When the Civil War broke out, most Californians strongly supported the Union. Over 16,000 California residents volunteered to serve in the military from 1861 to 1865. Several hundred of these men fought in the great Civil War battles along the East Coast.
Most of these soldiers, though, served in California and throughout the western United States, filling the void left when President Lincoln recalled the regular army to fight the Southern secessionists. California’s militia volunteers established forts and guarded mail routes across a vast stretch of territory as far north as Canada, as far south as Mexico, and as far east as Texas.
In addition to securing the western United States, California’s citizens provided Lincoln and the Union with substantial financial support. The state’s great mineral wealth allowed for money in the form of taxes and private contributions to flow steadily to the war efforts in the east, including relief organizations such as the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
Identification Information: Russain River Rifles, Militia Companies Records, Military Department.