....June 2010 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
California in the American Civil War from Wikipedia

California's involvement in the American Civil War included sending gold east, recruiting volunteer combat units to replace Regular forces in territories of the Western United States, maintaining and building numerous camps and fortifications, suppressing secessionist activity and securing the New Mexico Territory against the Confederacy. The State of California did not send its units east, but many citizens traveled east and joined the Union Army there, some of whom became famous. California's Volunteers also conducted many operations against the native peoples within the state and in the other Western territories of the Departments of the Pacific and New Mexico.

Following the Gold Rush California was settled primarily by Midwestern and Southern farmers, miners and businessmen. Democrats dominated the state from its foundation. Southern Democrats sympathetic to secession, although a minority in the state, were a majority in Southern California and Tulare County, and were in large numbers in San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Monterey, and San Francisco counties. California was home for powerful businessmen who played a significant role in Californian politics through their control of mines, shipping, finance, and the Republican Party but were a minority party until the secession crisis.

In the beginning of 1861, as the secession crisis began, the secessionists in San Francisco made an attempt to separate the state and Oregon from the union which failed. Southern California with a majority of discontented Californios and southern secessionists, had already voted for a separate Territorial government, formed militia units but were kept from secession after Fort Sumter by Federal troops drawn from the frontier forts of the District of Oregon, and California, (primarily Fort Tejon and Fort Mojave).

Patriotic fervor swept California after the attack on Fort Sumter providing the manpower for Volunteer Regiments recruited mainly from the pro-Union counties in the north of the State. When the Democratic party split over the war Republican supporters of Lincoln took control of the state in the September elections. Volunteer Regiments were sent to occupy pro-secessionist Southern California and Tulare County leaving them generally powerless during the war itself. However some Southerners traveled east to join the Confederate Army evading Union patrols and hostile Apache. Others remaining in the state, attempted to outfit a privateer to prey on coastal shipping and late in the war two groups of partisan rangers were formed but none were successful.

From statehood to the Civil War

When California was admitted as a state under the Compromise of 1850, Californians had already decided it was to be a free state—the constitutional convention of 1849 unanimously abolished slavery. As a result, Southerners in Congress voted against admission in 1850 while Northerners pushed it through, pointing to its population of 93,000 and its vast wealth in gold. Northern California, which was dominated by mining, shipping, and commercial elites of San Francisco, favored becoming a state.

Southern California's attempts at secession from California

Following California's admission to the Union, Californios (dissatisfied with inequitable taxes and land laws) and pro-slavery Southerners in lightly populated, rural Southern California attempted three times in the 1850s to achieve a separate statehood or territorial status separate from Northern California. The last attempt, the Pico Act of 1859, was passed by the California State Legislature, signed by the State governor John B. Weller, approved overwhelmingly by voters in the proposed Territory of Colorado and sent to Washington, D.C. with a strong advocate in Senator Milton Latham. However the secession crisis following the election of Lincoln in 1860 led to the proposal never coming to a vote.

In 1860 California gave a small plurality of 38,733 votes to Abraham Lincoln, whose 32% of the total vote was enough to win all its electoral votes; 68% voted for the other three candidates.

1860 Presidential Candidate Party Popular Vote %
Abraham Lincoln Republican 38,733 32.2
Stephen A. Douglas Northern Democrat 37,999 31.7
John C. Breckinridge Northern Democrat 33,969 28.3
John Bell Constitutional Union 9,111 7.6

Secession Crisis in California

During the secession crisis following Lincoln's election, Federal troops were under the command of Colonel (Brevet Brigadier General) Albert Sidney Johnston, in Benicia, headquarters of the Department of the Pacific. General Johnston strongly believed that the South represented the cause of freedom, and traditional American democracy of popular sovereignty. A group of Southern sympathizers in the state made plans to secede with Oregon to form a "Pacific Republic". Their plans rested on the cooperation of General Johnston. Johnston understood this, and met with the men, but he declined saying he had sworn an oath to defend the Union, and although he believed that Lincoln had violated and destroyed the Constitution holding the Union together, he would not go against his word. Thus the plans for California and Oregon to secede from the United States never came to fruition. Brig. Gen. Edwin Vose Sumner was sent west to replace Johnston in March 1861. Johnston soon resigned his commission April 9, and after Sumner arrived April 25, moved to Los Angeles.

