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U. S. Frigate "congress," Bay Of Monterey, September 19, 1846.
Dear Sir: I have sent Maj. Fremont to the north to see how many men he could recruit, with a view to embark them for Mazatlan or Acapulco, where, if possible, I intend to land and fight our way as far on to the city of Mexico as I can.
With this object in view, your orders of this date in relation to having the squadron in such places as may enable me to get them together as soon as possible, are given.
You will, on your arrival on the coast, get all the information you can in reference to this matter.
I would that we might shake hands with General Taylor at the gates of Mexico.
Faithfully, your obedient servant, R. F. Stockton, Commodore, etc.
To Capt. Wm. Mervine, U. S. Frigate Savannali.
The commodore, hearing rumors of hostile movements among the Indians in the north, sailed for Yerba Buena, where he found that the information was incorrect, and was received at that place by the inhabitants with banquets and general rejoicing. This state of things was doomed to a short-lived existence; the' hope of "shaking hands with General Taylor at the gates of Mexico" vanished, as a courier dashed into Yerba Buena with the news that he had, four days before, worked his way out of Los Angeles, where Captain Gillespie was besieged by the Californians under General Jose Ma. Flores, who had hoisted the standard of revolt. This was one of the most noted rides on record, performed by John Brown, called by the Spaniards Juan Flacco, who died at Stockton, California, in 1863. When Captain Gillespie found that he must have assistance or surrender, this man volunteered to convey dispatches calling for relief. He succeeded in working his way through the enemy's lines, but was discovered as he was passing beyond their reach, and a determined pursuit was at once dispatched to capture or kill the courier. His horse was shot under him, and escaping on foot he ran twenty-seven miles to the rancho of one friendly to the Americans, and again mounting, rode three hundred and fifteen miles to Monterey in three days, and not finding Stockton there, rode to Yerba Buena, one hundred and thirty miles, between sunrise and eight o'clock P. M. of the same day.
The Flores Insurrection.
Flores and his Associates Learn that they have Surrendered to a Force Inferior in Numbers to that of the Californians —The Effect of such Knowledge—The Insurrection Breaks out—John Brown, the Courier—Captain Gillespie Surrenders, Conditionally, at Los Angeles—Lieutenant Talbot Escapes with his Command from Santa Barbara— The Flores Proclamation of War— The Savannah Dispatched to San Pedro—Arrives too Late—Our Forces Repulsed—Fremont Sails for Santa Barbara—Commodore Stockton Sails for San Pedro; Lands there; Re-embarks, and Sails for San Diego—He Establishes himself There, and Opens a Camp of Instruction—General Kearny Appears upon the Scene—He is Defeated, and Sends for Help—The Rescue and Return—Kearny Refuses the Chief Command, and Serves under Stockton—Fremont Leaves Santa Barbara and Marches to Monterey—He Sends Dispatches to Sutter's Fort, Asking for Recruits—Two Companies go from there to Join him—Recruiting Soldiers in the North—San Joaquin County Indians Join Lieutenant Bartlett—A Battle on the Road between San Jose and Monterey—U. S. Consul Larkin's Description of it—The California Star of November 21, 1846, on the Same Subject—Fremont Marches to the Assistance of his Recruits—Captain Charles M. Weber Sends Horses to Fremont by Lieutenant Bryant—The California Battalion Starts for Los Angeles—List of the Officers and Companies— There are Three Incidents Worthy of Note in their March: first, an Indian Spy Shot; second, Don Jose de Jesus Pico Condemned to be Executed, but Reprieved ; third, the Terrible March down the Mountain on Christmas Night—Closing in on Los Angeles—Hostilities Break Out in the Rear of the Army under Francisco Sanchez— Lieutenant Bartlett Captured—List of the Force that March to his Rescue—The Battle at Santa Clara, and Surrender of Sanchez—Stockton's Command, what it Consisted of—He Moves on Los Angeles—Battle of the eighth and ninth of January, 1847—He Enters the Town, and the Flag is again Hoisted there—The Enemy Surrender to Fremont—Articles of Capitulation—The Insurrection Ended.
