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Civil War Antiques

The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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Bear Flag Volunteers Go Off to War

In 1862, an advertisement for volunteers for a company of cavalry appeared in a San Francisco newspaper. The response was so overwhelming that hundreds had to be turned away.

Many Patriotic young men on the West Coast had followed the War in the newspapers and were anxious for a chance to join in the fight. But, they knew that if they joined a California State unit, they would be stationed in the West, fighting Indians, guarding commerce trails, or doing garrison duty.

In the late summer of 1862, a group of Californians, all originally from the East Coast, had contacted Governor Andrews of Massachusetts and proposed to raise one hundred volunteers to form a separate company in a cavalry regiment that was being raised in Massachusetts. The Governor agreed with the condition that the Californians would provide their own uniforms and equipment. Officially they became company A of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, but were more popularly know as the "California Hundred".

The Californians used their enlistment bounty to pay for their passage and set off aboard the Golden Age by sea from San Francisco, December 1, 1862. At the Isthmus of Panama they debarked, transited the Isthmus by rail, then boarded the Ocean Queen for the eastern seaboard. The men arrived at Camp Meigs, Readville, Mass. on January 4, 1863. After spending several weeks of basic training at Camp Meigs, the Company was transported to Fortress Monroe, Va. and placed on active duty at Gloucester Point on February 22, 1863.

This first contingent was so appreciated that it was followed by 400 more California volunteers. They arrived at Camp Meigs during March and April of 1863 and soon after receiving their basic training joined Company A and the rest of the 2nd Mass. Cavalry as Companies E, F, L, and M. This second group of Californians were known as the "California Battalion".

Recommended reading.  Three talented and dedicated historians have written new histories of this site's regiment.  By no coincidence, these same authors have been major contributors to this site.  Please consider buying all three, as each has its own perspective and treasure trove of fascinating stories.  (For first hand answers about these books, their email addresses can be found below)

bookcover.jpg (36687 bytes)  California Sabers, The Second Massachusetts in the Civil War by James McLean.  Available from and in bookstores.

ParsonCover.jpg (18101 bytes)  Bear Flag and Bay State: The Californians of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry by Thomas Parson Available October 17th 2001.  Available from

RogersCover.jpg (18725 bytes)  Their Horses Climbed Trees by Larry Rogers & Keith Rogers.  Available October 2001 at

Visit Drum Barracks and it's Second Massachusetts Special Exposition

These pages are dedicated to these Californians and the following roll of contributors welcomes those who wish to add their names and knowledge to this Reference Site.

Last updated:  08/09/18