© 2006 - 2012 The Cavalry

The Cavalry

The "California 100"

2nd Massachusetts Cavalry,

Company "A"

Many patriotic young men on the West coast had followed the war in the newspapers and were anxious for a chance to join in the fight. But they knew that if they joined a California unit they would be stationed in the West - fighting Indians, guarding wagon trains, or doing garrison duty.

In the late summer of 1862, a group of Californians, all originally from the East Coast, contacted Governor Andrews of Massachusetts and proposed to raise one hundred volunteers to form a separate company in a cavalry regiment that was being raised in Massachusetts. The Governor agreed, with the condition that the Californians would provide their own uniforms and equipment. Officially they became Company "A" of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, but they were more popularly known as the "California Hundred".

The Californians used their enlistment bounty to pay for their passage and set off by sea from San Francisco, December 11, 1862. Their journey took them via the Isthmus of Panama and thence up the eastern seaboard, arriving at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts (just outside Boston) on January 4, 1863. After spending several weeks of basic training at Camp Meigs, the Company was transported to Fortress Monroe, Va., and placed on active duty at Gloucester Point on February 22, 1863.

This first contingent of Californians was so successful that it was soon followed by 400 more volunteers under similar terms. They arrived at Camp Meigs during March and April of 1863, and soon after receiving their basic training were assigned to the defences of Washington, D.C. They became Companies E, F, L, and M of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.

On July 27, 1863, Company A, the California Hundred, left Gloucester Point and on August 19, 1863, joined up with its fellow Californians at Centreville. There, they joined in the defences of the Capitol as well as countering the guerrilla raids of Mosby. The Californians were later assigned to Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, and participated in the sweep of the Confederates from the Shenandoah Valley during the fall and winter of 1864. They fought with distinction in the battles of Winchester, Luray, and Cedar Creek. They were part of the long march from the Shenandoah to Petersburg in February and March of 1865 and later participated in the battles of Dinwiddie Court House, Five Forks, and Sailors Creek. At wars end they were present at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court House. They participated in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. on May 23, 1865.  

Many Englishmen served with the California 100 and one such volunteer was Phillip Baybut  a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honour at the Battle of Luray   

2nd Massachusetts Cavalry cont