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The Man Who Won The West Mexican War 1846 – 1848

The Man Who Won The West Mexican War By Page #

General Kearny’s Proclamation to the People of California

Given at Monterey, Capitol of California this 1st day of March in the year of our

Lord, 1847, and of the Independence of the United Stated in the seventy-first year.

The President of the United States having devolved on the undersigned the civil government of California, he enters upon the discharge of his duties with an ardent desire to promote as far as possible the interests of the country and well being of it inhabitants.

The undersigned is instructed by the President to respect and protect the religious institutions of California, to take care that the religious rights of its inhabitants are secured in the most ample manner, since the constitution of the United States allows to every individual the privilege of worshipping his Creator, in whatever manner his conscience may dictate.

The undersigned is also instructed to protect the person and property of peaceable inhabitants of the country, against each and every enemy, whether foreign or domestic; and now assuring the California that his inclinations no less that his duty demand the fulfillment of these instructions, he invites them to use their best efforts to preserve order and tranquility, to promote harmony and concord, and to maintain the authority and efficacy of the laws.

It is the desire and intention of the United States to procure for California as speedily as possible a free government like that of their own territories, and they will very soon invite the inhabitants to exercise the rights to free citizens in the choice of their own representatives, who may enact such laws as they deem best adapted to their interests and well being.  But until this takes place, the laws actually in existence, which are not repugnant to the constitution of the United State, will continue in force until they are revoked by competent authority; and persons in the exercise of employments will for the present remain in them, provided they swear to maintain the said constitution and faithfully discharge their duties.

The undersigned, by these presents, absolves all the inhabitants of California from any further allegiance to the republic of Mexico, and regards them as citizens of the United States.  Those who remain quiet and peaceable will be protected in their rights; but should any take up arms against the government of this territory, or enjoin such as to do, or instigate others to do so — all these will regard as enemies, and they will be treated as such.

When Mexico involved the United States in war, the latter had not time to invite the Californian’s to join their standard as friends, but found themselves compelled to take possession of the country, to prevent its falling into the hands of some European power.  In doing this, there is no doubt that some excesses, some unauthorized acts, were committed by persons in the service of the United States, and that in consequence, some of the inhabitants have sustained losses in their property.  These losses shall be duly investigated, and those entitled to indemnification shall receive it.

For many years California has suffered great domestic convulsions; from civil wars, like poisoned fountains, have flowed calamity and pestilence over this beautiful region — These fountains are now dried up; the stars and stripes now float over California, and as long as the sun shall shed its light they will continue to wave over here, and over the natives of the country, and over those who shall see a domicile in her bosom; and under the protection of this flag agriculture must advance, and the arts and sciences will flourish like seed in a rich and fertile soil.

Americans and Californians!  From hence forth one people.  Lets us then indulge one desire, one hope: let that be for the peace and tranquility of our country.  Let us unite like brothers, and mutually strive for the improvement and advancement of this our beautiful country, which within a short period cannot fail to be not only beauty but also prosperous and happy.

S. W. Kearny

Brigadier General U. S. A.

And Governor of California



On Board USS Columbus at Monterey Harbor


U.S. Ship Columbus Harbor of Monterey Upper California March (5th) 1847

U.S. Ship Columbus  Harbor of Monterey Upper California March (5th) 1847


Figure No. 25 July 21, 1847 New York

Figure No. 25   July 21, 1847 New York

To Elias Hand, Esq.  Canterbury, Orange, County, New York, U. S. A.

Letter carried by way of Panama with 7 cts New York Ship Rate

Father and Mother

You will perceive by the above that we are at the seat of war in this Ocean, where we arrived on the 2nd instant After a passage of 52 days from Callao.  Had we come here when at the Sandwich Islands in September last.  We should in all probability had been on our way home now, but at present I think that we shall not arrive in eastern parts of the states previous to May 48.  We found on our arrival here the Frigates, Independence, and Savannah with the store ship Lexington and the sloop of War Warren that arrived about 4 hours afterwards.  So that at this time March 5th, there are 5 men of war in the Harbor.

There are some American Troops on the Coast and at San Diego 90 miles southward of us are some 7 or 800 Mormons who count 400 effective men.  Colonel Kearny of the 1st U.S. Dragoons is also here having crossed the country and from Santa Fe to this place.  He had but 100 men.  When at Pueblo (de Los Angeles) about 200 miles in the Interior he was surrounded by 7 or 800 Mexicans through whom he cut his way and arrived here but with a loss of 18 men.

The American Flag is now the national banner of California and if the government ever gives it up to Mexican miss rule, the President who signs the Treaty and the Senators who vote for its ratification should be held in the same estimation that the memory of the traitor Arnold.

