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  • 1889
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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. It was nearly three o’clock a.m. before we were all mounted and ready. I had a musket which I used for hunting. With this I led off at a canter, followed by the others. About six miles out, by the faint moon, I saw ahead of us in the sandy road some blue coats, and, fearing lest they might resist or escape into the dense bushes which lined the road, I halted and found with me Paymaster Hill, Captain N. H. Davis, and Lieutenant John Hamilton. We waited some time for the others, viz., Canby, Murray, Gibbs, and Sully, to come up, but as they were not in sight we made a dash up the road and captured six of the deserters, who were Germans, with heavy knapsacks on, trudging along the deep, sandy road. They had not expected pursuit, had not heard our horses, and were accordingly easily taken. Finding myself the senior officer present, I ordered Lieutenant Hamilton to search the men and then to march them back to Monterey, suspecting, as was the fact, that the rest of our party had taken a road that branched off a couple of miles back. Daylight broke as we reached the Saunas River, twelve miles out, and there the trail was broad and fresh leading directly out on the Saunas Plain. This plain is about five miles wide, and then the ground becomes somewhat broken. The trail continued very plain, and I rode on at a gallop to where there was an old adobe-ranch on the left of the road, with the head of a lagoon, or pond, close by. I saw one or two of the soldiers getting water at the pond, and others up near the house. I had the best horse and was considerably ahead, but on looking back could see Hill and Davis coming up behind at a gallop. I motioned to them to hurry forward, and turned my horse across the head of the pond, knowing the ground well, as it was a favorite place for shooting geese and ducks. Approaching the house, I ordered the men who were outside to go in. They did not know me personally, and exchanged glances, but I had my musket cocked, and, as the two had seen Davis and Hill coming up pretty fast, they obeyed. Dismounting, I found the house full of deserters, and there was no escape for them. They naturally supposed that I had a strong party with me, and when I ordered them to “fall in” they obeyed from habit. By the time Hill and Davis came up I had them formed in two ranks, the front rank facing about, and I was taking away their bayonets, pistols, etc. We disarmed them, destroying a musket and several pistols, and, on counting them, we found that we three had taken eighteen, which, added to the six first captured, made twenty-four. We made them sling their knapsacks and begin their homeward march. It was near night when we got back, so that these deserters had traveled nearly forty miles since “tattoo” of the night before. The other party had captured three, so that only one man had escaped. I doubt not this prevented the desertion of the bulk of the Second Infantry that spring, for at that time so demoralizing was the effect of the gold-mines that everybody not in the military service justified desertion, because a soldier, if free, could earn more money in a day than he received per month. Not only did soldiers and sailors desert, but captains and masters of ships actually abandoned their vessels and cargoes to try their luck at the mines. Preachers and professors forgot their creeds and took to trade, and even to keeping gambling-houses. I remember that one of our regular soldiers, named Reese, in deserting stole a favorite double- barreled gun of mine, and when the orderly-sergeant of the company, Carson, was going on furlough, I asked him when he came across Reese to try and get my gun back. When he returned he told me that he had found Reese and offered him a hundred dollars for my gun, but Reese sent me word that he liked the gun, and would not take a hundred dollars for it. Soldiers or sailors who could reach the mines were universally shielded by the miners, so that it was next to useless to attempt their recapture. In due season General Persifer Smith, Gibbs, and I, with some hired packers, started back for San Francisco, and soon after we transferred our headquarters to Sonoma. About this time Major Joseph Hooker arrived from the East–the regular adjutant-general of the division–relieved me, and I became thereafter one of General Smith’s regular aides-de-camp.

