IN 1849, during Mr. IDE'S residence several months with one of his brothers, he gave said brother a verbal account of his six or seven months services in the Bear Flag enterprise, and, (as he understood the case), as a U. S. soldier under the command of Col. Fremont. We give this brother's statement: and it will be borne in mind by the reader, that this brother relies entirely on his memory for what he told him; and that the incidents of this narrative were related to him some 28 years ago-- at a period of his life when a detail of such interesting events makes an abiding impression upon the memory. But should the voluminous manuscript Journal of Mr. IDE, referred to by Mr. BOGGS, on page 57, come to light before this memoir goes to press, it will be corrected, wherein its statements may materially conflict with those of that journal, as it may seem necessary to insure accuracy, in giving an account of what transpired under the "administration of GOVERNOR IDE."
"My brother Wm. B. told me that he left his family about the first of May, 1846, and rode around among the early emigrants from the States, to arouse them to action in self-defence.
He had seen the Proclamation of Gov. Don Castro, warning those emigrants to leave the country in a given time, or they would be driven into the mountains, or made prisoners of; or they would be shot, in case of resistance. This, he said, 'stirred them up to the quick.' They very soon rallied a company of about one hundred mounted men, armed as best they could be, with hunting guns, rifles and pistols. They rendezvoused at or near Sutter's Fort, and organized by choosing a Captain Merrit as their commander. They then proceeded to Sonoma, the headquarters of Gov. Castro, who had issued the aforesaid threatening proclamation, and of Gen. M. G. VALLEJO. They surprised the Garrison at day-break, captured Gen. Vallejo, his brother Don S. Vallejo, Jacob P. Leese, Col. Victor Prudhon and two others, took them prisoners; and Capt. Grigsby, with a small guard, escorted them to Sutter's Fort."
And here the Editor will suspend the brother's narrative for a moment, to make room for a few items of interest obligingly furnished him by Mr. Boggs, who informs me that the individuals captured as above stated were officers of the Mexican Government, and that
"Gen. Mariano Gaudaloupe Vallejo was the highest military officer in the northern department of Upper California, in the Mexican government--was the first native Californian to embrace the cause of the United States, under its flag. Don Castro was the Governor, and retreated before the Bear party captured Sonoma. It was Capt. Grigsby, with only a guard of five or six men, who took the prisoners from Sonoma to Sutter's Fort; a distance of about 100 miles."
Mr. BOGGS adds: "Gen. Vallejo's family was not molested at all, but were assured by the Bear party that he and his friends should only be held as hostages for the future good behaviour of the Californians; who had, without the sanction of their superiors, caught and barbarously murdered two young Americans, near the Santa Rosa Rancho, sometime previous to the capture of Sonoma by the Bear party." These young men, (Mr. B. says), "were lassoed, dragged alive,'their tongues cut out, and other portions of their bodies mutillated while fastened to trees. The Americans, (not the Bear party), to their shame be it recorded, by way of retalliation for this shocking barbarism, killed three peaceable Californians at San Raphael, who had not taken up arms against them, neither had they taken any part in the massacre of the two young Americans. This was done, it would seem, under the eye of Col. Fremont, who was then at the Mission of San Raphael, not far from Petaluma. The celebrated Kit Carson, Fremont's guide, killed the first one. He discovered and reported them to Fremont, his superior officer, as prisoners his squad had taken, and asked him what he should do with them? F.'s reply to Carson was, that he 'had no use for prisoners; but do your duty.'
Kit returned, and, in company with one or two others of Fremont's command, killed an old Mexican and his two sons. "This circumstance (says Mr. B.), was related to me by Carson himself, in my house at Sonoma, where he visited me. I knew Kit Carson in the Rocky Mountains, and he and my Brother were intimate friends at Beut's Fort, on the Arkansas River, where they were traders with the various tribes of Indians on the Plains; their traffic being in buffalo robes and other peltries.
Carson was a bold and daring man, when an emergency required, and gentle as a lamb, when engaged in peaceful pursuits. I told him I did not approve of that act of retalliation ;-- that he should have pursued the guilty ones, who had escaped across the Bay, as no punishment within the rules of war would have been too severe for them. But Kit Carson had been trained to Indian warfare, and its customs were deeply impressed on his mind at an early age.
"These were the type of men who were engaged in making the first move towards acquiring a Territory for the Union, that has since added hundreds of millions to its wealth: and now that a few of them are left, broken in constitution and health, ask a pittance from the best government the world ever saw, in the way of a pension--I mean, a pension to the few destitute survivors of the orphans and widows of those engaged in the Mexican war--it seems a fitting time to inquire whether or not the old adage, 'Republics are ungrateful', will not apply to 'Uncle Samuel'."
