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"It is said, by those who witnessed it, to have been a brilliant spectacle. Gayly caparisoned, with banners flying, mounted on fleet and splendid horses, they bounded on, spurring to the top of their speed, on to the small but compact square into which the American force was compressed. The very earth appeared to tremble beneath their thundering hoofs, and nothing seemed capable of resisting such cavalry. But, inspired with the cool courage and dauntless heroism of their leader, his men patiently awaited the result. The signal was at length given, and a deadly fire, directed, according to orders, at horses, was poured into the ranks of the advancing foe, which emptied many saddles and threw them into complete confusion. Retreating a few hundred yards, they again formed, and, despatching a part of their force to the rear, they attacked simultaneously three sides of the square. Orders were renewed to reserve fire until the enemy's near approach, and with the same decisive result, their ranks breaking up and retreating in disorder. A third time, having rallied, they returned to the charge, but once more their ranks were thinned by the deadly aim of the assailed; and, despairing of their ability to cope with men so cool, unflinching and resolute, confused and discomfited, they scattered and fled in every direction."
On the tenth, the American forces entered Los Angeles as the enemy retreated towards San Fernando, in the direction from which the California battalion was approaching under Fremont, and Major Gillespie again raised the flag in the little Spanish town where he had been forced to lower it three months before.
In the meantime, Fremont had been making haste to reach the scene of action from the north. On the ninth, he had received a dispatch from Stockton, advising him to avoid a collision with the enemy until he (Stockton) was within striking distance. The dispatch bore date of January 5, three days before the battle had begun. On the eleventh, as the battalion was on the march and entering the head of Couenga plain, news came to Fremont of the battles of the eighth and ninth and the occupation of Los Angeles, and also a letter from General; Kearny. That night he camped at the mission of San Fernando, and the next morning Don Jose de Jesus Pico, accompanied by two of the enemy's officers, entered camp to treat for peace. The terms were partially arranged, and they departed about noon. The march was resumed, and the next halt was made twelve miles out from the town, at the foot of the Couenga plains, where the peace commissioners from Fremont met those from the hostile force, and the terms of a capitulation were entered into, of which the following is a copy:—
Articles Of Capitulation.
Made and entered into at the ranch of Couenga, this thirteenth day of January, 1847, between P. B. Reading, Major; Louis McLane, Jr., commanding Third Artillery; Wm. H. Russell, Ordnance Officer, commissioners appointed by J. C. Fremont, Colonel U. S. Army and Military Commander of California, and Jose Antonio Carrillo, Commandante Squadron, Augustin Olivera, Deputado, commissioners appointed by Don Andreas Pico, Commander-in-Chief of the California forces under the Mexican flag.
Article 1st—The commissioners on the part of the Californians agree that their entire force shall, on presentation of themselves to Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, deliver up their artillery and public arms, and that they shall return peaceably to their homes, conforming to the laws and regulations of the United States, and not again take up arms during the war between the United States and Mexico, but will assist and aid in placing the country in a state of peace and tranquility.
Article 2d—The commissioners, on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, agree and bind themselves, on the fulfillment of the first article by the Californians, that they shall be guaranteed protection of life and property, whether on parole or otherwise.
Article 3d—That until a treaty of peace be made and signed between the United States of North America and the Republic of Mexico, no Californian, or other Mexican citizen, shall be bound to take the oath of allegiance.
Article ith—That any Californian, or citizen of Mexico, desiring, is permitted by this capitulation to leave the country without let or hindrance.
Article 5th—That, in virtue of the aforesaid articles, equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to every citizen of California as are enjoyed by the citizens of the United States of North America.
Article 6th—All officers, citizens, foreigners, or others, shall receive the protection guaranteed by the second article.
Article 7th—This capitulation is intended to be no bar in effecting such arrangements as may in future be in justice required by both parties.
Cuidad De Los Angeles, January 16, 1847. That the paroles of all officers, citizens, and others, of the United States, and of naturalized citizens of Mexico, are by this foregoing capitulation canceled, and every condition of said paroles, from and after this date, are of no further force and effect, and all prisoners of both parties are hereby released.
P. B. Reading, Major California Battalion.
Louis Mclane, Commanding Artillery.
Mr. H. Russell, Ordnance Officer.
Jose Antonio Carrillo, Commandant of Squadron.
Augustin Olivera, Deputado.
J. C. Fremont,
Lieutenant-Colonel U. S. Army, and Military Commandant of California.
Commandant of Squadron and Chief of the National Forces of California.
On the morning of the fourteenth, the brass howitzer that Kearney had lost at San Pasqual was brought in and delivered over to Fremont, and the same day he entered Los Angeles, and the insurrection had ended. There was no longer an armed enemy to the United States in California, and from that day to this there has been none.
California after the Conquest, until Admitted into the Union as a State, in 1850.
