Santa Cruz County History - People

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

LAMB, WILLIAM H (1838-1924)

History of Santa Cruz County California, E.S. Harrison

Photograph of William H Lamb
William H. Lamb

Born in Norwich, Chenango county, N.Y., January 15, 1838, William H. Lamb was graduated from the high school of his native town at the age of eighteen years and then went to Boston, Mass., where he secured employment in the wholesale and retail dry goods house of George W. Warren. Shortly after his location in the east the country became involved in memorable Civil war. At the opening of the struggle he enlisted in the Second Battalion, Independent Riflemen of Boston, but was rejected. Undaunted by the failure he at once went back to his old home in New York, where he was accepted as a member of the Forty fourth New York Regiment of Infantry, commanded by Colonel Ellsworth. After a time he was transferred to the Ninetieth New York Infantry. His service in the Union army covered a period of four years and eight months and included at its close considerable reconstruction work in the southern states. With Generals Grant, Hooker, Reed and George B. McClellan, he participated in many of the most important engagements of the war and six time he was wounded while in battles, but fortunately he escaped serious injury.

At the close of the war the young soldier returned to his old home at Norwich, N.Y., with a splendid record for military service, in which he had been honored with many promotions from the ranks as a fitting recognition of his bravery and intimate knowledge of war tactics. Taking up the avocation of peace, he entered into business at Norwich, where he remained for six years. At the expiration of that time he was engaged by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company to act as their land agent in South Dakota. The road had recently built out into Dakota and its officials were solicitous to open up that country for settlement. Accordingly Colonel Lamb laid out and established the village of Clark in Clark country, S.Dak., and, while acting as land agent for the road, also conducted a general real estate business and was proprietor of a hardware store. Taking up land from the government, he laid out towns on the railroad from Watertown, Coddington County, as far west as Redfield, Spink County. Meanwhile he had gained the warm confidence and high regard of the pioneers of the region and their admiration for his abilities found recognition in is election to the state legislature, as representative of a district embracing nine counties, or about one third of the state. Through able service in the assembly he was instrumental in benefiting his district, and few of the pioneers were more closely associated with local development than he, his time, means and influence for years being given to the task of promoting interest in that part of the northwest.

The failure of his health obliged Colonel Lamb to seek a less rigorous climate and with that object in view he came to California in 1891, settling in Petaluma, Sonoma County, but removing to Santa Cruz in 1893. Shortly after his arrival in this city he purchased a hardware store, one of the first established in the town, and since then with his two sons he has been active in its management, carrying a large stock of hardware and serving customers from all parts of the county. Aside from his commercial activity, he has been prominent in local politics. During his service as mayor of Santa Cruz he as instrumental in promoting many needed improvements and largely through his personal efforts the state militia decided to hold here its annual encampment. In partnership with T.L. Bell he located the side and erected the famous hotel Rowardennan at Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz mountains, ten miles from the city of Santa Cruz. For many years he acted as president of the corporation, with H.F. Anderson as secretary and under his executive leadership the enterprise met with encouraging success. Recently, however, he sold his interest in the company, in order that he might devote more attention to other important matters. With a number of other business men he organized a company and purchased the Anthony property on Pacific Avenue. It is the intention of the company to extend the avenue through the land, thereby increasing the value of the surrounding property.

The first wife of Colonel Lamb was a Miss Hart of Boston, who died leaving a son, John R. During 1869 he was united in marriage with Miss Anna D. Peck, daughter of Hon SS Peck, a member of the Canadian parliament. Two children were born of the second marriage, namely; William H.J., and Anna Louise, the latter a recent graduate of the Santa Cruz high school. Fraternally a Mason, Colonel Lamb has taken al of the Masonic degrees up to and including that of Knight Templar. During the summer months the family occupy their picturesque summer home, Edgewood, situated near Ben Lomond and surrounded by a well improved estate of eleven acres. In Santa Cruz he purchased what was known as the Chinese Garden on Mission hill and afterward extended Davis Street, which has become one of the finest residence streets in the city. In addition he owns forty four acres of valuable shore property near Capitola on the ocean front. (p. 193)

Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 23, 1898)

Colonel W.H. Lamb
His proud Record as Civilian and Soldier
Gallantly Served his Country in Time of Peril - Consents to Become Candidate for Mayor

At the solicitation of many citizens Col. W.H. Lamb has consented to become a candidate for Mayor. Although the merchants contribute liberally towards the support of the municipality this is the first time in the history of Santa Cruz that a merchant in active business is a candidate for the highest office in the gift of the municipality. It is gratifying to the majority of the citizens that a merchant has agreed to run for Mayor, for it is recognized that Santa Cruz requires a business administration. This city must not be governed by sentiment alone. To its government business rules should be applied.

