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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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Regimental Demographics

The Second Massachusetts had the distinction of recruiting five of its companies from California and the rosters listed 332 men who claimed California as their home state, even though only one (James Watson of Co. A) was actually born there.  Only about 35% of those same volunteers chose to name a hometown in California and most of those who did listed San Francisco. Only one listed Los Angeles.

The bulk of the regiment was made up of men from Massachusetts, the New England States, New York, and California. Most Union and Confederate State volunteer regiments were composed of locally or regionally recruited companies that adopted nicknames that maintained their local identities, but the Second Massí unusual recruiting scheme gave its roster a broader makeup. Nearly all Northern States were represented and there were even recruits from seven of the eleven Confederate States.

In most other ways, the Second was typical of other Volunteer units:

There were six 16 year-olds and one 47 year old (age at enlistment).

The officers ranged in age from 21 to 37 (age at enlistment).

The "professions" listed on the enlistment forms always makes for interesting reading:

Of the officers, Russell listed "gentleman", Fox "civil engineer", Crowninshield "medical student", and Lowell "iron manufacturer".

  • The most common listed were laborer (381), farmer (300), and shoe or boot maker (189).

  • but 263 listed in four nautical categories (boatman, seaman, sailor, or mariner).

  • 252 came from horse related trades (teamster, blacksmith, saddler, harness maker, etc.).

  • There were 4 brewers, 14 bartenders, and 1 clergyman.

  • 31 were bakers, cooks, or confectioners.

  • The 81 miners were a large component of the Hundred and the Battalion.

  • There were 11 cigar makers, 37 butchers and 6 plumbers.

  • 4 were firemen and 39 were soldiers.

  • 7 barbers were complemented by 6 hatters.

  • There were 15 engineers and 47 machinists.

  • There were 6 physicians and 1 veterinarian surgeon.

  • 2 were photographers.

  • 3 were "Morocco Dressers" (?).

  • 12 were "operatives" (?).

  • There was 1 actor, 1 page folder, 1 pickler, 1 sodaman & 1 stair builder.

  • One declared his trade as "traveler."

  • Only nine were students.

  • Only one, a Californian, claimed his profession as rancher.

sources: Civil War Research and Genealogy Database
Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War