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Reference Items
California In The Civil War
Images of the Californians

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Among the more interesting photographs to survive the Civil War are the CDVs of the Californians who traveled east and fought under the flag of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. Dedicated research has turned up a surprising number of their images, many of which display the bravado that was common among these western volunteers. The jaunty tipping of their hats, their swagger for the camera, or the unique insignia decorations on their kepis all exude the rugged individualism that was their nature.

A few CDVs are displayed here. A more complete library accompanied by biographies is visible at the 2nd Mass Cavalry website hosted by Earl Robinson, at

From left:

William McNeil. San Francisco, age 21, Private, Cal Hundred. Survived the war.

Robert H. Williams. age 22, Private, Co. F, Cal Battalion. Survived the war.

Charles S. Eigenbrodt from Alameda County, age 37, Captain Co. E. Killed in action at Halltown, Va - 25 Aug 1864.

J. Sewall Reed. San Francisco, age 31, one of the founders and Captain of the Cal Hundred, killed in a fight with Mosby’s rangers at Dranesville, Va - 22 Feb 1864.

Joseph H. Burke, Irish born miner, age 27. Private, Co. M. Captured during fight with Mosby at Dranesville, Va. on 22 Feb 1864. Died at Andersonville on 04 July 1864.

Henry H. Fillebrown. San Francisco, age 19. Private, and first volunteer on enlistment roll of the Cal Hundred. Survived the war, but died two years later in San Francisco.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-164

Inscribed sword - Lt. James W. Hepburn

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This is a non-regulation cavalry saber with an inscription on an escutcheon made of gold taken from the California foothills, and attached to the scabbard above the top mount in script letters: "Presented June 1865 to Lieut. James W. Hepburn. By the Citizens of Mokelumne Hill. and Vicinity. As a token of their appreciation of his Services while a Soldier in the Army of the POTOMAC."

The cast brass guard displays a winged eagle surrounded by oak leaves and a panoply of arms and banners. All mountings are cast brass and heavily decorated with eagle and leaf designs. The blade is 35½” and is marked W. Clauberg/Solingen at ricasso with Iron Proof on top and importer’s name "Schuyler Hartley & Graham, New York”. The blade is marked with etched motifs of a swept eagle over E Pluribus Unum banner on one side and "U.S.” with intricate scrolls on the other.

James Hepburn served as a Lieutenant with Company E of in the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, having originated as part of the Cal Battalion out of San Francisco during the winter of 1862/1863. Surviving the war, Hepburn returned to his small town of Mokelumne Hill in the gold country of California. A newspaper account details the ceremonies heralding his arrival and the presentation of the sword on July 5, 1865.  After a long speech from the Mayor, Hepburn made a concise and eloquent expression of gratitude:

 "Gentlemen: The army is a poor school in which to learn the arts of oratory, and I cannot find words to express my feelings of gratitude to my old friends of Mokelumne Hill for their noble gift which you have just presented me. Whatever may be the sum of the services I have rendered to our country in the war which has just closed, and whatever the peril incurred, thousands and hundreds of thousands of others have freely done the same. And in the future we may be sure of this: that our country will ask no service of any of her sons which myriads will not cheerfully volunteer to perform.

For a more complete biography on Lt. Hepburn and additional information on the Cal Hundred and Battalion, please visit the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-157

Cavalry Guidon - Cal Battalion, 2nd Mass Cavalry

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This is the original cavalry guidon flown by Company M of the Cal Battalion who fought under command of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. During their early involvement in the Civil War, they were occupied in pursuit of Confederate ranger John Mosby in the Shenendoah Valley. However, by 1864 the Californians were fighting under Grant and the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Sheridan.

Company M was comprised largely of golden state volunteers whose enlistment bounties paid for their transportation to Massachusetts where they mustered into service. This guidon is in exquisite original condition. Its silk remains fully intact with only a few minor separations. The oil-painted laurel wreath surrounds a block U.S. with a star device and letter C circumscribing a block M in the center. The guidon’s overall dimensions are 30” X 40”. All of its gold fringe is in near perfect condition.

The guidon was one of four flags presented to the Cal Battalion, companies A, B, & C in March of 1863 and D Company in April when they departed San Francisco for the battlefields on the east coast. The presenter was Daniel Norcross, a local masonic regalia supplier. When the four companies arrived in Boston, they were re-designated E, F, L, and M with Company C receiving the "M" designation. The C and M letters are plainly visible in the guidon's center.

Another of the four guidons, flown by Company E is held in the Civil War collection at West Point. It is identical in dimension and pattern, but is absent its gold fringe. The location of the other two flags is lost to history.

For more information on the Californians in the war, visit the excellent website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-132

Slouch Hat - Captain Rufus W. Smith

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Cavalry Officer’s slouch hat identified to Capt. Rufus W. Smith, a member of the California Battalion who fought under the flag of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry during the Civil War. The 2nd Mass. was active in pursuit of John Mosby throughout the hills of Virginia and eventually saw much action in the Eastern Theatre. This slouch hat is in fine condition with minor mothing on crown. The felt is thick and supple with wide red Russian leather interior band, brittle but original to the hat. Black cotton cockade fastener to ostrich plume with woven acorns on hat chord. Cavalry insignia sewn on front with silver "2" for 2nd Mass. Identified with period ink on inside of band, to Capt. R.W.Smith, being Rufus W. Smith whose military records accompany the hat.

Captain Smith was mortally wounded leading his cavalry company on a charge at Cedar Creek, Va. in 1864 at the approximate age of 30. Originally from Maine, Smith was a member of the California Light Guard when in San Francisco, and resigned to join Captain Eigenbrodt's Company E of the California Battalion. After the death of J. Sewall Reed, founding officer and captain of the storied Cal 100, Captain Smith was appointed to succeed Reed. Captain Smith was mortally wounded during a saber charge against Confederate infantry at Cedar Creek, Virginia on October 19, 1864. For more information on the Californians in the war, visit the excellent website hosted by Earl Robinson at

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-122

Inscribed Colt Army revolver - Nate Fogg, 2nd Mass

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.44 cal Colt Army pistol with a silver escutcheon in the left grip, in fine original condition. Its original wood grips retain the inspector's cartouche and a silver escutcheon with the inscribed name "Nate Fogg".  

Nate Fogg enlisted from California, with Company L of the Cal Battalion, who eventually fought under the flag of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.   The troopers in the 2nd Mass Cav were primarily issued .44 caliber Colts as their service pistol.  Corporal Fogg was wounded in a fight with Mosby's rangers at Mount Zion Church, near Aldie, Virginia on July 6, 1864. He recovered from his wounds and returned to the regiment, witnessing the conclusion of the Civil War at Appomattox Court House. At war's end, government muster records indicate that Corporal Fogg purchased his Colt revolver and saber from the army for $11.00, keeping them, no doubt, as mementos of his wartime service. In the ensuing years, Fogg never returned to California, but worked as a carpenter and with electricity in Indiana, Ohio and Massachusetts. He finally settled in Florida and ran a large fruit growing operation until his death in 1916.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-106

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