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What I Saw in California by Edwin Bryant

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bring much. We met on board the schooner Lieutenant Hunter of the
Portsmouth, a chivalrous officer, and Lieutenant Ruducoff, commanding
the Russian brig previously mentioned, whose vessel, preparatory to
sailing, was taking in water at Sausolito. Accepting of his pressing
invitation, we visited the brig, and took a parting glass of wine with
her gallant and gentlemanly commander.

About five o'clock P.M., we proceeded on our voyage. At eight o'clock a
dense fog hung over the bay, and, the ebb-tide being adverse to our
progress, we were compelled to find a landing for our small and frail
craft. This was not an easy matter, in the almost impenetrable
darkness. As good-luck would have it, however, after we had groped
about for some time, a light was discovered by our skipper. He rowed
the boat towards it, but grounded. Hauling off, he made another attempt
with better success, reaching within hailing distance of the shore. The
light proceeded from a camp-fire of three Kanacka (Sandwich island)
runaway sailors. As soon as they ascertained who we were and what we
wanted, they stripped themselves naked, and, wading through the mud and
water to the boat, took us on their shoulders, and carried us high and
dry to the land. The boat, being thus lightened of her burden, was
rowed farther up, and landed.

The natives of the Sandwich islands (Kanackas, as they are called) are,
without doubt, the most expert watermen in the world. Their
performances in swimming and diving are so extraordinary, that they may
almost be considered amphibious in their natures and instincts. Water
appears to be as much their natural element as the land. They have
straight black hair, good features, and an amiable and intelligent
expression of countenance. Their complexion resembles that of a bright
mulatto; and, in symmetrical proportions and muscular developments,
they will advantageously compare with any race of men I have seen. The
crews of many of the whale and merchant ships on this coast are partly
composed of Kanackas, and they are justly esteemed as most valuable

_October 23_.--The damp raw weather, auguring the near approach of the
autumnal rains, continues. A drizzling mist fell on us during the
night, and the clouds were not dissipated when we resumed our voyage
this morning. Passing through the straits of San Pablo and San Pedro,
we entered a division of the bay called the bay of San Pablo. Wind and
tide being in our favour, we crossed this sheet of water, and
afterwards entered and passed through the Straits of _Carquinez_. At
these straits the waters of the bay are compressed within the breadth
of a mile, for the distance of about two leagues. On the southern side
the shore is hilly, and _canoned_ in some places. The northern shore is
gentle, the hills and table-land sloping gradually down to the water.
We landed at the bend of the Straits of _Carquinez_, and spent several
hours in examining the country and soundings on the northern side.
There is no timber here. The soil is covered with a growth of grass and
white oats. The bend of the Straits of Carquinez, on the northern side,
has been thought to be a favourable position for a commercial town. It
has some advantages and some disadvantages, which it would be tedious
for me now to detail.

[Subsequently to this my first visit here, a town of extensive
dimensions has been laid off by Gen. Vallejo and Mr. Semple, the
proprietors, under the name of "Francisca." It fronts for two or three
miles on the "_Soeson_," the upper division of the Bay of San
Francisco, and the Straits of Carquinez. A ferry has also been
established, which crosses regularly from shore to shore, conveying
travellers over the bay. I crossed, myself and horses, here in June,
1847, when on my return to the United States. Lots had then been
offered to settlers on favourable conditions, and preparations, I
understand, were making for the erection of a number of houses.]

About sunset we resumed our voyage. The Wind having lulled, we
attempted to stem the adverse tide by the use of oars, but the ebb of
the tide was stronger than the propelling force of our oars. Soon, in
spite of all our exertions, we found ourselves drifting rapidly
backwards, and, after two or three hours of hard labour in the dark, we
were at last so fortunate as to effect a landing in a cove on the
southern side of the straits, having retrograded several miles. In the
cove there is a small sandy beach, upon which the waves have drifted,
and deposited a large quantity of oat-straw, and feathers shed by the
millions of water-fowls which sport upon the bay. On this downy deposit
furnished by nature we spread our blankets, and slept soundly.

_October 24_.--We proceeded on our voyage at daylight, coasting along
the southern shore of the _Soeson_. About nine o'clock we landed on a
marshy plain, and cooked breakfast. A range of mountains bounds this
plain, the base of which is several miles from the shore of the bay.
These mountains, although of considerable elevation, exhibit signs of
fertility to their summits. On the plain, numerous herds of wild cattle
were grazing. About two o'clock, P.M., we entered the mouth of the
Sacramento. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers empty into the Bay of
San Francisco at the same point, about sixty miles from the Pacific,
and by numerous mouths or _sloughs_ as they are here called. These
sloughs wind through an immense timbered swamp, and constitute a
terraqueous labyrinth of such intricacy, that unskilful and
inexperienced navigators have been lost for many days in it, and some,
I have been told, have perished, never finding their way out. A range
of low sloping hills approach the Sacramento a short distance above its
mouth, on the left-hand side as you ascend, and run parallel with the
stream several miles. The banks of the river, and several large islands
which we passed during the day, are timbered with sycamore, oak, and a
variety of smaller trees and shrubbery. Numerous grape-vines, climbing
over the trees, and loaded down with a small and very acid fruit, give
to the forest a tangled appearance. The islands of the Sacramento are
all low, and subject to overflow in the spring of the year. The soil of
the river bottom, including the islands, is covered with rank
vegetation, a certain evidence of its fertility. The water, at this
season, is perfectly limpid, and, although the tide ebbs and flows more
than a hundred miles above the mouth of the river, it is fresh and
sweet. The channel of the Sacramento is remarkably free from snags and
other obstructions to navigation. A more beautiful and placid stream of
water I never saw.

At twelve o'clock at night, the ebb-tide being so strong that we found
ourselves drifting backwards, with some difficulty we effected a
landing on one of the islands, clearing a way through the tangled brush
and vines with our hatchets and knives. Lighting a fire, we bivouacked
until daylight.

_October 25_.--Continuing our voyage, we landed, about nine o'clock,
A.M., at an Indian _rancheria_, situated on the bank of the river. An
old Indian, his wife, and two or three children, were all the present
occupants of this _rancheria_. The woman was the most miserable and
emaciated object I ever beheld. She was probably a victim of the
"sweat-house." Surrounding the _rancheria_ were two or three acres of
ground, planted with maize, beans, and melons. Purchasing a quantity of
water and musk-melons, we re-embarked and pursued our voyage. As we
ascended the stream, the banks became more elevated, the country on
both sides opening into vast savannas, dotted occasionally with parks
of evergreen oak.

The tide turning against us again about eleven or twelve o'clock, we
landed at an encampment of Walla-Walla Indians, a portion of the party
previously referred to, and reported to have visited California for
hostile purposes. Among them was a Delaware Indian, known as "Delaware
Tom," who speaks English as fluently as any Anglo-Saxon, and is a most
gallant and honourable Indian. Several of the party, a majority of whom
were women and children, were sick with chills and fever. The men were
engaged in hunting and jerking deer and elk meat. Throwing our hooks,
baited with fresh meat, into the river, we soon drew out small fish
enough for dinner.

The specimens of Walla-Wallas at this encampment are far superior to
the Indians of California in features, figure, and intelligence. Their
complexion is much lighter, and their features more regular,
expressive, and pleasing. Men and women were clothed in dressed skins.
The men were armed with rifles.

At sunset we put our little craft in motion again, and at one o'clock
at night landed near the cabin of a German emigrant named Schwartz, six
miles below the _embarcadero_ of New Helvetia. The cabin is about
twenty feet in length by twelve in breadth, constructed of a light rude
frame, shingled with _tule_. After gaining admission, we found a fire
blazing in the centre of the dwelling on the earth-floor, and suspended
over us were as many salmon, taken from the Sacramento, as could be
placed in position to imbibe the preservative qualities of the smoke.

Our host, Mr. Schwartz, is one of those eccentric human phenomena
rarely met with, who, wandering from their own nation into foreign
countries, forget their own language without acquiring any other. He
speaks a tongue (language it cannot be called) peculiar to himself, and
scarcely intelligible. It is a mixture, in about equal parts, of
German, English, French, Spanish, and _rancheria_ Indian, a compounded
polyglot or lingual _pi_--each syllable of a word sometimes being
derived from a different language. Stretching ourselves on the benches
surrounding the fire, so as to avoid the drippings from the pendent
salmon, we slept until morning.

_October 26_.--Mr. Schwartz provided us with a breakfast of fried
salmon and some fresh milk. Coffee, sugar, and bread we brought with
us, so that we enjoyed a luxurious repast.

Near the house was a shed containing some forty or fifty barrels of
pickled salmon, but the fish, from their having been badly put up, were
spoiled. Mr. Schwartz attempted to explain the particular causes of
this, but I could not understand him. The salmon are taken with seines
dragged across the channel of the river by Indians in canoes. On the
bank of the river the Indians were eating their breakfast, which
consisted of a large fresh salmon, roasted in the ashes or embers, and
a kettle of _atole_, made of acorn-meal. The salmon was four or five
feet in length, and, when taken out of the fire and cut open, presented
a most tempting appearance. The Indians were all nearly naked, and most
of them, having been wading in the water at daylight to set their
seines, were shivering with the cold whilst greedily devouring their
morning meal.

We reached the _embarcadero_ of New Helvetia about eleven o'clock,
A.M., and, finding there a wagon, we placed our baggage in it, and
walked to the fort, about two and a half miles.


Disastrous news from the south
Return of Colonel Fremont to Monterey
Call for volunteers
Volunteer our services
Leave New Helvetia
Swimming the Sacramento
First fall of rain
Beautiful and romantic valley
Precipitous mountains
Deserted house
Arable land of California
Fattening qualities of the acorn
Lost in the Coast Mountains
Strange Indians
Indian women gathering grass-seed for bread
Indian guide
Rough dialogue
Hunters' camp
"Old Greenwood"
Grisly bear meat
Greenwood's account of himself
His opinion of the Indians and Spaniards
Retrace our steps
Severe storm
Nappa valley
Arrive at Sonoma
More rain
Arrive at San Francisco
Return to New Helvetia.

I remained at the fort from the 27th to the 30th of October. On the
28th, Mr. Reed, whom I have before mentioned as belonging to the rear
emigrating party, arrived here. He left his party on Mary's River, and
in company with one man crossed the desert and the mountains. He was
several days without provisions, and, when he arrived at Johnson's, was
so much emaciated and exhausted by fatigue and famine, that he could
scarcely walk. His object was to procure provisions immediately, and to
transport them with pack-mules over the mountains for the relief of the
suffering emigrants behind. He had lost all of his cattle, and had been
compelled to _cache_ two of his wagons and most of his property.
Captain Sutter generously furnished the requisite quantity of mules and
horses, with Indian vaqueros, and jerked meat and flour. This is the
second expedition for the relief of the emigrants he has fitted out
since our arrival in the country. Ex-governor Boggs and family reached
Sutter's Fort to-day.

On the evening of the 28th, a courier arrived with letters from Colonel
Fremont, now at Monterey. The substance of the intelligence received by
the courier was, that a large force of Californians (varying, according
to different reports, from five to fifteen hundred strong) had met the
marines and sailors, four hundred strong, under the command of Captain
Mervine, of the U.S. frigate Savannah, who had landed at San Pedro for
the purpose of marching to Los Angeles, and had driven Captain Mervine
and his force back to the ship, with the loss, in killed, of six men.
That the towns of Angeles and Santa Barbara had been taken by the
insurgents, and the American garrisons there had either been captured
or had made their escape by retreating. What had become of them was
unknown.[2] Colonel Fremont, who I before mentioned had sailed with a
party of one hundred and eighty volunteers from San Francisco to San
Pedro, or San Diego, for the purpose of co-operating with Commodore
Stockton, after having been some time at sea, had put into Monterey and
landed his men, and his purpose now was to increase his force and mount
them, and to proceed by land for Los Angeles.

