Author Archives: Tippy Gnu

Conquering California, Part 13 of 17: The Battle of San Pasqual

This is Part 13 of a 17-part series. If your photographic memory has failed you, and you’ve forgotten the last part, you can follow this link and get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

Kearny’s Journey

 

U.S. Army General Stephen Watts Kearny.

After losing the Battle of the Old Woman’s Gun, things were looking bleak for the U.S. military. But that’s okay, the cavalry was coming. U.S. Army General Stephen Kearny had recently conquered New Mexico, and was now on his way to California with a mighty force of 300 dragoons.

Kearny was in charge of the Army of the West. In June, 1846, he led this army out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and down the Santa Fe trail. In August and September, he entered Las Vegas and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and took this territory for the United States. He then headed west for Alta California.

On October 6, 1846, in Socorro, New Mexico, Kearny met Kit Carson. Carson had been tasked with carrying messages to Washington about the state of hostilities in California. Carson assured Kearny that California had been secured and the situation was well under control. And a very fine officer whom he knew personally, named Captain Gillespie, was keeping the peace in Los Angeles.

I guess Carson failed to watch CNN at any of the motels he stayed at, after leaving California. Instead he must have watched FOX.

With this reassuring fake news, Kearny sent 200 of his precious dragoons back to Santa Fe to aid with the occupation there. He also sent Carson’s message east with a different courier, and asked Kit to guide him to California.

Now Kearny only had 100 dragoons. And their mounts were worn out after having already traveled over a thousand miles. But Kearny encountered a herd of mules being driven to Santa Fe, and he seized on the opportunity by purchasing 100 of them. These new mules replaced the worn-out mounts. The only downside to this transaction was that these mules were untrained, and kind of difficult for his dragoons to handle. And we can assume they were rather stubborn.

Finally, in late-November 1846, Kearny and his tired men crossed the Colorado River. They headed toward San Diego, over the Colorado desert, and over the coastal range of mountains. And that’s when he encountered the deposed tyrant from Los Angeles, Major Archibald Gillespie, with a force of 30 men.

Yes, “Major” Gillespie, now. Apparently in the Marine Corps, this is the rank they promote you to when you’re a major asshole.

Major Gillespie had been tasked with the hangdog duty of informing General Kearny about the Siege of Los Angeles, and how he had lost control of the southern California occupation. On top of that, Gillespie also informed the dismayed general that a large fighting force of Mexicans was just a few miles away.

 

The Battle of San Pasqual

 

General Flores had found out about this General Kearny. So he had sent Governor Pio Pico’s brother, Mexican Army General Andres Pico, out to find him. And General Pico commanded a force of 150 highly skilled Californio lancers.

Andres Pico, in 1850, proudly sits in full fiesta regalia.

These lancers were now camped in the San Pasqual valley, just six miles away from Kearny and Gillespie, and just 30 miles northeast of Kearny’s final destination. Which was the pueblo of San Diego.

It was December 6, 1846, and a terrific battle was brewing.

Pico was unaware of Kearny’s presence, and vulnerable to surprise attack. But Kearny wanted to assess Pico’s strength, so he sent out a scouting party. The scouting party approached close to Pico’s camp, and then stupidly stirred up some noise. This alerted some of Pico’s lancers. They gave chase, and during this pursuit some fool within the scouting party lost his blanket marked “U.S.”, along with his dragoon jacket.

From this blanket and jacket, Pico was able to surmise that the scouting party was part of a much larger force that was coming against him. In other words, the scouts sent by Kearny did more to inform Pico, than to inform Kearny.

Pico felt worried. He did not know that Kearny had left most of his dragoons in New Mexico. And it seemed foolhardy to face a force as large as he imagined Kearny’s to be. He decided it would be best to vamoose. Escape. Get the hell out of there.

The day had faded, and the tenebrous fingers of twilight were creeping over the San Pasqual valley. It had been raining, and a cold dampness that felt like death, filled the air.

As Pico’s lancers were pulling up stakes to decamp, the scouting party returned in the dark of night to Kearny, and sheepishly issued their report. Well, goddamn, fuck-it-all-to-hell, Kearny must have thought. Now he’d lost the element of surprise.

