Archives for May 2012

The trials of Casey and Cora

When all the pretrial preliminaries were over the executive committee of the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance swore a sacred oath to God and each other that the votes taken to arrive at their verdict in the trials of Charles Cora and James Casey would not be divulged to any living being. Charles Cora was then brought before them for the murder of Marshal Richardson. He chose Miers Truett as his attorney. Truett asked for the assistance of Thomas Smiley and this was allowed. Soon after the … [Read more...]

Vigilantes prepare to try Casey and Cora

Around two that afternoon, as soon as James Casey was securely incarcerated at vigilante headquarters, the whole party returned to the county jail for Charles Cora. There was some delay in getting him but he finally appeared and was placed in the same carriage as Casey had been and driven, with an armed escort, back to Sacramento Street where he was confined. The war committee had determined that the jail should remain in possession of the sheriff and, except for a small guard, all the military … [Read more...]

The vigilantes take James Casey

The military of the Committee of Vigilance had surrounded county jail, the field gun they acquired aimed at the front door. A summons ordering Sheriff Scannell to surrender James Casey had been served and ignored. About one that afternoon William Coleman and several members of the executive committee arrived and spoke with Charles Doane who informed them that Casey refused to surrender, was armed with a long knife and had a defiant, menacing attitude. Coleman and Miers Truett then went to the … [Read more...]

San Francisco jail surrounded by vigilantes

The separate companies of the Committee of Vigilance, about fifteen hundred men in all, started out about noon and marched by different routes to their respective assigned positions, some by way of Kearny Street, others by Dupont, and more by Stockton Street. Most found themselves on Broadway in front of the jail or on streets directly adjoining it, while some wound up on the hillside north and east of the jail. They arrived with an almost mathematical precision, delivering an extraordinary … [Read more...]

The vigilante military march on county jail

Charles Doane, the chief marshal of the military forces of the Committee of Vigilance, reported at about eight o’clock on Sunday morning, May 18, 1856 that the men under his command were ready for immediate, effective service. That the committee had managed to organize, arm and then field a well skilled force in such a short time was a wonder to some, but Edward H. Parker, an agent for eastern manufacturers had loaned all the muskets and ball cartridges needed. Many committee members were … [Read more...]

Charles Doane named marshal of vigilante military

While Governor Johnson and General Sherman were making whatever preparations they felt could be done, the Committee of Vigilance steadily increased its membership and by Saturday night had enrolled about thirty-five hundred men. James King still lived but his condition as of that Friday was said to be critical. The morning after the shooting he had been taken from the Pacific Express office to a room in the Montgomery Block where he received good nursing and care from several physicians and … [Read more...]

Anger threatens the compromise with the vigilantes

When the men who had volunteered to guard the jail for Sheriff Scannell, by this time mostly lawyers, heard of the compromise Governor Johnson made with the Committee of Vigilance they were furious. Some handed back their weapons and left in disgust. Then the fact that committee members had an armed contingent inside the jail gave rise to rumors that they had actually taken over and had custody of James Casey and would not let him go. It was this rumor that soon made it’s way to the ear of the … [Read more...]

The vigilantes and Governor Johnson compromise

His talk with General Sherman had evidently changed Governor Johnson’s mind from what he’d thought after his earlier talk with William Coleman. When he arrived at the committee’s headquarters with his brother, Sherman and former mayor Garrison he immediately asked Coleman what the committee planned to do and whether the matter could be settled. Coleman replied that the people were tired of having citizens shot down as well as all the other outrages committed against them and were no longer … [Read more...]

William Sherman and Gov. Johnson negotiate with vigilantes

Another who waited at the wharf for Governor Johnson was William T. Sherman, who had been appointed as major general of the second division of the California militia, and was in charge of the troops in San Francisco. He had just come from the jail where he had informed Sheriff Scannell that the place was indefensible. When he discovered that the Governor had somehow passed him, Sherman, along with William Johnson, the governor’s brother, and former mayor Cornelius Garrison then made his way to … [Read more...]

Governor J. Neely Johnson and the Committee of Vigilance

On Friday night Governor Johnson arrived in San Francisco by steamer. A group of those opposed to the Committee of Vigilance, known as the Law and Order Party, were waiting for him on the wharf, but somehow missed him. These were not the men the Governor wished to see. Instead he wanted a meeting with the Committee of Vigilance. And later that evening William Coleman called on him at the International Hotel on Jackson Street between Montgomery and Kearny. Right away the governor asked what the … [Read more...]