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Seven men were temporarily camped on Puto creek, en route for Sonoma. Lieutenant Bryant chanced to pass that way, and five of them became recruits; and thus the spark, kindling to a flame, swept the country, swelling the little battalion of 180 to 428 before it had moved beyond Gilroy in its march toward Los Angeles.
A company was enlisted in Napa valley and vicinity, commanded by John Grigsby, D. T. Bird, of Yolo county, being its second lieutenant. Another company, under Captain Thompson, recruited by Captain Weber at San José, was added to the California Battalion.
The organization of the company at Sutter's Fort had not yet been completed, when about sixty, the total number at the rendezvous at the time, left for Monterey under command of Captain Burroughs, having in charge some four hundred government horses that Fremont had requested should be sent to him. On the sixteenth of October, Bryant, Reed and Jacobs started south with what recruits had assembled at the fort since the departure of the main body. In passing through what is now San Joaquin county, they were joined by thirty Indians, among whom was the chief, José Jesus. They arrived at San José on the twenty-first, where they first learned of the engagement that had taken place on the sixteenth between those preceding them under Captain Burroughs and the Californians, ten miles south of San Juan, on the Monterey road. What had led to this encounter and its results is thus described by Thomas O. Larkin, United States consul, who was a prisoner at the time.
“On the fifteenth of November, from information received of the sickness of my family in San Francisco, where they had gone to escape the expected revolutionary troubles in Monterey, and from letters from Captain Montgomery, requesting my presence respecting some stores for the Portsmouth, I, with one servant, left Monterey for San Francisco, knowing that for one month no Californian forces had been within one hundred miles of us. That night I put up at the house of Don Joaquin Gomez, sending my servant to San Juan, six miles beyond, to request Mr. J. Thompson to wait for me, as he was on the road for San Francisco. About midnight. I was aroused from my bed by the noise made by ten Californians (unshaved and unwashed for months, being in the mountains) rushing into my chamber with guns, swords, pistols and torches in their hands. I needed but a moment to be fully awake and know my exact situation ; the first cry was, “Comoestamos Señor Consul,' • Vamos Señor Larkin.' At my bedside were several letters that I had re-read before going to bed. On dressing myself, while my captors were saddling my horse, I assorted these letters and put them into different pockets. After taking my own time to dress and arrange my valise, we started and rode to a camp of seventy or eighty men, on the banks of the Monterey river. There each officer and principal person passed the time of night with me, and a remark or two. The commandante took me to one side and informed me that his people demanded that I should write to San Juan to the American captain of volunteers, saying that I had left Monterey to visit the distressed families on the river, and request or demand that twenty men should meet me before daylight, that I could station them, before my return to town, in a manner to protect these families. The natives, he said, were determined on the act being accomplished. I at first endeavored to reason with him on the infamy and the impossibility of the deed, but to no avail ;
he said my life depended on the letter; that he was willing-nay, anxious——to preserve my life as an old acquaintance, but could not control his people in this affair. From argument I came to a refusal ; he advised, urged and demanded. At this period an officer called out (*
come here—those who are named). I said : 'In this manner you may act and threaten night by night; my life on such condition is of no value or pleasure to me. I am by accident your prisoner--make the most of me; write I will not ; shoot as you see fit, and I am done talking on the subject.' I left him and went to the camp-fire. For a half-hour or more there was some commotion around me, when all disturbance subsided.
“At daylight we started, with a flag flying and a drum beating, and traveled eight or ten miles, when we camped in a low valley or hollow. There they caught with the lasso three or four head of cattle belonging to the nearest rancho, and breakfasted. The whole day their out-riders rode in every direction, on the lookout to see if the American company left the mission of San Juan, or LieutenantColonel Fremont left Monterey ; they also rode to all the neighboring ranchos and forced the rancheros to join them.
“At one o'clock they began their march with one hundred and thirty men (and two or three hundred extra horses); they marched in four single files, occupying four positions, myself, under charge of an officer and five or six men, in the center. Their plan of operations for the night was to rush into San Juan ten or fifteen men, who were to retreat, under the expectation that the Americans would follow them, in which case the whole party outside was to cut them off. I was to be retained in the center of the party. Ten miles south of the mission they encountered eight or ten Americans, a part of whom retreated into a low ground covered with oaks; the others returned to the house of Señor Gomez, to alarm their companions. For over one hour, the hundred and thirty Californians surrounded this six or eight Americans, occasionally giving and receiving shots. During this period I was several times requested, then commanded, to go among the oaks and bring out my countrymen, and offer them their lives on giving up the rifles and persons.
