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Mexico; but such operations were far easier for a strong government with abundant resources than for one so ill established and so lacking in means as that of Herrera or Paredes. The population of the north Mexican provinces was sparse and unenergetic, and could not be relied on for its defence; the local governments were weak and inefficient; and in 1846 that of California was disastrously affected by dissensions between two rival leaders, Jose" Castro and Pio Pico, representing respectively the northern district and the southern.1 It was in the northern district, in the lower valley of the Sacramento River, and near the bay of San Francisco that the foreign population, including the Americans, was most numerous.
The plan for a campaign directed at the city of Mexico was gradually developed as the war went on. The impression of Polk and his advisers at first was that a vigorous invasion of Mexico would end the war, without the necessity of pushing it far into the interior; and, since operations on the coast in the summer were so dangerous, the attack was made first in the north. The resistance of the Mexicans was, however, more desperate and prolonged than was expected, and ultimately the change was made to the shorter and more direct line of advance by way of Vera Cruz.
The occupation of New Mexico and California was accomplished speedily and with little resistance. 1 Hittell, California, II., bk. vi., chaps, ii.-v., passim.
Orders were issued to General Kearny, who was chosen to lead the expedition for this purpose, on June 3, 1846, to march for Upper California by way of Santa FeV After occupying New Mexico, he was to leave a sufficient force there to retain possession, and was then to push on to his ultimate destination. The eighteen hundred troops that were to compose the expedition were concentrated by the end of July at Bent's Fort, where the Santa F6 Trail crossed the Arkansas River. From that point Kearny advanced upon Santa F6. An army of four thousand Mexicans was gathered to oppose him, but dissolved on his approach; and on August 18 he occupied the city.2 After having remained in New Mexico long enough to complete his conquest of the territory and to organize a temporary government for it, on September 25 he left for California with only three hundred dragoons; and on October 7, because of the news that California was already in possession of United States troops, he sent two hundred back. With the remaining hundred he pushed on to California. After defeating a Mexican force at the battle of San Pascual on December 6, in which eighteen of his men were killed and nearly as many, together with himself, were wounded,' he made his way to San Diego.
1 Marcy to Kearny, in House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, pp. 153-155. 'Kearny to Jones, ibid., p. 169.
'Kearny to adjutant - general, in Senate Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., I., No. 1, pp. 514-516.
It was a fact, as Kearny had heard, that the conquest of California had been achieved already. This was the work of the United States naval forces in the Pacific, which were, at the outbreak of the war with Mexico, under the command of Commodore John D. Sloat. Among the series of orders issued from the departments of war and the navy in the spring and summer of 1845, when Texas was about to accept the offer of annexation and the threats of Mexico were to be put to the test, was one to Commodore Sloat, dated June 24, containing general instructions to suit the emergency. He was warned to avoid any act of aggression, but was reminded of the defenceless condition of the Mexican ports on the Pacific, and directed to take possession of San Francisco the moment he heard that Mexico had declared war against the United States.1 But to accomplish the purposes of the administration at Washington it became necessary to employ other means. On October 17, 1845, therefore, Thomas O. Larkin, United States consul at Monterey, was appointed confidential agent of the government, and instructed to watch for European interference in the affairs of California and to do what he could to thwart it. He was informed that "Whilst the president will make no effort and use no influence to induce the Californians to become one of the free and independent states of this Union, yet if the people should desire to unite their destiny with ours, they would be received as brethren, whenever this can be done without affording Mexico any just cause of complaint." * His instructions were carried to him by Lieutenant A. H. Gillespie, who was given a like appointment and was directed to co-operate with Larkin.2
1 Bancroft to Sloat, in House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, p. 231.
Immediately upon the declaration of war, Sloat was informed that the time for him to act had come, and a number of orders that followed gave instructions in detail to him and to his successor in command, Commodore R. F. Stockton.3 News of the fighting on the Rio Grande reached Sloat May 17, 1846,* and, after several weeks of delay, which brought upon him the censure of the department of the navy and contributed to his subsequent removal, on July 7 he took possession of Monterey. On the 9th of the same month Captain Montgomery, acting under orders from Sloat, occupied San Francisco. This was followed up by the unresisted occupation of the principal posts in northern Califorina. August 13, Stockton, who had meanwhile superseded Sloat, took possession of Los Angeles, and the conquest of the south was accomplished as easily as that of the north. The indiscretion of Gillespie, who was posted by Stockton at Los Angeles as military commandant of the south, provoked a rising of the Californians known from the man chosen to lead it as the Flores revolt.1 Los Angeles was retaken, and the United States troops were driven from the interior in the south; but after a series of engagements, which involved few casualties and of which the most serious was that of San Pascual already mentioned, the insurrection was stamped out, Los Angeles again occupied, and the conquest made final in January, 1847.
1 Buchanan to Larkin, October 17, 1845, partly quoted and partly summarized in Bancroft, California, IV., 596-598.
■ Buchanan to Larkin, October 17, 1845, ia Polk, MS. Diary, October 30, 1845.
3 Bancroft to Sloat, May 13, 1846, in House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess.,VII.,No. 60, p. 233. 'Bancroft, California,V.,202. 1 Bancroft, California, V., 305-310.
Just before Sloat landed at Monterey on July 7, 1846, there occurred at Sonoma, a short distance north of San Francisco Bay, a rising against the Mexican government in California on which the standard adopted by the insurgents fixed the name of the Bear Flag revolt. Because an effort was afterwards made to represent this movement as part of the conquest, and because it has been popularly regarded as such,2 a little explanation is required to set it in its true light. The rising has been charged on the one hand to the instigation of Captain John C. Fremont,' while on the other it has been represented as in opposition to his plans.4
* House Reports, 30 Cong., 1 Sess., IV., No. 817, p. 4; cf. Royce, California, 135; Bancroft, California, V., 90.
* Bancroft, California, V., 91; Royce, California, 79, 146.
* Hittell, California, II., 435. Hittell, Bancroft, and Royce all bring out Fremont's connection with the rising in its earlier stages; but they do not reach the same conclusions as to his complicity.