California State Milita and National Guard Unit Histories
Vallejo Rifles
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: 8 September 1861
Date of Disbanding:
7 April 1885.
Geographical Location or Locations: Vallejo, Solano County.
Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1885
b. Organization Papers 5 documents (1861)
c. Bonds none
d. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 82 documents (1861-1883)
e. Election Returns 11 documents (1862-1870)
f. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
g. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 161 documents (1861-1885)
h. Oaths Qualifications 200 documents (1866-1885)
i. Orders 25 documents (1879-1881)
j. Receipts, invoices 24 documents (1861-1884)
k. Requisitions 7 documents (1861-1882)
l. Resignations 11 documents (1863-1883)
m. Target Practice Reports 18 documents (1867-1884)
n. Other Report of Inspection, 2 documents (1880-1884)
o. Public Property, 2 documents (1867-1868), and Dishonorable Discharge, 1 document (1880)
Commanding Officers:

John Frisbie [1], Captain: Elected 6 September 1861, commissioned 28 September 1861
John s. King, First Lieutenant: Elected 6 September 1861, commissioned 28 September 1861

Frank Drake, Captain: Elected 12 October 1862, commissioned 29 October 1862
L. W. Bean , First Lieutenant: Elected 12 October 1862, commissioned 29 October 1862

James H. K. Barbour, Captain: Elected 16 May 1863, commissioned 12 June 1863
C. S. Campbell, First Lieutenant: Elected 16 May 1863, commissioned 12 June 1863

William J. Sargent, Captain: Elected 21 September 1864, commissioned 27 September 1864, reelected 1865
Thomas Rodgers, First Lieutenant: Elected 21 September 1864, commissioned 27 September 1864, reelected 1865

Dexter W. Hildreth, Captain: Elected 21 September 1866, commissioned 27 September 1866
Thomas Rodgers, First Lieutenant, Reelected 21 September 1866

James H. K. Barbour, Captain: elected 1867, Reelected 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1871
Thomas Rodgers, First Lieutenant: Reelected 1867
William I. Sargent, First Lieutenant Elected 5 December 1866, commissioned 14 December 1868, reelected 1869
Henry S. Craven, First Lieutenant: Elected 16 November 1870, commissioned 9 December 1870 and 1871

William York, Captain: Elected 16 October 1872, commissioned 18 November 1872 reelected 1873
Thomas H. Lawler, First Lieutenant: Elected 30 April 1872, commissioned 26 April 1872,
Thomas Rodgers, First Lieutenant: Reelected 1873

Frank O'Grady, Captain: Elected 5 May 1874, commissioned 9 May 1874, reelected 1875, 1876, 1877, 1879 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883 and 1884 [2]
Thomas Rodgers, First Lieutenant: Reelected 5 May 1874, 1875, 1876
Thomas P. McDonald, First Lieutenant: 11 April 1877, commissioned 15 May 1877, reelected 1879, 1880, 1881 and 1882
Richard Colman, First Lieutenant: Elected 27 June 1883, reelected 1884
Official History

In August 1861, at Vallejo, Solano County, notices were posted informing citizens who wished to enroll in a volunteer company, to attend a meeting Saturday, September 7, 1861. At this meeting the officers were duly elected and the unit was designated as the Vallejo Rifles, with headquarters at Vallejo. The Adjutant General spoke of the new organization as being well officered and equipped; and commented highly on the company's Captain, J. B. Frisbie being promoted to Brigadier General.

Through an error the Board of Examiners under the military Law of 1866, recommended the Vallejo Rifles be disbanded. However, the Captain sent in a petition to the authorities with the information that the Vallejo Rifles, which had been ordered to remain in force, bad really been out of service for a number of years. This petition was signed by seventy-three citizens. He called attention to the fact, his company had been instrumental in quelling the Secessionists in Solano County, and forcing the Indians to remain law abiding. This action resulted in the reorganization of the Vallejo Rifles, September 17, 1866, with sixty-one men enrolled as members. On August 27, 1870, the Vallejo Rifles were ordered to be attached to the Second Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade with rank and designation of Company F, to fill a vacancy that existed in that regiment.[3] The company remained in the Second Infantry Regiment until August 22, 1872, when it became unattached.
Through an error in 1877, thirty-six sets of the equipment belonging to the Vallejo Rifles were returned to the State Armory. The mistake occurred when the McClelland Guard,who shared armory quarters with the Vallejo Rifles, was disbanded and the equipment was thought to be that of the disbanded unit.