As the secession crisis developed in early 1861, several Volunteer Companies of the California Militia had disbanded because of divided loyalties and new ones were sworn in across the state under the supervision of County sheriffs and judges. Many of these units saw no action but some were to form the companies of the earliest California Volunteer regiments. Others like the Petaluma Guard and Emmet Rifles in Sonoma County suppressed a secessionist disturbance in Healdsburg, in 1862. Union commanders relied on the San Bernardino Mounted Rifles and their Captain Clarence E. Bennett for intelligence and help to hold the pro southern San Bernardino County for the Union in late 1861 as Federal troops were being withdrawn and replaced by California Volunteers.

Notable as the only pro-Southern militia unit, the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles was organized on March 7, 1861, in Los Angeles County. It included more than a few Californios in its leadership and its ranks including the County Sheriff, one of his Undersheriffs and several of his deputies. A. J. King another Undersheriff of Los Angeles County (and former member of the earlier "Monte Rangers" and other influetial men in El Monte, formed another secessionist militia the Monte Mounted Rifles on March 23, 1861. However A. J. King, soon ran afoul of Federal authorities. According to the Sacramento Union of April 30, 1861 King was brought before Colonel Carleton and was made to take an oath of allegiance to the Union and was then released. On April 26, 1861, the Monte Mounted Rifles had asked Governor Downey for arms. The governor sent the arms, but army officers at San Pedro held them up preventing the activation of the Monte Mounted Rifles.

On March 28, 1861, the newly formed Arizona Territory voted to separate from New Mexico Territory and join the Confederacy. This had increased Union officials' fears of a secessionist design to separate Southern California from the state and join the Confederacy. This fear was based on the demonstrated desire for separation in the vote for the Pico Act, the strength of secessionists in the area and their declared intentions and activities especially in forming militia companies.

Outbreak of the Civil War
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Southern California secession seemed possible; the populace was largely in favor of it, militias with secessionist sympathies had been formed, Bear Flags, the banner of the Bear Flag Revolt, had been flown for several months by secessionists in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. After word of the Battle of Fort Sumter reached California, there were public demonstrations by secessionists. However secession quickly became impossible when three companies of Federal cavalry were moved from Fort Mojave and Fort Tejon into Los Angeles in May and June 1861. Suspected by local union authorities, General Johnston evaded arrest and joined the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles as a private, leaving Warner's Ranch May 27 in their trek across the southwestern deserts to Texas, crossing the Colorado River into the Confederate Territory of Arizona, on July 4, 1861. The Los Angeles Mounted Rifles disbanded and members joined the Confederate Army when they reached the Arizona Territorial capital of Mesilla (now in New Mexico). Like other pro-Confederates leaving California for the Confederacy, the volunteers joined up principally with Texas regiments. General Johnston joined the fight in the east as a general with the Confederacy and was later killed leading their army at the Battle of Shiloh.

The only Confederate flag captured in California during the Civil War took place on July 4, 1861, in Sacramento. During Independence Day celebrations, secessionist Major J. P. Gillis celebrated the independence of the United States from Britain as well as the southern states from the Union. He unfurled a Confederate flag of his own design and proceeded to march down the street to both the applause and jeers of onlookers. Jack Biderman and Curtis Clark, enraged by Gillis' actions, accosted him and "captured" the flag. The flag itself is based on the first Confederate flag, the Stars and Bars. However, the canton contains seventeen stars rather than the Confederate's seven. Because the flag was captured by Jack Biderman, it is often also referred to as the "Biderman Flag".

