Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete

Part 17 out of 44

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 5.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

mountain, catching from points of the way magnificent views of the
scenery round about Rio Janeiro. We reached near the summit what
was called the emperor's coffee-plantation, where we saw
coffee-berries in their various stages, and the scaffolds on which
the berries were dried before being cleaned. The coffee-tree
reminded me of the red haw-tree of Ohio, and the berries were
somewhat like those of the same tree, two grains of coffee being
inclosed in one berry. These were dried and cleaned of the husk by
hand or by machinery. A short, steep ascent from this place
carried us to the summit, from which is beheld one of the most
picturesque views on earth. The Organ Mountains to the west and
north, the ocean to the east, the city of Rio with its red-tiled
houses at our feet, and the entire harbor like a map spread out,
with innumerable bright valleys, make up a landscape that cannot be
described by mere words. This spot is universally visited by
strangers, and has often been described. After enjoying it
immeasurably, we returned to the city by another route, tired but
amply repaid by our long walk.

In due time all had been done that was requisite, and the Lexington
put to sea and resumed her voyage. In October we approached Cape
Horn, the first land descried was Staten Island, white with snow,
and the ship seemed to be aiming for the channel to its west,
straits of Le Maire, but her course was changed and we passed
around to the east. In time we saw Cape Horn; an island rounded
like an oven, after which it takes its name (Ornos) oven. Here we
experienced very rough weather, buffeting about under storm
stay-sails, and spending nearly a month before the wind favored our
passage and enabled the course of the ship to be changed for
Valparaiso. One day we sailed parallel with a French sloop-of-war,
and it was sublime to watch the two ships rising and falling in
those long deep swells of the ocean. All the time we were followed
by the usual large flocks of Cape-pigeons and albatrosses of every
color. The former resembled the common barn-pigeon exactly, but
are in fact gulls of beautiful and varied colors, mostly
dove-color. We caught many with fishing-lines baited with pork.
We also took in the same way many albatrosses. The white ones are
very large, and their down is equal to that of the swan. At last
Cape Horn and its swelling seas were left behind, and we reached
Valparaiso in about sixty days from Rio. We anchored in the open
roadstead, and spent there about ten days, visiting all the usual
places of interest, its foretop, main-top, mizzen-top, etc.
Halleck and Ord went up to Santiago, the capital of Chili, some
sixty miles inland, but I did not go. Valparaiso did not impress
me favorably at all. Seen from the sea, it looked like a long
string of houses along the narrow beach, surmounted with red banks
of earth, with little verdure, and no trees at all. Northward the
space widened out somewhat, and gave room for a plaza, but the mass
of houses in that quarter were poor. We were there in November,
corresponding to our early spring, and we enjoyed the large
strawberries which abounded. The Independence frigate, Commodore
Shubrick, came in while we were there, having overtaken us, bound
also for California. We met there also the sloop-of-war levant,
from California, and from the officers heard of many of the events
that had transpired about the time the navy, under Commodore Sloat,
had taken possession of the country.

All the necessary supplies being renewed in Valparaiso, the voyage
was resumed. For nearly forty days we had uninterrupted favorable
winds, being in the "trades," and, having settled down to sailor
habits, time passed without notice. We had brought with us all the
books we could find in New York about California, and had read them
over and over again: Wilkes's "Exploring Expedition;" Dana's "Two
Years before the Mast;" and Forbes's "Account of the Missions." It
was generally understood we were bound for Monterey, then the
capital of Upper California. We knew, of course, that General
Kearney was enroute for the same country overland; that Fremont was
therewith his exploring party; that the navy had already taken
possession, and that a regiment of volunteers, Stevenson's, was
to follow us from New York; but nevertheless we were impatient to
reach our destination. About the middle of January the ship began
to approach the California coast, of which the captain was duly
cautious, because the English and Spanish charts differed some
fifteen miles in the longitude, and on all the charts a current of
two miles an hour was indicated northward along the coast. At last
land was made one morning, and here occurred one of those accidents
so provoking after a long and tedious voyage. Macomb, the master
and regular navigator, had made the correct observations, but
Nicholson during the night, by an observation on the north star,
put the ship some twenty miles farther south than was the case by
the regular reckoning, so that Captain Bailey gave directions to
alter the course of the ship more to the north, and to follow the
coast up, and to keep a good lookout for Point Pinos that marks the
location of Monterey Bay. The usual north wind slackened, so that
when noon allowed Macomb to get a good observation, it was found
that we were north of Ano Nuevo, the northern headland of Monterey
Bay. The ship was put about, but little by little arose one of
those southeast storms so common on the coast in winter, and we
buffeted about for several days, cursing that unfortunate
observation on the north star, for, on first sighting the coast,
had we turned for Monterey, instead of away to the north, we would
have been snugly anchored before the storm. But the southeaster
abated, and the usual northwest wind came out again, and we sailed
steadily down into the roadstead of Monterey Bay. This is shaped
somewhat like a fish hook, the barb being the harbor, the point
being Point Pinos, the southern headland. Slowly the land came out
of the water, the high mountains about Santa Cruz, the low beach of
the Saunas, and the strongly-marked ridge terminating in the sea in
a point of dark pine-trees. Then the line of whitewashed houses of
adobe, backed by the groves of dark oaks, resembling old
apple-trees; and then we saw two vessels anchored close to the
town. One was a small merchant-brig and another a large ship
apparently dismasted. At last we saw a boat coming out to meet us,
and when it came alongside, we were surprised to find Lieutenant
Henry Wise, master of the Independence frigate, that we had left at
Valparaiso. Wise had come off to pilot us to our anchorage. While
giving orders to the man at the wheel, he, in his peculiar fluent
style, told to us, gathered about him, that the Independence had
sailed from Valparaiso a week after us and had been in Monterey a
week; that the Californians had broken out into an insurrection;
that the naval fleet under Commodore Stockton was all down the
coast about San Diego; that General Kearney had reached the
country, but had had a severe battle at San Pascual, and had been
worsted, losing several officers and men, himself and others
wounded; that war was then going on at Los Angeles; that the whole
country was full of guerrillas, and that recently at Yerba Buena
the alcalde, Lieutenant Bartlett, United States Navy, while out
after cattle, had been lassoed, etc., etc. Indeed, in the short
space of time that Wise was piloting our ship in, he told us more
news than we could have learned on shore in a week, and, being
unfamiliar with the great distances, we imagined that we should
have to debark and begin fighting at once. Swords were brought
out, guns oiled and made ready, and every thing was in a bustle
when the old Lexington dropped her anchor on January 26, 1847, in
Monterey Bay, after a voyage of one hundred and ninety-eight days
from New York. Every thing on shore looked bright and beautiful,
the hills covered with grass and flowers, the live-oaks so serene
and homelike, and the low adobe houses, with red-tiled roofs and
whitened walls, contrasted well with the dark pine-trees behind,
making a decidedly good impression upon us who had come so far to
spy out the land. Nothing could be more peaceful in its looks than
Monterey in January, 1847. We had already made the acquaintance of
Commodore Shubrick and the officers of the Independence in
Valparaiso, so that we again met as old friends. Immediate
preparations were made for landing, and, as I was quartermaster and
commissary, I had plenty to do. There was a small wharf and an
adobe custom-house in possession of the navy; also a barrack of two
stories, occupied by some marines, commanded by Lieutenant Maddox;
and on a hill to the west of the town had been built a two-story
block-house of hewed logs occupied by a guard of sailors under
command of Lieutenant Baldwin, United States Navy. Not a single
modern wagon or cart was to be had in Monterey, nothing but the old
Mexican cart with wooden wheels, drawn by two or three pairs of
oxen, yoked by the horns. A man named Tom Cole had two or more of
these, and he came into immediate requisition. The United States
consul, and most prominent man there at the time, was Thomas O.
Larkin, who had a store and a pretty good two-story house occupied
by his family. It was soon determined that our company was to land
and encamp on the hill at the block-house, and we were also to have
possession of the warehouse, or custom-house, for storage. The
company was landed on the wharf, and we all marched in full dress
with knapsacks and arms, to the hill and relieved the guard under
Lieutenant Baldwin. Tents and camp-equipage were hauled up, and
soon the camp was established. I remained in a room at the
customhouse, where I could superintend the landing of the stores
and their proper distribution. I had brought out from New York
twenty thousand dollars commissary funds, and eight thousand
dollars quartermaster funds, and as the ship contained about six
months' supply of provisions, also a saw-mill, grist-mill, and
almost every thing needed, we were soon established comfortably.
We found the people of Monterey a mixed set of Americans, native
Mexicans, and Indians, about one thousand all told. They were kind
and pleasant, and seemed to have nothing to do, except such as
owned ranches in the country for the rearing of horses and cattle.
Horses could be bought at any price from four dollars up to
sixteen, but no horse was ever valued above a doubloon or Mexican
ounce (sixteen dollars). Cattle cost eight dollars fifty cents for
the best, and this made beef net about two cents a pound, but at
that time nobody bought beef by the pound, but by the carcass.

Game of all kinds--elk, deer, wild geese, and ducks--was abundant;
but coffee, sugar, and small stores, were rare and costly.

There were some half-dozen shops or stores, but their shelves were
empty. The people were very fond of riding, dancing, and of shows
of any kind. The young fellows took great delight in showing off
their horsemanship, and would dash along, picking up a half-dollar
from the ground, stop their horses in full career and turn about on
the space of a bullock's hide, and their skill with the lasso was
certainly wonderful. At full speed they could cast their lasso
about the horns of a bull, or so throw it as to catch any
particular foot. These fellows would work all day on horseback in
driving cattle or catching wildhorses for a mere nothing, but all
the money offered would not have hired one of them to walk a mile.
The girls were very fond of dancing, and they did dance gracefully
and well. Every Sunday, regularly, we had a baile, or dance, and
sometimes interspersed through the week.

