Hubert Howe Bancroft.

The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft (Volume 24) online

. (page 57 of 99)
Online LibraryHubert Howe BancroftThe works of Hubert Howe Bancroft (Volume 24) → online text (page 57 of 99)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ized the 1st bat. of Mountaineers in Humboldt county, its purpose baing to
fight the Indians of southern Or. and northern Cal., who took advantage of
the civil war to get in some hard blows against American settlers. The bat.
was mounted, and consisted of six companies and continued in the service
to the close of the rebellion, their commander having been brevetted colonel.
Another organization was the 1st bat. of native cav., effected in 1863 by
Maj. Salvador Vallejo, Andreas Pico having declined the commission. Val-
lejo resigned in 1865, and was succeeded by John C. Cremony. The bat.
was composed chiefly of young natives, and numbered 476 members, uni-
formed like the U. S. cavalry, well mounted, and good riders.

All of the above named regiments and parts of regiments served out their
periods of enlistment on the Pacific coast, or at least west of the rebel frontier.
Their patriotism was of that superior sort which enabled them, while burn-
ing with ardor to fight on the more glorious, if fratricidal, fields of the civil
war, to suppress their ambition and serve on the outposts of civilization, if
the government required such service. But their duty was by no means in-
significant. They were charged with the safe-keeping of all the western
slope of the continent within United States limits, and with keeping closed
the highways against the agents of secession from the Texas line to San
Diego. There were, however, some who could not forego the gratification of
their zeal, but who must fight for country and glory. Of these was the Calif or-
nia Hundred, a select body of young and expert equestrians, organized in San
Francisco in 1862 by Lieut-col Ringgold of the regular army. Their captain
was J. Sewell Reed, promoted major, and succeeded by Lieut Archibald
McKendry, also promoted major and colonel. Reed was killed in action
with Moseby's Guerillas at Drainsville, Virginia, in 1864. The Cal. Hun-
dred paid its expenses from the date of the organization of the company un-
til accepted into service in the east. It fought in 23 general engagements,
and lost many of its number killed, mortally wounded, and missing. It
was mustered out at Fairfax Court House July 20, 1865, its last engagement
being at Cedar Creek under General Sheridan. The banner carried ly the
company was presented by Daniel Norcross, and was a Bear Flag. Upon
arriving in Massachusetts the American flag was presented to the company
by Miss Abby A. Lord of Charlestown, but it was never borne in the field.
Both flags are preserved in the state archives. Following shortly after the
hundred was the Cal. bat. of 400 men which went to offer its services to the
government early in 1863. They were assigned to duty in the 2d Massachu-
setts cav., of which regiment the hundred also formed apart of the first bat.
The Cal. bat, and Cal. Hundred met in July, 1863, at Centreville, V., and


served together thereafter. They were terribly earnest fighters, and won
applause from the enemy who made havoc in their ranks. Of the 500 Cali-
fornians of the Massachusetts regiment only 182 remained to be mustered
out at the close of the war. The* major of the bat. was DeWitt C. Thomp-
son, one of the founders of the California guard of 1849.

The whole number of troops raised in Cal. during the war was 16,231, or
more than the whole of the U. S. army at its commencement, and far in
excess of the state's quota. To the instructions given by the regular officers
by whose exertions the several regiments were raised, and for a time com-
manded, the excellence of the service was largely due. From it the militia
of the state caught a valuable esprit du corps which has descended to the
present. From the volunteer army list in Cal. a number of appointments
were made to the regular army, notably Stephen G. Whipple, Thomas F.
Wright, Robert Pollock, and Ambrose E. Hooker to be 1st lieuts; Samuel
Smith, A. Starr, 2d lieuts.

On the mustering out of the troops in the service of the general govern-
ment, 88 militia companies under various names formed to serve, if required,
in their respective localities, or to respond to a call from the governor, were
disbanded, and the legislature of ISGti passed an act declaring that the or-
ganized uniformed troops of the state should be designated as the national
guard of the state of California, not to exceed in all 80 companies, 64 being
of infantry, 12 of cavalry, and 4 of artillery, located with regard to the mil-
itary wants of the state, and means of concentration. The national guard
was divided into six brigades, and the tactics prescribed for the regular
army was made the practise of the Guard. The number of companies was
reduced by the next legislature to 60, and a few changes made, but the
morale of the militia remains excellent to this time.

