California Militia and California National Guard Unit Histories
Stockton Union Guard
Official Unit Designation(s):
Location: Stockton, San Joaquin County
Mustered in: 13 August 1861 (1)
Mustered out: 28 August 1866
Commanding Officers:
P. Edward Conner, Captain; elected 13 August 1861
C. J. Newcomb, First Lieutenant; elected 13 August 1861
H.O. Mathews, Captain, Date of Rank: 7 September 1861, Commissioned 21 September 1861, Promoted December 1861
F. D. Todd, Date of Rank: 7 September 1861, Commissioned 21 September 1861, Resigned December 1861
Solomon Pearsall, Captain, Date of Rank and Commission: 19 December 1861
John H. Gilmore, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank and Commission: 19 December 1861
John H. Gilmore, Captain, Date of Rank: 7 August 1862, Commissioned: 3 September 1862
George Vaughn, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: 7 August 1862, Commissioned: 3 September 1862
L.E. Lyon, Captain, Date of Rank: 2 April 1863, Commissioned: 14 April 1862, Reelected: 4 August 1864 (2) and 3 August 1865.
C. H. Covell, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: 2 April 1863. Commissioned 14 August 1863, Term expired
L. H. Blaisdell, First Lieutenant, Date of Rank: 4 August 1864, Commissioned 23 August 1863, reelected 23 August 1864
Unit Papers on File at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1861)
b. Bonds 1 document (1861)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 60 documents (1861-1865)
d. Election Returns 5 documents (1861-1865)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 12 documents (1861-1866)
g. Oaths Qualifications 18 documents (1861-1865)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 6 documents (1861-1864)
j. Requisitions 2 documents (1861)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports none
m. Other none
Official History
Patrick Edward Conner, founder of the Stockton Union Guard, as a officer of the Stockton Blues

During 1861, when so many new military companies organized were in response to the Governor's call for volunteers, patriotic men of San Joaquin County added impetus to the movement by organizing a company of militia in the City of Stockton to act as a home guard and be ready to offer their services f or any emergency which might arise . The first legal notice was published in the Stockton Daily Argus under the date of July 30, 1861, and the organization meeting which was called for Tuesday, the thirteenth day of August, was held at eight P. M. in the City Hall. Eighty men signed the Roll Call which carried the following heading:

"We, the undersigned, hereby agree to unite in forming a military company in Stockton, San Joaquin County, California, under the laws of this State; equipments [sic] and drill to be determined by the company when organized and every member to take an oath to support the Union, the Constitution, and Laws of the United States of America and of the State of California."

William H. Lyon, , who had been appointed by I.K. Shafer, County Judge, to supervise the organization of the volunteer infantry company, turned in an itemized account o1 the proceedings leading up to and the completion of the new, company which adopted the name of Stockton Union Guard . Judge Shafer had formerly been a private in the (Stockton) Blues. "Stockton" was to designate the city in which they were stationed and "Union" to show; that they were loyal to their Government which was experiencing considerable difficulties with Secessionists throughout the different sections of the land. All the Union Democrats that had formerly belonged to the Stockton Blues enrolled their names in the new company . They adopted a uniform similar to that of the former Stockton company at a cost of $17. 50 each. Only four officers were elected at this first meeting; they were Patrick Edward Connor, Captain; C. J . Newcomb, First Lieutenant; Solomon Pearsall, Second Lieutenant; and William. S. Coombs, Brevet Second Lieutenant. Captain Connor had already had considerable military experience· he was a veteran of the Mexican War, had been First Lieutenant in Captain Harry Love's company of 1853, which had been organized for the specific purpose of capturing the notorious bandit known as Joaquin Murietta, and later when the Stockton Blues were organized he served as Captain of that corps until its disbandment in 1861. Connor served as Captain of the Union Guard less than a month, as on the twenty-third of August he enlisted in the ranks of the Volunteers for the War and was appointed Brigadier General of the Third Regiment of Infantry.

