California History:  Military History

What’s on this Web page:  presidios and forts, war-related sites (Mexican War, Civil War, Indian wars, and World War II), and governors.

Military Posts

You won’t find too many weekend warriors in California reenacting battles from the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) or the Civil War (1861-1865).  But California is a treasure of Mexican War (1846-1848) history (you can visit the residence of the “Sam Houston of California” and the burial place of the “Paul Revere of California”), and there are a few Civil War-related sites in the Golden State.  And like the rest of the country, conflict with the indigenous population is part of California history.  Everybody’s familiar with Pearl Harbor, but did you know of the offshore attack near Santa Barbara 78 days later?  In addition to the Spanish presidios and American forts, you’ll also find one built by the Russians.

California Presidios (1769-1782), 4 total in series

...militarymuseum.org (The California State Military Museum)

 

No. Name Location in California
1 El Presidio de San Diego (1769-1846, CHL 59) in Presidio Park (sandiegohistory.org) San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
2 The Presidio of Monterey (1770-1846) in Lower Presidio Historic Park (pom-www.army.mil, monterey.org, cr.nps.gov [select National Register of Historic Places under A Cultural Resource Program, then click on Travel]) Monterey, Monterey Co.
3 The Presidio of San Francisco (1776-1835, CHL 79, presidiotrust.org, nps.gov/prsf/) San Francisco, San Francisco Co.*
4 El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park (1782-18xx, CHL 636, sbthp.org, parks.ca.gov) Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Co. (So. Calif.)

 

Other Forts (1790s-1890s)

...militarymuseum.org (The California State Military Museum)
...geocities.com/naforts/forts.html (North American Fortifications:  click on Western U.S.A., then California)
...ohp.parks.ca.gov (California Department of Parks & Recreation:  Office of Historic Preservation)

 