From what we can see Monterey has not increased much in size since 1840 when I was here in a Whaler, but as I thought then I think now if one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  Vegetation here at this time is as far as advanced as it is with us by the first of July, new Potatoes as large as hens eggs being furnished to the officers daily, though the price is very exorbitant being $4 per hundred pounds.  The Beef which I think is among the finest I have ever seen is but 2 cents per pound for the choicest cuts and 1 cent when the whole carcass is taken.  The cattle are natives and are killed for their hides and tallow and as they are as one requires no case being able to obtain the living around here there is nothing to make them dear.

General Aristas wife is here and in fact I believe almost the only warrior in the place which is about as large as New Windsor, she is reported to have said that her husband need never return unless he can bring a necklace of scalps of the miserable Americanos as some of our enemies style.

When Commodore Stockton first established a form of government here and took possession of the country a large majority of the male inhabitants fled to the interior but the most of them have since returned and are living peacefully in the town.  We are now waiting the arrival of the frigate Congress and the sloops Portsmouth and Cyanne where we are to proceed southward to the reduction of Mazatlan and Acapulco, which later is represented to be second only to Vera Cruz in the defenses.

We are at present the Flag Ship of the Squadron and as Commodore Biddle is the oldest Commodore afloat.  He is Commodore in Chief of the United States forces in the Pacific.  When I found no letters for me either at Valparaiso or Calleo I certainly concluded there must be some here but was disappointed in not finding one.  It is now nearly Two Years since I left the United States and more than Two Years since I have heard from one of the family except by second hand.  What is the matter?  Have my former evil acts entirely alienated not only family ties; but also recollections?

And am I only remembered as one who is no longer alive?  Or has the criminality of shipping in the service of my country and remaining in it at a time when every man’s services are required rendered me an outlaw under servicing of forgiving, or thoughts or is there behind the curtain something unseen?  I put this to your faces as your friend but who deems it too much trouble to write one who has written letters that are to long too answer.  The fact that when absent from home I must write two or three letters before I can receive one is enough to make one forget writing any letters at all.

There is a rumor afloat in the ship that some men are to remain here when the ships leave certain it is that some troop ships are now on their way to this place but if any men except mechanics are to be left I shall volunteer.  If not I shall enlist here within a year after reaching the United States.  If I can raise the funds to do so.  I am still employed as a school teacher on board ship and perhaps will continue to find the same situation during the remainder of my stay on board and although I received no additional pay for doing the duty; I think there is no change in our officers with the ship arrives home I can get it if I can it will make a fund of $80 or so in addition to my present pay.  If you receive this and direct to me at Rio de Janeiro on board this ship I shall receive it in all probability in the course of a year from this time.

I wrote to Edward days since but as both letters will go by one ship they will probably be received at the same time.

Yours affectionately,

Chas. Hand

A Young Sailor

USS Columbus


USS Columbus was a 90 gun ship of the line in the United States Navy. She was launched on 1 March 1819 by Washington Navy Yard and commissioned on 7 September 1819, Master Commandant J. H. Elton in command. After embarking Commodore James Biddle, Commander, East India Squadron, she sailed on 4 June 1845 for Canton, China, where on 31 December Commodore Biddle exchanged ratified copies of the first American commercial treaty with China. Columbus remained there until April 1846, when she sailed for Japan to attempt opening that country to American commerce.

She raised Uraga Channel on 19 July in company with Vincennes, but achieved no success. Recalled at the outbreak of the Mexican–American War Columbus reached Valparaíso, Chile. In December and arrived off Monterey, California, 2 March 1847. Too large to be useful in the California operations, the ship sailed from San Francisco on 25 July for Norfolk, arriving on 3 March 1848.

Clearing Norfolk, Virginia on 28 April 1820, Columbus served as flagship for Commodore William Bainbridge in the Mediterranean until returning to Boston on 23 July 1821. Serving as a receiving ship after 1833, she remained at Boston in until sailing to the Mediterranean on 29 August 1842. The ship served as flagship for Commodore Charles W. Morgan.

USS Columbus near Monterey Harbor

USS Columbus near Monterey Harbor


On 24 February 1843, she sailed from Genoa, Italy, arriving at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 29 July to become flagship of the Brazil Squadron under the direction of Commodore Daniel Turner. Returning to New York City on 27 May 1844 for much needed refitting and repairs.

The Columbus under the command of Commodore James Biddle sailed into Monterrey Bay on March 2, 1847. This was after a long seven and half month journey around Cape Horn. Upon arriving it was found to be to large to be useful and was sent onto San Francisco. It spent a short time there taking on water and supplies before departing on 25 July on a return trip home to Norfolk, Virginia.

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