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Govenor Micheltorena

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Joined: 27 Nov 2007
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Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Govenor Micheltorena Reply with quote

Governor General Micheltorena was a genial gentleman who was in many ways deserving of better fortune than fate accorded him as a ruler of the Californians. A revolution broke out in November, 1S44. After several weeks of maneuvering between Salinas and Santa Clara, an agreement was reached in December, according to which Micheltorena was to send his cholos back to Mexico within three months. It soon afterward became apparent that the governor had no intention of fulfilling the treaty, but on the contrary was getting ready to deliver his opponents a knockout blow. Among others he enlisted a number of foreigners, mostly Americans, under John A. Sutter, whose establishment at New Helvetia (Sacramento) had, since its founding in 1839, become the principal rendezvous of the immigrants by the overland trails. Isaac Graham also joined Micheltorena with a contingent of sharp-shooters. Alvarado and Castro, who were among the leaders of the opposition, hastened south, gathering adherents as they went. Arrived before Los Angeles they attacked the garrison, and captured the city in battle (January 20, 1845) in which several men were killed or wounded. They made much of the fact that Micheltorena's army consisted largely of foreigners, procuring the enlistments to their own forces as a result of the patriotic ardor thus aroused. Meanwhile they too recruited a foreign company!

On February 20 and 21, 1845, the battle of Cahuenga Pass was fought, at Alames, west of the pass, on the 20th, and at the Verduga ranch, on the other side, on the 21st. The forces engaged were larger than usual; it is said that the Californians had no fewer than four hundred men. They also had two cannons as against Micheltorena's three. On both sides there were a number of foreigners in great part Americans, but some of the more prominent among them in each camp were at work pointing out how this was none of their quarrel. So the foreigners in each army did little, if anything, but watch the fight. The engagement on the 20th was mainly an artillery duel, with nobody taking any chances of getting hit. It is said that one horse on the patriot side had his head shot off and perhaps another was killed, while Micheltorena's casualties were limited to the wounding of one mule. On the 21st neither man nor animal fell. And then Micheltorena capitulated! Indeed, his cause was hopeless, now that the foreign riflemen would not aid him. He agreed to leave Alta California, taking his cholas (convicts) with him, and late in March he did so. With his departure the last real vestige of Mexican rule was gone, though a shadowy allegiance was retained some few months longer.

A divided local authority was now restored, with Pio Pico as civil governor and Jose Castro military commandant. Immediately, the lack of harmony between north and south revived. Pico, earliest in a long line of Los Angeles '"boosters," removed the capital to the southern metropolis, while Castro and the provincial treasurer and custom house officials remained at Monterey. Even in his own section Pico was beset with troubles, including a plotted uprising by that stormy petrel of Alta California politics, Jose Antonio Carrillo. The plot was discovered, and Carrillo was forced to add yet another exile to several in his career which had gone before. Differences of opinion between Pico and Castro were easily in evidence. The most serious question was that of a division of the provincial revenues. Debts were pressing, and salaries were either unpaid or being scaled down, a situation which had become chronic, but needs were greater than ever. Pico was in a position to command legislation, favoring the civil branch as opposed to the military, but Castro and his friends were in control of the funds. Affairs were shaping themselves for a fresh civil war, when there came a burst from the blue that gave a new turn to the situation.

The news concerned a long-predicted uprising of foreigners, under the leadership, in the present instance, of John C. Fremont, an officer of the United States army. That uprising was the celebrated Bear Flag Revolt.
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