Santa Clara County History

History of Santa Clara County


Santa Clara County During the Civil War--Many Companies Formed--Confederate Sympathizers Take to Robbery--The Fight on the New Almaden Road--Excitement Over the Death of Abraham Lincoln.

Santa Clara County was loyal during the Civil War, which opened in 1861. It furnished both money and men to the Union cause. Many thousands of dollars were contributed and placed at the disposal of the Sanitary Commission, and more volunteer soldiers were tendered than were required. The majority of the volunteers were either retained in the state or sent to Arizona and New Mexico. There was no draft ever ordered in California to secure her proportion of troops, while there was always a reserve of volunteers, organized under the state laws, more than sufficient for any emergency that might arise. California was far from the center of government, with a long line of exposed seacoast which, in case of foreign complications, was subject to attack. For this reason it was necessary that the great bulk of the population should remain at home for self-protection. Many men went to San Francisco and other cities, not being able to enlist at home on account of the filling of the quota. Some enlisted in the California Battalion. Two San Joseans, W. H. Lawrence and George W. Lee, joined the battalion and were prisoners in Andersonville. Mr. Lawrence is still a resident of the city. Mr. Lee removed to Santa Cruz in 1919. Other members from Santa Clara County were Abe Withrow and Warren Wood of Santa Clara, and James Hacket of San Jose.

Of those who enlisted in San Jose. there is record of the following:

San Jose Volunteers, afterwards Company C, First Regiment, Infantry. Organized in San Jose, June 21, 1861, as follows: H. A. Gorley, captain; John Martin, first lieutenant; D. C. Vestal, second lieutenant; S. C. Thomas, third lieutenant; M. Pulaski, first sergeant; J. H. Murphy, second sergeant: Edgar Pomeroy, third sergeant; T. J. Cuiston, third sergeant; John Mulholland, first corporal; W. M. Owen, second corporal; David Downer, third corporal; Randolph Leavenworth, fourth corporal. The celebration of the Fourth of July in that year was marred by a painful accident whereby Gorley, Martin and Ed Morton were injured while firing a national salute. The company was reorganized as veterans at Las Cruces, N. M., November 29, 1864. During the war there were many desperate engagements with Indians. Lieutenant Vestal, with his company, assisted in the capture of the notorious Showalter and his band. The company, while in the desert, marched over 2,000 miles.

Second Regiment, Infantry--Organized November 29, 1861. The Santa Clara County men in this regiment were generally credited to Mayfield. T. C. Winchell was adjutant; Montgomery Maze (afterwards a searcher of records in San Jose), was second lieutenant of Company A and C. P. Fairfield was first lieutenant of Company I.

Third Regiment, Infantry--Organized in 1861. Served in Utah and Colorado. J. C. Merrill was captain of Company B. There were Santa Clara County men in Companies D, E and G. William J. Colahan, deceased, was in Company G.

Eighth Regiment, Infantry--Company C was organized in San Jose in 1864. After being mustered in, the regiment was stationed at Fort Point, California.

First Battalion of Mountaineers--Organized in 1862. Served in the mountain campaigns against the hostile Indians in California and Nevada. George W. Owsley was captain of Company B.

First Cavalry Regiment--Company E organized in August, 1861. Served in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Engaged against the Kiowa, Comanche, Navajo and Apache Indians. There were also Santa Clara men in Companies I and L of this regiment.

First Battalion of Native Cavalry--Company A was organized in 1863 by Captain J. R. Pico. Served in California and Arizona. The battalion was composed mainly of native Californians.

In addition to the foregoing troops, the following organizations were held for state service:

First Regiment, Cavalry--Company E: H. M. Leonard, captain; E. Vandyne, first lieutenant; D. J. Burnett, second lieutenant; H. C. Morrell, Jr., third lieutenant. Sixty men in the company, all armed.

Company I, Burnett Light Horse Guard--J. R. Hall, captain; P. Henry, first lieutenant; J. Chrisman, senior second lieutenant; A. J. Fowler, junior second lieutenant. Fifty men in the company, all armed.

Company K, New Almaden Cavalry--L. F. Parker, captain; J. P. Dudley, first lieutenant; H. H. Curtis, senior second lieutenant; A. F. Foster, junior second lieutenant. Forty men in the company, all armed.

