The last entry lines for the second quarter, 1863 came under the heading of “Miscellaneous”:
Both lines are attributed to the 3rd California Infantry. And this raises several questions. For the last quarter of 1862, the 3rd California held an entry line with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr mountain howitzers at Camp Douglas, Utah Territory. That section was not mentioned for the first quarter of 1863. But in the second quarter, we saw a lone entry line for a mountain howitzer with California Cavalry, shoved under the Connecticut entry lines. Though I would speculate, given the location reported, this was actually the 2nd California Cavalry, which had detachments working with the 3rd California Infantry… if not the 3rd California Infantry itself. And at the end of the second quarter, we find two lines for separate detachments of the 3rd California Infantry, reporting a 6-pdr field gun and a 12-pdr mountain howitzer. So we have to ask if the entries from December 1862 and June 1863 are related.
Let’s consider the data first, then put the numbers in context:
- Company H, 3rd California Infantry: Reporting at Camp Connor, Idaho Territory with one 12-pdr mountain howitzer. Captain David Black commanded this company. More details below.
- Lt. Col., 3rd California Infantry: At Camp Union, California with one 6-pdr field gun. We can probably identify Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremiah B. Moore as the officer linked to this return. He was, at that time, the second in command.
Just one ammunition page to consider:
Smoothbores on hand:
- Company H: 36 shell, 36 case, and 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
- Camp Union: 14 shot, 14 case, and 14 canister for 6-pdr field gun; 12 shell and 12 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
The Camp Union howitzer ammunition was probably an excess, and not linked to some unreported weapon.
But now for some context. Before the war, Patrick Edward Connor led the Stockton Blues, a militia company from Stockton, San Joaquin County. Just after the outbreak of war, Connor recruited a regiment around the Blues, then offered it for service. Mustered on September 4, 1861, Connor became colonel of the regiment. The men of the 3rd preferred to come “east” and represent the state in Virginia. But that was not to happen, despite Connor’s connections with Major-General Henry Halleck. So the 3rd California pulled duty between Benicia Barracks, Stockton, and Camp Union (near Sacramento).
Not until the summer of 1862 did the 3rd California get marching orders for the field. With emerging threats to the Overland Mail route (and telegraph lines), Connor was ordered to move part of his regiment (about a battalion strength) into Utah Territory – through the desert in the middle of summer, mind you! By September, the column reached the Ruby Valley were Connor established Camp (later Fort) Ruby. (One must sympathize for those suffering soldiers.)
Fort Ruby was not an ideal location, logistically and politically. Disregarding the suggestion to occupy the old post of Camp Floyd, some 40 miles south of Salt Lake, Connor went directly to a point overlooking the Mormon settlements (whom Connor suspected of secessionist leanings and of inciting Indian activity… among other things). The new post was named Camp Douglas. And as mentioned above, the regiment reported two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr mountain howitzers at that post in December 1862.
Having established a base, Connor set out to secure the vital trails and communication links connecting California with the rest of the country. And this required patrols into the Bear River Valley, which encountered the Shoshone and lead to the Bear River Massacre on January 29, 1863.
With the need to permanently secure the trails through that valley, the Army saw the need to expand operations. And Connor was the man on the spot. On March 29, he was promoted to Brigadier-General and given command of operations in the Salt Lake area. In May. Connor pushed out a detachment to establish a post on the Bear River near Soda Springs in the Idaho Territory. Dutifully, Captain David Black led Company H out to establish Camp Connor. On May 23, he provided the location of this post in his report:
Pursuant to orders from district headquarters, a military post is hereby established at this point, to be known as Camp Connor. The reservation pertaining to this post is as follows: Commencing on the right bank of Bear River, on the east line of the town of Soda Springs, and thence running north 24 ½ degrees east one mile; thence east 24 ½ degrees south one mile; thence south 24 ½ degrees west one mile, more or less, to the right bank of Bear River; thence following the meanderings of said river to the place of beginning.