The merchants are entitled to recognition, for no class is more interested in the welfare of the city. For years they have contributed largely to the prosperity of Santa Cruz, yet not one of their number has been honored with the position of Mayor. The business men should stand together in advocating Mr. Lamb's candidacy, for here is an opportunity for them to show their strength. Success at the coming election will prove that the merchants can accomplish much by standing together.

Col. Lamb is a successful merchant. He has freely given of his time and money towards every object which would benefit Santa Cruz. In every public movement he is prominent. As a member of the Board of Trade and the Carnival Committee he has shown that whatever he undertakes proves successful.

Aside from his record as a businessman Col. Lamb has a war record which any man would feel proud of. He nobly fought in defense of his country in its time of peril.

When the war began Col. Lamb enlisted and was made Lieutenant of a company. Not being of age his uncle, who was guardian, refused to let him remain in the company. A month later, after much persuasion, he obtained his uncle's consent and joined the Peoples' Ellsworth Regiment known as the 44th New York. This was in June 1861. In nine months he was commissioned a Captain for gallant service. He was then transferred to the 90th New York under Col Shawman. After being with the regiment six months he was appointed ordnance officer on Gen. Dwight's staff. He was placed on detached service, and given command of a battalion of mounted infantry attached to Gen Phil Sheridan's headquarters in the Shenandoah Valley. He was in all the skirmishes and opened every engagement from Winchester to Petersburg. He received seven wounds while in his country's service. In all he participated in 218 battles. He was with the Army of the Potomac in about all of its battles. Among the most important fights he was in were the following: Advance on Manassas, charge of front at Richmond, siege of Yorktown, battle of West Point, Chancellorsville, Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Bull Run, Gettysburg, Antietam, Lookout Mountain, Vicksburg.

Col. Lamb was in the last charge before Lee's surrender. He saw the flag of truce when it was raised at Appomattox. He was at Gen Sheridan's headquarters when Sheridan sent the following dispatch to Gen Grant: "I think if Lee is pushed he will surrender." Grant laconically replied: "Push him." Then Sheridan gave orders to advance and struck Lee's column. In that memorable charge Col Lamb was in the advance.

Once at Cedar Creek Col. Lamb showed the heroic stuff he is made of. The Union army was demoralized by Col. Lamb felt that victory would perch on the Union banners if another effort to beat the enemy could be made. He did not see any of his superior officers in sight, so he took command of a regiment, which he had hastily gathered together, and threw a line across a turnpike and sopped all of the stragglers as fast at they arrived, until he had about 5,000 men under him. For an hour he was in supreme command.

When the war closed Col. Lamb as appointed Provost Marshal in the district of Georgia, with headquarters at Savannah. In March 1866 he was mustered out of service with the rank of Colonel. He then engaged in the mercantile business in his native Norwich N.Y. Afterwards he moved to South Dakota establishing himself in business, in which he was successful. His popularity was attested by the fact of his being elected to the Legislature by a majority of 1,500 against a combine of schemers which had been formed against him because he wouldn’t stand in on a job to move the capitol. This proved Col. Lamb's sterling honesty, and it is that honesty which has characterized him in all of his dealings. He is open and above board in all of his transactions.

To the office of Mayor he would bring the benefit of his business experience and see that the municipality is conducted economically and honestly, and on business principles.

