The last march of the vigilantes

All of the displays of the power of the Committee of Vigilance had been remarkable, most notably when Casey and Cora were taken from county jail and then when the law and order forces were overpowered and marched through the streets to vigilance headquarters. But in comparison with the August 18th parade they came to nothing. Even the townsmen prepared for it for several days prior, covering their houses with American flags and hanging banners across the roads. By nine o’clock on the morning of the appointed day the streets were filled with armed men and by eleven thousands of vigilante soldiers were marching to their stations amid huge throngs of onlookers. The various companies formed a line extending the length of Third Street, or about one mile, where they were reviewed by the executive committee and the board of delegates.

Military units of the vigilantes 1856

Military units of the vigilantes 1856

Led by Marshal Doane and his staff this procession set off followed by four companies of artillery, a float that represented vigilante headquarters or Fort Gunnybags as it was known, the executive committee mounted and riding three abreast, two companies of dragoons each proceeded by a band and then the medical staff of about fifty. After them marched the vigilantes from 1851 and finally the four regiments of vigilante infantry, each regiment consisting of about eight hundred men and organized into eight to ten companies. The march went from Third Street to Market and on to Montgomery, Clay, Stockton, Vallejo, Powell, Washington, Kearny, California, Sansome, Clay, Front and then to vigilante headquarters on Sacramento Street where they disbursed. It had been a magnificent march, by far the finest ever seen in San Francisco with extraordinary good order and soberness shown by both the participants and the spectators.

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