By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: What I Saw in California
Author: Bryant, Edwin
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What I Saw in California" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



A Description of Its Soil, Climate, Productions, and Gold Mines;
with the Best Routes and Latest Information for Intending Emigrants.



Late Alcade of San Francisco.

To which is annexed, an Appendix

Containing official documents and letters authenticating the accounts
of the quantities of gold found, with its actual value ascertained by
chemical assay.

Also late communications containing accounts of the highest interest
and importance from the gold districts.

With a Map.


"All which I saw, and part of which I was."


  Geographical sketch of California
  Its political and social institutions
  Colorado River
  Valley and river of San Joaquin
  Former government
  Ports and commerce.

For the general information of the reader, it will be proper to give a
brief geographical sketch of California, and some account of its
political and social institutions, as they have heretofore existed.

The district of country known geographically as Upper California is
bounded on the north by Oregon, the forty-second degree of north
latitude being the boundary line between the two territories; on the
east by the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra de los Mimbres, a
continuation of the same range; on the south by Sonora and Old or Lower
California, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its extent from north
to south is about 700 miles, and from east to west from 600 to 800
miles, with an area of about 400,000 square miles. A small portion only
of this extensive territory is fertile or inhabitable by civilized man,
and this portion consists chiefly in the strip of country along the
Pacific Ocean, about 700 miles in length, and from 100 to 150 in
breadth, bounded on the east by the Sierra Nevada, and on the west by
the Pacific. In speaking of Upper California this strip of country is
what is generally referred to.

The largest river of Upper California is the Colorado or Red, which has
a course of about 1000 miles, and empties into the Gulf of California
in latitude about 32 degrees north. But little is known of the region
through which this stream flows. The report of trappers, however, is
that the river is _canoned_ between high mountains and precipices a
large portion of its course, and that its banks and the country
generally through which it flows are arid, sandy, and barren. Green and
Grand Rivers are its principal upper tributaries, both of which rise in
the Rocky Mountains, and within the territories of the United States.
The Gila is its lowest and largest branch, emptying into the Colorado,
just above its mouth. Sevier and Virgin Rivers are also tributaries of
the Colorado. Mary's River rises near latitude 42 degrees north, and
has a course of about 400 miles, when its waters sink in the sands of
the desert. This river is not laid down on any map which I have seen.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers have each a course of from 300 to
400 miles, the first flowing from the north and the last from the
south, and both emptying into the Bay of St. Francisco at the same
point. They water the large and fertile valley lying between the Sierra
Nevada and the coast range of mountains. I subjoin a description of the
valley and river San Joaquin, from the pen of a gentleman (Dr. Marsh)
who has explored the river from its source to its mouth.

"This noble valley is the first undoubtedly in California, and one of
the most magnificent in the world. It is about 500 miles long, with
an-average width of about fifty miles. It is bounded on the east by the
great Snowy Mountains, and on the west by the low range, which in many
places dwindles into insignificant hills, and has its northern terminus
at the Strait of Carquines, on the Bay of San Francisco, and its
southern near the Colorado River.

"The river of San Joaquin flows through the middle of the valley for
about half of its extent, and thence diverges towards the eastern
mountain, in which it has its source. About sixty miles further south
is the northern end of the Buena Vista Lake, which is about one hundred
miles long, and from ten to twenty wide. Still farther south, and near
the western side of the valley, is another and much smaller lake.

"The great lake receives about a dozen tributaries on its eastern side,
which all rise in the great range of the Snowy Mountains. Some of these
streams flow through broad and fertile valleys within the mountain's
range, and, from thence emerging, irrigate the plains of the great
valley for the distance of twenty or thirty miles. The largest of these
rivers is called by the Spanish inhabitants the river Reyes, and falls
into the lake near its northern end; it is a well-timbered stream, and
flows through a country of great fertility and beauty. The tributaries
of the San Joaquin are all on the east side.

"On ascending the stream we first meet with the Stanislaus, a clear
rapid mountain stream, some forty or fifty yards wide, with a
considerable depth of water in its lower portion. The Mormons have
commenced a settlement, called New Hope, and built some two or three
houses near the mouth.

"There are considerable bodies of fertile land along the river, and the
higher plains afford good pasturage.

"Ten miles higher up is the river of the Tawalomes; it is about the
size of the Stanislaus, which it greatly resembles, except that the
soil is somewhat better, and that it particularly abounds with salmon.

"Some thirty miles farther comes in the Merced, much the largest of the
tributaries of the San Joaquin. The lands along and between the
tributaries of the San Joaquin and the lake of Buena Vista form a fine
pastoral region, with a good proportion of arable land, and a very
inviting field for emigration. The whole of this region has been but
imperfectly explored; enough, however, is known to make it certain that
it is one of the most desirable regions on the continent.

"In the valleys of the rivers which come down from the great Snowy
Mountains are vast bodies of pine, and red-wood, or cedar timber, and
the streams afford water power to any desirable amount.

"The whole country east of the San Joaquin, and the water communication
which connects it with the lakes, is considered, by the best judges, to
be particularly adapted to the culture of the vine, which must
necessarily become one of the principal agricultural resources of

The Salinas River empties into the Pacific, about twelve miles above
Monterey. Bear River empties into the Great Salt Lake. The other
streams of California are all small. In addition to the Great Salt Lake
and the Utah Lake there are numerous small lakes in the Sierra Nevada.
The San Joaquin is connected with Tule Lake, or Lake Buena Vista, a
sheet of water about eighty miles in length and fifteen in breadth. A
lake, not laid down in any map, and known as the _Laguna_ among the
Californians, is situated about sixty miles north of the Bay of San
Francisco. It is between forty and sixty miles in length. The valleys
in its vicinity are highly fertile, and romantically beautiful. In the
vicinity of this lake there is a mountain of pure sulphur. There are
also soda springs, and a great variety of other mineral waters, and

The principal mountains west of the eastern boundary of California (the
Rocky Mountains) are the Bear River, Wahsatch, Utah, the Sierra Nevada,
and the Coast range. The Wahsatch Mountains form the eastern rim of the
"great interior basin." There are numerous ranges in this desert basin,
all of which run north and south, and are separated from each other by
spacious and barren valleys and plains. The Sierra Nevada range is of
greater elevation than the Rocky Mountains. The summits of the most
elevated peaks are covered with perpetual snow. This and the coast
range run nearly parallel with the shore of the Pacific. The first is
from 100 to 200 miles from the Pacific, and the last from forty to
sixty miles. The valley between them is the most fertile portion of

Upper California was discovered in 1548, by Cabrillo, a Spanish
navigator. In 1578, the northern portion of it was visited by Sir
Francis Drake, who called it New Albion. It was first colonized by the
Spaniards, in 1768, and formed a province of Mexico until after the
revolution in that country. There have been numerous revolutions and
civil wars in California within the last twenty years; but up to the
conquest of the country by the United States in 1846, Mexican authority
has generally been exercised over it.

The following description of the political and social condition of
Upper California in 1822 is extracted and translated from a Spanish
writer of that date. I have thought that the extract would not be

"_Government_.--Upper California, on account of its small population,
not being able to become a state of the great Mexican republic, takes
the character of territory, the government of which is under the charge
of a commandant-general, who exercises the charge of a superior
political chief, whose attributes depend entirely upon the president of
the republic and the general congress. But, to amplify the legislation
of its centre, it has a deputation made up of seven vocals, the half of
these individuals being removed every two years. The superior political
chief presides at their sessions. The inhabitants of the territory are
divided amongst the presidios, missions, and towns.

"_Presidios_.--The necessity of protecting the apostolic predication
was the obligatory reason for forming the presidios, which were
established according to circumstances. That of San Diego was the
first; Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco were built
afterwards. The form of all of them is nearly the same, and this is a
square, containing about two hundred yards in each front, formed of a
weak wall made of mud-bricks. Its height may be four yards in the
interior of the square, and built on to the same wall. In its entire
circumference are a chapel, storehouses, and houses for the commandant,
officers, and troops, having at the entrance of the presidio quarters
for a _corps-de-garde_.

"These buildings in the presidios, at the first idea, appear to have
been sufficient, the only object having been for a defence against a
surprise from the gentiles, or wild Indians in the immediate vicinity.
But this cause having ceased, I believe they ought to be demolished, as
they are daily threatening a complete ruin, and, from the very limited
spaces of habitation, must be very incommodious to those who inhabit
them. As to the exterior of the presidios, several private individuals
have built some very decent houses, and, having evinced great emulation
in this branch of business, I have no doubt but in a short time we
shall see very considerable towns in California.

"At the distance of one, or at the most two miles from the presidio,
and near to the anchoring-ground, is a fort, which has a few pieces of
artillery of small calibre. The situation of most of them is very
advantageous for the defence of the port, though the form of the walls,
esplanades, and other imperfections which may be seen, make them very

"The battalion of each presidio is made up of eighty or more horse
soldiers, called _cuera_; besides these, it has a number of auxiliary
troops and a detachment of artillery. The commandant of each presidio
is the captain of its respective company, and besides the intervention,
military and political, he has charge of all things relating to the
marine department.

"_Missions_.--The missions contained in the territory are twenty-one.
They were built at different epochs: that of San Diego, being the
first, was built in 1769; its distance from the presidio of the same
name is two leagues. The rest were built successively, according to
circumstances and necessity. The last one was founded in the year 1822,
under the name of San Francisco Dolores, and is the most northern of

"The edifices in some of those missions are more extensive than in
others, but in form they are all nearly equal. They are all fabricated
of mud-bricks, and the divisions are according to necessity. In all of
them may be found commodious habitations for the ministers, storehouses
to keep their goods in, proportional granaries, offices for
soap-makers, weavers, blacksmiths, and large parterres, and horse and
cattle pens, independent apartments for Indian youths of each sex, and
all such offices as were necessary at the time of its institution.
Contiguous to and communicating with the former is a church, forming a
part of the edifices of each mission; they are all very proportionable,
and are adorned with profusion.

"The Indians reside about two hundred yards distant from the
above-mentioned edifice. This place is called the rancheria. Most of
the missions are made up of very reduced quarters, built with
mud-bricks, forming streets, while in others the Indians have been
allowed to follow their primitive customs; their dwellings being a sort
of huts, in a conical shape, which at the most do not exceed four yards
in diameter, and the top of the cone may be elevated three yards. They
are built of rough sticks, covered with bulrushes or grass, in such a
manner as to completely protect the inhabitants from all the
inclemencies of the weather. In my opinion, these rancherias are the
most adequate to the natural uncleanliness of the Indians, as the
families often renew them, burning the old ones, and immediately
building others with the greatest facility. Opposite the rancherias,
and near to the mission, is to be found a small garrison, with
proportionate rooms, for a corporal and five soldiers with their
families. This small garrison is quite sufficient to prevent any
attempt of the Indians from taking effect, there having been some
examples made, which causes the Indians to respect this small force.
One of these pickets in a mission has a double object; besides keeping
the Indians in subjection, they run post with a monthly correspondence,
or with any extraordinaries that may be necessary for government.

"All the missions in this California are under the charge of religious
men of the order of San Francisco. At the present time their number is
twenty-seven, most of them of an advanced age. Each mission has one of
these fathers for its administrator, and he holds absolute authority.
The tilling of the ground, the gathering of the harvest, the
slaughtering of cattle, the weaving, and everything that concerns the
mission, is under the direction of the fathers, without any other
person interfering in any way whatever, so that, if any one mission has
the good fortune to be superintended by an industrious and discreet
padre, the Indians disfrute in abundance all the real necessaries of
life; at the same time the nakedness and misery of any one mission are
a palpable proof of the inactivity of its director. The missions extend
their possessions from one extremity of the territory to the other, and
have made the limits of one mission from those of another. Though they
do not require all this land for their agriculture and the maintenance
of their stock, they have appropriated the whole; always strongly
opposing any individual who may wish to settle himself or his family on
any piece of land between them. But it is to be hoped that the new
system of illustration, and the necessity of augmenting private
properly, and the people of reason, will cause the government to take
such adequate measures as will conciliate the interests of all. Amongst
all the missions there are from twenty-one to twenty-two thousand
Catholic Indians; but each mission has not an equal or a proportionate
part in its congregation. Some have three or four thousand, whilst
others have scarcely four hundred; and at this difference may be
computed the riches of the missions in proportion. Besides the number
of Indians already spoken of, each mission has a considerable number of
gentiles, who live chiefly on farms annexed to the missions. The number
of these is undetermined.

"The Indians are naturally filthy and careless, and their understanding
is very limited. In the small arts they are not deficient in ideas of
imitation but they never will be inventors. Their true character is
that of being revengeful and timid, consequently they are very much
addicted to treachery. They have no knowledge of benefits received, and
ingratitude is common amongst them. The education they receive in their
infancy is not the proper one to develope their reason, and, if it
were, I do not believe them capable of any good impression. All these
Indians, whether from the continual use of the sweat-house, or from
their filthiness, or the little ventilation in their habitations, are
weak and unvigorous; spasms and rheumatics, to which they are so much
subject, are the consequences of their customs. But what most injures
them, and prevents propagation, is the venereal disease, which most of
them have very strongly, clearly proving that their humours are
analogous to receiving the impressions of this contagion. From this
reason may be deduced the enormous differences between the births and
deaths, which, without doubt, is one-tenth per year in favour of the
latter; but the missionaries do all in their power to prevent this,
with respect to the catechumens situated near them.

"The general productions of the missions are, the breed of the larger
class of cattle, and sheep, horses, wheat, maize or Indian corn, beans,
peas, and other vegetables; though the productions of the missions
situated more to the southward are more extensive, these producing the
grape and olive in abundance. Of all these articles of production, the
most lucrative is the large cattle, their hides and tallow affording an
active commerce with foreign vessels on this coast. This being the only
means the inhabitants, missionaries, or private individuals have of
supplying their actual necessities, for this reason they give this
branch all the impulse they possibly can, and on it generally place all
their attention.

"It is now six years since they began to gather in hides and tallow for
commerce. Formerly they merely took care of as many or as much as they
required for their own private use, and the rest was thrown away as
useless; but at this time the actual number of hides sold annually on
board of foreign vessels amounts to thirty or forty thousand, and about
the same amount of arrobas (twenty-five pounds) of tallow; and, in
pursuing their present method, there is no doubt but in three or four
years the amount of the exportation of each of these articles will be
doubled. Flax, linen, wine, olive-oil, grain, and other agricultural
productions, would be very extensive if there were stimulants to excite
industry; but, this not being the case, there is just grain enough sown
and reaped for the consumption of the inhabitants in the territory.

"The towns contained in this district are three; the most populous
being that of Angeles, which has about twelve hundred souls; that of
St. Joseph's of Guadaloupe may contain six hundred, and the village of
Branciforte two hundred; they are all formed imperfectly and without
order, each person having built his own house on the spot he thought
most convenient for himself. The first of these pueblos is governed by
its corresponding body of magistrates, composed of an alcalde or judge,
four regidores or municipal officers, a syndic, and secretary; the
second, of an alcalde, two regidores, a syndic, and secretary; and the
third, on account of the smallness of its population, is subject to the
commandancia of Monterey.

"The inhabitants of the towns are white, and, to distinguish them from
the Indians, are vulgarly called _people of reason_. The number of
these contained in the territory may be nearly five thousand. These
families are divided amongst the pueblos and presidios. They are nearly
all the descendants of a small number of individuals who came from the
Mexican country, some as settlers, others in the service of the army,
and accompanied by their wives. In the limited space of little more
than fifty years the present generation has been formed.

"The whites are in general robust, healthy, and well made. Some of them
are occupied in breeding and raising cattle, and cultivating small
quantities of wheat and beans; but for want of sufficient land, for
which they cannot obtain a rightful ownership, their labours are very
limited. Others dedicate themselves to the service of arms. All the
presidial companies are composed of the natives of the country, but the
most of them are entirely indolent, it being very rare for any
individual to strive to augment his fortune. Dancing, horse-riding, and
gambling occupy all their time. The arts are entirely unknown, and I am
doubtful if there is one individual who exercises any trade; very few
who understand the first rudiments of letters, and the other sciences
are unknown amongst them.

"The fecundity of the _people of reason_ is extreme. It is very rare to
find a married couple with less than five or six children, while there
are hundreds who have from twelve to fifteen. Very few of them die in
their youth, and in reaching the age of puberty are sure to see their
grand-children. The age of eighty and one hundred has always been
common in this climate; most infirmities are unknown here, and the
freshness and robustness of the people show the beneficial influence of
the climate; the women in particular have always the roses stamped on
their cheeks. This beautiful species is without doubt the most active
and laborious, all their vigilance in duties of the house, the
cleanliness of their children, and attention to their husbands,
dedicating all their leisure moments to some kind of occupation that
may be useful towards their maintenance. Their clothing is always clean
and decent, nakedness being entirely unknown in either sex.

"_Ports and Commerce_.--There are four ports, principal bays, in this
territory, which take the names of the corresponding presidios. The
best guarded is that of San Diego. That of San Francisco has many
advantages. Santa Barbara is but middling in the best part of the
season; at other times always bad. Besides the above-mentioned places,
vessels sometimes anchor at Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, El Refugio,
San Pedro, and San Juan, that they may obtain the productions of the
missions nearest these last-mentioned places; but from an order sent by
the minister of war, and circulated by the commandante-general, we are
given to understand that no foreign vessel is permitted to anchor at
any of these places, Monterey only excepted, notwithstanding the
commandante-general has allowed the first three principal ports to
remain open provisionally. Were it not so, there would undoubtedly be
an end to all commerce with California, as I will quickly show.

"The only motive that induces foreign vessels to visit this coast is
for the hides and tallow which they barter for in the territory. It is
well known, that at any of these parts there is no possibility of
realizing any money, for here it does not circulate. The goods imported
by foreign vessels are intended to facilitate the purchase of the
aforesaid articles, well knowing that the missions have no interest in
money, but rather such goods as are necessary for the Indians, so that
several persons who have brought goods to sell for nothing but money
have not been able to sell them. It will appear very extraordinary that
money should not be appreciated in a country where its value is so well
known; but the reason may be easily perceived by attending to the
circumstances of the territory.

"The quantity of hides gathered yearly is about thirty or forty
thousand; and the arrobas of tallow, with very little difference, will
be about the same. Averaging the price of each article at two dollars,
we shall see that the intrinsic value in annual circulation in
California is 140,000 dollars. This sum, divided between twenty-one
missions, will give each one 6666 dollars. Supposing the only
production of the country converted into money, with what would the
Indians be clothed, and by what means would they be able to cover a
thousand other necessaries? Money is useful in amplifying speculations;
but in California, as yet, there are no speculations, and it
productions are barely sufficient for the absolute necessary
consumption. The same comparison may be made with respect to private
individuals, who are able to gather a few hides and a few arrobas of
tallow, these being in small quantities."


  Leave New Helvetia for San Francisco
  Cosçumne River
  Mickélemes River
  Ford of the San Joaquin
  Extensive plain
  Tule marshes
  Large droves of wild horses and elk
  Arrive at Dr. Marsh's
  Californian grape
  Californian wine
  Mormon settlements on the San Joaquin
  Californian beef
  Grasses of California
  Leave Dr. Marsh's
  Arrive at Mr. Livermore's
  Comforts of his dwelling
  Large herds of cattle
  Californian senora
  Slaughtering of a bullock
  Fossil oyster-shells
  Skeleton of a whale on a high mountain
  Arrive at mission of San José
  Ruinous and desolate appearance of the mission
  Gardens of the mission
  Fruit orchards
  Empty warehouses and workshops
  Foul lodgings.

_September 13th_.--We commenced to-day our journey from New Helvetia to
San Francisco. Our party consisted, including myself, of Colonel
Russell, Dr. McKee of Monterey, Mr. Pickett, a traveller in the
country, recently from Oregon, and an Indian servant, who had been
furnished us by Captain Sutter. Starting about 3 o'clock P.M., we
travelled in a south course over a flat plain until sunset, and
encamped near a small lake on the rancho of Mr. Murphy, near the
Cosçumne River, a tributary of the Sacramento, which heads near the
foot of the Sierra Nevada. The stream is small, but the bottom-lands
are extensive and rich. Mr. Murphy has been settled in California about
two years, and, with his wife and several children, has resided at this
place sixteen months, during which time he has erected a comfortable
dwelling-house, and other necessary buildings and conveniences. His
wheat crop was abundant this year; and he presented us with as much
milk and fresh butter as we desired. The grass on the upland plain over
which we have travelled is brown and crisp from the annual drought. In
the low bottom it is still green. Distance 18 miles.

_September 14_.--We crossed the Cosçumne River about a mile from our
camp, and travelled over a level plain covered with luxuriant grass,
and timbered with the evergreen oak, until three o'clock, when we
crossed the Mickélemes River, another tributary of the Sacramento, and
encamped on its southern bank in a beautiful grove of live oaks. The
Mickélemes, where we crossed it, is considerably larger than the
Cosçumnes. The soil of the bottom appears to be very rich, and produces
the finest qualities of grasses. The grass on the upland is also
abundant, but at this time it is brown and dead. We passed through
large tracts of wild oats during the day; the stalks are generally from
three to five feet in length.

Our Indian servant, or vaquero, feigned sickness this morning, and we
discharged him. As soon as he obtained his discharge, he was entirely
relieved from the excruciating agonies under which he had affected to
be suffering for several hours. Eating his breakfast, and mounting his
horse, he galloped off in the direction of the fort. We overtook this
afternoon an English sailor, named Jack, who was travelling towards
Monterey; and we employed him as cook and hostler for the remainder of
the journey.

A variety of autumnal flowers, generally of a brilliant yellow, are in
bloom along the beautiful and romantic bunks of the rivulet. Distance
25 miles.

_September 15_.--Our horses were frightened last night by bears, and
this morning, with the exception of those which were picketed, had
strayed so far that we did not recover them until ten o'clock. Our
route has continued over a flat plain, generally covered with luxuriant
grass, wild oats, and a variety of sparkling flowers. The soil is
composed of a rich argillaceous loam. Large tracts of the land are
evidently subject to annual inundations. About noon we reached a small
lake surrounded by _tule_. There being no trail for our guidance, we
experienced some difficulty in shaping our course so as to strike the
San Joaquin River at the usual fording place. Our man Jack, by some
neglect or mistake of his own, lost sight of us, and we were compelled
to proceed without him. This afternoon we saw several large droves of
antelope and deer. Game of all kinds appears to be very abundant in
this rich valley. Passing through large tracts of _tule_, we reached
the San Joaquin River at dark, and encamped on the eastern bank. Here
we immediately made large fires, and discharged pistols as signals to
our man Jack, but he did not come into camp. Distance 35 miles.

_September 16_.--Jack came into camp while we were breakfasting,
leading his tired horse. He had bivouacked on the plain, and, fearful
that his horse would break loose if he tied him, he held the animal by
the bridle all night.

The ford of the San Joaquin is about forty or fifty miles from its
mouth. At this season the water is at its lowest stage. The stream at
the ford is probably one hundred yards in breadth, and our animals
crossed it without much difficulty, the water reaching about midway of
their bodies. Oak and small willows are the principal growth of wood
skirting the river. Soon after we crossed the San Joaquin this morning
we met two men, couriers, bearing despatches from Commodore Stockton,
the governor and commander-in-chief in California, to Sutter's Fort.
Entering upon the broad plain, we passed, in about three miles, a small
lake, the water of which was so much impregnated with alkali as to be
undrinkable. The grass is brown and crisp, but the seed upon it is
evidence that it had fully matured before the drought affected it. The
plain is furrowed with numerous deep trails, made by the droves of wild
horses, elk, deer, and antelope, which roam over and graze upon it. The
hunting sportsman can here enjoy his favourite pleasure to its fullest

Having determined to deviate from our direct course, in order to visit
the rancho of Dr. Marsh, we parted from Messrs. McKee and Pickett about
noon. We passed during the afternoon several _tule_ marshes, with which
the plain of the San Joaquin is dotted. At a distance, the tule of
these marshes presents the appearance of immense fields of ripened
corn. The marshes are now nearly dry, and to shorten our journey we
crossed several of them without difficulty. A month earlier, this would
not have been practicable. I have but little doubt that these marshes
would make fine rice plantations, and perhaps, if properly drained,
they might produce the sugar-cane.

While pursuing our journey we frequently saw large droves of wild
horses and elk grazing quietly upon the plain. No spectacle of moving
life can present a more animated and beautiful appearance than a herd
of wild horses. They were divided into droves of some one or two
hundred. When they noticed us, attracted by curiosity to discover what
we were, they would start and run almost with the fleetness of the wind
in the direction towards us. But, arriving within a distance of two
hundred yards, they would suddenly halt, and after bowing their necks
into graceful curves, and looking steadily at us a few moments, with
loud snortings they would wheel about and bound away with the same
lightning speed. These evolutions they would repeat several times,
until, having satisfied their curiosity, they would bid us a final
adieu, and disappear behind the undulations of the plain.

The herds of elk were much more numerous. Some of them numbered at
least two thousand, and with their immense antlers presented, when
running, a very singular and picturesque appearance. We approached some
of these herds within fifty yards before they took the alarm. Beef in
California is so abundant, and of so fine a quality, that game is but
little hunted, and not much prized, hence the elk, deer, and even
antelope are comparatively very tame, and rarely run from the
traveller, unless he rides very near them. Some of these elk are as
large as a medium-sized Mexican mule.

We arrived at the rancho of Dr. Marsh about 5 o'clock P.M., greatly
fatigued with the day's ride. The residence of Dr. M. is romantically
situated, near the foot of one of the most elevated mountains in the
range separating the valley of the San Joaquin from the plain
surrounding the Bay of San Francisco. It is called "Mount Diablo," and
may be seen in clear weather a great distance. The dwelling of Dr. M.
is a small one-story house, rudely constructed of adobes, and divided
into two or three apartments. The flooring is of earth, like the walls.
A table or two, and some benches and a bed, are all the furniture it
contains. Such are the privations to which those who settle in new
countries must submit. Dr. M. is a native of New England, a graduate of
Harvard University, and a gentleman of fine natural abilities and
extensive scientific and literary acquirements. He emigrated to
California some seven or eight years since, after having travelled
through most of the Mexican States. He speaks the Spanish language
fluently and correctly, and his accurate knowledge of Mexican
institutions, laws, and customs was fully displayed in his conversation
in regard to them. He obtained the grant of land upon which he now
resides, some ten or twelve miles square, four or fire years ago; and
although he has been constantly harassed by the wild Indians, who have
several times stolen all his horses, and sometimes numbers of his
cattle, he has succeeded in permanently establishing himself. The
present number of cattle on his rancho is about two thousand, and the
increase of the present year he estimates at five hundred.

I noticed near the house a vegetable garden, with the usual variety of
vegetables. In another inclosure was the commencement of an extensive
vineyard, the fruit of which (now ripe) exceeds in delicacy of flavour
any grapes which I have ever tasted. This grape is not indigenous, but
was introduced by _the padres_, when they first established themselves
in the country. The soil and climate of California have probably
improved it. Many of the clusters are eight and ten inches in length,
and weigh several pounds. The fruit is of medium size, and in colour a
dark purple. The rind is very thin, and when broken the pulp dissolves
in the mouth immediately. Although Dr. M. has just commenced his
vineyard, he has made several casks of wine this year, which is now in
a stale of fermentation. I tasted here, for the first time,
_aguardiénte_, or brandy distilled from the Californian grape. Its
flavour is not unpleasant, and age, I do not doubt, would render it
equal to the brandies of France. Large quantities of wine and
_aguardiénte_ are made from the extensive vineyards farther south. Dr.
M. informed me that his lands had produced a hundredfold of wheat
without irrigation. This yield seems almost incredible; but, if we can
believe the statements of men of unimpeached veracity, there have been
numerous instances of reproduction of wheat in California equalling and
even exceeding this.

Some time in July, a vessel arrived at San Francisco from New York,
which had been chartered and freighted principally by a party of Mormon
emigrants, numbering between two and three hundred, women and children
included. These Mormons are about making a settlement for agricultural
purposes on the San Joaquin River, above the rancho of Dr. Marsh. Two
of the women and one of the men are now here, waiting for the return of
the main party, which has gone up the river to explore and select a
suitable site for the settlement. The women are young, neatly dressed,
and one of them may be called good-looking. Captain Gant, formerly of
the U.S. Army, in very bad health, is also residing here. He has
crossed the Rocky Mountains eight times, and, in various trapping
excursions, has explored nearly every river between the settlements of
the United States and the Pacific Ocean.

The house of Dr. Marsh being fully occupied, we made our beds in a
shed, a short distance from it. Suspended from one of the poles forming
the frame of this shed was a portion of the carcass of a recently
slaughtered beef. The meat was very fat, the muscular portions of it
presenting that marbled appearance, produced by a mixture of the fat
and lean, so agreeable to the sight and palate of the epicure. The
horned cattle of California, which I have thus far seen, are the
largest and the handsomest in shape which I ever saw. There is
certainly no breed in the United States equalling them in size. They,
as well as the horses, subsist entirely on the indigenous grasses, at
all seasons of the year; and such are the nutritious qualities of the
herbage, that the former are always in condition for slaughtering, and
the latter have as much flesh upon them as is desirable, unless (which
is often the case) they are kept up at hard work and denied the
privilege of eating, or are broken down by hard riding. The varieties
of grass are very numerous, and nearly all of them are heavily seeded
when ripe, and are equal, if not superior, as food for animals, to corn
and oats. The horses are not as large as the breeds of the United
States, but in point of symmetrical proportions and in capacity for
endurance they are fully equal to our best breeds. The distance we have
travelled to-day I estimate at thirty-five miles.

_September 17_.--The temperature of the mornings is most agreeable, and
every other phenomenon accompanying it is correspondingly delightful to
the senses. Our breakfast consisted of warm bread, made of unbolted
flour, stewed beef, seasoned with _chile colorado_, a species of red
pepper, and _frijoles_, a dark-coloured bean, with coffee. After
breakfast I walked with Dr. Marsh to the summit of a conical hill,
about a mile distant from his house, from which the view of the plain
on the north, south, and east, and the more broken and mountainous
country on the west, is very extensive and picturesque. The hills and
the plain are ornamented with the evergreen oak, sometimes in clumps or
groves, at others standing solitary. On the summits, and in the gorges
of the mountains, the cedar, pine, and fir display their tall
symmetrical shapes; and the San Joaquin, at a distance of about ten
miles, is belted by a dense forest of oak, sycamore, and smaller timber
and shrubbery. The herds of cattle are scattered over the plain,--some
of them grazing upon the brown but nutritious grass; others sheltering
themselves from the sun under the wide-spreading branches of the oaks.
The _tout ensemble_ of the landscape is charming.