1 hat California enjoyed peace when men were conspiring to erect a Pacific
empire was due, if not first, still in a great measure, to the prudence and
firmness of generals Sumner and Wright, who while the government was
withdrawing the regular troops, one regiment after another, raised up others
from the people, trained them, and set them to guard half of the public
domain, with the inhabitants thereof. Sumner was called east in Oct. 1861,
and Wright placed temporarily in command of the department, with the
expectation that Gen. J. W. Denver would be ordered to Cal. , an expecta-
tion which was not fulfilled, owing to some opposition from Californians.
Instead, Wright was commissioned brig. -gen. , and placed permanently in
command. He was superseded in June 1864 by Major-gen. Irwin McDowell,
whose soldierly qualities could not overcome the regret with which Califor-
nians suffered the exchange, effected, it was believed, by private enmity. In
a farewell letter addressed to the people, Wright hinted at the cause of the
transfer: 'Had I for a moment yielded to the insane demands of a radical
press and its co-laborers, I should have filled my forts with political prisoners
to gratify personal hatred, causing such an outburst of indignation at such a
course as to render it almost certain that civil war and bloodshed would have
followed. ' But to escape the condemnation of some in such troublous times
was probably impossible. He was assigned to the command of the depart-
ment of Oregon in 1865, and perished by the wreck of the steamer Brother
Jonathan on his way to his post, having served on the Pacific coast for twelve
years. Gen. McDowell remained in Cal. until the close of the w T ar, com-
mending himself to the people, as Sumner and Wright had done, by the purest

The following is a list of the officers commanding the department of
California without interruption to the present: On the 23d of Feb., 1849, the
third or Pacific division was established by the war dept, including the tenth
and eleventh military departments, Brev. Maj.-gen. Persifer F. Smith, col
mounted rifles, assuming command, with headquarters at S. F., which were
transferred to Sonoma in June. Gen. Smith was relieved by Maj. Washing-
ton Seawell, 2d infantry, assuming command April 29, 1851, which command
he retained until July 9th, when Brev. Brig. -gen. Ethan A. Hitchcock, 2d


inf., relieved him, and transferred headquarters to Benicia in the following
Oct. The name of the command was changed to department of the Pacific
in Oct. 1853, and on the 17th of Feb., 1854,^Maj.-gen. John E. Wool assumed
command, with headquarters at Benicia. He commanded until the 19th of
Feb., 1857, when he was relieved by Col Thomas T. Fauntleroy, 1st dragoons,
who was relieved April 29th by Brev. Brig. -gen. Newman S. Clarke, 6th inf.,
who established headquarters at S. F., where they have since remained. The
designation of the command was changed to that of the department of Cal.
in October 1858. Gen. Clarke died at S. F. Oct. 17, I860, when Lieut-col
Benjamin L. Beall, 1st dragoons, succeeded to the command from that time
until Jan. 14, 1861, when he was relieved by Col and Brev. Brig. -gen. Albert
S. Johnston, 2d cav. , who announced that his command was to be called the
department of the Pacific. On the 25th of the following April he was re-
lieved by Brig. -gen. Edwin V. Sumner, who was succeeded Oct. 17th by
Brig. -gen. of volunteers George Wright, who commanded until July 1, 1864,
when he was relieved by Maj.-gen. of vols Irwin McDowell. Again, Maj.-
Gen. Henry W. Halleck being assigned to the command of the military divi-
sion of the Pacific on the 30th of August, 1865, retained it until June 1, 1869,
when it was taken by Maj.-gen. George H. Thomas, who died March 28,
1870, when Maj.-gen. George M. Schofield was assigned to the command,
which he held until July 1, 1876 } at which time Gen. McDowell was a second
time assigned to the command of this division, which comprised also the de-
partment of the Columbia, commanded by Brig. -gen. 0. O. Howard, and the
dept of Arizona, commanded by Col O. B. Willcox, 12th inf., and the dept
of Alaska, created in March 1868. In June 1875, so much of the territory of
Idaho as lay east of the extension of the western boundary of Utah, and
embracing Fort Hall, was detached from the dept of Cal. and added to the
dept of the Platte. On the 15th of Oct., 1882, Gen. Schotield relieved Gen.
McDowell, and was himself relieved Nov. 30, 1883, by Maj.-gen. John Pope,
who retained the command until March 16, 1886, when he retired, and Maj.-
gen. Howard was assigned to this division.