As there was very little to do, General Smith encouraged us to go into any business that would enable us to make money. R. P. Hammond, James Blair, and I, made a contract to survey for Colonel J. D. Stevenson his newly-projected city of “New York of the Pacific,” situated at the month of the San Joaquin River. The contract embraced, also, the making of soundings and the marking out of a channel through Suisun Bay. We hired, in San Francisco, a small metallic boat, with a sail, laid in some stores, and proceeded to the United States ship Ohio, anchored at Saucelito, where we borrowed a sailor-boy and lead-lines with which to sound the channel. We sailed up to Benicia, and, at General Smith’s request, we surveyed and marked the line dividing the city of Benicia from the government reserve. We then sounded the bay back and forth, and staked out the best channel up Suisun Bay, from which Blair made out sailing directions. We then made the preliminary surveys of the city of “New York of the Pacific,” all of which were duly plotted; and for this work we each received from Stevenson five hundred dollars and ten or fifteen lots. I sold enough lots to make up another five hundred dollars, and let the balance go; for the city of “New York of the Pacific” never came to any thing. Indeed, cities at the time were being projected by speculators all round the bay and all over the country.

While we were surveying at “New York of the Pacific,” occurred one of those little events that showed the force of the gold-fever. We had a sailor-boy with us, about seventeen years old, who cooked our meals and helped work the boat. Onshore, we had the sail spread so as to shelter us against the wind and dew. One morning I awoke about daylight, and looked out to see if our sailor-boy was at work getting breakfast; but he was not at the fire at all. Getting up, I discovered that he had converted a tule-bolsa into a sail boat, and was sailing for the gold-mines. He was astride this bolsa, with a small parcel of bread and meat done up in a piece of cloth; another piece of cloth, such as we used for making our signal- stations, he had fixed into a sail; and with a paddle he was directing his precarious craft right out into the broad bay, to follow the general direction of the schooners and boats that he knew were ascending the Sacramento River. He was about a hundred yards from the shore. I jerked up my gun, and hailed him to come back. After a moment’s hesitation, he let go his sheet and began to paddle back. This bolsa was nothing but a bundle of tule, or bullrush, bound together with grass-ropes in the shape of a cigar, about ten feet long and about two feet through the butt. With these the California Indiana cross streams of considerable size. When he came ashore, I gave him a good overhauling for attempting to desert, and put him to work getting breakfast. In due time we returned him to his ship, the Ohio. Subsequently, I made a bargain with Mr. Hartnell to survey his ranch at Cosnmnes River, Sacramento Valley. Ord and a young citizen, named Seton, were associated with me in this. I bought of Rodman M. Price a surveyor’s compass, chain, etc., and, in San Francisco, a small wagon and harness. Availing ourselves of a schooner, chartered to carry Major Miller and two companies of the Second Infantry from San Francisco to Stockton, we got up to our destination at little cost. I recall an occurrence that happened when the schooner was anchored in Carquinez Straits, opposite the soldiers’ camp on shore. We were waiting for daylight and a fair wind; the schooner lay anchored at an ebb-tide, and about daylight Ord and I had gone ashore for something. Just as we were pulling off from shore, we heard the loud shouts of the men, and saw them all running down toward the water. Our attention thus drawn, we saw something swimming in the water, and pulled toward it, thinking it a coyote; but we soon recognized a large grizzly bear, swimming directly across the channel. Not having any weapon, we hurriedly pulled for the schooner, calling out, as we neared it, “A bear! a bear!” It so happened that Major Miller was on deck, washing his face and hands. He ran rapidly to the bow of the vessel, took the musket from the hands of the sentinel, and fired at the bear, as he passed but a short distance ahead of the schooner. The bear rose, made a growl or howl, but continued his course. As we scrambled up the port-aide to get our