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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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A. K. A. Charles W. Hill

Bill Sellers, a descendant of the below mentioned murder victim, sent in this short bio of one of the Hundred's enlistee's. 

           As a Union lieutenant in 1862, George W. Nash of the 1st Missouri Cavalry ordered William Hill Field, a prominent local plantation owner, from his home in rural mid-Missouri and had him shot because of suspected southern sympathies.  Nash was arrested and tried for murder in mid-July 1862, but fearing conviction, he escaped in the middle of the trial.  The incident caused quite a stir in the St. Louis and Kansas City papers, as it seemed a microcosm of all the anxieties and animosities of Missouri Missouri was equally split between Northern and Southern sympathizers, and guerrilla warfare between the pro-slavery bushwhackers and abolitionist jayhawkers was worse than anywhere in the country.  After his escape, Nash traveled in disguise to California On October 28, 1862, three and a half months after Nash’s flight from Missouri , Nash was one of the first to sign up for the California Hundred at Assembly Hall in San Francisco .  He filled out the necessary forms and easily passed the physical examination.  He gave his name as “Charles W. Hill.”

          After training with the company in California , Massachusetts and Virginia , “Hill” was put up for an officer position in one of the newly formed Massachusetts Colored Regiments.  He wrote to Missouri for a pardon (as George W. Nash) to clear his name and ensure his officer position.  Instead of receiving a pardon, word was sent back of Nash’s deception.  Nash was arrested and delivered as a deserter to Major General Keyes at Fort Yorktown , Virginia on June 18, 1863.  He was discharged from the Massachusetts Cavalry by authority of the Commanding General, Department of Virginia, on June 27, 1863.  On that date he was placed under arrest and forwarded to the Provost Marshal in Washington .  He was soon placed on a train back to Missouri , where he spent one night in jail, and was then dishonorably discharged without resumption of the trial.  After a few years in Indiana , Nash moved to Arizona , where he bounced around various jobs, including lawyer, prospector, teacher, bailiff, and ranch foreman.  He periodically wrote to the government to clear his name and approve his pension applications for his service in Missouri and with the California Hundred, but all such requests were summarily denied.  He disappeared while traveling to his son-in-law’s ranch in 1897. His body was never found.