But Kit Carson and Gillespie had been reassuring Kearny that the Californios were cowards. And like many white Americans, they all thought of themselves as superior to the Spanish-blooded race. So Kearny figured that his seasoned veterans could easily whip Pico’s forces anyway, surprise or no surprise.

Kearny worried that Pico was going to try to block him from reaching San Diego. Which wasn’t true. At that moment, Pico was actually trying to get the hell out of Kearny’s way.

With this worriment, combined with racial hubris, Kearny made one of the stupidest decisions in U.S. military history. He impulsively decided upon an immediate attack.

It had been pouring rain all day. Their firarms and gunpowder had been drenched. Worse than that, nobody bothered to check their firearms, in their haste to prepare for battle. Had they done so, the attack would have undoubtedly been called off. But instead, Kearny sent his men into battle virtually unarmed.

An oval-shaped moon hung halfway up the sky, and the midnight air was cold and wet. Pico’s men were still in camp, in the process of leaving. Kearny’s men rode their mules up a ridge, about a mile or so from their camp, below. The general boldly pointed his saber, and ordered his men to surround the camp and take as many prisoners as possible.

They descended in a column down a rocky path, and were soon immersed in low clouds and fog. Things started to get confusing, in the misty moonlight. It was a literal fog of war. Kearny ordered a trot. But one of his officers at the front, whose name was Captain Johnston, misheard. He raised his saber and shouted “Charge!”

Kearny is quoted as having exclaimed, “Oh heavens! I did not mean that!” Yeah, right. I’ll bet it was more like, “Holy shit! I didn’t say ‘charge’, goddamnit!”

The men on mules were more than a thousand yards away from Pico’s camp when they began galloping helter-skelter toward the lancers. Captain Johnston rode straight up on some of Pico’s men, and they opened fire, killing him instantly. The Californios had few guns, but they had apparently taken better care of their gunpowder than had Kearny’s dragoons.

Pico’s men grabbed their lances and horses and fled down the San Pasqual valley. An officer named Captain Moore ordered another charge, and off the unarmed dragoons galloped, pursuing the armed, retreating lancers.

The mules under Captain Moore’s dragoons were untrained, and some in poor condition. They all galloped at a different pace. Soon Moore’s men were stretched out in a thin, scraggly line, in their pursuit.

Battle of San Pasqual, by W. Francis.

Suddenly the lancers wheeled about. They realized how separated from each other their pursuers had become. And in the gray moonlight, they noticed how ungainly they rode, upon their untrained mules. And besides, they had pride. They weren’t about to allow men on mules chase them down.

They were highly skilled horsemen, these lancers. And now was time to put their skills to use. They began surrounding isolated soldiers. They swung their reatas, and lassoed them off their mules. And then they stabbed them to death with their willow lances.

Among those killed was Captain Moore.

Whenever dragoons tried to defend themselves using their firearms, all they heard was a click. They realized that with their wet gunpowder they were defenseless, and could do nothing but attempt to flee. And so the pursuers became the pursued, while being systematically hunted down in the glimmering fog, lassoed, and skewered.

Pico’s lancers surrounding Gillespie, at the Battle of San Pasqual.

Some of the lancers recognized the hated Gillespie, and they enveloped him and stabbed him repeatedly. They drove a lance into his chest, just above his heart, piercing his lung.

General Kearny was not immune. He took a lance wound to his back.

This desperate fray lasted just 15 minutes. But during that time, the lancers slaughtered 17 to 30 of Kearny’s men (accounts vary), with many others wounded.

Kearny and his soldiers fought back hard with all they had. Which was just rifle butts and sabers. But it was enough to allow Kearny, Gillespie, and the remaining survivors to retreat to a low hill, now known as Mule Hill.

Pico promptly surrounded them. And in the ensuing hours before dawn, he could have moved in and massacred them before they had a chance to dry their gunpowder. To this day it’s unclear why he did not. But it could be that he sensed the overall cause of the Californios was lost, and he was pondering the possibility of amnesty.

Kearny was blocked for several days by Pico’s lancers, and could not break through. But Kit Carson managed to slip through Pico’s lines, and headed to San Diego to alert Commodore Stockton.

