Historic California Militia and National Guard Units
Sumner Light Guard
(Sumner Home Guard)
Drill notice dated 9 July 1867
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: October 14, 1861
Date of Disbanding:
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1885
Geographical Location or Locations:
San Francisco City & County
Armory: Turn Verein Hall, 620 Bush Street

Papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers none
b. Bonds 3 documents (1861-1866)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 83 documents (1861-1884)
d. Election Returns 40 documents (1861-1883)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for 5 documents (1871-1883)
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 113 documents (1861-1885)
g. Oaths Qualifications 308 documents (1861-1884)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 32 documents (1862-1885)
j. Requisitions 25 documents (1861-1880)
k. Resignations 16 documents (1867-1883)
l. Target Practice Reports 19 documents (1866-1884)
m. Other
Finance Reports, 4 documents (1866-1867)
Public Property, 3 documents (1868-1871)
Report of Inspection, 1 document (1885)
Certificate of Commission, 1 document (1881)
Commanding Officers:
Thomas B. Ludlum, Captain: Elected 13 October 1861, commissioned 18 October 1861, Reelected 6 October 1862, 1863
S. Barker, First Lieutenant: 14 October 1861, commissioned 18 October 1861
Abraham Moyer, First Lieutenant: 6 October 1862, commissioned 15 October 1862, 1863
Abram Moyer, Captain: Elected and commissioned 3 October 1864, reelected 25 March 1867
Rufus W. Thompson, First Lieutenant: Elected and commissioned 3 October 1864
Charles H. Daly, First Lieutenant: 25 March 1867, commissioned 6 June 1867
Charles H. Daly, Captain: Elected 25 March 1868, commissioned 20 April 1868, resigned 3 March 1869
William J. Younger, First Lieutenant: Elected 13 April 1868, commissioned 20 April 1868
Oscar Wood hams, Captain: Elected 3 May 1869, commissioned 21 May 1869
William P. Edwards, First Lieutenant: Elected 17 October 1870, commissioned 5 November 1870, resigned 18 August 1871.
Henry J. Burns, Captain: Elected 23 October 1871, commissioned 1 November 1871, reelected 3 November 1873, 1 November 1876, 5 November 1877, 3 November 1879
Edwin O. Hunt, First Lieutenant: Elected 22 January 1972, commissioned 16 January 1872, reelected 5 January 1874, 4 January 1876
Joshua Robertson, First Lieutenant: Elected 7 January 1877, commissioned 30 January 1878, resigned 17 May 1879, reelected 6 October 1879, recommissioned 5 November 1879
Joshua Robertson, Captain: Elected 22 March 1880, commissioned 4 June 1880.
M. N. Laufenberg, First Lieutenant: Elected 22 March 1880, commissioned 9 June 1880
Official History:

At a meeting held in the Turn Verein Hall, San Francisco, October 14, 1861, presided over by Colonel J. S. Ellis, acting chairman, a volunteer military company was organized and designated as the Sumner Home Guard to be attached to the First Regiment , Second Brigade, Second Division. At this meeting an election of officers was held and Thomas B. Ludlum was elected Captain and S. Barker, as First Lieutenant. A bond was posted and accepted by the State for the necessary arms and accoutrements, November 9, 1861.

At the Second Brigade Encampment held in the Spring of 1863 it was voted that the company change their mime to Sumner Light Guard which was granted by the Adjutant General, December 24, 1863. This company, formerly known as Company I, Sumner Home Guard,was changed to Company E, Sumner Light Guard, under the National Guard reorganization of August 29, 1866, and carried that name until mustered out of the State service. When the company was organized fifty-six men enrolled as members and after the reorganization the membership increased to ninety-three.