At the time Stockton captured Los Angeles there were a number of Mexican officers who surrendered a# prisoners of war and were allowed to go free on their parole. Among those set at liberty was Gen. Jose M. Flores. When he and his associates came to know that the force of the Americans was far inferior in numbers to what they had supposed at the time of the surrender, they were filled with chagrin and shame, and Flores, forgetting that he was bound by the laws of honor and of nations to refrain from hostile acts while under parole, commenced gathering his scattered forces immediately after the commodore had sailed for the north, and on the twenty-third of September, forty days after the capture of Los Angeles by Stockton, he invested the place and demanded the surrender of Captain Gillespie and his fifty men as prisoners of war. From the besieged garrison John Brown, as a courier, made his escape and famous ride. Captain Gillespie was forced to surrender, conditionally, on the thirtieth of September, and retired to Monterey. Lieut. T. Talbot was next besieged at Santa Barbara by an overwhelming force, but refused to surrender, and finally made his escape to Monterey. The following proclamation shows that the people of Southern California were animated by a bitter feeling of hostility, and that something more than imaginary big guns and large armies would be required to subdue them; plainly, it meant " war to the knife:"
Mexican Army, Section Of Operations, Angeles, Oct. 1, 1846. Fellow Citizens: It is a month and a half that, by lamentable fatality, fruit of cowardice and inability of the first authorities of the department, we behold ourselves subjugated and oppressed by an insignificant force of adventurers of the United States of America, and placing us in a worse condition than that of slaves.
They are dictating to us despotic and arbitrary laws, and loading us with contributions and onerous burdens which have for an object the ruin of our industry and agriculture, and to force us to abandon our property, to be possessed and divided among themselves.
And shall we be capable to allow ourselves to be subjugated, and to accept by our silence the weighty chains of slavery? Shall we permit to be lost the soil inherited from our fathers, which cost them so much blood and so many sacrifices 1 Shall we make our families victims of the most barbarous slavery l Shall we wait to see our wives violated; our innocent children punished by the American whips; our property sacked; our temples profaned; and, lastly, to drag through an existence full of insult and shame? No! a thousand times no! countrymen; first, death!
Who of you does not feel his heart beat with violence; who does not feel his blood boil, to contemplate our situation? And who will be the Mexican who will not feel indignant, and who will not rise to take up arms to destroy our oppressors? We believe there is not one so vile and cowardly. With such a motive the majority of the inhabitants of the districts, justly indignant against our tyrants, raise the cry of war with arms in their hands, and of one accord swear to sustain the following articles : —
1st. We, the inhabitants of the department of California, as members of the great Mexican nation, declare that it is, and has been, our wish to belong to her alone, free and independent.
2d. Consequently, the authorities intended and named by the invading forces of the United States are held null and void.
3d. All the North Americans being enemies of Mexico, we swear not to lay down our arms till they are expelled from the Mexican territory.
4th. All Mexican citizens, from the age of fifteen to sixty, who do not take up arms to forward the present plan, are declared traitors and under pain of death.
5th. Every Mexican or foreigner, who may directly, or indirectly, aid the enemies of Mexico, will be punished in the same manner.
6th. The property of the North Americans, in the department, who may, directly or indirectly, have taken part with, or aided, the enemies, shall be confiscated and used for the expenses of war, and their persons shall be taken to the interior of the republic.
7th. All those who may oppose the present plan will be punished with arms.
8th. All the inhabitants of Santa Barbara, and the district of the north, will be invited immediately to adhere to the present plan.
Jose Ma. Flores.
Camp In Angeles, Sept. 24, 1846.
(Signed by more than three hundred persons.)
