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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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Sgt. Robert H. Williams

Read some letters from Sergeant Williams
(click here)

William's cap reads "CAL BAT"

"Promoted to Orderly Sergt. April 1st, 1863. I have been in one fight at Ashby Gap, we lost one Lieut Norcross & one Private Prisoners & two killed, ten wounded. Lieut. Smith shot five Rebs. I have not time to write more. We are all the time on the march. my respects to all enquiring friends. R. H. Williams."

Robert H. Williams mustered into Co. F of the 2nd Mass Cavalry after enlisting on January 30, 1863 at the age of 22. He was originally from Madison, New York but resided in California when the Civil War began and was working as a painter. He was promoted to Orderly Sergeant on April 1, 1863 and to Sergeant major on January 25, 1864. 

The skirmish mentioned took place July 12-20, 1863 and involved a detachment of the 2nd Mass Cavalry and Robertson's North Carolina Cavalry.  The two men killed were Walter S. Barnes (Co. E) and Harry P. Irving (Co. E). Eight wounded were Richard T. Brickley (Co. E), William De Forrest (Co. M, badly wounded in the head), James M. Hawkins (Co. L), Maurice Joy (Co. E), William H. Moore (Co E), Albert Perry (Co E.), Sylvanus H. Shaw (Co. E), John W. smith (Co. E). The four prisoners were John C. Norcross (exchanged and later promoted to Captain), Thomas Garrity, Roswell R. Smith (died at Libby Prison) and Dewitt C. Van Vleet. The Smith mentioned was Lt. Rufus W. Smith, Co. F, prior to his promotion to Captain of Co. A.


Veteran Williams
Robert Henry Williams was born in 1840 in Earlville, NY, one of seven children.  His family moved west to Wisconsin in 1849.

With his Father's financial assistance, Williams joined the Pikes Peak gold rush in 1859 by joining a wagon train comprised of a few neighbors. He returned home with very little, if any, gold.  He wrote a diary of his experiences on that expedition.

In March of 1861 Robert traveled to California and resided at various places working as a house painter.  His residence at enlistment was Pasadena.  He was mustered out on 4 Aug 1865 and returned to his parents' home in Delavan, Wisconsin where he married.  He and his wife had four children. He died in Pasadena in 1904 and is buried in Altadena.

---Biographical information courtesy of Dennis Case Brown, a descendant.