I remember very well, soon after our arrival, that we were all
invited to witness a play called "Adam and Eve." Eve was
personated by a pretty young girl known as Dolores Gomez, who,
however, was dressed very unlike Eve, for she was covered with a
petticoat and spangles. Adam was personated by her brother--the
same who has since become somewhat famous as the person on whom is
founded the McGarrahan claim. God Almighty was personated, and
heaven's occupants seemed very human. Yet the play was pretty,
interesting, and elicited universal applause. All the month of
February we were by day preparing for our long stay in the country,
and at night making the most of the balls and parties of the most
primitive kind, picking up a smattering of Spanish, and extending
our acquaintance with the people and the costumbrea del pais. I
can well recall that Ord and I, impatient to look inland, got
permission and started for the Mission of San Juan Bautista.
Mounted on horses, and with our carbines, we took the road by El
Toro, quite a prominent hill, around which passes the road to the
south, following the Saunas or Monterey River. After about twenty
miles over a sandy country covered with oak-bushes and scrub, we
entered quite a pretty valley in which there was a ranch at the
foot of the Toro. Resting there a while and getting some
information, we again started in the direction of a mountain to the
north of the Saunas, called the Gavillano. It was quite dark when
we reached the Saunas River, which we attempted to pass at several
points, but found it full of water, and the quicksands were bad.
Hearing the bark of a dog, we changed our course in that direction,
and, on hailing, were answered by voices which directed us where to
cross. Our knowledge of the language was limited, but we managed
to understand, and to founder through the sand and water, and
reached a small adobe-house on the banks of the Salinas, where we
spent the night: The house was a single room, without floor or
glass; only a rude door, and window with bars. Not a particle of
food but meat, yet the man and woman entertained us with the
language of lords put themselves, their house, and every thing, at
our "disposition," and made little barefoot children dance for our
entertainment. We made our supper of beef, and slept on a
bullock's hide on the dirt-floor. In the morning we crossed the
Salinas Plain, about fifteen miles of level ground, taking a shot
occasionally at wild-geese, which abounded there, and entering the
well-wooded valley that comes out from the foot of the Gavillano.
We had cruised about all day, and it was almost dark when we
reached the house of a Senor Gomez, father of those who at Monterey
had performed the parts of Adam and Eve. His house was a two-story
adobe, and had a fence in front. It was situated well up among the
foot-hills of the Gavillano, and could not be seen until within a
few yards. We hitched our horses to the fence and went in just as
Gomez was about to sit down to a tempting supper of stewed hare and
tortillas. We were officers and caballeros and could not be
ignored. After turning our horses to grass, at his invitation we
joined him at supper. The allowance, though ample for one, was
rather short for three, and I thought the Spanish grandiloquent
politeness of Gomez, who was fat and old, was not over-cordial.
However, down we sat, and I was helped to a dish of rabbit, with
what I thought to be an abundant sauce of tomato. Taking a good
mouthful, I felt as though I had taken liquid fire; the tomato was
chile colorado, or red pepper, of the purest kind. It nearly
killed me, and I saw Gomez's eyes twinkle, for he saw that his
share of supper was increased.--I contented myself with bits of
the meat, and an abundant supply of tortillas. Ord was better
case-hardened, and stood it better. We staid at Gomez's that
night, sleeping, as all did, on the ground, and the next morning we
crossed the hill by the bridle-path to the old Mission of San Juan
Bautista. The Mission was in a beautiful valley, very level, and
bounded on all sides by hills. The plain was covered with
wild-grasses and mustard, and had abundant water. Cattle and
horses were seen in all directions, and it was manifest that the
priests who first occupied the country were good judges of land.
It was Sunday, and all the people, about, a hundred, had come to
church from the country round about. Ord was somewhat of a
Catholic, and entered the church with his clanking spars and
kneeled down, attracting the attention of all, for he had on the
uniform of an American officer. As soon as church was out, all
rushed to the various sports. I saw the priest, with his gray
robes tucked up, playing at billiards, others were cock fighting,
and some at horse-racing. My horse had become lame, and I resolved
to buy another. As soon as it was known that I wanted a horse,
several came for me, and displayed their horses by dashing past and
hauling them up short. There was a fine black stallion that
attracted my notice, and, after trying him myself, I concluded a
purchase. I left with the seller my own lame horse, which he was
to bring to me at Monterey, when I was to pay him ten dollars for
the other. The Mission of San Juan bore the marks of high
prosperity at a former period, and had a good pear-orchard just
under the plateau where stood the church. After spending the day,
Ord and I returned to Monterey, about thirty-five miles, by a
shorter route, Thus passed the month of February, and, though there
were no mails or regular expresses, we heard occasionally from
Yerba Buena and Sutter's Fort to the north, and from the army and
navy about Los Angeles at the south. We also knew that a quarrel
had grown up at Los Angeles, between General Kearney, Colonel
Fremont, and Commodore Stockton, as to the right to control affairs
in California. Kearney had with him only the fragments of the two
companies of dragoons, which had come across from New Mexico with
him, and had been handled very roughly by Don Andreas Pico, at San
Pascual, in which engagement Captains Moore and Johnson, and
Lieutenant Hammond, were killed, and Kearney himself wounded.
There remained with him Colonel Swords, quartermaster; Captain H.
S. Turner, First Dragoons; Captains Emory and Warner, Topographical
Engineers; Assistant Surgeon Griffin, and Lieutenant J. W.
Davidson. Fremont had marched down from the north with a battalion
of volunteers; Commodore Stockton had marched up from San Diego to
Los Angeles, with General Kearney, his dragoons, and a battalion of
sailors and marines, and was soon joined there by Fremont, and they
jointly received the surrender of the insurgents under Andreas
Pico. We also knew that General R. B. Mason had been ordered to
California; that Colonel John D. Stevenson was coming out to
California with a regiment of New York Volunteers; that Commodore
Shubrick had orders also from the Navy Department to control
matters afloat; that General Kearney, by virtue of his rank, had
the right to control all the land-forces in the service of the
United States; and that Fremont claimed the same right by virtue of
a letter he had received from Colonel Benton, then a Senator, and a
man of great influence with Polk's Administration. So that among
the younger officers the query was very natural, "Who the devil is
Governor of California?" One day I was on board the Independence
frigate, dining with the ward-room officers, when a war-vessel was
reported in the offing, which in due time was made out to be the
Cyane, Captain DuPont. After dinner, we were all on deck, to watch
the new arrival, the ships meanwhile exchanging signals, which were
interpreted that General Kearney was on board. As the Cyane
approached, a boat was sent to meet her, with Commodore Shubrick's
flag-officer, Lieutenant Lewis, to carry the usual messages, and to
invite General Kearney to come on board the Independence as the
guest of Commodore Shubrick. Quite a number of officers were on
deck, among them Lieutenants Wise, Montgomery Lewis, William
Chapman, and others, noted wits and wags of the navy. In due time
the Cyane anchored close by, and our boat was seen returning with a
stranger in the stern-sheets, clothed in army blue. As the boat
came nearer, we saw that it was General Kearney with an old dragoon
coat on, and an army-cap, to which the general had added the broad
vizor, cut from a full-dress hat, to shade his face and eyes
against the glaring sun of the Gila region. Chapman exclaimed:
"Fellows, the problem is solved; there is the grand-vizier (visor)
by G-d! He is Governor of California."

All hands received the general with great heartiness, and he soon
passed out of our sight into the commodore's cabin. Between
Commodore Shubrick and General Kearney existed from that time
forward the greatest harmony and good feeling, and no further
trouble existed as to the controlling power on the Pacific coast.
General Kearney had dispatched from San Diego his quartermaster,
Colonel Swords, to the Sandwich Islands, to purchase clothing and
stores for his men, and had come up to Monterey, bringing with him
Turner and Warner, leaving Emory and the company of dragoons below.
He was delighted to find a full strong company of artillery,
subject to his orders, well supplied with clothing and money in all
respects, and, much to the disgust of our Captain Tompkins, he took
half of his company clothing and part of the money held by me for
the relief of his worn-out and almost naked dragoons left behind at
Los Angeles. In a few days he moved on shore, took up his quarters
at Larkin's house, and established his headquarters, with Captain
Turner as his adjutant general. One day Turner and Warner were at
my tent, and, seeing a store-bag full of socks, drawers, and calico
shirts, of which I had laid in a three years' supply, and of which
they had none, made known to me their wants, and I told them to
help themselves, which Turner and Warner did. The latter, however,
insisted on paying me the cost, and from that date to this Turner
and I have been close friends. Warner, poor fellow, was afterward
killed by Indians. Things gradually came into shape, a semi-
monthly courier line was established from Yerba Buena to San Diego,
and we were thus enabled to keep pace with events throughout the
country. In March Stevenson's regiment arrived. Colonel Mason
also arrived by sea from Callao in the store-ship Erie, and P. St.
George Cooke's battalion of Mormons reached San Luis Rey. A. J.
Smith and George Stoneman were with him, and were assigned to the
company of dragoons at Los Angeles. All these troops and the navy
regarded General Kearney as the rightful commander, though Fremont
still remained at Los Angeles, styling himself as Governor, issuing
orders and holding his battalion of California Volunteers in
apparent defiance of General Kearney. Colonel Mason and Major
Turner were sent down by sea with a paymaster, with muster-rolls
and orders to muster this battalion into the service of the United
States, to pay and then to muster them out; but on their reaching
Los Angeles Fremont would not consent to it, and the controversy
became so angry that a challenge was believed to have passed
between Mason and Fremont, but the duel never came about. Turner
rode up by land in four or five days, and Fremont, becoming
alarmed, followed him, as we supposed, to overtake him, but he did
not succeed. On Fremont's arrival at Monterey, he camped in a tent
about a mile out of town and called on General Kearney, and it was
reported that the latter threatened him very severely and ordered
him back to Los Angeles immediately, to disband his volunteers, and
to cease the exercise of authority of any kind in the country.
Feeling a natural curiosity to see Fremont, who was then quite
famous by reason of his recent explorations and the still more
recent conflicts with Kearney and Mason, I rode out to his camp,
and found him in a conical tent with one Captain Owens, who was a
mountaineer, trapper, etc., but originally from Zanesville, Ohio.
I spent an hour or so with Fremont in his tent, took some tea with
him, and left, without being much impressed with him. In due time
Colonel Swords returned from the Sandwich Islands and relieved me
as quartermaster. Captain William G. Marcy, son of the Secretary
of War, had also come out in one of Stevenson's ships as an
assistant commissary of subsistence, and was stationed at Monterey
and relieved me as commissary, so that I reverted to the condition
of a company-officer. While acting as a staff officer I had lived
at the custom-house in Monterey, but when relieved I took a tent
in line with the other company-officers on the hill, where we had a
mess.

Stevenson'a regiment reached San Francisco Bay early in March,
1847. Three companies were stationed at the Presidio under Major
James A. Hardier one company (Brackett's) at Sonoma; three, under
Colonel Stevenson, at Monterey; and three, under Lieutenant-Colonel
Burton, at Santa Barbara. One day I was down at the headquarters
at Larkin's horse, when General Kearney remarked to me that he was
going down to Los Angeles in the ship Lexington, and wanted me to
go along as his aide. Of course this was most agreeable to me.
Two of Stevenson's companies, with the headquarters and the
colonel, were to go also. They embarked, and early in May we
sailed for San Pedro. Before embarking, the United States
line-of-battle-ship Columbus had reached the coast from China with
Commodore Biddle, whose rank gave him the supreme command of the
navy on the coast. He was busy in calling in--"lassooing "--from
the land-service the various naval officers who under Stockton had
been doing all sorts of military and civil service on shore.
Knowing that I was to go down the coast with General Kearney, he
sent for me and handed me two unsealed parcels addressed to
Lieutenant Wilson, United States Navy, and Major Gillespie, United
States Marines, at Los Angeles. These were written orders pretty
much in these words: "On receipt of this order you will repair at
once on board the United States ship Lexington at San Pedro, and on
reaching Monterey you will report to the undersigned.-JAMES
BIDDLE." Of course, I executed my part to the letter, and these
officers were duly "lassooed." We sailed down the coast with a
fair wind, and anchored inside the kelp, abreast of Johnson's
house. Messages were forthwith dispatched up to Los Angeles,
twenty miles off, and preparations for horses made for us to ride
up. We landed, and, as Kearney held to my arm in ascending the
steep path up the bluff, he remarked to himself, rather than to me,
that it was strange that Fremont did not want to return north by
the Lexington on account of sea-sickness, but preferred to go by
land over five hundred miles. The younger officers had been
discussing what the general would do with Fremont, who was supposed
to be in a state of mutiny. Some, thought he would be tried and
shot, some that he would be carried back in irons; and all agreed
that if any one else than Fremont had put on such airs, and had
acted as he had done, Kearney would have shown him no mercy, for he
was regarded as the strictest sort of a disciplinarian. We had a
pleasant ride across the plain which lies between the seashore and
Los Angeles, which we reached in about three hours, the infantry
following on foot. We found Colonel P. St. George Cooke living at
the house of a Mr. Pryor, and the company of dragoons, with A. J.
Smith, Davidson, Stoneman, and Dr. Griffin, quartered in an
adobe-house close by. Fremont held his court in the only two-story
frame-house in the place. After sometime spent at Pryor's house,
General Kearney ordered me to call on Fremont to notify him of his
arrival, and that he desired to see him. I walked round to the
house which had been pointed out to me as his, inquired of a man at
the door if the colonel was in, was answered "Yea," and was
conducted to a large room on the second floor, where very soon
Fremont came in, and I delivered my message. As I was on the point
of leaving, he inquired where I was going to, and I answered that I
was going back to Pryor's house, where the general was, when he
remarked that if I would wait a moment he would go along. Of
course I waited, and he soon joined me, dressed much as a
Californian, with the peculiar high, broad-brimmed hat, with a
fancy cord, and we walked together back to Pryor's, where I left
him with General Kearney. We spent several days very pleasantly at
Los Angeles, then, as now, the chief pueblo of the south, famous
for its grapes, fruits, and wines. There was a hill close to the
town, from which we had a perfect view of the place. The
surrounding country is level, utterly devoid of trees, except the
willows and cotton-woods that line the Los Angeles Creek and the
acequias, or ditches, which lead from it. The space of ground
cultivated in vineyards seemed about five miles by one, embracing
the town. Every house had its inclosure of vineyard, which
resembled a miniature orchard, the vines being very old, ranged in
rows, trimmed very close, with irrigating ditches so arranged that
a stream of water could be diverted between each row of vines. The
Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers are fed by melting snows from a
range of mountains to the east, and the quantity of cultivated land
depends upon the amount of water. This did not seem to be very
large; but the San Gabriel River, close by, was represented to
contain a larger volume of water, affording the means of greatly
enlarging the space for cultivation. The climate was so moderate
that oranges, figs, pomegranates, etc.... were generally to be
found in every yard or inclosure.

At the time of our visit, General Kearney was making his
preparations to return overland to the United States, and he
arranged to secure a volunteer escort out of the battalion of
Mormons that was then stationed at San Luis Rey, under Colonel
Cooke and a Major Hunt. This battalion was only enlisted for one
year, and the time for their discharge was approaching, and it was
generally understood that the majority of the men wanted to be
discharged so as to join the Mormons who had halted at Salt Lake,
but a lieutenant and about forty men volunteered to return to
Missouri as the escort of General Kearney. These were mounted on
mules and horses, and I was appointed to conduct them to Monterey
by land. Leaving the party at Los Angeles to follow by sea in the
Lexington, I started with the Mormon detachment and traveled by
land. We averaged about thirty miles a day, stopped one day at
Santa Barbara, where I saw Colonel Burton, and so on by the usually
traveled road to Monterey, reaching it in about fifteen days,
arriving some days in advance of the Lexington. This gave me the
best kind of an opportunity for seeing the country, which was very
sparsely populated indeed, except by a few families at the various
Missions. We had no wheeled vehicles, but packed our food and
clothing on mules driven ahead, and we slept on the ground in the
open air, the rainy season having passed. Fremont followed me by
land in a few days, and, by the end of May, General Kearney was all
ready at Monterey to take his departure, leaving to succeed him in
command Colonel R. B. Mason, First Dragoons. Our Captain
(Tompkins), too, had become discontented at his separation from his
family, tendered his resignation to General Kearney, and availed
himself of a sailing-vessel bound for Callao to reach the East.
Colonel Mason selected me as his adjutant-general; and on the very
last day of May General Kearney, with his Mormon escort, with
Colonel Cooke, Colonel Swords (quartermaster), Captain Turner, and
a naval officer, Captain Radford, took his departure for the East
overland, leaving us in full possession of California and its fate.
Fremont also left California with General Kearney, and with him
departed all cause of confusion and disorder in the country. From
that time forth no one could dispute the authority of Colonel Mason
as in command of all the United States forces on shore, while the
senior naval officer had a like control afloat. This was Commodore
James Biddle, who had reached the station from China in the
Columbus, and he in turn was succeeded by Commodore T. Ap Catesby
Jones in the line-of-battle-ship Ohio. At that time Monterey was
our headquarters, and the naval commander for a time remained
there, but subsequently San Francisco Bay became the chief naval
rendezvous.