Name (in chronological order) Location in California
Fort Guijarros (c1797, CHL 69, sandiegohistory.org [click on Historic Landmarks]), now site of San Diego Naval Submarine Base (pcssandiegonsb.net) San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Fort Ross (1812-1841, CHL 5, parks.ca.gov, cr.nps.gov [select National Register of Historic Places under A Cultural Resource Program, then click on Travel]) Jenner, Sonoma Co.*
Fort Romualdo Pacheco (1825-1826, CHL 944) Imperial, Imperial Co. (So. Calif.)
Presidio of Sonoma (Sonoma Barracks) (1836-1xxx, CHL 316) in Sonoma State Historic Park Sonoma, Sonoma Co.*
Fort Fremont Peak (1846, CHL 181) in Fremont Peak State Park (parks.ca.gov) San Juan Bautista, San Benito Co.
Fort Stockton or Fort Dupont (1846-1848, CHL 54, sandiegohistory.org [click on Historic Landmarks]) in Presidio Park (sandiegohistory.org) San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (1848-1850, CHL 525, parks.ca.gov) Sacramento, Sacramento Co.
Benicia Barracks (1849-1898, CHL 177); marker in Francesca Terrace Park Benicia, Solano Co.*
Fort Yuma (or Camp Yuma or Camp Calhoun) (1849-1884, CHL 806) Winterhaven, Imperial Co. (So. Calif.)
San Diego Barracks (c1850-1921, CHL 523) San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Fort Reading (1852-1867, CHL 379), first American fort in Northern California Anderson, Shasta Co.
Fort Jones (1852-1858, CHL 317); marker near E Side Rd. and Hwy. 3 Fort Jones, Siskiyou Co.
Fort Miller (1852-1xxx, CHL 584), inundated by Millerton Lake; marker next to Millerton historical courthouse in Friant Millerton (near Friant), Fresno Co.
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park (1853-1866, CHL 154, parks.ca.gov) Eureka, Humboldt Co.
Fort Point National Historic Site (1853-1886, CHL 82, nps.gov/fopo/); partial replica of Fort Sumter San Francisco, San Francisco Co.*
Fort Tejon State Historic Park (1854-1864, CHL 129, forttejon.org) Lebec, Kern Co. (So. Calif.)
Indian Military Post, Nomi Lackee Indian Reservation (1854-1866, CHL 357) Flournoy, Tehama Co.
Fort Alcatraz (1854-1909?) on Alcatraz Island (nps.gov/alcatraz/, alcatraz.us) San Francisco, San Francisco Co.*
Fort Benson (1856-1857, CHL 617), site at 10600 Hunts Ln. Colton, San Bernardino Co. (So. Calif.)
Fort Ter-Wer (1857-1862, CHL 544) Klamath, Del Norte Co.
Fort Bragg (1857-1864, CHL 615, fortbragg.com, bragg.army.mil) Fort Bragg, Mendocino Co.
Fort Crook (1857-1869, CHL 355); marker at McArthur Rd. and Soldier Mtn Dr. Glenburn, Shasta Co.
Camp Cady (1860-1871, CHL 963-1) Barstow, San Bernardino Co. (So. Calif.)
Camp Wright (1861-1866, CHL 482) Oak Grove, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Camp Union (1861, CHL 666), site at Sutterville and Land Park Dr. Sacramento, Sacramento Co.
Camp Curtis (1862-1865, CHL 215, arcatacityhall.org [click on The History of Arcata], civilwararchives.com) Arcata, Humboldt Co.
Drum Barracks (1862-1866, CHL 169) Wilmington, Los Angeles (So. Calif.)
Camp Lincoln (1862-1870, CHL 545, nps.gov/redw/) Crescent City, Del Norte Co.
Camp Independence (1862-1877, CHL 349, independence-ca.com, civilwararchives.com) Independence, Inyo Co.
Camp Reynolds (1863-186x) in Angel Island State Park (CHL 529, parks.ca.gov, angelisland.org, angelisland.com) Tiburon, Marin Co.*
Fort Bidwell (1865-1893, CHL 430, cr.nps.gov [select Cultural Groups under A Cultural Resource Subject, then click on Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California]), now site of Fort Bidwell Indian Community Center (?) Fort Bidwell (?), Modoc Co.
Fort Rosecrans (1891?-1957, CHL 62) at San Diego Naval Submarine Base (pcssandiegonsb.net) San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)

 

War Sites (1820s-1945) (in addition to some forts above)

...parks.ca.gov (California Department of Parks & Recreation:  California State Parks)
...ohp.parks.ca.gov (California Department of Parks & Recreation:  Office of Historic Preservation)

 

Name (in chronological order) Location in California

Mexican War (1846-1848)
Murphy’s Ranch (1846, CHL 680); beginning of Mexican War; site at Grant Line Rd. and Hwy. 99 Elk Grove, Sacramento Co.
Bear Flag Monument (1846, CHL 7); raising of the Bear flag; replaced by the American flag 25 days later Sonoma, Sonoma Co.*
Custom House (1846, CHL 1) in Monterey State Historic Park; raising of the American flag Monterey, Monterey Co.
Custom House (1846); raising of the American flag; site of Portsmouth Square (CHL 119) San Francisco, San Francisco Co.*
Plaza, San Diego Viejo (Washington Square) (1846, CHL 63) in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park; raising of the American flag San Diego, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Battle of Chino (1846, CHL 942), now site of Chino Fire Station No. 2 Chino, San Bernardino Co. (So. Calif.)
The Battle of Natividad (1846, CHL 651), site of what? Salinas, Monterey Co.
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park (1846, CHL 533, ci.escondido.ca.us [click on Escondido at a Glance, then San Pasqual Battlefield]) Escondido, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Battle at Mule Hill (1846, CHL 452, ci.escondido.ca.us [click on Escondido at a Glance, then San Pasqual Battlefield]) Escondido, San Diego Co. (So. Calif.)
Gaviota Pass (1846, CHL 248); Santa Barbara captured by U.S. Gaviota, Santa Barbara Co. (So. Calif.)
Burial place of John Brown, the “Paul Revere of California” (CHL 513), who rode from Los Angeles to San Francisco to warn of the siege of Los Angeles in 1846 Stockton, San Joaquin Co.
Santa Clara Campaign Treaty Site (1847, CHL 260) in Civic Center Park Santa Clara, Santa Clara Co.*
Rio San Gabriel Battlefield (1847, CHL 385) Montebello, Los Angeles Co. (So. Calif.)
La Mesa Battlefield (1847, CHL 167) Vernon, Los Angeles Co. (So. Calif.)
Campo de Cahuenga (1847, CHL 151); Treaty of Cahuenga followed by Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in Mexico City, Mexico North Hollywood, Los Angeles Co. (So. Calif.)
Colton Hall (1849, CHL 126) in Civic Center; signing of the California Constitution Monterey, Monterey Co.
William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park (1850, CHL 12); first and only president of the California Republic, which lasted for 23 days in 1846 Red Bluff, Tehama Co.

