California Militia and National Guard Unit Histories
Volcano Blues


Organizational Data

Official Name:

Location: Volcano, Amador County
Mustered in: July 13, 1861; July 8, 1871
Mustered out: May 22, 1868; May 21, 1872
Inclusive dates of units papers: 1861-1872
Geographical Location or Locations: Volcano, Amador County

Unit papers on file at the California State Archives:

a. Organization Papers 1 document (1861)
b. Bonds 3 documents (1864-1871)
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 56 documents (1861-1871)
d. Election Returns 7 documents (1862-1871)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 42 documents (1861-1872)
g. Oaths Qualifications 91 documents (1861-1872)
h. Orders 3 documents (1866-1872)
i. Receipts, invoices 13 documents (1863-1872)
j. Requisitions 5 documents (1861-1871)
k. Resignations none
l. Target Practice Reports 3 documents (1866-1872)
m. Other none
Commanding Officers

 Name  Date of Rank  Date of Commission
Benjamin Ross, Captain
July 13, 1861
 July 24, 1861
Lyman S. Scott, First Lieutenant July 13, 1861  July 24, 1861
James Adams, Captain November 18, 1862  December 5, 1862
Charles Wilson, First Lieutenant November 18, 1862  December 5, 1862
Charles Wilson, Captain January 3, 1865 February 8, 1865
S.J. Murphy, First Lieutenant January 3, 1865 February 8, 1865
S.J. Murphy, Captain April 18, 1866 August 22, 1866
J.E. Stirnaman, First Lieutenant April 18, 1866 August 22, 1866
William F. Spencer, First Lieutenant January 8, 1867 January 19, 1867
James Adams, Captain July 8, 1871 August 7, 1871
John W. Powers, First Lieutenant July 8, 1871 August 7, 1871


Official History

At a meeting held at Volcano, Amador County, July 13, 1861, under the supervision of James M. Porter, a volunteer company of militia was organized known as the Volcano Blues with Captain Benjamin Ross as commander. Amador County was the location of one of California's richest gold fields, and the lure of quick wealth had drawn renegades from all parts of the State to Volcano. With the outbreak of the War of Rebellion, the Volcano Blues not only had the task of aiding the civic authorities in maintaining law and order among these people, but also suppressing any display by the Secessionists in Amador County.

There are no records of any unusual activities concerning this company other than participating in the company drills and brigade encampments. The Volcano Blues made splendid figures on the drill field attired in their uniforms of regulation caps with black trousers and dark blue blouses.

On May 1, 1868, it Was deemed advisable to materially reduce the existing military force for the following reasons: First, the interest of the State did not demand the maintenance of so large a force. Secondly, a number of companies were located far in the interior of the State where it was entirely unnecessary to keep up the organization. Thirdly, the Legislature had reduced the military tax from five cents to one and one quarter cents on the one hundred dollars of the taxable property in the State. Upon the recommendation of Adjutant General James M. Allen, brigadier General Howell, commanding the Fourth.-Brigade, mustered the Volcano Blues out of the service of the State May twenty-second of that year.*

In June 1871 serious disturbances occurred in Amador County. An association of miners 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 for an advance of wages, for 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 association were obnoxious to the proprietors of the mines. The managers refused to accept the rules and regulations of the League which they declared were unreasonable. The League resolved that no work should be carried on except under the desired scale of-prices, and induced all men working in the mines to leave their jobs. The League marched to the mines and with threats of personal violence forced all who were disposed to work to leave their labor o Not satisfied with this act of open violence against law and order, the League demanded that the engineers operating the mines stop pumping water. The engineers through fear of personal violence abandoned their posts and the mines were left to accumulate water. The civil authorities failed to supply a proper remedy to meet the situation and a reign of terror began in Amador County. Armed men paraded the County. No man was permitted to labor and threats were made against all who attempted to work. Strangers arriving and accepting work were driven away, and not only property but life was placed in danger.**

This deplorable situation was finally brought to the attention of Governor Henry Haight. The Governor ordered two companies of militia to leave San Francisco for Amador County, for active service in the suppression of violence and maintaining law and order. The two San Francisco companies,the Sumner Light Guard, Company I, and National Guard, Company C, of the 1st Infantry Regiment found upon their arrival that they were unable to cope with the situation and asked for more help.

Upon the recommendation of Brigadier General Howell the old Volcano Blues were mustered back into the service of the State July 8, 1871, with Captain James Adams in command, and through the combined efforts of the militia companies by the first part of 1872 the condition in Amador County was peacefully settled, and. the Volcano Blues were again. mustered out of the State Service May 21,1872.

Although the Volcano Blues had long been disbanded, their loyal and distinguished service to the State and Amador County, had not been forgotten, for in 1934 a fountain was erected in Volcano to commemorate the memory of the Volcano Blues.

*Adjutant General Report, 1867-1869, pages 8, 14-15

**Adjutant General Report, 1870-1871, page 25-31.

This history was compiled by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in conjunction with the California National Guard and the California State Library.
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Updated 8 February 2016