I at last offered to go and call them out on condition that they should return to San Juan or go to Monterey, with their arms; this being refused, I told the commandante to go in and bring them out himself. While they were consulting how this could be done, fifty Americans came down on them, which caused an action of about twenty or thirty minutes. Thirty or forty of the natives leaving the field at the first fire, the remainder drew off by fives and tens until the Americans bad the field to themselves. Both parties remained within a mile of each other until dark. Our countrymen lost Captain Burroughs, of St. Louis, Missouri, Captain Foster and two others, with two or three wounded. The Californians lost two of their countrymen and José Garcia, of Val., Chili, with seven wounded."
The Californian, of November 21, 1846, published at Monterey, says, in addition to what was recorded by Larkin, that “ Burroughs and Foster were killed at the first onset. The Americans fired and then charged on the enemy with their empty rifles and ran them off. However, they still kept rallying and firing now and then a musket at the Americans, until about 11 o'clock at night, when one of the Walla Walla Indians offered his services to come into Monterey and give Colonel Fremont notice of what was passing. Soon after he started he was pursued by a party of the enemy. The foremost in pursuit drove a lance at the Indian, who, trying to parry it, received the lance through his hand; he immediately, with the other hand, seized his tomahawk and struck a blow at his opponent, which split his head from the crown to the mouth. By this time the others had come up, and with the most extraordinary dexterity and bravery the Indian vanquished two more, and the rest ran away. He rode on towards this town as far as his horse was able to carry him, and then left his horse and saddle and came in on foot. He arrived here about 8 o'clock on Tuesday morning, Nov. 17th.”
Fremont at once marched to the assistance of the Americans, but failed to meet the enemy, and camped at San Juan, where for several days he waited for reinforcements. The first night after his arrival at the mission some of the soldiers were attacked, when sleeping, by numerous half-starved dogs that had been left behind by the people when they removed from the mission. One soldier had his nose bitten off, and in the morning some three hundred of these famishing curs were shot by order of Fremont.
On the twenty-sixth of November, Lieutenant Bryant left San José en route for San Juan, to join the battalion. He had with him between two and three hundred horses, which Capt. C. M. Weber had succeeded in securing for our forces, and had availed himself of this opportunity to forward them. On the thirtieth of November, the battalion started for Los Angeles, commanded by Colonel Fremont, under whom were 428 men, rank and file, including Indians and servants, accompanied by about 600 loose horses for a change. The battalion was officered as follows :
Rank or Remarks.
B. M. Hudspeth.
company had two pieces of artillery. There were a number of officers who did not accompany their battalion on this march, but were performing duties in other parts of the state, as follows :
The march south was during the rainy season, and the suffering of the troops before reaching Santa Barbara on the twenty-seventh of December was very severe, and the loss in horses was so great that not enough were left to mount the command. Only three events of special interest had occurred up to that time on the march through the country. The first was the capture of an Indian, who was condemned and shot as a spy on the thirteenth of December, about fifteen miles out from the mission of San Miguel, on the road to San Luis Obispo. He was fired upon by a file of soldiers, and, says Lieutenant Bryant, “ He fell upon his knees, and remained in that position several minutes without uttering a groan, and then sank upon the earth. No human being could have met his fate with more composure or with stronger manifestations of courage. It was a scene such as I desire never to witness again.” We called Lieutenant Bird's attention to this passage in Bryant's work, and he said,
“It's all right except the courage part. I saw him shot, and thought he was badly scared.” The dead Indian had been the servant of José de Jesus Pico, and two days later his master was captured at San Luis Obispo, and condemned to be executed, but a procession of females with covered faces, except the leader, who was, says Bryant, “ of fine appearance, and dressed with remarkable taste
whose beautiful features
* required no concealment," visited the quarters of Fremont, praying that the life of Pico might be spared. The Colonel deemed it policy to grant a pardon and the prisoner went free, although he was to have been executed for having broken his parole. The third event was the terrible march of the army, on Christmas day and night, from the summit of St. Ines mountain down into the valley of Santa Barbara. Again we introduce an extract from that excellent journal kept by Lieutenant Bryant, when accompanying the California battalion as an officer in its march to Los Angeles :
“DECEMBER 25th.--Christmas Day, and a memorable one to me. Owing to the difficulty in hauling the cannon up the steep acclivities of the mountains, the main body of the battalion did not come up with us until twelve o'clock, and before we commenced the descent of the mountain a furious storm commenced, raging with a violence rarely surpassed. The rain fell in torrents, and the wind blew almost