As he was recalling Federal troops to the east, on July 24, 1861, the Secretary of War called on the Governor John G. Downey, to furnish one regiment of infantry and five companies of cavalry to guard the overland mail route from Carson City to Salt Lake City. Three weeks later four more regiments of infantry and a regiment of cavalry were requested. All of these were volunteers units recruited and organized in the northern part of the state, around the San Francisco Bay region and the mining camps, few recruits came from Southern California. These volunteers replaced the regular troops transferred to the east before the end of 1861.
Charged with all the supervision of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and 

Bear Flag flown by
Southern California secessionists 
The J. P. Gillis Flag
Digital reproduction of the Gillis Flag
Santa Barbara Counties, on August 14, 1861, Major William Scott Ketchum steamed from San Francisco to San Pedro and made a rapid march to encamp near San Bernardino on August 26 and with Companies D and G of the 4th Infantry Regiment later reinforced at the beginning of September by a detachment of ninety First U.S. Dragoons and a howitzer. Except for frequent sniping at his camp, Ketchum's garrison stifled any secessionist uprising from Belleville and a show of force by the Dragoons in the streets at the end of election day quelled a secessionist political demonstration during the September gubernatorial elections in San Bernardino County.

Thereafter, with the Democrats split over the war, the first Republican governor of California was elected, Leland Stanford, a powerful tycoon from the Northeast, on September 4, 1861.

1861 Gubernatorial Candidate Party Popular Vote %
Leland Stanford Republican 56,056 46.4
John R. McConnell Northern Democrat 33,750 28.0
John Conness Southern Democrat 30,944 25.6

Following the elections on September 7, there was a gunfight resulting from a robbery of travelers to Holcomb Valley and Bear Valley on the pack trail in the Upper Santa Ana Canyon where the Santa Ana River runs out of the San Bernardino Mountains. It was suspected that secessionists had been the culprits, doing the robbery as part of a larger plan of robberies in the valleys of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. However, no such plan materialized.

Civil War Conflicts within California

Securing Southern California

As the California Volunteer regiments formed some were sent south with Colonel George Wright, commanding officer of the District of Southern California. He was to replace the Federal troops in Los Angeles, gathered there to prevent a rising by the numerous secessionist sympathizers in Southern California. In October 1861, Wright was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers and placed in command of the Department of the Pacific, replacing Sumner who had recommended Wright as his replacement. Colonel James Henry Carleton of the 1st California Volunteer Infantry Regiment replaced Wright as commander in the south. Detachments were soon sent out by Carleton to San Bernardino and San Diego Counties to secure them for the Union and prevent the movement of men and weapons eastward to the Confederacy.

One of the earliest conflicts related to the Civil War in California occurred on November 29, 1861, at Minter Ranch, in the hills just south and west of the San Jose Valley, where Warner's Ranch and the military post of Camp Wright was located. Dan Showalter's party of secessionists like some others were attempting to avoid the post and make their way across the desert to join the Confederate Army in Texas. They were pursued from Temecula by a Volunteer Cavalry patrol from the Camp, intercepted and captured without shots being fired. Later after being imprisoned at Fort Yuma, Showalter and the others were released after swearing loyalty to the Union, but they made their way to the Confederacy later.

Naval Incidents

During and after the 1862 Confederate New Mexico Campaign, no rising against Union control occurred in the state. However in the following years some attempts were made by the Confederate navy to seize gold and silver for the Confederacy. In 1863, Asbury Harpending after traveling secretly to Richmond to obtain a letter of marque joined with other California members of the Knights of the Golden Circle in San Francisco to outfit the schooner J. M. Chapman, as a Confederate privateer in San Francisco Bay. Their object was to raid commerce on the Pacific coast carrying gold and silver shipments, to capture and carry it back to support the Confederacy. Their attempt was detected and they were seized on the March 15, during the night of their intended departure by the USS Cyane, revenue officers and San Francisco police.