Uniform of the Sumner Light Guard, circa 1870.On April 20, 1864, a military escort of six companies was ordered to attend the funeral of the late Lieutenant Colonel Ringold. Two of the companies were from the California Militia; they were the Sumner Light Guard and the City Guard of San Francisco ordered out for the occasion by General Allen and under the command of Colonel Sibley.[1] On August 29 , 1877, a leave of absence for sixty days was granted to Captain H. J . Burns and Second Lieutenant Joshua Robertson, officers of the Sumner Light Guard, to represent the National Guard of California in the Interstate Military Match which was to be held that year at Creedmoor, New York.[2] Upon their return Joshua Robertson was elected First Lieutenant under Captain H. J. Burns, January 7, 1878. Distinction again was won along the same lines by the Sumner Light Guard when the State Agricultural Society in conjunction with the citizens of Sacramento, offered inducements in the way of prizes for drill and marksmanship to military companies attending the State Fair of 1878. A competitive rifle contest was held under the supervision of Colonel James Laven, General Inspector of rifle practice. Several companies participated in the contest including the Sumner Light Guard, represented by their Captain, H. J. Burns, who had previously excelled in marksmanship. Captain Burns won first prize in the rifle contest, which consisted of three hundred dollars and a gold medal presented to him by the president of the State Agricultural Society: M. D. Boruch.[3]

There are no records of any unusual activities concerning this company other than participating in their regular company drills and Brigade Encampments until later . in 1871. In the early part of June of that year, serious disturbances occurred in Sutter Creek, Amador County. An association of miners and other citizens was organized and conducted for the purpose of benevolence and for the promotion of kindly acts among its members. Finally the association branched off and became a league (known as Union) for an advance of wages, for the regulation of .prices, for labor at the mines, and for the enforcement of mine conduct. These existing prices and the principles advocated by the Miners' League were obnoxious to the proprietors of the mines. The League was not unlawful and may have been considered in some degree reasonable as the workmen were to be fully sympathized with in an effort to advance their rates of pay. Ultimately the owners entirely refused to acquiesce with the League whose demands they declared unreasonable.

The League resolved that no work should be done except under the desired scale of wages, and failing to induce all men to abandon their work, the League members marched to the mines and with threats of personal violence forced all who were disposed to work to leave their posts. Not satisfied with this act of open violence against law and order, the League demanded that the engineers operating the mines should stop pumping water and the engineers were forced to abandon their posts and the mines were left to accumulate water. The civil authorities failed to supply a proper remedy for the trouble, and a reign of terror began in Sutter Creek and continued throughout Amador County. Armed men paraded the County. No man was permitted to work and threats were made against all who attempted to enter the mines. Strangers arriving and accepting work were driven away, and not only property but life was placed in danger.[4]

Under such deplorable condition, it was deemed necessary by the mine owners to bring this situation to the attention of the Governor and ask that he intervene. Therefore, an urgent request was sent to Governor Henry H. Haight asking that he send the National Guard to protect their properties valued at several million dollars.

As the State Military Fund was exhausted and the State was entirely without breech-loading arms, while the Leaguers were understood to possess between five and seven hundred stand of arms and also one piece of artillery, the mine owners offered to supply arms and defray all expenses of the men and officers.

On June 21, 1871, Governor Haight issued Special Order No. 17 calling out two companies of San Francisco National Guard. The companies were the Sumner Light Guard, Company E and National Guard, Company C. Major J. F. Bronson was commanding the battalion and was ordered to proceed without delay to Latrobe, El Dorado County.

The Leaguers resented the troops' arrival and were understood to express defiance of the law and for a short time there was fear of bloodshed, but no hostile demonstrations were made against the troops, with the exception of firing a few blank cartridges over their heads, which were acts of folly.

An agreement was finally reached between the mine owners and the League after the mine owners agreed not to employ Chinese labor. A peaceful and bloodless settlement of difficulties was, therefore, reached. All trouble was settled and further armed forces rendered unnecessary. Orders were received for the return of the troops to San.Francisco.

The Sumner Light Guard was active in their regular drills and target practices besides the parudes required by law. The Second Brigade paraded in honor·of·the victorious Creedmoor Team, November 5, 1877; Captain H. J. Burns 2nd Lieutenant J. Robertson of this company participated in the contest and made remarkable score which had much to do with winning the trophy, a bronze statue designated as "The Soldier of Marathon"

Again on the twenty-second of February and on the Fourth of July 1877, the Second Brigade was on parade and the Sumner Light Guard was in attendance and participated as part of the citizens' procession. The fourth of July parade was the most brilliant pageant ever staged by the Second Brigade prior to that year .