Colonel R. B. Mason, First Dragoons, was an officer of great
experience, of stern character, deemed by some harsh and severe,
but in all my intercourse with him he was kind and agreeable. He
had a large fund of good sense, and, during our long period of
service together, I enjoyed his unlimited confidence. He had been
in his day a splendid shot and hunter, and often entertained me
with characteristic anecdotes of Taylor, Twiggs, Worth, Harvey,
Martin Scott, etc., etc, who were then in Mexico, gaining a
national fame. California had settled down to a condition of
absolute repose, and we naturally repined at our fate in being so
remote from the war in Mexico, where our comrades were reaping
large honors. Mason dwelt in a house not far from the Custom-
House, with Captain Lanman, United States Navy; I had a small
adobe-house back of Larkin's. Halleck and Dr. Murray had a small
log-house not far off. The company of artillery was still on the
hill, under the command of Lieutenant Ord, engaged in building a
fort whereon to mount the guns we had brought out in the Lexington,
and also in constructing quarters out of hewn pine-logs for the
men. Lieutenant Minor, a very clever young officer, had taken
violently sick and died about the time I got back from Los Angeles,
leaving Lieutenants Ord and Loeser alone with the company, with
Assistant-Surgeon Robert Murray. Captain William G. Marcy was the
quartermaster and commissary. Naglee's company of Stevenson's
regiment had been mounted and was sent out against the Indians in
the San Joaquin Valley, and Shannon's company occupied the
barracks. Shortly after General Kearney had gone East, we found an
order of his on record, removing one Mr. Nash, the Alcalde of
Sonoma, and appointing to his place ex-Governor L. W. Boggs. A
letter came to Colonel and Governor Mason from Boggs, whom he had
personally known in Missouri, complaining that, though he had been
appointed alcalde, the then incumbent (Nash) utterly denied
Kearney's right to remove him, because he had been elected by the
people under the proclamation of Commodore Sloat, and refused to
surrender his office or to account for his acts as alcalde. Such a
proclamation had been made by Commodore Sloat shortly after the
first occupation of California, announcing that the people were
free and enlightened American citizens, entitled to all the rights
and privileges as such, and among them the right to elect their own
officers, etc. The people of Sonoma town and valley, some forty or
fifty immigrants from the United States, and very few native
Californians, had elected Mr. Nash, and, as stated, he refused to
recognize the right of a mere military commander to eject him and
to appoint another to his place. Neither General Kearney nor Mason
had much respect for this land of "buncombe," but assumed the true
doctrine that California was yet a Mexican province, held by right
of conquest, that the military commander was held responsible to
the country, and that the province should be held in statu quo
until a treaty of peace. This letter of Boggs was therefore
referred to Captain Brackett, whose company was stationed at
Sonoma, with orders to notify Nash that Boggs was the rightful
alcalde; that he must quietly surrender his office, with the books
and records thereof, and that he must account for any moneys
received from the sale of town-lots, etc., etc.; and in the event
of refusal he (Captain Brackett) must compel him by the use of
force. In due time we got Brackett's answer, saying that the
little community of Sonoma was in a dangerous state of
effervescence caused by his orders; that Nash was backed by most of
the Americans there who had come across from Missouri with American
ideas; that as he (Brackett) was a volunteer officer, likely to be
soon discharged, and as he designed to settle there, he asked in
consequence to be excused from the execution of this (to him)
unpleasant duty. Such a request, coming to an old soldier like
Colonel Mason, aroused his wrath, and he would have proceeded
rough-shod against Brackett, who, by-the-way, was a West Point
graduate, and ought to have known better; but I suggested to the
colonel that, the case being a test one, he had better send me up
to Sonoma, and I would settle it quick enough. He then gave me an
order to go to Sonoma to carry out the instructions already given
to Brackett.

I took one soldier with me, Private Barnes, with four horses, two
of which we rode, and the other two we drove ahead. The first day
we reached Gilroy's and camped by a stream near three or four
adobe-huts known as Gilroy's ranch. The next day we passed
Murphy's, San Jose, and Santa Clara Mission, camping some four
miles beyond, where a kind of hole had been dug in the ground for
water. The whole of this distance, now so beautifully improved and
settled, was then scarcely occupied, except by poor ranches
producing horses and cattle. The pueblo of San Jose was a string
of low adobe-houses festooned with red peppers and garlic; and the
Mission of Santa Clara was a dilapidated concern, with its church
and orchard. The long line of poplar-trees lining the road from
San Jose to Santa Clara bespoke a former period when the priests
had ruled the land. Just about dark I was lying on the ground near
the well, and my soldier Barnes had watered our horses and picketed
them to grass, when we heard a horse crushing his way through the
high mustard-bushes which filled the plain, and soon a man came to
us to inquire if we had seen a saddle-horse pass up the road. We
explained to him what we had heard, and he went off in pursuit of
his horse. Before dark he came back unsuccessful, and gave his
name as Bidwell, the same gentleman who has since been a member of
Congress, who is married to Miss Kennedy, of Washington City, and
now lives in princely style at Chico, California.

He explained that he was a surveyor, and had been in the lower
country engaged in surveying land; that the horse had escaped him
with his saddle-bags containing all his notes and papers, and some
six hundred dollars in money, all the money he had earned. He
spent the night with us on the ground, and the next morning we left
him there to continue the search for his horse, and I afterward
heard that he had found his saddle-bags all right, but never
recovered the horse. The next day toward night we approached the
Mission of San Francisco, and the village of Yerba Buena, tired and
weary--the wind as usual blowing a perfect hurricane, and a more
desolate region it was impossible to conceive of. Leaving Barnes
to work his way into the town as best he could with the tired
animals, I took the freshest horse and rode forward. I fell in
with Lieutenant Fabius Stanley, United States Navy, and we rode
into Yerba Buena together about an hour before sundown, there being
nothing but a path from the Mission into the town, deep and heavy
with drift-sand. My horse could hardly drag one foot after the
other when we reached the old Hudson Bay Company's house, which was
then the store of Howard and Mellus. There I learned where Captain
Folsom, the quartermaster, was to be found. He was staying with a
family of the name of Grimes, who had a small horse back of
Howard's store, which must have been near where Sacramento Street
now crosses Kearney. Folsom was a classmate of mine, had come out
with Stevenson's regiment as quartermaster, and was at the time the
chief-quartermaster of the department. His office was in the old
custom-horse standing at the northwest corner of the Plaza. He had
hired two warehouses, the only ones there at the time, of one
Liedsdorff, the principal man of Yerba Buena, who also owned the
only public-house, or tavern, called the City Hotel, on Kearney
Street, at the southeast corner of the Plaza. I stopped with
Folsom at Mrs. Grimes's, and he sent my horse, as also the other
three when Barnes had got in after dark, to a coral where he had a
little barley, but no hay. At that time nobody fed a horse, but he
was usually turned out to pick such scanty grass as he could find
on the side-hills. The few government horses used in town were
usually sent out to the Presidio, where the grass was somewhat
better. At that time (July, 1847), what is now called San
Francisco was called Yerba Buena. A naval officer, Lieutenant
Washington A. Bartlett, its first alcalde, had caused it to be
surveyed and laid out into blocks and lots, which were being sold
at sixteen dollars a lot of fifty vuras square; the understanding
being that no single person could purchase of the alcalde more than
one in-lot of fifty varas, and one out-lot of a hundred varas.
Folsom, however, had got his clerks, orderlies, etc., to buy lots,
and they, for a small consideration, conveyed them to him, so that
he was nominally the owner of a good many lots. Lieutenant Halleck
had bought one of each kind, and so had Warner. Many naval
officers had also invested, and Captain Folsom advised me to buy
some, but I felt actually insulted that he should think me such a
fool as to pay money for property in such a horrid place as Yerba
Buena, especially ridiculing his quarter of the city, then called
Happy Valley. At that day Montgomery Street was, as now, the
business street, extending from Jackson to Sacramento, the water of
the bay leaving barely room for a few houses on its east side, and
the public warehouses were on a sandy beach about where the Bank of
California now stands, viz., near the intersection of Sansome and
California, Streets. Along Montgomery Street were the stores of
Howard & Mellus, Frank Ward, Sherman & Ruckel, Ross & Co., and it
may be one or two others. Around the Plaza were a few houses,
among them the City Hotel and the Custom-House, single-story adobes
with tiled roofs, and they were by far the most substantial and
best houses in the place. The population was estimated at about
four hundred, of whom Kanakas (natives of the Sandwich Islands)
formed the bulk.

At the foot of Clay Street was a small wharf which small boats
could reach at high tide; but the principal landing-place was where
some stones had fallen into the water, about where Broadway now
intersects Battery Street. On the steep bluff above had been
excavated, by the navy, during the year before, a bench, wherein
were mounted a couple of navy-guns, styled the battery, which, I
suppose, gave name to the street. I explained to Folsom the object
of my visit, and learned from him that he had no boat in which to
send me to Sonoma, and that the only, chance to get there was to
borrow a boat from the navy. The line-of-battle-ship Columbus was
then lying at anchor off the town, and he said if I would get up
early the next morning I could go off to her in one of the
market-boats.

Accordingly, I was up bright and early, down at the wharf, found a
boat, and went off to the Columbus to see Commodore Biddle. On
reaching the ship and stating to the officer of the deck my
business, I was shown into the commodore's cabin, and soon made
known to him my object. Biddle was a small-sized man, but
vivacious in the extreme. He had a perfect contempt for all
humbug, and at once entered into the business with extreme
alacrity. I was somewhat amused at the importance he attached to
the step. He had a chaplain, and a private secretary, in a small
room latticed off from his cabin, and he first called on them to go
out, and, when we were alone, he enlarged on the folly of Sloat's
proclamation, giving the people the right to elect their own
officers, and commended Kearney and Mason for nipping that idea in
the bud, and keeping the power in their own hands. He then sent
for the first lieutenant (Drayton), and inquired if there were
among the officers on board any who had ever been in the Upper Bay,
and learning that there was a midshipman (Whittaker) he was sent
for. It so happened that this midshipman had been on a frolic on
shore a few nights before, and was accordingly much frightened when
summoned into the commodore's presence, but as soon as he was
questioned as to his knowledge of the bay, he was sensibly
relieved, and professed to know every thing about it.

Accordingly, the long boat was ordered with this midshipman and
eight sailors, prepared with water and provisions for several days
absence. Biddle then asked me if I knew any of his own officers,
and which one of them I would prefer to accompany me. I knew most
of them, and we settled down on Louis McLane. He was sent for, and
it was settled that McLane and I were to conduct this important
mission, and the commodore enjoined on us complete secrecy, so as
to insure success, and he especially cautioned us against being
pumped by his ward-room officers, Chapman, Lewis, Wise, etc., while
on board his ship. With this injunction I was dismissed to the
wardroom, where I found Chapman, Lewis, and Wise, dreadfully
exercised at our profound secrecy. The fact that McLane and I had
been closeted with the commodore for an hour, that orders for the
boat and stores had been made, that the chaplain and clerk had been
sent out of the cabin, etc., etc., all excited their curiosity; but
McLane and I kept our secret well. The general impression was,
that we had some knowledge about the fate of Captain Montgomery's
two sons and the crew that had been lost the year before. In 1846
Captain Montgomery commanded at Yerba Buena, on board the St. Mary
sloop-of-war, and he had a detachment of men stationed up at
Sonoma. Occasionally a boat was sent up with provisions or
intelligence to them. Montgomery had two sons on board his ship,
one a midshipman, the other his secretary. Having occasion to send
some money up to Sonoma, he sent his two sons with a good boat and
crew. The boat started with a strong breeze and a very large sail,
was watched from the deck until she was out of sight, and has never
been heard of since. There was, of coarse, much speculation as to
their fate, some contending that the boat must have been capsized
in San Pablo Bay, and that all were lost; others contending that
the crew had murdered the officers for the money, and then escaped;
but, so far as I know, not a man of that crew has ever been seen or
heard of since. When at last the boat was ready for us, we
started, leaving all hands, save the commodore, impressed with the
belief that we were going on some errand connected with the loss of
the missing boat and crew of the St. Mary. We sailed directly
north, up the bay and across San Pablo, reached the month of Sonoma
Creek about dark, and during the night worked up the creek some
twelve miles by means of the tide, to a landing called the
Embarcadero. To maintain the secrecy which the commodore had
enjoined on us, McLane and I agreed to keep up the delusion by
pretending to be on a marketing expedition to pick up chickens,
pigs, etc., for the mess of the Columbus, soon to depart for home.

