he soon resigned to represent Illinois in the United States Senate as a democrat. After the expiration of his term he removed to Minnesota and was United States senator from that state from 1858 to 1860, when he removed to California.

Shields was in Mexico at the outbreak of the Civil war, engaged in superintending a mine, but at once went to Washington and offered his services for the cause of the Union. He was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers on Aug. 19, 1861 assigned to the command of Gen. Lander's brigade after the latter's death, and was placed at the head of a division of Gen. N. P. Banks' Army of the Shenandoah, March 29, 1862. He took a leading part in the battles of Winchester, though severely wounded the preceding day in a preliminary engagement, and Port Republic, where he was decisively beaten by General Jackson and resigned his commission, March 28, 1863.

Brigadier General Shields then settled in Wisconsin, whence he removed to Carrollton, MO., where he practiced law and served as a railroad commissioner. In 1874 he was elected to the Missouri legislature and in 1879 was appointed to the U. S. senate to serve out the unexpired term of Senator Bogg, thus becoming the only senator to have represented three states. He died at Ottumwa, IA., June 1,1879. A monument was erected to him in St. Mary's Cemetery at Carrollton, which was unveiled by Archbishop Glennon on 12 November, 1910.



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Updated 8 February 2016