guns, the mate, with a crew, happened to have a boat on the starboard-aide, and, armed only with a hatchet, they pulled up alongside the bear, and the mate struck him in the head with the hatchet. The bear turned, tried to get into the boat, but the mate struck his claws with repeated blows, and made him let go. After several passes with him, the mate actually killed the bear, got a rope round him, and towed him alongside the schooner, where he was hoisted on deck. The carcass weighed over six hundred pounds. It was found that Major Miller’s shot had struck the bear in the lower jaw, and thus disabled him. Had it not been for this, the bear would certainly have upset the boat and drowned all in it. As it was, however, his meat served us a good turn in our trip up to Stockton. At Stockton we disembarked our wagon, provisions, and instruments. There I bought two fine mules at three hundred dollars each, and we hitched up and started for the Coaumnes River. About twelve miles off was the Mokelumne, a wide, bold stream, with a canoe as a ferry-boat. We took our wagon to pieces, and ferried it and its contents across, and then drove our mules into the water. In crossing, one mule became entangled in the rope of the other, and for a time we thought he was a gone mule; but at last he revived and we hitched up. The mules were both pack-animals; neither had ever before seen a wagon. Young Seton also was about as green, and had never handled a mule. We put on the harness, and began to hitch them in, when one of the mules turned his head, saw the wagon, and started. We held on tight, but the beast did not stop until he had shivered the tongue-pole into a dozen fragments. The fact was, that Seton had hitched the traces before he had put on the blind-bridle. There was considerable swearing done, but that would not mend the pole. There was no place nearer than Sutter’s Fort to repair damages, so we were put to our wits’ end. We first sent back a mile or so, and bought a raw-hide. Gathering up the fragments of the pole and cutting the hide into strips, we finished it in the rudest manner. As long as the hide was green, the pole was very shaky; but gradually the sun dried the hide, tightened it, and the pole actually held for about a month. This cost us nearly a day of delay; but, when damages were repaired, we harnessed up again, and reached the crossing of the Cosumnes, where our survey was to begin. The expediente, or title-papers, of the ranch described it as containing nine or eleven leagues on the Cosumnes, south side, and between the San Joaquin River and Sierra Nevada Mountains. We began at the place where the road crosses the Cosumnes, and laid down a line four miles south, perpendicular to the general direction of the stream; then, surveying up the stream, we marked each mile so as to admit of a subdivision of one mile by four. The land was dry and very poor, with the exception of here and there some small pieces of bottom land, the great bulk of the bottom-land occurring on the north side of the stream. We continued the survey up some twenty miles into the hills above the mill of Dailor and Sheldon. It took about a month to make this survey, which, when finished, was duly plotted; and for it we received one-tenth of the land, or two subdivisions. Ord and I took the land, and we paid Seton for his labor in cash. By the sale of my share of the land, subsequently, I realized three thousand dollars. After finishing Hartnell’s survey, we crossed over to Dailor’s, and did some work for him at five hundred dollars a day for the party. Having finished our work on the Cosumnes, we proceeded to Sacramento, where Captain Sutter employed us to connect the survey of Sacramento City, made by Lieutenant Warner, and that of Sutterville, three miles below, which was then being surveyed by Lieutenant J. W. Davidson, of the First Dragoons. At Sutterville, the plateau of the Sacramento approached quite near the river, and it would have made a better site for a town than the low, submerged land where the city now stands; but it seems to be a law of growth that all natural advantages are disregarded wherever once business chooses a location. Old Sutter’s embarcadero became Sacramento City, simply because it was the first point used for unloading boats for Sutter’s Fort, just as the site for San Francisco was fixed by the use of Yerba Buena as the hide-landing for the Mission of “San Francisco de Asis.”