Leaving the midshipman and four sailors to guard the boat, we
started on foot with the other four for Sonoma Town, which we soon
reached. It was a simple open square, around which were some
adobe-houses, that of General Vallejo occupying one side. On
another was an unfinished two-story adobe building, occupied as a
barrack by Bracken's company. We soon found Captain Brackett, and
I told him that I intended to take Nash a prisoner and convey him
back to Monterey to answer for his mutinous behavior. I got an old
sergeant of his company, whom I had known in the Third Artillery,
quietly to ascertain the whereabouts of Nash, who was a bachelor,
stopping with the family of a lawyer named Green. The sergeant
soon returned, saying that Nash had gone over to Napa, but would be
back that evening; so McLane and I went up to a farm of some
pretensions, occupied by one Andreas Hoepner, with a pretty Sitka
wife, who lived a couple of miles above Sonoma, and we bought of
him some chickens, pigs, etc. We then visited Governor Boggs's
family and that of General Vallejo, who was then, as now, one of
the most prominent and influential natives of California. About
dark I learned that Nash had come back, and then, giving Brackett
orders to have a cart ready at the corner of the plaza, McLane and
I went to the house of Green. Posting an armed sailor on each side
of the house, we knocked at the door and walked in. We found
Green, Nash, and two women, at supper. I inquired if Nash were in,
and was first answered "No," but one of the women soon pointed to
him, and he rose. We were armed with pistols, and the family was
evidently alarmed. I walked up to him and took his arm, and told
him to come along with me. He asked me, "Where?" and I said,
"Monterey." "Why?" I would explain that more at leisure. Green
put himself between me and the door, and demanded, in theatrical
style, why I dared arrest a peaceable citizen in his house. I
simply pointed to my pistol, and told him to get out of the way,
which he did. Nash asked to get some clothing, but I told him he
should want for nothing. We passed out, Green following us with
loud words, which brought the four sailors to the front-door, when
I told him to hush up or I would take him prisoner also. About
that time one of the sailors, handling his pistol carelessly,
discharged it, and Green disappeared very suddenly. We took Nash
to the cart, put him in, and proceeded back to our boat. The next
morning we were gone.

Nash being out of the way, Boggs entered on his office, and the
right to appoint or remove from civil office was never again
questioned in California during the military regime. Nash was an
old man, and was very much alarmed for his personal safety. He had
come across the Plains, and had never yet seen the sea. While on
our way down the bay, I explained fully to him the state of things
in California, and he admitted he had never looked on it in that
light before, and professed a willingness to surrender his office;
but, having gone so far, I thought it best to take him to Monterey.
On our way down the bay the wind was so strong, as we approached
the Columbus, that we had to take refuge behind Yerba Buena Island,
then called Goat Island, where we landed, and I killed a gray seal.
The next morning, the wind being comparatively light, we got out
and worked our way up to the Columbus, where I left my prisoner on
board, and went on shore to find Commodore Biddle, who had gone to
dine with Frank Ward. I found him there, and committed Nash to his
charge, with the request that he would send him down to Monterey,
which he did in the sloop-of-war Dale, Captain Selfridge
commanding. I then returned to Monterey by land, and, when the
Dale arrived, Colonel Mason and I went on board, found poor old Mr.
Nash half dead with sea-sickness and fear, lest Colonel Mason would
treat him with extreme military rigor. But, on the contrary, the
colonel spoke to him kindly, released him as a prisoner on his
promise to go back to Sonoma. surrender his office to Boggs, and
account to him for his acts while in office. He afterward came on
shore, was provided with clothing and a horse, returned to Sonoma,
and I never have seen him since.

Matters and things settled down in Upper California, and all moved
along with peace and harmony. The war still continued in Mexico,
and the navy authorities resolved to employ their time with the
capture of Mazatlan and Guaymas. Lower California had already been
occupied by two companies of Stevenson's regiment, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, who had taken post at La Paz, and a
small party of sailors was on shore at San Josef, near Cape San
Lucas, detached from the Lexington, Lieutenant-Commander Bailey.
The orders for this occupation were made by General Kearney before
he left, in pursuance of instructions from the War Department,
merely to subserve a political end, for there were few or no people
in Lower California, which is a miserable, wretched, dried-up
peninsula. I remember the proclamation made by Burton and Captain
Bailey, in taking possession, which was in the usual florid style.
Bailey signed his name as the senior naval officer at the station,
but, as it was necessary to put it into Spanish to reach the
inhabitants of the newly-acquired country, it was interpreted, "El
mas antiguo de todos los oficiales de la marina," etc., which,
literally, is "the most ancient of all the naval officers," etc.,
a translation at which we made some fun.

The expedition to Mazatlan was, however, for a different purpose,
viz., to get possession of the ports of Mazatlan and Guaymas, as a
part of the war against Mexico, and not for permanent conquest.

Commodore Shubrick commanded this expedition, and took Halleck
along as his engineer-officer. They captured Mazatlan and Guaymas,
and then called on Colonel Mason to send soldiers down to hold
possession, but he had none to spare, and it was found impossible
to raise other volunteers either in California or Oregon, and the
navy held these places by detachments of sailors and marines till
the end of the war. Burton also called for reenforcements, and
Naglee'a company was sent to him from Monterey, and these three
companies occupied Lower California at the end of the Mexican War.
Major Hardie still commanded at San Francisco and above; Company F,
Third Artillery, and Shannon's company of volunteers, were at
Monterey; Lippett's company at Santa Barbara; Colonel Stevenson,
with one company of his regiment, and the company of the First
Dragoons, was at Los Angeles; and a company of Mormons, reenlisted
out of the Mormon Battalion, garrisoned San Diego--and thus matters
went along throughout 1847 into 1848. I had occasion to make
several trips to Yerba Buena and back, and in the spring of 1848
Colonel Mason and I went down to Santa Barbara in the sloop-of-war
Dale.

I spent much time in hunting deer and bear in the mountains back of
the Carmel Mission, and ducks and geese in the plains of the
Salinas. As soon as the fall rains set in, the young oats would
sprout up, and myriads of ducks, brant, and geese, made their
appearance. In a single day, or rather in the evening of one day
and the morning of the next, I could load a pack-mule with geese
and ducks. They had grown somewhat wild from the increased number
of hunters, yet, by marking well the place where a flock lighted, I
could, by taking advantage of gullies or the shape of the ground,,
creep up within range; and, giving one barrel on the ground, and
the other as they rose, I have secured as many as nine at one
discharge. Colonel Mason on one occasion killed eleven geese by
one discharge of small shot. The seasons in California are well
marked. About October and November the rains begin, and the whole
country, plains and mountains, becomes covered with a bright-green
grass, with endless flowers. The intervals between the rains give
the finest weather possible. These rains are less frequent in
March, and cease altogether in April and May, when gradually the
grass dies and the whole aspect of things changes, first to yellow,
then to brown, and by midsummer all is burnt up and dry as an
ashheap

When General Kearney first departed we took his office at Larkin's;
but shortly afterward we had a broad stairway constructed to lead
from the outside to the upper front porch of the barracks. By
cutting a large door through the adobe-wall, we made the upper room
in the centre our office; and another side-room, connected with it
by a door, was Colonel Mason's private office.

I had a single clerk, a soldier named Baden; and William E. P.
Hartnell, citizen, also had a table in the same room. He was the
government interpreter, and had charge of the civil archives.
After Halleck's return from Mazatlan, he was, by Colonel Mason,
made Secretary of State; and he then had charge of the civil
archives, including the land-titles, of which Fremont first had
possession, but which had reverted to us when he left the country.

I remember one day, in the spring of 1848, that two men, Americans,
came into the office and inquired for the Governor. I asked their
business, and one answered that they had just come down from
Captain Sutter on special business, and they wanted to see Governor
Mason in person. I took them in to the colonel, and left them
together. After some time the colonel came to his door and called
to me. I went in, and my attention was directed to a series of
papers unfolded on his table, in which lay about half an ounce of
placer gold. Mason said to me, "What is that?" I touched it and
examined one or two of the larger pieces, and asked, "Is it gold?"
Mason asked me if I had ever seen native gold. I answered that, in
1844, I was in Upper Georgia, and there saw some native gold, but
it was much finer than this, and that it was in phials, or in
transparent quills; but I said that, if this were gold, it could be
easily tested, first, by its malleability, and next by acids. I
took a piece in my teeth, and the metallic lustre was perfect. I
then called to the clerk, Baden, to bring an axe and hatchet from
the backyard. When these were brought, I took the largest piece
and beat it out flat, and beyond doubt it was metal, and a pure
metal. Still, we attached little importance to the fact, for gold
was known to exist at San Fernando, at the south, and yet was not
considered of much value. Colonel Mason then handed me a letter
from Captain Sutter, addressed to him, stating that he (Sutter) was
engaged in erecting a saw-mill at Coloma, about forty miles up the
American Fork, above his fort at New Helvetia, for the general
benefit of the settlers in that vicinity; that he had incurred
considerable expense, and wanted a "preemption" to the quarter-
section of land on which the mill was located, embracing the
tail-race in which this particular gold had been found. Mason
instructed me to prepare a letter, in answer, for his signature. I
wrote off a letter, reciting that California was yet a Mexican
province, simply held by us as a conquest; that no laws of the
United States yet applied to it, much less the land laws or
preemption laws, which could only apply after a public survey.
Therefore it was impossible for the Governor to promise him
(Sutter) a title to the land; yet, as there were no settlements
within forty miles, he was not likely to be disturbed by
trespassers. Colonel Mason signed the letter, handed it to one of
the gentlemen who had brought the sample of gold, and they
departed. That gold was the first discovered in the Sierra Nevada,
which soon revolutionized the whole country, and actually moved the
whole civilized world. About this time (May and June, 1848), far
more importance was attached to quicksilver. One mine, the New
Almaden, twelve miles south of San Jose, was well known, and was in
possession of the agent of a Scotch gentleman named Forties, who
at the time was British consul at Tepic, Mexico. Mr. Forties came
up from San Blas in a small brig, which proved to be a Mexican
vessel; the vessel was seized, condemned, and actually sold, but
Forties was wealthy, and bought her in. His title to the
quicksilver-mine was, however, never disputed, as he had bought it
regularly, before our conquest of the country, from another British
subject, also named Forties, a resident of Santa Clara Mission, who
had purchased it of the discoverer, a priest; but the boundaries of
the land attached to the mine were even then in dispute. Other men
were in search of quicksilver; and the whole range of mountains
near the New Almaden mine was stained with the brilliant red of the
snlphuret of mercury (cinnabar). A company composed of T. O.
Larkin, J. R. Snyder, and others, among them one John Ricord (who
was quite a character), also claimed a valuable mine near by.
Ricord was a lawyer from about Buffalo, and by some means had got
to the Sandwich Islands, where he became a great favorite of the
king, Kamehameha; was his attorney-general, and got into a
difficulty with the Rev. Mr. Judd, who was a kind of prime-minister
to his majesty. One or the other had to go, and Ricord left for
San Francisco, where he arrived while Colonel Mason and I were
there on some business connected with the customs. Ricord at once
made a dead set at Mason with flattery, and all sorts of spurious
arguments, to convince him that our military government was too
simple in its forms for the new state of facts, and that he was the
man to remodel it. I had heard a good deal to his prejudice, and
did all I could to prevent Mason taking him, into his confidence.
We then started back for Monterey. Ricord was along, and night and
day he was harping on his scheme; but he disgusted Colonel Mason
with his flattery, and, on reaching Monterey, he opened what he
called a law-office, but there were neither courts nor clients, so
necessity forced him to turn his thoughts to something else, and
quicksilver became his hobby. In the spring of 1848 an appeal came
to our office from San Jose, which compelled the Governor to go up
in person. Lieutenant Loeser and I, with a couple of soldiers,
went along. At San Jose the Governor held some kind of a court, in
which Ricord and the alcalde had a warm dispute about a certain
mine which Ricord, as a member of the Larkin Company, had opened
within the limits claimed by the New Almaden Company. On our way
up we had visited the ground, and were therefore better prepared to
understand the controversy. We had found at New Almaden Mr.
Walkinshaw, a fine Scotch gentleman, the resident agent of Mr.
Forbes. He had built in the valley, near a small stream, a few
board-houses, and some four or five furnaces for the distillation
of the mercury. These were very simple in their structure, being
composed of whalers' kettles, set in masonry. These kettles were
filled with broken ore about the size of McAdam-stone, mingled with
lime. Another kettle, reversed, formed the lid, and the seam was
luted with clay. On applying heat, the mercury was volatilized and
carried into a chimney-stack, where it condensed and flowed back
into a reservoir, and then was led in pipes into another kettle
outside. After witnessing this process, we visited the mine
itself, which outcropped near the apex of the hill, about a
thousand feet above the furnaces. We found wagons hauling the
mineral down the hill and returning empty, and in the mines quite a
number of Sonora miners were blasting and driving for the beautiful
ore (cinnabar). It was then, and is now, a most valuable mine.
The adit of the mine was at the apex of the hill, which drooped off
to the north. We rode along this hill, and saw where many openings
had been begun, but these, proving of little or no value, had been
abandoned. Three miles beyond, on the west face of the bill, we
came to the opening of the "Larkin Company." There was evidence of
a good deal of work, but the mine itself was filled up by what
seemed a land-slide. The question involved in the lawsuit before
the alcalde at San Jose was, first, whether the mine was or was not
on the land belonging to the New Almaden property; and, next,
whether the company had complied with all the conditions of the
mite laws of Mexico, which were construed to be still in force in
California.