[2] The garrison under Captain Gillespie, at Los Angeles, capitulated.
The garrison at Santa Barbara, under Lieutenant Talbot, marched
out in defiance of the enemy, and after suffering many hardships
arrived in safety at Monterey.

On the receipt of this intelligence, I immediately drew up a paper,
which was signed by myself, Messrs Reed, Jacob, Lippincott, and
Grayson, offering our services as volunteers, and our exertions to
raise a force of emigrants and Indians which would be a sufficient
reinforcement to Colonel Fremont. This paper was addressed to Mr. Kern,
the commandant of Fort Sacramento, and required his sanction. The next
morning (29th) he accepted of our proposal, and the labour of raising
the volunteers and of procuring the necessary clothing and supplies for
them and the Indians was apportioned.

It commenced raining on the night of the twenty-eighth, and the rain
fell heavily and steadily until twelve o'clock, P.M., on the
twenty-ninth. This is the first fall of rain since March last. About
one o'clock, P.M., the clouds cleared away and the weather and
temperature were delightful.

About twelve o'clock, on the 30th, accompanied by Mr. Grayson, I left
New Helvetia. We crossed the Sacramento at the _embarcadero_, swimming
our horses, and passing ourselves over in a small canoe. The method of
swimming horses over so broad a stream as the Sacramento is as follows.
A light canoe or "dug-out" is manned by three persons, one at the bow
one at the stern and one in the centre; those at the bow and stern have
paddles, and propel and steer the craft. The man in the centre holds
the horses one on each side, keeping their heads out of water. When the
horses are first forced into the deep water, they struggle
prodigiously, and sometimes upset the canoe; but, when the canoe gets
fairly under way, they cease their resistance, but snort loudly at
every breath to clear their mouths and nostrils of the water.

Proceeding ten miles over a level plain, we overtook a company of
emigrants bound for Nappa valley, and encamped with them for the night
on Puta creek, a tributary of the Sacramento. Five of the seven or
eight men belonging to the company enrolled their names as volunteers.
The grass on the western side of the Sacramento is very rank and of an
excellent quality.

It commenced raining about two o'clock on the morning of the 31st, and
continued to rain and mist all day. We crossed from Puta to Cache
creek, reaching the residence of Mr. Gordon (25 miles) about three
o'clock P.M. Here we enrolled several additional emigrants in our list
of volunteers, and then travelled fifteen miles up the creek to a small
log-house, occupied temporarily by some of the younger members of the
family of Mr. Gordon, who emigrated from Jackson county, Mo., this
year, and by Mrs. Grayson. Here we remained during the night, glad to
find a shelter and a fire, for we were drenched to our skins.

On the morning of the 1st of November the sun shone out warm and
pleasant. The birds were singing, chattering, and flitting from tree to
tree, through the romantic and picturesque valley where we had slept
during the night. The scenery and its adjuncts were so charming and
enticing that I recommenced my travels with reluctance. No scenery can
be more beautiful than that of the small valleys of California.
Ascending the range of elevated mountains which border the Cache creek,
we had a most extensive view of the broad plain of the Sacramento,
stretching with islands and bells of limber far away to the south as
the eye could penetrate. The gorges and summits of these mountains are
timbered with largo pines, firs, and cedars, with a smaller growth of
magnolias, manzanitas, hawthorns, etc., etc. Travelling several miles
over a level plateau, we descended into a beautiful valley, richly
carpeted with grass and timbered with evergreen oak. Proceeding across
this three or four miles, we rose another range of mountains, and,
travelling a league along the summit ridge, we descended through a
crevice in a sleep rocky precipice, just sufficient in breadth to admit
the passage of our animals. Our horses were frequently compelled to
slide or leap down nearly perpendicular rocks or stairs, until we
finally, just after sunset, reached the bottom of the mountain, and
found ourselves in another level and most fertile and picturesque

We knew that in this valley, of considerable extent, there was a house
known as "Barnett's," where we expected to find quarters for the night.
There were numerous trails of cattle, horses, deer, and other wild
animals, crossing each other in every direction through the live
oak-timber. We followed on the largest of the cattle trails until it
became so blind that we could not see it. Taking another, we did the
same, and the result was the same; another and another with no better
success. We then shouted so loud that our voices were echoed and
re-echoed by the surrounding mountains, hoping, if there were any
inhabitants in the valley, that they would respond to us. There was no
response--all was silent when the sound of our voices died away in the
gorges and ravines; and at ten o'clock at night we encamped under the
wide-spreading branches of an oak, having travelled about 40 miles.
Striking a fire and heaping upon it a large quantity of wood, which
blazed brightly, displaying the Gothic shapes of the surrounding oaks,
we picketed our animals, spread our blankets, and slept soundly.

It rained several hours during the night, and in the morning a dense
fog filled the valley. Saddling our animals, we searched along the foot
of the next range of mountains for a trail, but could find none.
Returning to our camp, we proceeded up the valley, and struck a trail,
by following which two miles, we came to the house (Barnett's). The
door was ajar, and entering the dwelling we found it tenantless. The
hearth was cold, and the ashes in the jambs of the large fire-place
were baked. In the corners of the building there were some frames, upon
which beds had been once spread. The house evidently had been abandoned
by its former occupants for some time. The prolific mothers of several
families of the swinish species, with their squealing progenies,
gathered around us, in full expectation, doubtless, of the dispensation
of an extra ration, which we had not to give. Having eaten nothing but
a crust of bread for 24 hours, the inclination of our appetites was
strong to draw upon them for a ration; but for old acquaintance' sake,
and because they were the foreshadowing of the "manifest destiny," they
were permitted to pass without molestation. There were two or three
small inclosures near the house, where corn and wheat had been planted
and harvested this year; but none of the product of the harvest could
be found in the empty house, or on the place. Dismounting from our
horses at a limpid spring-branch near the house, we slaked our thirst,
and made our hydropathical breakfast from its cool and delicious water.

Although the trail of the valley did not run in our course, still,
under the expectation that it would soon take another direction, we
followed it, passing over a fertile soil, sufficiently timbered and
watered by several small streams. The quantity of arable land in
California, I believe, is much greater than has generally been supposed
from the accounts of the country given by travellers who have visited
only the parts on the Pacific, and some few of the missions. Most of
the mountain valleys between the Sierra Nevada and the coast are
exuberantly fertile, and finely watered, and will produce crops of all
kinds, while the hills are covered with oats and grass of the most
nutritious qualities, for the sustenance of cattle, horses, and hogs.
The acorns which fall from the oaks are, of themselves, a rich annual
product for the fattening of hogs; and during the period of transition
(four or five weeks after the rains commence falling) from the dry
grass to the fresh growth, horses, mules, and even horned cattle mostly
subsist and fatten upon these large and oleaginous nuts.

We left the valley in a warm and genial sunshine, about 11 o'clock, and
commenced ascending another high mountain, timbered as those I have
previously described. When we reached the summit, we were enveloped in
clouds, and the rain was falling copiously, and a wintry blast drove
the cold element to our skins. Crossing this mountain three or four
miles, we descended its sleep sides, and entered another beautiful and
romantic hollow, divided as it were into various apartments by short
ranges of low conical hills, covered to their summits with grass and
wild oats. The grass and other vegetation on the level bottom are very
rank, indicating a soil of the most prolific qualities. In winding
through this valley, we met four Indians on foot, armed with long bows,
and arrows of corresponding weight and length, weapons that I have not
previously seen among the Indians. Their complexions were lighter than
those of the _rancheria_ Indians of California. They evidently belonged
to some more northern tribe. We stopped them to make inquiries, but
they seemed to know nothing of the country, nor could we learn from
them from whence they came or where they were going. They were clothed
in dressed skins, and two of them were highly rouged.

Ascending and descending gradually over some low hills, we entered
another circular valley, through which flows a stream, the waters of
which, judging from its channel, at certain seasons are broad and deep.
The ground, from the rains that have recently fallen and are now
falling, is very soft, and we had difficulty in urging our tired
animals across this valley. We soon discovered fresh cattle signs, and
afterwards a large herd grazing near the stream. Farther on, we saw
five old and miserably emaciated Indian women, gathering grass-seed for
bread. This process is performed with two baskets, one shaped like a
round shield, and the other having a basin and handle. With the shield
the lop of the grass is brushed, and the seed by the motion is thrown
into the deep basket held in the other hand. The five women appeared at
a distance like so many mowers cutting down the grass of a meadow.
These women could give us no satisfaction in response to inquiries, but
pointed over the river indicating that we should there find the _casa_
and _rancheria_. They then continued their work with as much zeal and
industry as if their lives were dependent upon the proceeds of their
labour, and I suppose they were.

Crossing the river, we struck a trail which led us to the _casa_ and
_rancheria_, about two miles distant. The _casa_ was a small adobe
building, about twelve feet square, and was locked up. Finding that
admission was not to be gained here, we hailed at the _rancheria_, and
presently some dozen squalid and naked men, women, and children, made
their appearance. We inquired for the _mayor domo_, or overseer. The
chief speaker signified that he was absent, and that he did not expect
hint to return until several suns rose and set. We then signified we
were hungry, and very soon a loaf made of pulverized acorns, mingled
with wild fruit of some kind, was brought to us with a basket of water.
These Indians manufacture small baskets which are impervious to water,
and they are used as basins to drink from, and for other purposes.

I knew that we had been travelling out of our course all day, and it
was now three o'clock, P.M. Rain and mist had succeeded each other, and
the sun was hidden from us by dark and threatening masses of clouds. We
had no compass with us, and could not determine the course to Nappa
Valley or Sonoma. Believing that the Indian would have some knowledge
of the latter place, we made him comprehend that we wished to go there,
and inquired the route. He pointed in a direction which he signified
would take us to Sonoma. We pointed in another course, which it seemed
to us was the right one. But he persisted in asserting that he was
right. After some further talk, for the shirt on my back he promised to
guide us, and, placing a ragged skin on one of our horses, he mounted
the animal and led the way over the next range of hills. The rain soon
poured down so hard upon the poor fellow's bare skin, that he begged
permission to return, to which we would not consent; but, out of
compassion to him, I took off my over-coat, with which he covered his
swarthy hide, and seemed highly delighted with the shelter from the
pitiless storm it afforded him, or with the supposition that I intended
to present it to him.

Crossing several elevated and rocky hills, just before sunset, we had a
view of a large timbered valley and a sheet of water, the extent of
which we could not compass with the eye, on account of the thickness of
the atmosphere. When we came in sight of the water, the Indian uttered
various exclamations of pleasure; and, although I had felt but little
faith in him as a pilot from the first, I began now to think that we
were approaching the Bay of San Francisco. Descending into the valley,
we travelled along a small stream two or three miles, and were
continuing on in the twilight, when we heard the tinkling of a cow-bell
on the opposite side of the stream. Certain, from this sound, that
there must be an encampment near, I halted and hallooed at the top of
my voice. The halloo called forth a similar response, with an
interrogation in English, "Who the d----l are you--Spaniards or
Americans?" "Americans." "Show yourselves, then, d----n you, and let us
see the colour of your hide," was the answer.

"Tell us where we can cross the stream, and you shall soon see us," was
our reply.

"Ride back and follow the sound of my voice, and be d----d to you, and
you can cross the stream with a deer's jump."