Mr. B. elsewhere says: "Capt. Merrit remained at Sonoma with the remainder of the Bear party, until they were disbanded. Fremont afterwards placed Capt. Grigsby in command at Sonoma. Merrit was lost sight of. He was merely an 'old Hunter'; very brave and resolute, but somewhat rude."--[We now resume the "brother's" narrative:
"At the time of the assault on the Fort, I think my brother told me that he had the command of their party. The case was this: not long after the first organization of it, or while on their way to Sonoma, it was noticed that their Captain, from some cause, had lost the full confidence of his men, and they elected my brother to take his place. But whether it was before, or after the surrender of the Fort I do not distinctly remember.
"After getting somewhat quietly established in the Fort--putting its cannon and small arms (of which they found a pretty good supply) in order for service, in case of annoyance from the enemy, they began to consider what steps it was next best to take for self-preservation. As then situated, brother said they would be considered and treated as rebels and outlaws, if overpowered and taken prisoners by Don Castro and his men. It was finally concluded that 'While among the Romans, they must do as the Romans do'--that they must inaugurate an Independent Government. The authorities they were under arms to combat derived their governmental status by the Mexican Pronunciamento process; and they decided to adopt the same process for organizing a new civil government for the Californians. They accordingly elected WILLIAM B. IDE their Governor, and JOHN H. NASH, Chief Justice, or Alcalde, to conform themselves to the Mexican laws and usages for the time being.
"It will be remembered, that up to the day of the uprising of the emigrants in self-defence, they knew nothing of the war operations between the United States and Mexico. They were, in Yankee phrase, 'fighting on their own hook.' But my brother told me he had no other object in view, in accepting the office of Governor, than that of doing all in his power to protect the emigrants, and establish their Independence of Mexico.
"The account my brother William gave me of their 'war-like' proceedings, after getting up their National Flag, and issuing his 'Pronunciamento' proclamation, and while they so bravely 'held the Fort,' has much of it escaped my memory, except two or three prominent incidents, which I will endeavor to relate substantially as he gave them to me.
"I have never seen a copy of this proclamation; but I understood brother to say that it briefly recited the grounds for their revolutionary movement--among them the threatening missal from Don Castro, and the right of self-preservation--the fact that they had been invited by the home Mexican authorities to come and take up land and settle among them: and closing with the promise of protection to all law-abiding citizens of California, who would remain peaceably at home.
"My brother recited to me some of his military operations--new, and somewhat exciting to himself and the greater part of his men who had never before seen actual service, 'in the camp or upon the tented field': one or two of which I will relate.
"He had not been long in command, before word came to him through one of his scouts, that the enemy under Don Castro was encamped at a small settlement, distant about twenty miles from Sonoma. He selected a squad of twenty of his 'sharpest shooters', had them mounted on his fleetest horses, and supplied with the best rifles and guns in the Fort, put them in charge of a trusty officer, with orders to proceed leisurely to the enemy's camp; and when within easy gun-shot distance of it, to dismount, give an Indian war-whoop to attract the enemy's attention; and, as they made their appearance, each one of the party, in turn, to take deliberate aim, fire a single charge, re-mount his horse, and return with all speed to the Fort. The order having been faithfully executed by the squad, brother said he afterwards ascertained that a number of the Don's men were made to 'bite the dust.'
"Not long after this rather unique military exploit of the Bear Party, one of their men picked up, on the street, a letter addressed to one of the citizens of Sonoma, notifying him that Don Castro's party was preparing to make a raid upon the Fort very soon. This notice coming to the Governor in an apparently authentic shape, he set about making preparation to give the Spaniards a warm reception. Fremont, with a small company of his surveying party and a few other emigrants, was at that time located at Sutter's Fort, and brother was not expecting assistance from him.
"In the mean time every thing in the Fort was put in order. The cannon and small arms were loaded with cannister, balls, or buck-shot, as it was thought would render them, respectively, of most service. Scouts were sent in different directions to bring back to the Fort early notice of the approach towards it of any hostile force; and, with these and other precautionary measures, the officers and men of the Bear Flag party patiently awaited on their arms a short time, to see what would next turn up. Precisely how long they waited, I don't recollect that my brother told me: but he said that quite late one evening, one of his scouts came hurridly up to the Fort on horseback, and announced the enemy's approach within a short distance; it might be half a mile or more; when the cannon were drawn out and put in position in front of the Fort, matches lighted; the men inside of it formed in 'battle array', with loaded arms in hand, and all things ready for action.
"Thus prepared, (brother told me), he gave orders to his men not to fire until, by a given signal, he ordered them to fire: he then went some ten or twenty rods towards the coming foe, and he soon heard a voice from among them call out--'See! their torches are lighted! they're going to fire upon us!!' He knew the voice--it was KIT CARSON's, and instantly threw up his arms as the signal for them not to fire; saying to his men, at the top of his voice: 'Dont fire! It is Fremont!' Thus, (said my brother) Kit Carson, who I knew was with Fremont, probably saved us from a pretty bad disaster: which had it happened, would have resulted from Fremont's failure to give us reasonable notice of his coming. His excuse for not doing so was, that he sent a man ahead who, being a foreigner, did not understand his order. And, as showing that Fremont took in readily the perilous situation of his squad, he hastily 'switched himself off on a side track', out of harm's way, even if we had fired upon his party."