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The Presidio

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:32 pm    Post subject: The Presidio Reply with quote

The Presidio of Monterey was founded on June 3. 1770. Structures were shortly afterwards erected "by the side of an estero creek," also described as being "a gunshot from the beach and three times as far from shore," where San Carlos Church now stands.

Guns were mounted by the Spaniards on the hill overlooking the bay, where the present presidio now is. In 1822 after Mexico obtained her independence from Spain, a fort was built by the Mexicans, and about the year 1843, Governor Micheltorena ordered a deep ditch dug on the site of the present fort. After the American occupation in 1846, a blockhouse was built. The fort was named Fort Stockton, but the name was changed later to Fort Mervine. Fort Halleck was built in 1847 by Company F, 3rd Artillery.

Dr. James L. Ord, a member of that company who visited Monterey in 1892, gave the following information to the Monterey New Era, regarding this fort: "The fort was named Fort Halleck in honor of Lt. H. W. Halleck of the corps of engineers by whom it was laid out. It was built by Lt. E. O. Ord and Lt. W. T. Sherman in 1847, and the earthworks were thrown up by Col. Stevenson's command, the New York volunteers and the regulars stationed on the hill.

General Sherman, in his memoirs published in 1891, gives us a very pleasing picture of Monterey in 1847. He says: "The old Lexington with Co. F. 3rd Artillery, dropped anchor here on January 26, 1847, after a voyage of one hundred and ninety-eight days, from New York. Everything on shore looked bright and beautiful, the hills covered with grass and flowers, the live oaks so serene and homelike, and the low adobe houses, with red tiled roofs and whitened walls, contrasted well with the dark pine trees behind, making a decidedly good impression upon us who had come so far to spy the land. Nothing could be more peaceful in its looks than Monterey in 1847.

"There was a small wharf and an adobe custom house in possession of the navy; also a barracks of two stories, occupied by some marines, commanded by Lt. Mad-dox; and on a hill to the west of the town had been built a two-story blockhouse of hewed logs, occupied by a guard of sailors under command of Lt. Baldwin, U. S. N."

General Stephen Kearney was the military governor of Monterey at this time, with headquarters at U. S. Consul Larkin's home. At the end of May he was succeeded by Col. Richard B. Mason, First Dragoons. At this time Sherman writes as follows: "California had settled down to a condition of absolute repose, and we naturally repined at our fate in being so remote from the war in Mexico, where our comrades were reaping large honors. Col. Mason dwelt in a house on Alvarado street not far from the custom house, with Capt. Lannan, U. S. N. I had a small adobe back of Larkin's. Halleck and D. Murray had a small log house not far off. The company of artillery was still on the hill, under command of Lieut. Ord, engaged in building a fort whereon to mount the guns we had brought in the Lexington, also in constructing quarters out of hewn pine logs for the men."

El Castillo, a small fort on the hill, probably built before the end of the 18th century, figured in but one battle; that incident to the attack on this port by General Hypoiite Bouchard, in November, 1818. The guns were spiked, the magazines blown up, and the town sacked and burned by the Argentinans.

The present presidio came into being in 1902. It was built under the supervision of the late General Edward H. Plummer.
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