California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Union Guard
(Gatling Battery) (San Francisco County)
Gatling Gun at Capitola, circa 1876

Official Name:
Location: San Francisco, San Francisco County
Mustered in: May 27, 1861
Reconstituted: June 1, 1881 (1)
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1881
Geographical Location or Locations: San Francisco City & County

Papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers none
b. Bonds none
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 41 documents (1861-1880)
d. Election Returns 24 documents (1861-1880)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 69 documents (1861-1880)
g. Oaths Qualifications 389 documents (1862-1880)
h. Orders 48 documents (1878-1881)
i. Receipts, invoices 14 documents (1863-1880)
j. Requisitions 14 documents (1861-1880)
k. Resignations 7 documents (1861-1880)
l. Target Practice Reports 13 documents (1866-1880)
m. Other
Public Property, 1 document (1868)
Rules and Regulations, 2 documents (1880)
Report of Inspection, 1 document (1880)
Commanding Officers
 Name  Date of Rank  Date of Commission  Remarks
 William R Gorham, Captain  May 27, 1861  June 27, 1861  
 James E Nuttman, First Lieutenant  May 27, 1861  June 27, 1861  
 William R Gorham, Captain      Reelected January 7, 1863
 Samuel D. Simmons, First Lieutenant January 17, 1863  February 3, 1863  
 William R Gorham, Captain      Reelected December 2, 1863
 Samuel D. Simmons, First Lieutenant  Reelected December 2, 1863
 Samuel D. Simmons, Captain  December 8, 1864  December 11, 1864  Resigned August 15, 1866
Peter B. Quinlan, First Lieutenant  December 6, 1864  December 11, 1864  
 D.A. Gorley, Captain  August 15, 1866  October 29, 1866 Resigned September 24, 1867
 Peter B. Quinlan, First Lieutenant    Reelected August 15, 1866
 Harvey Lake, Captain  September 24, 1867  October 3, 1867  Reelected February 7, 1871
 Peter B. Quinlan, First Lieutenant    Reelected September 24, 1867, February 7, 1871
 Peter B. Quinlan, Captain  February 20, 1872  March 6, 1872
 Alfred J. Fritz, First Lieutenant  February 24, 1872  March 6, 1872  
 John Mason, Captain  April 21, 1874  May 4, 1874  
 Alfred J. Fritz, First Lieutenant      Reelected April 21, 1874
Alfred J. Fritz, Captain January 18, 1876 January 29, 1876 Reelected February 5, 1878
Prentice M. Clarkson, First Lieutenant January 18, 1876 January 29, 1876 Resigned August 15, 1876
 Peter B. Quinlan, First Lieutenant  September 19, 1876  October 6, 1876  Reelected October 5, 1878
 John C. Murphy, Captain  July 12, 1881  August 9, 1881  
 John G. Noonan, First Lieutenant  December 14, 1880  January 10, 1881  
 Samuel D. Simmons, Captain  June 17, 1884  July 19, 1884  
 Vincent Hallowell. First Lieutenant  April 14, 1883  April 27, 1883  

Union Guard dress uniform, circa 1870.The Union Guard was organized in San Francisco on May 27, 1861. Their first Captain, William R. Gorham, was an experienced and accomplished officer having had previous service in the California Militia. James E. Nuttman was elected as First Lieutenant. The unit immediately became one of the largest companies in the State. In 1862, this unit had furnished one Captain, James P. Hyde, for Company B, First Infantry Battalion, California Militia, and two Captains as well as other members for the California Volunteers during the War of the Rebellion. It was reported that the organization of the company was the result of the City of San Francisco having purchased a light piece of artillery and having no department that could satisfactorily handle the arms without extra financial aid.(2)

Among the first public activities of the Union Guard was the participation of the company in the Inauguration of Governor F. F. Low in December 1863. At the ceremony the Union Guard fired the salute in honor of the Governor.(3)

On December 9, 1875, the entire Second Brigade took part in a parade in honor of the arrival of the new Gatling Guns. To climax the affair, a reception was held at the Mechanics Pavilion, San Francisco. The four Gatling Guns were temporarily assigned to the Union Guard at that time. On July 1, 1878, by Special Order the four Gatling Guns were permanently assigned to that company; and the unit was detached from the Second Infantry Regiment and redesignated Union Guard. Company A, Gatling Battery.(4) At that time neither the United States nor any State Militia company had given any place in their organization to the Gatling or Machine Guns. The foresight of the leaders of the California Militia in giving a place in the militia to this very efficient arm of destruction has been demonstrated time after time, and today, sixty years after that reception, the Machine Gun, greatly improved, is one of the deadliest weapons of war.

On July 3, 1876, a Field Day was held at the Presidio in San Francisco. The entire Second Brigade participated in the celebration of the.One Hundredth Anniversary of the Independence of our country. Evolutions of the Brigade and the sham battle that was staged at that time were witnessed by the Commander- in-Chief, Major General, and Staff, and over thirty thousand spectators. On the day following, July Fourth, the entire Brigade paraded in what was a very elaborate procession that fittingly observed that momentous day of a hundred years before, when fires of patriotism burning in the hearts of our forefathers led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One year later the Second Brigade of which the Union Guard was a unit again participated in an elaborate parade in which citizens also took part.

On July twenty-third to twenty-ninth of 1876, the Union Guard with the other units of the Brigade was placed under arms at the request of the authorities of San Francisco, during the rioting of certain elements of the working class against the Chinese, especially the so-called "Coolie" laborer. While the Chinese were greatly intimidated, much of their property destroyed, and warned by the whites to return to China, the troops were not called into action until the evening of the seventh day when they patrolled the streets and restored order and peace. The next morning the Brigade was dismissed from further active duty.

The Brigade Inspector reported that the Union Guard kept its enrollment to the full amount allowed by law (149) and that at one inspection held in 1877, Captain Fritz commanding the unit, sent to Nevada for one of his Sergeants who as absent on leave, in order that he might be able to report one hundred per cent attendance.(5)

On June 1, 1881, when the Second Infantry Regiment was redesignated as the Second Artillery Regiment, Second Brigade, the Union Guard was attached to the new organization and was designated as Company A, Second Artillery Regiment, Second Brigade.(6)
1. Adjutant General Report, 1881-1882, General Order No. 11, page 81
2. Sacramento Union, December 1, 1863, page 3, column 1. .
3. Sacramento Union, December 11, 1863, page 3, column 1.
4. Adjutant General Report 1877-1878, page 67.
5. Adjutant General Report 1877-1676, page 73.
6. Adjutant General Report 1881-1882. General Order No. 11, page 81.
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