soldier on a horse
California Hundred

The California Hundred

The California Hundred Project 1988-1989

“The California Hundred” project was conducted in the 1988-89 school year. The following schools participated: Berenda School, Raul Lozano’s 8th-grade class (Madera, California); Howard School, Ruth Fishkin’s 8th-grade class (Madera, California); LaVina School, Lucretia McGuggin’s 6th-grade class (Madera, California); Somerset Middle School, Ken Schmidt’s 8th-grade history class (Modesto, California); and Thomas Jefferson Junior High School, Robin Dompeling’s 8th-grade history class (Madera, California).

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, both sides mobilized their forces and put out a call for volunteers. Regular units and volunteer troops from California were given guard duty watching over the western wagon roads and harbors of the Pacific to prevent the expected invasion by the Confederates.

Although this was honorable duty and very necessary, not everyone was content to remain on the west coast while the fighting raged in the east. One such person was J. Sewell Reed of San Francisco. He organized a company of one hundred cavalry volunteers, designed a distinctive uniform and battle flag, and then attached his unit to the Second Massachusetts Cavalry.

For two and one-half years, the One Hundred saw action on the battlefields of Virginia as part of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, but they fought under the California Bear Flag and stayed together as a unit, maintaining their California identity.

At the conclusion of the War, the One Hundred were discharged and came home, without their leader. J. Sewell Reed had been killed in battle. Their exploits chasing Mosby’s Rangers in eastern Virginia and their bravery in numerous conflicts in the Shenandoah Valley are all recorded in a book co-authored by over 200 junior high school students.

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