Northern California December 04, 2018
Few People Know That A Civil War Battle Took Place In This Northern California Town
California isn’t exactly the first place you think of regarding Civil War history. After all, the West was pretty far removed from the war taking place between the North and South. However, it turns out there’s one Northern California town that played a small but notable role in the war. In fact, it was the location of an actual Civil War battle! This piece of small town lore is a story that locals love to tell visitors since it’s not a very well-known tidbit of information, yet it perfectly encapsulates the rich history of this charming town.
The town of Volcano is just brimming with history. Named for its setting in a bowl-shaped valley which early miners once believed was the result of a volcano, this charming community is home to just around 130 inhabitants but an endless amount of stories.
Visitors who take the time to get to know this delightful town will likely hear the story of how Volcano was once the site of a Civil War battle. This unlikely story is more than just an interesting tidbit. It's a piece of town lore that has come to define this unique community.
Back in 1860, Volcano was actually considered a "large city". Due to a steady population streaming in and the wealth that the Mother Lode brought, Volcano became the place of many of California's firsts. The first private law school, astronomical observatory, theater group, and circulating library originated here.
At the time, Federal and Confederate support was pretty divided in California. Many of the state's newest inhabitants proudly represented the views of their former homes, both North and South. Volcano was no different.
As a rip-roaring gold town, Volcano began sending gold over to the North. Approximately $98 million to be exact! However, it soon became evident that Southern sympathizers planned to start capturing gold shipments and using it for their own cause.
As a result, a small troop of Union militia called the Volcano Blues got their hands on a 6-pound, smooth-bore cannon for protection. The old brass cannon was shipped to Sacramento and brought to Volcano in a hearse during the night.
The Volcano Blues didn't know much about artillery, but this wouldn't matter. When the Rebels started marching down the street to intercept the gold, the Blues unveiled the cannon and effectively warded them off. No shots were fired, making this one of the shortest and least bloodiest Civil War battles in history.
The cannon still holds a special place in the hearts of Volcano locals. In fact, it would be fired on holidays and during community celebrations until the end of World War II. The cannon is officially out-of-commission today, but you can still see it for yourself in a shed near Union Square.
This Civil War battle may have lacked drama and bloodshed, but it's still a treasured tibit of Northern California history. Passed down for generations and told enthusiastically to any visitor who's willing to listen, it's a fascinating, and humorous, piece of Volcano lore.
Did you know that Volcano was home to a small Civil War battle? This bizarre story is such a fascinating piece of Northern California history! For more historic destinations, check out our list of
11 Must-Visit Historical Landmarks In Northern California.