The unit attended different encampments during its existence and made a fine showing, particularly as the ranks were composed of men of large stature. There was a great deal of competition among the different companies, and at these outings the unit achieved the goal that their superior officers desired, that of overcoming the monotony of every day army routine and reviving the corps's interest in military skill and efficiency. Under Captain Hildreth's command company drill was held every week and much interest was exhibited in the unit's improvement. The discipline was also excellent and strict adherence to rules
was necessary. Four privates were dishonorably discharged for non-attendance at three consecutive drills without the proper excuse.

During the early [eighteen] eighties, the rifle unit was asked to appear in full dress uniform on the Fourth of July and other holiday parades. On one of these occasions, the guard was engaged in escort duty, and at another time the unit was called upon to take part in a memorial service for President Garfield .

In accordance with the Legislative Act of 1881, which curtailed the amount of appropriation, the number of companies in the State Service were reduced. The Vallejo Rifles was affected by this reorganization and was attached to the Fifth Infantry Battalion, and designated Company D, Fifth Infantry Battalion, Second Brigade , March 22, 1882.[4]
1. Captain Frisbie was promoted to Brigadier- General commanding the Second Brigade , Fifth Division, November 14, 1861. General Frisbie continued to command the Vallejo Rifles notwithstanding his promotion. Adjutant General Report 1861, page 131.
2. Captain O'Grady resigned, June 14, 1884 and requested to be put on the retired list with rank as Captain.
3. Adjutant General Report 1870-1871, pages 82, 108.
This history was prepared in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the Office of the Adjutant General and the California State Library
Vallejo Rifles and Frisbie Guards
By Mark J. Denger
One of Vallejo's early National Guard units, Frisbie Guards in 1876. Pictured here are, left to right, front row, Alex Hichborn, lieutenant; Frank O'Grady, captain, and Louis Hardy, sergeant; back row, William Fraser, color sergeant, and William Hall, corporal. (Vallejo Historical Society)
Two highly competitive military organizations –the Vallejo Rifles and the Frisbie Guards –added color to the early days of Vallejo during the eighteen sixties and seventies, while their social events, their Summer outings and annual balls, were important on the city's social calendar.
The Vallejo Rifles, organized in 1862 as a company of the California National Guard, met with competition a few years later when the Frisbie Guards were formed, under the personal sponsorship of General John B. Frisbie.
General Frisbie had served as a Captain in Company H, New York Volunteers during the Mexican War of 1847. Born in 1823, he was a lawyer, politician, and militia officer in N.Y. After leaving the military service, Frisbie moved to California where he was a candidate for lieutenant governor of California in 1849; married the daughter of General Vallejo; and became a prominent business man in the town of Vallejo, interested in the building of railroads, president of a bank, and a man of considerable wealth. He was also a member of the state legislature in 1867.

The Vallejo Rifles originally were uniformed in the regular Army uniform of the day, but later adopted a costume of blue swallow-tail coat, matching military pants with white stripes, and high, black bearskin shakos. Captain John T. Barbour, a former corporal in Company B, California Battalion, stationed on the Mare Island Navy Yard, was elected as the first captain of the Vallejo Rifles.

Captain John T. Barbour migrated from New York to California with his wife Nancy in 1846. In 1847 settled at Benicia, where he built several houses, being in the lumber business with his father-in-law Landy Alford.

Not to be outdone sartorially, the Frisbie Guard, with the financial backing of General Frisbie, sported blue frock coats, red trousers and hats heavily bedecked with white plumes. Captain C. O. Ferris headed the Frisbie Guards, with First Lieutenant James Cluney, Second Lieutenant William McGill, and a membership of about seventy-five.

The rivalry between these two militia units were keen –in military perfection, in uniforms, and rivalry as to which unit staged the most successful social events.

The first meeting place for the Vallejo Rifles was old Farragut Hall, with their armory later established on Sacramento street in downtown Vallejo. The armory was later occupied by the Elks Club and the Salvation Army. The unit's headquarters were later moved to the Bernard House, where extensive rooms were equipped for their meetings and social activities.

Social events were supplemented by drills and target practice.

The Vallejo Rifles reorganized into Company B and later into Company D, California National Guard. Company B was first headed by Frank O'Grady as captain, Richard Coleman as first lieutenant, and C. D. McConley as second lieutenant.

One of the momentous events in the Vallejo Rifles' history was the visit of General U. S. Grant to Vallejo in 1880, when the uniformed company received him in their Bernard House headquarters. Every member of the Vallejo Rifles received a handshake from the distinguished visitor.
Muster Rolls
7 September 1861:
7 September 1864:
9 September 1872:
9 September 1873:
9 September 1876:
9 September 1879:
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Updated 8 February 2016