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After a force under Mariposa County Sheriff James Burney was found unequal to the task of defeating the Indians, Burney made an appeal to Governor John McDougal for help. This led to authorizing an organization of two hundred men into the Mariposa Battalion.
The Mariposa Battalion was mustered 12 February 1851. Sheriff Burney was the first choice for the major to command the unit, but Burney declined due to his other responsibilities in Mariposa. James D. Savage was then chosen as major, primarily due to his scouting abilities. The battalion was divided into three companies: Company A commanded by John J. Kuykendall, with seventy men; Company B under John Boling, with seventy-two men; and Company C, under William Dill, with fifty-five men. Other officers elected included M. B. Lewis as Adjutant, A. Brunson as surgeon and Vincent Hailor as guide.