Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Location: Monterey County, California
|Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:37 pm Post subject: War
|War having been declared between the United States and Mexico over the annexation of Texas, Commodore John Drake Sloat, commander of the Pacific squadron, arrived in Monterey on the frigate Savannah, and on July 7, 1846, raised the Stars and Stripes over the Old Custom House, ending Mexican rule over California forever.
Monterey, the oldest town of all California, now basked under a flag that was new to her—as she had twice previously done; for the United States was, as you know, the third nation to possess her. Although the Stars and Stripes now waved over California, the conquest was not yet over; and it looked for a time as though those Stars and Stripes might come down the flagpole with all the speed with which they ascended. This, fortunately did not prove to be the case, but the events that made it so provide an important, and perhaps one of the most stirring chapters, to the history of California in general and Monterey in particular.
When Commodore Sloat had hauled his native flag aloft, he promptly wrote to General Jose Castro, Mexican Military Chief, and to Governor Pico, in which he stated the existence of war between the United States and Mexico and called for an immediate surrender of troops, munitions and public properties. Such a surrender, he intimated, would save the loss of perhaps many human lives. Sloat then continued to urge them to come to Monterey for a conference, assuring them they would be treated respectfully and that their lives and liberty would not be endangered.
At the time these letters were sent, a proclamation that Sloat had issued just prior to raising the flag, was gaining wide circulation. This, as well as the letters, were meant to allay any fears that might be felt by the Mexicans.
The letters and the proclamation, however, decidedly did not pacify the growing anger of the Mexicans. Indeed, both Pico and Castro began concocting a bitter pill which they expected to feed the "Gringoes." In the first place, Pico refused to answer the letter sent by Sloat; and, although Castro penned a reply to Sloat that did not commit him on the subject, he turned immediately about and wrote to Pico that he had mustered one hundred and seventy men and was on the march.
In this letter to Pico, Castro also urged the governor to band all Californians and oust the invaders. Picos ire was up. He called a meeting of the provincial assembly, where there was a great deal of ranting and perhaps no little hissing and cursing the "Gringo," but the worst that this organization did at the time was to expel its venom.
Hatred was bubbling like hot oil, and the vortex of it seemed to be Monterey. It was here that the American aggressors did most of their campaigning and planning, and here that the furnaces grew ever ruddier in heating the feelings of the Mexicans. Fourteen days after Monterey had been occupied by the Americans, Sloat, in poor physical condition and disgusted with what he probably called the California mess, resigned from his command. He was succeeded by Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who dropped anchor in the Monterey Bay July 15, 1846. The two leaders, Sloat and Stockton, warmly greeted each other; and later, on the 29th, Sloat took his departure, sailing on the Levant for Mazatlan and Panama.
Stockton lost no time in letting the populace of California know that he meant business, having appointed Fremont a major and Gillespie a captain in the battalion, Stockton left for the conquest of southern California. Monterey was now shifted out of the scene for a time.