This Guard also took active part in the suppression of riots in San Francisco between the citizens and Chinese which caused destruction of life and property. On July 23 1376, the troops were ordered to assemble in their armories to await orders, and on July twenty-ninth Chief of Police Ellis, realizing the City Police were unable to cope with the mob, requested the Militia Troops to be sent to different rendezvous and placed on duty at designated places. The next day quiet had been restored in the city and orders were received from the Chief of Police to dismiss the troops. Later the Sumner Light Guard was under arms on October 20, l876, in anticipation of a renewed riot and threats on the Chinese quarters.[5]

On November 10, 1877, the Sumner Guard was called into active service and placed under the direction of the Chief of Police for the suppression of an unlawful and riotous assemblage held by anti-Chinese sympathizers, which lasted for nine days. The company was dismissed and then again on January 16, 1878, was called into active service for eleven days, as threats were freely made that the armories would be seized at a time when the troops were unprepared.[6] After this unpleasant condition had been subdued in San Francisco, the Brigade was sent to Sacramento for a field day parade, reviewed by the Governor, 1879. On the return trip to San Francisco, the special train carry the First Regiment met with an accident. The train ran into an open switch on the Oakland wharf, causing the engine to plunge into the bay. The Engineer, William Brown,gave his life in an attempt to save the train by remaining at his post and applying the brakes. As a result the coaches stayed on the tracks, but when the engine toppled into the water, the Engineer unfortunately was wedged under the reverse levers and was not able to escape, and was the only one to lose his life . The funeral of Mr. Brown was held in Sacramento on September 30, 1880, and the First Artillery Regiment of Sacramento paid military honors to the deceased Engineer. The Sumner Light Guard, one of the companies aboard the train on the evening of the wreck, sent a beautiful floral piece as a tribute. It consisted of a triangular pyramid, formed of tube-roses, white jasmines, camelias, white pinks, and delicate ferns tastefully arranged . It was three feet four inches in height and two feet, four inches at the base, and on the three sides were the inscriptions : "Rest" "Honor the Brave'', and "S. L. G., Co . E, First Regiment" [7]

Under the reorganization of the National Guard 1880, the Sumner Light Guard was designated as a company by letter "E . For further information concerning this unit refer to Company E, First Regiment of Infantry, Second Brigade.

1.The Daily Alta California, April 6, 1864, page 1 Column 1.
2. Adjutant General Report 1877-1879, Page 66, Special Order No. 19.
3. Adjutant General Report of 1877-1879, Page 12.
4. Adjutant General Report 1870-1871, Pages 25-31.
5. Adjutant General Report 1875-1877, Page 73.
6. Adjutant General Report 1877-1879, Page 76.
7. San Francisco Examiner, September 27, 1880, Page 3, Column 4 .
8. San Frencisco Examiner, October 1, 1880, Page 2, Column 5
This history was completed in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library
The Sumner Light Infantry (1876)
Besides the regular United States soldiery, San Francisco has within her limits military organizations comprising" a numerical force of over two thousand five hundred men. This body consists of three regiments of infantry, one battalion of cavalry, and one light battery of artillery - all attached to the second brigade of the National Guard of California; also fifteen independent military companies numbering about a thousand men. The force is made up of the citizen soldiery, and considering the civil duties devolving upon them, it is remarkable how skilled they have become in the difficult art of war.
Many of the companies comport themselves at drill in a manner that betokens the veteran warriors. Although they come from the office, the store, the workbench and forge, and from every peaceful industrial pursuit, they are a hale band of men,ready at any time to shoulder their knapsacks and step from the luxury of domestic life into the tented field.
California's loyalty to the Union, during the war of rebellion, was due more, perhaps, to the patriotism of her home soldiery than to the preponderance of a loyal sentiment among her citizens. The military in San Francisco has ever been loyal to their country's flag - and was, during the war, even radical in their devotion to the Federal Government.
Company E
While there are other companies in the National Guard of California that are equal in military accomplishments to this. Company E, or "The Sumner Light Guard," is perhaps most widely known, because of having produced a rifle team that has particularly distinguished itself at several important con- tests in marksmanship.
Fourteen young men, all members of the First Congregational Church in San Francisco, took the first step in organizing this company, by each signing the following preamble:
"Believing that our duty to our God and our country is paramount to every other duty, and that our country's safeguard consists in the ability of her citizens to defend themselves against the assaults of foreign and domestic foes, we, the undersigned, hereby form ourselves into a military corps."