I invested my earnings in this survey in three lots in Sacramento City, on which I made a fair profit by a sale to one McNulty, of Mansfield, Ohio. I only had a two months’ leave of absence, during which General Smith, his staff, and a retinue of civil friends, were making a tour of the gold-mines, and hearing that he was en route back to his headquarters at Sonoma, I knocked off my work, sold my instruments, and left my wagon and mules with my cousin Charley Hoyt, who had a store in Sacramento, and was on the point of moving up to a ranch, for which he had bargained, on Bear Creek, on which was afterward established Camp “Far West.” He afterward sold the mules, wagon, etc., for me, and on the whole I think I cleared, by those two months’ work, about six thousand dollars. I then returned to headquarters at Sonoma, in time to attend my fellow aide-de-camp Gibbs through a long and dangerous sickness, during which he was on board a store-ship, guarded by Captain George Johnson, who now resides in San Francisco. General Smith had agreed that on the first good opportunity he would send me to the United States as a bearer of dispatches, but this he could not do until he had made the examination of Oregon, which was also in his command. During the summer of 1849 there continued to pour into California a perfect stream of people. Steamers came, and a line was established from San Francisco to Sacramento, of which the Senator was the pioneer, charging sixteen dollars a passage, and actually coining money. Other boats were built, out of materials which had either come around Cape Horn or were brought from the Sandwich Islands. Wharves were built, houses were. springing up as if by magic, and the Bay of San Francisco presented as busy a scene of life as any part of the world. Major Allen, of the Quartermaster’s Department, who had come out as chief-quartermaster of the division, was building a large warehouse at Benicia, with a row of quarters, out of lumber at one hundred dollars per thousand feet, and the work was done by men at sixteen dollars a day. I have seen a detailed soldier, who got only his monthly pay of eight dollars a month, and twenty cents a day for extra duty, nailing on weather-boards and shingles, alongside a citizen who was paid sixteen dollars a day. This was a real injustice, made the soldiers discontented, and it was hardly to be wondered at that so many deserted.

While the mass of people were busy at gold and in mammoth speculations, a set of busy politicians were at work to secure the prizes of civil government. Gwin and Fremont were there, and T. Butler King, of Georgia, had come out from the East, scheming for office. He staid with us at Sonoma, and was generally regarded as the Government candidate for United States Senator. General Riley as Governor, and Captain Halleck as Secretary of State, had issued a proclamation for the election of a convention to frame a State constitution. In due time the elections were held, and the convention was assembled at Monterey. Dr. Semple was elected president; and Gwin, Sutter, Halleck, Butler King, Sherwood, Gilbert, Shannon, and others, were members. General Smith took no part in this convention, but sent me down to watch the proceedings, and report to him. The only subject of interest was the slavery question. There were no slaves then in California, save a few who had come out as servants, but the Southern people at that time claimed their share of territory, out of that acquired by the common labors of all sections of the Union in the war with Mexico. Still, in California there was little feeling on the subject. I never heard General Smith, who was a Louisianian, express any opinion about it. Nor did Butler King, of Georgia, ever manifest any particular interest in the matter. A committee was named to draft a constitution, which in due time was reported, with the usual clause, then known as the Wilmot Proviso, excluding slavery; and during the debate which ensued very little opposition was made to this clause, which was finally adopted by a large majority, although the convention was made up in large part of men from our Southern States. This matter of California being a free State, afterward, in the national Congress, gave rise to angry debates, which at one time threatened civil war. The result of the convention was the election of State officers, and of the Legislature which sat in San Jose in October and November, 1849, and which elected Fremont and Gwin as the first United States Senators in Congress from the Pacific coast.