National Light Artillery--S. O. Houghton, captain; C. T. Henley, first lieutenant; Jacob Weigant, junior first lieutenant; N. B. Edwards, senior second lieutenant; Edward Ladd, junior second lieutenant.

Fifth Regiment, Infantry--A. Jones Jackson, colonel; A. B. Rowley, lieutenant-colonel; J. Porter, major; J. O. Wanzer, adjutant; Chas. N. Senter, regimental quartermaster; A. J. Cory, surgeon.

Company A, Union Guard--Chas. P. Crittenden, captain; E. J. Morton, first lieutenant; George Evans, senior second lieutenant; N. Klein, junior second lieutenant. Sixty men, armed with rifles.

Company B, San Jose Zouaves--A. W. White, captain; M. Campbell, first lieutenant; F. B. Fuller, senior second lieutenant; W. T. Adel, junior second lieutenant. Eighty men, armed with rifle muskets.

Company C, Alviso Rifles--Thatcher F. Barnes, captain; John Root, first lieutenant; Edward W. Williams, senior second lieutenant; Charles E. Morrison, junior second lieutenant. Sixty men, armed with rifle muskets.

Company E, Gilroy Guards--John H. Adams, captain; William O. Barker, first lieutenant; William Van Gundy, junior second lieutenant. Forty men, armed with rifle muskets.

Company H, Santa Clara Guard--William H. Swope, first lieutenant; W. H. Menton, senior second lieutenant; A. F. Harlow, junior second lieutenant. Sixty men, armed with rifle muskets.

Johnson Guard, unattached--John M. Murphy, captain; N. B. Edwards, first lieutenant; J F. Faulkner, senior second lieutenant; P. W. Riordan, junior second lieutenant. Fifty men, armed with muskets.

In 1864 a company of men, representing the Confederate government, was organized for the purpose of raising money for the Confederate cause by robbing stages and banks in California. Several recruits were obtained in Santa Clara County. In May of that year two Wells-Fargo stages were stopped near Placerville by this band, then under the command of Ralph Henry, alias Ingraham. He gave a receipt for the several hundred pounds of bullion taken from the stages, stating that he was acting for Jefferson Davis. A day or two after the robbery Deputy Sheriff Staples of El Dorado County came upon the gang in a house in the mountains, and without sufficient assistance attempted to arrest them. He was killed in the attempt. A man named Poole was wounded in the fight and captured. The other members of the band escaped. The captive made a confession, in which he named the members of the gang.

On the night of Thursday, July 14, between nine and ten o'clock, three men called at the house of a Mr. Hill on the New Almaden road, a few miles from San Jose, and asked permission to stay overnight, stating that they were looking for some friends who would pass that way. Mr. Hill directed them to an unoccupied building close by, saying that if they could put up with such poor accommodation they were welcome to the use of it. The three men remained in the building all night and all the next day. Thinking that the actions of the men were rather suspicious, Hill came to San Jose and told his story to the officers. Sheriff John H. Adams at once organized a posse, consisting of Deputy Sheriffs G. W. Reynolds, Fred Morris and J. M. Brownlee, Marshal Potter, Constable Scott and Citizens Senter, Wiles, Bowman and Gould, and proceeded to the Hill ranch. They arrived at night. The building was surrounded and Sheriff Adams, in a loud voice, commanded the three men to come out and surrender. But the men, who were members of the Ingraham gang, had resolved to sell their lives dearly. Rushing out, they commenced firing at the officers. During the fusillade John Creal, one of the robbers, received three bullet wounds, either of which would have caused his death. He was brought to San Jose and died an hour after his arrival. Ab. Gillespie, or Glasby, another of the trio, had the handle of his pistol shot away, his clothes were perforated with bullets, but no wound was inflicted. He was soon overpowered and handcuffed. John Clendennin, the third robber, after firing twice point-blank at Sheriff Adams, and receiving a settler in return, jumped over a fence and fled in the direction of The Willows, where he was found about midnight, in a dying condition, by Under Sheriff R. B. Hall and J. R. Lowe, Jr., of another party who had gone in search of the fugitive. He was taken to the county jail and died the next day.