Leaving Dr. Marsh's about three o'clock P.M., we travelled fifteen
miles, over a rolling and well-watered country, covered generally with
wild oats, and arrived at the residence of Mr. Robert Livermore just
before dark. We were most kindly and hospitably received, and
entertained by Mr. L. and his interesting family. After our mules and
baggage had been cared for, we were introduced to the principal room in
the house, which consisted of a number of small adobe buildings,
erected apparently at different times, and connected together. Here we
found chairs, and, for the first time in California, saw a side-board
set out with glass tumblers and chinaware. A decanter of _aguardiénte_,
a bowl of loaf sugar, and a pitcher of cold water from the spring, were
set before us, and, being duly honoured, had a most reviving influence
upon our spirits as well as our corporeal energies. Suspended from the
walls of the room were numerous coarse engravings, highly coloured with
green, blue, and crimson paints, representing the Virgin Mary, and many
of the saints. These engravings are held in great veneration by the
devout Catholics of this country. In the corners of the room were two
comfortable-looking beds, with clean white sheets and pillow-cases, a
sight with which my eyes have not been greeted for many months.

The table was soon set out, and covered with a linen cloth of snowy
whiteness, upon which were placed dishes of stewed beef, seasoned with
_chile Colorado, frijoles_, and a plentiful supply of _tortillas_, with
an excellent cup of tea, to the merits of which we did ample justice.
Never were men blessed with better appetites than we are at the present

Mr. Livermore has been a resident of California nearly thirty years,
and, having married into one of the wealthy families of the country, is
the proprietor of some of the best lands for tillage and grazing. An
_arroyo_, or small rivulet fed by springs, runs through his rancho, in
such a course that, if expedient, he could, without much expense,
irrigate one or two thousand acres. Irrigation in this part of
California, however, seems to be entirely unnecessary for the
production of wheat or any of the small grains. To produce maize,
potatoes, and garden vegetables, irrigation is indispensable. Mr.
Livermore has on his rancho about 3500 head of cattle. His horses,
during the late disturbances, have nearly all been driven off or stolen
by the Indians. I saw in his corral a flock of sheep numbering several
hundred. They are of good size, and the mutton is said to be of an
excellent quality, but the wool is coarse. It is, however, well adapted
to the only manufacture of wool that is carried on in the
country,--coarse blankets and _serápes_. But little attention is paid
to hogs here, although the breeds are as fine as I have ever seen
elsewhere. Beef being so abundant, and of a quality so superior, pork
is not prized by the native Californians.

The Senora L. is the first Hispano-American lady I have seen since
arriving in the country. She was dressed in a white cambric robe,
loosely banded round the waist, and without ornament of any kind,
except several rings on her small delicate fingers. Her complexion is
that of a dark brunette, but lighter and more clear than the skin of
most Californian women. The dark lustrous eye, the long black and
glossy hair, the natural ease, grace, and vivacity of manners and
conversation, characteristic of Spanish ladies, were fully displayed by
her from the moment of our introduction. The children, especially two
or three little _senoritas_, were very beautiful, and manifested a
remarkable degree of sprightliness and intelligence. One of them
presented me with a small basket wrought from a species of tough grass,
and ornamented with the plumage of birds of a variety of brilliant
colours. It was a beautiful specimen of Indian ingenuity.

Retiring to bed about ten o'clock, I enjoyed, the first time for four
months, the luxury of clean sheets, with a mattress and a soft pillow.
My enjoyment, however, was not unmixed with regret, for I noticed that
several members of the family, to accommodate us with lodgings in the
house, slept in the piazza outside. To have objected to sleeping in the
house, however, would have been considered discourteous and offensive.

_September 18_.--Early this morning a bullock was brought up and
slaughtered in front of the house. The process of slaughtering a beef
is as follows: a _vaquero_, mounted on a trained horse, and provided
with a lasso, proceeds to the place where the herd is grazing.
Selecting an animal, he soon secures it by throwing the noose of the
lasso over the horns, and fastening the other end around the pommel of
the saddle. During the first struggles of the animal for liberty, which
usually are very violent, the vaquero sits firmly in his seat, and
keeps his horse in such a position that the fury and strength of the
beast are wasted without producing any other result than his own
exhaustion. The animal, soon ascertaining that he cannot release
himself from the rope, submits to be pulled along to the place of
execution. Arriving here, the vaquero winds the lasso round the legs of
the doomed beast, and throws him to the ground, where he lies perfectly
helpless and motionless. Dismounting from his horse, he then takes from
his leggin the butcher-knife that he always carries with him, and
sticks the animal in the throat. He soon bleeds to death, when, in an
incredibly short space of time for such a performance, the carcass is
flayed and quartered, and the meat is either roasting before the fire
or simmering in the stew-pan. The _lassoing_ and slaughter of a bullock
is one of the most exciting sports of the Californians; and the daring
horsemanship and dexterous use of the lariat usually displayed on these
occasions are worthy of admiration. I could not but notice the
Golgotha-like aspect of the grounds surrounding the house. The bones of
cattle were thickly strewn in all directions, showing a terrible
slaughter of the four-footed tribe and a prodigious consumption of

A _carretada_ of fossil oyster--shells was shown to me by Mr.
Livermore, which had been hauled for the purpose of being manufactured
into lime. Some of these shells were eight inches in length, and of
corresponding breadth and thickness. They were dug from a hill two or
three miles distant, which is composed almost entirely of this fossil.
Several bones belonging to the skeleton of a whale, discovered by Mr.
L. on the summit of one of the highest elevations in the vicinity of
his residence, were shown to me. The skeleton when discovered was
nearly perfect and entirely exposed, and its elevation above the level
of the sea between one and two thousand feet. How the huge aquatic
monster, of which this skeleton is the remains, managed to make his dry
bed on the summit of an elevated mountain, more experienced geologists
than myself will hereafter determine. I have an opinion on the subject,
however; but it is so contrary in some respects to the received
geological theories, that I will not now hazard it.

Leaving Mr. Livermore's about nine o'clock A.M., we travelled three or
four miles over a level plain, upon which immense herds of cattle were
grazing. When we approached, they fled from us with as much alarm as
herds of deer and elk. From this plain we entered a hilly country,
covered to the summits of the elevations with wild oats and tufts or
hunches of a species of grass, which remains green through the whole
season. Cattle were scattered through these hills, and more sumptuous
grazing they could not desire. Small streams of water, fed by springs,
flow through the hollows and ravines, which, as well as the hill-sides,
are timbered with the evergreen oak and a variety of smaller trees.
About two o'clock, P.M., we crossed an _arroyo_ which runs through a
narrow gorge of the hills, and struck an artificial wagon-road,
excavated and embanked so as to afford a passage for wheeled vehicles
along the steep hill-side. A little farther on we crossed a very rudely
constructed bridge. These are the first signs of road-making I have
seen in the country. Emerging from the hills, the southern arm of the
Bay of San Francisco came in view, separated from us by a broad and
fertile plain, some ten or twelve miles in width, sloping gradually
down to the shore of the bay, and watered by several small creeks and

We soon entered through a narrow street the mission of San José, or St.
Joseph. Passing the squares of one-story adobe buildings once inhabited
by thousands of busy Indians, but now deserted, roofless, and crumbling
into ruins, we reached the plaza in front of the church, and the
massive two-story edifices occupied by the _padres_ during the
flourishing epoch of the establishment. These were in good repair; but
the doors and windows, with the exception of one, were closed, and
nothing of moving life was visible except a donkey or two, standing
near a fountain which gushed its waters into a capacious stone trough.
Dismounting from our mules, we entered the open door, and here we found
two Frenchmen dressed in sailor costume, with a quantity of coarse
shirts, pantaloons, stockings, and other small articles, together with
_aguardiénte_, which they designed retailing to such of the natives in
the vicinity as chose to become their customers. They were itinerant
merchants, or pedlars, and had opened their wares here for a day or two
only, or so long as they could find purchasers.

Having determined to remain here the residue of the day and the night,
we inquired of the Frenchmen if there was any family in the place that
could furnish us with food. They directed us to a house on the opposite
side of the plaza, to which we immediately repaired. The senora, a
dark-skinned and rather shrivelled and filthy specimen of the fair sex,
but with a black, sparkling, and intelligent eye, met us at the door of
the miserable hovel, and invited us in. In one corner of this wretched
and foul abode was a pile of raw hides, and in another a heap of wheat.
The only furniture it contained were two small benches, or stools, one
of which, being higher than the other, appeared to have been
constructed for a table. We informed the senora that we were
travellers, and wished refreshment and lodgings for the night. "_Esta
bueno, senores, esta bueno_," was her reply; and she immediately left
us, and, opening the door of the kitchen, commenced the preparation of
our dinner. The interior of the kitchen, of which I had a good view
through the door, was more revolting in its filthiness than the room in
which we were seated. In a short time, so industrious was our hostess,
our dinner, consisting of two plates of jerked beef, stewed, and
seasoned with _chile colorado_, a plate of _tortillas_, and a bowl of
coffee, was set out upon the most elevated stool. There were no knives,
forks, or spoons, on the table. Our amiable landlady apologized for
this deficiency of table-furniture, saying that she was "_muy pobre_"
(very poor), and possessed none of these table implements. "Fingers
were made before forks," and in our recent travels we had learned to
use them as substitutes, so that we found no difficulty in conveying
the meat from the plates to our mouths.

Belonging to the mission are two gardens, inclosed by high adobe walls.
After dinner we visited one of these. The area of the inclosure
contains fifteen or twenty acres of ground, the whole of which was
planted with fruit trees and grape-vines. There are about six hundred
pear trees, and a large number of apple and peach trees, all bearing
fruit in great abundance and in full perfection. The quality of the
pears is excellent, but the apples and peaches are indifferent. The
grapes have been gathered, as I suppose, for I saw none upon the vines,
which appeared healthy and vigorous. The gardens are irrigated with
very little trouble, from large springs which flow from the hills a
short distance above them. Numerous aqueducts, formerly conveying and
distributing water over an extensive tract of land surrounding the
mission, are still visible, but as the land is not now cultivated, they
at present contain no water.

The mission buildings cover fifty acres of ground, perhaps more, and
are all constructed of adobes with tile roofs. Those houses or barracks
which were occupied by the Indian families are built in compact
squares, one story in height. They are generally partitioned into two
rooms, one fronting on the street, the other upon a court or corral in
the rear. The main buildings of the mission are two stories in height,
with wide corridors in front and rear. The walls are massive, and, if
protected from the winter rains, will stand for ages. But if exposed to
the storms by the decay of the projecting roofs, or by leaks in the
main roof, they will soon crumble, or sink into shapeless heaps of mud.
I passed through extensive warehouses and immense rooms, once occupied
for the manufacture of woollen blankets and other articles, with the
rude machinery still standing in them, but unemployed. Filth and
desolation have taken the place of cleanliness and busy life. The
granary was very capacious, and its dimensions were an evidence of the
exuberant fertility of the soil, when properly cultivated under the
superintendence of the _padres_. The calaboose is a miserable dark room
of two apartments, one with a small loop-hole in the wall, the other a
dungeon without light or ventilation. The stocks, and several other
inventions for the punishment of offenders, are still standing in this
prison. I requested permission to examine the interior of the church,
but it was locked up, and no person in the mission was in possession of
the key. Its length I should suppose is from one hundred to one hundred
and twenty feet, and its breadth between thirty and forty, with small
exterior pretensions to architectural ornament or symmetry of

Returning from our rambles about the mission, we found that our
landlady had been reinforced by an elderly woman, whom she introduced
as "_mi madre_," and two or three Indian _muchachas_, or girls, clad in
a costume not differing much from that of our mother Eve. The latter
were obese in their figures, and the mingled perspiration and filth
standing upon their skins were any thing but agreeable to the eye. The
two senoras, with these handmaids near them, were sitting in front of
the house, busily engaged in executing some needlework.

Supper being prepared and discussed, our landlady informed us that she
had a husband, who was absent, but would return in the course of the
night, and, if he found strange men in the house, he would be much
offended with her. She had therefore directed her _muchachas_ to sweep
out one of the deserted and half-ruined rooms on the opposite square,
to which we could remove our baggage, and in which we could lodge
during the night; and as soon as the necessary preparations were made,
we retired to our dismal apartment. The "compound of villanous smells"
which saluted our nostrils when we entered our dormitory for the night
augured unfavourably for repose. The place had evidently been the abode
of horses, cattle, pigs, and foul vermin of every description. But with
the aid of a dark-coloured tallow-candle, which gave just light enough
to display the murkiness and filth surrounding us, we spread our beds
in the cleanest places, and laid down to rest. Distance travelled, 18


  Armies of fleas
  Leave the mission
  Wild mustard
  A carreta
  Family travelling
  Arrive at Pueblo de San José
  Capt. Fisher
  Description of the Pueblo
  The embarcadero
  Beautiful and fertile valley of the Pueblo
  Absence of architectural taste in California
  Town squirrels
  Fruit garden
  Tropical fruits
  Gaming rooms
  Contrast between California and American gamesters
  Leave San José
  Beautiful avenue
  Mission of Santa Clara
  Rich but neglected lands
  Effects of a bad government
  A senora on the road-side
  Kindness of Californian women
  Fast riding
  Cruel treatment of horses
  Arrive at the mission of San Francisco
  A poor but hospitable family
  Arrive at the town of San Francisco
  W.A. Leidesdorff, Esq., American vice-consul
  First view of the bay of San Francisco
  Muchachos and Muchachas
  Capt. Montgomery
  U.S. sloop-of-war, Portsmouth
  Town of San Francisco; its situation, appearance, population
  Commerce of California
  Extortion of the government and traders.

_September 19_.--Several Californians came into the mission during the
night or early this morning; among them the husband of our hostess, who
was very kind and cordial in his greetings.

While our man Jack was saddling and packing the mules, they gathered
around us to the number of a dozen or more, and were desirous of
trading their horses for articles of clothing; articles which many of
them appeared to stand greatly in need of, but which we had not to part
from. Their pertinacity exceeded the bounds of civility, as I thought;
but I was not in a good humour, for the fleas, bugs, and other vermin,
which infested our miserable lodgings, had caused me a sleepless night,
by goring my body until the blood oozed from the skin in countless
places. These ruinous missions are prolific generators, and the
nurseries of vermin of all kinds, as the hapless traveller who tarries
in them a few hours will learn to his sorrow. When these bloodthirsty
assailants once make a lodgment in the clothing or bedding of the
unfortunate victim of their attacks, such are their courage and
perseverance, that they never capitulate. "Blood or death" is their
motto;--the war against them, to be successful, must be a war of

Poor as our hostess was, she nevertheless was reluctant to receive any
compensation for her hospitality. We, however, insisted upon her
receiving a dollar from each of us (_dos pesos_), which she finally
accepted; and after shaking us cordially by the hand she bade us an
affectionate _adios_, and we proceeded on our journey.

From the Mission of San José to the Pueblo of San José, the distance is
fifteen miles, for the most part over a level and highly fertile plain,
producing a variety of indigenous grasses, among which I noticed
several species of clover and mustard, large tracts of which we rode
through, the stalks varying from six to ten feet in height. The plain
is watered by several _arroyos_, skirted with timber, generally the
evergreen oak.

We met this morning a Californian _carreta_, or travelling-cart,
freighted with women and children, bound on a pleasure excursion. The
_carreta_ is the rudest specimen of the wheeled vehicle I have seen.
The wheels are transverse sections of a log, and are usually about
2-1/2 feet in diameter, and varying in thickness from the centre to the
rim. These wheels are coupled together by an axletree, into which a
tongue is inserted. On the axletree and tongue rests a frame,
constructed of square pieces of timber, six or eight feet in length,
and four or five in breadth, into which are inserted a number of stakes
about, four feet in length. This frame-work being covered and floored
with raw hides, the carriage is complete. The _carreta_ which we met
was drawn by two yokes of oxen, driven by an Indian vaquero, mounted on
a horse. In the rear were two _caballeros_, riding fine spirited
horses, with gaudy trappings. They were dressed in steeple-crowned
glazed _sombreros, serapes_ of fiery colours, velvet (cotton)
_calzoneros_, white cambric _calzoncillos_, and leggins and shoes of
undressed leather. Their spurs were of immense size.

The party halted as soon as we met them, the men touching their heavy
_sombreros_, and uttering the usual salutation of the morning, "_Buenos
dios, senores_," and shaking hands with us very cordially. The same
salutation was repeated by all the senoras and senoritas in the
_carreta_. In dress and personal appearance the women of this party
were much inferior to the men. Their skins were dark, sallow, and
shrivelled; and their costume, a loose gown and _reboso_, were made of
very common materials. The children, however, were all handsome, with
sparkling eyes and ruddy complexions. Women and children were seated,
_à la Turque_, on the bottom of the _carreta_, there being no raised
seats in the vehicle.

We arrived at the Pueblo do San José about twelve o'clock. There being
no hotels in California, we were much at a loss where to apply for
refreshments and lodgings for the night. Soon, however, we were met by
Captain Fisher, a native of Massachusetts, but a resident of this
country for twenty years or more, who invited us to his house. We were
most civilly received by Senora F., who, although she did not speak
English, seemed to understand it very well. She is a native of the
southern Pacific coast of Mexico, and a lady of fine manners and
personal appearance. Her oldest daughter, about thirteen years of age,
is very beautiful. An excellent dinner was soon set out, with a variety
of the native wines of California and other liquors. We could not have
felt ourselves more happy and more at home, even at our own firesides
and in the midst of our own families.

The Pueblo de San José is a village containing some six or eight
hundred inhabitants. It is situated in what is called the "Pueblo
Valley," about fifteen miles south of the southern shore of the Bay of
San Francisco. Through a navigable creek, vessels of considerable
burden can approach the town within a distance of five or six miles.
The _embarcadero_, or landing, I think, is six miles from the Pueblo.
The fertile plain between this and the town, at certain seasons of the
year, is sometimes inundated. The "Pueblo Valley," which is eighty or
one hundred miles in length, varying from ten to twenty in breadth, is
well watered by the Rio Santa Clara and numerous _arroyos_, and is one
of the most fertile and picturesque plains in California. For pastoral
charms, fertility of soil, variety of productions, and delicious
voluptuousness of climate and scenery, it cannot be surpassed. This
valley, if properly cultivated, would alone produce breadstuffs enough
to supply millions of population. The buildings of the Pueblo, with few
exceptions, are constructed of adobes, and none of them have even the
smallest pretensions to architectural taste or beauty. The church,
which is situated near the centre of the town, exteriorly resembles a
huge Dutch barn. The streets are irregular, every man having erected
his house in a position most convenient to him. Aqueducts convey water
from the Santa Clara River to all parts of the town. In the main plaza
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of squirrels, whose abodes are under
ground, have their residences. They are of a brownish colour, and about
the size of our common gray squirrel. Emerging from their subterraneous
abodes, they skip and leap about over the plaza without the least
concern, no one molesting them.

The population of the place is composed chiefly of native Californian
land-proprietors. Their ranchos are in the valley, but their residences
and gardens are in the town. We visited this afternoon the garden of
Senor Don Antonio Sugnol. He received us with much politeness, and
conducted us through his garden. Apples, pears, peaches, figs, oranges,
and grapes, with other fruits which I do not now recollect, were
growing and ripening. The grape-vines were bowed to the ground with the
luxuriance arid weight of the yield; and more delicious fruit I never
tasted. From the garden we crossed over to a flouring-mill recently
erected by a son-in-law of Don Antonio, a Frenchman by birth. The mill
is a creditable enterprise to the proprietor, and he will coin money
from its operations.

The Pueblo de San José is one of the oldest settlements in Alta
California. Captain Fisher pointed out to me a house built of adobes,
which has been standing between 80 and 90 years, and no house in the
place appeared to be more substantial or in better repair. A garrison,
composed of marines from the United States' ships, and volunteers
enlisted from the American settlers in the country, is now stationed
here. The post is under the command of Purser Watmough, of the United
States sloop-of-war Portsmouth, commanded by Captain Montgomery. During
the evening I visited several public places (bar-rooms), where I saw
men and women engaged promiscuously at the game of _monte_. Gambling is
a universal vice in California. All classes and both sexes participate
in its excitements to some extent. The games, however, while I was
present, were conducted with great propriety and decorum so far as the
native Californians were concerned. The loud swearing and other
turbulent demonstrations generally proceeded from the unsuccessful
foreigners. I could not but observe the contrast between the two races
in this respect. The one bore their losses with stoical composure and
indifference; the other announced each unsuccessful bet with profane
imprecations and maledictions. Excitement prompted the hazards of the
former, avarice the latter.

_September 20_.--The morning was cloudy and cool; but the clouds broke
away about nine o'clock, and the sun shone from a vapourless sky, as
usual. We met, at the Pueblo, Mr. Grove Cook, a native of Gerrard
county, Ky., but for many years a resident of California. He is the
proprietor of a rancho in the vicinity. We determined to leave our
mules in charge of Mr. Cook's vaquero, and proceed to San Francisco on
hired horses. The distance from the Pueblo de San José to San Francisco
is called sixty miles. The time occupied in performing the journey, on
Californian horses at Californian speed, is generally six or seven
hours. Procuring horses for the journey, and leaving our baggage, with
the exception of a change of clothing, we left the Pueblo about eleven
o'clock A.M.

The mission of Santa Clara is situated about two and a half miles from
the town. A broad _alameda_, shaded by stately trees (elms and
willows), planted by the _padres_, extends nearly the entire distance,
forming a most beautiful drive or walk for equestrians or pedestrians.
The motive of the _padres_ in planting this avenue was to afford the
devout senoras and senoritas a shade from the sun, when walking from
the Pueblo to the church at the mission to attend mass. A few minutes
over the smooth level road, at the rapid speed of our fresh Californian
horses, brought us to the mission, where we halted to make our
observations. This mission is not so extensive in its buildings as that
of San José, but the houses are generally in better repair. They are
constructed of adobes; the church was open, and, entering the interior,
I found the walls hung with coarse paintings and engravings of the
saints, etc., etc. The chancel decorated with numerous images, and
symbolical ornaments used by the priests in their worship. Gold-paper,
and tinsel, in barbaric taste, are plastered without stint upon nearly
every object that meets the eye, so that, when on festive occasions the
church is lighted, it must present a very glittering appearance.

The rich lands surrounding the mission are entirely neglected. I did
not notice a foot of ground under cultivation, except the garden
inclosure, which contained a variety of fruits and plants of the
temperate and tropical climates. From want of care these are fast
decaying. Some excellent pears were furnished us by Mrs. Bennett, an
American lady, of Amazonian proportions, who, with her family of sons,
has taken up her residence in one of the buildings of the mission. The
picture of decay and ruin presented by this once flourishing
establishment, surrounded by a country so fertile and scenery so
enchanting, is a most melancholy spectacle to the passing traveller,
and speaks a language of loud condemnation against the government.

Proceeding on our journey, we travelled fifteen miles over a flat
plain, timbered with groves and parks of evergreen oaks, and covered
with a great variety of grasses, wild oats, and mustard. So rank is the
growth of mustard in many places, that it is with difficulty that a
horse can penetrate through it. Numerous birds flitted from tree to
tree, making the groves musical with their harmonious notes. The
black-tailed deer bounded frequently across our path, and the lurking
and stealthy _coyotes_ were continually in view. We halted at a small
cabin, with a _corral_ near it, in order to breathe our horses, and
refresh ourselves. Captain Fisher had kindly filled a small sack with
bread, cheese, roasted beef, and a small jug of excellent schiedam.
Entering the cabin, the interior of which was cleanly, we found a
solitary woman, young, neatly dressed, and displaying many personal
charms. With the characteristic ease and grace of a Spanish woman, she
gave the usual salutation for the hour of the day, "_Buenas tardes,
senores caballeros_;" to which we responded by a suitable salutation.
We requested of our hostess some water, which she furnished us
immediately, in an earthen bowl. Opening our sack of provisions, we
spread them upon the table, and invited the senora to partake of them
with us, which invitation she accepted without the slightest
hesitation, and with much good-nature, vivacity, and even thankfulness
for our politeness. There are no women in the world for whose manners
nature has done so much, and for whom art and education, in this
respect, have done so little, as these Hispano-American females on the
coast of the Pacific. In their deportment towards strangers they are
queens, when, in costume, they are peasants. None of them, according to
our tastes, can be called beautiful; but what they want in complexion
and regularity of feature is fully supplied by their kindliness, the
soul and sympathy which beam from their dark eyes, and their grace and
warmth of manners and expression.

While enjoying the _pic-nic_ with our agreeable hostess, a _caballada_
was driven into the _corral_ by two _vaqueros_, and two gentlemen soon
after came into the house. They were Messrs. Lightson and Murphy, from
the Pueblo, bound for San Francisco, and had stopped to change their
horses. We immediately made ready to accompany them, and were soon on
the road again, travelling at racehorse speed; these gentlemen having
furnished us with a change of horses, in order that we might be able to
keep up with them.

To account for the fast travelling in California on horseback, it is
necessary to explain the mode by which it is accomplished. A gentleman
who starts upon a journey of one hundred miles, and wishes to perform
the trip in a day, will take with him ten fresh horses and a _vaquero_.
The eight loose horses are placed under the charge of the _vaquero_,
and are driven in front, at the rate of ten or twelve miles an hour,
according to the speed that is required for the journey. At the end of
twenty miles, the horses which have been rode are discharged and turned
into the _caballada_, and horses which have not been rode, but driven
along without weight, are saddled and mounted and rode at the same
speed, and so on to the end of the journey. If a horse gives out from
inability to proceed at this gait, he is left on the road. The owner's
brand is on him, and, if of any value, he can be recovered without
difficulty. But in California no one thinks of stopping on the road, on
account of the loss of a horse, or his inability to travel at the rate
of ten or twelve miles an hour. Horseflesh is cheap, and the animal
must go as long as he can, and when he cannot travel longer he is left,
and another horse is substituted.

Twenty-five miles, at a rapid gait over a level and fertile plain,
brought us to the rancho of Don Francisco Sanchez, where we halted to
change horses. Breathing our animals a short time, we resumed our
journey, and reached the mission of San Francisco Dolores, three miles
from the town of San Francisco, just after sunset. Between the mission
and the town the road is very sandy, and we determined to remain here
for the night, _corraling_ the loose animals, and picketing those we
rode. It was some time, however, before we could find a house to lodge
in. The foreign occupants of the mission buildings, to whom we applied
for accommodations for the night, gave us no satisfaction. After
several applications, we were at last accommodated by an old and very
poor Californian Spaniard, who inhabited a small house in one of the
ruinous squares, formerly occupied by the operative Indians. All that he
had (and it was but little) was at our disposal. A more miserable
supper I never sat down to; but the spirit of genuine hospitality in
which it was given imparted to the poor viands a flavour that rendered
the entertainment almost sumptuous--in my imagination. A cup of water
cheerfully given to the weary and thirsty traveller, by him who has no
more to part with, is worth a cask of wine grudgingly bestowed by the
stingy or the ostentatious churl. Notwithstanding we preferred sleeping
on our own blankets, these poor people would not suffer us to do it,
but spread their own pallets on the earth floor of their miserable hut,
and insisted so strongly upon our occupying them, that we could not

_September 21_.--We rose at daylight. The morning was clear, and our
horses were shivering with the cold. The mission of San Francisco is
situated at the northern terminus of the fertile plain over which we
travelled yesterday, and at the foot, on the eastern side, of the coast
range of mountains. These mountains are of considerable elevation. The
shore of the Bay of San Francisco is about two miles distant from the
mission. An _arroyo_ waters the mission lands, and empties into the
bay. The church of the mission, and the main buildings contiguous, are
in tolerable repair. In the latter, several Mormon families, which
arrived in the ship Brooklyn from New York, are quartered. As in the
other missions I have passed through, the Indian quarters are crumbling
into shapeless heaps of mud.

Our aged host, notwithstanding he is a pious Catholic, and considers us
as heretics and heathens, gave us his benediction in a very impressive
manner when we were about to start. Mounting our horses at sunrise, we
travelled three miles over low ridges of sand-hills, with sufficient
soil, however, to produce a thick growth of scrubby evergreen oak, and
brambles of hawthorn, wild currant and gooseberry bushes, rose bushes,
briers, etc. We reached the residence of Wm. A. Leidesdorff, Esq., late
American vice-consul at San Francisco, when the sun was about an hour
high. The morning was calm and beautiful. Not a ripple disturbed the
placid and glassy surface of the magnificent bay and harbour, upon
which rested at anchor thirty large vessels, consisting of whalemen,
merchantmen, and the U.S. sloop-of-war Portsmouth, Captain Montgomery.
Besides these, there were numerous small craft, giving to the harbour a
commercial air, of which some of the large cities on the Atlantic coast
would feel vain. The bay, from the town of San Francisco due east, is
about twelve miles in breadth. An elevated range of hills bounds the
view on the opposite side. These slope gradually down, and between them
and the shore there is a broad and fertile plain, which is called the
_Contra Costa_. There are several small islands in the bay, but they do
not present a fertile appearance to the eye.

We were received with every mark of respectful attention and cordial
hospitality by Mr. Leidesdorff. Mr. L. is a native of Denmark; was for
some years a resident of the United States; but subsequently the
captain of a merchant vessel, and has been established at this place as
a merchant some five or six years. The house in which he resides, now
under the process of completion, is the largest private building in the
town. Being shown to a well-furnished room, we changed our
travel-soiled clothing for a more civilized costume, by which time
breakfast was announced, and we were ushered into a large dining-hall.
In the centre stood a table, upon which was spread a substantial
breakfast of stewed and fried beef, fried onions, and potatoes, bread,
butter, and coffee. Our appetites were very sharp, and we did full
justice to the merits of the fare before us. The servants waiting upon
the table were an Indian _muchachito_ and _muchachita_, about ten or
twelve years of age. They had not been long from their wild
_rancherias_, and knew but little of civilized life. Our host, however,
who speaks, I believe, nearly every living language, whether of
Christian, barbarian, or savage nations, seemed determined to impress
upon their dull intellects the forms and customs of civilization. He
scolded them with great vivacity, sometimes in their own tongue,
sometimes in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, German, and English,
in accordance with the language in which he was thinking at the moment.
It seemed to me that the little fat Indians were more confused than
enlightened by his emphatic instructions. At the table, besides
ourselves and host, was Lieutenant W.A. Bartlett, of the U.S.
sloop-of-war Portsmouth, now acting as Alcalde of the town and district
of San Francisco.

The Portsmouth, Commander Montgomery, is the only United States vessel
of war now lying in the harbour. She is regarded as the finest vessel
of her class belonging to our navy. By invitation of Lieutenant
Bartlett, I went on board of her between ten and eleven o'clock. The
crew and officers were assembled on deck to attend Divine service. They
were all dressed with great neatness, and seemed to listen with deep
attention to the Episcopal service and a sermon, which were read by
Commander Montgomery, who is a member of the church.

In the afternoon I walked to the summit of one of the elevated hills in
the vicinity of the town, from which I had a view of the entrance to
the bay of San Francisco and of the Pacific Ocean. A thick fog hung
over the ocean outside of the bay. The deep roar of the eternally
restless waves, as they broke one after another upon the beach, or
dashed against the rock-bound shore, could be heard with great
distinctness, although some five or six miles distant. The entrance
from the ocean into the bay is about a mile and half in breadth. The
waters of the bay appear to have forced a passage through the elevated
ridge of hills next to the shore of the Pacific. These rise abruptly on
either side of the entrance. The water at the entrance and inside is of
sufficient depth to admit the largest ship that was ever constructed;
and so completely land-locked and protected from the winds is the
harbour, that vessels can ride at anchor in perfect safety in all kinds
of weather. The capacity of the harbour is sufficient for the
accommodation of all the navies of the world.

