Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

ESTEN, STEPHEN H (1830-1894)

Santa Cruz Great Register (1882)

Stephen Hopkins Esten- Age 51- Native of Rhode Island- Cook by occupation- and living in Corralitos, was registered in Santa Cruz on September 25, 1882.

The Mexican War, David Nevin

The precision-drilled batteries of the flying artillery fought from Palo Alto to Mexico City beneath the crossed cannon-barrel insignia of the U.S. 3rd Artillery Regiment. Taylor's army on the Rio Grande had both heavy artillery and three of the U.S. Army's total of five batteries of flying artillery. Ringgold commanded his own Battery C. A second battery was led by Lieutenant Braxton Bragg- another future confederate- and a third by Captain James Duncan. (p. 27)

The "California 100" 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, Company "A", Larry Rogers

Many patriotic young men on the West Coast had followed the war in the newspapers and were anxious for a chance to join in the fight. But they knew that if they joined a California unit they would be stationed in the West - fighting Indians, guarding wagon trains, or doing garrison duty.

In the late summer of 1862, a group of Californians, all originally from the East Coast, contacted Governor Andrews of Massachusetts and proposed to raise one hundred volunteers to form a separate company in a cavalry regiment that was being raised in Massachusetts. The Governor agreed, with the condition that the Californians would provide their own uniforms and equipment. Officially they became Company "A" of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, but they were more popularly known as the "California Hundred".

The Californians used their enlistment bounty to pay for their passage and set off by sea from San Francisco, December 11, 1862. Their journey took them via the Isthmus of Panama and thence up the eastern seaboard, arriving at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts (just outside Boston) on January 4, 1863. After spending several weeks of basic training at Camp Meigs, the Company was transported to Fortress Monroe, Va., and placed on active duty at Gloucester Point on February 22, 1863.

This first contingent of Californians was so successful that it was soon followed by 400 more volunteers under similar terms. They arrived at Camp Meigs during March and April of 1863, and soon after receiving their basic training were assigned to the defenses of Washington, D.C. They became Companies E, F, L, and M of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.

On July 27, 1863, Company A, the California Hundred, left Gloucester Point and on August 19, 1863, joined up with its fellow Californians at Centreville. There, they joined in the defenses of the Capitol as well as countering the guerrilla raids of Mosby. The Californians were later assigned to Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah, and participated in the sweep of the Confederates from the Shenandoah Valley during the fall and winter of 1864. They fought with distinction in the battles of Winchester, Luray, and Cedar Creek. They were part of the long march from the Shenandoah to Petersburg in February and March of 1865 and later participated in the battles of Dinwiddie Court House, Five Forks, and Sailors Creek. At wars end they were present at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court House. They participated in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. on May 23, 1865.

They were mustered out of the U.S. service at Fairfax Court House, Va. July 20, 1865, and on August 3, 1865, having returned to Camp Meigs, the men were paid off and the regiment disbanded.

Source: Fort Tejon Historical Association Website (11/2000)

Record of California Men in the War of the Rebellion

On the 21st of March 1863, he sailed aboard the Steamer "Constitution" to New York where he arrived at on April 14, 1863. On the 15th, after hearing speeches by the Mayor and Gov of Nevada, the unit marched through Broadway and proceeded to its camp at Readville Massachusetts. There the battalion was mounted, armed, and equipped for the field. Since the battalion was given a short furlough to visit family and friends in the area, Stephen Esten quite likely traveled to Rhode Island his home state for a visit.

On the 12th of May the unit proceeded to Washington DC where they were attached to Casey's Provisional Troops, 22nd Corps, to August 1863. Kings Division 22nd Corps to September 1863. Cavalry Brigade, 22nd Corps, to August, 1864. Reserve Cavalry Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of Shenandoah, Middle Military Division, to September, 1864. 3rd (Reserve) Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of Shenandoah and Army of the Potomac, to July, 1865. During these periods the unit was to be found mainly in the valley of the Shenandoah where they pursued Mosby. They also participated with Phil Sheridan in his Valley campaign, the Wilderness Campaign, Independent cavalry campaigns, within Virginia, culminating in Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

Following the Grand Review in Washington DC on the 23rd of May 1865, Stephen Esten and his unit were sent to Fairfax Court House VA, where it remained on picket and guard duty until he and his unite were mustered out on the twentieth of July 1865.

Santa Cruz Surf (March 2, 1894)

Shifting Sands

Stephen H. Esten, of Boulder Creek, Santa Cruz County, a survivor of the Mexican War has been granted a pension.

Santa Cruz Surf (June 6, 1894)

The funeral of Stephen Esten took place yesterday afternoon from Wessendorf & Staffler's undertaking parlors in the Y.M.C.A. building under the auspices of W.H.L. Wallace Post, G.A.R. of which he was a member. Mr. Esten was formerly of Boulder but has been in a hospital at San Francisco, where he died of paralysis. His remains were brought to this city yesterday. The services were conducted by the G.A.R. and the deceased was interred in the G.A.R. plot at Evergreen cemetery. This is the third member of that post who has died within a month.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 6, 1894)

Sentinel Jottings

Steven Esten, formerly of Boulder Creek, and a member of Wallace Post GAR died Sunday in San Francisco. He was aged 65 years. The deceased was buried by the old soldiers Tuesday afternoon in Evergreen Cemetery.

Editorial Notes from Robert L. Nelson

NARA Military/Pension Research (October 10, 2003)

Pension files reveal that Steven Esten, age 63 of Boulder Creek California, applied for a Mexican war veteran's pension in April of 1893. He indicated that he was born at North Providence Rhode Island and worked there as a baker prior to his enlistment in Battery C of the 3rd US Artillery on June 18, 1847. During the war he also served in Battery B, and participated in the engagements of Cerro Gordo, Cherubusco and Chapultepec. He was honorably discharged at Fort Monroe VA on Aug 15, 1848.

During the Civil War Stephen H Esten enlisted in Co E (California Battalion) of the 2 Massachusetts Cavalry in San Francisco on January 29, 1863 as a Private and was mustered out on July 20, 1865 at Fairfax Court House VA.

Additional Death Certificate Notes (from Registrars Office)

Stephen Esten died in St. Lukes Hospital in San Francisco of "Softening of the Brain". Prior to his death his occupation was listed as that of "bartender".

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