One of the shots from Clendennin's pistol, aimed at Sheriff Adams' heart, struck a watch in the pocket of his vest and then glanced into the body, inflicting a slight wound. Brownlee received two flesh wounds in the leg. Creal fired eight shots before he fell and was attempting to use his pistol after he was down, but was prevented from doing so by Deputy Sheriff Reynolds. When found in The Willows, Clendennin had two revolvers and a bag of gold dust on his person. It was believed that the object of the three men in stationing themselves on the New Almaden road was to rob the stage as it came along with gold to pay the miners on the hill.

Another member of the Confederate band was John Grant, who, having had difficulty with Captain Ingraham, determined to play the role of a lone highwayman. In July word came that he was in San Juan and would shortly pay a visit to a young woman who lived near Forbes' mill, Los Gatos. Under Sheriff Hall, accompanied by Charles Potter and John Ward, went to Los Gatos and located the house where Grant was staying. He was in bed and the arrest wAs easily accomplished. As the officers and their prisoner were preparing to leave, Grant, though handcuffed, seized Hall's gun and rushed for the door, Hall after him. Grant tried to use the gun, but the handcuffs were in the way and he was seized just as he reached the outer door. At the moment of the rearrest someone of Hall's party fired both barrels of a shotgun at Grant, severely wounding him. He was brought to San Jose and lodged in jail.

It was during war times that the Methodist Church at Berryessa was burned to the ground. The act was attributed to one or more members of the Dick Baker gang of Confederates, whose operations in aid of the Southern cause were mainly in the line of horse-stealing. The gang was finally scattered, some members going to the Southern States, others to Arizona and Mexico.

When the news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln reached San Jose there was at first a stillness as if the population had been stricken with mental paralysis. Then excitement grew until it reached fever heat. The residents were composed of two elements, the northerners and the majority of the westerners who upheld the cause of the Union; and the southerners and southwesterners, who sympathized with the cause of the Confederacy. Good, honest, substantial men on each side, but divided in opinion by the effect of early environment. Among the Confederate sympathizers were many of San Jose's prominent men. In the country districts the same conditions prevailed. While the excitement over the death of Lincoln was at its height some of the southerners were so indiscreet as to publicly express their joy over the death of a man who had been pictured to them as a human gorilla and a negro lover. The Union men were in a majority and whenever an anti-Union sentiment found utterance the speaker was quietly placed under arrest. Several prominent citizens were conveyed to Alcatraz prison, San Francisco Bay, but their term of imprisonment was short, for after partisan bitterness had been partially allayed their release vas ordered and they came back to their farms and business.

It was while arrests were being made that a tall countryman passed the Auzerais House shouting, "Hurrah for Jeff." He was promptly seized by indignant Unionists and would have been hustled off to jail if he had not made vigorous and what seemed to be honest protest. "Why, I'm no reb," he declared. "I didn't mean Jeff Davis when I hurrahed. I meant the milkman--George H. Jefferson. I was having a bit of fun; had been taking a few drinks and wasn't at myself. That's true, boys, as true as preaching." His captors looked at the smiling face, noted the alcoholic condition of the man, and concluded to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A short time before Lincoln's death a number of San Jose young men, born in the South and filled with the desire to do something for the Confederate cause, met in secret and concocted a scheme to ride into San Jose some morning after the stores had opened and there were few people about, and rob safes and tills, hoping by this daring operation to secure enough money to take them out of the state and into Confederate territory. The plot had been fully arranged and all was ready for the raid when the news of Lincoln's assassination arrived. In the excitement over the event the scheme was dropped. The story of it was told to the historian years afterwards by one of the plotters, a man who stood high in the estimation of his fellow-citizens. He seemed to regard the affair as a joke, though he was glad that the robbery had not been attempted. He died many years ago and not one of his associates is now in the land of the living.

Times have changed since the days of the Civil War. Nowadays veterans of the Southern Confederacy meet, shake hands and exchange reminiscences with the veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. Not only that, but their sons and grandsons bunk and fight together as Americans. This is as it should be.

Source: Sawyers, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Calif; Historic Record Company, 1922.

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