The town of San Francisco is situated on the south side of the
entrance, fronting on the bay, and about six miles from the ocean. The
flow and ebb of the tide are sufficient to bring a vessel to the
anchorage in front of the town and carry it outside, without the aid of
wind, or even against an unfavourable wind. A more approachable
harbour, or one of greater security, is unknown to navigators. The
permanent population of the town is at this time between one and two
hundred,[1] and is composed almost exclusively of foreigners. There are
but two or three native Californian families in the place. The
transient population, and at present it is quite numerous, consists of
the garrison of marines stationed here, and the officers and crews
attached to the merchant and whale ships lying in the harbour. The
houses, with a few exceptions, are small adobes and frames, constructed
without regard to architectural taste, convenience, or comfort. Very
few of them have either chimneys or fire-places. The inhabitants
contrive to live the year round without fires, except for cooking. The
position of San Francisco for commerce is, without doubt, superior to
any other port on the Pacific coast of North America. The country
contiguous and contributory to it cannot be surpassed in fertility,
healthfulness of climate, and beauty of scenery. It is capable of
producing whatever is necessary to the sustenance of man, and many of
the luxuries of tropical climates, not taking into the account the
mineral wealth of the surrounding hills and mountains, which there is
reason to believe is very great. This place is, doubtless, destined to
become one of the largest and most opulent commercial cities in the
world, and under American authority it will rise with astonishing
rapidity. The principal merchants now established here are Messrs.
Leidesdorff, Grimes and Davis, and Frank Ward, a young gentleman
recently from New York. These houses carry on an extensive and
profitable commerce with the interior, the Sandwich Islands, Oregon,
and the southern coast of the Pacific. The produce of Oregon for
exportation is flour, lumber, salmon, and cheese; of the Sandwich
Islands, sugar, coffee, and preserved tropical fruits.

California, until recently, has had no commerce, in the broad
signification of the term. A few commercial houses of Boston and New
York have monopolized all the trade on this coast for a number of
years. These houses have sent out ships freighted with cargoes of dry
goods and a variety of _knick-knacks_ saleable in the country. The
ships are fitted up for the retail sale of these articles, and trade
from port to port, vending their wares on board to the rancheros at
prices that would be astonishing at home. For instance, the price of
common brown cotton cloth is one dollar per yard, and other articles in
this and even greater proportion of advance upon home prices. They
receive in payment for their wares, hides and tallow. The price of a
dry hide is ordinarily one dollar and fifty cents. The price of tallow
I do not know. When the ship has disposed of her cargo, she is loaded
with hides, and returns to Boston, where the hides bring about four or
five dollars, according to the fluctuations of the market. Immense
fortunes have been made by this trade; and between the government of
Mexico and the traders on the coast California has been literally
_skinned_, annually, for the last thirty years. Of natural wealth the
population of California possess a superabundance, and are immensely
rich; still, such have been the extortionate prices that they have been
compelled to pay for their commonest artificial luxuries and
wearing-apparel, that generally they are but indifferently provided
with the ordinary necessaries of civilized life. For a suit of clothes,
which in New York or Boston would cost seventy-five dollars, the
Californian has been compelled to pay five times that sum in hides at
one dollar and fifty cents; so that a _caballero_, to clothe himself
genteelly, has been obliged, as often as he renewed his dress, to
sacrifice about two hundred of the cattle on his rancho. No people,
whether males or females, are more fond of display; no people have paid
more dearly to gratify this vanity; and yet no civilized people I have
seen are so deficient in what they most covet.

  [1] This was in September, 1846. In June, 1847, when I left San
      Francisco, on my return to the United States, the population had
      increased to about twelve hundred, and houses were rising in all


  Climate of San Francisco
  Periodical winds
  Dine on board the Portsmouth
  A supper party on shore
  Arrival of Commodore Stockton at San Francisco
  Rumours of rebellion from the south
  Californian court
  Trial by jury
  Californian belles
  American pioneers of the Pacific
  Reception of Commodore Stockton
  Captain Fremont leaves San Francisco for the south
  Offer our services as volunteers.

From the 21st of September to the 13th of October I remained at San
Francisco. The weather during this period was uniformly clear. The
climate of San Francisco is peculiar and local, from its position.
During the summer and autumnal months, the wind on this coast blows
from the west and northwest, directly from the ocean. The mornings here
are usually calm and pleasantly warm. About twelve o'clock M., the wind
blows strong from the ocean, through the entrance of the bay, rendering
the temperature cool enough for woollen clothing in midsummer. About
sunset the wind dies away, and the evenings and nights are comparatively
calm. In the winter months the wind blows in soft and gentle breezes
from the south-east, and the temperature is agreeable, the thermometer
rarely sinking below 50 deg. When the winds blow from the ocean, it
never rains; when they blow from the land, as they do during the winter
and spring months, the weather is showery, and resembles that of the
month of May in the same latitude on the Atlantic coast. The coolness
of the climate and briskness of the air above described are confined to
particular positions on the coast, and the description in this respect
is not applicable to the interior of the country, nor even to other
localities immediately on the coast.

On the 21st, by invitation of Captain Montgomery, I dined on board of
the sloop-of-war Portsmouth. The party, including myself, consisted of
Colonel Russell, Mr. Jacob, Lieutenant Bartlett, and a son of Captain
M. There are few if any officers in our navy more highly and
universally esteemed, for their moral qualities and professional
merits, than Captain M. He is a sincere Christian, a brave officer, and
an accomplished gentleman. Under the orders of Commodore Sloat, he
first raised the American flag in San Francisco. We spent the afternoon
most agreeably, and the refined hospitality, courteous manners, and
intelligent and interesting conversation of our host made us regret the
rapidly fleeting moments. The wines on the table were the produce of
the vine of California, and, having attained age, were of an excellent
quality in substance and flavour.

I attended a supper-party given this evening by Mr. Frank Ward. The
party was composed of citizens of the town, and officers of the navy
and the merchant and whale ships in the harbour. In such a company as
was here assembled, it was very difficult for me to realize that I was
many thousand miles from, home, in a strange and foreign country. All
the faces about me were American, and there was nothing in scene or
sentiment to remind the guests of their remoteness from their native
shores. Indeed, it seems to be a settled opinion, that California is
henceforth to compose a part of the United States, and every American
who is now here considers himself as treading upon his own soil, as
much as if he were in one of the old thirteen revolutionary states.
Song, sentiment, story, and wit heightened the enjoyments of the
excellent entertainment of our host, and the jovial party did not
separate until a late hour of the night. The guests, as may be
supposed, were composed chiefly of gentlemen who had, from their
pursuits, travelled over most of the world--had seen developments of
human character under every variety of circumstance, and observed
society, civilized, barbarous, and savage, in all its phases. Their
conversation, therefore, when around the convivial board, possessed an
unhackneyed freshness and raciness highly entertaining and instructive.

On the 27th of September, the U.S. frigate Congress, Captain
Livingston, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Stockton, and the
U.S. frigate Savannah, Captain Mervine, anchored in the harbour, having
sailed from Monterey a day or two previously. The arrival of these
large men-of-war produced an increase of the bustle in the small town.
Blue coats and bright buttons (the naval uniform) became the prevailing
costume at the billiard-rooms and other public places, and the plain
dress of a private citizen might be regarded as a badge of distinction.

On the 1st of October a courier arrived from the south with
intelligence that the Californians at Los Angeles had organized a force
and rebelled against the authority of the Americans--that they had also
captured an American merchant-vessel lying at San Pedro, the port of
the city of Angels, about thirty miles distant, and robbed it of a
quantity of merchandise and specie. Whether this latter report was or
was not true, I do not know--the former was correct. The frigate
Savannah sailed for Los Angeles immediately.

Among those American naval officers whose agreeable acquaintance I made
at San Francisco, was Mr. James F. Schenck, first-lieutenant of the
frigate Congress, brother of the distinguished member of congress from
Ohio of that name,--a native of Dayton, Ohio,--a gentleman of
intelligence, keen wit, and a most accomplished officer. The officers
of our navy are our representatives in foreign countries, and they are
generally such representatives as their constituents have reason to
feel proud of. Their chivalry, patriotism, gentlemanlike deportment,
and professional skill cannot be too much admired and applauded by
their countrymen. I shall ever feel grateful to the naval officers of
the Pacific squadron for their numerous civilities during my sojourn on
the Pacific coast.

Among the novelties presented while at San Francisco was a trial by
jury--the second tribunal of this kind which had been organized in
California. The trial look place before Judge Bartlett, and the
litigants were two Mormons. Counsel was employed on both sides. Some of
the forms of American judicial proceedings were observed, and many of
the legal technicalities and nice flaws, so often urged in common-law
courts, were here argued by the learned counsel of the parties, with a
vehemence of language and gesticulation with which I thought the legal
learning and acumen displayed did not correspond. The proceedings were
a mixture, made up of common law, equity, and a sprinkling of military
despotism--which last ingredient the court was compelled to employ,
when entangled in the intricate meshes woven by the counsel for the
litigants, in order to extricate itself. The jury, after the case was
referred to them, were what is called "hung;" they could not agree, and
the matters in issue, therefore, remained exactly where they were
before the proceedings were commenced.

I attended one evening a _fandango_ given by Mr. Ridley, an English
gentleman, whose wife is a Californian lady. Several of the senoras and
senoritas from the ranchos of the vicinity were present. The
Californian ladies dance with much ease and grace. The waltz appears to
be a favourite with them. Smoking is not prohibited in these
assemblies, nor is it confined to the gentlemen. The _cigarita_ is
freely used by the senoras and senoritas, and they puff it with much
gusto while threading the mazes of the cotillion or swinging in the

I had the pleasure of being introduced, at the residence of Mr.
Leidesdorff, to two young ladies, sisters and belles in Alta
California. They are members of an old and numerous family on the
Contra Costa. Their names are singular indeed, for, if I heard them
correctly, one of them was called Donna Maria Jesus, and the other
Donna Maria Conception. They were interesting and graceful young
ladies, with regular features, symmetrical figures, and their dark eyes
flashed with all the intelligence and passion characteristic of Spanish

Among the gentlemen with whom I met soon after my arrival at San
Francisco, and whoso acquaintance I afterwards cultivated, were Mr. E.
Grimes and Mr. N. Spear, both natives of Massachusetts, but residents
of this coast and of the Pacific Islands, for many years. They may be
called the patriarchs of American pioneers on the Pacific. After
forming an acquaintance with Mr. G., if any one were to say to me that

    "Old Grimes is dead, that good old man,"

I should not hesitate to contradict him with emphasis; for he is still
living, and possesses all the charities and virtues which can adorn
human nature, with some of the eccentricities of his name-sake in the
song. By leading a life of peril and adventure on the Pacific Ocean for
fifty years he has accumulated a large fortune, and is a man now
proverbial for his integrity, candour, and charities. Both of these
gentlemen have been largely engaged in the local commerce of the
Pacific. Mr. S., some twenty-five or thirty years ago, colonized one of
the Cannibal Islands, and remained upon it with the colony for nearly
two years. The attempt to introduce agriculture into the island was a
failure, and the enterprise was afterwards abandoned.

On the evening of the third of October, it having been announced that
Commodore Stockton would land on the fifth, a public meeting of the
citizens was called by the alcalde, for the purpose of adopting
suitable arrangements for his reception, in his civic capacity as
governor. The meeting was convened in the _plaza_ (Portsmouth Square).
Colonel Russell was appointed chairman, and on motion of E. Bryant a
committee was appointed to make all necessary and suitable arrangements
for the reception of his excellency, Governor Stockton. The following
account of this pageant I extract from the "California" newspaper of
October 24th, 1846.

"Agreeable to public notice, a large number of the citizens of San
Francisco and vicinity assembled in Portsmouth Square for the purpose
of meeting his excellency Robert F. Stockton, to welcome his arrival,
and offer him the hospitalities of the city. At ten o'clock, a
procession was formed, led by the Chief Marshal of the day, supported
on either hand by two aids, followed by an excellent band of music--a
military escort, under command of Captain J. Zeilen, U.S.M.C.--Captain
John B. Montgomery and suite--Magistracy of the District, and the
Orator of the day--Foreign Consuls--Captain John Paty, Senior Captain
of the Hawanian Navy--Lieutenant-Commanding Ruducoff, Russian Navy, and
Lieutenant-Commanding Bonnett, French Navy. The procession was closed
by the Committee of Arrangements, captains of ships in port, and a long
line of citizens.

"General Mariano Guadaloupe Valléjo, with several others who had held
office under the late government, took their appropriate place in the

"The procession moved in fine style down Portsmouth Street to the
landing, and formed a line in Water Street. The Governor-General landed
from his barge, and was met on the wharf by Captain John B. Montgomery,
U.S.N., Judge W.A. Bartlett, and Marshal of the day (Frank Ward), who
conducted him to the front of the line, and presented him to the
procession, through the orator of the day, Colonel Russell, who
addressed the commodore."

When the governor and commander-in-chief had closed his reply, the
procession moved through the principal streets, and halted in front of
Captain Leidesdorff's residence, where the governor and suite entered,
and was presented to a number of ladies, who welcomed him to the shores
of California. After which a large portion of the procession
accompanied the governor, on horseback, to the mission of San Francisco
Dolores, several miles in the country, and returned to an excellent
collation prepared by the committee of arrangements, at the house of
Captain Leidesdorff. After the cloth was removed, the usual number of
regular toasts, prepared by the committee of arrangements, and numerous
volunteer sentiments by the members of the company, were drunk with
many demonstrations of enthusiasm, and several speeches were made. In
response to a complimentary toast, Commodore Stockton made an eloquent
address of an hour's length. The toasts given in English were
translated into Spanish, and those given in Spanish were translated
into English. A ball in honour of the occasion was given by the
committee of arrangements in the evening, which was attended by all the
ladies, native and foreign, in the town and vicinity, the naval
officers attached to the three ships of war, and the captains of the
merchant vessels lying in the harbour. So seductive were the
festivities of the day and the pleasures of the dance, that they were
not closed until a late hour of the night, or rather until an early
hour in the morning.

Among the numerous vessels of many nations at anchor in the harbour is
a Russian brig from Sitca, the central port of the Russian-American Fur
Company, on the northwestern coast of this continent. She is commanded
by Lieutenant Ruducoff of the Russian navy, and is here to be freighted
with wheat to supply that settlement with breadstuff. Sitca is situated
in a high northern latitude, and has a population of some four or five
thousand inhabitants. A large portion of these, I conjecture, are
christianized natives or Indians. Many of the crew of this vessel are
the aborigines of the country to which she belongs, and from which she
last sailed. I noticed, however, from an inscription, that the brig was
built at Newburyport, Massachusetts, showing that the autocrat of all
the Russias is tributary, to some extent, to the free Yankees of New
England for his naval equipment. On the 11th of October, by invitation
of Lieutenant Ruducoff, in company of Mr. Jacob and Captain
Leidesdorff, I dined on board this vessel. The Russian customs are in
some respects peculiar. Soon after we reached the vessel and were shown
into the cabin, a lunch was served up. This consisted of a variety of
dried and smoked fish, pickled fish-roe, and other hyperborean pickles,
the nature of which, whether animal or vegetable, I could not
determine. Various wines and liquors accompanied this lunch, the
discussion of which lasted until an Indian servant, a native of the
north-pole, or thereabouts, announced dinner. We were then shown into a
handsomely furnished dining-cabin, where the table was spread. The
dinner consisted of several courses, some of which were peculiarly
Russian or Sitcan, and I regret that my culinary knowledge is not equal
to the task of describing them, for the benefit of epicures of a more
southern region than the place of their invention. They were certainly
very delightful to the palate. The afternoon glided away most

On the 12th of October, Captain Fremont, with a number of volunteers
destined for the south, to co-operate with Commodore Stockton in the
suppression of the reported rebellion at Los Angeles, arrived at San
Francisco from the Sacramento. I had previously offered my services,
and Mr. Jacob had done the same, to Commodore Stockton, as volunteers
in this expedition, if they were necessary or desirable. They were now
repeated. Although travellers in the country, we were American
citizens, and we felt under obligation to assist in defending the flag
of our country wherever it had been planted by proper authority. At
this time we were given to understand that a larger force than was
already organised was not considered necessary for the expedition.


  Leave San Francisco for Sonoma
  Sonoma creek
  "Bear men."
  Islands in the bay
  Liberality of "Uncle Sam" to sailors
  Beautiful country
  General Valléjo
  Senora Valléjo
  Thomas O. Larkin, U.S. Consul
  Signs of rain
  The seasons in California
  More warlike rumours from the south
  Mission of San Rafael
  An Irish ranchero
  Return to San Francisco
  Meet Lippincott
  Discomfort of Californian houses.

_October 13_.--This morning the United States frigate Congress,
Commodore Stockton, and the merchant-ship Sterling, employed to
transport the volunteers under the command of Captain Fremont (one
hundred and eighty in number), sailed for the south. The destination of
these vessels was understood to be San Pedro or San Diego. While those
vessels were leaving the harbour, accompanied by Mr. Jacob, I took
passage for Sonoma in a cutter belonging to the sloop-of-war
Portsmouth. Sonoma is situated on the northern side of the Bay of San
Francisco, about 15 miles from the shore, and about 45 miles from the
town of San Francisco. Sonoma creek is navigable for vessels of
considerable burden to within four miles of the town.

Among the passengers in the boat were Mr. Ide, who acted so conspicuous
a part in what is called the "Bear Revolution," and Messrs. Nash and
Grigsby, who were likewise prominent in this movement. The boat was
manned by six sailors and a cockswain. We passed Yerba Buena, Bird, and
several other small islands in the bay. Some of these are white, as if
covered with snow, from the deposit upon them of bird-manure. Tens of
thousands of wild geese, ducks, gulls, and other water-fowls, were
perched upon them, or sporting in the waters of the bay, making a
prodigious cackling and clatter with their voices and wings. By the aid
of oars and sails we reached the mouth of Sonoma creek about 9 o'clock
at night, where we landed and encamped on the low marsh which borders
the bay on this side. The marshes contiguous to the Bay of San
Francisco are extensive, and with little trouble I believe they could
be reclaimed and transformed into valuable and productive rice
plantations. Having made our supper on raw salt pork and bread
generously furnished by the sailors, as soon as we landed, we spread
our blankets on the damp and rank vegetation and slept soundly until

_October 14_.--Wind and tide being favourable, at daylight we proceeded
up the serpentine creek, which winds through a flat and fertile plain,
sometimes marshy, at others more elevated and dry, to the
_embarcadero_, ten or twelve miles from the bay. We landed here between
nine and ten o'clock, A.M. All the passengers, except ourselves,
proceeded immediately to the town. By them we sent for a cart to
transport our saddles, bridles, blankets, and other baggage, which we
had brought with us. While some of the sailors were preparing
breakfast, others, with their muskets, shot wild geese, with which the
plain was covered. An excellent breakfast was prepared in a short time
by our sailor companions, of which we partook with them. No benevolent
old gentleman provides more bountifully for his servants than "Uncle
Sam." These sailors, from the regular rations served out to them from
their ship, gave an excellent breakfast, of bread, butter, coffee, tea,
fresh beefsteaks, fried salt pork, cheese, pickles, and a variety of
other delicacies, to which we had been unaccustomed for several months,
and which cannot be obtained at present in this country. They all said
that their rations were more than ample in quantity, and excellent in
quality, and that no government was so generous in supplying its
sailors as the government of the United States. They appeared to be
happy, and contented with their condition and service, and animated
with a patriotic pride for the honour of their country, and the flag
under which they sailed. The open frankness and honest patriotism of
these single-hearted and weather-beaten tars gave a spice and flavour
to our entertainment which I shall not soon forget.

From the _embarcadero_ we walked, under the influence of the rays of an
almost broiling sun, four miles to the town of Sonoma. The plain, which
lies between the landing and Sonoma, is timbered sparsely with
evergreen oaks. The luxuriant grass is now brown and crisp. The hills
surrounding this beautiful valley or plain are gentle, sloping, highly
picturesque, and covered to their tops with wild oats. Reaching Sonoma,
we procured lodgings in a large and half-finished adobe house, erected
by Don Salvador Valléjo, but now occupied by Mr. Griffith, an American
emigrant, originally from North Carolina. Sonoma is one of the old
mission establishments of California; but there is now scarcely a
mission building standing, most of them having fallen into shapeless
masses of mud; and a few years will prostrate the roofless walls which
are now standing. The principal houses in the place are the residences
of Gen. Don Mariano Guadaloupe Valléjo; his brother-in-law, Mr. J.P.
Leese, an American; and his brother, Don Salvador Valléjo. The quartel,
a barn-like adobe house, faces the public square. The town presents a
most dull and ruinous appearance; but the country surrounding it is
exuberantly fertile, and romantically picturesque, and Sonoma, under
American authority, and with an American population, will very soon
become a secondary commercial point, and a delightful residence. Most
of the buildings are erected around a _plaza_, about two hundred yards
square. The only ornaments in this square are numerous skulls and
dislocated skeletons of slaughtered beeves, with which hideous remains
the ground is strewn. Cold and warm springs gush from the hills near
the town, and supply, at all seasons, a sufficiency of water to
irrigate any required extent of ground on the plain below. I noticed
outside of the square several groves of peach and other fruit trees,
and vineyards, which were planted here by the _padres_; but the walls
and fences that once surrounded them are now fallen, or have been
consumed for fuel; and they are exposed to the _mercies_ of the immense
herds of cattle which roam over and graze upon the plain.

_October 15_.--I do not like to trouble the reader with a frequent
reference to the myriads of fleas and other vermin which infest the
rancherias and old mission establishments in California; but, if any
sinning soul ever suffered the punishments of purgatory before leaving
its tenement of clay, those torments were endured by myself last night.
When I rose from my blankets this morning, after a sleepless night, I
do not think there was an inch square of my body that did not exhibit
the inflammation consequent upon a puncture by a flea, or some other
equally rabid and poisonous insect. Small-pox, erysipelas, measles, and
scarlet-fever combined, could not have imparted to my skin a more
inflamed and sanguineous appearance. The multitudes of these insects,
however, have been generated by Indian filthiness. They do not disturb
the inmates of those _casas_ where cleanliness prevails.

Having letters of introduction to General Valléjo and Mr. Leese, I
delivered them this morning. General Valléjo is a native Californian,
and a gentleman of intelligence and taste far superior to most of his
countrymen. The interior of his house presented a different appearance
from any house occupied by native Californians which I have entered
since I have been in the country. Every apartment, even the main
entrance-hall and corridors, were scrupulously clean, and presented an
air of comfort which I have not elsewhere seen in California. The
parlour was furnished with handsome chairs, sofas, mirrors, and tables,
of mahogany framework, and a fine piano, the first I have seen in the
country. Several paintings and some superior engravings ornamented the
walls. Senora Valléjo is a lady of charming personal appearance, and
possesses in the highest degree that natural grace, ease, and warmth of
manner which render Spanish ladies so attractive and fascinating to the
stranger. The children, some five or six in number, were all beautiful
and interesting. General V. is, I believe, strongly desirous that the
United States shall retain and annex California. He is thoroughly
disgusted with Mexican sway, which is fast sending his country
backwards, instead of forwards, in the scale of civilization, and for
years he has been desirous of the change which has now taken place.

In the afternoon we visited the house of Mr. Leese, which is also
furnished in American style. Mr. L. is the proprietor of a vineyard in
the vicinity of the town, and we were regaled upon grapes as luscious,
I dare say, as the forbidden fruit that provoked the first
transgression. Nothing of the fruit kind can exceed the delicious
richness and flavour, of the California grape.

This evening Thomas O. Larkin, Esq., late United States Consul for
California, arrived here, having left San Francisco on the same morning
that we did, travelling by land. Mr. L. resides in Monterey, but I had
the pleasure of an introduction to him at San Francisco several days
previously to my leaving that place. Mr. L. is a native of Boston, and
has been a resident in California for about fifteen years, during which
time he has amassed a large fortune, and from the changes now taking
place he is rapidly increasing it. He will probably be the first
American millionnaire of California.

_October 17_.--The last two mornings have been cloudy and cool. The
rainy season, it is thought by the weather-wise in this climate, will
set in earlier this year than usual. The periodical rains ordinarily
commence about the middle of November. It is now a month earlier, and
the meteorological phenomena portend "falling weather." The rains
during the winter, in California, are not continuous, as is generally
supposed. It sometimes rains during an entire day, without cessation,
but most generally the weather is showery, with intervals of bright
sunshine and a delightful temperature. The first rains of the year fall
usually in November, and the last about the middle of May. As soon as
the ground becomes moistened, the grass, and other hardy vegetation,
springs up, and by the middle of December the landscape is arrayed in a
robe of fresh verdure. The grasses grow through the entire winter, and
most of them mature by the first of May. The season for sowing wheat
commences as soon as the ground is sufficiently softened by moisture to
admit of ploughing, and continues until March or April.

We had made preparations this morning to visit a rancho, belonging to
General Valléjo, in company with the general and Mr. Larkin. This
rancho contains about eleven leagues of land, bordering upon a portion
of the Bay of San Francisco, twenty-five or thirty miles distant from
Sonoma. Just as we were about mounting our horses, however, a courier
arrived from San Francisco with despatches from Captain Montgomery,
addressed to Lieutenant Revere, the military commandant at this post,
giving such intelligence in regard to the insurrection at the south,
that we determined to return to San Francisco forthwith. Procuring
horses, and accompanied by Mr. Larkin, we left Sonoma about two o'clock
in the afternoon, riding at the usual California speed. After leaving
Sonoma plain we crossed a ridge of hills, and entered the fertile and
picturesque valley of Petaluma creek, which empties into the bay.
General Valléjo has an extensive rancho in this valley, upon which he
has recently erected, at great expense, a very large house.
Architecture, however, in this country is in its infancy. The money
expended in erecting this house, which presents to the eye no tasteful
architectural attractions, would, in the United States, have raised a
palace of symmetrical proportions, and adorned it with every requisite
ornament. Large herds of cattle were grazing in this valley.

From Petaluma valley we crossed a high rolling country, and reached the
mission of San Rafael (forty-five miles) between seven and eight
o'clock in the evening. San Rafael is situated two or three miles from
the shore of the bay, and commands an extensive view of the bay and its
islands. The mission buildings are generally in the same ruinous
condition I have before described. We put up at the house of a Mr.
Murphy, a scholastic Irish bachelor, who has been a resident of
California for a number of years. His _casa_, when we arrived, was
closed, and it was with some difficulty that we could gain admission.
When, however, the occupant of the house had ascertained, from one of
the loopholes of the building, who we were, the doors were soon
unbarred and we were admitted, but not without many sallies of Irish
wit, sometimes good-natured, and sometimes keenly caustic and ironical.
We found a table spread with cold mutton and cold beef upon it. A cup
of coffee was soon prepared by the Indian muchachos and muchachas, and
our host brought out some scheidam and _aguardiénte_. A draught or two
of these liquids seemed to correct the acidity of his humour, and he
entertained us with his jokes and conversation several hours.

_October 18_.--From San Rafael to Sausolito, opposite San Francisco on
the north side of the entrance to the bay, it is five leagues (fifteen
miles), generally over elevated hills and through deep hollows, the
ascents and descents being frequently steep and laborious to our
animals. Starting at half-past seven o'clock, we reached the residence
of Captain Richardson, the proprietor of Sausolito, about nine o'clock
in the morning. In travelling this distance we passed some temporary
houses, erected by American emigrants on the mission lands, and the
rancho of Mrs. Reed, a widow. We immediately hired a whale-boat from
one of the ships, lying here, at two dollars for each passenger, and
between ten and eleven o'clock we landed in San Francisco.

I met, soon after my arrival, Mr. Lippincott, heretofore mentioned, who
accompanied us a portion of the distance over the mountains; and Mr.
Hastings, who, with Mr. Hudspeth, conducted a party of the emigrants
from fort Bridger by the new route, _via_ the south end of the Salt
Lake, to Mary's River. From Mr. Lippincott I learned the particulars of
an engagement between a party of the emigrants (Captain West's company)
and the Indians on Mary's River, which resulted, as has before been
stated, in the death of Mr. Sallee and a dangerous arrow wound to Mr.
L. He had now, however, recovered from the effects of the wound. The
emigrants, who accompanied Messrs. Hastings and Hudspeth, or followed
their trail, had all reached the valley of the Sacramento without any
material loss or disaster.

I remained at San Francisco from the 18th to the 22d of October. The
weather during this time was sufficiently cool to render fires
necessary to comfort in the houses; but fireplaces or stoves are
luxuries which but few of the San Franciscans have any knowledge of,
except in their kitchens. This deficiency, however, will soon be
remedied. American settlers here will not build houses without
chimneys. They would as soon plan a house without a door, or with the
entrance upon its roof, in imitation of the architecture of the Pueblo
Indians of New Mexico.


  Boat trip up the bay and the Sacramento to New Helvetia
  An appeal to the alcalde
  Straits of San Pueblo and Pedro
  Straits of Carquinez
  Town of Francisca
  Feather-beds furnished by nature
  Mouth of the Sacramento
  Delaware Tom
  A man who has forgotten his mother tongue
  Salmon of the Sacramento
  Indian fishermen
  Arrive at New Helvetia.

_October 22_.--Having determined to make a trip to Nueva Helvetia by
water, for the purpose of examining more particularly the upper portion
of the bay and the Sacramento river, in conjunction with Mr. Larkin, we
chartered a small open sail-boat for the excursion. The charter, to
avoid disputes, was regularly drawn and signed, with all conditions
specified. The price to be paid for a certain number of passengers was
thirty-two dollars, and demurrage at the rate of twenty-five cents per
hour for all delays ordered by the charter-party, on the trip upwards
to Nueva Helvetia. The boat was to be ready at the most convenient
landing at seven o'clock this morning, but when I called at the place
appointed, with our baggage, the boat was not there. In an hour or two
the skipper was found, but refused to comply with his contract. We
immediately laid our grievance before the alcalde, who, after reading
the papers and hearing the statements on both sides, ordered the
skipper to perform what he had agreed to perform, to which decision he
reluctantly assented. In order to facilitate matters, I paid the costs
of the action myself, although the successful litigant in the suit.

We left San Francisco about two o'clock P.M., and, crossing the mouth
of the bay, boarded a Mexican schooner, a prize captured by the U.S.
sloop-of-war Cyane, Captain Dupont, which had entered the bay this
morning and anchored in front of Sausolito. The prize is commanded by
Lieutenant Renshaw, a gallant officer of our navy. Our object in
boarding the schooner was to learn the latest news, but she did not
bring much. We met on board the schooner Lieutenant Hunter of the
Portsmouth, a chivalrous officer, and Lieutenant Ruducoff, commanding
the Russian brig previously mentioned, whose vessel, preparatory to
sailing, was taking in water at Sausolito. Accepting of his pressing
invitation, we visited the brig, and took a parting glass of wine with
her gallant and gentlemanly commander.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    "Between the wind and his nobility."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You are mistaken," I replied.

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

"How mistaken?"

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

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

"For TEXAS."