On September 7, 1861, Captain Connor called a special meeting of the guard for the election of officers and at this time H. 0. Mathews was elected to the Captaincy, F. D. Todd and G. R. Choates were elected First and Second Lieutenants, respectively. Captain Mathews and First Lieutenant Todd were not in command long as the Captain was promoted to Brigadier General of the [First Brigade of the Third Division] and Lieutenant Todd resigned about the same time. Solomon Pearsall who had been elected Second Lieutenant at the first election was prevailed upon to accept the command of Captain at the election held subsequent to the promotion of Captain Mathews, which office he held until the annual election of August 1862.
The first two Muster Rolls of the Stockton Union Guard were not made on the regulation form, as they were blocked and written on ruled folio paper, which was in use at that time. There was considerable discrepancy of dates for the muster in of the company on the various rolls. One roll bears the date of September seventh, the day of the Special Election, three have the date of September thirteenth, a month after the organization date, and the last five are dated as of August thirteenth, the organization date.

On November eleventh in 1861, L. E. Lyon, one of the Sergeants, communicated with Governor Downey inquiring information as to "the reason why the Guard could not have the balance of the guns from the State to which they were entitled, as the rank and file was eighty-three and they had received but forty guns". Sergeant Lyon continued on to say that "telegrams had been sent but to no avail, and the Captain had made a special trip over to obtain the other forty, yet no guns had been issued to them." This situation had created a great deal of dissatisfaction among the members and Sergeant Lyon feared that the corps would disband unless the request was complied with. Although the members were uniformed only one half were armed and this prevented the entire company from learning the drills. Sergeant Lyon concluded his communication to the Governor by informing him (Governor Downey) that, "since the ladies had just presented a splendid stand of colors to the guard it would be a pity if the company was compelled to dissolve because the proper officer would not do his duty and issue the arms, or give them a plausible reason as to why they could not have the supplies." This letter was signed, "L.E. Lyon on behalf of the company".(3) The "colors" referred to was a beautiful silk flag , six by nine feet, trimmed with a heavy silk fringe, which had cost $150.

Adjutant General Kibbe informed Captain Mathews that he was expecting some new muskets and would endeavor to have the requisition filled from the new supply. Captain Mathews then communicated with the General on November eleventh advising General Kibbe that his company would wait for the new muskets, at the same time requesting that forty sets of these new arms be sent to complete the requisition which had been made when the company was organized. There was a long delay, and finally twenty Old Style muskets were supplied until the improved ones were available. Correspondence continued along concerning the new muskets, but they were not available until after Captain L. E. Lyon took command of the company, which was in 1863. Under date of August 6, 1863, he wrote a letter acknowledging receipt of two cases containing guns and· equipment but did not state the number sent.

In July and August 1863, there V1D s considerable correspondence with the Adjutant General relative to warrants to cover supplies and uniforms. The uniforms were finally received and a bond was executed for forty-eight of these. Also, hats were supplied from Sacramento and formally acknowledged by Captain Lyon in a letter to Headquarters dated July 21, 1864.

Muster Rolls from the Guard for a time seemed not to get to the Adjutant General's attention but· in a letter of July 22, 1864, Captain Lyon informed the Adjutant General that he had sent the Muster Rolls regularly. In this letter he transmitted the present one and hoped that papers belong to his company would be filed in the future where they could be found.

Captain Lyon was frank about saying what he thought for in his letter to the Adjutant General of September 18, 1865, he asked for two commissions for newly elected lieutenants. These commissions were delayed. He therefore, took the matter up directly with the Adjutant General in order to be sure he would get them. The Captain was also desirous of getting additional Muster Rolls,and stated that he knew the proper place to get them but for the last three years he had tried to do his business the the "proper channels of military correspondence", but that when he relied exclusively on those he failed to accomplish anything.

Captain Pearsall had been criticized by Headquarters for delay in turning his reports in to the office, and he replied in a letter of February 1862, to explain that he was sorry he had been negligent in his duties, but that the papers had been left in his home during the time the city was marooned in the flood waters. The entire district of San Joaquin County had experienced a long winter season of heavy rains, 1861-1862, which resulted in flooding the vicinity. About the middle of January 1862, a tide of water flowing the street was met by back waters from the San Joaquin River in the west and the "Arrarot of the Plains" was under water. Stockton was another Venice ruling as "Mistress of the Seas" .