On August 10, 1861, they called a meeting in the vestry of the Church, at the corner of DuPont and California streets, and invited a number of their friends to attend. The meeting resulted in the election of a President and Secretary, and the appointment of committees to procure a suitable drill hall, and to make all the necessary arrangements for a permanent organization. Turn Verein Hall, on Bush Street, near Powell, was secured and retained for a place of meeting and drill, until the present Armory of the First Regiment was erected. The first drill officer was D. D. Neal, a gentleman of varied acquirements, who has since achieved quite a reputation as an artist in Germany.
The company was formally organized, according to the law of the State of California, on October 14, 1861, Col. John S. Ellis, commander of the First Infantry Regiment, presiding at the election of officers. The commissioned officers elected were: Captain, Thomas B. Ludlum; First Lieutenant, Stephen Barker; Second Lieutenant, Rufus W. Thompson; and Brevet Second Lieutenant, Abram Moger.
In July, 1864, Capt. Ludlum was elected to the office of Lieut-Colonel of the regiment, and was succeeded, as Captain, as Abram Moger, who in turn was succeeded by Charles H. Daly, Oscar Wood hams, and Henry^ J. Burns, the present Captain. Three of the "Sumners" commanders have held the position of Lieut-Colonel of their Regiment - Capt. Ludlum (who has also held the office of Colonel), Mogers and "Wood hams - the latter yet acting in that office.
The "Sumners" have always been reliable, and in any excitements where the presence of the military was deemed necessary to restore order, they have been a willing and chosen company, to such service. A few years ago, when the miners in Amador County "struck" for higher wages and grew so belligerent in demeanor as to intimidate all local authorities, this company, in connection with company C - the "Nationals" - was detailed to go to the scene of disorder, and promptly responded to the order. Fortunately, the military in San Francisco have not been introduced to the rigors and dangers of actual conflict on the battlefield, but there is no reason to suppose but that, should the emergency require, they would "fight as Kosciusko fought, and, if needs be, fall as Kosciusko fell."
As Marksman
The Sumner Light Guard was the first military company on the Pacific Coast to introduce the Hythe system of scientific shooting into their drill practice. In July, 1873, it was discovered that two members of the company, Messrs. James Gowrie and "W. B. Grant, were proficient in the new method of shooting; and, in August following, classes were formed to engage in this practice, under competent instructors. Shortly thereafter, target practice in the field was begun, and has since been kept up, though at times under very adverse circumstances. The Hythe system has recently been adopted at Creedmoor, and is fast coming into general use all over the country.
Under command of Captain Burns, the Sumners have given much attention to target shooting, and the popularity they have gained in their several contests has prompted most of the military organizations on the coast to emulation in the practice.
In a match for the championship between States, the Sumners were victorious over Company D, 12th New York State National Guards and the "Emmet Guard" of Nevada - winning for California the championship over New York and Nevada.