Peace Having Been Restored with the Enemy, Hostilities Commence between the Army Officers—Stockton's Views— Kearny's Opinion—Fremont in a Difficult Position—What Kearny Wished him to do, and what Stockton Expected of him—Fremont Decides against Kearny—Stockton and the General both Leave Los Angeles—Fremont Made Governor—Commodore Shubrick Arrives, and Assumes Command—He Joins Kearny in an Order Declaring that the General is Governor—Kearny Issues his] Proclamation—How it was Received—Fremont Becomes Satisfied that he will not be Sustained—He Yields to Kearny, and is Taken by that Officer a Prisoner to the States—The Result—Colonel R. B. Mason Becomes Governor—His Distinguished Subordinates—The Effects of the Discovery of Gold upon the Californians—The Tidal-wave from Abroad—The Necessity of a Change in the GovernmentChronological Events—General Riley Succeeds Mason as Governor—The Condition of the Country at that Time— A Convention Frames a Constitution—The Vote upon its Adoption—Officers Elected—The Struggle among the Titans in Congress over the Admission of California-- The Territorial Legislation—What it did—State Admitted into the Union—Final.
Stockton, Kearny and Fremont, having conquered peace, at once inaugurated war among themselves. No longer having a common enemy to fight, they became hostile to each other. General Kearny, as we have before stated, came from New Mexico with orders if he subdued the country on the Pacific coast to establish a civil government there. He had entered the territory, met the enemy at San Pasqual, and, but for the timely assistance from Stockton, would have been theirs; therefore, he was not in a position to assume the right to civil control at the establishment of peace, on the grounds of having conquered the country. The commodore claimed that the general could set up no other reason for authority, as conquest was a condition precedent in the government orders to him; that, the conditions not having been complied with, the whole was null and void, and, consequently, the general was only "a looker-on-here in Vienna."
General Kearny was not of the same opinion regarding the orders, under which he claimed the right to assume command and control on land. He interpreted them to be the expression on the part of our government of an intention, not that control should be given as a reward for services in gaining battles, or subjugating the land, but that he (Kearny) should establish a civil government in California after it had been conquered; and that the condition precedent was, that the country should be subdued, not that he should do it. The country being now at peace, he claimed to be its governor and to be entitled to assume command. He also believed it to be his right by virtue of his rank as general.
This difference of opinion had arisen immediately upon the occupation of Los Angeles, and Fremont had become aware of the fact before entering the place. He was outranked by both those officers, and the question became a serious one with him as to which of them he should report and thus recognize as the head of the western or Pacific department. The one to whom he reported for orders would be placed in a position to maintain his supremacy by force of arms, if necessary, by the support of the California battalion. General Kearny said, "Recognize my authority, and eventually I will leave you here as governor." Commodore Stockton said, "You have been acting under my orders; there is a doubt as to who is entitled to control; give me the benefit of the doubt, and I will make you governor it once." Fremont reported to Stockton on the fourteenth of January, 1847, and received his appointment as governor from that officer two days later, with Col. W. H. Russell as secretary of state. On the eighteenth of January, Kearny left for San Diego with his dragoons. On the nineteenth, Stockton also departed for San Pedro, where he embarked and sailed for Mexico. On the twenty-second, Fremont issued at Los Angeles his proclamation, signing it as "Governor and Commander-in-chief of California." On the next day, Com. W. B. Shubrick arrived at Monterey, and assumed the title and duties of commander-in-chief, as evinced in his proclamation of February l, 1847. One month later he joined General Kearny in the following circular order, it being practically a notice to Fremont that he was an usurper, and that if he played at being governor any longer, it would be at his own peril :—
To all whom it may concern, be it known—That the president of the United States, desirous to give and secure to the people of California a share of the good government and happy civil organization enjoyed by the people of the United States, and to protect them at the same time from the attacks of foreign foes and from internal commotions, has invested the undersigned with separate and distinct powers, civil and military, a cordial co-operation in the exercise of which, it is hoped and believed, will have the happy result desired.
To the commander-in-chief of the naval forces the president has assigned the regulations of the import trade—the conditions on which vessels of all nations, our own as well as foreign, may be admitted into the ports of the territory, and the establishment of all port regulations.
To the commanding military officer the president has assigned the direction of the operations on land, and has invested him with administrative functions of government over the people and territory occupied by the forces of the United States.
Done at Monterey, capital of California, this first day of March, 1847.
W. Bradford Shubrick, Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Forces.
S. W. Kearny, Brigadier-General U. S. A. and Governor of California.
On the same day Kearny issued the following proclamation as Governor, in which he ignored the existence of the treaty of Couenga, and notified the Californians that they were citizens of the United States and were absolved from allegiance to Mexico :—
Proclamation To The People Of California.
The president of the United States having instructed the undersigned to take charge of the civil government of California, he enters upon his duties with an ardent desire to promote, as far as he is able, the interests of the country and the welfare of its inhabitants.
The undersigned has instructions from the president to respect and protect the religious institutions of California, and to see that the religious rights of the people are in the amplest manner preserved to them, the constitution of the United States allowing every man to worship his Creator in such a manner as his own conscience may dictate to him.
The undersigned is also instructed to protect the persons and property of the quiet and peaceable inhabitants of the country against all OI' any of their enemies, whether from abroad or at home; and when he now assures the Californians that it will be his duty and pleasure to comply with those instructions, he calls upon them all to exert themselves in preserving order and tranquility, in promoting harmony and concord, and in maintaining the authority and efficiency of the law.