In August of 1862, the Stockton Union Guard offered their services to the Government during the Civil Was, but the authorities deemed it best not to withdraw any military force from California's rank at the time .(4) The company rented a hall for an armory and also engaged at their own expense an army officer to drill them in the Hardie tactics. Drilling was done in earnest for the War was in progress and a call for volunteers was expected momentarily. One of the members said, "The way that army officer put the boys over the road was a caution to stout soldiers, especially when they were kept on the double-quick the most of the evening." Drilling was held on the street each night after which the company returned to the armory covered with dust and glory. Many of the guardsmen resigned to enlist for Federal service, among whom were Captain P. E. Connor as Colonel of the Third Regiment of California Volunteers; John Gilmore as Lieutenant; Dr. R. K. Reid as Surgeon; and Solomon Pearsall as butcher. An enrolling office was opened in Stockton and one of the first activities of the Union Guard was to act as escort to Company A on its way to take the steamer for the north. (5)

Soon after organization the company was called upon to act as a guard of honor for Colonel E. D. Baker, who was laid to rest in San Francisco. Colonel Baker had been a brilliant orator, a brave and zealous soldier and was California's first sacrifice in the Civil War, having been killed at Balls Bluff, October 21 , 1861 . The military funeral for Colonel Baker was a sad scene, with the slowly marching troops, the arms reversed, flags furled and covered with black crepe, together with the roll of the muffled drum and the funeral dirge.

Sometime during the early part of the year of 1863, arrangement; to combine five companies of the Third Brigade into a Battalion of Infantry designated as the Second Infantry Battalion, Third Brigade materialized. (6) The Stockton Union Guard became Company C of the newly organized Battalion.

In 1862, the Stockton Union Guard was called out at the request of the Sheriff of San Joaquin County, and ordered to be in readiness to move against some Squatters who had been causing trouble some twelve miles from Stockton. The Squatters numbering between fifty and sixty were all armed and determined not to be evicted except by a superior force than ~ they possessed. (7)

Captain Lyon attended the ten day Camp of Instruction which was held, May 21, 1863, at Camp Stanford, Alameda County, for all commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the National Guard. The Stockton Union Guard, Company C, attended the ten day Encampment held at Camp Gilmore from September fourteenth of that year through to the twenty-fourth. This Camp of Instruction was a success in every respect. Brigadier General Dobbie of the Third Brigade with the assistance of all staff officers united their efforts to make the Encampment one of practical utility. Captain Joseph S. Knower, Sixth Infantry of the California Volunteers assisted the Encampment by acting as Assistant Adjutant General. General Dobbie was ·well pleased with the success of the Camp of Instruction as can be seen from the last General Order which he issued to formally close the camp. Quote:



    Camp Gilmore
    Sept. 23, 1863

    General Order No . 9

    1 . In order that due justice may be done those who have attended this encampment, and that the spirit of the law creating Camps of Instruction may be carried out, it is recommended that Commanders of Companies report to the District Attorney of their respective counties, the; names of all members of their companies who have absented themselves from this encampment without leave.

    2. Tomorrow morning, Sept. 24th, at Reveille, the officer of the Guard will call in the Sentinels, march his Guard back to Camp, and dismiss each detail to their company quarters. At ½ past 6 o'clock A. M. the Regiment will assemble on the Color Line of the Camp to be mustered; each company under the command of its own officers. When the companies are mustered and marched off in succession, the last General Order to be issued in this Camp will have been obeyed, and the General in command takes this to acknowledge the alacrity with which all orders have been conformed to, proving that our citizen soldiery possess in a high degree one of the most essential qualifications of a soldier--a willingness to obey orders, combined with the ability to execute them. He would also congratulate his fellow soldiers upon the degree of perfection which they have attained in the drill of the Soldier, the Company, and the Battalion. And he feels confident that if they are ever called upon to perform that most sacred duty to their country which we all owe, of fighting for her in the hour of her need, they will spring to their arms and use them with a will, and with a drill too, which our State Militia can only acquire by practice in such camps as Camp Gilmore.
    By order of Brigadier General A.M.Dobbie
    Jos. S. Knower
    Act. Asst. Adjt. Gen.


