Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The 1st California Regiment at Gettysburg

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Yes, that's right...there was (sort of) a California regiment fighting for the Union cause at Gettysburg. Strangely enough, the regiment was raised by Oregon senator Edward D. Baker and manned by the good citizens of Philadelphia - but in accordance with Baker's wishes, the regiment was designated the 1st California - the only "California" regiment on the field during the battle.

Sadly for Baker, and presumably...Mrs. Baker and other assorted friends and relatives, the senator was killed in the Battle of Ball's Bluff in November 1861. After this incident, the regiment was redesignated the 71st Pennsylvania and eventually folded into the Philadelphia Brigade along with the 69th, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania regiments. The brigade fought with the II Corps and saw heavy fighting throughout the early campaigns of the war.

At Gettysburg, the 71st Penn - aka the California Regiment - was positioned at the now famous "angle" on Cemetery Ridge where it took part in the repulse of the Pickett-Pettigrew Assault on July 3, 1863. I was just there and had to get a picture of the California Regiment monument. As luck would have it, some reenactors were there hammering away at me with trivia questions. They seemed impressed that I had any idea at all about this unusual unit. I didn't tell them that I was indeed from the Golden Coast.

So my friends - next time you are walking the Union line at Gettysburg, give a huzzah! or two for the the California Regiment. You know I did.




  1. Does this unit have any association with the town of California, in western Pennsylvania?

  2. According to the California State Military Museum the California Brigade has no connection with the town in Pennsylvania.

  3. The 69th Pennsylvania who were one of the units to face Pickett's Charge were also originally one of Baker's regiments, and at the start of the war were the 2nd California- to add to the mix most of that unit were Irish. They could have been forgiven if they were extra confused as to their country and state allegiances in 1861! (Irish-American-Pennsylvanian-Californians?)

  4. The 32nd New York was also called the California Regiment because Col. Roderick Matheson was from Cali.

  5. Thanks for the great post - I took note of the monument when visiting Gettysburg. Sticking to the California question: Can you tell me anything about the effort in California to secede with Oregon?