The coast defenses of the state are not numerous. At S. F. the principal
fortification is at Fort Point projection of the Presidio reservation which
forms one side of the entrance to the harbor. It is situated upon the south-
ern side of the channel, and consists of large casemated works, and exten-
sive exterior earthen batteries en barbette, for the largest size of guns and
mortars. On the opposite side of the channel is Lime Point, where other
detached batteries are placed. Lying north of S. F., and almost directly
facing Golden Gate is Fort Alcatraz, on a small rocky island, which is com-
pletely covered with fortifications of open barbette batteries. This is also
the military prison. Angel island, north of Alcatraz, and Point San Jose
north of Point Lamb, were fortified in a temporary manner during the civil
war, but were allowed to decay, and have now to be reconstructed. The
great improvement in ordnance within a few years has rendered it necessary
for the government to make an appropriation of several millions for strength-
ening its fortifications and providing new guns of more modern size and
capacity. The only other harbor furnished with fortifications is that of San
Diego, where a small amount has been expended by the gov. for earthworks.

The naval arm of defence has been similarly neglected, with the excep-
tion of Mare Island Navy Yard which from first to last has cost the govern-
ment large sums of money, and is, perhaps, the most commodious work of its
kind in the world. But the decline of the merchant marine service, and the
small need heretofore of an armed squadron hi the Pacific, has made it of
comparatively little use in proportion to its cost. Several old government
vessels lie rotting in the gradually increasing deposit of river silt, and min-
ing debris which is lessening the depth of water both in the channel and
upon the side-flats. There has been some thought of removing the navy
yard and allowing the Central Pacific railroad company to acquire the island
for the establishment of foundries, workshops, depots, and ship-yards, but
no such transfer of a magnificent property has yet taken place, and the gov-
ernment surveyors and engineers report annually very slight changes.


Much is said of the defenceless condition of the city, the navy yard, and
the Benicia arsenal. Congress withstood all such criticisms for years, but
in 1888 an appropriation of $5,000,000 was agreed to by the senate for the
repair of fortifications, but rejected by the house, which left the state in its
former condition of practical defencelessness. Whether the predicted mis-
fortune will follow is for the future to determine; but nothing can alter the
fact that vast sums have been saved by the neglect, for such has been the
improvement in war vessels and heavy ordnance that expensive changes
must have been made every few years. At the close of the late war the sea-
coast fortifications of the United States, and the American navy were
quite equal to those of other countries. In the two decades last past,
while Europe has made great progress, this country has apparently remained
indifferent. Only very recently was California permitted to have a steel
cruiser, the contract for which was let to a S. F. firm. Floating batteries
will hereafter take a foremost rank in the defences of S. F., the long range
of the guns now in use on ships of war enabling them to throw shells quite
over the shore batteries, and from a distance which would place them out of
reach of the latter. In the meantime, the inventive genius of the country is
not HitpiTii'aning, and our neighbors are at peace with us.

The United States naval force in the Pacific is insignificant, there being
few harbors, no detached territory, and a small merchant marine to be pro-
tected even in the event of war. In 1862 there was a proposition made to
establish a naval academy at San Francisco, which, however, was not carried
out. In 1874 an act was passed by the legislature establishing and maintain-
ing a training ship to instruct boys in seamanship and the mechanic arts
connected with it, an appropriation being made for that purpose by the city
and county of San Francisco, and a vessel furnished by the navy depart-
ment. By the provisions of this act "any male person under eighteen years
of age who shall be convicted of any misdemeanor " might be sentenced to
serve his term of imprisonment on board of the training ship. In 1876 the
law was amended to exclude convicts from serving out their terms on this
ship ; and was still further amended in 1878 by receiving boys from any
counties to the number of 100, the state paying their expenses. The boys
trained for seamen were placed on board merchant vessels when fitted for
duty, a good disposition to be made of bad boys. But the change of consti-
tution in 1879 rendered it illegal for the state to appropriate money for the
purpose, and the training school was abandoned. Military tactics and drill
are taught at several preparatory schools in the state. The history of our
institutions, however, leads to the conclusion that except when we have some
great object in view we think little about fighting and the glories of war.




