Camp Low

Camp Low or San Juan Bautista Post, was a military post first established at San Juan Bautista in December 1864 by California Volunteers, in response to the attacks of the Mason Henry Gang in the surrounding area, during the American Civil War. The post was named in honor of the Governor of California Frederick F. Low[1]

In December 1864 Major John C. Cremony, marched three companies of California Volunteers under his command into the town of San Juan Bautista. Two were infantry and one was cavalry. They at first bivouacked on the plaza.[1] But soon they made the National Hotel on the plaza their barracks.[2]

In February 1865, Company B of the Native Cavalry, California Volunteers arrived from San Francisco at Camp Low under Captain Porfirio Jimeno.

On April 12, 1865 Lieutenant John Lafferty and a detachment of Native Cavalry, encountered the outlaw John Mason far to the southwest of the camp at the head of the Great Panoche Valley. Mason made a desperate attempt to escape despite being wounded in the hip by Lafferty's pistol and losing his horse. Lafferty returned to Camp Low on the 13th, bringing the captured horse and Captain Jimeno sent another detachment immediately to keep up the hunt.[3]

After the Mason Henry Gang was driven out of central California in May 1865, the post was abandoned in June 1865, following the departure of the Native Cavalry to Arizona Territory.[1]


  1. Historic California Posts: Camp Low, California State Military Department, The California Military Museum website, accessed September 26, 2013
  2. William N. Abeloe ed., Mildred B. Hoover, Hero. E. Rench, Ethel G. Rench, Historic Spots in California, Third Edition, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1966, p.311
  3. South San Juan, April 12th, 6 pm. Lieutenant Lafferty and detachment returned this moment, bringing with them the captured horse of the murderer Mason. The detachment surprised Mason at seven o'clock this morning, at the head of the Great Panoche Valley. The murderer made the most desperate attempt to escape and finally succeeded, but not until his horse was shot and he himself badly wounded in the hips by a shot from the Lieutenant's pistol. The commanding officer, Captain Jimeno, will send another detachment immediately to keep up the hunt until Mason is either killed or captured. (Alta California [San Francisco], April 13, 1865; 1:7)

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