Accordingly, following the sound of the voice of this rough colloquist,
who shouted repeatedly, we rode back in the dark several hundred yards,
and, plunging into the stream, the channel of which was deep, we gained
the other side, where we found three men standing ready to receive us.
We soon discovered them to be a party of professional hunters, or
trappers, at the head of which was Mr. Greenwood, a famed mountaineer,
commonly known as "Old Greenwood." They invited us to their camp,
situated across a small opening in the timber about half a mile
distant. Having unsaddled our tired animals and turned them loose to
graze for the night, we placed our baggage under the cover of a small
tent, and, taking our seats by the huge camp fire, made known as far as
was expedient our business. We soon ascertained that we had ridden the
entire day (about 40 miles) directly out of our course to Nappa Valley
and Sonoma, and that the Indian's information was all wrong. We were
now near the shore of a large lake, called the _Laguna_ by
Californians, some fifty or sixty miles in length, which lake is
situated about sixty or seventy miles north of the Bay of San
Francisco; consequently, to-morrow we shall be compelled to retrace our
steps and find the trail that leads from Harriett's house to Nappa,
which escaped us this morning. We received such directions, however,
from Mr. Greenwood, that we could not fail to find it.

We found in the camp, much to our gratification after a long fast, an
abundance of fat grisly bear-meat and the most delicious and tender
deer-meat. The camp looked like a butcher's stall. The pot filled with
bear-flesh was boiled again and again, and the choice pieces of the
tender venison were roasting, and disappearing with singular rapidity
for a long time. Bread there was none of course. Such a delicacy is
unknown to the mountain trappers, nor is it much desired by them.

The hunting party consisted of Mr. Greenwood, Mr. Turner, Mr. Adams,
and three sons of Mr. G., one grown, and the other two boys 10 or 12
years of age, half-bred Indians, the mother being a Crow. One of these
boys is named "Governor Boggs," after ex-governor Boggs of Missouri, an
old friend of the father. Mr. Greenwood, or "Old Greenwood," as he is
familiarly called, according to his own statement, is 83 years of age,
and has been a mountain trapper between 40 and 50 years. He lived among
the Crow Indians, where he married his wife, between thirty and forty
years. He is about six feet in height, raw-boned and spare in flesh,
but muscular, and, notwithstanding his old age, walks with all the
erectness and elasticity of youth. His dress was of tanned buckskin,
and from its appearance one would suppose its antiquity to be nearly
equal to the age of its wearer. It had probably never been off his body
since he first put it on. "I am," said he, "an old man--eighty-three
years--it is a long time to live;--eighty-three years last--. I have
seen all the Injun varmints of the Rocky Mountains,--have fout
them--lived with them. I have many children--I don't know how many,
they are scattered; but my wife was a Crow. The Crows are a brave
nation,--the bravest of all the Injuns; they fight like the white man;
they don't kill you in the dark like the Black-foot varmint, and then
take your scalp and run, the cowardly reptiles. Eighty-three years
last----; and yet old Greenwood could handle the rifle as well as the
best on 'em, but for this infernal humour in my eyes, caught three
years ago in bringing the emigrators over the _de_-sart." (A circle of
scarlet surrounded his weeping eyeballs.) "I can't see jist now as well
as I did fifty years ago, but I can always bring the game or the
slinking and skulking Injun. I have jist come over the mountains from
Sweetwater with the emigrators as pilot, living upon bacon, bread,
milk, and sich like mushy stuff. It don't agree with me; it never will
agree with a man of my age, eighty-three last ----; that is a long time
to live. I thought I would take a small hunt to get a little exercise
for my old bones, and some good fresh meat. The grisly bear, fat deer,
and poultry and fish--them are such things as a man should eat. I came
up here, where I knew there was plenty. I was here twenty years ago,
before any white man see this lake and the rich land about it. It's
filled with big fish. That's beer-springs here, better than them in the
Rocky Mountains; thar's a mountain of solid brimstone, and thar's mines
of gold and silver, all of which I know'd many years ago, and I can
show them to you if you will go with me in the morning. These
black-skinned Spaniards have rebelled again. Wall, they can make a
fuss, d--m 'em, and have revolutions every year, but they can't fight.
It's no use to go after 'em, unless when you ketch 'em you kill 'em.
They won't stand an' fight like men, an' when they can't fight longer
give up; but the skared varmints run away and then make another fuss,
d--m 'em." Such was the discourse of our host.

The camp consisted of two small tents, which had probably been obtained
from the emigrants. They were pitched so as to face each other, and
between them there was a large pile of blazing logs. On the trees
surrounding the camp were stretched the skins of various animals which
had been killed in the hunt; some preserved for their hides, others for
the fur. Bear-meat and venison enough for a winter's supply were
hanging from the limbs. The swearing of Turner, a man of immense frame
and muscular power, during our evening's conversation, was almost
terrific. I had heard mountain swearing before, but his went far beyond
all former examples. He could do all the swearing for our army in
Mexico, and then have a surplus.

The next morning (Nov. 3rd), after partaking of a hearty breakfast, and
suspending from our saddles a sufficient supply of venison and
bear-meat for two days' journey, we started back on our own trail. We
left our miserable Indian pilot at his _rancheria_. I gave him the
shirt from my back, out of compassion for his sufferings--he well
deserved a _dressing_ of another kind. It rained all day, and, when we
reached Barnett's (the empty house) after four o'clock, P.M., the black
masses of clouds which hung over the valley portended a storm so
furious, that we thought it prudent to take shelter under a roof for
the night. Securing our animals in one of the inclosures, we encamped
in the deserted dwelling. The storm soon commenced, and raged and
roared with a fierceness and strength rarely witnessed. The hogs and
pigs came squealing about the door for admission; and the cattle and
horses in the valley, terrified by the violence of elemental battle,
ran backwards and forwards, bellowing and snorting. In comfortable
quarters, we roasted and enjoyed our bear-meat and venison, and left
the wind, rain, lightning, and thunder to play their pranks as best
suited them, which they did all night.

On the morning of the fourth, we found the trail described to us by Mr.
Greenwood, and, crossing a ridge of mountains, descended into the
valley of Nappa creek, which empties into the Bay of San Francisco just
below the Straits of Carquinez. This is a most beautiful and fertile
valley, and is already occupied by several American settlers. Among the
first who established themselves here is Mr. Yount, who soon after
erected a flouring-mill and saw-mill. These have been in operation
several years. Before reaching Mr. Yount's settlement we passed a
saw-mill more recently erected, by Dr. Bale. There seems to be an
abundance of pine and red-wood (a species of fir), in the _canadas_. No
lumber can be superior for building purposes than that sawed from the
red-wood. The trees are of immense size, straight, free from knots and
twists, and the wood is soft, and easily cut with plane and saw.
Arriving at the residence of Dr. Bale, in Nappa Valley, we were
hospitably entertained by him with a late breakfast of coffee, boiled
eggs, steaks, and _tortillas_, served up in American style. Leaving
Nappa, after travelling down it some ten or twelve miles, we crossed
another range of hills or mountains, and reached Sonoma after dark, our
clothing thoroughly drenched with the rain, which, with intermissions,
had fallen the whole day. I put up at the same quarters as when here
before. The house was covered with a dilapidated thatch, and the rain
dripped through it, not leaving a dry spot on the floor of the room
where we slept. But there was an advantage in this--the inundation of
water had completely discomfited the army of fleas that infested the
building when we were here before.

It rained incessantly on the fifth. Col. Russell arrived at Sonoma
early in the morning, having arrived from San Francisco last night.
Procuring a boat belonging to Messrs. Howard and Mellus, lying at the
_embarcadero_, I left for San Francisco, but, owing to the storm and
contrary winds, did not arrive there until the morning of the seventh,
being two nights and a day in the creek, and _churning_ on the bay.
Purchasing a quantity of clothing, and other supplies for volunteers, I
sailed early on the morning of the eighth for New Helvetia, in a boat
belonging to the sloop-of-war Portsmouth, manned by U.S. sailors, under
the command of Midshipman Byres, a native of Maysville, Ky. We encamped
that night at the head of "Soeson," having sailed about fifty miles in
a severe storm of wind and rain. The waves frequently dashed entirely
over our little craft. The rain continued during the ninth, and we
encamped at night about the mouth of the Sacramento. On the night of
the tenth we encamped at "Meritt's camp," the rain still falling, and
the river rising rapidly, rendering navigation up-stream impossible,
except with the aid of the tide. On the night of the eleventh we
encamped fifteen miles below New Helvetia, still raining. On the
morning of the twelfth the clouds cleared away, and the sun burst out
warm and spring-like. After having been exposed to the rain for ten or
twelve days, without having the clothing upon me once dry, the sight of
the sun, and the influence of his beams, were cheering and most
agreeable. We arrived at New Helvetia about twelve o'clock.


Leave New Helvetia
Pleasant weather
Meet Indian volunteers
Tule boats
Engagement between a party of Americans and Californians
Death of Capt. Burroughs and Capt. Foster
Capture of Thomas O. Larkin
San Juan Bautista
Neglect of the dead
Large herds of Cattle
Join Col. Fremont.

On my arrival at New Helvetia, I found there Mr. Jacob. Mr. Reed had
not yet returned from the mountains. Nothing had been heard from Mr.
Lippincott, or Mr. Grayson, since I left the latter at Sonoma. An
authorized agent of Col. Fremont had arrived at the fort the day that I
left it, with power to take the _caballada_ of public horses, and to
enroll volunteers for the expedition to the south. He had left two or
three days before my arrival, taking with him all the horses and
trappings suitable for service, and all the men who had previously
_rendezvoused_ at the fort, numbering about sixty, as I understood. At
my request messengers were sent by Mr. Kern, commandant of the fort,
and by Captain Sutter, to the Indian chiefs on the San Joaquin River
and its tributaries, to meet me at the most convenient points on the
trail, with such warriors of their tribes as chose to volunteer as
soldiers of the United States, and perform military service during the
campaign. I believed that they would be useful as scouts and spies. On
the 14th and 15th eight men (emigrants who had just arrived in the
country, and had been enrolled at Johnson's settlement by Messrs. Reed
and Jacob) arrived at the fort; and on the morning of the 16th, with
these, we started to join Colonel Fremont, supposed to be at Monterey;
and we encamped at night on the Coscumne River.

The weather is now pleasant. We are occasionally drenched with a shower
of rain, after which the sun shines warm and bright; the fresh grass is
springing up, and the birds sing and chatter in the groves and thickets
as we pass through them. I rode forward, on the morning of the 17th, to
the Mickelemes River (twenty-five miles from the Coscumne), where I met
Antonio, an Indian chief, with twelve warriors, who had assembled hero
for the purpose of joining us. The names of the warriors were as
follows;--Santiago, Masua, Kiubu, Tocoso, Nonelo, Michael, Weala,
Arkell, Nicolas, Heel, Kasheano, Estephen. Our party coming up in the
afternoon, we encamped here for the day, in order to give the Indians
time to make further preparations for the march. On the 18th we met, at
the ford of the San Joaquin River, another party of eighteen Indians,
including their chiefs. Their names were--Jose Jesus, Filipe,
Ray-mundo, and Carlos, chiefs; Huligario, Bonefasio, Francisco,
Nicolas, Pablo, Feliciano, San Antonio, Polinario, Manuel, Graviano,
Salinordio, Romero, and Merikeeldo, warriors. The chiefs and some of
the warriors of these parties were partially clothed, but most of them
were naked, except a small garment around the loins. They were armed
with bows and arrows. We encamped with our sable companions on the east
bank of the San Joaquin.

The next morning (Nov. 19), the river being too high to ford, we
constructed, by the aid of the Indians, tule-boats, upon which our
baggage was ferried over the stream. The tule-boat consists of bundles
of tule firmly hound together with willow withes. When completed, in
shape it is not unlike a small keel-boat. The buoyancy of one of these
craft is surprising. Six men, as many as could sit upon the deck, were
passed over, in the largest of our three boats, at a time. The boats
were towed backwards and forwards by Indian swimmers--one at the bow,
and one at the stern as steersman, and two on each side as propellers.
The poor fellows, when they came out of the cold water, trembled as if
attacked with an ague. We encamped near the house of Mr. Livermore
(previously described), where, after considerable difficulty, I
obtained sufficient beef for supper, Mr. L. being absent. Most of the
Indians did not get into camp until a late hour of the night, and some
of them not until morning. They complained very much of sore feet, and
wanted horses to ride, which I promised them as soon as they reached
the Pueblo de San Jose.