THAT part of the early intercourse between abo-
riginal Americans and Europeans which properly be-
longs to history may be briefly given. For short
work was made of it in California. The savages
were in the way ; the miners and settlers were arro-
gant and impatient ; there were no missionaries or
others present with even the poor pretense of soul-
saving or civilizing. It was one of the last human
hunts of civilizatioR, and the basest and most brutal
of them all.

We do not know why the Digger Indians of Cali-
fornia were so shabbily treated by nature ; why with
such fair surroundings they were made so much lower
in the scale of intelligence than their neighbors ; but be-
ing low, and unsophisticated, in a measure harmless
until trodden upon, surely it was not a mark of high
merit on the part of the new comers to exterminate
them so quickly. They were without houses or dress,
with hardly any knowledge of agriculture, and
almost devoid of religious ideas, roaming through
forest and plain in search of roots and berries, small
game and fish, improvident and dependent wholly



on the products of the seasons. Split into petty
bands, they were kept apart by a confusing multipli-
city of tongues. 1

The professed aim of the early missionaries, to
spread civilization, would appear to have discovered a
prolific field ; but indolent in mind as well as body,
the natives offered no encouragement, and the fathers
soon adopted the plan of extending the pupillage sys-
tem of Mexico into actual serfdom on this remote
frontier. Gathered partly by force from their hunt-
ing-fields and haunts, with their nomadic allurements,
the Indians were set to toil on plantations ; not se-
verely, for friar rule was tempered by religion ; but
without any incentives or hopes beyond those of a
slave, and maintained in a politic condition of ignorance
and abjection. The sale and decay of the missions
brought further hardships to the fold A few had ac-
quired sufficient knowledge of settled customs to re-
main either as hangers-on of the colonists or to
manage a field or cattle range of their own. The rest
drifted back among their roaming kindred to revel in
savage freedom, with many a fresh vice to poison the
good nature of an abasing indifference. Imbued with
a certain taste for the comforts of their former life,
notably for meat, they found additional incentive for
horse and cattle stealing, partly in retaliation for the
overbearing manners and harsh treatment so often ex-
perienced from their Mexican masters. This feeling
had in many directions grown bitter, and during the
conquest by the United States it led to a more men-
acing attitude, marked by atrocities.*

In the southern half of the state the wild Indians
were practically restricted to the Coast range and
valleys eastward. On the lower San Joaquin and

1 Tribal distinctions were especially numerous among the degraded centra*
hordes, known as diggers. For a list of tribes, with boundaries, etc., I refer
to my Native Races, i., iii., v. passim,

a Such as the massacie of a number of Hispano-Californians. See my
Hist. Cal., v. 567, etc.


beyond, the influence of the missions faded into a still
fainter impress left by occasional contact with settled
outposts, and with kidnappers from missions and
pueblos The gold discovery brought them a share
of affluence, 3 but the increased intercourse with white
adventurers led to degrading habits, particularly
drunkenness and prostitution, which acquired further
virulence from the fostered taste for finery, and the
disposition to linger round mining camps to pick up
cast-off clothing and refuse.* The attendant train of
disease produced sadder havoc in their ranks than
sword or famine.

The most prominent feature of their contact with
the gold-seekers was abuse on the part of white men,
and consequent retaliation. A hatred for Indians
was acquired on the plains, from which the milder
tribes of California had to suffer. Then followed the
rush of miners into regions hitherto claimed as tribal
ranges, with consequent encounters, and the slaughter
or repulse of less strong intruders, 5 many of whom
found to their cost that the confidence inspired by the
milder natives of the lower Sacramento was misplaced
when applied to the fiercer clans of the north and of
the hills. The old practice of kidnapping continued
in force, partly owing to the high price of labor, partly
for immoral purposes.

Race antagonism, for much of which the Mexicans
were responsible, brought on many evil complications;
later came maletreatment by agents, with embezzle-
ment of presents and property pertaining to the wards,

s Partly in working for the white men, partly for themselves, the women
being generally set to dig for the men. Barstows Stat., MS., ii.