Shortly after returning from Monterey, I was sent by General Smith up to Sacramento City to instruct Lieutenants Warner and Williamson, of the Engineers, to push their surveys of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, for the purpose of ascertaining the possibility of passing that range by a railroad, a subject that then elicited universal interest. It was generally assumed that such a road could not be made along any of the immigrant roads then in use, and Warner’s orders were to look farther north up the Feather River, or some one of its tributaries. Warner was engaged in this survey during the summer and fall of 1849, and had explored, to the very end of Goose Lake, the source of Feather River. Then, leaving Williamson with the baggage and part of the men, he took about ten men and a first-rate guide, crossed the summit to the east, and had turned south, having the range of mountains on his right hand, with the intention of regaining his camp by another pass in the mountain. The party was strung out, single file, with wide spaces between, Warner ahead. He had just crossed a small valley and ascended one of the spurs covered with sage-brush and rocks, when a band of Indians rose up and poured in a shower of arrows. The mule turned and ran back to the valley, where Warner fell off dead, punctured by five arrows. The mule also died. The guide, who was near to Warner, was mortally wounded; and one or two men had arrows in their bodies, but recovered. The party gathered about Warner’s body, in sight of the Indians, who whooped and yelled, but did not venture away from their cover of rocks. This party of men remained there all day without burying the bodies, and at night, by a wide circuit, passed the mountain, and reached Williamson’s camp. The news of Warner’s death cast a gloom over all the old Californians, who knew him well. He was a careful, prudent, and honest officer, well qualified for his business, and extremely accurate in all his work. He and I had been intimately associated during our four years together in California, and I felt his loss deeply. The season was then too far advanced to attempt to avenge his death, and it was not until the next spring that a party was sent out to gather up and bury his scattered bones.

As winter approached, the immigrants overland came pouring into California, dusty and worn with their two thousand miles of weary travel across the plains and mountains. Those who arrived in October and November reported thousands still behind them, with oxen perishing, and short of food. Appeals were made for help, and General Smith resolved to attempt relief. Major Rucker, who had come across with Pike. Graham’s Battalion of Dragoons, had exchanged with Major Fitzgerald, of the Quartermaster’s Department, and was detailed to conduct this relief. General Smith ordered him to be supplied with one hundred thousand dollars out of the civil fund, subject to his control, and with this to purchase at Sacramento flour, bacon, etc., and to hire men and mules to send out and meet the immigrants. Major Rucker fulfilled this duty perfectly, sending out pack-trains loaded with food by the many routes by which the immigrants were known to be approaching, went out himself with one of these trains, and remained in the mountains until the last immigrant had got in. No doubt this expedition saved many a life which has since been most useful to the country. I remained at Sacramento a good part of the fall of 1849, recognizing among the immigrants many of my old personal friends– John C. Fall, William King, Sam Stambaugh, Hugh Ewing, Hampton Denman, etc. I got Rucker to give these last two employment along with the train for the relief of the immigrants. They had proposed to begin a ranch on my land on the Cosumnes, but afterward changed their minds, and went out with Rucker.

While I was at Sacramento General Smith had gone on his contemplated trip to Oregon, and promised that he would be back in December, when he would send me home with dispatches. Accordingly, as the winter and rainy season was at hand, I went to San Francisco, and spent some time at the Presidio, waiting patiently for General Smith’s return. About Christmas a vessel arrived from Oregon with the dispatches, and an order for me to deliver them in person to General Winfield Scott, in New York City. General Smith had sent them down, remaining in Oregon for a time. Of course I was all ready, and others of our set were going home by the same conveyance, viz., Rucker, Ord, A. J. Smith–some under orders, and the others on leave. Wanting to see my old friends in Monterey, I arranged for my passage in the steamer of January 1, 1850, paying six hundred dollars for passage to New York, and went down to Monterey by land, Rucker accompanying me. The weather was unusually rainy, and all the plain about Santa Clara was under water; but we reached Monterey in time. I again was welcomed by my friends, Dona Augustias, Manuelita, and the family, and it was resolved that I should take two of the boys home with me and put them at Georgetown College for education, viz., Antonio and Porfirio, thirteen and eleven years old. The dona gave me a bag of gold-dust to pay for their passage and to deposit at the college. On the 2d day of January punctually appeared the steamer Oregon.

