John W. Webster, a resident of Stockton, San Joaquin County, was duly certified to open a book to enroll the names of persons as volunteering to become members of a company of Infantry. December 24, 1856, was the date set for this enrollment and the meeting was convened and called to order in the City Hall for the purpose of forming an independent military company. This meeting was presided over by Mr. Webster, the roll was then signed and by motion the meeting was adjourned until December twenty-seventh.
On the evening of the twenty-seventh pursuant to adjournment, the organization was called to order again by Mr. Webster, who read the minutes. The members then proceeded to ballot for the following officers, Samuel A. Booker, Captain; Patrick Edward Conner, First Lieutenant; C. Patrick, Second Lieutenant and Charles G. Whale, Third Lieutenant.. Patrick Edward Conner, First Lieutenant of the new company had already had previous active military duty. .He was a veteran of the Mexican War and had been First Lieutenant of the California State Rangers, the company which had been organized for the sole purpose of capturing the notorious bandit, Joaquin Murietta, and four other Mexicans. The Second Lieutenant, H. C. Patrick was a democratic newspaperman. The company numbered among its members some of the most prominent citizens of Stockton., however, practically every walk of life was represented on the rolls.
At this meeting of the twenty-seventh, the chair was given authority to appoint two committees, one committee to take care of framing the Constitution and By-Laws of the company and procuring a suitable armory and drill room, and the other committee to take care of the uniforms. The meeting adjourned to convene at the same time and place January 3, 1857. The organization of the volunteer company was perfected and the Bonds for their arms and accoutrements were approved and filed with Adjutant General William C. Kibbe.
Its name, Stockton Blues, was chosen with deference to the uniforms., which consisted of a dark blue frock coat and light blue trousers with white infantry trimmings. No remuneration was received from the State for the support of the Company, each member paying their own expenses. To help defray these expenditures, which were necessarily heavy throughout the years, an Annual Ball was given. These affairs were grand occasions, the most outstanding of which was held in September 1860, at the Pavillion on Courthouse Square. This ball was the concluding event of the first Agricultural Fair held in Stockton. The music was furnished by the Third Artillery Regiment Band of sixteen pieces from San Francisco. The price of admission was Three Dollars a couple., which netted the unit a substantial sum. A concert was also held the following evening, when a fifty cent admission fee was charged.(1)
On January thirty-first, the men received their first supply of arms. Expecting the uniforms to arrive by steamer in April, they wrote again to the Adjutant General asking that he send them at least twenty-five or thirty belts and bayonet scabbards so the men would be able to participate, fully uniformed, in the forthcoming parade. Again on June twelfth, the company corresponded with Adjutant General Kibbe about their arms. The men were determined to take target excursions and wished to have cartridges for their guns. The company evinced great interest in target practice and produced a number of "crack shots," several of them being members of the "Pigeon Shooting Club." The company was regarded for their faithful practice, winning the gold medal for shooting at the Sacramento State Fair in 1859. In 1861, Private E. M. Howison won the first prize, a silver goblet, and Private Frank Stewart won the second prize, the State encampment gold medal; while Private James Sharrot won the company gold medal for the best shooting scores. The company gold medal was offered by the non-commissioned officers for the best yearly shot at the annual target practices.
The State Militia held their first encampment in September 1859, at Oak Knoll which was located one mile northwest of the town of Washington in Yolo County, across the river from Sacramento. Seven companies attended this camp, the Stockton Blues being one of the number. The company was awarded third prize for proficiency in target practice. Their Captain, Patrick Edward Conner, was unable to attend the encampment because of the death of a son. The affair was considered a success despite the inadequacy of the shelters and the high winds that marred the pleasure of the visitors. Given better tenting equipment and better rationing facilities, the next encampment would be a Mecca for the members of the volunteer military companies of that section of the State.(2) The Company paraded upon every possible occasion, such as Andrew Jackson's Day, Washington's Birthday and Fourth of July. The corps also acted as escort to various societies and public school children, and attended in full uniform, with a brass band, theatrical performances of favorite actors or actresses.
Evidently the men were having difficulty in maintaining their company because it was deemed necessary to reorganize the unit for its success and permanence. Therefore, an election of officers was held on January 8, 1858, reelecting the same officers.(3) The Stockton Blues still had considerable difficulty in keeping the members active and interested, and on July 17, 1861 a meeting was held upon receipt of Order No. 1 from Headquarters Third Division, First Brigade, California Militia, Stockton. This order had directed Major O. M. Brown to preside at an election of the company's officers. Upon the opening of the meeting, Lieutenant P. L. Shoaff, took the presiding chair and directed the roll to be called. Immediately after the roll call a resolution was presented by Sergeant Harrison for the disbandment of the company. The resolution set forth the reason for the action as:
1. Lack of minimum number of members required by State.
2. Lack of well being of company which seemed
to characterize many of the members
3. The absence from and inattention to meetings and drills of the company which rendered it impossible for the corps ever to attain efficiency.
This resolution was carried by a majority vote of all present, and on the announcement of the result the members of the unit left the meeting room,. Major Brown, who had no opportunity to preside at the election called for by Order No. 1, also left the room, then later he was notified that a quorum of the members were present at the armory ready to proceed with the election of officers, (agreeable to the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Brigade.) He was requested to attend and preside over the meeting, as the first duty of a soldier is obedience to orders of his superiors, and the order in question directed the Major to preside at an election, the regularity or irregularity of the foregoing proceeding could not determine his action. Major Brown proceeded with the election. Eleven members were present and a majority of votes cast placed Lieutenant Shoaff in the position of Captain, Lieutenant Frank Stewart was elected First Lieutenant and O. M. Brown and George L. Sanderson were elected Senior and Junior Second Lieutenants, respectively.
There is no record of commissions having been issued for these officers. However., despite the reasons set forth for the disbandment of the company, much bitterness was manifested by a certain faction of the members who contended the proceedings at the meeting were illegal. They appealed without success to Governor Downey to have the disbandment resolution set aside, stating that only half of the company had been notified of the meeting. The unit's forty-eight members had been divided into two factions since the beginning of the Civil War.
Captain Shoaff communicated with Governor Downey on August 6, 1861, calling the Governor's attention to the report of the election of officers and requesting commissions for these officers. He also stated that Brigadier General P . E. Connor had been to Sacramento to try to see the Governor in the company's recent action, but was not able to see him (Governor Downey) and therefore the Brigadier General was unable to inform the company as to whether the election report had been considered. (4) It is evident that the Governor did not take any favorable action on this matter as on September ninth, Captain Shoaff communicated with Adjutant General Kibbe in reference to the delivery of the muskets and accoutrements to the State Armory. He also wrote that the company was disbanding, although they intended to reorganize at a later date. The mustering out of the Stockton Blues ended an organization that had been the pride of Stockton. (5)
The following year on May eighth, O.M. Brown and H. B. Crummer, wrote to Governor Stanford in regard to reorganization of the Stockton Blues which had temporarily disbanded after Captain Connor had resigned,' but there is no further information to show that the request was carried through to completion. Records indicate that the Stockton Blues were organized as a military band with Richard Candy as their band leader and S. A. Booker as Captain of the corps. Then at the beginning of the Civil War the company disbanded because of disagreement on national issues, but continued as a musical organization for many years.(6)