California had a population of only a few less than 380,000 persons in 1860.
Among them, sentiments about the war were intense and, although not closely monitored, broadly divided in support of the north or the south.
Census records indicate that a good many who immigrated into California in its early years had come from Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia and other slave-holding states and most often favored the confederacy.
Santa Rosa was jokingly referred to as "Missouri West." The editor of its newspaper was a vociferous supporter of the rebel forces. Even then the paper was named the Press-Democrat, in honor of the Democratic Party which dominated the southern states. The Republican Party that elected Abraham Lincoln was generally supportive of the liberal abolitionist movement)
Only a few miles away, the older but still smaller community of Petaluma was equally strong in its support of Union forces.
A local legend, probably exaggerated, holds that the Petaluma volunteer firefighters corps decided to make use of their militaristic training and "show those Santa Rosa rebels a thing or two."
A stop along the way at the Washoe House saloon for a bit of liquid sustenance dawdled on so long that the firefighters went home to bed instead.