In spring of 1864, the Confederate navy, ordered Captain Thomas Egenton Hogg and his command to take passage on board a coastal steamer in Panama City, seize her on the high seas, arm her and attack the Pacific Mail steamers and the whalers in the North Pacific. In Havana, the American consul, Thomas Savage, learned about this conspiracy, and notified Rear Admiral George F. Pearson at Panama City. The Admiral had the passengers boarding the steamers at Panama City watched and when the Hogg's command was found aboard the SS San Salvador, a force from the USS Lancaster arrested them and brought them to San Francisco. Tried by a military commission, they were sentenced to be hanged, but General Irvin McDowell commuted their sentences. To prevent any further attempts to seize Pacific coast shipping, General McDowell ordered each passenger on board American merchant steamers to surrender all weapons when boading the ship and every passenger and his baggage was searched. All officers were armed for the protection of their ships.

Partisan Rangers in California

Local secessionists in California made attempts to seize gold and silver for the Confederacy. In early 1864, Rufus Henry Ingram formerly with Quantrill's Raiders arrived in Santa Clara County and with Tom Poole, organized local Knights of the Golden Circle and commanded them in what became known as Captain Ingram's Partisan Rangers. In one incident they robbed two stagecoaches near Placerville of their silver and gold, leaving a letter explaining they were not bandits but carrying out a military operation to raise funds for the Confederacy.

Also in early 1864, secessionist Judge George Gordon Belt a rancher and former alcalde in Stockton organized a group of partisan rangers including John Mason and "Jim Henry" and sent them out to recruit more men and pillage the property of Union men in the countryside. For the next two years the Mason Henry Gang, as they became known, posed as Confederate partisan rangers but acted as outlaws, committing robberies, thefts and murders in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Santa Cruz County, Monterey County, Santa Clara County, and in counties of Southern California. However, despite all these efforts no captured gold was sent to the Confederacy.

In July 1864, with many Douglas Democrats deserting their party over the war, the remaining Democrats formed a fusion party behind the former governor John G. Downey, opposed to continuation of the war, emancipation, the arrest of civilians by the militia, the suppression of free speech and of the press and the attempt make the Negro equal to the white man. The result in the September election was a second Republican governor of California, Frederick F. Low.

1864 Gubernatorial Canidate Party Popular Vote %
Fredrick F. Low Republican 64.447 59.9
John G. Downey Democratic 44,843 41.1

Lincoln won the 1864 election with almost 59% in California

1864 Presidential Candidate Party Popular Vote %
Abraham Lincoln Republican 62,053 58.6
George B. McClellan Northern Democrat 43,837 41.4

Civil War Era forts and camps in California

At this time, the U.S. had a number of military forts to defend against the Indian threat, and to solidify the U.S. claim to the state. As the conflict began, new forts and camps were founded to protect ports and communications, carry out operations against the Indians, to hold off Confederate soldiers and suppress their sympathizers.

Of the ports, San Francisco Bay was the most important, coastal fortifications at Fort Point and Camp Sumner were built at the edge of the Presidio, as well as at Fort Baker on the Marin Headlands. One Civil War-era fort, Post of Alcatraz Island or Fort Alcatraz, on a rocky island just inside the Golden Gate, later became an infamous Federal penitentiary, Alcatraz. The San Francisco Bay was also protected by the Navy at Mare Island, the Benicia Arsenal, Fort Mason with the posts at San Francisco's Point San Jose, and Camp Reynolds on Angel Island. San Pedro was protected from January 1862 by Camp Drum later the Drum Barracks and later a post was established at Two Harbors on Catalina Island. San Diego was only defended by a small garrison at the New San Diego Depot occupied in 1860.