Stockton quickly dispatched a force of 200 marines and sailors, who dispersed the Californios in short order. They then gave Kearny escort, helping him to finally limp into San Diego on December 12, 1846.

The Battle of San Pasqual was the bloodiest battle of the California Campaign. Both sides have claimed victory in this clash, and historians still haven’t agreed as to which side actually won.

An American historian might assert that Kearny won, in that he managed to reach San Diego with most of his men. Even if some resembled pincushions.

But a Mexican historian might argue that Pico won, in that he put Kearny at his mercy, and could have wiped him out. And he managed to stall Kearny’s advance, and inflict significant casualties on Kearny’s dragoons. And most importantly, he demonstrated to racists like Kearny, Gillespie, and Kit Carson, that Californios were neither inferior, nor cowards, and were not to be trifled with.

Hell, they beat the U.S. Cavalry. And with sticks for weapons.


The fighting hasn’t stopped. Come on back in a few days, for Part 14: The Battle of Rio San Gabriel.

Conquering California, Part 12 of 17: The Siege of Los Angeles

This is Part 12 of a 17-part series. If you’ve already forgotten what happened in the last part, maybe I should hold a pop quiz. Oh, what the hell. Just follow this link, and get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

The Siege of Los Angeles

 

Captain Gillespie thought he could push the citizens of Los Angeles around. He saw Mexicans as an inferior race, and held contempt for them for giving up the fight so quickly.

But he didn’t count on the fact that these were rough-hewn folks, who didn’t stand for much shit. Hell, they were pioneers on the California frontier, and were no strangers to hardship and trouble.

Also, they had Captain Jose Maria Flores to help them out.

Captain Flores was a Mexican patriot. He had served under Commandante General Castro. He knew how to fight, and wanted to do whatever he could to keep Alta California in the hands of Mexico.

Those who want to bully others should keep guys like Flores in mind. Remember, you can only go so far while pushing people around, before the crowds part and a heavyweight stands before you, prepared to knock your block off.

On September 23, 1846, the Siege of Los Angeles began, when a firefight erupted between 20 or so Californios, and the occupying Americans. This struck a spark that ignited the Angelenos.

The next day, Captain Flores took advantage of the fervor, and organized several hundred Californios. They besieged Gillespie’s forces, and forced them to retreat to a high point, now known as Fort Hill. Soon, 600 indignant citizens had joined Flores’ forces, and they completely surrounded the improvised fort.

Gillespie’s situation grew desperate. His men had no water, and they were so outnumbered they had no chance of holding off such an overwhelming mob of pissed off people.

On September 29, Flores issued an ultimatum. Surrender within 24 hours, or face the consequences. Which would likely be a massacre.

On September 30, Captain Gillespie surrendered. He signed articles of capitulation, and then he and his troops came down from Fort Hill. And Flores was respectful and gracious. He allowed them to march out of town with all the honors of war. The defeated troops retreated south to San Pedro, where they boarded a ship and sailed away.

Map showing the retreat route of Gillespie, to San Pedro.

Flores then began reclaiming Alta California. Within days, his forces took back Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to the north, and the territory to the south of Los Angeles, up to, but not including San Diego. That pueblo remained in American hands.

But the war was back on.

Flores’ early successes were impressive, but a sensible military analyst might consider them to be Pyrrhic victories. His forces were stretched thin. And he had only 200 men, and few arms and ammunition. It would be very difficult for him to defend this territory.

 

The Battle of the Old Woman’s Gun

 

The U.S. military quickly responded, by sending an intimidating force of 420 Americans. This included 203 United States Marines, and an assortment of sailors and Bear Flaggers, under the command of U.S. Navy Captain William Mervine. They landed at San Pedro, just south of Los Angeles, on October 6, 1846.

But immediately upon landing, an unfortunate event occurred, when a cabin boy was killed by friendly fire. Perhaps an omen? But with such a large force, what else could possibly go wrong?

Flores, who by now was General Flores, couldn’t spare many men to counter the invaders. But he managed to dispatch 50 mounted Californio lancers, under Captain Jose Antonio Carrillo. Plus, one lone cannon.