The company recently made the highest score in short-range practice that has been recorded in the United States, and a the annual target practice at Camp Schofield it has been victorious in several brigade matches.
The Sumner rifle team that has engaged in the principal contests, is composed of the following members of the company:
H. J. Burns, Captain.
E. O. Hunt, Lieutenant.
G. H. Strong, Sergeant.
Chas. Nash, Corporal.
David Watson, Private
John Steed, Private
J. Robertson, Private
Wm. Burke, Private
Chas. B. Peeble, Private.
B. A. Sable, Private
W. F. Murray, Private
A. S. Folger, Private
Wm. Dove, Private
V. C. Post, Private
Thos. Murphy, Private
If, in our future wars, when "foe meets foe in battle array" the "beads" are drawn upon each other as deliberately and accurately as in the target practice of today - if their nerves do not grow unsteady at the thought of death, the havoc will have been so universal that few, if any, will be spared to shout the victory, or tell the tale of defeat.
The Sumners, Socially
During the earlier years of the company's existence it was an exceedingly popular organization in society. Many of its members ranked high in the social scale, and frequent parties and entertainments were the offspring of their social dispositions. Nearly all the members were young, and buoyant of spirit, and nothing was more enjoyable to them than a mirthful "frolic." By the townsfolk, it was considered a mark of distinction to receive an invitation to a ball or party conducted under the auspices of Company E, of the 1st Regiment.
But of those who were young and light-hearted then, some have joined the army of the dead, others have dropped out of the ranks and have been lost sight of in the hubbub of the world, while those who yet remain have mostly taken upon themselves family cares, and are so held down by the pressure of business that little time can be devoted to the company, except as discipline demands.
The name "Sumner," adopted by the company, is in honor of General Sumner, who was in command of the U. S. Military Division of the Pacific, at or near the time the Sumner Light Guard was organized.
Extracted for the book, Lights and Shades in in San Francisco by Benjamin E. Lloyd, 1876