About ten o'clock on the morning of the 20th, we slaughtered a beef in
the hills between Mr. Livermore's and the mission of San Jose; and,
leaving the hungry party to regale themselves upon it and then follow
on, I proceeded immediately to the Pueblo de San Jose to make further
arrangements, reaching that place just after sunset. On the 21st I
procured clothing for the Indians, which, when they arrived with Mr.
Jacob in the afternoon, was distributed among them.

On my arrival at the Pueblo, I found the American population there much
excited by intelligence just received of the capture on the 15th,
between Monterey and the mission of San Juan, of Thos. O. Larkin, Esq.,
late U.S. Consul in California, by a party of Californians, and of an
engagement between the same Californians and a party of Americans
escorting a _caballada_ of 400 horses to Colonel Fremont's camp in
Monterey. In this affair three Americans were killed, viz.: Capt.
Burroughs, Capt. Foster, and Mr. Eames, late of St. Louis, Mo. The
mission of San Juan lies on the road between the Pueblo de San Jose and
Monterey, about fifty miles from the former place, and thirty from the
latter. The skirmish took place ten miles south of San Juan, near the
Monterey road. I extract the following account of this affair from a
journal of his captivity published by Mr. Larkin:--

"On the 10th of November, from information received of the sickness of
my family in San Francisco, where they had gone to escape the expected
revolutionary troubles in Monterey, and from letters from Captain
Montgomery requesting my presence respecting some stores for the
Portsmouth, I, with one servant, left Monterey for San Francisco,
knowing that for one month no Californian forces had been within 100
miles of us. That night I put up at the house of Don Joaquin Gomez,
sending my servant to San Juan, six miles beyond, to request Mr. J.
Thompson to wait for me, as he was on the road for San Francisco. About
midnight I was aroused from my bed by the noise made by ten
Californians (unshaved and unwashed for months, being in the mountains)
rushing into my chamber with guns, swords, pistols, and torches in
their hands. I needed but a moment to be fully awake and know my exact
situation; the first cry was, 'Como estamos, Senor Consul.' 'Vamos,
Senor Larkin.' At my bedside were several letters that I had re-read
before going to bed. On dressing myself, while my captors were saddling
my horse, I assorted these letters, and put them into different
pockets. After taking my own time to dress and arrange my valise, we
started, and rode to a camp of seventy or eighty men on the banks of
the Monterey River; there each officer and principal person passed the
time of night with me, and a remark or two. The commandante took me on
one side, and informed me that his people demanded that I should write
to San Juan, to the American captain of volunteers, saying that I had
left Monterey to visit the distressed families of the river, and
request or demand that twenty men should meet me before daylight, that
I could station them, before my return to town, in a manner to protect
these families. The natives, he said, were determined on the act being
accomplished. I at first endeavoured to reason with him on the infamy
and the impossibility of the deed, but to no avail; he said my life
depended on the letter; that he was willing, nay, anxious to preserve
my life as an old acquaintance, but could not control his people in
this affair. From argument I came to a refusal; he advised, urged, and
demanded. At this period an officer called out * * * * (Come here,
those who are named.) I then said, 'In this manner you may act and
threaten night by night; my life on such condition is of no value or
pleasure to me. I am by accident your prisoner--make the most of
me--write, I will not; shoot as you see fit, and I am done talking on
the subject.' I left him, and went to the camp fire. For a half-hour or
more there was some commotion around me, when all disturbance subsided.

"At daylight we started, with a flag flying and a drum beating, and
travelled eight or ten miles, when we camped in a low valley or hollow.
There they caught with the lasso three or four head of cattle belonging
to the nearest rancho, and breakfasted. The whole day their outriders
rode in every direction, on the look-out, to see if the American
company left the mission of San Juan, or Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont
left Monterey; they also rode to all the neighbouring ranches, and
forced the rancheros to join them. At one o'clock, they began their
march with one hundred and thirty men (and two or three hundred extra
horses); they marched in four single files, occupying four positions,
myself under charge of an officer and five or six men in the centre.
Their plan of operation for the night was, to rush into San Juan ten or
fifteen men, who were to retreat, under the expectation that the
Americans would follow them, in which case the whole party outside was
to cut them off. I was to be retained in the centre of the party. Ten
miles south of the mission, they encountered eight or ten Americans, a
part of whom retreated into a low ground covered with oaks, the others
returned to the house of Senor Gomez, to alarm their companions. For
over one hour the hundred and thirty Californians surrounded the six or
eight Americans, occasionally giving and receiving shots. During this
period, I was several times requested, then commanded, to go among the
oaks and bring out my countrymen, and offer them their lives on giving
up their rifles and persons. I at last offered to go and call them out,
on condition that they should return to San Juan or go to Monterey,
with their arms; this being refused, I told the commandante to go in
and bring them out himself. While they were consulting how this could
be done, fifty Americans came down on them, which caused an action of
about twenty or thirty minutes. Thirty or forty of the natives leaving
the field at the first fire, they remained drawn off by fives and tens
until the Americans had the field to themselves. Both parties remained
within a mile of each other until dark. Our countrymen lost Captain
Burroughs of St. Louis, Missouri, Captain Foster, and two others, with
two or three wounded. The Californians lost two of their countrymen,
and Jose Garcia, of Val., Chili, with seven wounded."

The following additional particulars I extract from the "Californian"
newspaper of November 21, 1846, published at Monterey: "Burroughs and
Foster were killed at the first onset. The Americans fired, and then
charged on the enemy with their empty rifles, and ran them off.
However, they still kept rallying, and firing now and then a musket at
the Americans until about eleven o'clock at night, when one of the
Walla-Walla Indians offered his services to come into Monterey and give
Colonel Fremont notice of what was passing. Soon after he started he
was pursued by a party of the enemy. The foremost in pursuit drove a
lance at the Indian, who, trying to parry it, received the lance
through his hand; he immediately, with his other hand, seized his
tomahawk, and struck his opponent, splitting his head from the crown to
the mouth. By this time the others had come up, and, with the most
extraordinary dexterity and bravery, the Indian vanquished two more,
and the rest ran away. He rode on towards this town as far as his horse
was able to carry him, and then left his horse and saddle, and came in
on foot. He arrived here about eight o'clock on Tuesday morning,
December 17th."

The Americans engaged in this affair were principally the volunteer
emigrants just arrived in the country, and who had left New Helvetia a
few days in advance of me.

Colonel Fremont marched from Monterey as soon as he heard of this
skirmish, in pursuit of the Californians, but did not meet with them.
He then encamped at the mission of San Juan, waiting there the arrival
of the remaining volunteers from above.

Leaving the Pueblo on the afternoon of the 25th, in conjunction with a
small force commanded by Captain Weber, we made an excursion into the
hills, near a rancho owned by Captain W., where were herded some two or
three hundred public horses. It had been rumoured that a party of
Californians were hovering about here, intending to capture and drive
off these horses. The next day (November 26th), without having met any
hostile force, driving these horses before us, we encamped at Mr.
Murphy's rancho. Mr. Murphy is the father of a large and respectable
family, who emigrated to this country some three or four years since
from, the United States, being originally from Canada. His daughter,
Miss Helen, who did the honours of the rude cabin, in manners,
conversation, and personal charms, would grace any drawing-room. On the
28th, we proceeded down the Pueblo valley, passing Gilroy's rancho, and
reaching the mission of San Juan just before dark. The hills and
valleys are becoming verdant with fresh grass and wild oats, the latter
being, in places, two or three inches high. So tender is it, however,
that it affords but little nourishment to our horses.

The mission of San Juan Bautista has been one of the most extensive of
these establishments. The principal buildings are more durably
constructed than those of other missions I have visited, and they are
in better condition. Square bricks are used in paving the corridors and
the ground floors. During the twilight, I strayed accidentally through
a half-opened gate into a cemetery, inclosed by a high wall in the rear
of the church. The spectacle was ghastly enough. The exhumed skeletons
of those who had been deposited here lay thickly strewn around, showing
but little respect for the sanctity of the grave, or the rights of the
dead from the living. The cool damp night-breeze sighed and moaned
through the shrubbery and ruinous arches and corridors, planted and
reared by those whose neglected bones were now exposed to the rude
insults of man and beast. I could not but imagine that the voices of
complaining spirits mingled with these dismal and mournful tones; and
plucking a cluster of roses, the fragrance of which was delicious, I
left the spot, to drive away the sadness and melancholy produced by the

The valley contiguous to the mission is extensive, well watered by a
large _arroyo_, and highly fertile. The gardens and other lands for
tillage are inclosed by willow hedges. Elevated hills, or mountains,
bound this valley on the east and west. Large herds of cattle were
scattered over the valley, greedily cropping the fresh green herbage,
which now carpets mountain and plain.

Colonel Fremont marched from San Juan this morning, and encamped, as we
learned on our arrival, ten miles south. Proceeding up the _arroyo_ on
the 29th, we reached the camp of Colonel F. about noon. I immediately
reported, and delivered over to him the men and horses under my charge.
The men were afterwards organized into a separate corps, of which Mr.
R.T. Jacob, my travelling companion, was appointed the captain by
Colonel Fremont.


California battalion
Their appearance and costume
List of the officers
Commence our march to Los Angeles
Appearance of the country in the vicinity of San Juan
Slaughter of beeves
Astonishing consumption of beef by the men
Beautiful morning
Salinas river and valley
Californian prisoners
Horses giving out from fatigue
Mission of San Miguel
March on foot
More prisoners taken
Death of Mr. Stanley
An execution
Dark night
Capture of the mission of San Luis Obispo
Orderly conduct and good deportment of the California battalion.

_November 30_.--The battalion of mounted riflemen, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, numbers, rank and file, including Indians,
and servants, 428. With the exception of the exploring party, which
left the United States with Colonel F., they are composed of volunteers
from the American settlers, and the emigrants who have arrived in the
country within a few weeks. The latter have generally furnished their
own ammunition and other equipments for the expedition. Most of these
are practised riflemen, men of undoubted courage, and capable of
bearing any fatigue and privations endurable by veteran troops. The
Indians are composed of a party of Walla-Wallas from Oregon, and a
party of native Californians. Attached to the battalion are two pieces
of artillery, under the command of Lieutenant McLane, of the navy. In
the appearance of our small army there is presented but little of "the
pomp and circumstance of glorious war." There are no plumes nodding
over brazen helmets, nor coats of broadcloth spangled with lace and
buttons. A broad-brimmed low-crowned hat, a shirt of blue flannel, or
buckskin, with pantaloons and mocassins of the same, all generally much
the worse for wear, and smeared with mud and dust, make up the costume
of the party, officers as well as men. A leathern girdle surrounds the
waist, from which are suspended a bowie and a hunter's knife, and
sometimes a brace of pistols. These, with the rifle and
holster-pistols, are the arms carried by officers and privates. A
single bugle (and a sorry one it is) composes the band. Many an embryo
Napoleon, in his own conceit, whose martial spirit has been excited to
flaming intensity of heat by the peacock-plumage and gaudy trappings of
our militia companies, when marching through the streets to the sound
of drum, fife, and brass band, if he could have looked upon us, and
then consulted the state of the military thermometer within him, would
probably have discovered that the mercury of his heroism had fallen
several degrees below zero. He might even have desired that we should
not come

"Between the wind and his nobility."

War, stripped of its pageantry, possesses but few of the attractions
with which poetry and painting have embellished it. The following is a
list of the officers composing the California Battalion:--Lieut.-colonel
J.G. Fremont, commanding; A.H. Gillespie, major; P.B. Reading,
paymaster; H. King, commissary; J.R. Snyder, quartermaster, since
appointed a land-surveyor by Colonel Mason; Wm. H. Russell, ordnance
officer; T. Talbot, lieutenant and adjutant; J.J. Myers, sergeant-major,
appointed lieutenant in January, 1847.