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  Article 1st. The Commissioners on the part of the Californians agree
  that their entire force shall, on presentation of themselves to
  Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, deliver up their artillery and public
  arms, and that they shall return peaceably to their homes,
  conforming to the laws and regulations of the United States, and not
  again take up arms during the war between the United States and
  Mexico, but will assist and aid in placing the country in a state of
  peace and tranquillity.

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

  Article 3rd. That until a Treaty of Peace be made and signed between
  the United States of North America and the Republic of Mexico, no
  Californian or other Mexican citizen shall be bound to take the oath
  of allegiance.

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

  Article 5th. That, in virtue of the aforesaid articles, equal rights
  and privileges are vouchsafed to every citizen of California, as are
  enjoyed by the citizens of the United States of North America.

  Article 6th. All officers, citizens, foreigners or others, shall
  receive the protection guaranteed by the 2nd Article.

  Article 7th. This capitulation is intended to be no bar in effecting
  such arrangements as may in future be in justice required by both


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

  That the paroles of all officers, citizens and others, of the United
  States, and naturalized citizens of Mexico, are by this foregoing
  capitulation cancelled, and every condition of said paroles, from
  and after this date, are of no further force and effect, and all
  prisoners of both parties are hereby released.

  P.B. READING, Maj. Cal'a. Battalion.
  LOUIS McLANE, Com'd. Artillery.
  WM. H. RUSSELL, Ordnance Officer.
  JOSE ANTONIO CARILLO, Comd't. of Squadron.


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

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

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

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

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

We had now arrived at the abode of the _celestials_, if the
interpretation of the name of the place could be considered as
indicative of the character of its population, and drenched with rain
and plastered with mud, we entered the "City of the Angels," and
marched through its principal street to our temporary quarters. We
found the town, as we expected, in the possession of the United States
naval and military forces under the command of Commodore Stockton and
General Kearny, who, after two engagements with six hundred mounted
Californians on the 8th and 9th, had marched into the city on the 10th.
The town was almost entirely deserted by its inhabitants, and most of
the houses, except those belonging to foreigners, or occupied as
quarters for the troops, were closed. I met here many of the naval
officers whose agreeable acquaintance I had made at San Francisco.
Among others were Lieutenants Thompson, Hunter, Gray and Rhenshaw, and
Captain Zeilin of the marines, all of whom had marched from San Diego.
Distance 12 miles.


  City of Angels
  Produce of the vine in California
  General products of the country
  Reputed personal charms of the females of Los Angeles
  San Diego
  Gold and quicksilver mines
  Lower California
  Bituminous springs
  A Kentuckian among the angels
  Missions of San Gabriel and San Luis Rey
  Gen. Kearny and Com. Stockton leave for San Diego
  Col. Fremont appointed Governor of California by Com. Stockton
  Com. Shubrick's arrival
  Insurrection in the northern part of California suppressed
  Arrival of Col. Cooke at San Diego.

La Ciudad de los Angeles is the largest town in California, containing
between fifteen hundred and two thousand inhabitants. Its streets are
laid out without any regard to regularity. The buildings are generally
constructed of adobes one and two stories high, with flat roofs. The
public buildings are a church, quartel, and government house. Some of
the dwelling-houses are frames, and large. Few of them, interiorly or
exteriorly, have any pretensions to architectural taste, finish, or
convenience of plan and arrangement. The town is situated about 20 miles
from the ocean, in a extensive undulating plain, bounded on the north
by a ridge of elevated hills, on the east by high mountains whose
summits are now covered with snow, on the west by the ocean, and
stretching to the south and the south-east as far as the eye can reach.
The Rio St. Gabriel flows near the town. This stream is skirted with
numerous vineyards and gardens, inclosed by willow-hedges. The gardens
produce a great variety of tropical fruits and plants. The yield of the
vineyards is very abundant; and a large quantity of wines of a good
quality and flavour, and _aguardiénte_, are manufactured here. Some of
the vineyards, I understand, contain as many as twenty thousand vines.
The produce of the vine in California will, undoubtedly, in a short
time form an important item, in its exports and commerce. The soil and
climate, especially of the southern portion of the country, appear to
be peculiarly adapted to the culture of the grape.

We found in Los Angeles an abundance of maize, wheat, and _frijoles_,
showing that the surrounding country is highly productive of these
important articles of subsistence. There are no mills, however, in this
vicinity, the universal practice of Californian families being to grind
their corn by hand; and consequently flour and bread are very scarce,
and not to be obtained in any considerable quantities. The only garden
vegetables which I saw while here were onions, potatoes, and _chile
colorado_, or red pepper, which enters very largely into the _cuisine_
of the country. I do not doubt, however, that every description of
garden vegetables can be produced here, in perfection and abundance.

While I remained at Los Angeles, I boarded with two or three other
officers at the house of a Mexican Californian, the late alcalde of the
town, whose political functions had ceased. He was a thin, delicate,
amiable, and very polite gentleman, treating us with much courtesy, for
which we paid him, when his bill was presented, a very liberal
compensation. In the morning we were served, on a common deal table,
with a cup of coffee and a plate of _tortillas_. At eleven o'clock, a
more substantial meal was provided, consisting of stewed beef, seasoned
with _chile colorado_, a rib of roasted beef, and a plate of _frijoles_
with _tortillas_, and a bottle of native wine. Our supper was a second
edition of the eleven o'clock entertainment.

The town being abandoned by most of its population, and especially by
the better class of the female portion of it, those who remained, which
I saw, could not, without injustice, be considered as fair specimens of
_the angels_, which are reputed here to inhabit. I did not happen to
see one beautiful or even comely-looking woman in the place; but, as
the fair descendants of Eve at Los Angeles have an exalted reputation
for personal charms, doubtless the reason of the invisibility of the
examples of feminine attractions, so far-famed and so much looked for
by the sojourner, is to be ascribed to their "unavoidable absence," on
account of the dangers and casualties of war. At this time, of course,
everything in regard to society, as it usually exists here, is in a
state of confusion and disorganization, and no correct conclusions in
reference to it can be drawn from observation under such circumstances.

The bay of San Pedro, about twenty-five miles south of Los Angeles, is
the port of the town. The bay affords a good anchorage for vessels of
any size; but it is not a safe harbour at all times, as I have been
informed by experienced nautical men on this coast. San Gabriel River
empties into the bay. The mission of San Gabriel is about twelve miles
east of Los Angeles. It is represented as an extensive establishment of
this kind, the lands surrounding and belonging to it being highly
fertile. The mission of San Luis Rey is situated to the south, about
midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. This mission, according to
the descriptions which I have received of it, is more substantial and
tasteful in its construction than any other in the country; and the
gardens and grounds belonging to it are now in a high state of

San Diego is the most southern town in Upper California. It is situated
on the Bay of San Diego, in latitude 33° north. The country back of it
is described by those who have travelled through it as sandy and arid,
and incapable of supporting any considerable population. There are,
however, it is reported on authority regarded as reliable, rich mines
of quicksilver, copper, gold, and coal, in the neighbourhood, which, if
such be the fact, will before long render the place one of considerable
importance. The harbour, next to that of San Francisco, is the best on
the Pacific coast of North America, between the Straits of Fuca and

For the following interesting account of Lower California I am indebted
to Rodman M. Price, Esq., purser of the U.S. sloop-of-war Cyane, who
has been connected with most of the important events which have
recently taken place in Upper and Lower California, and whose
observations and opinions are valuable and reliable. It will be seen
that the observations of Mr. Price differ materially from the generally
received opinions in reference to Lower California.

"Burlington, N.J., June 7, 1848.

"Dear Sir,--It affords me pleasure to give you all the information I
have about Lower California, derived from personal observation at
several of its ports that I have visited, in the U.S. ship Cyane, in

"Cape St. Lucas, the southern extremity of the peninsula of Lower
California, is in lat. 22° 45' N., has a bay that affords a good
harbour and anchorage, perfectly safe nine months in the year; but it
is open to the eastward, and the hurricanes which sometimes occur
during July, August, and September, blow the strongest from the
southeast, so that vessels will not venture in the bay during the
hurricane season. I have landed twice at the Cape in a small boat, and
I think a breakwater can be built, at small cost, so as to make a safe
harbour at all seasons. Stone can be obtained with great ease from
three cones of rocks rising from the sea, and forming the extreme
southerly point of the Cape, called the Frayles. Looking to the future
trade and commerce of the Pacific Ocean, this great headland must
become a most important point as a dépôt for coal and merchandise, and
a most convenient location for vessels trading on that coast to get
their supplies. Mr. Ritchie, now residing there, supplies a large
number of whale-ships that cruise off the Cape, annually, with fresh
provisions, fruits, and water. The supplies are drawn from the valley
of San José twenty miles north of the Cape, as the land in its
immediate vicinity is mountainous and sterile; but the valley of San
José is extensive and well cultivated, producing the greatest variety
of vegetables and fruits. The sweet and Irish potato, tomato, cabbage,
lettuce, beans, peas, beets, and carrots are the vegetables; oranges,
lemons, bananas, plantains, figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates, and
olives are its fruits. Good beef and mutton are cheap. A large amount
of sugar-cane is grown, from which is made _panoche_, a favourite sugar
with the natives; it is the syrup from the cane boiled down, and run
into cakes of a pound weight, and in appearance is like our

"_Panoche_, cheese, olives, raisins, dried figs, and dates, put up in
_ceroons_ of hide, with the great staples of the Californians--hides
and tallow--make the export of San José, which is carried to San Blas
and Mazatlan, on the opposite coast. This commerce the presence of the
Cyane interrupted, finding and capturing in the Bay of La Paz, just
after the receipt of the news of war on that coast in September, 1846,
sixteen small craft, laid up during the stormy season, engaged in this

"I cannot dismiss the valley of San José, from which the crew of the
Cyane have drawn so many luxuries, without alluding to the
never-failing stream of excellent water that runs through it (to which
it owes its productiveness) and empties into the Gulf here, and is
easily obtained for shipping when the surf is low. It is now frequented
by some of our whale ships, and European vessels bound to Mazatlan with
cargoes usually stop here to get instructions from their consignees
before appearing off the port; but vessels do not anchor during the
three hurricane months. The view from seaward, up this valley, is
beautiful indeed, being surrounded by high barren mountains, which is
the general appearance of the whole peninsula, and gives the impression
that the whole country is without soil, and unproductive. When your eye
gets a view of this beautiful, fertile, cultivated, rich, green valley,
producing all the fruits and vegetables of the earth, Lower California
stock rises. To one that has been at sea for months, on salt grub, the
sight of this bright spot of cultivated acres, with the turkeys, ducks,
chickens, eggs, vegetables, and fruit, makes him believe the country an
_Eldorado_. Following up the coast on the Gulf side, after passing Cape
Polmo, good anchorage is found between the peninsula and the island of
Cerralbo. Immediately to the north of this island is the entrance to
the great and beautiful bay of La Paz. It has two entrances, one to the
north and one to the south of the island of Espiritu Santo. The
northern one is the boldest and safest for all craft drawing over
twelve feet. The town of La Paz is at the bottom or south side of the
bay, about twenty miles from the mouth. The bay is a large and
beautiful sheet of water. The harbour of Pichelinque, of perfect
mill-pond stillness, is formed inside of this bay. The Cyane lay at
this quiet anchorage several days.

"Pearl-fishing is the chief employment of the inhabitants about the
bay, and the pearls are said to be of superior quality. I was shown a
necklace, valued at two thousand dollars, taken in this water. They are
all found by diving. The _Yake_ Indians are the best divers, going down
in eight-fathom water. The pearl shells are sent to China, and are
worth, at La Paz, one dollar and a half the _arroba_, or twenty-five
pounds. Why it is a submarine diving apparatus has not been employed in
this fishery, with all its advantages over Indian diving, I cannot say.
Yankee enterprise has not yet reached this new world. I cannot say this
either, as a countryman of ours, Mr. Davis, living at Loretta, has been
a most successful pearl-fisher, employing more Indians than any one
else engaged in the business. I am sorry to add that he has suffered
greatly by the war. The country about La Paz is a good grazing country,
but very dry. The mountains in the vicinity are said to be very rich in
minerals. Some silver mines near San Antonio, about forty miles south,
are worked, and produce well. La Paz may export one hundred thousand
dollars a-year of _platapina_. Gold-dust and virgin gold are brought to
La Paz. The copper and lead mines are numerous and rich. To the north
of La Paz are numerous safe and good harbours. Escondida, Loretta, and
Muleje are all good harbours, formed by the islands in front of the
main land.

"The island of Carmen, lying in front of Loretta, has a large salt
lake, which has a solid salt surface of several feet thickness. The
salt is of good quality, is cut out like ice, and it could supply the
world. It has heretofore been a monopoly to the governor of Lower
California, who employed convicts to get out the salt and put it on the
beach ready for shipping. It is carried about a quarter of a mile, and
is sent to Mazatlan and San Blas. A large quantity of salt is used in
producing silver. To the north of Muleje, which is nearly opposite
Guymas, the gulf is so much narrower that it is a harbour itself. No
accurate survey has ever been made of it--indeed, all the peninsula, as
well as the coast of Upper California, is laid down wrong on the
charts, being about twelve miles too far easterly. The English
Government now have two naval ships engaged in surveying the Gulf of

"On the Pacific coast of the peninsula there is the great Bay of
Magdalena, which has fine harbours, but no water, provisions, or
inhabitants. Its shores are high barren mountains, said to possess
great mineral wealth. A fleet of whale-ships have been there during the
winter months of the last two years, for a new species of whale that
are found there, represented as rather a small whale, producing forty
or fifty barrels of oil; and, what is most singular, I was assured, by
most respectable whaling captains, that the oil is a good paint-oil (an
entire new quality for fish-oil). Geographically and commercially,
Lower California must become very valuable. It will be a constant
source of regret to this country, that it is not included in the treaty
of peace just made with Mexico. We have held and governed it during the
war, and the boundary of Upper California cuts the head of the Gulf of
California, so that Lower California is left entirely disconnected with
the Mexican territory.

"Cape St. Lucas is the great headland of the Pacific Ocean, and is
destined to be the Gibraltar and entrepot of that coast, or perhaps La
Paz may be preferred, on account of its superior harbour. As a
possession to any foreign power, I think Lower California more valuable
than the group of the Sandwich Islands. It has as many arable acres as
that group of islands, with rich mines, pearl-fishing, fine bays and
harbours, with equal health, and all their productions. As a country,
it is dry, mountainous, and sterile, yet possessing many fine valleys
like San José, as the old mission establishments indicate. I have heard
Todas Santos, Commondee, Santa Guadalupe, and others, spoken of as
being more extensive, and as productive as San José.

"I am, most faithfully and truly, yours,


In the vicinity of Los Angeles there are a number of warm springs which
throw out and deposit large quantities of bitumen or mineral tar. This
substance, when it cools, becomes hard and brittle like resin. Around
some of these springs many acres of ground are covered with this
deposit to the depth of several feet. It is a principal material in the
roofing of houses. When thrown upon the fire, it ignites immediately,
emitting a smoke like that from turpentine, and an odour like that from
bituminous coal. This mineral, so abundant in California, may one day
become a valuable article of commerce.

There are no reliable statistics in California. The traveller is
obliged to form his estimate of matters and things chiefly from his own
observation. You can place but little reliance upon information derived
from the population, even when they choose to answer your questions;
and most generally the response to your inquiries is--"_Quien sabe?_"
(who knows?) No Californian troubles his brains about these matters.
The quantity of wines and _aguardiénte_ produced by the vineyards and
distilleries, at and near Los Angeles, must be considerable--basing my
estimate upon the statement of Mr. Wolfskill, an American gentleman
residing here, and whose house and vineyard I visited. Mr. W.'s
vineyard is young, and covers about forty acres of ground, the number
of vines being 4,000 or 5,000. From the produce of these, he told me,
that last year he made 180 casks of wine, and the same quantity of
_aguardiénte_. A cask here is sixteen gallons. When the vines mature,
their produce will be greatly increased. Mr. W.'s vineyard is doubtless
a model of its kind. It was a delightful recreation to stroll through
it, and among the tropical fruit-trees bordering its walks. His house,
too, exhibited an air of cleanliness and comfort, and a convenience of
arrangement not often met with in this country. He set out for our
refreshment three or four specimens of his wines, some of which would
compare favourably with the best French and Madeira wines. The
_aguardiénte_ and peach-brandy, which I tasted, of his manufacture,
being mellowed by age, were of an excellent flavour. The quantity of
wine and _aguardiénte_ produced in California, I would suppose,
amounted to 100,000 casks of sixteen gallons, or 1,600,000 gallons.
This quantity by culture can be increased indefinitely.

It was not possible to obtain at Los Angeles a piece of woollen cloth
sufficiently large for a pair of pantaloons, or a pair of shoes, which
would last a week. I succeeded, after searching through all the shops
of the town, in procuring some black cotton velvet, for four yards of
which I paid the sum of 12 dollars. In the United States the same
article would probably have cost 1.50 dollar. For four dollars more I
succeeded in getting the pantaloons made up by an American tailor, who
came into the country with General Kearny's forces. A Rocky Mountain
trapper and trader (Mr. Goodyear), who has established himself near the
Salt Lake since I passed there last year, fortunately arrived at Los
Angeles, bringing with him a quantity of dressed deer and elk skins,
which were purchased for clothing for the nearly naked soldiers.

Among the houses I visited while here, was that of Mr. Pryor, an
American, and a native of Louisville, Ky. He has been a resident of the
country between twenty and thirty years, but his Kentucky manners,
frankness, and hospitality still adhere to him.

I remained at Los Angeles from the 14th to the 29th of January. During
this time, with the exception of three days, the weather and
temperature were pleasant. It rained one day, and during two days the
winds blew strong and cold from the north-west. The nights are cool,
but fires are not requisite to comfort. The snow-clad mountains, about
twenty-five or thirty miles to the east of us, contrast singularly with
the brilliant fresh verdure of the plain.

On the 18th of January General Kearny, with the dragoons, left for San
Diego. There was understood to be a difference between General Kearny
and Commodore Stockton, and General Kearny and Colonel Fremont, in
regard to their respective powers and duties; which, as the whole
subject has subsequently undergone a thorough investigation, and the
result made public, it is unnecessary for me to allude to more
particularly. I did not converse with General Kearny while he was at
Los Angeles, and consequently possessed no other knowledge of his views
and intentions, or of the powers with which he had been invested by the
President, than what I derived from report.

On the 19th, Commodore Stockton and suite, with a small escort, left
for San Diego. Soon after his departure the battalion was paraded, and
the appointment of Colonel Fremont as governor of California, and
Colonel W.H. Russell, as secretary of state, by Commodore Stockton, was
read to them by Colonel Russell. It was announced, also, that, although
Colonel Fremont had accepted the office of chief civil magistrate of
California, he would still retain his military office, and command the
battalion as heretofore.

Commodore Shubrick, however, arrived at Monterey on the 23rd of
January, in the U.S. ship Independence, and, ranking above Commodore
Stockton, assumed the chief command, as appears by the date of a
general order published at Monterey, and written on board the United
States ship Independence, on February 1st, thanking the volunteers for
their services, and announcing the restoration of order. For I should
state that an insurrection, headed by Don Francisco Sanchez, had broken
out in the upper portion of California some time towards the last of
December, which had been put down by a detachment of marines and
volunteers. The insurgents had committed some outrages, and among other
acts had taken prisoner Lieutenant W.A. Bartlett, acting Alcalde of San
Francisco, with some other Americans. An account of the suppression of
this affair I find in the "Californian" newspaper of February 6th, 1847,
from which it appears, "that a party of one hundred and one men,
commanded by Captain Ward Marston, of the United States marines,
marched from San Francisco on the 29th December in search of the enemy,
whom they discovered on the 2nd of January, about one hundred in
number, on the plains of Santa Clara, under the command of Francisco
Sanchez. An attack was immediately ordered. The enemy was forced to
retire, which they were able to do in safety, after some resistance, in
consequence of their superior horses. The affair lasted about an hour,
during which time we had one marine slightly wounded in the head, one
volunteer of Captain Weber's command in the leg; and the enemy had one
horse killed, and some of their forces supposed to be killed or
wounded. In the evening the enemy sent in a flag of truce, with a
communication, requesting an interview with the commanding officer of
the expedition the next day, which was granted, when an armistice was
entered into, preparatory to a settlement of the difficulties. On the
3rd, the expedition was reinforced by the mounted Monterey volunteers,
fifty-five men, under the command of Captain W.A.T. Maddox, and on the
7th, by the arrival of Lieutenant Grayson with fifteen men, attached to
Captain Maddox's company. On the 8th a treaty was concluded, by which
the enemy surrendered Lieutenant Bartlett, and the other prisoners, as
well as all their arms, including one small field-piece, their
ammunition and accoutrements, and were permitted to return peaceably to
their homes, and the expedition to their respective posts."

A list of the expedition which marched from San Francisco is given as
follows:--Captain Ward Marston, commandant; Assistant-surgeon J. Duval,
aide-de-camp. A detachment of United States marines, under command of
Lieutenant Tansil, thirty-four men; artillery, consisting of one
field-piece, under the charge of Master William F. De Iongh, assisted
by Mid. John M. Kell, ten men; Interpreter John Pray; mounted company
of San José volunteers, under command of Captain C.M. Weber, Lieutenant
John Murphy, and acting Lieutenant John Reed, thirty-three men; mounted
company of Yerba Buena volunteers, under command of Captain William M.
Smith, Lieutenant John Rose, with a small detachment under Captain J.
Martin, twelve men.

Thus ended the insurrections, if resistance against invasion can
properly be so called, in Upper California.

On the 20th January, the force of sailors and marines which had marched
with Commodore Stockton and General Kearny left Los Angeles, to embark
at San Pedro for San Diego. On the 21st a national salute was fired by
the artillery company belonging to the battalion, in honour of Governor
Fremont. On the 22nd, letters were received from San Diego, stating
that Colonel Cooke, who followed General Kearny from Santa Fé with a
force of four hundred Mormon volunteers, had reached the neighbourhood
of that place. Having applied for my discharge from the battalion as
soon as we reached Los Angeles, I received it on the 29th, on which
day, in company with Captain Hastings, I set out on my return to San
Francisco, designing to leave that place on the first favourable
opportunity for the United States.


  Leave Los Angeles for San Francisco
  Don Andres Pico
  A Californian returning from the wars
  Domestic life at a rancho
  Women in favour of peace
  Hospitable treatment
  Singular custom
  Arrive at Santa Barbara
  Lost in a fog
  Valley of the Salinas
  Californians wanting Yankee wives
  High waters
  Arrive at San Francisco.

We left Los Angeles late in the afternoon of the 29th of January, with
two Indian vaqueros, on miserable broken-down horses (the best we could
obtain), and encamped at the deserted rancho at the foot of Couenga
plain, where the treaty of peace had been concluded. After we had been
here some time, two Indians came to the house, who had been sent by the
proprietor of the rancho to herd the cattle. Having nothing to eat with
us, a tempting offer prevailed upon the Indians to milk one of the
cows; and we made our supper and our breakfast next morning on milk.
Both of our Indian vaqueros deserted in the night, carrying with them
sundry articles of clothing placed in their charge. A few days have
made a great change in the appearance of the country. The fresh grass
is now several inches in height, and many flowers are in bloom. The sky
is bright, and the temperature is delightful.

On the 30th of January, leaving the mission of San Fernando on our
right, at a distance of eight or ten miles, we followed the usually
travelled trail next to the hills, on the western side of the plain. As
we were passing near a rancho, a well-dressed Californian rode out to
us, and, after examining the horses of our miserable _caballada_,
politely claimed one of them as his property. He was told that the
horse was drawn from the public _caballada_, at Los Angeles, and could
not be given up. This seemed to satisfy him. After some further
conversation, he informed us, that he was Don Andres Pico, the late
leader and general of the Californians. The expression of his
countenance is intelligent and prepossessing, and his address and
manners courteous and pleasing. Shaking hands, and bidding us a very
earnest _adios_, he put spurs to his horse and galloped away.

We were soon after overtaken by a young Californian, who appeared at
first rather doubtful whether or not he should make our acquaintance.
The ice being broken, however, he became very loquacious and
communicative. He stated that he was returning to his home near Santa
Barbara, from the wars, in which he had been engaged against his will.
The language that he used was, that he, with many others of his
acquaintances, were forced to take up arms by the leading men of the
country. He was in the two battles of the 8th and 9th of January, below
Los Angeles; and he desired never to be in any more battles. He was
heartily rejoiced that there was peace, and hoped that there would
never be any more wars. He travelled along with us until afternoon,
when he fell behind, and we did not see him again until the next day.

After passing two or three deserted houses, we reached an inhabited
rancho, situated at the extremity of a valley, and near a narrow gorge
in the hills, about four o'clock, and, our jaded animals performing
duty with reluctance, we determined to halt for the night, if the
prospect of obtaining anything to eat (of which we stood in much need)
was flattering. Riding up to the house, a small adobe, with one room,
and a shed for a kitchen, the _ranchero_ and the _ranchera_ came out
and greeted us with a hearty "_Buenas tardes, Senores, paisanos
amigos_," shaking hands, and inviting us at the same time to alight and
remain for the night, which invitation we accepted. The kind-hearted
_ranchera_ immediately set about preparing supper for us. An Indian
_muchacha_ was seated at the _metate_ (hand-mill), which is one of the
most important articles of the Californian culinary apparatus. While
the _muchacha_ ground, or rather crushed, the wheat between the stones,
the _ranchera_, with a platter-shaped basket, cleansed it of dust,
chaff, and all impure particles, by tossing the grain in the basket.
The flour being manufactured and sifted through a _cedazo_, or coarse
sieve, the labour of kneading the dough was performed by the
_muchacha_. An iron plate was then placed over a rudely-constructed
furnace, and the dough, being beaten by hand into _tortillas_ (thin
cakes), was baked upon this. What would American housewives say to such
a system as this? The viands being prepared, they were set out upon a
small table, at which we were invited to seat ourselves. The meal
consisted of _tortillas_, stewed jerk beef, with _chile_ seasoning,
milk, and _quesadillas_, or cheesecakes, green and tough as leather.
However, our appetites were excellent, and we enjoyed the repast with a
high relish.

Our host and hostess were very inquisitive in regard to the news from
below, and as to what would be the effects of the conquest of the
country by the Americans. The man stated that he and all his family had
refused to join in the late insurrection. We told them that all was
peaceable now; that there would be no more wars in California; that we
were all Americans, all Californians--_hermanos, hermanas, amigos_.
They expressed their delight at this information by numerous

We asked the woman how much the dress which she wore, a miserable
calico, cost her? She answered, "Seis pesos" (six dollars). When we
told her that in a short time, under the American government, she could
purchase as good a one "_por un peso_," she threw up her hands in
astonishment, expressing by her features at the same time the most
unbounded delight. Her entire wardrobe was soon brought forth, and the
price paid for every article named. She then inquired what would be the
cost of similar clothing under the American government, which we told
her. As we replied, exclamation followed upon exclamation, expressive
of her surprise and pleasure, and the whole was concluded with "_Viva
los Americanos--viva los Americanos!_" I wore a large coarse woollen
pea-jacket, which the man was very desirous to obtain, offering for it
a fine horse. I declined the trade.

In the evening several of the brothers, sisters, and brothers and
sisters-in-law of the family collected, and the guitar and violin,
which were suspended from a beam in the house, were taken down, and we
were entertained by a concert of instrumental and vocal music. Most of
the tunes were such as are performed at fandangos. Some plaintive airs
were played and sung with much pathos and expression, the whole party
joining in the choruses. Although invited to occupy the only room in
the house, we declined it, and spread our blankets on the outside.

The next morning (January 31st), when we woke, the sun was shining
bright and warm, and the birds were singing gayly in the grove of
evergreen oaks near the house. Having made ready to resume our journey,
as delicately as possible we offered our kind hostess compensation for
the trouble we had given her, which she declined, saying, that although
they were not rich, they nevertheless had enough and to spare. We
however insisted, and she finally accepted, with the condition that we
would also accept of some of her _quesadillas_ and _tortillas_ to carry
along with us. The ranchero mounted his horse and rode with us about
three or four miles, to place us on the right trail, when, after
inviting us very earnestly to call and see him again, and bidding us an
affectionate _adios_, he galloped away.

Travelling over a hilly country, and passing the ruins of several
deserted ranchos, the grounds surrounding which were strewn with the
bones of slaughtered cattle, we reached, about five o'clock P.M., a
cluster of houses in the valley of Santa Clara River, ten miles east of
the mission of San Buenaventura. Here we stopped at the house of a man
named Sanchez. Our arrival was thought to be worthy of notice, and it
was accordingly celebrated in the evening by a fandango given at one of
the houses, to which we were invited. The company, to the number of
some thirty or forty persons, young and old, were assembled in the
largest room of the house, the floor being hard clay. The only
furniture contained in the room was a bed and some benches, upon which
the company seated themselves when not engaged in dancing.

Among the _senoritas_ assembled were two daughters of an American named
Chapman, who has been a resident of the country for many years. They
were fair-skinned, and might be called handsome. An elder and married
sister was also present. They called themselves Americans, although
they did not speak our language, and seemed to be more proud of their
American than their Spanish blood.

A singular custom prevails at these fandangos. It is this: during the
intervals between the waltzes, quadrilles, and other dances, when the
company is seated, a young lady takes the floor _solus_, and, after
showing off her graces for general observation a few minutes, she
approaches any gentleman she may select, and performs a variety of
pirouettes and other Terpsichorean movements before him for his
especial amusement and admiration, until he places on her head his hat
or cap, as the case may be, when she dances away with it. The hat or
cap has afterwards to be redeemed by some present, and this usually is
in money. Not dancing ourselves, we were favoured with numerous special
exhibitions of this kind, the cost of each of which was _un peso_. With
a long journey before us, and with purses in a nearly collapsed
condition, the drafts upon us became so frequent, that at an early
hour, under a plea of fatigue and want of rest, we thought it prudent
to beat a retreat, leaving our fair and partial _fandangueras_ to
bestow their favours upon others better able to bear them. The motions
of the Californian females of all classes in the dance are highly
graceful. The waltz is their favourite measure, and in this they appear
to excel as much as the men do in horsemanship. During the progress of
the dance, the males and females improvise doggerel rhymes
complimentary of the personal beauties and graces of those whom they
admire, or expressive of their love and devotion, which are chanted
with the music of the instruments, and the whole company join in the
general chorus at the end of each verse. The din of voices is sometimes
almost deafening.

Our host accompanied us to our lodgings on the opposite side of the
way. Beds were spread down under the small porch outside, and we laid
our bodies upon them, but not to sleep, for the noise of the fandango
dancers kept us awake until broad daylight, at which time it broke up.

Hiring fresh horses here, and a vaquero to drive our tired animals
after us, we started about 9 o'clock in the morning, and, passing
through San Buenaventura, reached Santa Barbara, 45 miles, a little
after two in the afternoon. We stopped at the house of Mr. Sparks, who
received us with genuine hospitality. Santa Barbara presented a more
lively appearance than when we passed here on our way down, most of its
population having returned to their homes. Procuring fresh but
miserably poor horses, we resumed our journey on the afternoon of the
2nd of February, and encamped at the rancho of Dr. Deu, situated on the
plain of Santa Barbara, near the sea shore. The soil of this plain is
of the most fertile composition. The fresh grass is now six or eight
inches high, and the varieties are numerous. Many of the early flowers
are in bloom. I noticed a large wheat field near the house, and its
appearance was such as to promise a rich harvest.