In the northwest of the state were several forts, Fort Bragg on the Mendocino County coast supporting Fort Wright. Further north on the coast of Humboldt County was Fort Humboldt, established to maintain peace between the Native Americans and new settlers and Headquarters of the Humboldt Military District supporting other forts in the area. Ulysses S. Grant was briefly stationed here prior to the war. Fort Humboldt supported Camp Curtis, Fort Gaston, Camp Lyon, Fort Baker, Fort Iaqua, Fort Anderson, Camp Lincoln and Fort Seward which were the base of operations for the soldiers in the Bald Hills War.

In the Northeast, were Fort Crook in Shasta County and in Modoc County, Fort Bidwell was established in 1863.

To the south there was Fort Miller in the foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada in Fresno County, and Camp Babbitt outside the town of Visalia, in Tulare County. Fort Tejon in the Grapevine Canyon (La Cañada de las Uvas), had protected the southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. It had been the headquarters of the First U.S. Dragoons until those regular army troops were transferred in July 1861 upon the outbreak of war. Fort Tejon was re-occupied by California volunteer troops in 1863 to guard Paiute Indians from the Owens Valley at the nearby Sebastian Indian Reservation and then it was abandoned for good on September 11, 1864. Camp Independence was established on Oak Creek nearby modern Independence, California on July 4, 1862, during the Owens Valley Indian War.

At the beginning of the war Union authorities were worried that the large number of secessionist sympathizers in Southern California might rise in an attempt to join the Confederacy. In June 1861 troops withdrawn from Fort Tejon and Fort Mojave established Camp Fitzgerald outside Los Angeles in various locations as each proved unsuitable.

In late September 1861, troops from Northern California landed in San Pedro and marched to establish a new camp at a more suitable location at Camp Latham in modern Culver City. From this post Ketchum's regular soldiers were relieved on October 20, by three companies of 1st California Cavalry sent out to San Bernardino County. and establish Camp Carleton and later Camp Morris. Volunteer troops were also sent to Camp Wright in San Diego County to watch the southern overland approach to California across the Colorado Desert from Fort Yuma, located on the west bank of the Colorado River.

In March 1862, all the troops that were drilling at Camp Latham were transferred to Camp Drum, leaving a company of soldiers to observe the Los Angeles area. Following flooding at Camp Carleton, the garrison moved to New Camp Carleton, built near the secessionist hotbed of El Monte in 1862.

Civil War Military units associated with California

Due to its location, the state's local militia companies remained under state status because of the great number of Southern sympathizers, the Indian threat, and possible foreign attack. The state followed the usual military practice of mustering militia companies into regiments. These Volunteers maintained military posts vacated by the regular army units that were ordered east. However number of state militias disbanded and went east. Several of these companies offered their services and were accepted by the Union Army.

In 1862, five companies of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry (also known as The California 100 and the California Cavalry Battalion) were enrolled and mustered into service, and sent to Massachusetts They left San Francisco by sea for service in the east. The California Battalion consisted of Companies A, C, F, L, and M. They participated in 51 battles, campaigns, and skirmishes.

Oregon U.S. Senator Edward D. Baker raised a regiment of men on the East Coast. These units and others were generally known as the "California Regiment", but later designated the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry. Col. Roderick N. Matheson was the leader of the 32nd New York Infantry, also known as the 1st California Regiment.

In October 1861, Colonel Baker was authorized to increase his command to a brigade. The additional regiments were commanded by Colonels Joshua T. Owen, Dewitt Clinton Baxter, and Turner G. Morehead, all from Philadelphia, respectively designated the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th California Regiments. The 4th California Regiment, 

as planned, was composed of artillery and cavalry. These troops were soon detached. After Baker was killed in the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Pennsylvania claimed  these four infantry regiments as a part of its quota, and they became known as the "Philadelphia Brigade" of Pennsylvania Volunteers. They were initially commanded by Brig. Gen. William W. Burns and first served in John Sedgwick's Division of the II Corps, Army of the Potomac. They had a distinguished service career, highlighted by their actions at the Battle of Antietam and their prominent position in the defense against Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Military units associated with California included:

