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COMMODORE SLOAT CAPTURES MONTEREY.
and submitted cheerfully to the strictness of military dis- CHAP, cipline. In one month's time, after a few conflicts, Mexican 1846.
June rule was at an end in northern California. The flag of
1. independence was raised, its device a grizzly bear-indi
July cative of indomitable courage-while General De Castro was retreating, and all other schemes completely prostated.
Commodore Sloat, commanding on the Pacific, received directions from the Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft. “If you ascertain with certainty,” said the Secretary, “that Mexico has declared war against the United States, you will at once possess yourself of the port of San Francisco, and blockade or occupy such other ports as your force may permit.”
The commodore was at Mazatlan, and a British squadron, under Admiral Seymour, was there also. The former, from certain indications, suspected he was watched; if so, he determined to foil the admiral. Accordingly, he weighed anchor and sailed west as if going to the Sandwich Islands, Seymour followed, but in the night Sloat tacked and ran up the coast to Monterey, while Seymour continued on to the islands. Sloat arrived at Monterey and offered the usual civilities to the town; they were declined on a frivolous excuse. It was evident that his presence was not agreeable. Five days later he heard of the movements of Fremont and the settlers, and he at once took possession of the town. Then he sent a courier to the latter, who hastened with his mounted men to July join the commodore. They were mutually astonished on
7. finding that neither of them had acted under direct orders from their own government. The flag of independent California was now supplanted by the colors of the United States.
Commodore Stockton in a few days came into the harbor, to whom Sloat turned over the command, as he himself July
15 intended to return home. The next day came Admiral
CHAP. Seymour in his flag-ship. He saw with surprise the
American flag floating over the town, the American 1846. riflemen encamped near by, and an American fleet in the Aug.
harbor. One month later Stockton and Fremont took 17. possession of Los Angeles, the capital of Upper California.
California had been for some time in a half revolutionary state. The inhabitants were dissatisfied with Mexican rule. Some wished to join the United States, and some to seek the protection of Great Britain. The conciliatory course pursued by Fremont did much in winning the Californians to the American standard.
In the latter part of July the “ Army of the West," under Colonel Kearney, consisting of eighteen hundred men, was concentrated near Bent's Fort on the Arkansas. The Secretary of War, William L. Marcy, had given him instructions to take possession of New Mexico and Upper California, to establish therein temporary civil governments, to make known to the inhabitants the designs of the United States to provide them with free government, and that they would be called upon to elect representatives to their own territorial Legislatures.
The expedition moved rapidly toward Santa Fé, the capital of New Mexico. The population of that province was miscellaneous in its character; Indians, New Mexicans, (a mixture of Spanish and Indian,) some American settlers, and a few of Spanish blood. The mass of the population was half-civilized, by whom honor and morality were reckoned of little worth. They were cowardly, treacherous and cruel ; ignorant and superstitious. The Indians, for the most part, held the idolatrous notions of the ancient Aztecs, and were so debased that a slight reward would insure the committal of almost any crime.
The governor, Armigo, a bad man and a bad ruler, made an effort to meet the invaders. He assembled about four thousand men, of all grades, and, with six field-pieces,
KEARNEY ENTERS SANTA FÉ.
took position in a mountain gorge some fifteen miles in CHAP. advance of Santa Fé ; but for some reason, best known to himself, he abandoned his strong post and rapidly retreated 1846. southward, carrying off his own property, and leaving the people and the public interests to take care of themselves.
Kearney entered Santa Fé and was courteously received Aug. by the lieutenant governor, Vigil.
The following day the people assembled in the plaza and had made known to them the designs of the United States government. The majority professed themselves pleased with the change. In a few days the chiefs of the Pueblo Indians also gave in their adhesion to the new order of things.
Kearney erected and garrisoned a fort, and in the meanwhile made an excursion one hundred and fifty miles to the south to meet a force which a false rumor said was marching against him. On his return he established a government, at the head of which he placed Charles Bent, a worthy citizen of the territory, as governor.