The rain fell heavily on the morning of the 3rd, but continuing our
journey we crossed the St. Ynes Mountain, and, passing the mission by
that name, reached the rancho of Mr. Faxon after dark, where we halted
for the night. Around the mission of St. Ynes I noticed, as we passed,
immense quantities of cattle bones thickly strewn in all directions.
Acres of ground were white with these remains of the immense herds
belonging to this mission in the days of its prosperity, slaughtered
for their hides and tallow. We met two or three elegantly dressed
Californians to-day, who accosted us with much civility and apparent

Mr. Faxon is an Englishman by birth, and has resided in California
about thirty years. He is married to a Californian lady, and has a
family of interesting and beautiful children. A large portion of the
land belonging to his rancho is admirably adapted to agriculture, and
he raises crops of corn and vegetables as well as wheat without
irrigation. He informed me that the yield of wheat on his rancho was
fully seventy bushels to the acre. Mr. F. showed me specimens of lead
ore from which he moulds his bullets, taken from an inexhaustible mine
in the Tular Valley, some fifty miles distant from this. It is
certainly the richest ore that I have ever seen, appearing almost like
the pure metal. He also showed me a caustic alkali, produced by burning
a plant or shrub which grows in great abundance in the Tular Valley.
This substance is used by him in the manufacture of soap.

About noon on the 4th, we halted at the rancho of Captain Dana, where
we procured fresh horses, leaving our wretchedly lean and tired
animals, and, proceeding on, stopped for the night at the rancho of Mr.
Branch, an intelligent American, originally from the state of New York,
who has been settled in the country a number of years. His rancho is
situated on what is called the _arroyo grande_, a small stream which
empties into the Pacific some two or three miles from the house. The
house is new, and constructed after American models of farm-houses,
with neat and comfortable apartments, chimneys and fireplaces. The
arable lands here are finely adapted to the culture of maize, wheat,
and potatoes.

Our horses straying, it was twelve o'clock on the 5th before we found
them. The rain had fallen steadily and heavily all night, and during
the forenoon, and was pouring down when we started. We passed through
the mission of San Luis Obispo just before sunset, intending to halt at
a rancho about three miles distant in a _canada_. But, the storm
increasing in strength, it became suddenly so dark in the
mountain-gorge, that we could not distinguish the trail, and, after
wandering about some time, vainly attempting to find the house, we were
compelled to bivouac, wet to our skins, without fire or shelter, and
the rain pouring down in torrents.

The next morning (Feb. 6.), in hunting up our loose horses, we
discovered the house about half a mile distant from our camp.
Continuing our journey, we halted about nine o'clock at a rancho near
the ruins of Santa Margarita. A solitary Indian was the only occupant
of the house, and only inhabitant of the place; and he could furnish us
with no food. Passing two or three other deserted ranches, we reached
the house of a Mexican about one o'clock, where we obtained a meal of
fried eggs and _tortillas_, after having been without food thirty
hours. Late in the afternoon we arrived at the mission of San Miguel,
now occupied by an Englishman named Reed, his _mestiza_ wife, and one
child, with two or three Indian vaqueros. Crossing the Salinas in the
morning (Feb. 7), we continued down its eastern side, and encamped in a
wide bottom under a large live oak. A _quesadilla_ was all we had to
eat. This was divided, one-half being reserved for breakfast. The fresh
vegetation has so much changed the face of the country on this river
since we passed along here in December, that I scarcely recognise it.
The grass is six or eight inches high in the bottom, the blades
standing so thick as to present a matted appearance, and the hills are
brilliant with flowers--pink, purple, blue, and yellow.

On the 8th we continued down the eastern bank of the Salinas, passing
through several large and fertile bottoms, and reaching the rancho of
San Lorenzo about twelve o'clock. This rancho, as we learned from the
proprietors, is owned by two bachelor brothers, one of whom told me
that he had not been off his lands but once or twice for several years.
Large herds of fat cattle and horses were grazing upon the luxuriant
grasses of the plain, and there were several extensive inclosures sowed
in wheat, which presented all the indications of an abundant harvest.
But, with all these natural resources surrounding him the elder brother
told us that he had nothing to eat in his house but fresh beef. A
quantity of the choice pieces of a fat beef was roasted by an Indian
boy, which we enjoyed with all the relish of hungry men. Our host, a
gentleman of intelligence and politeness, made apology after apology
for his rude style of living, a principal excuse being that he had no
wife. He inquired, with apparent earnestness, if we could not send him
two pretty accomplished and capable American women, whom they could
marry; and then they would build a fine house, have bread, butter,
cheese, and all the delicacies, luxuries, and elegancies of life in
abundance. He appeared to be well pleased with the conquest of the
country by the Americans, and desirous that they should not give it up.
When we resumed our journey in the afternoon, he rode with us four or
five miles to show us the way, and, on taking his leave, invited us to
return again, when he said he hoped his accommodations would be much
improved. Riding 15 miles, we halted at a tule-cabin, where we remained
until two o'clock in the morning, when, the moon shining brightly, we
mounted our horses, and continued our journey.

We reached the Monterey road just at daylight. My intention had been to
visit Monterey; but the Salinas being unfordable, and there being no
ferry, it was not possible to do it without swimming the river, which I
did not feel inclined to do. Monterey is situated on the bay by that
name, about 90 miles by water south of San Francisco. The bay affords a
good anchorage and landing in calm weather, being exposed only to the
northers, which blow violently. The town contains about 1500
inhabitants, and is rapidly increasing in wealth and population.
Arriving at the rancho of Don Joaquin Gomez, we found no one but a
_mestiza_ servant at home, and could obtain nothing to eat but a
_quesadilla_. All the streams, large and small, are much swollen by
late heavy rains, and the travelling is consequently very laborious and
difficult. Resting our horses a short time, we crossed the mountains,
and reached the mission of San Juan Bautista about noon.

At San Juan we met with Messrs. Grayson, Boggs, and a party of
volunteers returning from Monterey to San Francisco, having been
discharged since the suppression of the rebellion in this part of
California, headed by Francisco Sanchez. Here we learned, for the first
time, the arrival at Monterey of Commodore Shubrick in the ship
Independence, and of the Lexington with Captain Tomkins's company of
artillery, and freighted otherwise with munitions, stores, and tools
necessary to the erection and defence of durable fortifications at
Monterey and San Francisco.

Seven or eight miles beyond San Juan, we found that the waters of the
_arroyo_ had risen so as to inundate a wide valley which we were
compelled to cross. After making several ineffectual attempts to reach
the opposite side, wading through the water, and sometimes falling into
deep holes from which it was difficult for either men or horses to
extricate themselves, we encamped for the night on a small elevation in
the valley, entirely surrounded by water. Our condition was miserable
enough. Tired, wet, and hungry, we laid down for the night on the damp

The next day (Feb. 10), about eleven o'clock, we succeeded in finding a
ford across the valley and stream, and procured dinner at a
soap-factory on the opposite side, belonging to T.O. Larkin, Esq.
Continuing on, we encamped at a rancho occupied by an Englishman as
_mayor domo_. He was very glad to see us, and treated us with unbounded
hospitality, furnishing a superabundance of beef and _frijoles_ for our
consumption. On the 11th, about three P.M., we arrived at the Pueblo de
San José, and, finding there a launch employed by Messrs. Howard and
Mellus in collecting hides, bound for San Francisco, we embarked in
her, and on the morning of the 13th arrived at that place. We found
lying here the U.S. sloop Warren, and Lieutenant Radford politely
furnished us with a boat to land. In the afternoon the Cyane, Commander
Dupont, with Gen. Kearny on board, and the store-ship Erie, with Col.
Mason on board, arrived in the harbour. Col. Mason is from the United
States direct, via Panama, and brings late and interesting

The Cyane and Warren have just returned from a cruise on the southern
Pacific coast of Mexico. The town of Guymas had been taken by
bombardment. The Cyane had captured, during her cruize, fourteen
prizes, besides several guns at San Blas. The boats of the Warren,
under the command of Lieut. Radford, performed the gallant feat of
cutting out of the harbour of Mazatlan the Mexican schooner Malek

Landing in San Francisco, I found my wardrobe, which I had deposited in
the care of Capt. Leidesdorff, and the first time for nearly five
months dressed myself in a civilized costume. Having been during that
time almost constantly in motion, and exposed to many hardships and
privations, it was, as may be supposed, no small satisfaction to find
once more a place where I could repose for a short time at least.


  Progress of the town of San Francisco
  Capt. Dupont
  Gen. Kearny
  The presidio
  Appointed Alcalde
  Gen. Kearny's proclamation
  Arrival of Col. Stevenson's regiment
  Horse-thief Indians
  Administration of justice in California
  Sale of lots in San Francisco.

Wherever the Anglo-Saxon race plant themselves, progress is certain to
be displayed in some form or other. Such is their "go-ahead" energy,
that things cannot stand still where they are, whatever may be the
circumstances surrounding them. Notwithstanding the wars and
insurrections, I found the town of San Francisco, on my arrival here,
visibly improved. An American population had flowed into it; lots,
which heretofore have been considered almost valueless, were selling at
high prices; new houses had been built, and were in progress; new
commercial houses had been established; hotels had been opened for the
accommodation of the travelling and business public; and the
publication of a newspaper had been commenced. The little village of
two hundred souls, when I arrived here in September last, is fast
becoming a town of importance. Ships freighted with full cargoes are
entering the port, and landing their merchandise to be disposed of at
wholesale and retail on shore, instead of the former mode of vending
them afloat in the harbour. There is a prevailing air of activity,
enterprise, and energy; and men, in view of the advantageous position
of the town for commerce, are making large calculations upon the
future; calculations which I believe will be fully realized.

On the 15th I dined on board the sloop-of-war Cyane, with Commander
Dupont, to whom I had the good fortune to be the bearer from home of a
letter of introduction. I say "good fortune," because I conceive it to
be one of the greatest of social blessings, as well as pleasures, to be
made acquainted with a truly upright and honourable man--one whose
integrity never bends to wrongful or pusillanimous expediency;--one
who, armed intellectually with the panoply of justice, has courage to
sustain it under any and all circumstances;--one whose ambition is, in
a public capacity, to serve his country, and not to serve himself;--one
who waits for his country to judge of his acts, and, if worthy, to
place the laurel wreath upon his head, disdaining a self-wrought and
self-assumed coronal. Capt. Dupont is a native of Delaware; and that
gallant and patriotic state should feel proud of such a son. He is one
of whom all men, on sea or on land, with whom his duties as an officer
or citizen of our republic brings him in contact, speak well; and whose
private virtues, as well as professional merits, are deserving of the
warmest admiration and the highest honours.

Although I have long known Gen. S.W. Kearny from reputation, and saw
him at Los Angeles, I was here introduced to him for the first time.
Gen. K. is a man rising fifty years of age. His height is about five
feet ten or eleven inches. His figure is all that is required by
symmetry. His features are regular, almost Grecian; his eye is blue,
and has an eagle-like expression, when excited by stern or angry
emotion; but, in ordinary social intercourse, the whole expression of
his countenance is mild and pleasing, and his manners and conversation
are unaffected, urbane, and conciliatory, without the slightest
exhibition of vanity or egotism. He appears the cool, brave, and
energetic soldier; the strict disciplinarian, without tyranny; the man,
in short, determined to perform his duty, in whatever situation he may
be placed, leaving consequences to follow in their natural course.
These, my first impressions, were fully confirmed by subsequent
intercourse, in situations and under circumstances which, by
experience, I have found an unfailing alembic for the trial of
character--a crucible wherein, if the metal be impure, the drossy
substances are sure to display themselves. It is not my province to
extol or pronounce judgment upon his acts; they are a part of the
military and civil history of our country, and as such will be
applauded or condemned, according to the estimate that may be placed
upon them. But I may be allowed to express the opinion, that no man,
placed under the same circumstances, ever aimed to perform his duty
with more uprightness and more fidelity to the interests and honour of
his country, or who, to shed lustre upon his country, ever braved
greater dangers, or endured more hardships and privations, and all
without vaunting his performances and sacrifices.

On the 16th, in company of Gen. Kearny, Capt. Turner, and Lieuts.
Warner and Hallock, of the U.S. Engineer Corps, I rode to the Presidio
of San Francisco, and the old fortification at the mouth of the bay.
The presidio is about three miles from the town, and consists of
several blocks of adobe buildings, covered with files. The walls of
most of the buildings are crumbling for the want of care in protecting
them from the annual rains; and without this care they will soon become
heaps of mud. The fort is erected upon a commanding position, about a
mile and a half from the entrance to the bay. Its walls are
substantially constructed of burnt brick, and are of sufficient
thickness and strength to resist heavy battering. There are nine or ten
embrasures. Like everything else in the country belonging to the
public, the fort is fast falling into ruins. There has been no garrison
here for several years; the guns are dismounted, and half decomposed by
long exposure to the weather, and from want of care. Some of them have
sunk into the ground.

On the 20th I was waited upon by Gen. Kearny, and requested to accept
the office of alcalde, or chief magistrate, of the district of San
Francisco. There being no opportunity of returning to the United States
immediately, I accepted of the proposed appointment, and on the 22d was
sworn into office, my predecessor, Lieut. W.A. Bartlett, of the navy,
being ordered to his ship by the commanding officer of the squadron.

The annual salute in celebration of the birthday of the immortal and
illustrious founder of our republic, required by law from all the ships
of the navy in commission, in whatever part of the world they may be at
the time, strikes us more forcibly when in a far-off country, as being
a beautiful and appropriate tribute to the unapproachable virtues and
heroism of that great benefactor of the human race, than when we are
nearer home, or upon our own soil. The U.S. ships in the harbour, at
twelve o'clock on the 22d, each fired a national salute; and the day
being calm and beautiful, the reports bounded from hill to hill, and
were echoed and re-echoed until the sound died away, apparently in the
distant gorges of the Sierra Nevada. This was a voice from the soul of
WASHINGTON, speaking in majestic and thunder-tones to the green and
flowery valley, the gentle hills and lofty mountains of California, and
consecrating them as the future abode of millions upon millions of the
sons of liberty. The merchant and whale ships lying at anchor, catching
the enthusiasm, joined in the salute; and for a time the harbour and
bay in front of the town were enveloped in clouds of gunpowder smoke.

General Kearny left San Francisco, in the frigate Savannah, Captain
Mervine, on the 23d, for Monterey, and soon after his arrival at that
place issued the following proclamation:--


  The President of the United States having instructed the undersigned
  to take charge of the civil government of California, he enters upon
  his duties with an ardent desire to promote, as far as he is able,
  the interests of the country and the welfare of its inhabitants.

  The undersigned has instructions from the President to respect and
  protect the religious institutions of California, and to see that
  the religious rights of the people are in the amplest manner
  preserved to them, the constitution of the United States allowing
  every man to worship his Creator in such a manner as his own
  conscience may dictate to him.

  The undersigned is also instructed to protect the persons and
  property of the quiet and peaceable inhabitants of the country
  against all or any of their enemies, whether from abroad or at home;
  and when he now assures the Californians that it will be his duty
  and his pleasure to comply with those instructions, he calls upon
  them all to exert themselves in preserving order and tranquillity,
  in promoting harmony and concord, and in maintaining the authority
  and efficiency of the laws.

  It is the wish and design of the United States to provide for
  California, with the least possible delay, a free government,
  similar to those in her other territories; and the people will soon
  be called upon to exercise their rights as freemen, in electing
  their own representatives, to make such laws as may be deemed best
  for their interest and welfare. But until this can be done, the laws
  now in existence, and not in conflict with the constitution of the
  United States, will be continued until changed by competent
  authority; and those persons who hold office will continue in the
  same for the present, provided they swear to support that
  constitution, and to faithfully perform their duty.

  The undersigned hereby absolves all the inhabitants of California
  from any further allegiance to the republic of Mexico, and will
  consider them as citizens of the United States; those who remain
  quiet and peaceable will be respected in their rights and protected
  in them. Should any take up arms against or oppose the government of
  this territory, or instigate others to do so, they will be
  considered as enemies, and treated accordingly.

  When Mexico forced a war upon the United States, time did not permit
  the latter to invite the Californians as friends to join her
  standard, but compelled her to take possession of the country to
  prevent any European power from seizing upon it, and, in doing so,
  some excesses and unauthorized acts were no doubt committed by
  persons employed in the service of the United States, by which a few
  of the inhabitants have met with a loss of property; such losses
  will be duly investigated, and those entitled to remuneration will
  receive it.

  California has for many years suffered greatly from domestic
  troubles; civil wars have been the poisoned fountains which have
  sent forth trouble and pestilence over her beautiful land. Now those
  fountains are dried up; the star-spangled banner floats over
  California, and as long as the sun continues to shine upon her, so
  long will it float there, over the natives of the land, as well as
  others who have found a home in her bosom; and under it agriculture
  must improve, and the arts and sciences flourish, as seed in a rich
  and fertile soil.

  The Americans and Californians are now but one people; let us
  cherish one wish, one hope, and let that be for the peace and quiet
  of our country. Let us, as a band of brothers, unite and emulate
  each other in our exertions to benefit and improve this our
  beautiful, and which soon must be our happy and prosperous, home.

  Done at Monterey, capital of California, this first day of March,
  A.D. 1847, and in the seventy-first year of independence of the
  United Suites.

  Brig.-Gen., U.S.A., and Governor of California.

The proclamation of General Kearny gave great satisfaction to the
native as well as the emigrant population of the country. Several of
the alcaldes of the district of my jurisdiction, as well as private
individuals (natives of the country), expressed, by letter and orally,
their approbation of the sentiments of the proclamation in the warmest
terms. They said that they were heartily willing to become Americans
upon these terms, and hoped that there would be the least possible
delay in admitting them to the rights of American citizenship. There
was a general expectation among natives as well as foreigners, that a
representative form of territorial government would be immediately
established by General Kearny. Why this was not done, is explained by
the recent publication of General Scott's letter to General Kearny,
dated November 3rd, 1846, of which Colonel Mason was the bearer, he
having left the United States on the 7th November. In this letter
General Scott says:--

"As a guide to the civil governor of Upper California, in our hands,
see the letter of June 3rd (last), addressed to you by the Secretary of
War. You will not, however, formally declare the province to be
annexed. Permanent incorporation of the territory must depend on the
government of the United States.

"After occupying with our forces all necessary points in Upper
California, and establishing a temporary civil government therein, as
well as assuring yourself of its internal tranquillity, and the absence
of any danger of reconquest on the part of Mexico, you may charge
Colonel Mason, United States first dragoons, the bearer of this open
letter, or land officer next in rank to your own, with your several
duties, and return yourself, with a sufficient escort of troops, to St.
Louis, Missouri; but the body of the United States dragoons that
accompanied you to California will remain there until further orders."

The transport ships Thomas H. Perkins, Loo Choo, Susan Drew, and
Brutus, with Colonel Stevenson's regiment, arrived at San Francisco
during the months of March and April. These vessels were freighted with
a vast quantity of munitions, stores, tools, saw-mills, grist-mills,
etc., etc., to be employed in the fortification of the principal
harbours on the coast--San Francisco, Monterey, and San Diego. The
regiment of Col. Stevenson was separated into different commands,
portions of it being stationed at San Francisco, Sonoma, Monterey,
Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles; and some companies employed against the
horse-thief Indians of the Sierra Nevada and the Tulares.

As good an account of these horse-thief Indians, and their
depredations, as I have seen, I find in the "California Star," of March
28th, 1847, written by a gentleman who has been a resident of
California for a number of years, and who has been a sufferer. It is

"During the Spanish regime, such a thing as a horse-thief was unknown
in the country; but as soon as the Mexicans took possession, their
characteristic anarchy began to prevail, and the Indians to desert from
the missions. The first Indian horse-thief known in this part of the
country was a neophyte of the mission of Santa Clara, George, who
flourished about twenty years ago. He absconded from his mission to the
river of Stanislaus, of which he was a native. From thence he returned
to the settlements, and began to steal horses, which at that time were
very numerous. After pursuing his depredations for some time, he was at
last pursued and killed on his return from one of his forages. The
mission of Santa Clara has been, from that time to the present day, the
greatest nursery for horse thieves, as the Stanislaus river has been
and is their principal rendezvous. I have taken some pains to inquire
among some of the most intelligent and respectable of the native
inhabitants, as to the probable number of horses that have been stolen
between Monterey and San Francisco within the last twenty years, and
the result has been that more than one hundred thousand can be
distinctly enumerated, and that the total amount would probably be
double that number. Nearly all these horses have been eaten! From the
river of Stanislaus, as a central point, the evil has spread to the
north and south, and at present extends from the vicinity of the
Mickélemes River on the north, to the sources of the St. Joaquin on the
south. These Indians inhabit all the western declivity of the great
snowy mountains, within these limits, and have become so habituated to
living on horseflesh, that it is now with them the principal means of

"In past time they have been repeatedly pursued, and many of them
killed, and whole villages destroyed, but, so far from being deterred,
they are continually becoming more bold and daring in their robberies,
as horses become scarcer and more carefully guarded. About twenty
persons have been killed by them within the knowledge of the writer.
Among others, Mr. Lindsay and Mr. Wilson were killed by them not long
ago. Only about one month since, they shot and dangerously wounded four
persons employed on the farm of Mr. Weber, near the Pueblo of St.
Joseph, and at the same time stole the horses of the farm, and those
also from the farms of Captain Fisher and Mr. Burnal, in the same
vicinity; in all, about two hundred head. Within the last ten days
numerous parties of them have been committing depredations on many of
the farms in the jurisdiction of the Contra Costa, and scarcely a night
passes but we hear of their having stolen horses from some one. Three
days ago, a party of them were met by some young men who had been out
catching wild horses on the plains of the St. Joaquin, but as they were
mounted on tired animals, they were only able to recapture the stolen
horses, but could not overtake the thieves."

It has not been within the scope of my design, in writing out those
notes, to enter into the minute details of the conquest and occupation
of California by the forces of the United States. To do so would
require more space than I have allowed myself, and the matter would be
more voluminous than interesting or important. My intention has been to
give such a sketch of the military operations in California, during my
residence and travels in the country, as to afford to the reader a
general and correct idea of the events transpiring at the time. No
important circumstance, I think, has escaped my attention.

Among the officers of the army stationed at San Francisco, with whom I
became acquainted, were Major Hardie, in command of the troops, Captain
Folsom, acting quartermaster-general in California, and Lieutenant
Warner, of the engineer corps. Lieutenant Warner marched with General
Kearny from the United States, and was at the battle of San Pasqual. I
have seen the coat which he wore on that occasion, pierced in seven
different places by the lances of the enemy. He did not make this
exhibition himself; and I never heard him refer to the subject but
once, and then it was with the modesty of a veteran campaigner.

The corps of topographical engineers accompanying General Kearny, under
the command of Captain Emory, will, doubtless, furnish in their report
much interesting and valuable information. Mr. Stanley, the artist Of
the expedition, completed his sketches in oil, at San Francisco; and a
more truthful, interesting, and valuable series of paintings,
delineating mountain scenery, the floral exhibitions on the route, the
savage tribes between Santa Fe and California--combined with camp-life
and marches through the desert and wilderness--has never been, and
probably never will be, exhibited. Mr. Stanley informed me that he was
preparing a work on the savage tribes of North America and of the
islands of the Pacific, which, when completed on his plan, will be the
most comprehensive and descriptive of the subject of any that has been

Legal proceedings are much less complex in California than in the
United States. There is no written statute law in the country. The only
law books I could find were a digested code entitled, "Laws of Spain
and the Indies," published in Spain about a hundred years ago, and a
small pamphlet defining the powers of various judicial officers,
emanating from the Mexican government since the revolution. A late
Mexican governor of California, on being required by a magistrate to
instruct him as to the manner in which he should administer the law
within his jurisdiction, replied, "_Administer it in accordance with
the principles of natural right and justice_," and this is the
foundation of Californian jurisprudence. The local _bandos_, or laws,
are enacted, adjudicated, and executed by the local magistrates, or
alcaldes. The alcalde has jurisdiction in all municipal matters, and in
cases for minor offences, and for debt in sums not over one hundred
dollars. In cases of heinous or capital offences, the alcalde has
simply an examining power, the testimony being taken down in writing,
and transmit-to the _juez de primera instancia_, or first judge of the
district, before whom the case is tried. Civil actions, for sums over
one hundred dollars, must also be tried before the _juez de primera
instancia_, and from him there is an appeal to the prefect, or the
governor of the province. The trial by _hombres buenos_, or good men,
is one of the established legal tribunals when either of the parties
demand it, and is similar to our trial by jury; the difference being in
the number, the _hombres buenos_ usually consisting of three or five,
as they may be ordered by the magistrate, or requested by the
litigants, and our jury of twelve. With honest and intelligent
magistrates, the system operates advantageously, as justice is speedy
and certain; but the reverse of this, with corrupt and ignorant
magistrates, too frequently in power, the consequences of the system
are as bad as can well be imagined.

The policy of the Mexican government has been to encourage in certain
localities the erection of pueblos, or towns, and for this purpose they
have made grants of land to the local authorities, or municipalities,
within certain defined limits, to be regranted upon application, in
lots of fifty or one hundred varass, as the case may be, to persons
declaring their intention to settle and to do business in the town. For
these grants to individuals a certain sum of money is paid, which goes
into the treasury of the municipality. The magistrates, however,
without special permission, have no power to grant lots of land within
a certain number of feet of or below high-water mark. The power is
reserved to be exercised by the governor of the province. It being
necessary for the convenient landing of ships, and for the discharging
and receiving of their cargoes, that the beach in front of the town of
San Francisco should be improved with wharfs, etc., etc., and that
titles should be granted to individuals who otherwise would make no
durable improvements. As magistrate of the town, in compliance with the
request of numerous citizens, I solicited from General Kearny, the
acting governor, a relinquishment, on the part of the general
government, of the beach lands in front of the town in favour of the
municipality, under certain conditions. This was granted by the
Governor, who issued a decree dated 10th March, permitting the sales by
auction of all such grounds adjacent to the water-side as might be
found adapted to commercial purposes, with the exception of such lots
as might be selected for the use of the United States government, by
its proper officers. The sales accordingly took place, the lots were
eagerly purchased, and the port has already become a place of
considerable commercial activity.



  First settlement of the missionaries
  Characteristics of white population
  Pleasures and amusements
  Position of women
  Vegetable productions
  Wild animals

It was during the month of November, 1602, the sun just retiring behind
the distant high land which forms the background of a spacious harbour
at the southernmost point of Alta California, that a small fleet of
vessels might have been seen directing their course as if in search of
a place of anchorage; their light sails drawn up, while the larger
ones, swelling now and then to the action of the breeze, bore them
majestically along, forcing their way through the immense and almost
impenetrable barrier of sea-weed, to a haven which, at the remote
period stated, was considered the unexplored region of the North. The
fleet referred to hauled their wind to the shore, and, passing a bluff
point of land on their left, soon came to anchor; but not until the
shades of night had cast a gloom over the scene so recently lighted up
with the gorgeous rays of a setting sun.

This was the commencement, or rather preliminary mark, of civilization
in this country, by the Spaniards, (if so it can be called,) and on the
following morning a detachment was landed, accompanied by a friar, to
make careful investigation of the long ridge of high land which serves
as a protection to the harbour from the heavy north-west gales. They
found, as reported, an abundance of small oak and other trees, together
with a great variety of useful and aromatic herbs; and from its summit
they beheld the extent and beauty of the port, reaching, as they said,
full three leagues from where the vessel lay at anchor. A large tent
was erected on the sandy beach, to answer the purposes of a church,
where the friar might perform mass, and by directions of the commanding
officers, the boats were drawn up for repairing, wells were dug,
parties were sent off to cut wood, while guards were placed at
convenient distances to give notice of the approach of any hostile
force. The latter precaution was hardly carried into effect, ere a
large body of naked Indians were seen moving along the shore, armed
with bows and arrows. A friar, protected by six soldiers, was
dispatched to meet them, who, making signs of peace by exhibiting a
white flag and throwing handfuls of sand high into the air, influenced
them to lay aside their arms, when, affectionately embracing them, the
good old friar distributed presents of beads and necklaces, with which
they eagerly adorned their persons. This manifestation of good feeling
induced them to draw near to where the commander had landed with his
men, but perceiving so large a number, they retreated to a neighbouring
knoll, and from thence sent forward to the Spaniards ten aged females,
who, possessing apparently so much affability, were presented
immediately with gifts, and instructed to go and inform their people of
the friendly disposition cherished for them by the white strangers.
This was sufficient to implant a free intercourse with the Indians, who
daily visited the Spaniards, and bartered off their skins and furs in
exchange for bread and trinkets. But at length the time arrived for the
fleet to depart, and they proceeded northward, visiting in their course
Monterey and Mendocino, where the same favourable result attended the
enterprise as at other places, and they returned in safety to New

So successful had been the character of this expedition throughout the
entire period of its execution, that an enthusiasm prevailed in the
minds of the Spaniards, which could only be assuaged by an attempt to
conquer and christianize the inhabitants of that distant portion of the
American continent. Many were the fruitless results of the Spanish
adventurer--numerous were the statements of his toil and labour, till
at length a formidable attempt, under the patronage and direction of
Don Gaspar de Portala and Father Junipero Serra, successfully achieved
the desired object for which it was planned and executed.

At San Diego, where, a century and a half before, the primitive
navigators under Cortez communed with the rude and unsophisticated
native--there, where the zealous devotee erected his altar on the
burning sand, and with offerings of incense and prayer hallowed it to
God, as the birthplace of Christianity in that region--upon that
sainted spot commenced the spiritual conquest, the cross was erected,
and the holy missionaries who accompanied the expedition entered heart
and soul upon their religious duties. Successful in all they undertook,
their first establishment in a short time was completed, and drawing
around it the converted Indians in large numbers, the rude and
uncultivated fields gave place to agricultural improvement--the arts
and sciences gradually obtained foundation where before all was
darkness, and day after day hundreds were added to the folds of the
holy and apostolic church. Thus triumphantly proceeded the labours of
the Spanish conquerors! In course of time other institutions were
founded at Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco, where at each
place a military fortress was erected, which served for their
protection, and to keep in check such of the natives who were
disinclined to observe the regulations of the community.

The natives formed an ardent and almost adorable attachment for their
spiritual fathers, and were happy, quite happy, under their
jurisdiction. Ever ready to obey them, the labour in the field and
workshop met with ready compliance, and so prosperous were the
institutions that many of them became wealthy, in the increase of their
cattle and great abundance of their granaries. It was no unusual sight
to behold the plains for leagues literally spotted with bullocks, and
large fields of corn and wheat covering acres of ground. This state of
things continued until the period when Mexico underwent a change in its
political form of government, which so disheartened the feelings of the
loyal missionaries, that they became regardless of their
establishments, and suffered them to decline for want of attention to
their interests. At length, civil discord and anarchy among the
Californians prepared a more effective measure for their destruction,
and they were left to the superintendence of individuals who plundered
them of all that was desirable or capable of removal. Thus, the
government commenced the robbery, and its hirelings carried it out to
the letter, destroying and laying waste wherever they were placed. In
order to give the inhabitants a share of the spoils, some of them were
permitted to slaughter the cattle by contract, which was an equal
division of the proceeds, and the contractors were careful, when they
delivered one hide to a mission, to reserve _two_ for themselves, in
this way following up the example of their superiors.