The Stockton Union Guard felt that they had been crippled by the Democratic Legislatures during the War, and when they met on July 12, 1866, to reorganize under the new law, they concluded this law was unjust and accordingly disbanded. (7) The amended Act, which had been approved, March 30, 1866, designated the military forces as the National Guard and was to consist of sixty companies . These companies were to be located throughout the State with reference to the military wants of the State, need of concentration of troops and other military requirements. The Board of Location and organization, which was to determine and locate this force, was to consist of the Commander-in-Chief, Major General and Adjutant General, and the Brigadier General of each Brigade. As no reason was given to explain why the members concluded this law was unjust; it seems plausible to assume that since they felt that the "Democratic" Legislature had crippled their past efforts and the majority of the members were affiliated with the "Republican" political party, the company was afraid the future held no bright prospects for cooperation. As a result the Stockton Union Guard was formally mustered out by Brigadier General W. A. Davies on August 28, l866. The Guard had been withdrawn from the Second Battalion in the early part of the year of 1865; therefore, they were mustered out as an unattached company.


1 Adjutant General Report 1861, records the Muster In date as 7 September 1861 the date of the Special Election, page 100
2 Captain L.E. Lyon and Lieutenant L.H. Blaisdell remained in command of the Stockton Union Guard until it was mustered out, 28 August 1866.
3 Letter dated November 11, 1861, on file State Archives, State Capitol.
4 History San Joaquin County, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1890, page 225.
5 Stockton Evening Mail, May 27, 1907, page 2, column 3.
6 The rank date for field and staff officers for the Second Battalion was May 29, 1863, Adjutant General Report 1863, Page 104.
7 History San Joaquin County, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1890, page 225.
Prepared in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in cooperation with the California National Guard and the California State Library.
Extracted from the History of San Joaquin County, 1890

The disorganization of the Blues left the city without any military protection. The air was filled with rumors of war, the young men were enthusiastic and patriotic, and a call was immediately circulated for the organization of a new company. The following pledge was taken: "We, the undersigned, hereby agree to unite in forming a military company in Stockton every member to take an oath to support the Union, the Constitution and the laws." County Judge J. K. Shafer appointed William H. Lyons, father of Bert Lyons, as the enrolling officer, and August 12, 1861, 140 persons signed the roll. Over seventy persons afterwards signed the army oath, for that was the number prescribed by the law. The members adopted as their name Stockton Union Guard, and the first elected officers were: Captain, P. E. Conner; first lieutenant, C. J. Newcomb; second lieutenant, Sol Pearsall; junior second lieutenant, William S. Coombs, uncle of Railroad Commissioner Henderson; secretary, Eugene Robinson; treasurer, W. P. Hazelton. Conner at this time was a state officer, Brigadier-General of this district, and he stated that he would accept the office only as an honorary position provided the men observed strictly their duties. He declared that he had served his country in both camp and field, having been a captain in the Mexican war, and under the old flag he felt perfectly willing again to enroll his name, and he would be the first if a call were made on California by the Federal Government. His speech was greeted with deafening applause. In the following month he resigned as captain, having accepted the appointment as colonel of the Third Regiment, California Volunteers. Henry O. Mathews was then elected captain. Mathews was well up in English tactics, for he had been a member of the Queen's Grenadiers, but of the Kibbe or Hardie tactics he had no knowledge. Consequently, the company was drilled in all kinds of tactics.
One evening at drill F. W. West, who had been in the army in the East, sat an interested spectator. Finally, one of the members approaching Mr. West, said: "West, won't you drill us?" "Well, yes," he answered, "I will drill you in Hardie, but I don't know anything else." "Well, that's what we want, but we haven't got our arms yet." "Oh, you don't want any arms for some time to come." "Oh, yes, we do," quickly replied the ambitious young soldier. Mr. West drilled the company in sharp work for an hour, and then gave the order to "break ranks, march." The awkward squad by that time was well satisfied that the muskets were unnecessary. The company eager to become proficient in the manual of arms, soon after this engaged Lieut. F. W. Todd to drill them, he having been one of the famous light infantry, the Boston Grays. Todd was afterwards a music teacher in the public schools. The member of the company paid him for his services from their private funds. Sergeant-Major Moegon of the regular army also drilled the company several months. Night after night the Guards drilled both in company and squad work until they had no equal among the state volunteers.
The Guards, like their predecessors, frequently gave parties and balls, and the ball most prominent was that of November 7, 1861, for at that time they were presented by the ladies of Stockton with a beautiful silk flag costing $150. The presentation speech was made by Mary Loring, and the flag was received by George W. Tyler, in a soul-stirring address. The ball was given in Agricultural Hall, the Guards' armory at that time, and there were over 200 couples present. At one time 130 couples were on the floor. The Guards wore for the first time their new uniforms, each member paying for his uniform, and conspicuous among the dancers were two officers, the one dressed in the New York Zouave uniform, the other in that of the New York Light Guards.
Two days after the presentation of the flag the Guards had their first and only experience in the "glory of war." A party of squatters had jumped a piece of land some two miles east of the Waterloo, and the courts had decided in favor of Comstock, the claimant. The squatters refused to vacate, and Sheriff Hook called on the Union Guards to place Comstock in possession of the land. The squatters were a body of brave men, all well-known secessionists. Having entrenched themselves within the foundation walls of a brick barn on the place, they made portholes in the walls and declared that they would shoot anybody of men that attempted to drive them out. The Guards were assembled in their Armory November 9, 1861. Each man was given three rounds of ammunition, and was instructed to fire no blank charge, but if the order was given to fire they were to shoot to kill. The company all were exceedingly nervous for they expected a small sized war, and about 9 o'clock, in command of Captain Pearsall, they began their march for the field of carnage. In the meantime a squad of six rode forth in a carriage under the command of Lieutenant Elisha Lyons to reconnoiter. Near Waterloo the squad halted and loaded their muskets. Near the scene a messenger met them and reported that the enemy had "retreated in good order," but, not believing this, Lyons drove on. The report was correct, and the squad returned and so informed the marchers on the dusty road. The company was not pleased at the result, for the men were sullen, and upon the least provocation blood would have been shed.