A, soon as Brown, the courier, reached Yerba Buena, October 1, Stockton dispatched the Savannah to San Pedro, with three hundred and twenty men under Captain Mervine, to aid Captain Gillespie. They arrived too late; and landing, met the enemy some twelve miles out, and were repulsed with a loss of five killed and six wounded. Fremont was recalled from Sutter's, and sailed for Santa Barbara on the twelfth, with one hundred and sixty men, from where he was expected to mount his command and join in the recapture of Los Angeles. Stockton sailed from Yerba Buena as soon as he had completed plans by which he deemed the north would be made secure, and disembarked at San Pedro on the twenty-third of October. Some eight hundred of the enemy were there, but did not attempt to prevent the landing, and fell back into the interior. When he had landed it was found that the chances of procuring supplies were very limited, and knowing that he had no safe anchorage for his vessels, and wishing to give Fremont time to mount his battalion, he decided to re-embark and sail for San Diego, where he unfortunately beached one of his vessels, but made a landing, drove the enemy from the place and took possession. He immediately established himself there and commenced erecting a fort, making shoes, saddles, and various things necessary in the outfit for his army, not forgetting the drill that was to convert his marines into land forces. Capt. S. J. Hensley was sent down the coast, and succeeded in capturing one hundred and forty horses and five hundred cattle.
On the third of December a courier rode into camp with a dispatch from General Kearny, stating that he was approaching from the east and wished to open communication. The same evening, Captain Gillespie was sent with thirty-five men to meet the general and escort him to San Diego. Three days later, another messenger upon a foam-flaked horse brought the startling news that Kearny had been defeated at San Pasqual with a loss of eighteen men killed and thirteen wounded, the general and Captain Gillespie being among the latter, and that one of his howitzers had been captured. Other information followed that led Stockton to believe the case was not desperate, and prevented his moving with his whole command, as he had at first contemplated; but on the ninth Kit Carson, Lieutenant Beal and an Indian reached him, direct from General Kearny, asking for reinforcements. The news soon spread in the camp that Kearny was besieged at the hill of San Fernando, hemmed in, out of ammunition, provisions nearly exhausted, and encumbered with wounded, was standing at bay, anxiously looking towards San Diego for relief; that the enemy kept the exhausted troops constantly harassed from every side, and unless succor came speedily they would have to choose between death and surrender. The long-roll sounded to arms, and the response showed the eagerness of those sailors to be led to the rescue of their comrades and the dragoons. Two hundred and fifty men were selected and despatched under Lieutenant Gray to the scene of action, and on the night of the tenth the Californians suddenly retreated, having heard the advancing hoof-beats of horses upon the road as the mounted marines moved on the gallop march to raise the siege. On the twelfth the exhausted little command entered San Diego. The general had left New Mexico, having conquered that territory and established a civil government there, and was on his way here, knowing that California had been already subjugated, to establish a civil government. He had with him but a small detachment of dragoons and Kit Carson, whom he had met on his way east with dispatches, and turned back. Commodore Stockton offered to yield the command of the army to General Kearny, but the compliment was declined, and the general took service under Stockton.
In the north, Fremont had found that it was impossible to mount his command at Santa Barbara, and had moved up the country to Monterey, where recruiting, as well as the procuring of horses to transform his force into cavalry, was prosecuted with energy. On the evening of the twenty-eighth of October, a courier from Fremont at Monterey arrived at Sutter's Fort, the bearer of dispatches, giving to the north the news of the defeat of Captain Gillespie at Los Angeles, Lieutenant Talbot at Santa Barbara, and Captain Mervine at San Pedro, and in the dispatch Fremont asked for horses and men. On that day J. F. Reed, of the ill-fated Donner party, reached Sutter's Fort. He immediately put down his name as a recruit for the war, in the company that commenced its organization that night, which afterwards became two companies, one commanded by Captain Burroughs, who was killed on the sixteenth, near San Juan, the other by Capt. R. T. Jacobs, Lieut. Edwin Bryant (afterwards alcalde at San Francisco) and Lieut. George M. Lippincott. In this company five men enlisted at the ranch of William Gordon, in Yolo county; also Mr. Grayson, who lived in a log house near the mouth of Capay valley.