Every movement that will tend to benefit the city will have his earnest support, for Santa Cruz is his home. Anything in his power that will bring prosperity will find him giving it his earnest support.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (November 19, 1896)

The Proud Record as Civilian and Soldier
Colonel W.H. Lamb
Who "Gallantly Served His Country in Time of Peril"
Now Consents to Become a Candidate for Mayor
A Remarkable Revelation of Hitherto Unsuspected Greatness, Before Which Every hat Should Doff and Every Knee Bend

Once more the Surf has been misled by following a contemporary. For years and specially during the Carnival period of two years ago the Sentinel constantly referred to W.H. Lamb, as Admiral, and the Surf supposed it was the proper thing to so allude to the latest candidate for Mayor, but the same authority this morning asserts that Lamb was a Landsman during the "late unpleasantness" "mustered out of the service with the rank of Colonel".

It seems somewhat of a comedown to discard the title of Admiral for that of Colonel, especially when Colonels are so cheap. Max O'Rell the famous French wit, in his book on Brother Jonathan and his Continent, says that "America contains sixty million inhabitants- mostly Colonels" and the inference was quite natural for a foreigner. But if we are denied the privilege of referring to candidate Lamb by any more grandiloquent title than that of Colonel, it is gratifying to peruse his record thus brought accidentally to light. Santa Cruz has been favored with the residence of war heroes with records are this, but "none can compare" with Col Lamb.

The combination of merit and modesty which he reveals is absolutely unparalleled, in military annals.

The spectacle of Cincinnatus at his plow, or Washington farming at Mount Vernon, seem but shadows of the "real thing" as we behold the hero of Three Hundred and Eighteen Battles, standing behind his counter as a merchant. But we anticipate, the reader should first peruse the Colonel's history as told in the Sentinel this morning:


Talk about veterans, Ulysses S. Grant appears like a raw recruit, and Napoleon Bonaparte but a drummer boy compared with real soldiers like Colonel Lamb, who fought with McDowell at Bull Run, with McClellan at Fair Oaks, with Burnside at Chancellorsville, with Hooker on Lookout Mountain, with Sheridan in the Shenandoah, with Grant at Vicksburg, and Meade at Gettysburg (both on the same day), And only seven wounds to show for all this, yet Colonel Lamb was in the advance on every occasion.

Colonel Lamb was guilty of a deed of valor, for which the standard war histories are searched n vain for the record. That it escaped recognition and the thanks of Congress at the time was undoubtedly due to an oversight, which may be remedied even at this late date.

Read again about this war prodigy and the "heroic stuff" he is made of...

What the symptoms are of this feeling that "victory would perch on Union banners" we are not informed, but the outcome is magnificent. It resulted in placing Colonel Lamb in "supreme command" for an hour of an army of five thousand men, gathered by simply placing a line across a turnpike.

Military prowess like that is rarely related.

It's a "corker" by comparison with the whole category of camp fire stories.

Nothing but mad jealousy on the part of superior officers could have prevented mention of the exploit in the military reports, or the reward of a medal and a Major General's commission at that time.

Happily, Republics, while they may be negligent are not always ungrateful, and the election of Colonel Lamb to the Mayoralty of Santa Cruz, would be a suitable altho' tardy recognition of the power of the hero of 318 battles in three years and 7 wounds.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 28, 1898)

He Was at "Fredericksburg"
And "Fredericksburg" has not Surrendered Yet

In our account of the war services rendered by Col. W.H. Lamb it was stated that he was at Vicksburg, when it should have read Fredericksburg. Col Lamb's war record is one to be proud of -Sentinel

Santa Cruz Daily Surf (March 28, 1898)

Making the War Record Right
Mr. Colonel Lamb's
"Gallant Service" as Set Forth by Himself

Last Wednesday morning the Sentinel announced its advocacy of W.H. Lamb for Mayor of Santa Cruz, on the strength of his war record, which it published as follows;

(See Sentinel Article Above)

This truly remarkable "record" was reprinted in the Surf the same day, and the attention of the public called to the unparalleled military achievements of the ex-Colonel, which entitled him to distinction among the eminent military geniuses of the world.

On Thursday morning the Sentinel admitted one slight error in the "record" and stated that Colonel Lamb did not claim to have been with Grant at Vicksburg and with Meade at Gettysburg on the same day.

Of course this somewhat detracted from the narrative but the Surf promptly made the admission that it was "Fredericksburg" and not Vicksburg, that should be included in the Colonels list of 318 battles.