Colonel E. D. Baker
The Guards at this time were in a fighting mood because of the Bull Run defeat of the Union army, August 21st, and the death of Col. E. D. Baker, October 21st, at the Battle of Ball's Bluff. Baker was the idol of the Republicans, although they refused to gratify his heart's desire by making him California's United States senator. Taking up his residence in Oregon, Baker was sent to the Senate, and, stopping over in San Francisco,on his way to Washington, he made in Platt's Hall the most brilliant speech ever heard on the coast. Baker was a naturalized citizen of English birth, and on his arrival at New York he accepted the colonelcy of a New York regiment. Entering the Senate chamber in uniform one day he heard John C. Breckinridge severely scoring the Administration. When Breckinridge finished his speech, Baker arose to reply, and, on that occasion, says James B. Blaine, Baker made the most masterly and eloquent speech ever heard in Senate. It was the crowning glory of his forensic work in liberty's cause, for he went forth to die. His body was shipped to the state of his choice, and arrived at San Francisco December 5. The funeral was held December 11, Thomas Starr King pronouncing the eulogy, and over 100 citizens of Stockton were in attendance. The Union Guard unanimously resolved to attend his funeral, and, under the command of Lieutenant Todd and accompanied by citizens and firemen, they took the evening boat. On arriving at San Francisco about 2 o'clock in the morning, the guardsmen marched up to the National Guards' armory and aroused the inmates, for their arrival was unexpected. The visitors were made as comfortable as possible, and that morning the Stocktonians were given the place of honor in the procession. In the evening they were tendered a banquet at the Cafe de Rohne, and the following day were escorted to the steamer.
Grand Army [of the Republic] men will remember that President Lincoln, believing that the war would close in three months, issued a call for 75,000 men for three months' service. At the expiration of that period the war had scarcely begun, and on July 1st President Lincoln called for 300,000 more troops. This call suggested the stirring melody first heard in Stockton in the fall of 1862. "We are coming, Father Abraham, Our Union to restore. From every hill and valley. Three hundred thousand more." Among the number who responded to this call were the Union Guards; the first military company in California to offer its service to the Federal government. July 2, 1862, by a unanimous vote, the Guards resolved to go wherever called. Elisha Lyons was then the captain of the company, holding that position continuously from April 1, 1862, until the company disbanded, 1886. The Union Guard was declared by competent judges to be the best drilled company in the National Guard of California, but in 1866 it disbanded because of an economical streak of the legislature. The lawmakers of that year cut down the military appropriation almost one-half for the sole purpose of reducing the militia. And the Stockton guardsmen, feeling deeply the insult, after they had spent time and money to bring the company up to the highest standard, resolved to quit the service of the state.
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