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Rodman cannon on Fort Alcatraz in the 1860s

Links of Interest

National Park Service, Alcatraz

California Military Museum

Alcatraz Cruises (Hornblower Ferry)

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Department of the Pacific

California Genealogy and History Archives

Society of Civil War Surgeons

The American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia

Nursing and Medicine in the Civil War


Civil War Round Tables:

San Francisco Civil War Round Table

Peninsula Civil War Roundtable

Sacramento Civil War Round Table



2nd California Cavalry Company

20th Maine, Company G

ACWA American Civil War Association

NCWA National Civil War Association

RACW Reenactors of the Civil War

CHAS California Historical Artillery Society



Photography by Alan Myers




Recommended Books


*Fortress Alcatraz Guardian of the Golden Gate by John Martini

(Berkeley, Ten Speed Press, 1990)

The definitive book about the construction of the fort, its armaments and defenses, and the island's strategic value in protecting Northern California.

Forts of the American Frontier by Ron Field

(New York, Osprey Publishing, 2011)

A well illustrated book on the development and the variety of forts built in the far west of the United States. Also covers life in the forts and their roles in different conflicts. Includes Fort Point and Fort Alcatraz.



The Army of the Pacific, 1860-1866 by Aurora Hunt

(Mechanicsville, Stackpole Books, 2004)

A thorough account of the volunteers from California and Colorado who made up most of the Army of the Pacific, and their role in protecting the Southwest from being occupied by Confederate troops; the California battles in the East; and the role of the Pacific Squadron of the Union Navy.

*The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War by Leonard Richards

(New York, Alfred Knopf, 2007)

California came into the Union as a free state, and yet nine years later the state legislature voted for secession. How this came to be is a fascinating story well detailed by Richards, and he makes a good case that the gold rush was a major factor in the events leading up to the Civil War.

The Civil War: Northern California's Unrecognized Valor by John G. Edmonds

(Belmont, Star Publishing Company, 2010)

This paperback book provides information about Californians who served the Union cause and the specific ways and places they did so. It also gives a greater context to the politics and passions of the time in San Francisco, and the many ways California influenced the war even from so great a distance. It gives a special space to the men of San Mateo County who served the Union cause.

*Especially recommended

Book Review

Title of book: The World Rushed In, published by Simon and Schuster in 1983
Author: J.S. Holiday
Review done by: Brad Schall

J.S. Holiday spent 30 years in writing this book and careful details makes it a must read for California History.  Documentarian Ken Burns featured J. S. Holliday in his PBS series The West, and once said "No one writes better about California's irresistible past". The diary of William Swains daughter, Sara, had proudly preserved her fathers gold rush diary.

Williams diary captured me to the point that I could imagine him by the campfire every evening, recording the days events. I got to know his family and friends by the way they provided material for this book. I particularly enjoyed the change in California from the stagecoach to the train.

The book reaches out beyond William Swain's diary and includes sidebars on the gold rush experience. Swain was a typical aquanaut who left the east coast, traveled to California, lived in a mining camp, saw the elephant and returned home to New York. What sets this book apart is the correspondence to Swain in California from his wife, Sabrina, and his brother George.



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