    * Los Angeles Mounted Rifles (Confederate)
    * 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, Massachusetts Volunteers Company A, E, F, L, and M (the later four called the "California Battalion")
    * 32nd Regiment of New York Volunteers
    * "Philadelphia Brigade" of Pennsylvania Volunteers
          o 1st California Infantry - 71st Pennsylvania Infantry
          o 2nd California Infantry - 69th Pennsylvania Infantry
          o 3rd California Infantry - 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry
          o 5th California Infantry - 106th Pennsylvania Infantry

Regiments of the California Volunteers in Federal Service

The California Volunteer units recruited 15,725 volunteers for Federal service inside California and in the Department of the Pacific. These units included two full regiments and one battalion of Native Cavalry, eight full regiments of infantry, and one battalion of infantry called mountaineers that specialized in fighting in the mountanous Redwood forests of Northwestern California.

List of California Civil War units

The California Volunteers most directly in action against the Confederacy were known as the California Column. They were under the command of General James H. Carleton. At various times the following units served with the Column: 1st Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry, 1st Battalion of Native Cavalry, and the 1st, 5th and 7th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry. This force served in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, driving out the Confederate force in Arizona and defending New Mexico Territory and the southern overland route to California and operating against the Apache, Navajo, Comanche and other tribes.

The command composed of 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry and the 3rd Regiment California Volunteer Infantry under P. Edward Connor kept the Central Overland Route to California open. As a matter of Connor's proactive style, he led these troops to attack Shoshoni Indians at the Bear River Massacre near what is now the present-day city of Preston, Idaho, on January 29, 1863.

Detachments from the 2nd Regiment California Volunteer Cavalry from Camp Latham under Lieutenant Colonel George S. Evans, fought in the Owens Valley Indian War, and established Camp Independence in 1862.

The 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th Regiment California Volunteer Infantry and the 1st Battalion California Volunteer Mountaineers provided internal security in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington Territory. 2nd and 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiments and the 1st Battalion California Volunteer Mountaineers served in the Bald Hills War and some other companies in the Snake War.

Also the 1st Regiment Washington Territory Volunteer Infantry, had eight companies that were recruited in California during 1862, for service in Washington Territory. They were mustered out at Fort Vancouver in 1865.

The last remaining original Civil War era military facility in the Los Angeles area. 

Drum Barracks History

The Civil War is a pivotal event in the history of the United States. Unfortunately, few people realize that California played an important role in that conflict. Although the major engagements took place in the East, troops from Drum Barracks, kept California in the Union, protected much of the Southwest and secured the territory which is now Arizona and New Mexico for the Union.

The Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is housed in the last remaining wooden building of Drum Barracks, named after Adjutant General Richard Coulter Drum, Assistant Adjutant General of the Department of the Pacific. (Gen. George Wright was head of the Department of the Pacific) This facility served as the Union Army headquarters in the Southwest (Southern California and the Arizona Territory) from 1861 - 1871. Drum Barracks, which was first called Camp Drum, served as the main staging, training and supply base for military operations in the Southwest, and occupied approximately sixty acres of land plus about 5 acres on the waterfront.

The land was sold to the Army by Phineas Banning, and B. D. Wilson, who each received one dollar. Banning went to Washington, D.C. after the war and an agreement was made to have the Drum Barracks land revert to them when the Barracks was closed.

After the surrender at Appomattox, Californians from Camp Drum continued to soldier in the Southwest during the Indian Wars. The California units were recognized by the army commanders of the time as being among the best equipped and trained in the U. S. Army. Drum Barracks included the most important medical facility in the western states. The hospital at the camp, was an excellent facility and the post was kept open for 2 extra years (1871-73) to make use of it.

