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  1. #1
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    Post A kilted California militia unit...

    While perusing the Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums "days of yore" page, I came across this interesting tidbit:

    NOTE: Historical research reveals that, prior to the recent pipe band, the Wallace Guard, Second Brigade was a California State Militia mustered 28 July 1855 and disbanded on or before 1860. The unit was known for its Highland dress and the providing of elaborate entertainment at social functions and the staging of a grand ball at the International Hotel. On 3 June 1856, the Wallace Guard and other State Militia units refused to take arms and fire upon the citizens of San Francisco by a proclamation by Governor Johnson. Johnson declared that a state of insurrection existed in San Francisco and that all companies report to MGen William T Sherman. The unit temporarily disbanded as a result. The unit also took part in the Atlantic Cable laying ceremony in September 1858.

    -- http://www.stewarttartan.com/v3YORE.htm#Wallace_Guards
    Here is more information from the California State Military Museum's web site:

    http://www.militarymuseum.org/WallaceGuard.html

    An article from a 1959 issue of the CA Historical Society Quarterly notes that the Guard was present at the Inaguration of Governor John in 1856, "attired in colorful plaid Highland uniforms" which contrasted the other companies attired in more "orthodox" garb.*

    *"Polish Boot and Bran New Suit: the California Militia in Community Affairs" by Dello Dayton.

    Note that the Wallace Guard refused to fire upon citizens during the Vigilante days in the history of San Francisco.

    Regards,

    T.

  2. #2
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    Note that the Wallace Guard refused to fire upon citizens during the Vigilante days in the history of San Francisco.
    Not to get political, but this was why the founders favored militias over standing armies. A unit composed of the people is much less likely to turn against its own than a professional army.

    Is there any way to find out what tartan they wore?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    Not to get political, but this was why the founders favored militias over standing armies. A unit composed of the people is much less likely to turn against its own than a professional army.

    Is there any way to find out what tartan they wore?
    Actually, as a military historian, I can tell you that the professional standing US Regular Army generally had a better track record then many militia & National Guard units in the late 19th century on strike-breaking duty, etc.

    Regular Army officers, for example, loudly decried the Sand Creek Massacre by the "Bloody Third" Colorado Volunteer Cavalry, led by Col. John Chivington in 1864.

    So while the idea of a fear of a standing army certainly is found in our own history, it's not always correct from a factual standpoint.

    But, that's not really the point of this thread. Information about the Wallace Guard's uniform appears to be sketchy at best.

    T.
    Last edited by macwilkin; 15th July 10 at 11:19 AM.

  4. #4
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    That's interesting, cajunscot; looking at the account at the second link, I kind of want to go look up more information on the overall San Francisco incident. Thanks for posting this.


    BTW, have been planning to read, The Sand Creek Massacre: A Documentary History, by Sol Lewis et al.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    Not to get political, but this was why the founders favored militias over standing armies. A unit composed of the people is much less likely to turn against its own than a professional army.

    Is there any way to find out what tartan they wore?
    Standing army? In California of 1855? The Overland Route was still 14 years away. A militia was all they could scrape together from those not still in the gold fields.

    S.F.P.L.. History Room is currently searching for tartan info.

    (Thanks for the topic - will have to stop in to see if the bar named "Fort Gunnybags" is still there.)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkerk View Post
    Standing army? In California of 1855? The Overland Route was still 14 years away. A militia was all they could scrape together from those not still in the gold fields.

    S.F.P.L.. History Room is currently searching for tartan info.

    (Thanks for the topic - will have to stop in to see if the bar named "Fort Gunnybags" is still there.)
    There were some Regular Army units in California during the 1850s, though, and all the way up to the beginning of the Civil War, when they were recalled to the east, leaving locally raised militia and volunteer companies throughout the West to protect settlements against Indians and other threats. I think Tobus is referring to the more general prevailing attitude in 19th America regarding standing armies, which can be traced back to the Mother Country.

    I'll be curious to see what the folks at SFPL turn up on the Wallace Guards.

    T.

  7. #7
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    I would hazard a guess that they wore Wallace tartan...

  8. #8
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    Visions of Lee Marvin in "Paint Your Wagon"

    "Un Mount!"
    Ol' Macdonald himself, a proud son of Skye and Cape Breton Island
    Lifetime Member STA. Two time winner of Utilikiltarian of the Month.
    "I'll have a kilt please, a nice hand sewn tartan, 16 ounce Strome. Oh, and a sporran on the side, with a strap please."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverkilt View Post
    Visions of Lee Marvin in "Paint Your Wagon"

    "Un Mount!"
    Or the Denver Citizen's Militia in The Hallelujah Trail...

    T.

  10. #10
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    Just Worth Mentioning

    ...as a former member of the USAF Security Police, we have a law in the US called Posse Comitatus that prevents the military from enforcing civil law.
    I recognize some of the incidents alluded to here pre date this law, if my memory from promotion exams is correct it was passed in 1878.

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