Their lone, 4-pound brass cannon (meaning, it fired 4-pound cannonballs) had been a ceremonial cannon, fired on special occasions in the Los Angeles Plaza. When American forces initially entered Los Angeles, it had been hastily buried on the property of an old woman. Hence, it became known as the Old Woman’s Gun. When the Siege of Los Angeles began, the Californios unearthed it and deployed it for battle.

On October 7, Captain Mervine’s infantry began marching north from San Pedro, over Manuel Dominguez’ 75,000 acre, Rancho San Pedro. And while they marched, they were harassed by the enemy from the hillsides around them. Perhaps another omen?

They stopped at some abandoned adobe buildings on Dominguez’ rancho, and made camp for the night. But they didn’t get much sleep. An advance detachment of Flores’ troops kept plinking at them from a distance, sending yet more omens.

The next morning they began to advance again, with bleary eyes and weary feet. And I wouldn’t doubt they were mad as hell at the Californios, for disturbing their sleep so much. They soon came to the Dominguez Hills.

And it was here that Carrillo’s meager forces, at great peril to themselves, and against all odds, bravely confronted this mammoth American battalion.

Carrillo had his lancers run their horses back and forth across the top of the Dominguez Hills, stirring up a vast, billowing dust cloud. This made it appear that there were many more troops than just 50 lancers.

Then his forces opened fire upon the Americans, with their lone, brass cannon. The Old Woman’s Gun. They’d fire from a hidden position in some brush, then withdraw it and quickly transport it to another hidden position. They’d fire again, and withdraw again, rapidly changing positions. This made it appear that they had much more than just one cannon at their disposal.

This is an old military trick, when outnumbered and outgunned, and is sometimes surprisingly effective.

The problem for the Americans was that they were ill-prepared for combat like this. They brought no horses, wagons, or artillery with them. They could not send mounted scouts up the hills to determine just how many troops they were actually facing. And they had no wagons to hide behind, or artillery to take out the cannon (or, cannons?) that continued to fire at them.

And they were caught out in the open like sitting ducks. It was a shooting gallery, for the Mexicans.

After an hour of being shot at from various, unpredictable positions, four U.S. Marines had been killed, and 12 others had been wounded. Meanwhile, there were zero casualties on the Mexican side.

Captain Mervine had enough. He and his battered forces got the hell out of there. They beat a retreat back to San Pedro, and within five hours had boarded their ships berthed in San Pedro Bay. They brought their 12 wounded Marines with them, as no man is to be left behind, but ten died from their injuries within a day. All-in-all, 14 U.S. Marines and one cabin boy were lost in this military humiliation.*

The Battle of the Old Woman’s Gun remains one of the few battles in history lost by the United States Marine Corps.

It was now apparent that the cakewalk was over. From here on, the conquest of California would be hard fought by both sides.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 13: The Battle of San Pasqual.


*Note: Accounts vary, from four to 14 deaths. By Captain Mervine’s own account, seven died, including one death from disease. However, battlefield commanders tended to undercount their losses, to save face. So I go with the high estimate of 14, plus one cabin boy.

Conquering California, Part 11 of 17: The California Campaign Begins

This is Part 11 of a 17-part series. If your brain leaks as badly as mine, you might have forgotten what happened in the last part. Try following this link, to get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

The California Campaign Begins

 

By mid-July, 1846, enough news and information had reached American forces in California to leave them feeling confident that a war with Mexico had begun. However, official notice of the U.S. war declaration with Mexico did not reach them until August 12, 1846. They should have used email.

Commodore Sloat was 65-years-old and tired of all this shit. The old fart wasn’t feeling well, and he just wanted a desk job. So on July 23, he transferred command of the Pacific Squadron to Commodore Robert Stockton who, at age 50, was younger and more eager for action.

It was a smart move for Sloat, as he ended up living 21 more years.

The young and yare Stockton commanded up to 650 marines and sailors. He got busy right away, and ordered Fremont to secure immigrant volunteers to assist with the occupation of northern Alta California.

It’s hard to say how big the pool of immigrants was, for Fremont to draw from, because the Mexican census had a citizenship question that left illegal immigrants feeling wary about answering honestly. Okay, maybe not. I just made that up. But some estimate this pool to be about 800 fighting-age males. And of these, Fremont managed to enlist 160 volunteers.