These laws required that any one who discovered a valuable mine on
private land should first file with the alcalde, or judge of the
district, a notice and claim for the benefits of such discovery;
then the mine was to be opened and followed for a distance of at
least one hundred feet within a specified time, and the claimants
must take out samples of the mineral and deposit the same with the
alcalde, who was then required to inspect personally the mine, to
see that it fulfilled all. the conditions of the law, before he
could give a written title. In this case the alcalde had been to
the mine and had possession of samples of the ore; but, as the
mouth of the mine was closed up, as alleged, from the act of God,
by a land-slide, it was contended by Ricord and his associates that
it was competent to prove by good witnesses that the mine had been
opened into the hill one hundred feet, and that, by no negligence
of theirs, it had caved in. It was generally understood that
Robert J. Walker, United States Secretary of the Treasury, was then
a partner in this mining company; and a vessel, the bark Gray
Eagle, was ready at San Francisco to sail for New York with the
title-papers on which to base a joint-stock company for speculative
uses. I think the alcalde was satisfied that the law had been
complied with, that he had given the necessary papers, and, as at
that time there was nothing developed to show fraud, the Governor
(Mason) did not interfere. At that date there was no public house
or tavern in San Jose where we could stop, so we started toward
Santa Cruz and encamped about ten miles out, to the west of the
town, where we fell in with another party of explorers, of whom
Ruckel, of San Francisco, was the head; and after supper, as we sat
around the camp-fire, the conversation turned on quicksilver in
general, and the result of the contest in San Jose in particular.
Mason was relating to Ruckel the points and the arguments of
Ricord, that the company should not suffer from an act of God,
viz., the caving in of the mouth of the mine, when a man named
Cash, a fellow who had once been in the quartermaster's employ as a
teamster, spoke up: "Governor Mason, did Judge Ricord say that?"
"Yes," said the Governor; and then Cash related how he and another
man, whose name he gave, had been employed by Ricord to undermine a
heavy rock that rested above the mouth of the mine, so that it
tumbled down, carrying with it a large quantity of earth, and
completely filled it up, as we had seen; "and," said Cash, "it took
us three days of the hardest kind of work." This was the act of
God, and on the papers procured from the alcalde at that time, I
understand, was built a huge speculation, by which thousands of
dollars changed hands in the United States and were lost. This
happened long before the celebrated McGarrahan claim, which has
produced so much noise, and which still is being prosecuted in the
courts and in Congress.

On the next day we crossed over the Santa Cruz Mountains, from
which we had sublime views of the scenery, first looking east
toward the lower Bay of San Francisco, with the bright plains of
Santa Clara and San Jose, and then to the west upon the ocean, the
town of Monterey being visible sixty miles off. If my memory is
correct, we beheld from that mountain the firing of a salute from
the battery at Monterey, and counted the number of guns from the
white puffs of smoke, but could not hear the sound. That night we
slept on piles of wheat in a mill at Soquel, near Santa Cruz, and,
our supplies being short, I advised that we should make an early
start next morning, so as to reach the ranch of Don Juan Antonio
Vallejo, a particular friend, who had a large and valuable
cattle-ranch on the Pajaro River, about twenty miles on our way to
Monterey. Accordingly, we were off by the first light of day, and
by nine o'clock we had reached the ranch. It was on a high point
of the plateau, overlooking the plain of the Pajaro, on which were
grazing numbers of horses and cattle. The house was of adobe, with
a long range of adobe-huts occupied by the semi-civilized Indians,
who at that time did all the labor of a ranch, the herding and
marking of cattle, breaking of horses, and cultivating the little
patches of wheat and vegetables which constituted all the farming
of that day. Every thing about the house looked deserted, and,
seeing a small Indian boy leaning up against a post, I approached
him and asked him in Spanish, "Where is the master?" "Gone to the
Presidio" (Monterey). "Is anybody in the house?" "No." "Is it
locked up?" "Yes." "Is no one about who can get in?" "No."
"Have you any meat?" "No." "Any flour or grain?" "No." "Any
chickens?" "No." "Any eggs?" "No." "What do you live on?"
"Nada" (nothing). The utter indifference of this boy, and the
tone of his answer "Nada," attracted the attention of Colonel
Mason, who had been listening to our conversation, and who
knew enough of Spanish to catch the meaning, and he exclaimed
with some feeling, "So we get nada for our breakfast." I felt
mortified, for I had held out the prospect of a splendid
breakfast of meat and tortillas with rice, chickens, eggs, etc., at
the ranch of my friend Josh Antonio, as a justification for
taking the Governor, a man of sixty years of age, more than
twenty miles at a full canter for his breakfast. But there was
no help for it, and we accordingly went a short distance to a
pond, where we unpacked our mules and made a slim breakfast; on
some scraps of hard bread and a bone of pork that remained in our
alforjas. This was no uncommon thing in those days, when many a
ranchero with his eleven leagues of land, his hundreds of horses
and thousands of cattle, would receive us with all the
grandiloquence of a Spanish lord, and confess that he had nothing
in his house to eat except the carcass of a beef hung up, from
which the stranger might cut and cook, without money or price, what
he needed. That night we slept on Salinas Plain, and the next
morning reached Monterey. All the missions and houses at that
period were alive with fleas, which the natives looked on as
pleasant titillators, but they so tortured me that I always gave
them a wide berth, and slept on a saddle-blanket, with the saddle
for a pillow and the serape, or blanket, for a cover. We never
feared rain except in winter. As the spring and summer of 1848
advanced, the reports came faster and faster from the gold-mines at
Sutter's saw-mill. Stories reached us of fabulous discoveries, and
spread throughout the land. Everybody was talking of "Gold!
gold!" until it assumed the character of a fever. Some of our
soldiers began to desert; citizens were fitting out trains of
wagons and packmules to go to the mines. We heard of men earning
fifty, five hundred, and thousands of dollars per day, and for a
time it seemed as though somebody would reach solid gold. Some of
this gold began to come to Yerba Buena in trade, and to disturb the
value of merchandise, particularly of mules, horses, tin pans, and
articles used in mining: I of course could not escape the
infection, and at last convinced Colonel Mason that it was our duty
to go up and see with our own eyes, that we might report the truth
to our Government. As yet we had no regular mail to any part of
the United States, but mails had come to us at long intervals,
around Cape Horn, and one or two overland. I well remember the
first overland mail. It was brought by Kit Carson in saddle-bags
from Taos in New Mexico. We heard of his arrival at Los Angeles,
and waited patiently for his arrival at headquarters. His fame
then was at its height, from the publication of Fremont's books,
and I was very anxious to see a man who had achieved such feats of
daring among the wild animals of the Rocky Mountains, and still
wilder Indians of the Plains. At last his arrival was reported at
the tavern at Monterey, and I hurried to hunt him up. I cannot
express my surprise at beholding a small, stoop-shouldered man,
with reddish hair, freckled face, soft blue eyes, and nothing to
indicate extraordinary courage or daring. He spoke but little, and
answered questions in monosyllables. I asked for his mail, and he
picked up his light saddle-bags containing the great overland mail,
and we walked together to headquarters, where he delivered his
parcel into Colonel Mason's own hands. He spent some days in
Monterey, during which time we extracted with difficulty some items
of his personal history. He was then by commission a lieutenant in
the regiment of Mounted Rifles serving in Mexico under Colonel
Sumner, and, as he could not reach his regiment from California,
Colonel Mason ordered that for a time he should be assigned to duty
with A. J. Smith's company, First Dragoons, at Los Angeles. He
remained at Los Angeles some months, and was then sent back to the
United Staten with dispatches, traveling two thousand miles almost
alone, in preference to being encumbered by a large party.

Toward the close of June, 1848, the gold-fever being at its height,
by Colonel Mason's orders I made preparations for his trip to the
newly-discovered gold-mines at Sutter's Fort. I selected four good
soldiers, with Aaron, Colonel Mason's black servant, and a good
outfit of horses and pack-mules, we started by the usually traveled
route for Yerba Buena. There Captain Fulsom and two citizens
joined our party. The first difficulty was to cross the bay to
Saucelito. Folsom, as quartermaster, had a sort of scow with a
large sail, with which to discharge the cargoes of ships, that
could not come within a mile of the shore. It took nearly the
whole day to get the old scow up to the only wharf there, and then
the water was so shallow that the scow, with its load of horses,
would not float at the first high tide, but by infinite labor on
the next tide she was got off and safely crossed over to Saucelito.
We followed in a more comfortable schooner. Having safely landed
our horses and mules, we picked up and rode to San Rafael Mission,
stopping with Don Timoteo Murphy. The next day's journey took us
to Bodega, where lived a man named Stephen Smith, who had the only
steam saw-mill in California. He had a Peruvian wife, and employed
a number of absolutely naked Indians in making adobes. We spent a
day very pleasantly with him, and learned that he had come to
California some years before, at the personal advice of Daniel
Webster, who had informed him that sooner or later the United
States would be in possession of California, and that in
consequence it would become a great country. From Bodega we
traveled to Sonoma, by way of Petaluma, and spent a day with
General Vallejo. I had been there before, as related, in the
business of the alcalde Nash. From Sonoma we crossed over by way
of Napa, Suisun, and Vaca's ranch, to the Puta. In the rainy
season, the plain between the Puta and Sacramento Rivers is
impassable, but in July the waters dry up; and we passed without
trouble, by the trail for Sutter's Embarcadero. We reached the
Sacramento River, then full of water, with a deep, clear current.
The only means of crossing over was by an Indian dugout canoe. We
began by carrying across our packs and saddles, and then our
people. When all things were ready, the horses were driven into
the water, one being guided ahead by a man in the canoe. Of
course, the horses and mules at first refused to take to the water,
and it was nearly a day's work to get them across, and even then
some of our animals after crossing escaped into the woods and
undergrowth that lined the river, but we secured enough of them to
reach Sutter's Fort, three miles back from the embcarcadero, where
we encamped at the old slough, or pond, near the fort. On
application, Captain Butter sent some Indians back into the bushes,
who recovered and brought in all our animals. At that time there
was not the sign of a habitation there or thereabouts, except the
fort, and an old adobe-house, east of the fort, known as the
hospital. The fort itself was one of adobe-walls, about twenty
feet high, rectangular in form, with two-story block houses at
diagonal corners. The entrance was by a large gate, open by day
and closed at night, with two iron ship's guns near at hand.
Inside there was a large house, with a good shingle-roof, used as a
storehouse, and all round the walls were ranged rooms, the fort
wall being the outer wall of the house. The inner wall also was of
adobe. These rooms were used by Captain Sutter himself and by his
people. He had a blacksmith's shop, carpenter's shop, etc., and
other rooms where the women made blankets. Sutter was monarch of
all he surveyed, and had authority to inflict punishment even unto
death, a power he did not fail to use. He had horses, cattle, and
sheep, and of these he gave liberally and without price to all in
need. He caused to be driven into our camp a beef and some sheep,
which were slaughtered for our use. Already the goldmines were
beginning to be felt. Many people were then encamped, some going
and some coming, all full of gold-stories, and each surpassing the
other. We found preparations in progress for celebrating the
Fourth of July, then close at hand, and we agreed to remain over to
assist on the occasion; of course, being the high officials, we
were the honored guests. People came from a great distance to
attend this celebration of the Fourth of July, and the tables were
laid in the large room inside the storehouse of the fort. A man of
some note, named Sinclair, presided, and after a substantial meal
and a reasonable supply of aguardiente we began the toasts. All
that I remember is that Folsom and I spoke for our party; others,
Captain Sutter included, made speeches, and before the celebration
was over Sutter was enthusiastic, and many others showed the
effects of the aguardiente. The next day (namely, July 5, 1848) we
resumed our journey toward the mines, and, in twenty-five miles of
as hot and dusty a ride as possible, we reached Mormon Island. I
have heretofore stated that the gold was first found in the
tail-race of the stew-mill at Coloma, forty miles above Sutter's
Fort, or fifteen above Mormon Island, in the bed of the American
Fork of the Sacramento River. It seems that Sutter had employed an
American named Marshall, a sort of millwright, to do this work for
him, but Marshall afterward claimed that in the matter of the
saw-mill they were copartners. At all events, Marshall and the
family of Mr. Wimmer were living at Coloma, where the pine-trees
afforded the best material for lumber. He had under him four white
men, Mormons, who had been discharged from Cooke's battalion, and
some Indians. These were engaged in hewing logs, building a
mill-dam, and putting up a saw-mill. Marshall, as the architect,
had made the "tub-wheel," and had set it in motion, and had also
furnished some of the rude parts of machinery necessary for an
ordinary up-and-down saw-mill.