This important revolution in the systematic order of the monastic
institutions took place in 1836, at which period the most important of
them possessed property, exclusive of their lands and tenements, to the
value of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. At the present day
they have but a little more than dilapidated walls and restricted
boundaries of territory. Notwithstanding this wanton devastation of
property, contrary to the opinion of many who were strongly in favour
of supporting these religious institutions, the result proved
beneficial to the country at large. Individual enterprise succeeded as
the lands became distributed, so that the Californian beheld himself no
longer dependent on the bounty of his spiritual directors, but, on the
contrary, he was enabled to give support to them, from the increase and
abundance of his own possessions.

Subsequent to the expulsion of the Mexicans, numbers of new farms were
created, and hundreds of Americans were scattered over the country.
Previous to 1830, the actual possessions of horned cattle by the
_rancheros_ did not exceed one hundred thousand; but in 1842, according
to a fair estimate, made by one on the spot, the number had increased
to four hundred thousand; so that the aggregate is equal to that held
by the missions when in their most flourishing condition. The present
number is not much, if any, short of one million.

Presuming a statistical knowledge of this country, before and after the
missionary institutions were secularized, may be interesting, I will
insert the following returns of 1831 and 1842, to contrast the same
with its present condition:--

1st. In 1832 the white population throughout Alta-California did not
exceed 4,500, while the Indians of the twenty-one missions amounted to
19,000; in 1842, the former had increased to 7,000, and the latter
decreased to about 5,000.

2nd. In the former year, the number of horned cattle, including
individual possessions, amounted to 500,000; in the latter, to 40,000.

3rd. At the same period, the number of sheep, goats, and pigs, was
321,000; at the latter, 32,000.

4th. In 1831 the number of horses, asses, mules, etc., was 64,000; in
1842 it was 30,000.

5th. The produce in corn, etc., had decreased in a much greater
proportion--that of seventy to four.

The amount of duties raised at the customhouse in Monterey, from 1839
to 1842, was as follows, viz.:--

  1839        85,613 dollars.
  1840        72,308 dollars
  1841       101,150 dollars
  1842        73,729 dollars.

The net amount of revenue seldom exceeding in any year eighty thousand
dollars; so that, when a deficiency took place, to supply the
expenditures of government, it had been usual to call upon the missions
for aid.

The value of the hides and tallow derived from the annual _matanzas_
may be estimated at 372,000 dollars. These two commodities, with the
exception of some beaver, sea-otter, and other furs, comprise the most
important part of the exportations, which in addition, would augment
the value of exports to 400,000 dollars.

The permanent population of that portion of Upper California situated
between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific, I estimate at 25,000. Of
this number, 8,000 are Hispano-Americans, 5,000 foreigners, chiefly
from the United States, and 12,000 christianized Indians. There are
considerable numbers of wild or Gentile Indians, inhabiting the valley
of the San Joaquin and the gorges of the Sierra, not included in this
estimate. They are probably as numerous as the Christian Indians. The
Indian population inhabiting the region of the Great Salt Lake, Mary's
River, the oases of the Great Desert Basin, and the country bordering
the Rio Colorado and its tributaries, being spread over a vast extent
of territory, are scarcely seen, although the aggregate number is

The Californians do not differ materially from the Mexicans, from whom
they are descended, in other provinces of that country. Physically and
intellectually, the men, probably, are superior to the same race
farther south, and inhabiting the countries contiguous to the city of
Mexico. The intermixture of blood with the Indian and negro races has
been less, although it is very perceptible.

The men, as a general fact, are well made, with pleasing sprightly
countenances, and possessing much grace and ease of manners, and
vivacity of conversation. But hitherto they have had little knowledge
of the world and of events, beyond what they have heard through Mexico,
and derived from the supercargoes of merchant-ships and whalemen
touching upon the coast. There are no public schools in the country--at
least I never heard of one. There are but few books. General Valléjo
has a library with many valuable books, and this is the only one I saw,
although there are others; but they are rare, and confined to a few

The men are almost constantly on horseback, and as horsemen excel any I
have seen in other parts of the world. From the nature of their
pursuits and amusements, they have brought horsemanship to a perfection
challenging admiration and exciting astonishment. They are trained to
the horse and the use of the lasso (_riata_, as it is here called) from
their infancy. The first act of a child, when he is able to stand
alone, is to throw his toy lasso around the neck of a kitten; his next
feat is performed on the dog; his next upon a goat or calf; and so on,
until he mounts the horse, and demonstrates his skill upon horses and
cattle. The crowning feat of dexterity with the _riata_, and of
horsemanship, combined with daring courage, is the lassoing of the
grisly bear. This feat is performed frequently upon this large and
ferocious animal, but it is sometimes fatal to the performer and his
horse. Well drilled, with experienced military leaders, such as would
inspire them with confidence in their skill and prowess, the
Californians ought to be the finest cavalry in the world. The
Californian saddle is, I venture to assert, the best that has been
invented, for the horse and the rider. Seated in one of these, it is
scarcely possible to be unseated by any ordinary casualty. The
bridle-bit is clumsily made, but so constructed that the horse is
compelled to obey the rider upon the slightest intimation. The spurs
are of immense size, but they answer to an experienced horseman the
double purpose of exciting the horse, and of maintaining the rider in
his seat under difficult circumstances.

For the pleasures of the table they care but little. With his horse and
trappings, his sarape and blanket, a piece of beef and a _tortilla_,
the Californian is content, so far as his personal comforts are
concerned. But he is ardent in his pursuit of amusement and pleasure,
and these consist chiefly in the fandango, the game of monte,
horse-racing, and bull and bear-baiting. They gamble freely and
desperately, but pay their losses with the most strict punctuality, at
any and every sacrifice, and manifest but little concern about them.
They are obedient to their magistrates, and in all disputed cases
decided by them, acquiesce without uttering a word of complaint. They
have been accused of treachery and insincerity. Whatever may have been
the grounds for these accusations in particular instances, I know not;
but, judging from my own observation and experience, they are as free
from these qualities as our own people.

While the men are employed in attending to the herds of cattle and
horses, and engaged in their other amusements, the women (I speak of
the middle classes on the ranchos) superintend and perform most of the
drudgery appertaining to housekeeping, and the cultivation of the
gardens, from whence are drawn such vegetables as are consumed at the
table. These are few, consisting of _frijoles_, potatoes, onions, and
_chiles_. The assistants in these labours are the Indian men and women,
legally reduced to servitude.

The soil of that portion of California between the Sierra Nevada and
the Pacific will compare, in point of fertility, with any that I have
seen elsewhere. As I have already described such portions of it as have
come under my observation, it is unnecessary for me here to descend to
particulars. Wheat, barley, and other small grains, with hemp, flax,
and tobacco, can be produced in all the valleys, without irrigation. To
produce maize, potatoes, and other garden vegetables, irrigation is
necessary. Oats and mustard grow spontaneously, with such rankness as
to be considered nuisances upon the soil. I have forced my way through
thousands of acres of these, higher than my head when mounted on a
horse. The oats grow to the summits of the hills, but they are not here
so tall and rank as in the valleys.

The varieties of grasses are greater than on the Atlantic side of the
continent, and far more nutritious. I have seen seven different kinds
of clover, several of them in a dry state, depositing a seed upon the
ground so abundant as to cover it, which is lapped up by the cattle and
horses and other animals, as corn or oats, when threshed, would be with
us. All the grasses, and they cover the entire country, are heavily
seeded, and, when ripe, are as fattening to stock as the grains which
we feed to our beef, horses, and hogs. Hence it is unnecessary to the
sustenance or fattening of stock to raise corn for their consumption.

Agriculture is in its rudest state. The farming implements which have
been used by the Californians, with few exceptions, are the same as
were used three hundred years ago, when Mexico was conquered by Cortez.
A description of them would be tedious. The plough, however, which
merely scratches the ground, is the fork of a small tree. It is the
same pattern as the Roman plough, two thousand years ago. Other
agricultural implements are of the same description. The Americans, and
other foreigners, are, however, introducing the American plough, and
other American farming tools, the consequence of which has already
been, to some extent, to produce a revolution in agriculture. The crops
of wheat and barley, which I saw about the 1st of June, while passing
through the country on my journey to the United States, exceeded in
promise any which I have seen in the United States. It was reported to
me that Captain Sutter's crop of wheat, for 1847, would amount to
75,000 bushels.

The natural vegetable productions of California have been sufficiently
noticed in the course of this work, for the reader to form a correct
estimate of the capabilities of the soil and climate. It is supposed by
some, that cotton, sugar, and rice, could be produced here. I do not
doubt but there are portions of the country where these crops would
thrive; but I question whether, generally, they could be cultivated to
advantage. Nearly all the fruits of the temperate and tropical climates
are produced in perfection in California, as has before been stated.

The principal product of the country has been its cattle and horses.
The cattle are, I think, the largest and finest I ever saw, and the
beef is more delicious. There are immense herds of these, to which I
have previously referred; and their hides and tallow, when slaughtered,
have hitherto composed the principal exports from the country. If I
were to hazard an estimate of the number of hides annually exported, it
would be conjectural, and not worth much. I would suppose, however, at
this time (1847), that the number would not fall much short of 150,000,
and a corresponding number of arrobas (25 pounds) of tallow. The
average value of cattle is about five dollars per head.

The horses and mules are correspondingly numerous with the cattle; and
although the most of them are used in the country, considerable numbers
are driven to Sonora, New Mexico, and other southern provinces, and
some of them to the United States, for a market. They are smaller than
American horses, and I do not think them equal for continuous hard
service; but on short trips, for riding, their speed and endurance are
not often, if ever, equalled by our breed of horses. The value of good
horses is from ten to twenty-five dollars; of mares, five dollars. The
prices have, however, since the Americans came into the country, become
fluctuating, and the value of both horses and cattle is increasing

The wild animals of California are the wild-horse, the elk, the
black-tailed deer, antelope, grizly bear, all in large numbers. Added
to these are the beaver, otter, coyote, hare, squirrel, and the usual
variety of other small animals. There is not so great a variety of
small birds as I have seen elsewhere. I do not consider that the
country presents strong attractions for the ornithologist. But what is
wanting in variety is made up in numbers. The bays and indentations on
the coast, as well as the rivers and lakes interior, swarm with myriads
of wild geese, ducks, swans, and other water birds. The geese and ducks
are a mongrel race, their plumage being variegated, the same as our
barn-yard fowls. Some of the islands in the harbour, near San
Francisco, are white with the _guano_ deposited by these birds; and
boat-loads of eggs are taken from them. The pheasant and partridge are
abundant in the mountains.

In regard to the minerals of California, not much is yet known. It has
been the policy of the owners of land upon which there existed minerals
to conceal them as much as possible. A reason for this has been, that
the law of Mexico is such, that if one man discovers a mine of any kind
upon another man's land, and the proprietor does not work it, the
former may _denounce_ the mine, and take possession of it, and hold it
so long as he continues to work it. Hence the proprietors of land upon
which there are valuable mineral ores conceal their existence as much
as possible. While in California I saw quicksilver, silver, lead, and
iron ores, and the specimens were taken from mines said to be
inexhaustible. From good authority I learned the existence of gold and
copper mines, the metals being combined; and I saw specimens of coal
taken from two or three different points, but I do not know what the
indications were as to quality. Brimstone, saltpetre, muriate and
carbonate of soda, and bitumen, are abundant. There is little doubt
that California is as rich in minerals of all kinds as any portion of

I have taken much pains to describe to the reader, from day to day, and
at different points during my travels in California, the temperature
and weather. It is rarely so cold in the settled portions of California
as to congeal water. But twice only while here I saw ice, and then not
thicker than window-glass. I saw no snow resting upon the ground. The
annual rains commence in November, and continue, with intervals of
pleasant springlike weather, until May. From May to November, usually,
no rain falls. There are, however, exceptions. Rain sometimes falls in
August. The thermometer, at any season of the year, rarely sinks below
50° or rises above 80°. In certain positions on the coast, and
especially at San Francisco, the winds rise diurnally, and blowing
fresh upon the shore render the temperature cool in midsummer. In the
winter the wind blows from the land, and the temperature at these
points is warmer. These local peculiarities of climate are not
descriptive of the general climate of the interior.

For salubrity I do not think there is any climate in the world superior
to that of the coast of California. I was in the country nearly a year,
exposed much of the time to great hardships and privations, sleeping,
for the most part, in the open air, and I never felt while there the
first pang of disease, or the slightest indication of bad health. On
some portions of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, where
vegetation is rank, and decays in the autumn, the malaria produces
chills and fever, but generally the attacks are slight, and yield
easily to medicine. The atmosphere is so pure and preservative along
the coast, that I never saw putrified flesh, although I have seen, in
midsummer, dead carcasses lying exposed to the sun and weather for
months. They emitted no offensive smell. There is but little disease in
the country arising from the climate.

The botany and flora of California are rich, and will hereafter form a
fruitful field of discovery to the naturalist. There are numerous
plants reported to possess extraordinary medical virtues. The
"soap-plant" (_amole_) is one which appears to be among the most
serviceable. The root, which is the saponaceous portion of the plant,
resembles the onion, but possesses the quality of cleansing linen equal
to any "oleic soap" manufactured by my friends Cornwall and Brother, of
Louisville, Ky.

There is another plant in high estimation with the Californians, called
_canchalagua_, which is held by them as an antidote for all the
diseases to which they are subject, but in particular for cases of
fever and ague. For purifying the blood, and regulating the system, I
think it surpasses all the medicinal herbs that have been brought into
notice, and it must become, in time, one of the most important articles
in the practice of medicine. In the season for flowers, which is
generally during the months of May and June, its pretty pink-coloured
blossoms form a conspicuous display in the great variety which adorn
the fields of California.

The water-power in California is ample for any required mill purposes.
Timber for lumber is not so convenient as is desirable. There is,
however, a sufficiency of it, which, when improvements are made, will
be more accessible. The timber on the Sierra Nevada, the most
magnificent in the world, cannot be, at present, available. The
evergreen oak, that grows generally in the valleys, is not valuable,
except for fuel. But in the _canadas_ of the hills, and at several
places on the coast, particularly at Santa Cruz and Bodega, there is an
amount of pine and fir, adapted for lumber, that will not be consumed
for a long time.

The religion of the Californians is the Roman Catholic, and, like the
people of all Roman Catholic countries, they appear to be devotedly
attached to the forms of their religion. That there are some, I will
not say how many, paganish grafts upon the laws, formalities, and
ceremonies, as prescribed by the "Holy Church Universal" for its
government and observance, is undeniable, but these probably do not
materially affect the system. The females, I noticed, were nearly all
devoutly attached to their religious institutions. I have seen, on
festival or saint days, the entire floor of a church occupied by pious
women, with their children, kneeling in devout worship, and chanting
with much fervency some dismal hymn appertaining to the service. There
are but few of the Jesuit fathers who established the missions now
remaining in the country. The services are performed at several of the
churches that I visited, by native Indians, educated by the _padres_
previous to their expulsion by the Mexican government.



The following is an official account of a visit paid to the gold region
in July by Colonel Mason, who had been appointed to the military
command in California, and made his report to the authorities at
Washington. It is dated from head-quarters at Monterey, August 17,

"Sir,--I have the honour to inform you that, accompanied by Lieut. W.T.
Sherman, 3rd Artillery, A.A.A. General, I started on the 12th of June
last to make a tour through the northern part of California. We reached
San Francisco on the 20th, and found that all, or nearly all, its male
inhabitants had gone to the mines. The town, which a few months before
was so busy and thriving, was then almost deserted. Along the whole
route mills were lying idle, fields of wheat were open to cattle and
horses, houses vacant, and farms going to waste.

"On the 5th we arrived in the neighbourhood of the mines, and proceeded
twenty-five miles up the American Fork, to a point on it now known as
the Lower Mines, or Mormon Diggings. The hill sides were thickly strewn
with canvas tents and bush-harbours; a store was erected, and several
boarding shanties in operation. The day was intensely hot, yet about
200 men were at work in the full glare of the sun, washing for
gold--some with tin pans, some with close woven Indian baskets, but the
greater part had a rude machine known as the cradle. This is on
rockers, six or eight feet long, open at the foot, and its head had a
coarse grate, or sieve; the bottom is rounded, with small cleets nailed
across. Four men are required to work this machine; one digs the ground
in the bank close by the stream; another carries it to the cradle, and
empties it on the grate; a third gives a violent rocking motion to the
machine, whilst a fourth dashes on water from the stream itself. The
sieve keeps the coarse stones from entering the cradle, the current of
water washes off the earthy matter, and the gravel is gradually carried
out at the foot of the machine, leaving the gold mixed with a heavy
fine black sand above the first cleets. The sand and gold mixed
together are then drawn off through auger holes into a pan below, are
dried in the sun, and afterwards separated by blowing off the sand. A
party of four men, thus employed at the Lower Mines, average 100
dollars a-day. The Indians, and those who have nothing but pans or
willow baskets, gradually wash out the earth, and separate the gravel
by hand, leaving nothing but the gold mixed with sand, which is
separated in the manner before described. The gold in the Lower Mines
is in fine bright scales, of which I send several specimens.

"As we ascended the south branch of the American fork, the country
became more broken and mountainous, and twenty-five miles below the
lower washings the hills rise to about 1000 feet above the level of the
Sacramento Plain. Here a species of pine occurs, which led to the
discovery of the gold. Captain Sutter, feeling the great want of
lumber, contracted in September last with a Mr. Marshall to build a
saw-mill at that place. It was erected in the course of the past winter
and spring--a dam and race constructed; but when the water was let on
the wheel, the tail race was found to be too narrow to permit the water
to escape with sufficient rapidity. Mr. Marshall, to save labour, let
the water directly into the race with a strong current, so as to wash
it wider and deeper. He effected his purpose, and a large bed of mud
and gravel was carried to the foot of the race. One day Mr. Marshall,
as he was walking down the race to this deposit of mud, observed some
glittering particles at its upper edge; he gathered a few, examined
them, and became satisfied of their value. He then went to the fort,
told Captain Sutter of his discovery, and they agreed to keep it secret
until a certain grist-mill of Sutter's was finished. It, however, got
out and spread like magic. Remarkable success attended the labours of
the first explorers, and, in a few weeks, hundreds of men were drawn
thither. At the time of my visit, but little more than three months
after its first discovery, it was estimated that upwards of four
thousand people were employed. At the mill there is a fine deposit or
bank of gravel, which the people respect as the property of Captain
Sutter, though he pretends to no right to it, and would be perfectly
satisfied with the simple promise of a pre-emption on account of the
mill which he has built there at a considerable cost. Mr. Marshall was
living near the mill, and informed me that many persons were employed
above and below him; that they used the same machines as at the lower
washings, and that their success was about the same--ranging from one
to three ounces of gold per man daily. This gold, too, is in scales a
little coarser than those of the lower mines. From the mill Mr.
Marshall guided me up the mountain on the opposite or north bank of the
south fork, where in the bed of small streams or ravines, now dry, a
great deal of coarse gold has been found. I there saw several parties
at work, all of whom were doing very well; a great many specimens were
shown me, some as heavy as four or five ounces in weight; and I send
three pieces, labelled No. 5, presented by a Mr. Spence. You will
perceive that some of the specimens accompanying this hold mechanically
pieces of quartz--that the surface is rough, and evidently moulded in
the crevice of a rock. This gold cannot have been carried far by water,
but must have remained near where it was first deposited from the rock
that once bound it. I inquired of many if they had encountered the
metal in its matrix, but in every instance they said they had not; but
that the gold was invariably mixed with wash-gravel, or lodged in the
crevices of other rocks. All bore testimony that they had found gold in
greater or less quantities in the numerous small gullies or ravines
that occur in that mountainous region. On the 7th of July I left the
mill, and crossed to a small stream emptying into the American fork,
three or four miles below the saw-mill. I struck the stream (now known
as Weber's Creek) at the washings of Sunol and Company. They had about
thirty Indians employed, whom they pay in merchandise. They were
getting gold of a character similar to that found in the main fork, and
doubtless in sufficient quantities to satisfy them. I send you a small
specimen, presented by this Company, of their gold. From this point we
proceeded up the stream about eight miles, where we found a great many
people and Indians, some engaged in the bed of the stream, and others
in the small side valleys that put into it. These latter are
exceedingly rich, two ounces being considered an ordinary yield for a
day's work. A small gutter, not more than 100 yards long by four feet
wide, and two or three deep, was pointed out to me as the one where two
men (W. Daly and Percy McCoon) had a short time before obtained. 17,000
dollars' worth of gold. Captain Weber informed me, that he knew that
these two men had employed four white men and about 100 Indians, and
that, at the end of one week's work, they paid off their party, and had
left 10,000 dollars' worth of this gold. Another small ravine was shown
me, from which had been taken upwards of 12,000 dollars' worth of gold.
Hundreds of similar ravines, to all appearances, are as yet untouched.
I could not have credited these reports had I not seen, in the
abundance of the precious metal, evidence of their truth. Mr. Neligh,
an agent of Commodore Stockton, had been at work about three weeks in
the neighbourhood, and showed me, in bags and bottles, 2000 dollars'
worth of gold; and Mr. Lyman, a gentleman of education, and worthy of
every credit, said he had been engaged with four others, with a
machine, on the American fork, just below Sutter's Mill, that they
worked eight days, and that his share was at the rate of fifty dollars
a-day, but hearing that others were doing better at Weber's Place, they
had removed there, and were then on the point of resuming operations.

"The country on either side of Weber's Creek is much broken up by
hills, and is intersected in every direction by small streams or
ravines which contain more or less gold. Those that have been worked
are barely scratched, and, although thousands of ounces have been
carried away, I do not consider that a serious impression has been made
upon the whole. Every day was developing new and richer deposits; and
the only impression seemed to be, that the metal would be found in such
abundance as seriously to depreciate in value.

"On the 8th July I returned to the lower mines, and eventually to
Monterey, where I arrived on the 17th of July. Before leaving Sutter's,
I satisfied myself that gold existed in the bed of the Feather River,
in the Yubah and Bear, and in many of the small streams that lie
between the latter and the American fork; also, that it had been found
in the Consummes, to the south of the American fork. In each of these
streams the gold is found in small scales, whereas in the intervening
mountains it occurs in coarser lumps.

"Mr. Sinclair, whose rancho is three miles above Sutter's on the north
side of the American, employs about fifty Indians on the north fork,
not far from its junction with the main stream. He had been engaged
about five weeks when I saw him, and up to that time his Indians had
used simply closely-woven willow baskets. His net proceeds (which I
saw) were about 16,000 dollars' worth of gold. He showed me the
proceeds of his last week's work--14 lbs. avoirdupois of clean-washed

"The principal store at Sutter's fort, that of Brannan and Co., had
received in payment for goods 36,000 dollars' worth of this gold from
the 1st of May to the 10th of July. Other merchants had also made
extensive sales. Large quantities of goods were daily sent forward to
the mines, as the Indians, heretofore so poor and degraded, have
suddenly become consumers of the luxuries of life. I before mentioned
that the greater part of the farmers and rancheros had abandoned their
fields to go to the mines. This is not the case with Captain Sutter,
who was carefully gathering his wheat, estimated at 40,000 bushels.
Flour is already worth, at Sutter's, 36 dollars a-barrel, and will soon
be 50. Unless large quantities of breadstuffs reach the country much
suffering will occur; but as each man is now able to pay a large price,
it is believed the merchants will bring from Chili and the Oregon a
plentiful supply for the coming winter.

"The most moderate estimate I could obtain from men acquainted with the
subject was, that upwards of 4,000 men were working in the gold
district, of whom more than one-half were Indians, and that from 30,000
to 50,000 dollars' worth of gold, if not more, were daily obtained. The
entire gold district, with very few exceptions of grants made some
years ago by the Mexican authorities, is on land belonging to the
United States. It was a matter of serious reflection to me, how I could
secure to the Government certain rents or fees for the privilege of
securing this gold; but upon considering the large extent of country,
the character of the people engaged, and the small scattered force at
my command, I resolved not to interfere, but permit all to work freely,
unless broils and crimes should call for interference.

"The discovery of these vast deposits of gold has entirely changed the
character of Upper California. Its people, before engaged in
cultivating their small patches of ground, and guarding their herds of
cattle and horses, have all gone to the mines, or are on their way
thither. Labourers of every trade have left their work-benches, and
tradesmen their shops; sailors desert their ships as fast as they
arrive on the coast; and several vessels have gone to sea with hardly
enough hands to spread a sail. Two or three are now at anchor in San
Francisco, with no crew on board. Many desertions, too, have taken
place from the garrisons within the influence of these mines;
twenty-six soldiers have deserted from the post of Sonoma, twenty-four
from that of San Francisco, and twenty-four from Monterey. I have no
hesitation now in saying, that there is more gold in the country
drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers than will pay the cost
of the present war with Mexico a hundred times over. No capital is
required to obtain this gold, as the labouring man wants nothing but
his pick and shovel and tin pan, with which to dig and wash the gravel,
and many frequently pick gold out of the crevices of rocks with their
knives, in pieces of from one to six ounces.

"Gold is also believed to exist on the eastern slope of the Sierra
Nevada; and, when at the mines, I was informed by an intelligent Mormon
that it had been found near the Great Salt Lake by some of his
fraternity. Nearly all the Mormons are leaving California to go to the
Salt Lake; and this they surely would not do unless they were sure of
finding gold there, in the same abundance as they now do on the

"I have the honour to be,

"Your most obedient Servant,

"R.B. MASON, Colonel 1st Dragoons, commanding.

"Brigadier-General R. Jones,
Adjutant-General, U.S.A., Washington, D.C."


  Rate of Wages
  Mode of procuring the Gold
  Extent of Gold Region
  Price of Provisions.

It will be seen, from the later accounts that each new report continues
to realize the wildest expectation. The following letter dated
Monterey, November 16th, is highly interesting--

"We can now call ourselves citizens of the United States. We have now
only to go by law, as we formerly went by custom; that is, when
Congress gives us a government and code. The old foreign residents of
California, having done very well ten or twenty years without law, care
but very little whether Congress pays early or late attention to the
subject. Those who have emigrated from the Atlantic States within the
last three or four years deem the subject an important one; I only call
it difficult. The carrying out a code of laws, under existing
circumstances, is far from being an easy task. The general Government
may appoint governors, secretaries, and other public functionaries; and
judges, marshals, collectors, etc., may accept offices with salaries of
3000 or 4000 dollars per annum; but how they are to obtain their petty
officers, at half these sums, remains to be seen. The pay of a member
of Congress will be accepted here by those alone who do not know enough
to better themselves. Mechanics can now get 10 to 16 dollars per day;
labourers on the wharfs or elsewhere, 5 to 10 dollars; clerks and
storekeepers, 1000 to 3000 dollars per annum--some engage to keep store
during their pleasure at 8 dollars per day, or 1 lb. or 1-1/2 lb. of
gold per month; cooks and stewards, 60 to 100 dollars per month. In
fact, labour of every description commands exorbitant prices.

