Lake County History Chapter 94: The Dashiell Affair

Many families, like the original southern owners of the Upper Lake Tallman Hotel, who feared for their families after the war, fled to South America and Mexico to found colonies. The bad taste and the antipathy between North and South, for some, remains.  Even in our times, when a black man held a seat of world power, there is prejudice still.

One story about a Confederate sympathizer is typical of the hard feelings that remained after the Civil War. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported on what happened to southern sympathizers in Lake County.

‘On the 20th of April, 1865, six days after Lincoln was assassinated, a company of soldiers, dispatched from Fort Wright and under the command of Captain Charles Douglas, were given orders to arrest any ‘Johnny Rebs’ that expressed glee at the news of the assassination. They took the road into Potter Valley on 1 June, to receive written complaints from residents that heard any expressions of glee over the assassination. Ranchers, loyal to the Union, reported such expressions they heard from certain of their neighbors, and, upon receiving the report, the soldiers took off to arrest the culprits.’

One such person, Lewis Hale, offered such an affidavit.

“I was with a neighbor when we came upon McCall. He was riding his horse about fifty or sixty yards ahead of us. Another neighbor, whose name was Thad Dashiell, was riding with McCall.

I heard Dashiell ask McCall, “Have you heard Lincoln was killed?”

McCall answered Dashiell, ‘I’m glad what happened to that old son of a bitch. More of them ought to go the same way.”

“I know John McCall,” Hale said. “His farm is about a mile and a half from where I live. That’s all I heard.”

That was enough for Captain Douglas.

As Thad Dashiel, the man that was riding with McCall when the inflammatory anti-Lincoln statement was overheard, later also testified, “I was riding with McCall when he was arrested that day by some soldiers and an officer. The soldiers rode up behind us, and the Captain spoke to McCall. He said he was arresting him. McCall answered him, ‘By whose authority are you arresting me?’ The officer answered, ‘By the authority of General McDowell (Army commander in San Francisco).’

“Then McCall was taken from his home. I was arrested and taken along. McCall asked to stop and change his clothes. That wasn’t allowed. He was marched three miles and put into a Guard House wet and without a change of clothes. He had to lie on the floor to sleep. McCall walked most of the way because there were not enough animals to ride the whole party.”

“In the morning, we started for Round Valley. It was sixty miles from where McCall and I were arrested and through the mountains. I traveled all night in Long Valley on mule back. McCall also had a mule. They kept us all night in Long Valley. Then in the morning, we were taken sixty miles to Ft. Bragg and put in the guardhouse. From there, we were put on a schooner, a common lumber schooner. I was on board with Mr. McCall, and the next day we put to sea in the direction of San Francisco.”

“The schooner barreled down the coast, one time out of sight of the coast. On our arrival in San Francisco, the soldiers in charge of us had their pistols cocked and their fingers on the trigger. We were marched to the Provost Marshall’s office then to the guardhouse. The accommodations were not pleasant. The guardhouse was ten by twelve feet. It was a filthy place. All the drunken soldiers in town made it no better than a pigsty. We were handcuffed. The usual handcuffs weigh a couple of pounds. We were kept there for two days and two nights. Then, near the middle of the day, we were taken, still in handcuffs, and marched under guard through the city. We went to a little schooner, and we were taken to Alcatraz.”

“On Alcatraz, we were put to work breaking rocks into small pieces. We were there for five days working twelve hours a day. Then we were returned to San Francisco and locked in the same little guardhouse overnight. The next day, in Court, we were asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the Union. We did so, and we were discharged.”

McCall and Dashiell went home to Lake County and their ranches. The Civil War was over, but John McCall did not forget. Two years later, he sued the Federal Government for violating his right to free speech. What he said, his testimony has been treasured by the family ever since that time. McCall collected five hundred dollars damages from the United States Government. Dashiell, later, was elected as one of the Supervisors of Lake County.

Next Episode: Meet Lilly Langtry

© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION

To enjoy all Gene’s books, visit his website; http://genepaleno.com/

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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