During the Civil War, local Home Guard units were established because of the “necessity of placing the State in a better condition for defence in these days of treason and rebellion.”
In 1863, the Alvarado Guard was formed, with Captain Ephraim Dyer as Commander. The other officers were 1st Lt. C. P. Johnson, 2nd Lt. Joseph McKeown, and 3rd Lt. H. C. Smith. Once the Odd Fellow Hall was built in 1864, the Alvarado Guard used it as its armory and headquarters.
The Alvarado Guards did not have much to do other than to practice drills for parades. In 1863, they did attend a California military encampment for training purposes and the Alvarado Guard was assigned to the First Infantry Batallion. A poll tax of two dollars was levied against all male inhabitants of California to pay for the encampment.
In 1864, the Alvarado Guard participated in a military parade in San Jose. In 1866, the Guard participated in a shooting match with a Guard unit from Hayward (then known as Haywards). The match was described as thus:
On January 1, 1866 a shooting match took place between the Haywards Guards and the Alvarado Guards at Haywards. Thirty men from each unit fired three shots each at the target. The Alvaradan’s made 985 points and the Haywardians made 1,030 points. Haywards prevailed by 45 points. In the evening the contestants were entertained by a ball at Hayward’s Hotel, at which many lovely ladies were present to smile upon the gallant defenders of the state.
After the Civil War was over, there was little need for guard units, so in January 1868, all of the local guard units were disbanded.