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Reference Items
California In The Civil War
3rd Model Burnside Carbine

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This Burnside carbine is in good condition showing moderate use and saddle wear. It exhibits characteristics typical of a 3rd model Burnside whose manufacture took place in 1862. The hammer has a long nose with a vertical thumb spur as seen on the 1st and 2nd model Burnsides, and not the typical "S" shape found on 4th models.

The forestock is small in size and tapered at its front. The release clip for the falling breechblock is the slender variety typical of the 2nd model Burnside, yet it is hinged like the 4th models. All parts are original to the gun and all serial numbers are correctly placed and matching. The patina on all metal is consistent, and conforms to the usage and wear on the stocks. Some faded case color remains on the receiver. Of particular note are the markings on the cheek side of the buttstock. Stamped in 1/8" high letters is "1862." Below those markings in 5/16" high uppercase letters, is stamped "CAL 100" with "53" in ¼" high letters. Close examination indicates that these letters are contemporary to the era of manufacture of the carbine. The lockplate is marked "Burnside Rifle Co/Providence, R.I." Forward of the breechblock, the top of the frame is marked "Burnside Patent/March 25TH/1856" and serial number 10198 which appears on both the receiver and the breechblock. The same serial number is stamped on the underside of the trigger tang, inside the lockplate, under the breech tang plate, under the top of the buttplate and in the wood on the forward end of the buttstock. Significant wear appears on the opposite side of the buttstock, and at its heel near the buttplate. The carbine received some type of force across its center, creating a stress in the buttstock along the tang, reaching to the comb of the stock.

Members of the Cal Hundred were known to have been issued a mix of Burnside and Sharps carbines in late 1862 and early 1863. A Model 1859 Sharps carbine of the same vintage has been seen with nearly identical Call 100 markings on its buttstock.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-222

Francis Washburn - 4th Mass Cavalry

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Francis Washburn, a shavetail aristocrat from Boston, enlisted as a lieutenant with the 1st Mass Cavalry in January, 1862. He proved a capable leader, and a willing combatant. After an additional stint with the 2nd Mass Cavalry, he received a Lt. Colonel's commission with the new 4th Mass Cavalry in early 1864 and served in General Sheridan's cavalry command in the last year of the war.

By April 6, 1865, the war had entered its final hours. Robert E. Lee was racing for Virginia’s Southside Rail line that would unite him with much needed supplies. And Sheridan was racing to beat him there. Control of river crossings was critical and Washburn was sent to hold High Bridge, a long railroad trestle near Appomattox Court House. Near the bridge, his small command made an impetuous charge against a much larger Confederate cavalry force and was destroyed. Washburn was shot, then sabered, and died from his wounds. But his furious fight which was opened against overwhelming odds caused Lee to believe he had a more substantial force at his front and temporarily brought him to a hault. This action gave the Union forces just enough time to close their grasp on the Rebel army. It also launched Washburn into Massachusetts history. The following day, Lee surrendered.

A few of Washburn’s possessions were retained by his family. The items include: a CDV standing image of him with his saber, kepi, gauntlets and his greatcoat resting on a chair beside him; his wool blanket with F.W. cross stitched into the fabric; a 7½” X 9” albumen print in its original frame, depicting the officer’s corps of the 2nd Mass Cav (Washburn is 2nd from left, wearing a slouch hat. His handwriting on the back names those pictured); a small book titled "Morrison’s Stranger’s Guide and Etiquette to Washington City”; and the brass spurs he wore at High Bridge, the rowel of one having been shot off during the action.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-182

Inscribed Saber - Charles Roberts

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Charles Roberts, originally from New Brunswick, enlisted with the Cal Battalion in 1863 at San Francisco. His company became Co. F of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry. Charles kept a journal for much of the early period of his military service, providing a valuable chronicle of the actions of the Californians who went east to fight.

Among Roberts’ effects are this inscribed M1860 light cavalry saber with A.G.M. inspector's marks and 1865 date at its ricasso. The scabbard has been nickel plated and is inscribed at the throat "Chas Roberts, Cal Cav Bat, 1862 - 1865", probably accomplished after the war. The saber is in original and untouched condition. The blade shows little wear and has not been sharpened. The leather grip is intact and excellent with its original wire wrap.

Joining the saber are several promotion documents including the pictured certificate attesting to his promotion to Sergeant of Company F on March 1, 1864. It bears the signatures of the Regimental Adjutant, C. Mason Kinne, also a Californian. The commanding officer is Lt. Col. Caspar Crowninshield who led the regiment at the time, Colonel Charles R. Lowell having been given command of the brigade.

Also shown is Roberts’ reunion silk ribbon, the only one we have seen of its kind, and apparently given as a souvenir during the 1886 reunion in San Francisco.

On October 19, 1864 Roberts was wounded in the thigh during a saber charge against Confederate infantry at Cedar Creek, Virginia. Recovering from his wound, he rejoined the regiment in early 1865 and remained with them to witness the final struggle leading to Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Charles returned to California and lived in Oakland. He married Catherine Degau in San Francisco on 14 July 1866, almost a year after his discharge.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-177

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

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