Edwin Vose Sumner
Edwin Vose Sumner (January 30, 1797 – March 21, 1863) was a career United States Army officer who became a Union Army general and the oldest field commander of any Army Corps on either side during the American Civil War. His nicknames "Bull" or "Bull Head" came both from his great booming voice and a legend that a musket ball once bounced off his head.
Sumner fought in the Black Hawk War, with distinction in the Mexican-American War, on the Western frontier, and in the Eastern Theater for the first half of the Civil War. He led the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac through the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days Battles, the Maryland Campaign, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Early Life and Career
Sumner was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Elisha Sumner and Nancy Vose Sumner. His early schooling was in Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts. In 1819, after losing interest in a mercantile career in Troy, New York, he entered the United States Army as a second lieutenant in the 2nd US Infantry Regiment on March 3, 1819. He was promoted to first lieutenant on January 25, 1825.
Sumner's military appointment was facilitated by Samuel Appleton Storrow, Judge Advocate Major on the staff of General Jacob Jennings Brown of the Northern department. (Storrow had previously served as a mentor to Sumner in Boston.) In recognition of their long-standing friendship, Sumner would later name one of his sons Samuel Storrow Sumner.
He married Hannah Wickersham Foster (1804–1880) on March 31, 1822. They had six children together: Nancy, Margaret Foster, Sarah Montgomery, Mary Heron, Edwin Vose Jr., and Samuel Storrow Sumner. His son Samuel was a general during the Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion, and the Philippine-American War. Sumner's daughter, Mary Heron, married General Armistead L. Long in 1860.
Sumner later served in the Black Hawk War and in various Indian campaigns. On March 4, 1833, he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to command B Company, the U.S. Dragoon Regiment (later First US Dragoons), immediately upon its creation by Congress.
In 1838, he commanded the cavalry instructional establishment at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. He was assigned to Ft. Atkinson, Iowa Territory, from 1842 until 1845. He was the fort's commander during most of that period. He was promoted to major of the 2nd Dragoons on June 30, 1846. During the Mexican-American War, Sumner was brevetted for bravery at the Battle of Cerro Gordo (to lieutenant colonel). It was here that he gained the nickname "Bull Head" because of a story about a musket ball that bounced off his head during the battle. At the Molino del Rey he received the brevet rank of colonel. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 1st US Dragoons on July 23, 1848. He served as the military governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1851–53, and was promoted to colonel of the 1st U.S. Cavalry on March 3, 1855.
In 1856 Sumner commanded Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and became involved in the crisis known as Bleeding Kansas. In 1857, as commander of the 1st Cavalry Regiment (1855), he led a punitive expedition against the Cheyenne. and in 1858 he commanded the Department of the West. On January 7, 1861, Sumner wrote to President-elect Abraham Lincoln, advising him to carry a weapon at all times. Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott assigned Sumner as the senior officer to accompany Lincoln from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C., in March 1861.
Civil War Service
In February 1861, Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs was dismissed from the Army for treason by outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan, and on March 12, 1861, Sumner was nominated by the newly inaugurated Lincoln to replace Twiggs as one of only three brigadier generals in the regular army, with date of rank March 16. Sumner was thus the first new Union general created by the secession crisis. He was then sent to replace Brig. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, then in command of the Department of the Pacific in California, and thus took no part in the 1861 campaigns of the war. When Sumner left for California, his son-in-law Armistead Lindsay Long resigned his commission and enlisted with the Confederate Army eventually becoming Robert E. Lee's military secretary and an artillery brigadier general.
In November 1861, Sumner was brought back east to command a division, and on May 5, 1862 he was promoted to major general in the Union Army. When Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan began organizing the Army of the Potomac in March, Sumner was given command of one of its new corps. McClellan had not originally formed corps within the Army; Sumner was selected as one of four corps commanders by President Lincoln, based on his seniority. The II Corps, commanded during the war by Sumner, Darius N. Couch, Winfield Scott Hancock, and Andrew A. Humphreys, had the deserved reputation of being one of the best in the Eastern Theater. Sumner, who was the oldest of the generals in the Army of the Potomac, led his corps throughout the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles.
McClellan originally formed a poor opinion of Sumner during the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. During McClellan's absence, Sumner directed the inconclusive battle, which failed to impede the Confederate withdrawal up the Peninsula, and McClellan wrote to his wife, "Sumner had proved that he was even a greater fool than I had supposed & had come within an ace of having us defeated." At the Battle of Seven Pines, however, Sumner's initiative in sending reinforcing troops across the dangerously rain-swollen Chickahominy River prevented a Union disaster. He received the brevet of major general in the regular army for his gallantry at Seven Pines. Despite this honor, during the Union retreat of the Seven Days, McClellan expressed reluctance to name a second in command during his absences, knowing that Sumner was the most senior corps commander. Sumner was wounded in the arm and hand at the Battle of Glendale. Despite his old-fashioned ideas on discipline and respect for commanding officers, the II Corps troops generally had a positive opinion of him.
In the fall of 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, Sumner was the center of controversy. A morning attack he ordered Brig. Gen. John Sedgwick's division to launch into the West Woods was devastated by a Confederate counterattack; Sedgwick's men were forced to retreat in great disorder to their starting point with over 2,200 casualties. Sumner has been condemned by most historians for his "reckless" attack, his lack of coordination with the other corps commanders, accompanying Sedgwick's division personally and losing control of his other attacking division, failing to perform adequate reconnaissance prior to launching his attack, and selecting an unusual line of battle formation that was so effectively flanked by the Confederate counterattack. Historian M.V. Armstrong's recent scholarship, however, has determined that Sumner did perform appropriate reconnaissance and his decision to attack where he did was justified by the information available to him.
When Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside succeeded to the command of the Army of the Potomac, he grouped the corps in "grand divisions" and appointed Sumner to command the right grand division. In this capacity, the old cavalry soldier took part in the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, in which the II Corps suffered heavy casualties in frontal assaults against fortified Marye's Heights.
Soon afterward, on Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's appointment to command the army, Sumner was relieved at his own request, apparently disillusioned with the quarreling in the army and also thoroughly exhausted. He was reassigned to a new command in Missouri effective in the spring. Before that, Sumner went to his daughter's home in Syracuse, New York to rest. While there, he suffered a heart attack and died on March 21, 1863.
His two sons, Brigadier General Edwin Vose Sumner, Jr. and Major General Samuel S. Sumner, both served in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
Sumner is buried in Section 8, Lot 1 of Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse. Part of the Teall family plot, the gravesite has some structural problems and issues of disrepair. The Onondaga County Civil War Round Table is currently raising funds to repair the grave and the general area.
Extracted from Wikipedia, 26 December 2014


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