G.A.R. Post: John Buford Post #89 Everett, WA
2nd CALIFORNIA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: 9-12/61 San Francisco, CA & Carson City, NY
Mustered In: 10/2-12/31/61 San Francisco, CA
Mustered Out: 6/30 or 7/2/66 San Francisco, CA
The 2nd, a three year "Pacific coast" unit was primarily organized in California. Co. "F", however, was brought together in Nevada. The regiment was assembled at the Presidio in San Francisco for Federal muster. After being ushered into Federal serviced five companies of the 2nd were sent to the State of Oregon and into Washington Territory to replace regular army troops who had been ordered east. Two additional companies were sent to Santa Barbara, CA. The OR/WA troops were returned to California during the summer of 1862.
The primary role of the 2nd was outpost and scout duty defending against Native American Indians. In this vein, during the summer of 1863 a portion of the regiment, including headquarters was ordered to Ft. Miller in Fresno Co., CA. From there detachments were dispatched to various California locations until called back to the Presidio in October, 1864 where original enlistees who had not opted for further service were mustered out. Re enlisted veterans and new recruits then continued in service occupying the following stations in California: Camp on San Pedro River, Drum barracks, Ft. Gaston, Ft. Humboldt and Ft. Yuma. Arizona Territory assignments included Fts. Grant and Goodwin. Final muster for the 2nd was in mid-1866.
Residence: I Fremont, CA Age: 17 yrs. (est)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 11/5/61 San Francisco, CA Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 11/5/61 San Francisco, CA
Mustered Out: 11/5/64 San Francisco, CA
Highest Rank: Sgt.
Nathan G. Smith was likely born in 1844 in Putnam Co., IL. However, throughout his life, his noted year of birth varied. Further, neither his birth month nor birth date are documented.
Nathan's parents were John (b. 1833 IL) and Elizabeth Smith (No nee, b. 1809 OH). He had four older and one younger siblings: John P. (b.1833 IL), Electa (b. 1836 IL), Sarah (b. 1840 IL), Samuel (b. 1842 IL), and Walker (b. 1846, IL).
It appears Nathan's father departed the household following the birth of Walker. Whether that was because of death or some other reason, is not known. The 1850 U.S. census for Putnam Co. showed Elizabeth and her children in the home of farmer James Ottison (b.1804, Canada). Also in the home was Shepherd Ottison (b. 1847 IL).
Available evidence points to the Ottison/Smith family leaving Illinois in 1852 and crossing the plains westward to California. The 1860 census placed the merged family group of James, Elizabeth, Walker and Sheppard (note alternative spelling) in Fremont, Santa Clara, CA. Nathan, now with a birth year of 1842, was living nearby and working as a farm laborer.
In early November, 1861 Nathan enlisted in the United States Army at The Presidio in San Francisco. His subsequent Civil War military tenure reflects a number of short illnesses, a furlough which extended into a short-lived awol and several periods of detached service. The first detachment was on 6/17/62 to Elk Camp, CA while the second was in March/April, 1864 with a government (wagon) train. The third was in June, '64 when, having been promoted to the rank of sergeant, he was performing recruiting duties in San Francisco. Nathan left the military as a sergeant. It appears he then returned to Fremont.
Circa 1866 Nathan married, in California, a woman identified only as Susan J. (b. 3/46 or '47, England). In 1900 Susan reported she had given birth to nine children, five of whom were living. However, only four Smith children are named in available records: Ada (b.1867), Una (b. 1874), Alexander P. (b. 1877) and Pearly R. (b. 1884). While all four were reportedly born in California, between the birth of Alexander and Pearly the family apparently moved north into Oregon for a time before travelling back to California because the 1880 census noted Nathan, Elizabeth and their three children residing in Pocahontas, Baker County, Oregon. Nathan's stated occupation of "horse trainer" apparently took him to various locales along the west coast.
Sometime between 1884 and1890 Nathan and Susan divorced. Although there are no census records available for 1890, in mid July of that year while residing in Boise, ID, the 5'10", blue eyed Nathan applied for a government disability pension claiming a rupture or hernia supposedly stemming to his days of Civil War soldiering. Although a monthly stipend was subsequently granted, the initial dollar amount is not known.
During the 1900 U.S. Census Nathan's whereabouts were not documented, but Susan and daughter Pearly were residing in Los Angeles, CA. At that time she was receiving a portion of her ex-husband's pension.
On June 13, 1904 Nathan died in the Friday Harbor, San Juan Co., WA Hospital. Cause of death was listed as stomach cancer. His obituary noted that he was known all along the (west) coast as a horseman and was well liked, making friends wherever he went. His nickname was "Captain Smith." The obit went on to mention that Captain Smith had resided (at some point) in Everett for ten years. As such it is not clear if Nathan was living in Everett at the time of his death and only working in Friday Harbor when he took ill or if he had resided earlier in Everett and was, at death, residing in Friday Harbor. Whatever the chronology, his remains were interred in Everett's Evergreen Cemetery.
The 1910 census placed Susan in Los Angeles with daughter, Pearly Ashe and grandson Julian L. By 1920 she was still residing in Los Angeles, but with son, Alexander. It was there, on 4/7/20, she died. At death she was receiving a $25 per month pension payment based on her late, ex-husband's Civil War service. Details on the location of her burial are not known.
Buried at Evergreen Cemetery
R. Bruce Smith
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