_Company A_.--Richard Owens, captain; Wm. N. Loker, 1st lieutenant,
appointed adjutant, Feb. 10th, 1847; B.M. Hudspeth, 2d lieutenant,
appointed captain, Feb. 1847, Wm. Findlay, 2d lieutenant, appointed
captain, Feb. 1847.

_Company B_.--Henry Ford, captain; Andrew Copeland, 1st lieutenant.

_Company C_.--Granville P. Swift, captain; Wm. Baldridge, 1st
lieutenant; Wm. Hartgrove, 2d do.

_Company D_.--John Sears, captain; Wm. Bradshaw, 1st lieutenant.

_Company E_.--John Grigsby, captain; Archibald Jesse, 1st lieutenant.

_Company F_.--L.W. Hastings, captain (author of a work on California);
Wornbough, 1st lieutenant; J.M. Hudspeth, 2d do.

_Company G_.--Thompson, captain; Davis 1st lieutenant; Rock, 2d do.

_Company H_.--R.T. Jacobs, captain; Edwin Bryant, 1st lieutenant
(afterwards alcalde at San Francisco); Geo. M. Lippincott, 2d do., of
New York.

_Artillery Company_.--Louis McLane, captain (afterwards major); John.
K. Wilson, 1st lieutenant, appointed captain in January, 1847; Wm.
Blackburn, 2d do. (now alcalde of Santa Cruz).

_Officers on detached Service and doing Duty at the South_.--S. Hensley,
captain; S. Gibson, do. (lanced through the body at San Pascual);
Miguel Pedrorena, do., Spaniard (appointed by Stockton); Stgo.
Arguello, do., Californian (appointed by do.); Bell, do. (appointed
by do.), old resident of California (Los Angeles); H. Rhenshaw, 1st
lieutenant, (appointed by do.); A. Godey, do. (appointed by do.); Jas.
Barton, do. (appointed by do.); L. Arguello, do., Californian
(appointed by do.).

After a march of six or eight hours, up the valley of the _arroyo_,
through a heavy rain, and mud so deep that several of our horses gave
out from exhaustion, we encamped in a circular bottom, near a deserted
adobe house. A _caballada_, of some 500 or 600 loose horses and mules
is driven along with us, but many of them are miserable sore-backed
skeletons, having been exhausted with hard usage and bad fare during
the summer campaign. Besides these, we have a large number of
pack-mules, upon which all our baggage and provisions are transported.
Distance 10 miles.

We did not move on the 1st and 2d of December. There being no cattle in
the vicinity of our camp, a party was sent back to the mission, on the
morning of the 1st, who in the afternoon returned, driving before them
about 100 head, most of them in good condition. After a sufficient
number were slaughtered to supply the camp with meat for the day, the
remainder were confined in a _corral_ prepared for the purpose, to be
driven along with us, and slaughtered from day to day. The rain has
continued, with short intermissions, since we commenced our march on
the 30th of November. The ground has become saturated with water, and
the small branches are swollen into large streams. Notwithstanding
these discomforts, the men are in good spirits, and enjoy themselves in
singing, telling stories, and playing _monte_.

_December 3_.--The rain ceased falling about 8 o'clock this morning;
and, the clouds breaking away, the sun cheered us once more with his
pleasant beams. The battalion was formed into a hollow square, and, the
order of the day being read, we resumed our march. Our progress,
through the deep mud, was very slow. The horses were constantly giving
out, and many were left behind. The young and tender grass upon which
they feed affords but little nourishment, and hard labour soon exhausts
them. We encamped on a low bluff, near the _arroyo_, timbered with
evergreen oak. Distance 8 miles.

_December 4_.--I was ordered with a small party in advance this
morning. Proceeding up the valley a few miles, we left it, crossing
several steep hills sparsely timbered with oak, from which we descended
into another small valley, down which we continued to the point of its
termination, near some narrow and difficult mountain gorges. In
exploring the gorges, we discovered the trail of a party of
Californians, which had passed south several days before us, and found
a horse which they had left in their march. This, doubtless, was a
portion of the party which captured Mr. Larkin, and had the engagement
between Monterey and St. Juan, on the 17th ult. The main body coming
up, we encamped at three o'clock. The old grass around our camp is
abundant; but having been so much washed by the rains, and consequently
exhausted of its nutritious qualities, the animals refused to eat it.
The country over which we have travelled to-day, and as far as I can
see, is mountainous and broken, little of it being adapted to other
agricultural purposes than grazing.

Thirteen beeves are slaughtered every afternoon for the consumption of
the battalion. These beeves are generally of good size, and in fair
condition. Other provisions being entirely exhausted, beef constitutes
the only subsistence for the men, and most of the officers. Under these
circumstances, the consumption of beef is astonishing. I do not know
that I shall be believed when I state a fact, derived from observation
and calculation, that the average consumption per man of fresh beef is
at least ten pounds per day. Many of them, I believe, consume much
more, and some of them less. Nor does this quantity appear to be
injurious to health, or fully to satisfy the appetite. I have seen some
of the men roast their meat and devour it by the fire from the hour of
encamping until late bed-time. They would then sleep until one or two
o'clock in the morning, when, the cravings of hunger being greater than
the desire for repose, the same occupation would be resumed, and
continued until the order was given to march. The Californian beef is
generally fat, juicy, and tender, and surpasses in flavour any which I
ever tasted elsewhere. Distance 10 miles.

_December 5_.--I rose before daylight. The moon shone brightly. The
temperature was cold. The vapour in the atmosphere had congealed and
fallen upon the ground in feathery flakes, covering it with a white
semi-transparent veil, or crystal sheen, sparkling in the moonbeams.
The smoke from the numerous camp-fires soon began to curl languidly up
in graceful wreaths, settling upon the mountain summits. The scene was
one for the pencil and brush of the artist; but, when the envious sun
rose, he soon stripped Madam Earth of her gauzy holiday morning-gown,
and exposed her every-day petticoat of mud.

Our march to-day has been one of great difficulty, through a deep
brushy mountain gorge, through which it was almost impossible to force
the field-pieces. In one place they were lowered with ropes down a
steep and nearly perpendicular precipice of great height and depth. We
encamped about three o'clock, P.M., in a small valley. Many of the
horses gave out on the march, and were left behind by the men, who came
straggling into camp until a late hour of the evening, bringing their
saddles and baggage upon their shoulders. I noticed, while crossing an
elevated ridge of hills, flakes of snow flying in the air, but melting
before they reached the ground. The small spring-branch on which we
encamped empties into the Salinas River. The country surrounding us is
elevated and broken, and the soil sandy, with but little timber or
grass upon it. Distance 12 miles.

_December 6_.--Morning clear and cool. Crossed an undulating country,
destitute of timber and water, and encamped in a circular valley
surrounded by elevated hills, through which flows a small tributary of
the Salinas. The summits of the mountains in sight are covered with
snow, but the temperature in the valleys is pleasant. Distance 15

_December 7_.--Ice, the first I have seen since entering California,
formed in the branch, of the thickness of window-glass. We reached the
valley of the Salinas about eleven o'clock A.M., and encamped for the
day. The river Salinas (laid down in some maps as Rio San Buenaventura)
rises in the mountains to the south, and has a course of some sixty or
eighty miles, emptying into the Pacific about twelve miles north of
Monterey. The valley, as it approaches the ocean, is broad and fertile,
and there are many fine ranchos upon it. But, higher up, the stream
becomes dry in the summer, and the soil of the valley is arid and
sandy. The width of the stream at this point is about thirty yards. Its
banks are skirted by narrow belts of small timber. A range of elevated
mountains rises between this valley and the coast. A court-martial was
held to-day, for the trial of sundry offenders. Distance 8 miles.

_December 8_.--Morning cool, clear, and pleasant. Two Californians were
arrested by the rear-guard near a deserted rancho, and brought into
camp. One of them turned out to be a person known to be friendly to the
Americans. There has been but little variation in the soil or scenery.
But few attempts appear to have been made to settle this portion of
California. The thefts and hostilities of the Tular Indians are said to
be one of the causes preventing its settlement. Distance 15 miles.

_December 9_.--The mornings are cool, but the middle of the day is too
warm to ride comfortably with our coats on. Our march has been
fatiguing and difficult, through several brushy ravines and over steep
and elevated hills. Many horses gave out as usual, and were left, from
inability to travel. Our _caballada_ is diminishing rapidly. Distance
10 miles.

_December 10_.--Our march has been on the main beaten trail, dry and
hard, and over a comparatively level country. We passed the mission of
San Miguel about three o'clock, and encamped in a grove of large oak
timber, three or four miles south of it. This mission is situated on
the upper waters of the Salinas, in an extensive plain. Under the
administration of the _padres_ it was a wealthy establishment, and
manufactures of various kinds were carried on. They raised immense
numbers of sheep, the fleeces of which were manufactured by the Indians
into blankets and coarse cloths. Their granaries were filled with an
abundance of maize and frijoles, and their store-rooms with other
necessaries of life, from the ranchos belonging to the mission lands in
the vicinity. Now all the buildings, except the church and the
principal range of houses contiguous, have fallen into ruins, and an
Englishman, his wife, and one small child, with two or three Indian
servants, are the sole inhabitants. The church is the largest I have
seen in the country, and its interior is in good repair, although it
has not probably been used for the purpose of public worship for many
years. The Englishman professes to have purchased the mission and all
the lands belonging to it for 300 dollars.

Our stock of cattle being exhausted, we feasted on Californian mutton,
sheep being more abundant than cattle at this mission. The wool, I
noticed, was coarse, but the mutton was of an excellent quality. The
country over which we have travelled to-day shows the marks of long
drought previous to the recent rains. The soil is sandy and gravelly,
and the dead vegetation upon it is thin and stunted. About eighty of
our horses are reported to have given out and been left behind.
Distance 20 miles.

_December 12_.--To relieve our horses, which are constantly giving out
from exhaustion, the grass being insufficient for their sustenance
while performing labour, the entire battalion, officers and men, were
ordered to march on foot, turning their horses, with the saddles and
bridles upon them, into the general _caballada_, to be driven along by
the horse-guard. The day has been drizzly, cold, and disagreeable. The
country has a barren and naked appearance; but this, I believe, is
attributable to the extreme drought that has prevailed in this region
for one or two years past. We encamped near the rancho of a friendly
Californian--the man who was taken prisoner the other day and set at
large. An Indian, said to be the servant of Tortoria Pico, was captured
here by the advance party. A letter was found upon him, but the
contents of which I never learned. This being the first foot-march,
there were, of course, many galled and blistered feet in the battalion.
My servant obtained, with some difficulty, from the Indians at the
rancho, a pint-cup of _pinole_, or parched corn-meal, and a quart or
two of wheat, which, being boiled, furnished some variety in our viands
at supper, fresh beef having been our only subsistence since the
commencement of the march from San Juan. Distance 12 miles.

_December 13_.--A rainy disagreeable morning. Mr. Stanley, one of the
volunteers, and one of the gentlemen who so kindly supplied us with
provisions on Mary's River, died last night. He has been suffering from
an attack of typhoid fever since the commencement of our march, and
unable most of the time to sit upon his horse. He was buried this
morning in a small circular opening in the timber near our camp. The
battalion was formed in a hollow square surrounding the grave which had
been excavated for the final resting-place of our deceased friend and
comrade. There was neither bier, nor coffin, nor pall--

"Not a drum was heard, nor a funeral note."

The cold earth was heaped upon his mortal remains in silent solemnity,
and the ashes of a braver or a better man will never repose in the
lonely hills of California.

