Army of the Potomac
1st California to 71st Pennsylvania
Within a few days of the firing on Ft. Sumter, Edward D. Baker, Senator from Oregon, called upon his long time personal friend Abraham Lincoln and tendered his services in defense of the Union. President Lincoln suggested to Sen. Baker that he raise a regiment as he had done during the Mexican War.
On April 21st, Sen. Baker along with former citizens of the states of California and Oregon held a meeting in New York City. Those in attendance resolved to raise and offer to the United States a regiment of infantry, to be credited to the state of California. Recruiting went forward in and around Philadelphia and New York City. On May 16, 1861, twenty-five days later, the 1st California Regiment was mustered into service.
Initially called the 1st California, it was determined there were not enough Californians in the ranks and as a result, after the death of Baker in Oct. 1861, the regiment was given to the state of Pennsylvania and redesigned the 71st Pennsylvania. Despite this new designation and lack of Californians, the Regiment was know throughout the war as the "California Regiment."
The Regiment served in the Eastern theater of war from 1861 to 1864. Assigned to the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac the 71st was engaged in some of the largest battles in the Eastern theater, a few being Antietam, Fredricksburg, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.
-Information provided by Brian Endlein