"The Sandwich Islands, Oregon, and Lower California are fast parting
with their inhabitants, all bound for this coast, and thence to the
great 'placer' of the Sacramento Valley, where the digging and washing
of one man that does not produce 100 troy ounces of gold, 23 carats,
from the size of a half spangle to one pound in a month, sets the
digger to 'prospecting,' that is, looking for better grounds. Your
'Paisano' can point out many a man who has, for fifteen to twenty days
in succession, bagged up five to ten ounces of gold a-day. Our placer,
or gold region, now extends over 300 or 400 miles of country, embracing
all the creeks and branches on the east side of the river Sacramento
and one side of the San Joaquin. In my travels I have, when resting
under a tree and grazing my horse, seen pieces of pure gold taken from
crevices of the rocks or slate where we were stopping. On one occasion,
nooning or refreshing on the side of a stream entirely unknown to
diggers or 'prospectors,' or rather, if known not attended to, one of
my companions, while rolling in the sand, said, 'Give me a tin pan; why
should we not be cooking in gold sand?' He took a pan, filled it with
sand, washed it out, and produced in five minutes two or three dollars'
worth of gold, merely saying, as he threw both pan and gold on the
sand, 'I thought so.' Perhaps it is fair that your readers should
learn, that, however plenty the Sacramento Valley may afford gold, the
obtaining of it has its disadvantages. From the 1st of July to the 1st
of October, more or less, one half of the people will have fever and
ague, or intermittent fever. In the winter, it is too cold to work in
the water. Some work in the sand by washing from the surface in a
wooden bowl, or tin pan; some gouge it out from the rocks or slate; the
more lazy ones roll about and pick up the large pieces, leaving the
small gold for the next emigration. The extent of the gold region on
the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers extends a distance of 800 miles
in length by 100 in width. It embraces not only gold, but quantities of
quicksilver in almost general abundance. It is estimated that a small
population actively engaged in mining operations in that region could
export 100,000,000 dollars in gold in every year, and that an increased
population might increase that amount to 300,000,000 dollars annually.
You may believe me when I say that for some time to come California
will export, yearly, nearly or quite 500,000 ounces of gold, 22 to 24
carats fine; some pieces of that will weigh 16 lbs., very many 1 lb.
Many men who began last June to dig gold with a capital of 50 dollars
can now show 5000 to 15,000 dollars. I saw a man to-day making
purchases of dry goods, etc., for his family, lay on the counter a bag
of raw hide, well sewed up, containing 109 ounces. I observed, 'That is
a good way to pack gold dust.' He very innocently replied, 'All the
bags I brought down are that way; I like the size!' Five such bags in
New York would bring nearly 10,000 dollars. This man left his family
last August. Three months' digging and washing, producing four or five
bags, of 100 ounces each, is better than being mate of a vessel at 40
dollars per month, as the man formerly was. His companion, a Mexican,
who camped and worked with him, only had two or three cow-hide bags of
gold. In this tough, but true, golden tale, you must not imagine that
all men are equally successful. There are some who have done better,
even to 4000 dollars in a month; many 1000 dollars during the summer;
and others, who refused to join a company of gold-washers who had a
cheap-made machine, and receive one ounce per day, that returned to the
settlement with not a vest pocket-full of gold. Some left with only
sufficient to pay for a horse and saddle, and pay the physician six
ounces of gold for one ounce of quinine, calomel, and jalap in
proportion. An ounce of gold for advice given, six ounces a visit,
brings the fever and ague to be rather an expensive companion. A 'well'
man has his proportionate heavy expenses also, to reduce his piles or
bags of gold. Dry beef in the settlements, at 4 cents per lb., at the
Placer, 1 to 2 dollars per lb.; salt beef and pork, 50 to 100 dollars
per barrel; flour, 30 to 75 dollars per barrel; coffee, sugar, and
rice, 50 cents to 1 dollar per lb. As washing is 50 cents to 1 dollar a
garment, many prefer throwing away their used-up clothes to paying the
washerwoman; that is, if they intend returning to the settlements soon,
where they can purchase more. As to shaving, I have never seen a man at
the Placer who had time to perform that operation. They do not work on
Sundays, only brush up the tent, blow out the emery or fine black sand
from the week's work. Horses that can travel only one day, and from
that to a week, are from 100 to 300 dollars. Freight charge by launch
owners for three days' run, 5 dollars per barrel. Wagoners charge 50 to
100 dollars per load, 20 to 50 miles, on good road. Corn, barley, peas,
and beans, 10 dollars a-bushel. Common pistols, any price; powder and
lead very dear. I know a physician who, in San Francisco, purchased a
common made gold-washer at 20 or 30 dollars, made of 70 or 80 feet of
boards. At a great expense he boated it up to the first landing on the
Sacramento, and there met a wagoner bound to one of the diggings with
an empty wagon, distant about 50 miles. The wagoner would not take up
the machine under 100 dollars. The doctor had to consent, and bided his
time. June passed over, rich in gold; all on that creek did wonders,
when the wagoner fell sick, called on his friend the doctor, whose tent
was in sight; the doctor came, but would not administer the first dose
under the old sum of 100 dollars, which was agreed to, under a proviso
that the following doses should be furnished more moderate. When a
man's time is worth 100 dollars a-day, to use a spade and tin pan,
neither doctors nor wagoners can think much of a pound of gold, and you
may suppose merchants, traders, and pedlars are not slow to make their
fortunes in these golden times. In San Francisco there is more
merchandize sold now, monthly, than before in a year. Vessels after
vessels arrive, land their cargoes, dispose of them, and bag up the
dust and lay up the vessel, as the crew are soon among the missing. The
cleanest clear out is where the captain follows the crew. There are
many vessels in San Francisco that cannot weigh anchor, even with the
assistance of three or four neighbouring vessels. Supercargoes must
land cargo on arriving, or have no crew to do it for them. Some vessels
continue to go to sea, with small crews, at 50 dollars per month for
green hands. Old hands are too wise for them, and prefer digging an
ounce or two a-day, and drinking hock and champagne at half an ounce
a-bottle, and eating bad sea bread at 1 dollar per pound. I have seen a
captain of a vessel, who, by his old contract in the port whence he
sailed, was getting 60 dollars per month, paying his cook 75 dollars,
and offering 100 dollars per month for a steward; his former crew, even
to his mates, having gone a 'prospecting.' Uncle Sam's ships suffer a
little the same way, although they offer from 200 to 500 dollars for
the apprehension of a deserter. The Ohio, however, laid in the port of
Monterey about a month, and lost only 20 or 30 men. Colonel Stevenson's
regiment is disbanded, 99 out of 100 of whom have also gone 'prospecting,'
including the colonel, who arrived in Monterey last month, from his
last post, and was met by his men at the edge of the town, to escort
and cheer him into the town. The captains, etc., have bought up
country carts and oxen, turned drivers, and gone to the Placer. Our
worthy governor, Colonel of the 1st Dragoons, etc., having plenty of
carts, wagons, horses, and mules, with a few regulars left, has also
gone, but under better advantages, for the second or third time, to see
the Placer and the country, and have justice done to his countrymen or
himself. Commodore Jones, lately arrived in Monterey, supposed it to be
the capital, head-quarters, etc., but found not even the Governor left.
Where head-quarters are may be uncertain, whether in Monterey, Sutter's
Fort, or in a four-mule wagon travelling over the gold region. Now,
whether headquarters are freighted with munitions of war, etc., or
whether the cargo consists of blankets, shirts, etc., to clothe the
suffering Indians, for the paltry consideration of gold, no one cares
or knows; but the principle should be, that, if privates can or will be
off making their thousands, those who are better able should not go

The _Washington Union_ contains a letter from Lieutenant Larkin, dated
Monterey, November 16, received at the State Department, containing
further confirmation of the previous despatches, public and private,
and far outstripping all other news in its exciting character. The gold
was increasing in size and quality daily. Lumps were found weighing
from one to two pounds. Several had been heard of weighing as high as
16 pounds, and one 25 pounds. Many men, who were poor in June, were
worth 30,000 dollars, by digging and trading with the Indians. 100
dollars a-day is the average amount realized daily, from July to
October. Half the diggers were sick with fevers, though not many deaths
had occurred among them. The Indians would readily give an ounce of
gold for a common calico shirt; others were selling for ten dollars
each in specie. The gold region extends over a track of 300 miles, and
it was not known that it did not extend 1000. A letter from Commodore
Jones states that many of the petty officers and men had deserted and
gone in search of the gold. He adds, the Indians were selling gold at
50 cents the ounce. Many vessels were deserted by captain, cook, and
seamen. The ship _Isaac Walton_ offered discharged soldiers 50 dollars
per month to go to Callao, which was refused. She was supplied by
government sailors. All the naval vessels on the coast were short of
hands. Nearly the whole of the 3rd Artillery had deserted. Provisions
were scarce and high; board, 4 dollars a-day; washing, 6 dollars
a-dozen. Merchants' clerks get from 2000 to 3000 dollars a-year.


  Route by land
  Outfit, etc., and advice to intending Emigrants.

The route via Independence or St. Joseph, Mo., to Fort Laramie, South
Pass, Fort Hall, the Sink of Mary's River, etc., etc., the _old_ route.
Let no emigrant, carrying his family with him, deviate from it, or
imagine that he can find a better road. This road is the best that has
yet been discovered, and to the Bay of San Francisco and the Gold
Region it is much the shortest. The Indians, moreover, on this route,
have, up to the present time, been so friendly as to commit no acts of
hostility on the emigrants. The trail is plain and good where there are
no physical obstructions, and the emigrant, by taking this route, will
certainly reach his destination in good season and without disaster.
From our information we would most earnestly advise all emigrants to
take this trail, without deviation, if they would avoid the fatal
calamities which almost invariably have attended those who have
undertaken to explore new routes.

The lightest wagon that can be constructed, of sufficient strength to
carry 2500 pounds' weight, is the vehicle most desirable. No wagon
should be loaded over this weight, or if it is, it will be certain to
stall in the muddy sloughs and crossings on the prairie in the first
part of the journey. This wagon can be hauled by three or four yokes of
oxen or six mules. Oxen are usually employed by the emigrants for
hauling their wagons. They travel about 15 miles per day, and, all
things considered, are perhaps equal to mules for this service,
although they cannot travel so fast. They are, however, less expensive,
and there is not so much danger of their straying and of being stolen
by the Indians.

Pack-mules can only be employed by parties of men. It would be very
difficult to transport a party of women and children on pack-mules,
with the provisions, clothing, and other baggage necessary to their
comfort. A party of men, however, with pack-mules, can make the journey
in less time by one month than it can be done in wagons--carrying with
them, however, nothing more than their provisions, clothing, and

For parties of _men_ going out, it would be well to haul their wagons,
provisions, etc., as far as Fort Laramie, or Fort Hall, by mules,
carrying with them pack-saddles and _alforjases_, or large saddle-bags,
adapted to the pack-saddle, with ropes for packing, etc., when, if they
saw proper, they could dispose of their wagons for Indian ponies, and
pack into California, gaining perhaps two or three weeks' time.

The provisions actually necessary per man are as follows:--

  150 lbs. of flour.
  150  do.  bacon.
  25   do.  coffee.
  30   do.  sugar.

Added to these, the main items, there should be a small quantity of
rice, 50 or 75 lbs. of crackers, dried peaches, etc., and a keg of
lard, with salt, pepper, etc., and such other luxuries of light weight
as the person outfitting chooses to purchase. He will think of them
before he starts.

Every man should be provided with a good rifle, and, if convenient,
with a pair of pistols, five pounds of powder, and ten pounds of lead.
A revolving belt-pistol may be found useful.

With the wagon, there should be carried such carpenter's tools as a
hand-saw, auger, gimlet, chisel, shaving-knife, etc., an axe, hammer,
and hatchet. This last weapon every man should have in his belt, with a
hunter's or a bowie-knife.

From Independence to the first settlement in California, which is near
the _gold region_, it is about 2050 miles--to San Francisco, 2290

The accounts that have been received and published in regard to the
wealth and productiveness of the gold mines, and other mines in
California, are undoubtedly true. They are derived from the most
authentic and reliable sources, and from individuals whose veracity may
be undoubtingly believed.

When a young man arrives there, he must turn his attention to whatever
seems to promise the largest recompense for his labour. It is
impossible in the new state of things produced by the late discoveries,
and the influx of population, to foresee what this might be. The
country is rich in agricultural resources, as well as in the precious
metals, and, with proper enterprise and industry, he could scarcely
fail to do well.

Families, as well as parties going out, should carry with them good
tents, to be used after their arrival as houses. The influx of
population will probably be so great that it will be difficult, if not
impossible, to obtain other shelter for some time after their arrival.
The climate of the country, however, even in winter, is so mild that,
with good tents, comfort is attainable. They should be careful, also,
to carry as much _subsistence_ into the country as they can; as what
they purchase there, after their arrival, they will be compelled to pay
a high price for.

The shortest route to California is unquestionably by the West India
Mail Packets, which leave Southampton on the 17th of every month. The
point to which they take passengers is Chagres. This voyage is usually
accomplished in about 22 to 26 days. From thence passengers proceed
across the Isthmus, a distance of about 52 miles (say three or four
days' journey) to Panama, and thence 3500 miles by sea in the Pacific
to St. Francisco. From the vast number of eager emigrants that it is
expected will assemble at Panama, it is very probable that great delay
will be occasioned from there not being sufficient number of vessels to
convey them to their destination. Unless such adventurers are
abundantly supplied with money, they will not be able to live in the
hot desolation of the tropics, where life is but little valued, and
where death is even less regarded. The entire route by sea (round Cape
Horn) cannot be less than 18,500 miles, and generally occupies from
five to six months, yet this route is much cheaper, safer, and in the
end (from the delay that will occur at Panama) quite as _short_. This
route, particularly to parties from England, is universally allowed to
be the best many, dangers and difficulties that attend the route across
the Isthmus of Panama (not noticing the probable delay) will be
avoided, and many a one will bitterly regret that he was ever induced
to attempt (as he perceives ship after ship sailing gallantly on to
these favoured regions) what he considered a shorter route, from the
want of the means of transit, while he is himself compelled idly to
waste his time, a prey to pestilence and to the "hope deferred that
maketh the heart sick."


The following are letters addressed to the Government at Washington,
and other communications, all of which, it will be seen, are fully
confirmatory of the accounts given in the preceding pages; with other
details of interest relative to the state of the gold districts:

_Extract from a Letter from Mr. Larkin, United States Consul at
Monterey, to Mr. Buchanan, Secretary of State at Washington._

"San Francisco (Upper California), June 1, 1848.

"Sir: * * * I have to report to the State Department one of the most
astonishing excitements and state of affairs now existing in this
country, that, perhaps, has ever been brought to the notice of the
Government. On the American fork of the Sacramento and Feather River,
another branch of the same, and the adjoining lands, there has been
within the present year discovered a placer, a vast tract of land
containing gold, in small particles. This gold, thus far, has been
taken on the bank of the river, from the surface to eighteen inches in
depth, and is supposed deeper, and to extend over the country.

"On account of the inconvenience of washing, the people have, up to
this time, only gathered the metal on the banks, which is done simply
with a shovel, filling a shallow dish, bowl, basket, or tin pan, with a
quantity of black sand, similar to the class used on paper, and washing
out the sand by movement of the vessel. It is now two or three weeks
since the men employed in those washings have appeared in this town
with gold, to exchange for merchandise and provisions. I presume nearly
20,000 dollars of this gold has as yet been so exchanged. Some 200 or
300 men have remained up the river, or are gone to their homes, for the
purpose of returning to the Placer, and washing immediately with
shovels, picks, and baskets; many of them, for the first few weeks,
depending on borrowing from others. I have seen the written statement
of the work of one man for sixteen days, which averaged 25 dollars per
day; others have, with a shovel and pan, or wooden bowl, washed out 10
dollars to even 50 dollars in a day. There are now some men yet washing
who have 500 dollars to 1,000 dollars. As they have to stand two feet
deep in the river, they work but a few hours in the day, and not every
day in the week.

"A few men have been down in boats to this port, spending twenty to
thirty ounces of gold each--about 300 dollars. I am confident that this
town (San Francisco) has one-half of its tenements empty, locked up
with the furniture. The owners--storekeepers, lawyers, mechanics, and
labourers--all gone to the Sacramento with their families. Small
parties, of five to fifteen men, have sent to this town and offered
cooks ten to fifteen dollars per day for a few weeks. Mechanics and
teamsters, earning the year past five to eight dollars per day, have
struck and gone. Several U.S. volunteers have deserted. U.S. barque
Anita, belonging to the Army, now at anchor here, has but six men. One
Sandwich Island vessel in port lost all her men; and was obliged to
engaged another crew at 50 dollars for the run of fifteen days to the

"One American captain having his men shipped on this coast in such a
manner that they could leave at any time, had them all on the eve of
quitting, when he agreed to continue their pay and food; leaving one on
board, he took a boat and carried them to the gold regions--furnishing
tools and giving his men one-third. They have been gone a week. Common
spades and shovels, one month ago worth 1 dollar, will now bring 10
dollars, at the gold regions. I am informed 50 dollars has been offered
for one. Should this gold continue as represented, this town and others
would be depopulated. Clerks' wages have risen from 600 dollars to 1000
per annum, and board; cooks, 25 dollars to 30 dollars per month. This
sum will not be any inducement a month longer, unless the fever and
ague appears among the washers. The _Californian_, printed here,
stopped this week. The _Star_ newspaper office, where the new laws of
Governor Mason, for this country, are printing, has but one man left. A
merchant, lately from China, has even lost his China servants. Should
the excitement continue through the year, and the whale-ships visit San
Francisco, I think they will lose most all their crews. How Col. Mason
can retain his men, unless he puts a force on the spot, I know not.

"I have seen several pounds of this gold, and consider it very pure,
worth in New York 17 dollars to 18 dollars per ounce; 14 dollars to 16
dollars, in merchandise, is paid for it here. What good or bad effect
this gold mania will have on California, I cannot foretell. It may end
this year; but I am informed that it will continue many years.
Mechanics now in this town are only wailing to finish some rude
machinery, to enable them to obtain the gold more expeditiously, and
free from working in the river. Up to this time, but few Californians
have gone to the mines, being afraid the Americans will soon have
trouble among themselves, and cause disturbance to all around. I have
seen some of the black sand, as taken from the bottom of the river (I
should think in the States it would bring 25 to 50 cents per pound),
containing many pieces of gold; they are from the size of the head of a
pin to the weight of the eighth of an ounce. I have seen some weighing
one-quarter of an ounce (4 dollars). Although my statements are almost
incredible, I believe I am within the statements believed by every one
here. Ten days back, the excitement had not reached Monterey. I shall,
within a few days, visit this gold mine, and will make another report
to you. Inclosed you will have a specimen.

"I have the honour to be, very respectfully,


"P.S. This placer, or gold region, is situated on public land."

"_Mr. Larkin to Mr. Buchanan._

"Monterey, California, June 28, 1848.

"SIR: My last dispatch to the State Department was written in San
Francisco, the 1st of this month. In that I had the honour to give some
information respecting the new 'placer,' or gold regions lately
discovered on the branches of the Sacramento River. Since the writing
of that dispatch I have visited a part of the gold region, and found it
all I had heard, and much more than I anticipated. The part that I
visited was upon a fork of the American River, a branch of the
Sacramento, joining the main river at Sutter's Fort. The place in which
I found the people digging was about twenty-five miles from the fort by

"I have reason to believe that gold will be found on many branches of
the Sacramento and the Joaquin rivers. People are already scattered
over one hundred miles of land, and it is supposed that the 'placer'
extends from river to river. At present the workmen are employed within
ten or twenty yards of the river, that they may be convenient to water.
On Feather river there are several branches upon which the people are
digging for gold. This is two or three days' ride from the place I

"At my camping place I found, on a surface of two or three miles on the
banks of the river, some fifty tents, mostly owned by Americans. These
had their families. There are no Californians who have taken their
families as yet to the gold regions; but few or none will ever do it;
some from New Mexico may do so next year, but no Californians.

"I was two nights at a tent occupied by eight Americans, viz., two
sailors, one clerk, two carpenters, and three daily workmen. These men
were in company; had two machines, each made from one hundred feet of
boards (worth there 150 dollars, in Monterey 15 dollars--being one
day's work), made similar to a child's cradle, ten feet long, without
the ends.

"The two evenings I saw these eight men bring to their tents the labour
of the day. I suppose they made each 50 dollars per day; their own
calculation was two pounds of gold a-day--four ounces to a man--64
dollars. I saw two brothers that worked together, and only worked by
washing the dirt in a tin pan, weigh the gold they obtained in one day;
the result was 7 dollars to one, 82 dollars to the other. There were
two reasons for this difference; one man worked less hours than the
other, and by chance had ground less impregnated with gold. I give this
statement as an extreme case. During my visit I was an interpreter for
a native of Monterey, who was purchasing a machine or canoe. I first
tried to purchase boards and hire a carpenter for him. There were but a
few hundred feet of boards to be had; for these the owner asked me 50
dollars per hundred (500 dollars per thousand), and a carpenter washing
gold dust demanded 50 dollars per day for working. I at last purchased
a log dug out, with a riddle and sieve made of willow boughs on it, for
120 dollars, payable in gold dust at 14 dollars per ounce. The owner
excused himself for the price, by saying he was two days making it, and
even then demanded the use of it until sunset. My Californian has told
me since, that himself, partner, and two Indians, obtained with this
canoe eight ounces the first and five ounces the second day.

"I am of the opinion that on the American fork, Feather River, and
Copimes River, there are near two thousand people, nine-tenths of them
foreigners. Perhaps there are one hundred families, who have their
teams, wagons, and tents. Many persons are waiting to see whether the
months of July and August will be sickly, before they leave their
present business to go to the 'Placer.' The discovery of this gold was
made by some Mormons, in January or February, who for a time kept it a
secret; the majority of those who are working there began in May. In
most every instance the men, after digging a few days, have been
compelled to leave for the purpose of returning home to see their
families, arrange their business, and purchase provisions. I feel
confident in saying there are fifty men in this 'Placer' who have on an
average 1,000 dollars each, obtained in May and June. I have not met
with any person who had been fully employed in washing gold one month;
most, however, appear to have averaged an ounce per day. I think there
must, by this time, be over 1,000 men at work upon the different
branches of the Sacramento; putting their gains at 10,000 dollars per
day, for six days in the week, appears to me not overrated.

"Should this news reach the emigration of California and Oregon, now on
the road, connected with the Indian wars, now impoverishing the latter
country, we should have a large addition to our population; and should
the richness of the gold region continue, our emigration in 1849 will
be many thousands, and in 1850 still more. If our countrymen in
California, as clerks, mechanics, and workmen, will forsake employment
at from 2 dollars to 6 dollars per day, how many more of the same class
in the Atlantic States, earning much less, will leave for this country
under such prospects? It is the opinion of many who have visited the
gold regions the past and present months, that the ground will afford
gold for many years, perhaps for a century. From my own examination of
the rivers and their banks, I am of opinion that, at least for a few
years, the golden products will equal the present year. However, as
neither men of science, nor the labourers now at work, have made any
explorations of consequence, it is a matter of impossibility to give
any opinion as to the extent and richness of this part of California.
Every Mexican who has seen the place says throughout their Republic
there has never been any 'placer like this one.'

"Could Mr. Polk and yourself see California as we now see it, you would
think that a few thousand people, on 100 miles square of the Sacramento
valley, would yearly turn out of this river the whole price our country
pays for the acquired territory. When I finished my first letter I
doubted my own writing, and, to be better satisfied, showed it to one
of the principal merchants of San Francisco, and to Captain Fulsom, of
the Quartermaster's Department, who decided at once I was far below the
reality. You certainly will suppose, from my two letters, that I am,
like others, led away by the excitement of the day. I think I am not.
In my last I inclosed a small sample of the gold dust, and I find my
only error was in putting a value to the sand. At that time I was not
aware how the gold was found; I now can describe the mode of collecting

"A person without a machine, after digging off one or two feet of the
upper ground, near the water (in some cases they take the top earth),
throws into a tin pan or wooden bowl a shovel full of loose dirt and
stones; then placing the basin an inch or two under water, continues to
stir up the dirt with his hand in such a manner that the running water
will carry off the light earths, occasionally, with his hand, throwing
out the stones; after an operation of this kind for twenty or thirty
minutes, a spoonful of small black sand remains; this is on a
handkerchief or cloth dried in the sun, the emerge is blown off,
leaving the pure gold. I have the pleasure of inclosing a paper of this
sand and gold, which I from a bucket of dirt and stones, in
half-an-hour, standing at the edge of the water, washed out myself. The
value of it may be 2 dollars or 3 dollars.

"The size of the gold depends in some measure upon the river from which
it is taken; the banks of one river having larger grains of gold than
another. I presume more than one half of the gold put into pans or
machines is washed out and goes down the stream; this is of no
consequence to the washers, who care only for the present time. Some
have formed companies of four or five men, and have a rough-made
machine put together in a day, which worked to much advantage, yet many
prefer to work alone, with a wooden bowl or tin pan, worth fifteen or
twenty cents in the States, but eight to sixteen dollars at the gold
region. As the workmen continue, and materials can be obtained,
improvements will take place in the mode of obtaining gold; at present
it is obtained by standing in the water, and with much severe labour,
or such as is called here severe labour.

"How long this gathering of gold by the handful will continue here, or
the future effect it will have on California, I cannot say.
Three-fourths of the houses in the town on the bay of San Francisco are
deserted. Houses are sold at the price of the ground lots. The effects
are this week showing themselves in Monterey. Almost every house I had
hired out is given up. Every blacksmith, carpenter, and lawyer is
leaving; brick-yards, saw-mills and ranches are left perfectly alone. A
large number of the volunteers at San Francisco and Sonoma have
deserted; some have been retaken and brought back; public and private
vessels are losing their crews; my clerks have had 100 per cent.
advance offered them on their wages to accept employment. A complete
revolution in the ordinary state of affairs is taking place; both of
our newspapers are discontinued from want of workmen and the loss of
their agencies; the Alcaldes have left San Francisco, and I believe
Sonoma likewise; the former place has not a Justice of the Peace left.

"The second Alcalde of Monterey to-day joins the keepers of our
principal hotel, who have closed their office and house, and will leave
to-morrow for the golden rivers. I saw on the ground a lawyer who was
last year Attorney-General of the King of the Sandwich Islands, digging
and washing out his ounce and a half per day; near him can be found
most all his brethren of the long robe, working in the same occupation.

"To conclude; my letter is long, but I could not well describe what I
have seen in less words, and I now can believe that my account may be
doubted. If the affair proves a bubble, a mere excitement, I know not
how we can all be deceived, as we are situated. Governor Mason and his
staff have left Monterey to visit the place in question, and will, I
suppose, soon forward to his department his views and opinions on this
subject. Most of the land, where gold has been discovered, is public
land; there are on different rivers some private grants. I have three
such purchased in 1846 and 1847, but have not learned that any private
lands have produced gold, though they may hereafter do so. I have the
honour, dear sir, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


DESERTION FROM THE SHIPS.--We collate from other sources several other
interesting letters and documents, and which will be found well worth

"Monterey, Sept. 15, 1848.

"Messrs. Grinnell, Minturn, and Co.:

"Sirs--I embrace this opportunity to inform you of my new situation,
which is bad enough. All hands have left me but two; they will stay
till the cargo is landed and ballast in, then they will go. Both mates
will leave in a few days, and then I will have only the two boys, and I
am fearful that they will run. I have got all landed but 900 barrels;
on Monday I shall get off ballast if the weather is good. There's no
help to be got at any price. The store-ship that sailed from here ten
days ago took three of my men at 100 dollars per month; there is
nothing that anchors here but what loses their men. I have had a hard
time in landing the cargo; I go in the boat every load. If I can get it
on shore I shall save the freight. As for the ship she will lay here
for a long time, for there's not the least chance of getting a crew.
The coasters are giving 100 dollars per month. All the ships at San
Francisco have stripped and laid up. The Flora, of New London, is at
San Francisco; all left. You probably have heard of the situation of
things here. A sailor will be up at the mines for two months, work on
his own account, and come down with from two to three thousand dollars,
and those that go in parties do much better. I have been offered 20
dollars per day to go, by one of the first men here, and work one year.
It is impossible for me to give you any idea of the gold that is got
here. Yours respectfully,

Captain of the ship Isaac Walton."

Another letter dated St. Francisco, September 1st, contains the

"A day or two ago the Flora, Captain Potter, of New London, anchored in
Whaleman's Harbour, on the opposite side of the Bay. Yesterday the
captain, fearing he would lose all his men, weighed anchor, intending
to go to sea. After getting under weigh, the crew, finding the ship was
heading out, refused to do duty, and the captain was forced to return
and anchor here. Last night nine of the crew gagged the watch, lowered
one of the boats, and rowed off. They have not been heard of since, and
are now probably half way to the gold region. The Flora is twenty-six
months out, with only 750 bbls. of oil. Every vessel that comes in here
now is sure to lose her crew, and this state of things must continue
until the squadron arrives, when, if the men-o'-war-men do not run off
too, merchant-men may retain their crews.

"The whale-ship Euphrates, of New Bedford, left here a few weeks since,
for the United States, to touch on the coast of Chili to recruit. The
Minerva, Captain Perry, of New Bedford, has abandoned the whaling
business, and is now on his way hence to Valparaiso for a cargo of
merchandise. Although two large ships, four barks, and eight or ten
brigs and schooners have arrived here since my return from the mineral
country, about four weeks since, with large cargoes of merchandise,
their entire invoices have been sold. Vessels are daily arriving from
the islands and ports upon the coast, laden with goods and passengers,
the latter destined for the gold-washings.

"Much sickness prevails among the gold-diggers; many have left the
ground sick, and many more have discontinued their labours for the
present, and gone into more healthy portions of the country, intending
to return after the sickly season has passed. From the best information
I can obtain, there are from two to three thousand persons at work at
the gold-washings with the same success as heretofore."

THE DIGGINGS.--Extract of a letter from Monterey, Aug. 29.

"At present the people are running over the country and picking it out
of the earth here and there, just as a thousand hogs, let loose in a
forest, would root up ground-nuts. Some get eight or ten ounces a-day,
and the least active one or two. They make the most who employ the wild
Indians to hunt it for them. There is one man who has sixty Indians in
his employ; his profits are a dollar a-minute. The wild Indians know
nothing of its value, and wonder what the pale-faces want to do with
it; they will give an ounce of it for the same weight of coined silver,
or a thimbleful of glass beads, or a glass of grog. And white men
themselves often give an ounce of it, which is worth at our mint 18
dollars, or more, for a bottle of brandy, a bottle of soda-powders, or
a plug of tobacco.

"As to the quantity which the diggers get, take a few facts as
evidence. I know seven men who worked seven weeks and two days, Sundays
excepted, on Feather River; they employed on an average fifty Indians,
and got out in these seven weeks and two days 275 pounds of pure gold.
I know the men, and have seen the gold, and know what they state to be
a fact--so stick a pin there. I know ten other men who worked ten days
in company, employed no Indians, and averaged in these ten days 1500
dollars each; so stick another pin there. I know another man who got
out of a basin in a rock, not larger than a wash-bowl, two pounds and a
half of gold in fifteen minutes; so stick another pin there! Not one of
these statements would I believe, did I not know the men personally,
and know them to be plain matter-of-fact men--men who open a vein of
gold just as coolly as you would a potato-hill."

ASSAY OF THE GOLD.--Lieutenant Loeser having arrived at Washington with
specimens of the gold from the diggings, the following account of its
quality appeared in the "Washington Union," the government organ:--

"Understanding last evening that the lieutenant had arrived in this
city, and had deposited in the War Office the precious specimens he had
brought with him, we called to see them, and to free our mind from all
hesitation as to the genuineness of the metal. We had seen doubts
expressed in some of our exchange papers; and we readily admit that the
accounts so nearly approached the miraculous, that we were relieved by
the evidence of our own senses on the subject. The specimens have all
the appearance of the native gold we had seen from the mines of North
Carolina and Virginia, and we are informed that the Secretary would
send the small chest, called a caddy, containing about 3,000 dollars'
worth of gold, in lumps and scales, to the mint, to be melted into
coins and bars. The specimens have come to Washington as they were
extracted from the materials of the placer. The heaviest piece brought
by Lieutenant Loeser weighs a little more than two ounces; but the
varied contents of the casket (as described in Colonel Mason's
schedule) will be sent off to-day, by special messenger, to the mint at
Philadelphia for assay, and early next week we hope to have the
pleasure of laying the result before our readers." The assay was
subsequently made, and the result officially announced. The gold is
declared to be from 3 to 8 per cent. purer than American standard gold

ANOTHER ASSAY.--The following is the report of an assay of Californian
gold dust, received by Mr. T.O. Larkin, United States consul at

"New York, Dec. 8, 1848.

"Sir,--I have assayed the portion of gold dust, or metal, from
California, which you sent me, and the result shows that it is fully
equal to any found in our Southern gold mines. I return you 10-3/4
grains out of the 12 which I have tested, the value of which is 45
cents. It is 21-1/2 carats fine--within half a carat of the quality of
English sovereigns or American eagles--and is almost ready to go to the
mint. The finest gold metal we get is from Africa, which is 22-1/2 to
23 carats fine. In Virginia we have mines where the quality of the gold
is much inferior--some of it so low as 19 carats--and in Georgia the
mines produce it nearly 22 carats fine. The gold of California, which I
have now assayed, is fully equal to that of any, and much superior to
some produced from the mines in our Southern States.

Smelter and refiner, 17, John-Street."

INCONVENIENCES OF TOO MUCH GOLD.--The following letter (January 12)
from Captain Fulsom, of the United States Service, writing from San
Francisco, confirms the fact of the difficulty of procuring servants,
or indeed manual assistance of any description:--

"All sorts of labour is got at enormous rates of compensation. Common
clerks and salesmen in the stores about town often receive as high as
2500 dollars and their board. The principal waiter in the hotel where I
board is paid 1700 dollars per year, and several others from 1200 to
1500 dollars! I fortunately have an Indian boy, or I should be forced
to clean my own boots, for I could not employ a good body servant for
the full amount of my salary as a government officer. I believe every
army officer in California, with one or two exceptions, would have
resigned last summer could they have done it, and been free at once to
commence for themselves. But the war was not then terminated, and no
one could hope to communicate with Washington correspondents, to get an
answer in less than six, and perhaps ten, months. For some time last
summer (August and July) the officers at Monterey were entirely without
servants; and the governor (Colonel Mason) actually took his turn in
cooking for his mess."

upon the influence of this immense discovery, which appeared in a
popular New York journal on the 23rd January, proves the extent of
impression produced upon society in the States by the intelligence of
this new source of natural wealth:--

"The news (February 12) from California will attract the observation of
the whole community, A spirit is generated from those discoveries,
which is more active, more intense, and more widely spread, than that
which agitated Europe in the time of Columbus, Cortez, and Pizarro.
There seems to be no doubt that, in a short time--probably less than
two years--those mines can be made to produce 100,000,000 dollars per
year. The region is the most extensive of the kind in the world, being
800 miles in length, and 100 in width, with every indication that gold
exists in large native masses, in the rocks and mountains of the Sierra
Nevada. But these vast gold mines are not the only mineral discoveries
that have been made. The quicksilver in the same region seems to be as
abundant as the gold, so that there are approximated to each other two
metals, which will have a most important effect and utility in making
the gold mines more valuable. Heretofore the gold and silver mines of
Mexico and Peru have been valuable to Spain, because she possessed a
monopoly of the quicksilver mines at Almaden in the Peninsula. This is
surpassed by California. According to the last accounts now given to
the public, emigrants were crowding in from every port in the Pacific
to California--from Mexico, Peru, the Sandwich Islands, Oregon; and we
have no doubt by this time the British possessions in the East, China,
and everywhere else in that region, are furnishing emigrants to the
wonderful regions of California. In less than a year there will
probably be a population of 100,000 to 200,000 souls, all digging for
gold, and capable of producing from 100,000,000 dollars to 300,000,000
dollars worth per annum of pure gold, to be thrown on the commerce of
the world at one fell swoop.