After the funeral the battalion was marched a short distance to witness
another scene, not more mournful, but more harrowing than the last. The
Indian captured at the rancho yesterday was condemned to die. He was
brought from his place of confinement and tied to a tree. Here he stood
some fifteen or twenty minutes, until the Indians from a neighbouring
_rancheria_ could be brought to witness the execution. A file of
soldiers were then ordered to fire upon him. He fell upon his knees,
and remained in that position several minutes without uttering a groan,
and then sank upon the earth. No human being could have met his fate
with more composure, or with stronger manifestations of courage. It was
a scene such as I desire never to witness again.

A cold rain fell upon us during the entire day's march. We encamped at
four o'clock, P.M.; but the rain poured down in such torrents that it
was impossible to light our camp-fires and keep them burning. This
continued nearly the whole night, and I have rarely passed a night more
uncomfortably. A scouting party brought in two additional prisoners
this evening. Another returned, and reported the capture of a number of
horses, and the destruction of a rancho by fire. Distance 12 miles.

_December 14_.--The battalion commenced its march on foot and in a
heavy rain. The mud is very deep, and we have been compelled to wade
several streams of considerable depth, being swollen by the recent
rains. At one o'clock a halt was ordered, and beef slaughtered and
cooked for dinner. The march was resumed late in the afternoon, and the
plain surrounding the mission of San Luis Obispo was reached in the
pitch darkness of the night, a family in the _canada_ having been taken
prisoners by the advance party to prevent them from giving the alarm.
The battalion was so disposed as to surround the mission and take
prisoners all contained within it. The place was entered in great
confusion, on account of the darkness, about nine o'clock. There was no
military force at the mission, and the few inhabitants were greatly
alarmed, as may well be supposed, by this sudden invasion. They made no
resistance, and were all taken prisoners except one or two, who managed
to escape and fled in great terror, no one knew where or how. It being
ascertained that Tortoria Pico, a man who has figured conspicuously in
most of the Californian revolutions, was in the neighbourhood, a party
was despatched immediately to the place, and he was brought in a
prisoner. The night was rainy and boisterous, and the soldiers were
quartered to the best advantage in the miserable mud houses, and no
acts of violence or outrage of any kind were committed.

The men composing the Californian battalion, as I have before stated,
have been drawn from many sources, and are roughly clad, and
weather-beaten in their exterior appearance; but I feel it but justice
here to state my belief, that no military party ever passed through an
enemy's country and observed the same strict regard for the rights of
its population. I never heard of an outrage, or even a trespass being
committed by one of the American volunteers during our entire march.
Every American appeared to understand perfectly the duty which he owed
to himself and others in this respect, and the deportment of the
battalion might be cited as a model for imitation. Distance 18 miles.


Tremendous rain
Mission of San Luis Obispo
Various fruits
Cactus tuna
Trial of Tortoria Pico
Procession of women
Pico's pardon
Leave San Luis
Surf of the Pacific
Captain Dana
Tempestuous night
Mission of St. Ynes
Effects of drought
Horses exhausted
St. Ynes Mountain
View of the plain of Santa Barbara and the Pacific
A wretched Christmas-day
Descent of St. Ynes Mountain
Terrible storm
Frightful destruction of horses
Dark night
What we are fighting for
Arrive at Santa Barbara
Town deserted.

_December 15_.--The rain fell in cataracts the entire day. The small
streams which flow from the mountains through, and water the valley of,
San Luis Obispo, are swollen by the deluge of water from the clouds
into foaming unfordable torrents. In order not to trespass upon the
population at the mission, in their miserable abodes of mud, the church
was opened, and a large number of the soldiers were quartered in it. A
guard, however, was set day and night, over the chancel and all other
property contained in the building, to prevent its being injured or
disturbed. The decorations of the church are much the same as I have
before described. The edifice is large, and the interior in good
repair. The floor is paved with square bricks. I noticed a common
hand-organ in the church, which played the airs we usually hear from
organ-grinders in the street.

Besides the main large buildings connected with the church, there are
standing, and partially occupied, several small squares of adobe
houses, belonging to this mission. The heaps of mud, and crumbling
walls outside of these, are evidence that the place was once of much
greater extent, and probably one of the most opulent and prosperous
establishments of the kind in the country. The lands surrounding the
mission are finely situated for cultivation and irrigation if
necessary. There are several large gardens, inclosed by high and
substantial walls, which now contain a great variety of fruit-trees and
shrubbery. I noticed the orange, fig, palm, olive, and grape. There are
also large inclosures hedged in by the prickly-pear (cactus), which
grows to an enormous size, and makes an impervious barrier against man
or beast. The stalks of some of these plants are of the thickness of a
man's body, and grow to the height of fifteen feet. A juicy fruit is
produced by the prickly-pear, named _tuna_, from which a beverage is
sometimes made, called _calinche_. It has a pleasant flavour, as has
also the fruit, which, when ripe, is blood-red. A small quantity of
pounded wheat was found here, which, being purchased, was served out to
the troops, about a pound to the man. Frijoles and pumpkins were also
obtained, delicacies of no common order.

_December 16_.--A court-martial was convened this morning for the trial
of Pico, the principal prisoner, on the charge, I understood, of the
forfeiture of his parole which had been taken on a former occasion. The
sentence of the court was, that he should be shot or hung, I do not
know which. A rumour is current among the population here, that there
has been an engagement between a party of Americans and Californians,
near Los Angeles, in which the former were defeated with the loss of
thirty men killed.

_December 17_.--Cool, with a hazy sky. While standing in one of the
corridors this morning, a procession of females passed by me, headed by
a lady of fine appearance and dressed with remarkable taste and
neatness, compared with those who followed her. Their _rebosos_
concealed the faces of most of them, except the leader, whose beautiful
features, dare say, she thought (and justly) required no concealment.
They proceeded to the quarters of Colonel Fremont, and their object, I
understood, was to petition for the reprieve or pardon of Pico, who had
been condemned to death by the court-martial yesterday, and whose
execution was expected to take place this morning. Their intercession
was successful, as no execution took place, and in a short time all the
prisoners were discharged, and the order to saddle up and march given.
We resumed our march at ten o'clock, and encamped just before sunset in
a small but picturesque and fertile valley timbered with oak, so near
the coast that the roar of the surf breaking against the shore could be
heard distinctly. Distance seven miles.

_December 18_.--Clear, with a delightful temperature. Before the sun
rose the grass was covered with a white frost. The day throughout has
been calm and beautiful. A march of four miles brought us to the shore
of a small indentation in the coast of the Pacific, where vessels can
anchor, and boats can land when the wind is not too fresh. The surf is
now rolling and foaming with prodigious energy--breaking upon the beach
in long lines one behind the other, and striking the shore like
cataracts. The hills and plains are verdant with a carpet of fresh
grass, and the scattered live-oaks on all sides, appearing like
orchards of fruit-trees, give to the country an old and cultivated
aspect. The mountains bench away on our left, the low hills rising in
gentle conical forms, beyond which are the more elevated and
precipitous peaks covered with snow. We encamped about three o'clock
near the rancho of Captain Dana, in a large and handsome valley well
watered by an _arroyo_.

Captain Dana is a native of Massachusetts, and has resided in this
country about thirty years. He is known and esteemed throughout
California for his intelligence and private virtues, and his unbounded
generosity and hospitality. I purchased here a few loaves of wheat
bread, and distributed them among the men belonging to our company as
far as they would go, a luxury which they have not indulged in since
the commencement of the march. Distance 15 miles.

_December 19_.--The night was cold and tempestuous, with a slight fall
of rain. The clouds broke away after sunrise, and the day became warm
and pleasant. We continued our march up the valley, and encamped near
its head. The table-land and hills are generally gravelly, but appear
to be productive of fine grass. The soil of the bottom is of the
richest and most productive composition. We crossed in the course of
the day a wide flat plain, upon which were grazing large herds of
brood-mares (_manadas_) and cattle. In the distance they resembled
large armies approaching us. The peaks of the elevated mountains in
sight are covered with snow. A large number of horses gave out,
strayed, and were left behind to-day, estimated at one hundred. The men
came into camp bringing their saddles on their backs, and some of them
arriving late in the evening. Distance 18 miles.

_December 20_.--Parties were sent back this morning to gather up horses
and baggage left on the march yesterday, and it was one o'clock before
the rear-guard, waiting for the return of those, left camp. The main
body made a short march and encamped early, in a small hollow near the
rancho of Mr. Faxon, through which flows an _arroyo_, the surrounding
hills being timbered with evergreen oaks. The men amused themselves
during the afternoon in target-shooting. Many of the battalion are fine
marksmen with the rifle, and the average of shots could not easily be
surpassed. The camp spread over an undulating surface of half a mile in
diameter, and at night, when the fires were lighted, illuminating the
grove, with its drapery of drooping Spanish moss, it presented a most
picturesque appearance. Distance 3 miles.

_December 21_.--Clear and pleasant. A foot march was ordered, with the
exception of the horse and baggage guard. We marched several miles
through a winding hollow, passing a deserted rancho, and ascending with
much labour a steep ridge of hills, descending which we entered a
handsome valley, and encamped upon a small stream about four miles from
the mission of St. Ynes. The banks of the _arroyo_ are strewn with dead
and prostrate timber, the trees, large and small, having been
overthrown by tornados. The plain has suffered, like much of the
country we have passed through, by a long-continued drought, but the
composition of the soil is such as indicates fertility, and from the
effects of the late rains the grass is springing up with great
luxuriance, from places which before were entirely denuded of
vegetation. A party was sent from camp to inspect the mission, but
returned without making any important discoveries. Our horses are so
weak that many of them are unable to carry their saddles, and were left
on the road as usual. A man had his leg broken on the march to-day, by
the kick of a mule. He was sent back to the rancho of Mr. Faxon.
Distance 15 miles.

_December 22_.--Clear and pleasant. Being of the party which performed
rear-guard duty to-day, with orders to bring in all stragglers, we did
not leave camp until several hours after the main body had left. The
horses of the _caballada_ and the pack-animals were continually giving
out and refusing to proceed. Parties of men, exhausted, lay down upon
the ground, and it was with much urging, and sometimes with peremptory
commands only, that they could be prevailed upon to proceed. The
country bears the same marks of drought heretofore described, but fresh
vegetation is now springing up and appears vigorous. A large
horse-trail loading into one of the _canadas_ of the mountains on our
left was discovered by the scouts, and a party was dispatched to trace
it. We passed one deserted rancho, and reached camp between nine and
ten o'clock at night, having forced in all the men and most of the
horses and pack-mules. Distance 15 miles.

_December 23_.--Rain fell steadily and heavily the entire day. A small
party of men was in advance. Discovering in a brushy valley two Indians
armed with bows and arrows, they were taken prisoners. Learning from
them that there was a _caballada_ of horses secreted in one of the
_canadas_, they continued on about ten miles, and found about
twenty-five fresh fat horses, belonging to a Californian now among the
insurgents below. They were taken and delivered at the camp near the
eastern base of the St. Ynes Mountain. Passed this morning a rancho
inhabited by a foreigner, an Englishman.

_December 24_.--Cloudy and cool, with an occasional sprinkling rain.
Our route to-day lay directly over the St. Ynes Mountain, by an
elevated and most difficult pass. The height of this mountain is
several thousand feet. We reached the summit about twelve o'clock, and,
our company composing the advance-guard, we encamped about a mile and a
half in advance of the main body of the battalion, at a point which
overlooks the beautiful plain of Santa Barbara, of which, and the ocean
beyond, we had a most extended and interesting view. With the
spy-glass, we could see, in the plain far below us, herds of cattle
quietly grazing upon the green herbage that carpets its gentle
undulations. The plain is dotted with groves, surrounding the springs
and belting the small water-courses, of which there are many flowing
from this range of mountains. Ranchos are scattered far up and down the
plain, but not one human being could be seen stirring. About ten or
twelve miles to the south, the white towers of the mission of Santa
Barbara raise themselves. Beyond is the illimitable waste of waters. A
more lovely and picturesque landscape I never beheld. On the summit of
the mountain, and surrounding us, there is a growth of hawthorn,
manzinita (in bloom), and other small shrubbery. The rock is soft
sandstone and conglomerate, immense masses of which, piled one upon
another, form a wall along the western brow of the mountain, through
which there is a single pass or gateway about eight or ten feet in
width. The descent on the western side is precipitous, and appears
almost impassable. Distance 4 miles.

