Before the start of the Civil War, and after North Carolina left the Union, confederate sympathizers sought to have California join the Confederacy. California ended up siding with the Union despite attempts to change the allegiance of the state. Abraham Lincoln’s friend, Oregon Senator Edward Dickerson Baker, trained the California Brigade in Pennslyvania.
Daniel Showalter was a California Southern sympathizer who lobbied for funds to invade California and other western states. Daniel eventually left the state of California and joined the Texas Confederate forces. On March 30, 1862, the Battle of Stanwix Station, the westernmost battle of the U.S. Civil War, occurred which led to a confederate eastward retreat to Tuscon, Arizona. Captain Sherod Hunter managed to get rangers to take over the town of Tucson. While Civil War battles did not occur in the state of California, a regiment of California Union soldiers were sent to Tucson, to find out of their western plans, and to prevent Confederates from taking over Arizona and Southern California. On April 15, 1862, the Battles of Picacho Pass and Picacho Peak led to a further Confederate retreat of the western front. The Confederacy would not try to invade California again after Battle of Picacho Peak. However, Confederates planned various schemes to interfere with the Union effort in California. Ashbury Harpending schemed to steal a ship transporting gold from San Francisco to the Panama Canal and in 1865 the English-built confederate cruiser Shenandoah, a sister ship of the Alabama, maintained attacks on various New England whaling vessels. Even when the Civil War ended, the captain of the Shenandoah planned to conduct an attack in San Francisco in August 1865, because he had not gotten word that the war was over. Eventually, when the captain finally received news of Robert Lee’s surrender and the capture of President Jefferson Finis Davis, the San Francisco attack was called off.
Many of the fifteen thousand California Union volunteers devoted time to reunions after the end of the war. Most notably, fifty years after the Battle at Pickett’s Charge, California Union veterans returned to the site of the battle for a reunion.