After pledging himself to protect the inhabitants against the inroads of the Eutaw and Navajoe Indians, he set out for California. His company consisted of only three hundred dragoons, but on the route, when near the river Gila, he met a messenger—the celebrated guide and pioneer Kit Carson—who brought intelligence of what had recently taken place in California under Stockton and Fremont. He now sent back two companies of dragoons under Major Sumner, and continued on himself with the remainder.
Thus, within three months after the orders had been issued at Washington, a force had been organized ; a march of a thousand miles accomplished ; and territory subdued, and a new government established on apparently a stable foundation. A half-civilized and vicious population are not fit subjects for self-government, and this in a short time proved a failure. Had Kearney remained to preserve discipline, that result might have
CHAP. been different, or at least delayed. The town was filled LIII.
with gambling-houses, and grog-shops, and haunts of 1846. every vice, while the free manners of the volunteers ex
cited against themselves the hatred of the inhabitants, who laid their plans for revenge, and only waited an opportunity to carry them into effect.
Colonel Kearney gave directions to Colonel Doniphan, whom he left at Santa Fé, to enter the country of the
Navajoe Indians, living on the waters of the Gulf of Nov. California, and induce them to make peace. Doniphan,
with a thousand Missouri volunteers, in three divisions and by as many routes, entered the territory of the hostile tribe, and obtained from them a treaty, by which they agreed to refrain from depredations upon the people of New Mexico. This march, so remarkable, was made in the winter, across mountains covered with snow, and through an unknown region inhabited by barbarous tribes. Doniphan delayed but a short time in negotiating with the Indians, then he passed on to the south-east to meet General Wool at Chihuahua.
The absence of so many men with Doniphan afforded the looked-for opportunity to commence an insurrection
in New Mexico. The plot was deep laid and kept a pro1847. found secret. Suddenly Governor Bent was murdered, Jan. 14.
with five other officers of the territory, some of whom were Mexicans, at Taos, fifty miles north of Santa Fé. The same day witnessed the murder of many others in the upper valley of the Rio Grande.
Colonel Price, of the Missouri mounted volunteers, was at Santa Fé with the main force, while detachments were scattered over the country grazing their horses on the plains. With only three hundred and fifty men, Price
hastened to meet the insurgents, in the valley of Taos. Jan. 23. They, numbering about fifteen hundred, took position in a
pass of the road through the highlands. Price routed CHAP. them and continued his march up the valley; but the insurgents made a stand at another pass, still stronger by 1947. nature, so narrow that three men could scarcely march abreast, while it was protected by rugged mountains covered with cedars growing in the crevices of the rocks. An advance party clambered up through the cedars, and the terrified Mexicans took to flight.
Their principal place of defence was taken in a few days, and the rebellion suppressed. Peace was promised only on the condition that the ringleaders should be given up; this was complied with, and several of them were hanged at San Fernando : a hard fate for those who were fighting against the invaders of their country.
Colonel Doniphan, accompanied by a large number of merchant wagons, crossed without loss a region destitute of water or grass-a desert ninety miles in extent, known as the Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of Death-the road marked by the graves of former travellers and the bones of beasts of burden. In one instance his men and animals nearly gave out from thirst, when providentially a rain relieved them; a remarkable occurrence in itself, as at that season of the year rain seldom falls in that region.
He learned that the Mexicans, under General Herredia, who commanded in the North-western Department, were awaiting his approach ; nothing daunted he dashed on. His force, including merchants, numbered but eight hundred and fifty-six effective men, nearly all backwoodsmen; all mounted, armed with rifles, and good marksmen ; untrammelled by discipline, each one fought as he listed. Near Brazito, in the valley of the Rio Grande, they dismounted and were scattered seeking wood and water, when the scouts brought word that the 1846
. Mexicans were approaching. The alarm was sounded ; 26.