While all this was taking place, Connor called for reinforcements. Among those sent was the remainder of his regiment. Connor’s replacement, Colonel Robert Pollock, had a handful of companies and commanded Camp Union, back near Sacramento. In May, Pollock began moving troops out to Utah, himself reporting to Camp Douglas on June 6. The most of the remaining companies, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremiah Moore, moved out of Camp Douglas around the middle of June. From the returns of the Department of the Pacific, on June 30, the regiment’s dispositions were:
- Camp Douglas: Six companies.
- Fort Bridger, Utah: Company I.
- Fort Ruby, Nevada: Companies B and E.
- Camp Connor, Idaho: Company H.
This leaves two companies, more or less, unaccounted, but presumably with Moore on the trail to Utah. Furthermore, we might speculate here as to the disposition of the four cannon reported the previous December. Clearly one of the two howitzers was at Camp Connor with Company H. From there, it is reasonable to say the howitzer reported with the non-existent 3rd California Cavalry, was the second howitzer, but either with the 2nd California Cavalry or the 3rd California Infantry.
As for the two 6-pdrs? I would be surprised if one gun had been moved from Camp Douglas back to Camp Union during the winter. More likely both were still in Utah. But were those simply not reported? Was the location of Camp Union misreported (as Lt. Col. Moore was there when the paperwork was submitted)? Or is the Camp Union gun a third weapon in that caliber secured by the 3rd California?
Well…. safe to say the Federal war effort didn’t hinge upon the location of those 6-pdrs. It’s more a fine point of minutia, of course. But then again, the troops manning those cannon, though not confronting Johnny Reb at Gettysburg or Vicksburg, were involved with some rather important operations… when we look at the big picture.
Consider… In the fall of 1863, Connor submitted a report to his superiors discussing the state of affairs in Utah. He didn’t hide his opinion of the Mormons or concerns about Indian activities. And he went further to press the value of the territory he protected:
Having reason to believe that the Territory is full of mineral wealth, I have instructed commanders of posts and detachments to permit the men of their commands to prospect the country in the vicinity of their respective posts, whenever such course would not interfere with their military duties, and to furnish every proper facility for the discovery and opening of mines of gold, silver, and other minerals, The results so far have exceeded my most sanguine expectations. Already reliable reports reach me of the discovery of rich gold, silver, and copper mines in almost every direction, and that by spring one of the largest and most hopeful fields of mining operations will be opened to the hardy and adventurous of our people. … I may also mention that near Camp Connor [emphasis mine], 150 miles north of this place, large deposits of salt, sulphur, and extensive beds of coal have been found, while the springs adjoining the camp yield immense deposits of the carbonate of soda, which will one day, I have no doubt, be of very considerable commercial value.
You’ve heard this line a time or two in those old western movies, right?
Which leads us to this….
If I be not mistaken in these anticipations, I have no reason to doubt that the Mormon question will at an early day be finally settled by peaceable means, without the increased expenditure of a dollar by Government, or, still more important, without the loss of a single soldier in conflict. I have every confidence, therefore, in being able to accomplish this desirable result without the aid of another soldier in addition to those already under my command, notwithstanding the obstacles sought to be thrown in my way by the Mormon leaders, who see in the present policy the sure downfall of their most odious church system of tyranny. I have no fear for the future and believe the dawn is breaking upon this deluded people, even though their elders, and bishops, and chief priests may escape the personal punishment their sins against law and crimes against humanity and the Government so richly merit.
Those little marks on columns in the summary? We might consider them the stick, matched to a carrot. All of which factored into the opening of the West… once that fighting was done back east.
Before leaving California, one more artillery formation to mention pertaining to the second quarter of 1863. While the state did not formally muster any artillery batteries into Federal service during the war, California did have a number of militia batteries. So in the interest of shining light into all corners of the matter, let me mention the Washington Light Artillery of Napa, Napa County. The battery was organized on July 31, 1863, with Captain Nathan McCoombs in command. However, not until February of the next year would Napa’s Washington Light Artillery receive arms and equipment (financed by bond).
Sounds like an idea for a new wine label if you ask me….
(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 50, Part III, Serial 106, pages 453 and 656-7.)