On Friday no further supplementary report was filed and it was understood that Mr. Colonel Lamb was ready to lead the advance on April 11th, backed by the story of his prowess when the country was "in peril."

On Saturday the Sentinel said the people were "weary" of the alleged attempts to disparage the war record of done who had rendered such "gallant services" and that they fully entitled him to the ballots of his fellow citizens.

It was supposed then that the local campaign was fully set on 318 battles and 7 wounds, the Provost Marshal ship at Savannah, etc. etc.

On Sunday, this candidate of "heroic stuff" comes out in a card in the same paper and alters and amends the "record" in the following terms and particulars to wit:

Said record contains errors and omissions, but in the main is correct. I have never state that I was Provost Marshal with headquarters at Savannah, Georgia, or that I was mustered out of the service as colonel. I was mustered out as captain in the U.S. service, and held a colonel's commission from the State of New York, but was never mustered into the U.S. service as such, but commanded the 103d N.Y. regiment for two years, at the expiration of which time I resigned.

I make the foregoing statement to place myself right before the public, as I have no desire to pose before the public under false colors. That I have a military record, of which I am justly proud, I do not deny.

The Surf cheerfully prints the Colonel's correction, and regrets that he has not while correcting the errors also supplied the omissions.

But the public will be content perhaps to let that pass as long as the main incidents are not impaired. It will be observed that the participation in all of the 318 battles of the rebellion from Bull Run to Lee's surrender still stands, and the exploit at Cedar Creek is undisturbed.

After the campaign has been on for a week on this issue, Candidate Lamb makes a deliberate change of bases, and announces "I do not consider that it cuts any figure in the municipal campaign."

There are others who will agree with this opinion and will be willing to let the war record remain embalmed in history, and proceed to discuss the local issues of the municipal campaign of 1898.

Santa Cruz Evening News (June 10, 1924)

William H. Lamb Respected Citizen Goes to His Rest

William Henry Lamb, early mayor of Santa Cruz, a Union soldier in the Civil War, and a vestryman in the Calvary Episcopal church, passed forever from his devoted family, at his home in Ben Lomond shortly after five o'clock yesterday afternoon, succumbing after a short period of failing health.

He was survived by three children Eloise and John R. Lamb of Santa Cruz, and William, of San Francisco.

Mr. Lamb was born at Norwich, Chenango County, and New York. He graduated from high school at the age of 18 years and later went to Boston where he was employed in a wholesale and retail store.

At the outset of the Civil War he enlisted in the second battalion of Independent Riflemen of Boston. He later returned to his former home and joined the 44th regiment of infantry, but was afterward transferred to the 90th New York Infantry. His services in the Union army lasted four years and eight months. He participated in many important engagements of the war and served under Generals Grant, Hooker, Reed, and McClellan.

After a record service for his country he returned to Norwich Ill., and remained there in business for six years. He went to South Dakota at the end of this time, where he was land agent for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company. In that part of the country he established the village of Clark, and entered there into the hardware business. He laid out a number of towns, the first being Watertown and others as far up the track as Redfield. In recognition of his services he was elected to the legislature.

He came to California in 1891 on account of health, they settled first in Petaluma, but in 1893 moved to Santa Cruz where he again went into the hardware business.

He served a term as mayor of Santa Cruz.

His first wife was Miss Hart of Boston, and after her death he married Miss Anna D. Peck, daughter of the Hon. SS Peck, of the Canadian Parliament.

Mr. Lamp had been identified with the Calvary Episcopal Church. He was a Mason and Knight Templar.

The Lamb home has for years been on Davis Street, but over a year ago it was sold, shortly after Mr. Lamb's retirement from the hardware business. Mr. Lamb was 83 years old.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 12, 1924)

Funeral of Wm. H. Lamb

Many friends went to Ben Lomond yesterday morning to attend the funeral services of the late Wm. H. Lamb, at the family residence as conducted by his rector, Rev. Charles Leachman of Calvary church, who also conducted the services at the Odd Fellows' cemetery.

Many beautiful floral pieces had been sent by the friends and covered the casket.

The pallbearers were E.C. Karma, E.B. McCormick, F.D. Baldwin, W.T. Jeter, and Benj. Dickinson, and E.J. Harran, all old friends of Mr. Lamb.

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