4 They never learned to duly appreciate the value of money. Traders
could readily cheat them. Beads and flaming colors took their fancy, and
liquor their brains. Grimsliaw'a Narr., MS., 44-8; Fays Slot,., MS., 15-17;
Cesar, Cosas, MS., 17. Though women were readily sold, yet husbands
proved occasionally strict. Overland, xii. 24; Little's Stat., MS., 7; Matthew-
ems Cal A/., MS., 4-7; Connor's Early Days, MS., 3-4; Delano s .Life, 309,
etseq.-, Cal. Courier, Aug. 17, 23, 31, 1850, Feb. 19-20, March 29, 1851; Pac.
Nctcs., Aug. 23, 26, Oct. 1.

5 In 1848 the Trinity River Indians drove back prospectors, roused as they
were against early trappers.


and disregarded treaties and criminal neglect by the
government. 8 The indifference and errors of the lat-
ter were a main cause for the many wanton outrages.

Thus it is that the California valley cannot grace
her annals with a single Indian war bordering on re-
spectability. It can boast, however, a hundred or
two of as brutal butcherings, on the part of our hon-
est miners and brave pioneers, as any area of equal
extent in our republic. The poor natives of Califor-
nia had neither the strength nor the intelligence to
unite in any formidable numbers; hence, when now
and then one of them plucked up courage to defend
his wife and little ones, or to retaliate on one of the
many outrages that were constantly being perpe-
trated upon them by white persons, sufficient excuse
was offered for the miners and settlers to band and
shoot down any Indians they met, old or young, in-
nocent or guilty, friendly or hostile, until their appe-
tite for blood was appeased.

The United States authorities began in 1847 to in-
terest themselves in behalf of their wards by appoint-
ing agents, 1 and recommended the people to aid the
priests in promoting industry among the Indians
in the southern coast counties, without interfering in
their internal government under elected alcaldes.*
The legislature passed a special law April 22, 1850,
for their government and care, which confirmed them
in possession of their villages, although owners of the
land were at liberty to arrange with them for occupying

Official swindlers hare been the role rather than the exception. Hayf* J
Indian*, \. 225; i. 76-85. Encroachments on reservations formed later a fre-
quent cause for ill-feeling. Alta CaL, Oct. 6, 1851; U.S. Goc. Doe., cong. 34,
sesa. 3, H. Ex. Doc, 76, p. 127-30.

1 Vallejo. as sub-agent for the Sonoma region, extending to Clear lake;
Sntter for Sac. and San Joaquin, each with $750 salary, and J. D. Hunter as
agent for the south, with headquarters at San Luis Rey. They had power
merely to admonish and watch over their charges. Kearney in 1849 placed
the sub-agents to act till the regular aopointees should arrive, Riley recom-
mending three for San Joaquin and* Sacramento valleys. Pmt Message,
cong. 38, sess. 1- L 171.

C. S. Gov. Doe., cong. 31, sess. 1, H. Ex, Doe., 17, p. 701. Haflecks
circular in Ariia, Doc. 6. This applied particularly to mission Indians.
The property reserved for churches and priests should be respected.


some special section of it. A confined tenancy at the
most, for neither landed rights nor citizen privileges
were accorded. They might be hired to work under
contract, and by a special provision this was made to
some extent compulsory by enabling the local authori-
ties to arrest all whom they chose to denominate as
vagabonds and beggars, and turn them over to the high-
est bidder for not exceeding four months. Any surplus
wages, after providing the victim with clothes, was as-
signed to a mysterious Indian fund, unless relatives
claimed the money. In cases of crime juries might be
demanded by either race, but white men could not be
convicted on Indian testimony. 9 These formal re-
strictions availed little for the intended purpose, since
they left only the same loop-holes as formerly for
hoodwinking justice, and afforded moreover a legal
cover for enslaving and oppressing the natives. It
was easy to charge any one with vagabondage, es-
pecially by enlisting the potent aid of liquor, and
obtain his condemnation to forced labor. The im-
pressment generally occurred toward harvest time;
and this over, the poor wretches were cast adrift to
starve, for their own harvest season was by this time
lost to them. Bondage was also insured or prolonged
by inducing the workers to spend their small allow-
ance on vile drink, in open violation of the law, 1 ' and
then- locking them up as irresponsible.

'The justices of the peace, who had jurisdiction in Indian cases, were
given discretionary power, however. Cat. Statements, 1851, and Cal. Laws,
1850-3, 822-5. For later projects in behalf of the natives, see Cal. Jour.

Online LibraryHubert Howe BancroftThe works of Hubert Howe Bancroft (Volume 24) → online text (page 57 of 99)