Historic California Militia and National Guard Units
Washington Guard
Military Unit Designation:
Date of Organization: October 11, 1862
Date of Disbanding:
April 7, 1866
Inclusive dates of units papers:
Geographical Location or Locations:
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County

Papers on file at the California State Archives:
a. Organization Papers 2 documents (1862)
b. Bonds none
c. Correspondence (Unclassified letters) 27 documents (1862-1867)
d. Election Returns 4 documents (1863-1865)
e. Exempt Certificates, Applications for none
f. Muster Rolls, Monthly returns 9 documents (1862-1866)
g. Oaths Qualifications 7 documents (1862-1863)
h. Orders none
i. Receipts, invoices 1 document (n.d.)
j. Requisitions 2 documents (1862-1866)
k. Resignations 1 document (1863)
l. Target Practice Reports 1 document (1866)
m. Other none

Commanding Officers

 Name  Date of Rank  Date of Commission Remarks
 W. A. Eliason, Captain  11 October 1862 24 October 1862 Reelected 16 January 1864 and 7 January 1865.
 O. J. Baldwin, First Lieutenant  11 October 1862 24 October 1862
 Henry T. Hewitt, First Lieutenant  16 January 1864 9 February 1864   
 Jasper A. Linville, First Lieutenant  7 January 1865 2 February 1865
 Jasper A. Linville, Captain 6 January 1866 20 January 1866 Reelected 1 February 1865
 John A. Barry, First Lieutenant 6 January 1866 20 January 1866  

Official History:
The Washington Guard, Company B, was organized , October 11, 1862, at Santa Rosa , Sonoma County. The commanding officers were W. A. Eliason, Captain and 0 . J . Baldwin, First Lieutenant . The requisition for arms was approved on November 1862 , and the arms and accoutrements were received, December 1st of that year. A year later the first arms and equiplnent were exchanged by the company for more modern ones . Although there was no record on file when the corps changed from Company B to Company A, the Muster Rolls indicate the change occurred in the latter part of 1863 . There was also a reorganization of the company, September 22, 1866.

Santa Rosa was the scene of much strife during the trouble between the settlers known as squatters and the grant miners. The quarreling and bickering between the two factions became intense during the year 1862, and from May until September, civil war was a constant menace. The cause of the trouble was that a grant of eleven leagues of land in the Sonoma Valley, known as the Late Toma Ranch, was made by the Mexican Government in 1844 to Captain Fitch. Captain Fitch died in 1849 leaving the land to be divided among his heir, the value of which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the administrators of the estate exhibited very little business ability, and the money was soon squandered . When the emigrants arrived during the period of 1849 to 1852, a large percentage of them being agriculturists from the Western States settled on the rich land believing the land belonged to the United States and not knowing of the Mexican Grants.
The settlers established homes and improved the land until 1854 when a Mr. Baillache married one of Captain Fitch's daughters and to satisfy the debts of the family Mrs. Fitch sold the property. Mr . Baillache bought the controlling interest and in 1858 in order to avoid the Statute of Limitations, sued the settlers on his ranch. The patent, approved by the Commissioners had been confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1856 . The settlers in retaliation refused to leave the property until the land in dispute had been settled between the minor heirs who were trying to break up the probate sale, contending the terms of their father's will had been broken and titles could not be issued for the property. In August 1862, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Baillache and the squatters immediately went into action to preserve their property despite the law.

The Sheriff was forcibly resisted in serving the warrants to eject the squatters from the land and two companies of the National Guard, Petaluma Guard and Emmet Rifles, were detailed by Special Order No . 27 to assist the Sheriff and his posse in delivering the writs and ejecting the residents. This was accompli shed by September 30, 1862, when the Sheriff discharged the military companies to go back to their usual occupations.

The Washington Guard was organized during this period to be in readiness should a repetition of the disturbances occur. However, no more trouble was experienced along this line and it is assumed the r rapidly decreasing membership of the corps was responsible for the disbandment and mustering out of the Washington Guard, April 7, 1866 . The arms were returned to the State soon after disbandment.

Despite the notation in the Historical Record [1] which stated that the company was mustered out, April 7 , 1866, there is every indication the corps reorganized, September 22nd of that year and remained in service until August 1867. This fact is borne out in a Muster Roll of July 22, 1866, and also a letter from James Armstrong, Commander of First Infantry Battalion, Second Brigade to Major George W. Smiley, Assistant Adjutant General, March 14, 1867, and written from Petaluma, in which the Major stated the company was unable to maintain its organization up to the required standard of the Law and recommended an early disbandment. There is also evidence of a final mustering out in the form of a receipt from the Adjutant General's Office in Sacramento, September 9, 1867, for arms and accoutrements returned to the State by the Washington Guard.

1. Historical Record Second Brigade 1861-1868, Page 251 .
This history was completed in 1940 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