Civil War (1861-1865 and prelude)
Broderick-Terry Dueling Place (1859, CHL 19) Daly City, San Mateo Co.*
Union Cemetery (1859, CHL 816, pastlinks.com/huca/) Redwood City, San Mateo Co.*
Union Square (1860, CHL 623, sfvisitor.org, unionsquareshop.com); public meetings held here in support of the Union San Francisco, San Francisco Co.*
Reuel Colt Gridley Monument (CHL 801) in Stockton Rural Cemetery; Gridley collected $275,000 for Union soldiers by selling and reselling a sack of flour Stockton, San Joaquin Co.
Lincoln Memorial Shrine (lincolnshrine.org) at A.K. Smiley Public Library (aksmiley.org) Redlands, San Bernardino Co. (So. Calif.)

Conflict With American Indians (pre-1900)
Battle at Manteca (1829, CHL 214, cityofipron.org), site near confluence of San Joaquin River and Stanislaus River Manteca, San Joaquin Co.
Battle Rock (1855, CHL 116) in Castle Crags State Park; Battle of the Crags Castella, Shasta Co.
Bishop Creek Battleground (1862, CHL 811) Bishop, Inyo Co.
Mayfield Canyon Battleground (1862, CHL 211) Bishop, Inyo Co.
Infernal Caverns Battleground (1867, CHL 16) Likely, Modoc Co.
Battle at Chimney Rock (1867, CHL 737, lucernevalley.org [click on Local History, then Last Indian Fight in Southern California 1867]), site near Hwy. 18 at Rabbit Springs Rd. Lucerne Valley (?), San Bernardino Co. (So. Calif.)
Battle of Land’s Ranch (1872, CHL 108), part of Modoc War Tulelake, Modoc Co.
Captain Jack’s Stronghold (1872-1873, CHL 9); marker near NE entrance to Lava Beds National Monument ?, Siskiyou Co.
Guillem’s Graveyard (1872-1873, CHL 13) in Lava Beds National Monument; soldiers killed during the Modoc War buried here until 1890s ?, Siskiyou Co.

World War II (1939-1945)
Ellwood Oil Field (1942) shelled by Japanese submarine; marker at golf course Ellwood, Santa Barbara Co. (So. Calif.)
Lighter-Than-Air Stations (1942) for naval blimps, wooden hangars the size of three football fields; one remaining hangar near El Toro Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, Orange Co. (So. Calif.)
Quonset huts (1942) in Seabee Museum on the Port Hueneme Naval Base Port Hueneme, Ventura Co. (So. Calif.)
Fort McDowell (194x-1946) in Angel Island State Park (CHL 529, angelisland.org, angelisland.com) Tiburon, Marin Co.*

 

An asterisk indicates San Francisco Bay Area destination; CHL means California Historical Landmark.