_December 25_.--Christmas-day, and a memorable one to me. Owing to the
difficulty in hauling the cannon up the steep acclivities of the
mountain, the main body of the battalion did not come up with us until
twelve o'clock, and before we commenced the descent of the mountain a
furious storm commenced, raging with a violence rarely surpassed. The
rain fell in torrents, and the wind blew almost with the force of a
tornado. This fierce strife of the elements continued without abatement
the entire afternoon, and until two o'clock at night. Driving our
horses before us, we were compelled to slide down the steep and
slippery rocks, or wade through deep gullies and ravines filled with
mud and foaming torrents of water, that rushed downwards with such
force as to carry along the loose rocks and tear up the trees and
shrubbery by the roots. Many of the horses falling into the ravines
refused to make an effort to extricate themselves, and were swept
downwards and drowned. Others, bewildered by the fierceness and terrors
of the storm, rushed or fell headlong over the steep precipices and
were killed. Others obstinately refused to proceed, but stood quaking
with fear or shivering with cold, and many of these perished in the
night from the severity of the storm. The advance party did not reach
the foot of the mountain and find a place to encamp until night--and a
night of more impenetrable and terrific darkness I never witnessed. The
ground upon which our camp was made, although sloping from the hills to
a small stream, was so saturated with water that men as well as horses
sunk deep at every step. The rain fell in such quantities, that fires
with great difficulty could be lighted, and most of them were
immediately extinguished.

The officers and men belonging to the company having the cannon in
charge laboured until nine or ten o'clock to bring them down the
mountain, but they were finally compelled to leave them. Much of the
baggage also remained on the side of the mountain, with the pack-mules
and horses conveying them, all efforts to force the animals down being
fruitless. The men continued to straggle into the camp until a late
hour of the night;--some crept under the shelving rocks and did not
come in until the next morning. We were so fortunate as to find our
tent, and after much difficulty pitched it under an oak-tree. All
efforts to light a fire and keep it blazing proving abortive, we spread
our blankets upon the ground and endeavoured to sleep, although we
could feel the cold streams of water running through the tent and
between and around our bodies.

In this condition we remained until about two o'clock in the morning,
when the storm having abated I rose, and shaking from my garments the
dripping water, after many unsuccessful efforts succeeded in kindling a
fire. Near our tent I found three soldiers who had reached camp at a
late hour. They were fast asleep on the ground, the water around them
being two or three inches deep; but they had taken care to keep their
heads above water, by using a log of wood for a pillow. The fire
beginning to blaze freely, I dug a ditch with my hands and a sharp
stick of wood, which drained off the pool surrounding the tent. One of
the men, when he felt the sensation consequent upon being "high and
dry," roused himself, and, sitting upright, looked around for some time
with an expression of bewildered amazement. At length he seemed to
realize the true state of the case, and exclaimed, in a tone of
energetic soliloquy,--

"Well, who _wouldn't_ be a soldier and fight for California?"

"You are mistaken," I replied.

Rubbing his eyes, he gazed at me with astonishment, as if having been
entirely unconscious of my presence; but, reassuring himself, he said:

"How mistaken?"

"Why," I answered, "you are not fighting for California."

"What the d----l, then, am I fighting for?" he inquired.

"For TEXAS."

"Texas be d----d; but hurrah for General Jackson!" and with this
exclamation he threw himself back again upon his wooden pillow, and was
soon snoring in a profound slumber.

Making a platform composed of sticks of wood upon the soft mud, I
stripped myself to the skin, wringing the water from each garment as I
proceeded. I then commenced drying them by the fire in the order that
they were replaced upon my body, an employment that occupied me until
daylight, which sign, above the high mountain to the east, down which
we had rolled rather than marched yesterday, I was truly rejoiced to
see. Distance 3 miles.

_December 26_.--Parties were detailed early this morning, and
despatched up the mountain to bring down the cannon, and collect the
living horses and baggage. The destruction of horse-flesh, by those who
witnessed the scene by daylight, is described as frightful. In some
places large numbers of dead horses were piled together. In others,
horses half buried in the mud of the ravines, or among the rocks, were
gasping in the agonies of death. The number of dead animals is
variously estimated at from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty, by
different persons. The cannon, most of the missing baggage, and the
living horses, were all brought in by noon. The day was busily employed
in cleansing our rifles and pistols, and drying our drenched baggage.

_December 27_.--Preparations were commenced early for the resumption of
our march; but such was the condition of everything around us, that it
was two o'clock, P.M., before the battalion was in readiness; and then
so great had been the loss of horses in various ways, that the number
remaining was insufficient to mount the men. One or two companies, and
portions of others, were compelled to march on foot. We were visited
during the forenoon by Mr. Sparks, an American, Dr. Den, an Irishman,
and Mr. Burton, another American, residents of Santa Barbara. They had
been suffered by the Californians to remain in the place. Their
information communicated to us was, that the town was deserted of
nearly all its population. A few houses only were occupied. Passing
down a beautiful and fertile undulating plain, we encamped just before
sunset in a live-oak grove, about half a mile from the town of Santa
Barbara. Strict orders were issued by Col. Fremont, that the property
and the persons of Californians, not found in arms, should be sacredly
respected. To prevent all collisions, no soldier was allowed to pass
the lines of the camp without special permission, or orders from his

I visited the town before dark, but found the houses, with few
exceptions, closed, and the streets deserted. After hunting about some
time, we discovered a miserable dwelling, occupied by a shoemaker and
his family, open. Entering it, we were very kindly received by its
occupants, who, with a princely supply of civility, possessed but a
beggarly array of comforts. At our request they provided for us a
supper of _tortillas, frijoles_, and stewed _carne_ seasoned with
_chile colorado_, for which, paying them _dos pesos_ for four, we bade
them good evening, all parties being well satisfied. The family
consisted, exclusive of the shoemaker, of a dozen women and children,
of all ages. The women, from the accounts they had received of the
intentions of the Americans, were evidently unprepared for civil
treatment from them. They expected to be dealt with in a very barbarous
manner, _in all respects_; but they were disappointed, and invited us
to visit them again. Distance 8 miles.


Santa Barbara
Picturesque situation
Fertility of the country
Leave Santa Barbara
Mission of St. Buenaventura
Fine gardens
Meet a party of mounted Californians
They retreat before us
Abundance of maize
Arrival of couriers from Com. Stockton
Effects of war upon the country
More of the enemy in sight
News of the capture of Los Angeles, by Gen. Kearny and Com. Stockton
Mission of San Fernando
The Maguey
Capitulation of the Californians
Arrive at Los Angeles
General reflections upon the march
Meet with old acquaintances.

The battalion remained encamped at Santa Barbara, from the 27th of
December to the 3rd of January, 1847. The U.S. flag was raised in the
public square of the town the day after our arrival.

The town of Santa Barbara is beautifully situated for the picturesque,
about one mile from the shore of a roadstead, which affords anchorage
for vessels of any size, and a landing for boats in calm weather.
During stormy weather, or the prevalence of strong winds from the
south-east, vessels, for safety, are compelled to stand out to sea. A
fertile plain extends some twenty or thirty miles up and down the
coast, varying in breadth from two to ten miles, and bounded on the
east by a range of high mountains. The population of the town I should
judge, from the number of houses, to be about 1200 souls. Most of the
houses are constructed of adobes, in the usual architectural style of
Mexican buildings. Some of them, however, are more Americanized, and
have some pretensions to tasteful architecture, and comfortable and
convenient interior arrangement. Its commerce, I presume, is limited to
the export of hides and tallow produced upon the surrounding plain; and
the commodities received in exchange for these from the traders on the
coast. Doubtless, new and yet undeveloped sources of wealth will be
discovered hereafter that will render this town of much greater
importance than it is at present.

On the coast, a few miles above Santa Barbara, there are, I have been
told, immense quantities of pure bitumen or mineral tar, which, rising
in the ocean, has been thrown upon the shore by the waves, where in a
concrete state, like resin, it has accumulated in inexhaustible masses.
There are, doubtless, many valuable minerals in the neighbouring
mountains, which, when developed by enterprise, will add greatly to the
wealth and importance of the town. For intelligence, refinement, and
civilization, the population, it is said, will compare advantageously
with any in California. Some old and influential Spanish families are
residents of this place; but their _casas_, with the exception of that
of Senor Don Jose Noriega, the largest house in the place, are now
closed and deserted. Senor N. is one of the oldest and most respectable
citizens of California, having filled the highest offices in the
government of the country. One of his daughters is a resident of New
York, having married Alfred Robinson, Esq., of that city, author of
"Life in California."

The climate, judging from the indications while we remained here, must
be delightful, even in winter. With the exception of one day, which was
tempestuous, the temperature at night did not fall below 50 deg., and
during the day the average was between 60 deg. and 70 deg. The atmosphere
was perfectly clear and serene, the weather resembling that of the
pleasant days of April in the same latitude on the Atlantic side of the
continent. It is a peculiarity of the Mexicans that they allow no shade
or ornamental trees to grow near their houses. In none of the streets
of the towns or missions through which I have passed has there been a
solitary tree standing. I noticed very few horticultural attempts in
Santa Barbara. At the mission, about two miles distant, which is an
extensive establishment and in good preservation, I was told that there
were fine gardens, producing most of the varieties of fruits of the
tropical and temperate climates.

Several Californians came into camp and offered to deliver themselves
up. They were permitted to go at large. They represented that the
Californian force at the south was daily growing weaker from
dissensions and desertions. The United States prize-schooner Julia
arrived on the 30th, from which was landed a cannon for the use of the
battalion. It has, however, to be mounted on wheels, and the gear
necessary for hauling it has to be made in the camp. Reports were
current in camp on the 31st, that the Californians intended to meet and
fight us at San Buenaventura, about thirty miles distant. On the 1st of
January, the Indians of the mission and town celebrated new-year's day,
by a procession, music, etc., etc. They marched from the mission to the
town, and through most of the empty and otherwise silent streets. Among
the airs they played was "Yankee Doodle."

_January 3_.--A beautiful spring-like day. We resumed our march at 11
o'clock, and encamped in a live-oak grove about ten miles south of
Santa-Barbara. Our route has been generally near the shore of the
ocean. Timber is abundant, and the grass and other vegetation
luxuriant. Distance 10 miles.

_January 4_.--At the "Rincon," or passage between two points of land
jutting into the ocean, so narrow that at high tides the surf dashes
against the neatly perpendicular bases of the mountains which bound the
shore, it has been supposed the hostile Californians would make a
stand, the position being so advantageous to them. The road, if road it
can be called, where all marks of hoofs or wheels are erased by each
succeeding tide, runs along a hard sand-beach, with occasional
projections of small points of level ground, ten or fifteen miles, and
the surf, even when the tide has fallen considerably, frequently
reaches to the bellies of the horses. Some demonstration has been
confidently expected here, but we encamped in this pass the first day
without meeting an enemy or seeing a sign of one. Our camp is close to
the ocean, and the roar of the surf, as it dashes against the shore, is
like that of an immense cataract. Hundreds of the grampus whale are
sporting a mile or two distant from the land, spouting up water and
spray to a great height, in columns resembling steam from the
escape-pipes of steam-boats. Distance 6 miles.