In addition, Fremont also commanded the California Battalion, consisting of his 60-man expeditionary force and 150 Bear Flaggers. Thus, Fremont offered a militia of 380 men, for the disposal of Stockton.

The American marines, sailors, and militia easily took over control of cities, ports, and pueblos in northern California, including Sonoma, New Helvetia (current-day Sacramento), Yerba Buena (current-day San Francisco), and Monterey. They were even able to occupy some southern Alta California pueblos and ports. And all while only rarely firing a shot.

 

The Occupation of Los Angeles

 

But southern Alta California still concerned Commodore Stockton. 8,000 people lived there, and most were Mexican. There were very few immigrants in that region. Most of the Californios lived in the Pueblo of Los Angeles, which was the capitol of southern Alta California, under Governor Pio Pico.

A section of Los Angeles, as it appeared to artist William Rich Hutton in 1847.

Pico and the citizens of Los Angeles strongly favored keeping California out of U.S. hands. They didn’t like us gringos. Therefore, Stockton figured he might have to use military force to capture the pueblo, in order to complete the conquest of California.

Stockton ordered Fremont to San Diego, to prepare to move northward to Los Angeles, if needed. He then landed 360 men in San Pedro, about 25 miles south of the pueblo. And that’s all it took to scare the hell out of the Mexicans. When this happened, Commandante General Castro and Governor Pio Pico got cold feet, and fled to the Mexican state of Sonora.

Therefore, on August 13, 1846, Stockton’s army entered Los Angeles unopposed. And boy was he happy. He figured he had the world by the tail, with all his recent success. His increased self-confidence drugged his brain, and put to sleep much of the natural worry and caution that good military officers are advised to maintain.

In his hubris, he left U.S. Marine Captain Archibald Gillespie in charge, with a small garrison of 36 men. Think about it. Just 36 men, to rule over thousands of upset Mexicans.

This was the same Gillespie, then a Lieutenant, who in May, had found Fremont in Oregon, and delivered the message from Washington that war was imminent. He may have been a good messenger, but putting this man in charge of a town like Los Angeles proved to be a mistake. Gillespie’s head was too big, and his garrison was too small.

Stockton left town, trusting Gillespie could handle the trivial matter of keeping order in this conquered pueblo. But he didn’t count on all this new authority going to Gillespie’s head. The captain realized that here he was, with a new, higher rank, and in charge of an entire town! And as far as he was concerned nobody had better dare challenge his authority.

Gillespie began behaving like a tyrant. He imposed martial law, which left the locals very angry. Then he and his garrison began browbeating and bullying the citizens. And they were a proud people, these citizens, who shared Governor Pico’s sentiments about U.S. occupation.

There was no way in hell they were going to stand for such disrespect coming from a pendejo like Gillespie.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 12: The Siege of Los Angeles.

Send Her Back

I hate politics, so I’ll try to keep this short.

“Send Her Back” is racist, fascist, and fucking frightening, in my opinion. Yet at a Trump rally yesterday in North Carolina, throngs of white Trump supporters chanted this, while Trump stood silently for 13 seconds, allowing this chant to build to crescendo. Trump is lying when he says he discouraged this, and “spoke quickly” when it began. He stood silently for 13 seconds. It’s all in the video.

I once thought white supremacists comprised just a tiny fraction of nuts in the American population. How wrong I was. Apparently there’s a lot of ‘em out there. And with Trump’s recent overt and blatant racist statements, I cannot help but suspect that anyone who continues to support Trump is a fucking white supremacist racist.

And right now, that’s at least 35% of our population.

I don’t like it. This is scary shit.

Could this become our new flag?

What will be next? A revival of the KKK? A legitimizing of the Neo-Nazi party?

Where the hell is all this leading to?

Let’s hope it leads to the Republican Party rejecting and abandoning Trump. And let’s hope it leads to Trump’s removal from office just as soon as possible. And let’s hope our country will quickly heal from these most recent wounds in our race relationships.

Hope. That seems to be all we have left, anymore.

Free Books

Chasing Unicorns is opening a bookstore, where you can buy books for free. For the cost of just one click of a mouse, you can open up any book in my Free Bookstore, and start reading at your leisure.

