Слике страница

Captain Gibson. Then followed two mountain howitzers, with dragoons to manage them, under charge of Lieutenant Davidson. The remainder of the dragoons and volunteers were placed under command of Major Swords, with orders to follow on the trail with the baggage.

As the day of December 6th dawned, the enemy at San Pasqual were seen to be already in the saddle, and Captain Johnson, with his advance guard, made a furious charge upon them; he being supported by the dragoons, the Californians at length gave way. They had kept up a continual fire from the first appearance of the dragoons, and had done considerable execution. Captain Johnson was shot dead in his first charge. The enemy were pursued by Captain Moore and his dragoons, and they retreated about half a mile, when seeing an interval between the small advance party of Captain Moore and the main force coming to his support, they rallied their whole force, and charged with their lances. For five minutes they held the ground, doing considerable execution, until the arrival of the rest of the American party, when they broke and fled. The troops of Kearny lost two captains, a lieutenant, two sergeants, two corporals, and twelve privates. Among the wounded were General Kearny, Lieutenant Warner, Captains Gillespie and Gibson, one sergeant, one bugleman, and nine privates. The Californians carried off all their wounded and dead except six.

On the 7th the march was resumed, and, near San Bernardo, Kearny's advance encountered and defeated a small party of the Californians who had taken post on a hill. At San Bernardo, the troops remained till the morning of the 11th, when they were joined by a

party of sailors and marines, under Lieutenant Gray. They then proceeded upon their march, and on the 12th, arrived at San Diego; having thus completed a march of eleven hundred miles through an enemy's The force of country, with but one hundred men. General Kearny having joined that of Commodore Stockton, the expedition against Los Angeles, of which we have given an account in this chapter, was successfully consummated, and tranquillity restored in California. General Kearny and Commodore Stockton returned to the United States in January, 1847, leaving Colonel Fremont to exercise the office of governor and military commandant of California. No further events of an importance worth recording occurred till the treaty of peace between the United States and Mexico.



By the treaty concluded between the United States and Mexico, in 1847, the territory of Upper California became the property of the United States. Little thought the Mexican government of the value of the land they were ceding, further than its commercial importance; and, doubtless, little thought the buyers of the territory, that its soil was pregnant with a wealth untold, and that its rivers flowed over golden. beds.

This territory, now belonging to the American

Union, embraces an area of 448,961 square miles. It extends along the Pacific coast, from about the thirtysecond parallel of north latitude, a distance of near seven hundred miles, to the forty-second parallel, the southern boundary of Oregon. On the east, it is bounded by New Mexico. During the long period which transpired between its discovery and its cession to the United States, this vast tract of country was frequently visited by men of science, from all parts of the world. Repeated examinations were made by learned and enterprising officers and civilians; but none of them discovered the important fact, that the mountain torrents of the Sierra Nevada were constantly pouring down their golden sands into the valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin. The glittering particles twinkled beneath their feet, in the ravines which they explored, or glistened in the watercourses which they forded, yet they passed them by unheeded. Not a legend or tradition was heard among the white settlers, or the aborigines, that attracted their curiosity. A nation's ransom lay within their grasp, but, strange to say, it escaped their notice-it flashed and sparkled all in vain.*

The Russian American Company had a large establishment at Ross and Bodega, ninety miles north of San Francisco, founded in the year 1812; and factories were also established in the territory by the Hudson Bay Company. Their agents and employes ransacked the whole country west of the Sierra Nevada, or Snowy Mountain, in search of game. In 1838, Captain Sutter, formerly an officer in the Swiss

A gold placera was discovered some years ago, near the mission of San Fernando, but it was very little worked, on account of the want of water.

Guards of Charles X., King of France, emigrated from the state of Missouri to Upper California, and obtained from the Mexican government a conditional grant of thirty leagues square of land, bounded on the west by the Sacramento river. Having purchased the stock, arms, and ammunition of the Russian establishment, he erected a dwelling and fortification on the left bank of the Sacramento, about fifty miles from its mouth, and near what was termed, in allusion to the new settlers, the American Fork. This formed the nucleus of a thriving settlement, to which Captain Sutter gave the name of New Helvetia. It is situated at the head of navigation for vessels on the Sacramento, in latitude 38° 33′ 45′′ north, and longitude 121° 20′ 05′′ west. During a residence of ten years in the immediate vicinity of the recently discovered placéras, or gold regions, Captain Sutter was neither the wiser nor the richer for the brilliant treasures that lay scattered around him.*

In the year 1841, careful examinations of the Bay of San Francisco, and of the Sacramento River and its tributaries, were made by Lieutenant Wilkes, the commander of the Exploring Expedition; and a party under Lieutenant Emmons, of the navy, proceeded up the valley of the Willamette, crossed the intervening highlands, and descended the Sacramento. In 1843–4, similar examinations were made by Captain, afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, of the Topogra'phical Engineers, and in 1846, by Major Emory, of the same corps. None of these officers made any discoveries of minerals, although they were led to conjecture, as private individuals who had visited the

* Farnham's Adventures in California.-Wilkes's Narrative of the Exploring Expedition.-Fremont's Narrative.

country had done, from its volcanic formation and peculiar geological features, that they might be found to exist in considerable quantities.*

As is often the case, chance at length accomplished what science had failed to do. In the winter of 1847-8, a Mr. Marshall commenced the construction of a saw-mill for Captain Sutter, on the north branch of the American Fork, and about fifty miles above New Helvetia, in a region abounding with pine timber. The dam and race were completed, but on attempting to put the mill in motion, it was ascertained that the tail-race was too narrow to permit the water to escape with perfect freedom. A strong current was then passed in, to wash it wider and deeper, by which a large bed of mud and gravel was thrown up at the foot of the race. Some days after this occurrence, Mr. Marshall observed a number of brilliant particles on this deposit of mud, which attracted his attention. On examining them, he became satisfied that they were gold, and communicated the fact to Captain Sutter. It was agreed between them, that the circumstance should not be made public for the present; but, like the secret of Midas, it could not be concealed. The Mormon emigrants, of whom Mr. Marshall was one, were soon made acquainted with the discovery, and in a few weeks all California was agitated with the starling information.

• See Farnham's Adventures. Wilkes's and Fremont's Narratives, and Emory's Report-In 1846, Eugenio Macnamara, a Catholic priest and Missionary, obtained a grant of a large tract of land between the San Joaquin and the Sierra Nevada, the Cosumnes and the Tulares in the vicinity of San Gabriel, from Pio Pico, governor of the Californias, for the purpose of establishing upon it a large colony of Irish Catholics; but the grant was not ratified by the Central Government, and the project was not carried into effect. There is no evidence that Father Macnamara was aware of the existence of gold in the valley of the San Joaquin.

« ПретходнаНастави »