We were all soon on board and off for home. At that time the steamers touched at San Diego, Acapulco, and Panama. Our passage down the coast was unusually pleasant. Arrived at Panama, we hired mules and rode across to Gorgona, on the Cruces River, where we hired a boat and paddled down to the mouth of the river, off which lay the steamer Crescent City. It usually took four days to cross the isthmus, every passenger taking care of himself, and it was really funny to watch the efforts of women and men unaccustomed to mules. It was an old song to us, and the hike across was easy and interesting. In due time we were rowed off to the Crescent City, rolling back and forth in the swell, and we scrambled aboard by a “Jacob’s ladder” from the stern. Some of the women had to be hoisted aboard by lowering a tub from the end of a boom; fun to us who looked on, but awkward enough to the poor women, especially to a very fat one, who attracted much notice. General Fremont, wife and child (Lillie) were passengers with us down from San Francisco; but Mrs. Fremont not being well, they remained over one trip at Panama.

Senator Gwin was one of our passengers, and went through to New York. We reached New York about the close of January, after a safe and pleasant trip. Our party, composed of Ord, A. J. Smith, and Rucker, with the two boys, Antonio and Porfirio, put up at Delmonico’s, on Bowling Green; and, as soon as we had cleaned up somewhat, I took a carriage, went to General Scott’s office in Ninth Street, delivered my dispatches, was ordered to dine with him next day, and then went forth to hunt up my old friends and relations, the Scotts, Hoyts, etc., etc.

On reaching New York, most of us had rough soldier’s clothing, but we soon got a new outfit, and I dined with General Scott’s family, Mrs. Scott being present, and also their son-in-law and daughter (Colonel and Mrs. H. L. Scott). The general questioned me pretty closely in regard to things on the Pacific coast, especially the politics, and startled me with the assertion that “our country was on the eve of a terrible civil war.” He interested me by anecdotes of my old army comrades in his recent battles around the city of Mexico, and I felt deeply the fact that our country had passed through a foreign war, that my comrades had fought great battles, and yet I had not heard a hostile shot. Of course, I thought it the last and only chance in my day, and that my career as a soldier was at an end. After some four or five days spent in New York, I was, by an order of General Scott, sent to Washington, to lay before the Secretary of War (Crawford, of Georgia) the dispatches which I had brought from California. On reaching Washington, I found that Mr. Ewing was Secretary of the Interior, and I at once became a member of his family. The family occupied the house of Mr. Blair, on Pennsylvania Avenue, directly in front of the War Department. I immediately repaired to the War Department, and placed my dispatches in the hands of Mr. Crawford, who questioned me somewhat about California, but seemed little interested in the subject, except so far as it related to slavery and the routes through Texas. I then went to call on the President at the White House. I found Major Bliss, who had been my teacher in mathematics at West Point, and was then General Taylor’s son-in-law and private secretary. He took me into the room, now used by the President’s private secretaries, where President Taylor was. I had never seen him before, though I had served under him in Florida in 1840-’41, and was most agreeably surprised at his fine personal appearance, and his pleasant, easy manners. He received me with great kindness, told me that Colonel Mason had mentioned my name with praise, and that he would be pleased to do me any act of favor. We were with him nearly an hour, talking about California generally, and of his personal friends, Persifer Smith, Riley, Canby, and others: Although General Scott was generally regarded by the army as the most accomplished soldier of the Mexican War, yet General Taylor had that blunt, honest, and stern character, that endeared him to the masses of the people, and made him President. Bliss, too, had gained a large fame by his marked skill and intelligence as an adjutant-general and military adviser. His manner was very unmilitary, and in his talk he stammered and hesitated, so as to make an unfavorable impression on a stranger; but he was wonderfully accurate and skillful with his pen, and his orders and letters form a model of military precision and clearness.

CHAPTER IV.

MISSOURI, LOUISIANA, AND CALIFORNIA

1850-1855.