Spanish Governors (1769-1822)

  1. Gaspar de Portola 1769-1770 (unofficial governor)
  2. Felipe de Barri 1770-1775 (capital at Loreto, Mexico, since 1697)
  3. Felipe de Neve 1775-1782 (capital moved to Monterey in 1777)
  4. Pedro Fages 1782-1791
  5. Jose Antonio Romeu 1791-1792
  6. Jose Joaquin de Arillaga 1792-1794
  7. Diego de Borica 1794-1800, 1800-1804, 1804-1814
  8. Jose Dario Arguello 1814-1815
  9. Pablo Vicente de Sola 1815-1822

Mexican Governors (1822-1846)

  1. Pablo Vicente de Sola 1822
  2. Luis Antonio de Arguello 1822-1825
  3. Jose Maria de Echeandia 1825-1830 (capital moved to San Diego; last governor of both Californias)
  4. Manuel Victoria 1830-1832 (capital moved back to Monterey during this administration?)
  5. Agustin V. Zamorano 1832-1833
  6. Jose Figueroa 1833-1835
  7. Jose Castro 1835
  8. Nicolas Gutierrez 1836
  9. Juan Bautista Alvarado 1836-1842
  10. Manuel Micheltorena 1842-1845
  11. Pio Pico 1845-1846

American Military Governors (1846-1849)

  1. John Drake Sloat 1846
  2. Robert Field Stockton 1846-1847
  3. John Charles Fremont 1847
  4. Stephen Watts Kearny 1847
  5. Richard Barnes Mason 1847-1849
  6. Bennett Riley 1849

American Governors (1849-present) (and birthplace)

  1. Peter H. Burnett 1849-1851 (Tenn.)
  2. John McDougal 1851-1852 (Ohio)
  3. John Bigler 1852-1856 (Pa.)
  4. J. Neely Johnson 1856-1858 (Ind.)
  5. John B. Weller 1858-1860 (Ohio)
  6. Milton S. Latham 1860 (Ohio)
  7. John G. Downey 1860-1862 (Ireland; first foreign-born to be governor)
  8. Leland Stanford 1862-1863 (N.Y.)
  9. Frederick F. Low 1863-1867 (Maine)
  10. Henry H. Haight 1867-1871 (N.Y.)
  11. Newton Booth 1871-1875 (Ind.)
  12. Romualdo Pacheco 1875 (Santa Barbara; first native-born to be governor; only governor of Hispanic descent)
  13. William Irwin 1875-1880 (Ohio)
  14. George C. Perkins 1880-1883 (Maine)
  15. George Stoneman 1883-1887 (N.Y.)
  16. Washington Bartlett 1887 (Ga.)
  17. Robert W. Waterman 1887-1891 (N.Y.)
  18. Henry H. Markham 1891-1895 (N.Y.)
  19. James H. Budd 1895-1899 (Wis.)
  20. Henry T. Gage 1899-1903 (N.Y)
  21. George C. Pardee 1903-1907 (San Francisco)
  22. James N. Gillett 1907-1911 (Wis.)
  23. Hiram W. Johnson 1911-1917 (Sacramento)
  24. William D. Stephens 1917-1923 (Ohio)
  25. Friend W. Richardson 1923-1927 (Mich.)
  26. Clement C. Young 1927-1931 (N.H.)
  27. James Rolph, Jr. 1931-1934 (San Francisco)
  28. Frank F. Merriam 1934-1939 (Iowa)
  29. Culbert L. Olson 1939-1943 (Utah)
  30. Earl Warren 1943-1953 (Los Angeles)
  31. Goodwin J. Knight 1953-1959 (Utah)
  32. Edmund G. Brown 1959-1967 (San Francisco)
  33. Ronald Reagan 1967-1975 (Ill.)
  34. Jerry Brown 1975-1983 (San Francisco)
  35. George Deukmejian 1983-1991 (N.Y.)
  36. Pete Wilson 1991-1999 (Ill.)
  37. Gray Davis 1999-2003 (N.Y.)
  38. Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003-2011 (Austria)
  39. Jerry Brown 2011- (San Francisco)

With the exception of Pacheco, the first 16 American governors arrived in California during the late 1840s or early 1850s.

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