 The structure housing the museum served as the junior officer's quarters of the camp. In the early 1960's, the building was due to be demolished, but through the efforts of community groups, it was saved and opened to the public as a museum in 1987.
... Lumber was ordered from New York City, shipped around the Horn, and arrived in late 1862. Construction began immediately and is estimated to have cost one million dollars. The buildings were completed in September of 1863 and occupied by their first commanding officer, Lt. Colonel James Freeman Curtis. Many California Volunteers came through this camp and went east to fight in the war. From 1861 to 1865 approximately 17,000 Californians served in both volunteer regiments in the West and in regiments fighting in the East.

Camp Drum was home to the California Column, formed and commanded by Colonel James Henry Carleton, first commander of the camp. In 1862, Texas Volunteers had taken control of the territory, which is now Arizona and New Mexico, for the Confederacy. Colonel Carleton was ordered by the War Department to gather his troops and retake control of the territory. Thus, 2,350 men began a march to Santa Fe during the driest summer of the century. On the way to Santa Fe, the California Column fought the Battle of Picacho Pass, the westernmost battle of the Civil War. Colonel Carleton successfully marched his large body of troops through much of the most inhospitable territory in the United States without the loss of a single soldier, a feat regarded as a masterpiece of military planning and execution.

Reprinted here with permission from;

Susan Ogle
Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
1052 Banning Blvd., Wilmington, CA  90744
(310) 548-7509 
Learn more at  Drum Barracks Civil War Museum

"Long Guns of the West" Part 7. The Winchester Model 1894 by Tom "Forty Rod" Taylor

The Model 1894 was the first lever action Winchester made for  smokeless cartridges, and it is far and away the most popular centerfire rifle the company ever made with well over 3,000,000 sold and a life span of 116 years (with a few years out for one reason or another.)  There have been few changes (the unsightly angle-eject is one example) during its life.

Another Browning design, the ’94 looks superficially like the ’92, but has a flat bottom to its frame, resulting from the new locking system and the way the lever operates.  When the lever is pulled down, it pulls a front-pivoted, flat-bottomed plate down about 1 ½”.  At the rear of this plate a single steel locking bar rides up and down to firmly lock the bolt against the frame when fully closed 

Primarily made in .30 WCF (aka .30-30) it was also offered in .25-35, .32-40, .32 Winchester Special, and .38-55…and more recently in modern calibers such as .44 Magnum and .375 Winchester (with a strengthened frame)…the ’94 is a well-balanced, relatively accurate, and reliable gun.  In carbine lengths of 20” or 22” it is a nearly perfect woods game gun or saddle carbine.  That isn’t my opinion alone. It is shared by millions of people. 

The barrels were offered in lengths from 14” to 26” (and I have seen at least two at 30”) and were available in round or octagonal.  Saddle rings, special sights, ½ and ¾ magazines, take-down models and straight or pistol grip stocks were cataloged.  Two additional models, the 55 with a ½ magazine, and the 64 with a ¾ magazine and with an additional caliber the 219 Zipper, were offered for a few years. They were essentially the same gun with the shorter magazines and round barrels.

With usual bullet weights of 150 and 170 grains the, “dirty thirty” was capable of taking whitetail and mule deer easily, was adequate against black bear, and was frequently used on game as big as elk and moose, and more than one grizzly has fallen to the round.  It has been used to take animals on the “way-to-hell-and-gone-out-there” list such as pronghorn, mountain goat, and mountain sheep.  More than a few have found their way to Africa as “meat-in-the-pot” guns.

Cowboy Action Shooting hasn’t accepted the ’94 very well.  In “cowboy calibers” it is said to be slow and unreliable and In long-range matches it is said to be inaccurate and too light.  Consensus gives the .38-55 an edge over the .30-30.

I picked up my 26” octagon barreled .30-30, serial number 857xxx, from a friend, Hal ‘Dodge City’ Carlson, in July 2007 for $650.00.  It has been expertly re-blued at sometime and has a small sliver missing from the top of the forearm.

Owen Muny got the old girl smoothed up, and it may someday get the ‘bird” treatment, too.  We’ll have to see.

Forty Rod

All articles submitted to the "Brimstone Gazette" are the property of the author, used with their expressed permission. 
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