You can even download these books (though it may cost a few more mouse clicks), and hoard them on your own computer, smartphone, tablet, ouija board, or whatever reading device you use. They’re in PDF format, so they should work on most devices.

You can also give them away, as they have a Creative Commons license that allows unlimited distribution by anyone, as long as authorship is blamed on me, Tippy Gnu. Hell, you can even sell them if you wish. Good luck with that.

My free books come with a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. How can you beat such a deal?

There are currently just two books for sale, but I anticipate more will be added over time. I’m dredging up the bones of my long-abandoned oeuvre of works that have been taken out of print. I’m revising them, tagging them with a Creative Commons license, and then selling them for free to the general public.

I took these books out of print because I got tired of all the paperwork required, paying taxes on the piddly royalties. I know I won’t get rich, but by giving them away, maybe I can get famous. And without any tax consequences.

If you want to buy one of my free books, just click on the Free Bookstore menu item, at the top of this blog.

You may already be familiar with one of the books. I’ve been selling free copies of Unikonics on this blog since the summer of 2018. And since that time, I’ve also offered it for free download at obooko.com. According to my stats at obooko.com, Unikonics has been downloaded 500 times, and has been rated 4 out of 5 stars by 17 people who actually read it. I have no idea how much it’s been downloaded from this blog, but I’m guessing about one or two million times. Give or take one or two million.

When Unikonics was selling for real money (99 cents), I only sold one copy. And so you see, I just had to find the right price, in order to move this product. A lesson learned in marketing.

Pumping Up Piglipple also sold only one copy. So I think it makes a great new addition to my Free Bookstore. And since yesterday, it’s been offered for free at obooko.com.

I attribute the poor sales of Pumping Up Piglipple to its shitty book cover. I’ve never been good at cover design, and this is probably the shittiest of all my artistic endeavors. But as they say, never judge a book by its shitty cover.

I think you’ll enjoy Pumping Up Piglipple as much as you’ve enjoyed Unikonics. Even if you’ve never read Unikonics. Both books are short, so in the unlikely event that you find yourself in agony reading them, be assured that your torture won’t last long.

I hope you’ll visit my Free Bookstore, even if it’s just to get out of the rain. And if you keep coming back, as it expands its offerings, I’m sure that will encourage me to write more and more drivel, until my store looks like a fucking Barnes & Noble.

To enter my bookstore, just follow this link, or some of the other links cleverly implanted in this post. Or click the Free Bookstore link at the top of this blog.

Bienvenidos! Welcome! Come on in!

Conquering California, Part 10 of 17: A Revolting End

This is Part 10 of a 17-part series. If you’ve already forgotten what happened in the last part, do what I did, follow this link, and get yourself up-to-date.

To start at the beginning, follow this link.


 

A Revolting End

 

It was time for Plan B, for the Californios. All of Commandante General Castro’s forces in San Pablo retreated to Santa Clara, about 50 miles south. On June 30, 1846, they held a council of war, where they decided they needed to combine their strength with Governor Pio Pico’s southern forces. Then they could move north again and quash the Bear Flag Revolt.

On July 6, the army moved south again, to Mission San Juan Bautista, near Monterey, where General Castro was waiting. But the next day, somebody stopped thinking, and pondering, and mulling things over, and Plan B was dashed.

That someone who was thinking, pondering, and mulling things over, was Commodore John D. Sloat, of the U.S. Navy. He had received orders to seize San Francisco Bay and blockade California ports. But not until he was positive that war had begun. What a tricky order to follow! His superior officers knew how to cover their asses, by issuing such a vague order, and so Sloat had to figure out how to cover his own ass.

Sloat had been waiting in Monterey Bay since July 1 to obtain convincing proof of war.

He felt hesitant, but he finally decided it was better to err on the side of war, than do nothing and allow an opportune moment to slip by. He made this decison after several days of thinking and pondering and mulling over Fremont’s bold actions. He erroneously concluded that Fremont must have been acting on orders from Washington. Hell, he had to have been. After all, no normal military officer would have the audacity to do all the things Fremont was doing, without orders. Right? Hmm.