Having returned from California in January, 1850, with dispatches for the War Department, and having delivered them in person first to General Scott in New York City, and afterward to the Secretary of War (Crawford) in Washington City, I applied for and received a leave of absence for six months. I first visited my mother, then living at Mansfield, Ohio, and returned to Washington, where, on the 1st day of May, 1850, I was married to Miss Ellen Boyle Ewing, daughter of the Hon. Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Interior. The marriage ceremony was attended by a large and distinguished company, embracing Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, T. H. Benton, President Taylor, and all his cabinet. This occurred at the house of Mr. Ewing, the same now owned and occupied by Mr. F. P. Blair, senior, on Pennsylvania Avenue, opposite the War Department. We made a wedding tour to Baltimore, New York, Niagara, and Ohio, and returned to Washington by the 1st of July. General Taylor participated in the celebration of the Fourth of July, a very hot day, by hearing a long speech from the Hon. Henry S. Foote, at the base of the Washington Monument. Returning from the celebration much heated and fatigued, he partook too freely of his favorite iced milk with cherries, and during that night was seized with a severe colic, which by morning had quite prostrated him. It was said that he sent for his son-in-law, Surgeon Wood, United States Army, stationed in Baltimore, and declined medical assistance from anybody else. Mr. Ewing visited him several times, and was manifestly uneasy and anxious, as was also his son-in-law, Major Bliss, then of the army, and his confidential secretary. He rapidly grew worse, and died in about four days.

At that time there was a high state of political feeling pervading the country, on account of the questions growing out of the new Territories just acquired from Mexico by the war. Congress was in session, and General Taylor’s sudden death evidently created great alarm. I was present in the Senate-gallery, and saw the oath of office administered to the Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore, a man of splendid physical proportions and commanding appearance; but on the faces of Senators and people could easily be read the feelings of doubt and uncertainty that prevailed. All knew that a change in the cabinet and general policy was likely to result, but at the time it was supposed that Mr. Fillmore, whose home was in Buffalo, would be less liberal than General Taylor to the politicians of the South, who feared, or pretended to fear, a crusade against slavery; or, as was the political cry of the day, that slavery would be prohibited in the Territories and in the places exclusively under the jurisdiction of the United States. Events, however, proved the contrary.

I attended General Taylor’s funeral as a sort of aide-de-camp, at the request of the Adjutant-General of the army, Roger Jones, whose brother, a militia-general, commanded the escort, composed of militia and some regulars. Among the regulars I recall the names of Captains John Sedgwick and W. F. Barry.

Hardly was General Taylor decently buried in the Congressional Cemetery when the political struggle recommenced, and it became manifest that Mr. Fillmore favored the general compromise then known as Henry Clay’s “Omnibus Bill,” and that a general change of cabinet would at once occur: Webster was to succeed Mr. Clayton as Secretary of State, Corwin to succeed Mr. Meredith as Secretary of the Treasury, and A. H. H. Stuart to succeed Mr. Ewing as Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Ewing, however, was immediately appointed by the Governor of the State to succeed Corwin in the Senate. These changes made it necessary for Mr. Ewing to discontinue house- keeping, and Mr. Corwin took his home and furniture off his hands. I escorted the family out to their home in Lancaster, Ohio; but, before this had occurred, some most interesting debates took place in the Senate, which I regularly attended, and heard Clay, Benton, Foots, King of Alabama, Dayton, and the many real orators of that day. Mr. Calhoun was in his seat, but he was evidently approaching his end, for he was pale and feeble in the extreme. I heard Mr. Webster’s last speech on the floor of the Senate, under circumstances that warrant a description. It was publicly known that he was to leave the Senate, and enter the new cabinet of Mr. Fillmore, as his Secretary of State, and that prior to leaving he was to make a great speech on the “Omnibus Bill.” Resolved to hear it, I went up to the Capitol on the day named, an hour or so earlier than usual. The speech was to be delivered in the old Senate-chamber, now used by the Supreme Court. The galleries were much smaller than at present, and I found them full to overflowing, with a dense crowd about the door, struggling to reach the stairs. I could not get near, and then tried the reporters’ gallery, but found it equally crowded; so I feared I should lose the only possible opportunity to hear Mr. Webster.