"What is to be the effect of such vast discoveries on the commerce of
the world--on old communities, on New York, London, and other great
commercial cities? Such a vast addition to the gold currency of the
world will at once disturb the prices and value of all productions and
merchandise to a similar extent to that which we see in Monterey and
San Francisco. The prices of every commodity will therefore rise
extravagantly during the next few years, according to the produce of
gold from that region. Now, in a rising market everything prospers;
every one gets rich, civilisation expands, industry increases, and all
orders of society are benefited. As soon as the first crop of gold from
California reaches New York, the impulse which it will give to
commercial enterprise, and the advance in the price of everything which
it will cause, will be tremendous. The bank currency will be expanded,
for the basis will be abundant; real estate will increase in value,
agricultural productions and agricultural labour will advance at once
10, 15, 20, 30, or 40 per cent., even to as great an extent, perhaps,
as was witnessed when the demand came from Ireland for the food of this
country to feed the starving Irish. New York and her sister cities will
be the centre of all those revolutionary movements which are certain to
spring from the gold productions of California, on the commerce of the
whole civilized world. Ship-building will increase in value,
steam-boats will be wanted, the railroads projected across the Isthmus
in various places, in Mexico and Central America will be pushed to
completion, and we should not be surprised to see an active attempt
made, under the auspices of the Federal Government, to construct a
railroad across the continent, through the South Pass, from St. Louis,
or some other point on the Mississippi, to San Francisco. The discovery
of these great gold mines will no doubt form the agent of the greatest
revolution in the commercial centres of the world and on the
civilisation of the human race that has ever taken place since the
first dawn of history. New York will henceforth, from its position to
the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, probably in less than a quarter of a
century, present a population greater than that of Paris, and display
evidences of wealth, grandeur, magnificence, and industry, in an equal
if not greater degree than what we see in London at this day. We expect
that, in the next twenty-five years, we shall make as rapid a march in
this metropolis, and in the neighbouring cities, as any city has done
during the last twenty-five centuries. There is no necessity for all
going to California. Those who remain, and will raise produce,
manufacture goods, build ships, construct steam-engines, and advance
the Fine Arts, will enjoy the benefits of those discoveries to as great
an extent as those who go to the Sacramento to dig for gold. All the
results of the labours of those diggers must come to this metropolis,
swell its magnificence, and increase the intensity of its action in
commercial affairs. Even in a political point of view the discovery of
these wonderful gold mines in California, under the Government of the
United States, will have a wonderful and astounding effect. We should
not be surprised to see, in a short time, all the old provinces of
Mexico, as far as the Isthmus of Darien, knocking for admission into
this union; while, on the other side, the British provinces of Canada,
and even the Spanish island of Cuba, may be begging and praying to be
let in at the same time, and be permitted to enjoy some of the vast
advantages, and participate a little in the energy, which this vast
confederacy will exhibit to the astonished world."

DISORDERS IN THE GOLD DISTRICT.--Up to the close of the year the
accounts were with few exceptions favourable to the morals and habits
of the masses of adventurers congregated on the banks of the San
Francisco and the vicinity; subsequently the statements on these points
began to change, and every letter noticed some robbery or murder,
generally both, as of frequent occurrence, and at length they became so
common that there was neither protection for life nor property. The
following ominous intelligence, which appeared in the _Washington
Union_ (the organ of government), created an immense sensation. It was
the substance of a letter from San Francisco, dated the end of
December, addressed to Commodore Jones. "This letter (according to the
_Union_) presents a desperate state of affairs as existing in
California. Everything is getting worse as regards order and
government. Murders and robberies were not only daily events, but
occurring hourly. Within six days more than twenty murders had been
perpetrated. The people were preparing to organise a provisional
government in order to put a stop to these outrages. Within five days
three men have been hung by Lynch Law. The United States revenue laws
are now in force, and will yield 400,000 dollars the first year. The
inhabitants are opposed to paying taxes."

LATEST ACCOUNTS (_from the New York Press_.)--The desperate state of
affairs in California is fully confirmed. Murders and robberies were
occurring daily. The following are particulars supplied by Lieutenant
Lanman, of the United States navy, who had returned to New York, after
having acted for a year past as collector at Monterey:--

"Only about an hour before he left, he saw a man on board the
flag-ship, just arrived from the mines, who confirmed the previous
reports in regard to the discoveries on the river Staneslow, where he
had seen a single lump of gold weighing nine pounds, and heard of one
that weighed twenty pounds. The gold excitement in Monterey had
entirely abated, the immense mineral wealth of the country being looked
upon as an established fact. There was no disposition (except among the
landholders) to exaggerate. For a year past Lieutenant Lanman has been
performing the duties of collector at the port of Monterey; and, having
seen every man who had returned from a visit to the mines, his
opportunities for obtaining authentic information were better than if
he had visited the mines in person. He informs us that no large
amounts of gold dust or ore were selling at a sacrifice; he does not
believe that one hundred ounces of the gold dust could have been
purchased at the reported rate of eight dollars, the ordinary prices
ranging from ten to twelve dollars per ounce. The weekly receipts of
gold at San Francisco were estimated at from thirty to fifty thousand
dollars, and Lieutenant Lanman knew of one individual who had in his
possession thirty thousand dollars' worth of pure ore and dust. The
current value of gold in trade was sixteen dollars per ounce. There was
a scarcity of coin throughout the country; but when Lieutenant Lanman
arrived at Panama, he was informed that 600,000 dollars had just been
shipped for California by certain Mexican gentlemen, and that the
American consul at Paita (Mr. Ruden) had in charge coin of the value of
118,000 dollars, which he intends to exchange for ore and dust. Peru
and Chili are not behind the United States in regard to the gold
excitement, no less than twenty vessels having sailed from these two
countries within a short time bound to San Francisco. They were all
well laden with provisions and other necessaries of life, and their
arrival would probably reduce the prices, which have heretofore been so
exorbitant. The whole amount of gold collected at the washings since
the excitement first broke out is variously estimated--some put it down
as high as 4,000,000 of dollars, but this I think is a little too

A private letter says the produce of a vineyard of 1,000 vines brought
1,200 dollars; the vegetables of a garden of one acre, near San
Francisco, 1,500 dollars. A snow-storm had covered the gold-diggings,
and the people were leaving, on account of sickness, intending to
return in the spring, which is said to be the best season for the gold
harvest. Labourers, according to one letter-writer, demanded a dollar
an hour! Adventurers continued to arrive at San Francisco from all
parts of the world; and several persons, who were reported to be laden
down with gold, were anxious to return to the United States, but could
not very readily find a conveyance, as the sailors deserted the ships
immediately on their arrival in port.

CALIFORNIAN GOLD 250 YEARS AGO.--Pinkerton, in an account of Drake's
discovery of a part of California, to which he gave the name of New
Albion, states:--"The country, too, if we can depend upon what Sir
Francis Drake or his chaplain say, may appear worth the seeking and the
keeping, since they assert that _the land is so rich in gold and
silver, that upon the slightest turning it up with a spade or pick-axe,
these rich metals plainly appear mixed with the mould_. It may be
objected that this looks a little fabulous; but to this two
satisfactory answers may be given: the first is, that later discoveries
on the same coast confirm the truth of it, which for anything I can see
ought to put the fact out of question; but if any doubts should remain,
my second answer should overturn these. For I say next, that the
country of New Mexico lies directly behind New Albion, on the other
side of a narrow bay, and in that country are the mines of Santa Fé,
which are allowed to be the richest in the world; here, then, is a
valuable country, to which we have a very fair title."

advertisements in the daily papers (says the _Examiner_) will show that
the public appetite for California is likely to be promptly met. The
burden of the various vessels already announced as ready for immediate
departure amounts to about 5,000 tons, distributed in ships ranging
from 190 to 700 tons, to say nothing of the West India mail-steamer,
which leaves on the 17th, carrying goods and passengers to Chagres, or
of a "short and pleasant passage" advertised to Galveston, in Texas, as
a cheap route to the Pacific. The rates range from £25 upwards to suit
all classes. Thus far, however, we have only the arrangements for those
who are able to move. The opportunities provided for those who wish to
share the advantages of the new region without its dangers are still
more ample. Indeed, so imposing are the plans for an extensive
investment of capital for carrying on the trade in shares of £5 each,
that it would seem as if the first effect of the affair would be to
cause a scarcity of money rather than an abundance. About a million and
a quarter sterling is already wanted, and the promoters stipulate for
the power of doubling the proposed amounts as occasion may offer. There
is a "California Gold-Coast Trading Association;" a "California Gold
Mining, Streaming, and Washing Company;" a "California Steam Trading
Company," a "California Gold and Trading Company;" and a "California
Gold Mining, etc., Trading Company." The last of these alone will
require £600,000 for its objects, but as half the shares are "to be
reserved for the United States of America," the drain upon our
resources will be lessened to that extent. Some of the concerns propose
to limit their operations to trading on the coast, sending out at the
same time "collecting and exploring parties" whenever the prospect may
be tempting. Others intend at once to get a grant from the legislature
at Washington of such lands "as they may deem necessary," while others
intend to trust to chance, simply sending out a "practical" manager,
accompanied by an adequate number of men "accustomed to the extraction
of gold in all its forms." Along with these advertisements are some of
a modified nature, to suit parties who may neither wish to go out with
a batch of emigrants, nor to stay at home and wait the results of a
public company. One "well-educated gentleman" seeks two others "to
share expenses with him." Another wishes for a companion who would
advance £200, "one half to leave his wife, and the other half for
outfit;" a third tells where "any respectable individuals with small
capital" may find persons willing to join them; a fourth states that
respectable persons having not less than £100 are wanted to complete a
party; and a fifth, that a "seafaring man is ready to go equal shares
in purchasing a schooner to sail on speculation." What number may be
found to answer those appeals it is impossible to conjecture. Common
sense would say not one, but experience of what has been practised over
and over again reminds us that the active parties on the present
occasion are not calculating too largely upon the credulity of their
countrymen. That the country will be a pandemonium long before any one
can reach it from this side is hardly to be doubted, unless, indeed,
the United States government shall have been able to establish a
blockade and cordon, in which case the new arrivals will have to get
back as well as they can.

mines, and rivers flowing over golden sands, we must be prepared for a
little over-colouring. Such discoveries have always excited sanguine
hopes, and dreams of exhaustless wealth; but if the accounts--and they
really appear well authenticated--of the golden treasures of California
be true, quantities of the most precious of all metals are found--not
buried in mines, but scattered on the surface of the earth, and the
fortunate adventurer may enrich himself beyond the dreams of avarice,
almost without labour, without capital, and with no care but that which
cupidity generates. The principle that the value of the precious
metals, like other products of industry, is determined primarily by the
cost of production, and then by scarcity, ideas of utility, and
convenience, seems to be neutralized by this new discovery; and it
becomes a curious question, how far it may affect the value of gold and
silver in Europe. If the abundance of gold flowing from America be such
as to exceed the demand, the value of gold will fall, and the price of
all other commodities relatively rise, and the relative proportion
between gold and silver be disturbed so as to affect the standards of
value in each country and the par of exchange between one and another.
The productiveness of the silver mines, there is no doubt, is greater
and more regular than those of gold; but the enormous increase of the
silver currency on the Continent, in the United States, and even in
India, and our own colonies, has kept the price of silver a little
below five shillings an ounce. On the other hand the English standard
of value being gold only, the drain of gold is generally towards
England, while that of silver is towards the Continent. We do not doubt
that the English Mint price of gold, £3 17s. 10-1/2d. an ounce, and the
price at which the Bank of England are compelled to purchase, £3 17s.
9d. an ounce, are causes which not only regulate, but, within certain
limits, determine, the price of gold throughout the world. Suppose, for
a moment, the circulation of England, exceeding thirty millions and the
Bank store of fifteen millions, to be thrown on the markets of Europe,
by an alteration of the standard of value--how material would be the
fall in price! It is equally obvious that England would be first and
most materially affected by any large and sudden production of her
standard of value; for though America would be enriched by the
discovery of the precious metals within her own territories, it is only
because she would possess a larger fund to exchange for more useful and
necessary products of labour. The value of silver would not fall,
assuming the supply and demand to be equalised, but gold would fall in
relation to silver, and the existing proportion (about 15 to 1) could
no longer be maintained. Then prices would rise of all articles now
estimated in our currency--i.e. an ounce of gold would exchange for
less than at present. And, assuming the price of silver to keep up as
heretofore, about 5s. an ounce, our sovereign would be valued less in
other countries, and all exchange operations would be sensibly
affected. The only countervailing influence in the reduction of gold
to, say, only double the price of silver, would be an increased
consumption in articles of taste and manufacture, which, however, can
only be speculative and uncertain. It is said by accounts from
California that five hundred miles lie open to the avarice of
gold-hunters, and that some adventurers have collected from 1,200 to
1,800 dollars a-day; the probable average of each man's earnings being
from 8 to 10 dollars a-day, or, let us say, £2. The same authority
avers there is room and verge enough for the profitable working, to
that extent, of a hundred thousand persons. And it is likely enough
before long that such a number may be tempted to seek their easily
acquired fortune in the golden sands of El Sacramento and elsewhere.
Now two pounds a-day for each man would amount to £200,000, which,
multiplied by 300 working days, will give £60,000,000 a-year! That is,
£600,000,000 in ten years! A fearful amount of gold dust, and far more
than enough to disturb the equanimity of ten thousand political
economists. The gold utensils found among the simple-minded and
philosophic Peruvians (who wondered at the eager desire of Christians
for what they scarcely valued), will be esteemed trifles with our
golden palaces, and halls paved with gold, when California shall have
poured this vast treasure into Europe. Assuming in round numbers each
2,000 lbs., or troy ton, to be equivalent to £100,000 sterling, the
above amount in one year would represent _six hundred_ tons, and in ten
years _six thousand_ tons of gold! The imagination of all-plodding
industrious England is incapable of grasping so great an idea! Can
there be any doubt, then, of a revolution in the value of the precious

PROHIBITION FROM THE GOVERNMENT.--It would seem that the government
have at length taken measures to preserve the gold districts from the
bands of foreign adventurers who are daily pouring in from every
quarter. Towards the end of January we learn that General Smith had
been sent out by the United States government, with orders to enforce
the laws against all persons, not citizens of the States, who should be
found trespassing on the public lands. Official notice to this effect
was issued to the American consul at Panama and other places, in order
that emigrants on their way to California might be made aware of the
determination of the government previous to their arrival. The
punishment for illegal trespassing is fine and imprisonment. It was not
known, at the date of the last intelligence from California how this
notification, which makes such an important change in the prospects of
the numerous bodies now on their way thither, has been received by the
population assembled at the land of promise.


The following general view of the nature of the country which divides
the United States from California is taken from a narrative, published
by Lieutenant Emory, of a journey from the Arkansas to the newly
annexed territory of the United States.

"The country," says the lieutenant, "from the Arkansas to the Colorado,
a distance of over 1200 miles, in its adaptation to agriculture, has
peculiarities which must for ever stamp itself upon the population
which inhabits it. All North Mexico, embracing New Mexico, Chihuahua,
Sonora, and the Californias, as far north as the Sacramento, is, as far
as the best information goes, the same in the physical character of its
surface, and differs but little in climate and products. In no part of
this vast tract can the rains from heaven be relied upon, to any
extent, for the cultivation of the soil. The earth is destitute of
trees, and in great part also of any vegetation whatever. A few feeble
streams flow in different directions from the great mountains, which in
many places traverse this region. These streams are separated,
sometimes by plains, and sometimes by mountains, without water and
without vegetation, and may be called deserts, so far as they perform
any useful part in the sustenance of animal life.

"The whole extent of country, except on the margin of streams, is
destitute of forest trees. The Apaches, a very numerous race, and the
Navajoes, are the chief occupants, but there are many minor bands, who,
unlike the Apaches and Navajoes, are not nomadic, but have fixed
habitations. Amongst the most remarkable of these are the Soones, most
of whom are said to be Albinoes. The latter cultivate the soil, and
live in peace with their more numerous and savage neighbours. Departing
from the ford of the Colorado in the direction of Sonora, there is a
fearful desert to encounter. Alter, a small town, with a Mexican
garrison, is the nearest settlement. All accounts concur in
representing the journey as one of extreme hardship, and even peril.
The distance is not exactly known, but it is variously represented at
from four to seven days' journey. Persons bound for Sonora from
California, who do not mind a circuitous route, should ascend the Gila
as far as the Pimos village, and thence penetrate the province by way
of Tucson. At the ford, the Colorado is 1,500 feet wide, and flows at
the rate of a mile and a half per hour. Its greatest depth in the
channel, at the ford where we crossed, is four feet. The banks are low,
not more than four feet high, and, judging from indications, sometimes,
though not frequently, overflowed. Its general appearance at this point
is much like that of the Arkansas, with its turbid waters and shifting
sand islands."

The narrative of Lieut. Emory, of his journey from this point across
the Desert of California, becomes highly interesting and

"_November 26_.--The dawn of day found every man on horseback, and a
bunch of grass from the Colorado tied behind him on the cantle of his
saddle. After getting well under way, the keen air at 26° Fahrenheit
made it most comfortable to walk. We travelled four miles along the
sand butte, in a southern direction; we mounted the buttes and found a
firmer footing covered with fragments of lava, rounded by water, and
many agates. We were now fairly on the desert.

"Our course now inclined a few degrees more to the north, and at 10,
A.M., we found a large patch of grama, where we halted for an hour, and
then pursued our way over the plains covered with fragments of lava,
traversed at intervals by sand buttes, until 4, P.M., when, after
travelling 24 miles, we reached the Alamo or cotton-wood. At this
point, the Spaniards informed us, that, failing to find water, they had
gone a league to the west, in pursuit of their horses, where they found
a running stream. We accordingly sent parties to search, but neither
the water nor their trail could be found. Neither was there any
cotton-wood at the Alamo, as its name would signify; but it was
nevertheless the place, the tree having probably been covered by the
encroachments of the sand, which here terminates in a bluff 40 feet
high, making the arc of a great circle convexing to the north.
Descending this bluff, we found in what had been the channel of a
stream, now overgrown with a few ill-conditioned mesquite, a large hole
where persons had evidently dug for water. It was necessary to halt to
rest our animals, and the time was occupied in deepening this hole,
which, after a strong struggle, showed signs of water. An old champagne
basket, used by one of the officers as a pannier, was lowered in the
hole, to prevent the crumbling of the sand. After many efforts to keep
out the caving sand, a basket-work of willow twigs effected the object,
and, much to the joy of all, the basket, which was now 15 or 20 feet
below the surface, filled with water. The order was given for each mess
to draw a kettle of water, and Captain Turner was placed in charge of
the spring, to see fair distribution.

"When the messes were supplied, the firmness of the banks gave hopes
that the animals might be watered, and each party was notified to have
their animals in waiting; the important business of watering then
commenced, upon the success of which depended the possibility of their
advancing with us a foot further. Two buckets for each animal were
allowed. At 10, A.M., when my turn came, Captain Moore had succeeded,
by great exertions, in opening another well, and the one already opened
began to flow more freely, in consequence of which, we could afford to
give each animal as much as it could drink. The poor brutes, none of
which had tasted water in forty-eight hours, and some not for the last
sixty, clustered round the well and scrambled for precedence. At 12
o'clock I had watered all my animals, thirty-seven in number, and
turned over the well to Captain Moore. The animals still had an aching
void to fill, and all night was heard the munching of sticks, and their
piteous cries for more congenial food.

"_November 27 and 28_.--To-day we started a few minutes after sunrise.
Our course was a winding one, to avoid the sand-drifts. The Mexicans
had informed us that the waters of the salt lake, some thirty or forty
miles distant, were too salt to use, but other information led us to
think the intelligence was wrong. We accordingly tried to reach it;
about 3, P.M., we disengaged ourselves from the sand, and went due
(magnetic) west, over an immense level of clay detritus, hard and
smooth as a bowling-green. The desert was almost destitute of
vegetation; now and then an Ephedra, Oenothera, or bunches of Aristida
were seen, and occasionally the level was covered with a growth of
Obione canescens, and a low bush with small oval plaited leaves,
unknown. The heavy sand had proved too much for many horses and some
mules, and all the efforts of their drivers could bring them no further
than the middle of this desert. About 8 o'clock, as we approached the
lake, the stench of dead animals confirmed the reports of the Mexicans,
and put to flight all hopes of being able to use the water.

"The basin of the lake, as well as I could judge at night, is about
three-quarters of a mile long and half a mile wide. The water had
receded to a pool, diminished to one half its size, and the approach to
it, was through a thick soapy quagmire. It was wholly unfit for man or
brute, and we studiously kept the latter from it, thinking that the use
of it would but aggravate their thirst. One or two of the men came in
late, and, rushing to the lake, threw themselves down and took many
swallows before discovering their mistake; but the effect was not
injurious except that it increased their thirst. A few mezquite trees
and a chenopodiaceous shrub bordered the lake, and on these our mules
munched till they had sufficiently refreshed themselves, when the call
to saddle was sounded, and we groped silently our way in the dark. The
stoutest animals now began to stagger, and when day dawned scarcely a
man was seen mounted.

"With the sun rose a heavy fog from the south-west, no doubt from the
gulf, and, sweeping towards us, enveloped us for two or three hours,
wetting our blankets and giving relief to the animals. Before it had
disappeared we came to a patch of sun-burned grass. When the fog had
entirely dispersed we found ourselves entering a gap in the mountains,
which had been before us for four days. The plain was crossed, but we
had not yet found water. The first valley we reached was dry, and it
was not till 12 o'clock, M., that we struck the Cariso (cane) creek,
within half a mile of one of its sources, and although so close to the
source, the sands had already absorbed much of its water, and left but
little running. A mile or two below, the creek entirely disappears. We
halted, having made fifty-four miles in the two days, at the source, a
magnificent spring, twenty or thirty feet in diameter, highly
impregnated with sulphur, and medicinal in its properties.

"The desert over which we had passed, ninety miles from water to water,
is an immense triangular plain, bounded on one side by the Colorado, on
the west by the Cordilleras of California, the coast chain of mountains
which now encircles us, extending from the Sacramento river to the
southern extremity of Lower California, and on the north-east by a
chain of mountains, running southeast and northwest. It is chiefly
covered with floating sand, the surface of which in various places is
white, with diminutive spinelas, and everywhere over the whole surface
is found the large and soft muscle shell. I have noted the only two
patches of grass found during the 'jornada.' There were scattered, at
wide intervals, the Palafoxia linearis, Atriplex, Encelia farinosa,
Daleas, Euphorbias, and a Simsia, described by Dr. Torrey as a new

"The southern termination of this desert is bounded by the Tecaté chain
of mountains and the Colorado; but its northern and eastern boundaries
are undefined, and I should suppose from the accounts of trappers, and
others, who have attempted the passage from California to the Gila by a
more northern route, that it extends many days' travel beyond the chain
of barren mountains which bound the horizon in that direction. The
portal to the mountains through which we passed was formed by immense
buttes of yellow clay and sand, with large flakes of mica and seams of
gypsum. Nothing could be more forlorn and desolate in appearance. The
gypsum had given some consistency to the sand buttes, which were washed
into fantastic figures. One ridge formed apparently a complete circle,
giving it the appearance of a crater; and although some miles to the
left, I should have gone to visit it, supposing it to be a crater, but
my mule was sinking with thirst, and water was yet at some distance.
Many animals were left on the road to die of thirst and hunger, in
spite of the generous efforts of the men to bring them to the spring.
More than one was brought up, by one man tugging at the halter and
another pushing up the brute, by placing his shoulder against its
buttocks. Our most serious loss, perhaps, was that of one or two fat
mares and colts brought with us for food; for, before leaving camp,
Major Swords found in a concealed place one of the best pack mules
slaughtered, and the choice bits cut from his shoulders and flanks,
stealthily done by some mess less provident than others.

"_Nov. 29_.--The grass at the spring was anything but desirable for our
horses, and there was scarcely a ration left for the men. This last
consideration would not prevent our giving the horses a day's rest
wherever grass could be found. We followed the dry sandy bed of the
Cariso nearly all day, at a snail's pace, and at length reached the
'little pools' where the grass was luxuriant but very salt. The water
strongly resembled that at the head of the Cariso creek, and the earth,
which was very tremulous for many acres about the pools, was covered
with salt. This valley is not more than half a mile wide, and on each
side are mountains of grey granite and pure quartz, rising from 1,000
to 3,000 feet above it.

"We rode for miles through thickets of the centennial plant, Agave
Americana, and found one in full bloom. The sharp thorns terminating
every leaf of this plant were a great annoyance to our dismounted and
wearied men, whose legs were now almost bare. A number of these plants
were cut by the soldiers, and the body of them used as food. The day
was intensely hot, and the sand deep; the animals, inflated with water
and rushes, gave way by scores; and although we advanced only sixteen
miles, many did not arrive at camp until 10 o'clock at night. It was a
feast day for the wolves, which followed in packs close on our track,
seizing our deserted brutes, and making the air resound with their
howls as they battled for the carcases.

"_December 12_.--We followed the Solidad through a deep fertile valley
in the shape of a cross. Here we ascended to the left a steep hill to
the table lands, which, keeping for a few miles, we descended into a
waterless valley, leading into False Bay at a point distant two or
three miles from San Diego. At this place we were in view of the fort
overlooking the town of San Diego and the barren waste which surrounds

"The town consists of a few adobe houses, two or three of which only
have plank floors. It is situated at the foot of a high hill on a sand
flat, two miles wide, reaching from the head of San Diego Bay to False
Bay. A high promontory, of nearly the same width, runs into the sea
four or five miles, and is connected by the flat with the main land.
The road to the hide-houses leads on the east side of this promontory,
and abreast of them the frigate Congress and the sloop Portsmouth are
at anchor. The hide-houses are a collection of store-houses where the
hides of cattle are packed before being shipped, this article forming
the only trade of the little town.

"The bay is a narrow arm of the sea indenting the land some four or
five miles, easily defended, and having twenty feet of water at the
lowest tide. The rise is five feet, making the greatest water
twenty-five feet.

"Standing on the hill which overlooks the town, and looking to the
north-east, I saw the mission of San Diego, a fine large building now
deserted. The Rio San Diego runs under ground in a direct course from
the mission to the town, and, sweeping around the hill, discharges
itself into the bay. Its original debouche was into False bay, where,
meeting the waters rolling in from the seaward, a bar was formed by the
deposit of sand, making the entrance of False Bay impracticable.

"_January 2_.--Six and a half miles' march brought us to the deserted
mission of San Luis Rey. The keys of this mission were in charge of the
alcalde of the Indian village, a mile distant. He was at the door to
receive us and deliver up possession. There we halted for the day, to
let the sailors, who suffered dreadfully from sore feet, recruit a
little. This building is one which, for magnitude, convenience, and
durability of architecture, would do honour to any country.

"The walls are adobe, and the roofs of well-made tile. It was built
about sixty years since by the Indians of the country, under the
guidance of a zealous priest. At that time the Indians were very
numerous, and under the absolute sway of the missionaries. These
missionaries at one time bid fair to christianize the Indians of
California. Under grants from the Mexican government, they collected
them into missions, built immense houses, and began successfully to
till the soil by the hands of the Indians for the benefit of the

"The habits of the priests, and the avarice of the military rulers of
the territory, however, soon converted these missions into instruments
of oppression and slavery of the Indian race.

"The revolution of 1836 saw the downfall of the priests, and most of
these missions passed by fraud into the hands of private individuals,
and with them the Indians were transferred as serfs of the land.

"This race, which, in our country, has never been reduced to slavery,
is in that degraded condition throughout California, and does the only
labour performed in the country. Nothing can exceed their present

The general closing remarks of Lieutenant Emory are as follow:

"The region extending from the head of the Gulf of California to the
parallel of the Pueblo, or Ciudad de los Angeles, is the only portion
not heretofore covered by my own notes and journal, or by the notes and
journals of other scientific expeditions fitted out by the United
States. The journals and published accounts of these several
expeditions combined will give definite ideas of all those portions of
California susceptible of cultivation or settlement. From this remark
is to be excepted the vast basin watered by the Colorado, and the
country lying between that river and the range of Cordilleras,
represented as running east of the Tulare lakes, and south of the
parallel of 36°, and the country between the Colorado and Gila rivers.

"Of these regions nothing is known except from the reports of trappers,
and the speculations of geologists. As far as these accounts go, all
concur in representing it as a waste of sand and rock, unadorned with
vegetation, poorly watered, and unfit, it is believed, for any of the
useful purposes of life. A glance at the map will show what an immense
area is embraced in these boundaries; and, notwithstanding the oral
accounts in regard to it, it is difficult to bring the mind to the
belief in the existence of such a sea of waste and desert; when every
other grand division of the earth presents some prominent feature in
the economy of nature, administering to the wants of man. Possibly this
unexplored region may be filled with valuable minerals.

"Where irrigation can be had in this country, the produce of the soil
is abundant beyond description. All the grains and fruits of the
temperate zones, and many of those of the tropical, flourish
luxuriantly. Descending from the heights of San Barnardo to the Pacific
one meets every degree of temperature. Near the coast, the winds
prevailing from the south-west in winter, and from the north-west in
summer, produce a great uniformity of temperature, and the climate is
perhaps unsurpassed in salubrity. With the exception of a very few
cases of ague and fever of a mild type, sickness is unknown.

"The season of the year at which we visited the country was
unfavourable to obtaining a knowledge of its botany. The vegetation,
mostly deciduous, had gone to decay, and no flowers nor seeds were
collected. The country generally is entirely destitute of trees. Along
the principal range of the mountains are a few live oaks, sycamore and
pine; now and then, but very rarely, the sycamore and cotton-wood occur
in the champaign country, immediately on the margins of the streams.
Wild oats everywhere cover the surface of the hills, and these, with
the wild mustard and carrots, furnish good pasturage to the immense
herds of cattle which form the staple of California. Of the many fruits
capable of being produced with success, by culture and irrigation, the
grape is perhaps that which is brought nearest to perfection.
Experienced wine-growers and Europeans, pronounce this portion of
California unequalled for the quality of its wines."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What I Saw in California" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.