_January 5_.--The prize-schooner Julia was lying off in sight this
morning, for the purpose of co-operating with us, should there be any
attempt on the part of the enemy to interrupt the march of the
battalion. We reached the mission of San Buenaventura, and encamped a
short distance from it at two o'clock. Soon after, a small party of
Californians exhibited themselves on an elevation just beyond the
mission. The battalion was immediately called to arms, and marched out
to meet them. But, after the discharge of the two field-pieces, they
scampered away like a flock of antelopes, and the battalion returned to
camp, with none killed or wounded on either side. Under the belief that
there was a larger force of Californians encamped at a distance of some
five or six miles, and that during the night they might attempt a
surprise, or plant cannon on the summit of a hill about a mile from
camp, so as to annoy us, a party, of which I was one, was detached,
after dark, to occupy the hill secretly. We marched around the mission
as privately as possible, and took our position on the hill, where we
remained all night without the least disturbance, except by the
tempestuous wind, which blew a blast so cold and piercing as almost to
congeal the blood. When the sun rose in the morning, I could see, far
out in the ocean, three vessels scudding before the gale like phantom
ships. One of these was the little schooner that had been waiting upon
us while marching along the "Rincon." Distance 14 miles.

_January 6_.--The wind has blown a gale in our faces all day, and the
clouds of dust have been almost blinding. The mission of San
Buenaventura does not differ, in its general features, from those of
other establishments of the same kind heretofore described. There is a
large garden, inclosed by a high wall, attached to the mission, in
which I noticed a great variety of fruit-trees and ornamental
shrubbery. There are also numerous inclosures, for cultivation, by
willow hedges. The soil, when properly tilled, appears to be highly
productive. This mission is situated about two miles from the shore of
a small bay or indentation of the coast, on the edge of a plain or
valley watered by the Rio Santa Clara, which empties into the Pacific
at this point. A chain of small islands, from ten to twenty miles from
the shore, commences at Santa Barbara, and extends south along the
coast, to the bay of San Pedro. These islands present to the eye a
barren appearance. At present the only inhabitants of the mission are a
few Indians, the white population having abandoned it on our approach,
with the exception of one man, who met us yesterday and surrendered
himself a prisoner.

Proceeding up the valley about seven miles from the mission, we
discovered at a distance a party of sixty or seventy mounted
Californians, drawn up in order on the bank of the river. This, it was
conjectured, might be only a portion of a much larger force stationed
here, and concealed in a deep ravine which runs across the valley, or
in the _canadas_ of the hills on our left. Scouting-parties mounted the
hills, for the purpose of ascertaining if such was the case. In the
mean time, the party of Californians on our right scattered themselves
over the plain, prancing their horses, waving their swords, banners,
and lances, and performing a great variety of equestrian feats. They
were mounted on fine horses, and there are no better horsemen, if as
good, in the world, than Californians. They took especial care,
however, to keep beyond the reach of cannon-shot. The battalion wheeled
to the left for the purpose of crossing a point of hills jutting into
the plain, and taking the supposed concealed party of the enemy on
their flank. It was, however, found impracticable to cross the hills
with the cannon; and, returning to the plain, the march was continued,
the Californians still prancing and performing their antics in our
faces. Our horses were so poor and feeble that it was impossible to
chase them with any hope of success. As we proceeded, they retreated.
Some of the Indian scouts, among whom were a Delaware named Tom, who
distinguished himself in the engagement near San Juan, and a
Californian Indian named Gregorio, rode towards them; and two or three
guns were discharged on both sides, but without any damage, the parties
not being within dangerous gun-shot distance of each other. The
Californians then formed themselves in a body, and soon disappeared
behind some hills on our right. We encamped about four o'clock in the
valley, the wind blowing almost a hurricane, and the dust flying so as
nearly to blind us. Distance 9 miles.

_January 7_.--Continuing our march up the valley, we encamped near the
rancho of Carrillo, where we found an abundance of corn, wheat, and
frijoles. The house was shut up, having been deserted by its
proprietor, who is said to be connected with the rebellion. Californian
scouts were seen occasionally to-day on the summits of the hills south
of us. Distance 7 miles.

_January 8_.--Another tempestuous day. I do not remember ever to have
experienced such disagreeable effects from the wind and the clouds of
dust in which we were constantly enveloped, driving into our faces
without intermission. We encamped this afternoon in a grove of willows
near a rancho, where, as yesterday, we found corn and beans in
abundance. Our horses, consequently, fare well, and we fare better than
we have done. One-fourth of the battalion, exclusive of the regular
guard, is kept under arms during the night, to be prepared against
surprises and night-attacks. Distance 12 miles.

_January 9_.--Early this morning Captain Hamley, accompanied by a
Californian as a guide, came into camp, with despatches from Commodore
Stockton. The exact purport of these despatches I never learned, but it
was understood that the commodore, in conjunction with General Kearny,
was marching upon Los Angeles, and that, if they had not already
reached and taken that town (the present capital of California), they
were by this time in its neighbourhood. Captain Hamley passed, last
night, the encampment of a party of Californians in our rear. He landed
from a vessel at Santa Barbara, and from thence followed us to this
place by land. We encamped this afternoon at a rancho, situated on the
edge of a fertile and finely watered plain of considerable extent,
where we found corn, wheat, and frijoles in great abundance. The rancho
was owned and occupied by an aged Californian, of commanding and
respectable appearance; I could not but feel compassion for the
venerable old man, whose sons were now all absent and engaged in the
war, while he, at home and unsupported, was suffering the unavoidable
inconveniences and calamities resulting from an army being quartered
upon him.

As we march south there appears to be a larger supply of wheat, maize,
beans, and barley in the granaries of the ranchos. More attention is
evidently given to the cultivation of the soil here than farther north,
although neither the soil nor climate is so well adapted to the raising
of crops. The Californian spies have shown themselves at various times
to-day, on the summits of the hills on our right. Distance 12 miles.

_January 10_.--Crossing the plain, we encamped, about two o'clock P.M.,
in the mouth of a _canada_, through which we ascend over a difficult
pass in a range of elevated hills between us and the plain of San
Fernando, or Couenga. Some forty or fifty mounted Californians
exhibited themselves on the summit of the pass during the afternoon.
They were doubtless a portion of the same party that we met several
days ago, just below San Buenaventura. A large number of cattle were
collected in the plain and corralled, to be driven along to-morrow for
subsistence. Distance 10 miles.

_January 11_.--The battalion this morning was divided into two parties;
the main body, on foot, marching over a ridge of hills to the right of
the road or trail; and the artillery, horses and baggage, with an
advance-guard and escort, marching by the direct route. We found the
pass narrow, and easily to be defended by brave and determined men
against a greatly superior force; but when we had mounted the summit of
the ridge there was no enemy, nor the sign of one, in sight. Descending
into a _canada_ on the other side, we halted until the main body came
up to us, and then the whole force was again reunited, and the march

Emerging from the hills, the advance party to which I was attached met
two Californians, bareheaded, riding in great haste. They stated that
they were from the mission of San Fernando; that the Californian forces
had met the American forces under the command of General Kearny and
Commodore Stockton, and had been defeated after two days' fighting; and
that the Americans had yesterday marched into Los Angeles. They
requested to be conducted immediately to Colonel Fremont, which request
was complied with. A little farther on we met a Frenchman, who stated
that he was the bearer of a letter from General Kearny, at Los Angeles,
to Colonel Fremont. He confirmed the statement we had just heard, and
was permitted to pass. Continuing our march, we entered the mission of
San Fernando at one o'clock, and in about two hours the main body
arrived, and the whole battalion encamped in the mission buildings.

The buildings and gardens belonging to this mission are in better
condition than those of any of these establishments I have seen. There
are two extensive gardens, surrounded by high walls; and a stroll
through them afforded a most delightful contrast from the usually
uncultivated landscape we have been travelling through for so long a
time. Here were brought together most of the fruits and many of the
plants of the temperate and tropical climates. Although not the season
of flowers, still the roses were in bloom. Oranges, lemons, figs, and
olives hung upon the trees, and the blood-red _tuna_, or prickly-pear,
looked very tempting. Among the plants I noticed the American aloe
(_argave Americana_), which is otherwise called _maguey_. From this
plant, when it attains maturity, a saccharine liquor is extracted,
which is manufactured into a beverage called _pulque_, and is much
prized by Mexicans. The season of grapes has passed, but there are
extensive vineyards at this mission. I drank, soon after my arrival, a
glass of red wine manufactured here, of a good quality.

The mission of San Fernando is situated at the head of an extensive and
very fertile plain, judging from the luxuriance of the grass and other
vegetation now springing up. I noticed in the granary from which our
horses were supplied with food many thousand bushels of corn. The ear
is smaller than that of the corn of the Southern States. It resembles
the maize cultivated in the Northern States, the kernel being hard and
polished. Large herds of cattle and sheep were grazing upon the plain
in sight of the mission.

_January 12_.--This morning two Californian officers, accompanied by
Tortaria Pico, who marched with us from San Luis Obispo, came to the
mission to treat for peace. A consultation was held and terms were
suggested, and, as I understand, partly agreed upon, but not concluded.
The officers left in the afternoon.

_January 13_.--We continued our march, and encamped near a deserted
rancho at the foot of Couenga plain. Soon after we halted, the
Californian peace-commissioners appeared, and the terms of peace and
capitulation were finally agreed upon and signed by the respective
parties. They were as follows:--


Made and entered into at the Ranch of Couenga, this thirteenth day
of January, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, between P.B. Reading,
major; Louis McLane, junr., commanding 3rd Artillery; William H.
Russell, ordnance officer--commissioners appointed by J.C. Fremont,
Colonel United States Army, and Military Commandant of California;
and Jose Antonio Carillo, commandant esquadron; Augustin Olivera,
deputado--commissioners appointed by Don Andres Pico,
Commander-in-chief of the Californian 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 tranquillity.

Art. 2nd. The Commissioners on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel
Fremont agree and bind themselves, on the fulfilment of the 1st
Article by the Californians, that they shall be guaranteed
protection of life and property, whether on parole or otherwise.

Article 3rd. 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 4th. That any Californian or citizen of Mexico, desiring, is
permitted by this capitulation to leave the country without let or

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 2nd 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


Ciudad de Los Angeles, Jan. 16th, 1847.

That the paroles of all officers, citizens and others, of the United
States, and naturalized citizens of Mexico, are by this foregoing
capitulation cancelled, 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, Maj. Cal'a. Battalion.
LOUIS McLANE, Com'd. Artillery.
WM. H. RUSSELL, Ordnance Officer.
JOSE ANTONIO CARILLO, Comd't. of Squadron.


J.C. FREMONT, Lieut.-Col. U.S. Army, and Military Commandant of

ANDRES PICO, Commandant of Squadron and Chief of the National Forces
of California.

The next morning a brass howitzer was brought into camp, and delivered.
What other arms were given up I cannot say, for I saw none. Nor can I
speak as to the number of Californians who were in the field under the
command of Andres Pico when the articles of capitulation were signed,
for they were never in sight of us after we reached San Fernando.
Distance 12 miles.

_January 14_.--It commenced raining heavily this morning. Crossing a
ridge of hills, we entered the magnificent undulating plain surrounding
the city of Angels, now verdant with a carpet of fresh vegetation.
Among other plants I noticed the mustard, and an immense quantity of
the common pepper-grass of our gardens. We passed several warm springs
which throw up large quantities of bitumen or mineral tar. Urging our
jaded animals through the mud and water, which in places was very deep,
we reached the town about 3 o'clock.

A more miserably clad, wretchedly provided, and unprepossessing
military host, probably never entered a civilized city. In all, except
our order, deportment, and arms, we might have been mistaken for a
procession of tatterdemalions, or a tribe of Nomades from Tartary.
There were not many of us so fortunate as to have in our possession an
entire outside garment; and several were without hats or shoes, or a
complete covering to their bodies. But that we had at last reached the
terminus of a long and laborious march, attended with hardships,
exposure, and privation rarely suffered, was a matter of such heartfelt
congratulation, that these comparatively trifling inconveniences were
not thought of. Men never, probably, in the entire history of military
transactions, bore these privations with more fortitude or uttered
fewer complaints.

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