I had only a limited personal acquaintance with any of the Senators, but had met Mr. Corwin quite often at Mr. Ewing’s house, and I also knew that he had been extremely friendly to my father in his lifetime; so I ventured to send in to him my card, “W. T. S., First-Lieutenant, Third Artillery.” He came to the door promptly, when I said, “Mr. Corwin, I believe Mr. Webster is to speak to-day.” His answer was, “Yes, he has the floor at one o’clock.” I then added that I was extremely anxious to hear him. “Well,” said he, “why don’t you go into the gallery?” I explained that it was full, and I had tried every access, but found all jammed with people. “Well,” said he, “what do you want of me?” I explained that I would like him to take me on the floor of the Senate; that I had often seen from the gallery persons on the floor, no better entitled to it than I. He then asked in his quizzical way, “Are you a foreign embassador?” “No.” “Are you the Governor of a State?” “No.” “Are you a member of the other House?” “Certainly not” “Have you ever had a vote of thanks by name?” “No!” “Well, these are the only privileged members.” I then told him he knew well enough who I was, and that if he chose he could take me in. He then said, “Have you any impudence?” I told him, “A reasonable amount if occasion called for it.” “Do you think you could become so interested in my conversation as not to notice the door-keeper?” (pointing to him). I told him that there was not the least doubt of it, if he would tell me one of his funny stories. He then took my arm, and led me a turn in the vestibule, talking about some indifferent matter, but all the time directing my looks to his left hand, toward which he was gesticulating with his right; and thus we approached the door-keeper, who began asking me, “Foreign ambassador? Governor of a State? Member of Congress?” etc.; but I caught Corwin’s eye, which said plainly, “Don’t mind him, pay attention to me,” and in this way we entered the Senate-chamber by a side-door. Once in, Corwin said, “Now you can take care of yourself,” and I thanked him cordially.

I found a seat close behind Mr. Webster, and near General Scott, and heard the whole of the speech. It was heavy in the extreme, and I confess that I was disappointed and tired long before it was finished. No doubt the speech was full of fact and argument, but it had none of the fire of oratory, or intensity of feeling, that marked all of Mr. Clay’s efforts.

Toward the end of July, as before stated, all the family went home to Lancaster. Congress was still in session, and the bill adding four captains to the Commissary Department had not passed, but was reasonably certain to, and I was equally sure of being one of them. At that time my name was on the muster-roll of (Light) Company C, Third Artillery (Bragg’s), stationed at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis. But, as there was cholera at St. Louis, on application, I was permitted to delay joining my company until September. Early in that month, I proceeded to Cincinnati, and thence by steamboat to St. Louis, and then to Jefferson Barracks, where I reported for duty to Captain and Brevet-Colonel Braxton Bragg, commanding (Light) Company C, Third Artillery. The other officers of the company were First-Lieutenant James A. Hardie, and afterward Haekaliah Brown. New horses had just been purchased for the battery, and we were preparing for work, when the mail brought the orders announcing the passage of the bill increasing the Commissary Department by four captains, to which were promoted Captains Shiras, Blair, Sherman, and Bowen. I was ordered to take post at St. Louis, and to relieve Captain A. J. Smith, First Dragoons, who had been acting in that capacity for some months. My commission bore date September 27,1850. I proceeded forthwith to the city, relieved Captain Smith, and entered on the discharge of the duties of the office.

Colonel N. S. Clarke, Sixth Infantry, commanded the department; Major D. C. Buell was adjutant-general, and Captain W. S. Hancock was regimental quartermaster; Colonel Thomas Swords was the depot quartermaster, and we had our offices in the same building, on the corner of Washington Avenue and Second. Subsequently Major S. Van Vliet relieved Colonel Swords. I remained at the Planters’ House until my family arrived, when we occupied a house on Chouteau Avenue, near Twelfth.

During the spring and summer of 1851, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Henry Stoddard, of Dayton, Ohio, a cousin of my father, were much in St. Louis, on business connected with the estate of Major Amos