Labor was very scarce, expensive, and had to be economized. The
mill was built over a dry channel of the river which was calculated
to be the tail-race. After arranging his head-race, dam and
tub-wheel, he let on the water to test the goodness of his
machinery. It worked very well until it was found that the
tail-race did not carry off the water fast enough, so he put his
men to work in a rude way to clear out the tail-race. They
scratched a kind of ditch down the middle of the dry channel,
throwing the coarser stones to one side; then, letting on the water
again, it would run with velocity down the channel, washing away
the dirt, thus saving labor. This course of action was repeated
several times, acting exactly like the long Tom afterward resorted
to by the miners. As Marshall himself was working in this ditch,
he observed particles of yellow metal which he gathered up in his
hand, when it seemed to have suddenly flashed across his mind that
it was gold. After picking up about an ounce, he hurried down to
the fort to report to Captain Sutter his discovery. Captain Sutter
himself related to me Marshall's account, saying that, as he sat in
his room at the fort one day in February or March, 1848, a knock
was heard at his door, and he called out, "Come in." In walked
Marshall, who was a half-crazy man at best, but then looked
strangely wild. "What is the matter, Marshall!" Marshall
inquired if any one was within hearing, and began to peer about the
room, and look under the bed, when Sutter, fearing that some
calamity had befallen the party up at the saw-mill, and that
Marshall was really crazy, began to make his way to the door,
demanding of Marshall to explain what was the matter. At last he
revealed his discovery, and laid before Captain Sutter the
pellicles of gold he had picked up in the ditch. At first, Sutter
attached little or no importance to the discovery, and told
Marshall to go back to the mill, and say nothing of what he had
seen to Mr. Wimmer, or any one else. Yet, as it might add value to
the location, he dispatched to our headquarters at Monterey, as I
have already related, the two men with a written application for a
preemption to the quarter-section of land at Coloma. Marshall
returned to the mill, but could not keep out of his wonderful
ditch, and by some means the other men employed there learned his
secret. They then wanted to gather the gold, and Marshall
threatened to shoot them if they attempted it; but these men had
sense enough to know that if "placer"-gold existed at Coloma, it
would also be found farther down-stream, and they gradually
"prospected" until they reached Mormon Island, fifteen miles below,
where they discovered one of the richest placers on earth. These
men revealed the fact to some other Mormons who were employed by
Captain Sutter at a grist-mill he was building still lower down the
American Fork, and six miles above his fort. All of them struck
for higher wages, to which Sutter yielded, until they asked ten
dollars a day, which he refused, and the two mills on which he had
spent so much money were never built, and fell into decay.

In my opinion, when the Mormons were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois,
in 1844, they cast about for a land where they would not be
disturbed again, and fixed on California. In the year 1845 a ship,
the Brooklyn, sailed from New York for California, with a colony of
Mormons, of which Sam Brannan was the leader, and we found them
there on our arrival in Jannary, 1847. When General Kearney, at
Fort Leavenworth, was collecting volunteers early in 1846, for the
Mexican War, he, through the instrumentality of Captain James
Allen, brother to our quartermaster, General Robert Allen, raised
the battalion of Mormons at Kanesville, Iowa, now Council Bluffs,
on the express understanding that it would facilitate their
migration to California. But when the Mormons reached Salt Lake,
in 1846, they learned that they had been forestalled by the United
States forces in California, and they then determined to settle
down where they were. Therefore, when this battalion of five
companies of Mormons (raised by Allen, who died on the way, and was
succeeded by Cooke) was discharged at Los Angeles, California, in
the early summer of 1847, most of the men went to their people at
Salt Lake, with all the money received, as pay from the United
States, invested in cattle and breeding-horses; one company
reenlisted for another year, and the remainder sought work in the
country. As soon as the fame of the gold discovery spread through
California, the Mormons naturally turned to Mormon Island, so that
in July, 1848, we found about three hundred of them there at work.
Sam Brannan was on hand as the high-priest, collecting the tithes.
Clark, of Clark's Point, an early pioneer, was there also, and
nearly all the Mormons who had come out in the Brooklyn, or who had
staid in California after the discharge of their battalion, had
collected there. I recall the scene as perfectly to-day as though
it were yesterday. In the midst of a broken country, all parched
and dried by the hot sun of July, sparsely wooded with live-oaks
and straggling pines, lay the valley of the American River, with
its bold mountain-stream coming out of the Snowy Mountains to the
east. In this valley is a fiat, or gravel-bed, which in high water
is an island, or is overflown, but at the time of our visit was
simply a level gravel-bed of the river. On its edges men were
digging, and filling buckets with the finer earth and gravel, which
was carried to a machine made like a baby's cradle, open at the
foot, and at the head a plate of sheet-iron or zinc, punctured full
of holes. On this metallic plate was emptied the earth, and water
was then poured on it from buckets, while one man shook the cradle
with violent rocking by a handle. On the bottom were nailed cleats
of wood. With this rude machine four men could earn from forty to
one hundred dollars a day, averaging sixteen dollars, or a gold
ounce, per man per day. While the' sun blazed down on the heads of
the miners with tropical heat, the water was bitter cold, and all
hands were either standing in the water or had their clothes wet
all the time; yet there were no complaints of rheumatism or cold.
We made our camp on a small knoll, a little below the island, and
from it could overlook the busy scene. A few bush-huts near by
served as stores, boardinghouses, and for sleeping; but all hands
slept on the ground, with pine-leaves and blankets for bedding. As
soon as the news spread that the Governor was there, persons came
to see us, and volunteered all kinds of information, illustrating
it by samples of the gold, which was of a uniform kind, "scale-
gold," bright and beautiful. A large variety, of every conceivable
shape and form, was found in the smaller gulches round about, but
the gold in the river-bed was uniformly "scale-gold." I remember
that Mr. Clark was in camp, talking to Colonel Mason about matters
and things generally, when he inquired, "Governor, what business
has Sam Brannan to collect the tithes here?" Clark admitted that
Brannan was the head of the Mormon church in California, and he was
simply questioning as to Brannan's right, as high-priest, to compel
the Mormons to pay him the regular tithes. Colonel Mason answered,
"Brannan has a perfect right to collect the tax, if you Mormons are
fools enough to pay it." "Then," said Clark, "I for one won't pay
it any longer." Colonel Mason added: "This is public land, and the
gold is the property of the United States; all of you here are
trespassers, but, as the Government is benefited by your getting
out the gold, I do not intend to interfere." I understood,
afterward, that from that time the payment of the tithes ceased,
but Brannan had already collected enough money wherewith to hire
Sutter's hospital, and to open a store there, in which he made more
money than any merchant in California, during that summer and fall.
The understanding was, that the money collected by him as tithes
was the foundation of his fortune, which is still very large in San
Francisco. That evening we all mingled freely with the miners, and
witnessed the process of cleaning up and "panning" out, which is
the last process for separating the pure gold from the fine dirt
and black sand.

The next day we continued our journey up the valley of the American
Fork, stopping at various camps, where mining was in progress; and
about noon we reached Coloma, the place where gold had been first
discovered. The hills were higher, and the timber of better
quality. The river was narrower and bolder, and but few miners
were at work there, by reason of Marshall's and Sutter's claim to
the site. There stood the sawmill unfinished, the dam and
tail-race just as they were left when the Mormons ceased work.
Marshall and Wimmer's family of wife and half a dozen children were
there, guarding their supposed treasure; living in a house made of
clapboards. Here also we were shown many specimens of gold, of a
coarser grain than that found at Mormon Island. The next day we
crossed the American River to its north side, and visited many
small camps of men, in what were called the "dry diggings." Little
pools of water stood in the beds of the streams, and these were
used to wash the dirt; and there the gold was in every conceivable
shape and size, some of the specimens weighing several ounces.
Some of these "diggings" were extremely rich, but as a whole they
were more precarious in results than at the river. Sometimes a
lucky fellow would hit on a "pocket," and collect several thousand
dollars in a few days, and then again he would be shifting about
from place to place, "prospecting," and spending all he had made.
Little stores were being opened at every point, where flour, bacon,
etc., were sold; every thing being a dollar a pound, and a meal
usually costing three dollars. Nobody paid for a bed, for he slept
on the ground, without fear of cold or rain. We spent nearly a
week in that region, and were quite bewildered by the fabulous
tales of recent discoveries, which at the time were confined to the
several forks of the American and Yuba Rivers.' All this time our
horses had nothing to eat but the sparse grass in that region, and
we were forced to work our way down toward the Sacramento Valley,
or to see our animals perish. Still we contemplated a visit to the
Yuba and Feather Rivers, from which we had heard of more wonderful
"diggings;" but met a courier, who announced the arrival of a ship
at Monterey, with dispatches of great importance from Mazatlan. We
accordingly turned our horses back to Sutter's Fort. Crossing the
Sacramento again by swimming our horses, and ferrying their loads
in that solitary canoe, we took our back track as far as the Napa,
and then turned to Benicia, on Carquinez Straits. We found there a
solitary adobe-house, occupied by Mr. Hastings and his family,
embracing Dr. Semple, the proprietor of the ferry. This ferry was
a ship's-boat, with a latteen-sail, which could carry across at one
time six or eight horses.

It took us several days to cross over, and during that time we got
well acquainted with the doctor, who was quite a character. He had
come to California from Illinois, and was brother to Senator
Semple. He was about seven feet high, and very intelligent. When
we first reached Monterey, he had a printing-press, which belonged
to the United States, having been captured at the custom-house, and
had been used to print custom-house blanks. With this Dr. Semple,
as editor, published the Californian, a small sheet of news, once a
week; and it was a curiosity in its line, using two v's for a w,
and other combinations of letters, made necessary by want of type.
After some time he removed to Yerba Buena with his paper, and it
grew up to be the Alta California of today. Foreseeing, as he
thought, the growth of a great city somewhere on the Bay of San
Francisco, he selected Carquinez Straits as its location, and
obtained from General Vallejo a title to a league of land, on
condition of building up a city thereon to bear the name of
Vallejo's wife. This was Francisca Benicia; accordingly, the new
city was named "Francisca." At this time, the town near the mouth
of the bay was known universally as Yerba Buena; but that name was
not known abroad, although San Francisco was familiar to the whole
civilized world. Now, some of the chief men of Yerba Buena,
Folsom, Howard, Leidesdorf, and others, knowing the importance of a
name, saw their danger, and, by some action of the ayuntamiento, or
town council, changed the name of Yerba Buena to "San Francisco."
Dr. Semple was outraged at their changing the name to one so like
his of Francisca, and he in turn changed his town to the other name
of Mrs. Vallejo, viz., "Benicia;" and Benicia it has remained to
this day. I am convinced that this little circumstance was big
with consequences. That Benicia has the best natural site for a
commercial city, I am, satisfied; and had half the money and half
the labor since bestowed upon San Francisco been expended at
Benicia, we should have at this day a city of palaces on the
Carquinez Straits. The name of "San Francisco," however, fixed the
city where it now is; for every ship in 1848-'49, which cleared
from any part of the world, knew the name of San Francisco, but not
Yerba Buena or Benicia; and, accordingly, ships consigned to
California came pouring in with their contents, and were anchored
in front of Yerba Buena, the first town. Captains and crews
deserted for the gold-mines, and now half the city in front of
Montgomery Street is built over the hulks thus abandoned. But Dr.
Semple, at that time, was all there was of Benicia; he was captain
and crew of his ferry boat, and managed to pass our party to the
south side of Carquinez Straits in about two days.

Thence we proceeded up Amador Valley to Alameda Creek, and so on to
the old mission of San Jose; thence to the pueblo of San Jose,
where Folsom and those belonging in Yerba Buena went in that
direction, and we continued on to Monterey, our party all the way
giving official sanction to the news from the gold-mines, and
adding new force to the "fever."

On reaching Monterey, we found dispatches from Commodore Shubrick,
at Mazatlan, which gave almost positive assurance that the war with
Mexico was over; that hostilities had ceased, and commissioners
were arranging the terms of peace at Guadalupe Hidalgo. It was
well that this news reached California at that critical time; for
so contagious had become the "gold-fever "that everybody was bound
to go and try his fortune, and the volunteer regiment of
Stevenson's would have deserted en masse, had the men not been
assured that they would very soon be entitled to an honorable
discharge.