Sloat gave the go-ahead. And early in the morning of July 7, the frigate USS Savannah and the two sloops USS Cyane and USS Levant of the United States Navy, captured Monterey without firing a shot. And they raised the U.S. flag. Commodore Sloat had a proclamation in Monterey posted in English and Spanish, stating, “. . . henceforth California will be a portion of the United States.”

Old Glory being raised in Monterey, by the U.S. Navy.

On July 9, Sloat’s forces raised the American flag in Yerba Buena (current-day San Francisco).

Around that same time, Navy Lieutenant Joseph Revere was sent to Sonoma from the USS Portsmouth, which had been berthed at Sausalito. And on July 9, he had the Bear Flag lowered in Sonoma, and replaced by the U.S. flag. Soon after, the same flag replacement occurred at Sutter’s Fort.

So just like that, without a sputter, fizzle, or whimpering protest, the Bear Flag Revolt and California Republic came to an abrupt end.

One can only wonder how history would have played out, had the Bear Flaggers been better organized, and more competent and capable at conducting a revolution. Suppose they’d had a strong, intelligent leader within their own ranks, who thought for himself rather than relied upon the vulpine brain of the calculating Fremont?

And suppose that leader had found a way to unite with Californios, for independence? Would they have capitulated so quickly to the ambitions of the U.S. government? Or would they have resisted, and would California have remained an independent republic to this day?

We can only speculate. But as it stands, the California Republic lasted a mere 25 days, from June 14 to July 9, 1846.

And with the end of the Bear Flag Revolt came a new beginning. The beginning of the California Campaign of the Mexican-American War, to capture the remainder of California from Mexico. The task won’t be easy. There will be blood.


Come on back in a few days, for Part 11: The California Campaign Begins.

The Perfect Spam Recipe

Yesterday, Carolyn, at Nuggets of Gold, usurped the title of King Spam from Colin, and became our newest Queen of Spam. Remember the Silly Spam Game we played back in May, where the challenge was to submit a silly comment that my spam filter would catch? Colin, from A Dog’s Life? (Stories of Me and Him) won that challenge, with one comment that he masterfully crafted with a good spam recipe.

Meanwhile, none of Carolyn’s recipes worked, so she lost the contest.

But yesterday, a record four of Carolyn’s comments got snagged by my spam filter, and I had to stick my hand through all the yuck and muck and dig them out.

But I think I now know why some comments from pre-approved commentators on my blog end up on the spam heap. In other words, I think I’ve figured out the perfect recipe for making spam.

Occasionally after reading a comment, I get in an all-fired hurry and try replying to it without putting my cursor in the Reply box and clicking the mouse. Of course it doesn’t work, and WordPress just sits there and ignores me until I put my brain in gear and figure out what I did wrong. That is, unless the first letter I attempt to type is a capital S. Then the comment is instantly vacuum-sucked into the spam filter, with no warning or message telling me what is about to happen or what just did happen.

Compliments of WP, we have a shortcut key-combo of Shift+S, designed to instantly open up the trap door beneath an obnoxious commentator, and drop them into the Spam Dungeon. But if you are unaware of this shortcut key-combo, you may inadvertently send a good commentator into the Spam Dungeon. And that is not how to make blogging buddies.

Not only that, but once you drop someone down there, they remain there. Apparently, that’s what happened with Carolyn. A few days ago, I inadvertently opened the trapdoor with Shift+S, and down she dropped into the oubliette. I said to myself, “What the hell? Now, where did Carolyn go?”

I finally found her, wan and wasting, in the deep dark depths of Spam Prison. Of course I freed her, because she gives me lots of Golden Delicious apples.

But somehow, WP didn’t get the notice of her parole, and it kept sending her comments down to Spam Hell, even without Shift+S. That’s very nice of you, WP, to try to read my mind like that.

After manually approving four of her condemned spams, er, comments, WP seems to have finally figured out that she’s a good commentator (relatively speaking). And now WP has stopped doing me the unsolicited favor of filtering out her comments.

Carolyn is Queen Spam!

But not before she snatched the royal spam title away from Colin. So congratulations, Carolyn. Today I crown you Queen Spam!

Ta-ta-da-dahhh!

By the way, Carolyn, I promise to be good from now on, lest you use Shift+S too, and drop me down into those dark depths from which few return.

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