Many of our regulars did desert, among them the very men who had
escorted us faithfully to the mines and back. Our servants also
left us, and nothing less than three hundred dollars a month would
hire a man in California; Colonel Mason's black boy, Aaron, alone
of all our then servants proving faithful. We were forced to
resort to all manner of shifts to live. First, we had a mess with
a black fellow we called Bustamente as cook; but he got the fever,
and had to go. We next took a soldier, but he deserted, and
carried off my double-barreled shot-gun, which I prized very
highly. To meet this condition of facts, Colonel Mason ordered
that liberal furloughs should be given to the soldiers, and
promises to all in turn, and he allowed all the officers to draw
their rations in kind. As the actual value of the ration was very
large, this enabled us to live. Halleck, Murray, Ord, and I,
boarded with Dona Augustias, and turned in our rations as pay for
our board.

Some time in September, 1848, the official news of the treaty of
peace reached us, and the Mexican War was over. This treaty was
signed in May, and came to us all the way by land by a courier from
Lower California, sent from La Paz by Lieutenant-Colonel Burton.
On its receipt, orders were at once made for the muster-out of all
of Stevenson's regiment, and our military forces were thus reduced
to the single company of dragoons at Los Angeles, and the one
company of artillery at Monterey. Nearly all business had ceased,
except that connected with gold; and, during that fall, Colonel
Mason, Captain Warner, and I, made another trip up to Sutter's
Fort, going also to the newly-discovered mines on the Stanislaus,
called "Sonora," named from the miners of Sonora, Mexico, who had
first discovered them. We found there pretty much the same state
of facts as before existed at Mormon Island and Coloma, and we
daily received intelligence of the opening of still other mines
north and south.

But I have passed over a very interesting fact. As soon as we had
returned from our first visit to the gold-mines, it became
important to send home positive knowledge of this valuable
discovery. The means of communication with the United States were
very precarious, and I suggested to Colonel Mason that a special
courier ought to be sent; that Second-Lieutenant Loeser had been
promoted to first-lieutenant, and was entitled to go home. He was
accordingly detailed to carry the news. I prepared with great care
the letter to the adjutant-general of August 17, 1848, which
Colonel Mason modified in a few Particulars; and, as it was
important to send not only the specimens which had been presented
to us along our route of travel, I advised the colonel to allow
Captain Folsom to purchase and send to Washington a large sample of
the commercial gold in general use, and to pay for the same out of
the money in his hands known as the "civil fund," arising from
duties collected at the several ports in California. He consented
to this, and Captain Folsom bought an oyster-can full at ten
dollars the ounce, which was the rate of value at which it was then
received at the custom house. Folsom was instructed further to
contract with some vessel to carry the messenger to South America,
where he could take the English steamers as far east as Jamaica,
with a conditional charter giving increased payment if the vessel
could catch the October steamer. Folsom chartered the bark La
Lambayecana, owned and navigated by Henry D. Cooke, who has since
been the Governor of the District of Columbia. In due time this
vessel reached Monterey, and Lieutenant Loeser, with his report and
specimens of gold, embarked and sailed. He reached the South
American Continent at Payta, Peru, in time; took the English
steamer of October to Panama, and thence went on to Kingston,
Jamaica, where he found a sailing vessel bound for New Orleans. On
reaching New Orleans, he telegraphed to the War Department his
arrival; but so many delays had occurred that he did not reach
Washington in time to have the matter embraced in the President's
regular message of 1848, as we had calculated. Still, the
President made it the subject of a special message, and thus became
"official" what had before only reached the world in a very
indefinite shape. Then began that wonderful development, and the
great emigration to California, by land and by sea, of 1849 and
1850.

As before narrated, Mason, Warner, and I, made a second visit to
the mines in September and October, 1848. As the winter season
approached, Colonel Mason returned to Monterey, and I remained for
a time at Sutter's Fort. In order to share somewhat in the riches
of the land, we formed a partnership in a store at Coloma, in
charge of Norman S. Bestor, who had been Warner's clerk. We
supplied the necessary money, fifteen hundred dollars (five hundred
dollars each), and Bestor carried on the store at Coloma for his
share. Out of this investment, each of us realized a profit of
about fifteen hundred dollars. Warner also got a regular leave of
absence, and contracted with Captain Sutter for surveying and
locating the town of Sacramento. He received for this sixteen
dollars per day for his services as surveyor; and Sutter paid all
the hands engaged in the work. The town was laid off mostly up
about the fort, but a few streets were staked off along the river
bank, and one or two leading to it. Captain Sutter always
contended, however, that no town could possibly exist on the
immediate bank of the river, because the spring freshets rose over
the bank, and frequently it was necessary to swim a horse to reach
the boat-landing. Nevertheless, from the very beginning the town
began to be built on the very river-bank, viz., First, Second, and
Third Streets, with J and K Streets leading back. Among the
principal merchants and traders of that winter, at Sacramento, were
Sam Brannan and Hensley, Reading & Co. For several years the site
was annually flooded; but the people have persevered in building
the levees, and afterward in raising all the streets, so that
Sacramento is now a fine city, the capital of the State, and stands
where, in 1848, was nothing but a dense mass of bushes, vines, and
submerged land. The old fort has disappeared altogether.

During the fall of 1848, Warner, Ord, and I, camped on the bank of
the American River, abreast of the fort, at what was known as the
"Old Tan-Yard." I was cook, Ord cleaned up the dishes, and Warner
looked after the horses; but Ord was deposed as scullion because he
would only wipe the tin plates with a tuft of grass, according to
the custom of the country, whereas Warner insisted on having them
washed after each meal with hot water. Warner was in consequence
promoted to scullion, and Ord became the hostler. We drew our
rations in kind from the commissary at San Francisco, who sent them
up to us by a boat; and we were thus enabled to dispense a generous
hospitality to many a poor devil who otherwise would have had
nothing to eat.

The winter of 1848 '49 was a period of intense activity throughout
California. The rainy season was unfavorable to the operations of
gold-mining, and was very hard upon the thousands of houseless men
and women who dwelt in the mountains, and even in the towns. Most
of the natives and old inhabitants had returned to their ranches
and houses; yet there were not roofs enough in the country to
shelter the thousands who had arrived by sea and by land. The news
had gone forth to the whole civilized world that gold in fabulous
quantities was to be had for the mere digging, and adventurers came
pouring in blindly to seek their fortunes, without a thought of
house or food. Yerba Buena had been converted into San Francisco.
Sacramento City had been laid out, lots were being rapidly sold,
and the town was being built up as an entrepot to the mines.
Stockton also had been chosen as a convenient point for trading
with the lower or southern mines. Captain Sutter was the sole
proprietor of the former, and Captain Charles Weber was the owner
of the site of Stockton, which was as yet known as "French Camp."

CHAPTER III.

EARLY RECOLLECTIONS OF CALIFORNIA--(CONTINUED).

1849-1850.

The department headquarters still remained at Monterey, but, with
the few soldiers, we had next to nothing to do. In midwinter we
heard of the approach of a battalion of the Second Dragoons, under
Major Lawrence Pike Graham, with Captains Rucker, Coutts, Campbell,
and others, along. So exhausted were they by their long march from
Upper Mexico that we had to send relief to meet them as they
approached. When this command reached Los Angeles, it was left
there as the garrison, and Captain A. J. Smith's company of the
First Dragoons was brought up to San Francisco. We were also
advised that the Second Infantry, Colonel B. Riley, would be sent
out around Cape Horn in sailing-ships; that the Mounted Rifles,
under Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, would march overland to Oregon;
and that Brigadier-General Persifer F. Smith would come out in
chief command on the Pacific coast. It was also known that a
contract had been entered into with parties in New York and New
Orleans for a monthly line of steamers from those cities to
California, via Panama. Lieutenant-Colonel Burton had come up from
Lower California, and, as captain of the Third Artillery, he was
assigned to command Company F, Third Artillery, at Monterey.
Captain Warner remained at Sacramento, surveying; and Halleck,
Murray, Ord, and I, boarded with Dona Augustias. The season was
unusually rainy and severe, but we passed the time with the usual
round of dances and parties. The time fixed for the arrival of the
mail-steamer was understood to be about January 1, 1849, but the
day came and went without any tidings of her. Orders were given to
Captain Burton to announce her arrival by firing a national
salute, and each morning we listened for the guns from the fort.
The month of January passed, and the greater part of February, too.
As was usual, the army officers celebrated the 22d of February with
a grand ball, given in the new stone school-house, which Alcalde
Walter Colton had built. It was the largest and best hall then in
California. The ball was really a handsome affair, and we kept it
up nearly all night. The next morning we were at breakfast:
present, Dona Augustias, and Manuelita, Halleck, Murray, and
myself. We were dull and stupid enough until a gun from the fort
aroused us, then another and another. "The steamer" exclaimed all,
and, without waiting for hats or any thing, off we dashed. I
reached the wharf hatless, but the dona sent my cap after me by a
servant. The white puffs of smoke hung around the fort, mingled
with the dense fog, which hid all the water of the bay, and well
out to sea could be seen the black spars of some unknown vessel.
At the wharf I found a group of soldiers and a small row-boat,
which belonged to a brig at anchor in the bay. Hastily ordering a
couple of willing soldiers to get in and take the oars, and Mr.
Larkin and Mr. Hartnell asking to go along, we jumped in and pushed
off. Steering our boat toward the spars, which loomed up above the
fog clear and distinct, in about a mile we came to the black hull
of the strange monster, the long-expected and most welcome steamer
California. Her wheels were barely moving, for her pilot could not
see the shore-line distinctly, though the hills and Point of Pines
could be clearly made out over the fog, and occasionally a glimpse
of some white walls showed where the town lay. A "Jacob's ladder"
was lowered for us from the steamer, and in a minute I scrambled up
on deck, followed by Larkin and Hartnell, and we found ourselves in
the midst of many old friends. There was Canby, the adjutant-
general, who was to take my place; Charley Hoyt, my cousin; General
Persifer F. Smith and wife; Gibbs, his aide-de-camp; Major Ogden,
of the Engineers, and wife; and, indeed, many old Californians,
among them Alfred Robinson, and Frank Ward with his pretty bride.
By the time the ship was fairly at anchor we had answered a million
of questions about gold and the state of the country; and, learning
that the ship was out of fuel, had informed the captain (Marshall)
that there was abundance of pine-wood, but no willing hands to cut
it; that no man could be hired at less than an ounce of gold a day,
unless the soldiers would volunteer to do it for some agreed-upon
price. As for coal, there was not a pound in Monterey, or anywhere
else in California. Vessels with coal were known to be en route
around Cape Horn, but none had yet reached California.

The arrival of this steamer was the beginning of a new epoch on the
Pacific coast; yet there she lay, helpless, without coal or fuel.
The native Californians, who had never seen a steamship, stood for
days on the beach looking at her, with the universal exclamation,
"Tan feo!"--how ugly!--and she was truly ugly when compared with
the clean, well-sparred frigates and sloops-of-war that had
hitherto been seen on the North Pacific coast. It was first
supposed it would take ten days to get wood enough to prosecute her
voyage, and therefore all the passengers who could took up their
quarters on shore. Major Canby relieved me, and took the place I
had held so long as adjutant-general of the Department of
California. The time seemed most opportune for me to leave the
service, as I had several splendid offers of employment and of
partnership, and, accordingly, I made my written resignation; but
General Smith put his veto upon it, saying that he was to command
the Division of the Pacific, while General Riley was to have the
Department of California, and Colonel Loring that of Oregon. He
wanted me as his adjutant-general, because of my familiarity with
the country, and knowledge of its then condition: At the time, he
had on his staff Gibbs as aide-de-camp, and Fitzgerald as
quartermaster. He also had along with him quite a retinue of
servants, hired with a clear contract to serve him for a whole year
after reaching California, every one of whom deserted, except a
young black fellow named Isaac. Mrs. Smith, a pleasant but
delicate Louisiana lady, had a white maid-servant, in whose
fidelity she had unbounded confidence; but this girl was married to
a perfect stranger, and off before she had even landed in San
Francisco. It was, therefore, finally arranged that, on the
California, I was to accompany General Smith to San Francisco as
his adjutant-general. I accordingly sold some of my horses, and
arranged for others to go up by land; and from that time I became
fairly enlisted in the military family of General Persifer F.
Smith.

I parted with my old commander, Colonel Mason, with sincere regret.
To me he had ever been kind and considerate, and, while stern,
honest to a fault, he was the very embodiment of the principle of
fidelity to the interests of the General Government. He possessed
a native strong intellect, and far more knowledge of the principles
of civil government and law than he got credit for. In private and
public expenditures he was extremely economical, but not penurious.
In cases where the officers had to contribute money for parties and
entertainments, he always gave a double share, because of his
allowance of double rations. During our frequent journeys, I was
always caterer, and paid all the bills. In settling with him he
required a written statement of the items of account, but never
disputed one of them. During our time, California was, as now,
full of a bold, enterprising, and speculative set of men, who were
engaged in every sort of game to make money. I know that Colonel-
Mason was beset by them to use his position to make a fortune for
himself and his friends; but he never bought land or town-lots,
because, he said, it was his place to hold the public estate for
the Government as free and unencumbered by claims as possible; and
when I wanted him to stop the public-land sales in San Francisco,
San Jose, etc., he would not; for, although he did not believe the
titles given by the alcaldes worth a cent, yet they aided to settle
the towns and public lands, and he thought, on the whole, the
Government would be benefited thereby. The same thing occurred as
to the gold-mines. He never took a title to a town lot, unless it
was one, of no real value, from Alcalde Colton, in Monterey, of
which I have never heard since. He did take a share in the store
which Warner, Beator, and I, opened at Coloma, paid his share of
the capital, five hundred dollars, and received his share of the
profits, fifteen hundred dollars. I think also he took a share in
a venture to China with Larkin and others; but, on leaving
California, he was glad to sell out without profit or loss. In the
stern discharge of his duty he made some bitter enemies, among them
Henry M. Naglee, who, in the newspapers of the day, endeavored to
damage his fair name. But, knowing him intimately, I am certain
that he is entitled to all praise for having so controlled the
affairs of the country that, when his successor arrived, all things
were so disposed that a civil form of government was an easy matter
of adjustment. Colonel Mason was relieved by General Riley some
time in April, and left California in the steamer of the 1st May
for Washington and St. Louis, where he died of cholera in the
summer of 1850, and his body is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.
His widow afterward married Major (since General) Don Carlos Buell,
and is now living in Kentucky.

In overhauling the hold of the steamer California, as she lay at
anchor in Monterey Bay, a considerable amount of coal was found
under some heavy duplicate machinery. With this, and such wood as
had been gathered, she was able to renew her voyage. The usual
signal was made, and we all went on board. About the 1st of March
we entered the Heads, and anchored off San Francisco, near the
United States line-of-battle-ship Ohio, Commodore T. Catesby Jones.
As was the universal custom of the day, the crew of the California
deserted her; and she lay for months unable to make a trip back to
Panama, as was expected of her. As soon as we reached San
Francisco, the first thing was to secure an office and a house to
live in. The weather was rainy and stormy, and snow even lay on
the hills back of the Mission. Captain Folsom, the quartermaster,
agreed to surrender for our office the old adobe custom house, on
the upper corner of the plaza, as soon as he could remove his
papers and effects down to one of his warehouses on the beach; and
he also rented for us as quarters the old Hudson Bay Company house
on Montgomery Street, which had been used by Howard & Mellua as a
store, and at that very time they were moving their goods into a
larger brick building just completed for them. As these changes
would take some time, General Smith and Colonel Ogden, with their
wives, accepted the hospitality offered by Commodore Jones on board
the Ohio. I opened the office at the custom house, and Gibbs,
Fitzgerald, and some others of us, slept in the loft of the Hudson
Bay Company house until the lower part was cleared of Howard's
store, after which General Smith and the ladies moved in. There we
had a general mess, and the efforts at house-keeping were simply
ludicrous. One servant after another, whom General Smith had
brought from New Orleans, with a solemn promise to stand by him for
one whole year, deserted without a word of notice or explanation,
and in a few days none remained but little Isaac. The ladies had
no maid or attendants; and the general, commanding all the mighty
forces of the United States on the Pacific coast, had to scratch to
get one good meal a day for his family! He was a gentleman of fine
social qualities, genial and gentle, and joked at every thing.
Poor Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Ogden did not bear it so philosophically.
Gibbs, Fitzgerald, and I, could cruise around and find a meal,
which cost three dollars, at some of the many restaurants which had
sprung up out of red-wood boards and cotton lining; but the general
and ladies could not go out, for ladies were 'rara aves' at that day
in California. Isaac was cook, chamber-maid, and everything,
thoughtless of himself, and struggling, out of the slimmest means,
to compound a breakfast for a large and hungry family. Breakfast
would be announced any time between ten and twelve, and dinner
according to circumstances. Many a time have I seen General Smith,
with a can of preserved meat in his hands, going toward the house,
take off his hat on meeting a negro, and, on being asked the reason
of his politeness, he would answer that they were the only real
gentlemen in California. I confess that the fidelity of Colonel
Mason's boy "Aaron," and of General Smith's boy "Isaac," at a time
when every white man laughed at promises as something made to be
broken, has given me a kindly feeling of respect for the negroes,
and makes me hope that they will find an honorable "status" in the
jumble of affairs in which we now live.

That was a dull hard winter in San Francisco; the rains were heavy,
and the mud fearful. I have seen mules stumble in the street, and
drown in the liquid mud! Montgomery Street had been filled up with
brush and clay, and I always dreaded to ride on horseback along it,
because the mud was so deep that a horse's legs would become
entangled in the bushes below, and the rider was likely to be
thrown and drowned in the mud. The only sidewalks were made of
stepping-stones of empty boxes, and here and there a few planks
with barrel-staves nailed on. All the town lay along Montgomery
Street, from Sacramento to Jackson, and about the plaza. Gambling
was the chief occupation of the people. While they were waiting
for the cessation of the rainy season, and for the beginning of
spring, all sorts of houses were being put up, but of the most
flimsy kind, and all were stores, restaurants, or gambling
-saloons. Any room twenty by sixty feet would rent for a thousand
dollars a month. I had, as my pay, seventy dollars a month, and no
one would even try to hire a servant under three hundred dollars.
Had it not been for the fifteen hundred dollars I had made in the
store at Coloma, I could not have lived through the winter. About
the 1st of April arrived the steamer Oregon; but her captain
(Pearson) knew what was the state of affairs on shore, and ran his
steamer alongside the line-of-battle-ship Ohio at Saucelito, and
obtained the privilege of leaving his crew on board as "prisoners"
until he was ready to return to sea. Then, discharging his
passengers and getting coal out of some of the ships which had
arrived, he retook his crew out of limbo and carried the first
regular mail back to Panama early in April. In regular order
arrived the third steamer, the Panama; and, as the vessels were
arriving with coal, The California was enabled to hire a crew and
get off. From that time forward these three ships constituted the
regular line of mail-steamers, which has been kept up ever since.
By the steamer Oregon arrived out Major R. P. Hammond, J. M.
Williams, James Blair, and others; also the gentlemen who, with
Major Ogden, were to compose a joint commission to select the sites
for the permanent forts and navyyard of California. This
commission was composed of Majors Ogden, Smith, and Leadbetter, of,
the army, and Captains Goldsborough, Van Brunt, and Blunt, of the
navy. These officers, after a most careful study of the whole
subject, selected Mare Island for the navy-yard, and "Benicia" for
the storehouses and arsenals of the army. The Pacific Mail
Steamship Company also selected Benicia as their depot. Thus was
again revived the old struggle for supremacy of these two points
as the site of the future city of the Pacific. Meantime, however,
San Francisco had secured the name. About six hundred ships were
anchored there without crews, and could not get away; and there the
city was, and had to be.

Nevertheless, General Smith, being disinterested and unprejudiced,
decided on Benicia as the point where the city ought to be, and
where the army headquarters should be. By the Oregon there arrived
at San Francisco a man who deserves mention here--Baron
Steinberger. He had been a great cattle-dealer in the United
States, and boasted that he had helped to break the United States
Bank, by being indebted to it five million dollars! At all events,
he was a splendid looking fellow, and brought with him from
Washington a letter to General Smith and another for Commodore
Jones, to the effect that he was a man of enlarged experience in
beef; that the authorities in Washington knew that there existed in
California large herds of cattle, which were only valuable for
their hides and tallow; that it was of great importance to the
Government that this beef should be cured and salted so as to be of
use to the army and navy, obviating the necessity of shipping salt-
beef around Cape Horn. I know he had such a letter from the
Secretary of War, Marcy, to General Smith, for it passed into my
custody, and I happened to be in Commodore Jones's cabin when the
baron presented the one for him from the Secretary of the Navy.
The baron was anxious to pitch in at once, and said that all he
needed to start with were salt and barrels. After some inquiries
of his purser, the commodore promised to let him have the barrels
with their salt, as fast as they were emptied by the crew. Then
the baron explained that he could get a nice lot of cattle from Don
Timoteo Murphy, at the Mission of San Rafael, on the north aide of
the bay, but he could not get a boat and crew to handle them.
Under the authority from the Secretary of the Navy, the commodore
then promised him the use of a boat and crew, until he (the baron)
could find and purchase a suitable one for himself. Then the baron
opened the first regular butcher-shop in San Francisco, on the
wharf about the foot of Broadway or Pacific Street, where we could
buy at twenty-five or fifty cents a pound the best roasts, steaks,
and cuts of beef, which had cost him nothing, for he never paid
anybody if he could help it, and he soon cleaned poor Don Timoteo
out. At first, every boat of his, in coming down from the San
Rafael, touched at the Ohio, and left the best beefsteaks and
roasts for the commodore, but soon the baron had enough money to
dispense with the borrowed boat, and set up for himself, and from
this small beginning, step by step, he rose in a few months to be
one of the richest and most influential men in San Francisco; but
in his wild speculations he was at last caught, and became
helplessly bankrupt. He followed General Fremont to St. Louis in
1861, where I saw him, but soon afterward he died a pauper in one
of the hospitals. When General Smith had his headquarters in San
Francisco, in the spring of 1849, Steinberger gave dinners worthy
any baron of old; and when, in after-years, I was a banker there,
he used to borrow of me small sums of money in repayment for my
share of these feasts; and somewhere among my old packages I hold
one of his confidential notes for two hundred dollars, but on the
whole I got off easily. I have no doubt that, if this man's
history could be written out, it would present phases as wonderful
as any of romance; but in my judgment he was a dangerous man,
without any true-sense of honor or honesty.

Little by little the rains of that season grew less and less, and
the hills once more became green and covered with flowers. It
became perfectly evident that no family could live in San Francisco
on such a salary as Uncle Sam allowed his most favored officials;
so General Smith and Major Ogden concluded to send their families
back to the United States, and afterward we men-folks could take to
camp and live on our rations. The Second Infantry had arrived, and
had been distributed, four companies to Monterey, and the rest
somewhat as Stevenson's regiment had been. A. J. Smith's company
of dragoons was sent up to Sonoma, whither General Smith had
resolved to move our headquarters. On the steamer which sailed
about May 1st (I think the California), we embarked, the ladies for
home and we for Monterey. At Monterey we went on shore, and
Colonel Mason, who meantime had been relieved by General Riley,
went on board, and the steamer departed for Panama. Of all that
party I alone am alive.

General Riley had, with his family, taken the house which Colonel
Mason had formerly used, and Major Canby and wife had secured rooms
at Alvarado's. Captain Bane was quartermaster, and had his family
in the house of a man named Garner, near the redoubt. Burton and
Company F were still at the fort; the four companies of the Second
Infantry were quartered in the barracks, the same building in which
we had had our headquarters; and the company officers were
quartered in hired buildings near by. General Smith and his aide,
Captain Gibbs, went to Larkin's house, and I was at my old rooms at
Dona Augustias. As we intended to go back to San Francisco by land
and afterward to travel a good deal, General Smith gave me the
necessary authority to fit out the party. There happened to be
several trains of horses and mules in town, so I purchased about a
dozen horses and mules at two hundred dollars a head, on account of
the Quartermaster's Department, and we had them kept under guard in
the quartermaster's corral.

I remember one night being in the quarters of Lieutenant Alfred
Sully, where nearly all the officers of the garrison were
assembled, listening to Sully's stories. Lieutenant Derby,
"Squibob," was one of the number, as also Fred Steele, "Neighbor"
Jones, and others, when, just after "tattoo," the orderly-sergeants
came to report the result of "tattoo" roll-call; one reported five
men absent, another eight, and so on, until it became certain that
twenty-eight men had deserted; and they were so bold and open in
their behavior that it amounted to defiance. They had deliberately
slung their knapsacks and started for the gold-mines. Dr. Murray
and I were the only ones present who were familiar with the
country, and I explained how easy they could all be taken by a
party going out at once to Salinas Plain, where the country was so
open and level that a rabbit could not cross without being seen;
that the deserters could not go to the mines without crossing that
plain, and could not reach it before daylight. All agreed that the
whole regiment would desert if these men were not brought back.
Several officers volunteered on the spot to go after them; and, as
the soldiers could not be trusted, it was useless to send any but
officers in pursuit. Some one went to report the affair to the
adjutant-general, Canby, and he to General Riley. I waited some
time, and, as the thing grew cold, I thought it was given up, and
went to my room and to bed.

About midnight I was called up and informed that there were seven
officers willing to go, but the difficulty was to get horses and
saddles. I went down to Larkin's house and got General Smith to
consent that we might take the horses I had bought for our trip.

Book of the day: