Vallejo then invited the filibusters' leaders into his home to negotiate terms. Two other Californio officers and Leese joined the negotiations. The insurgents waiting outside sent elected "captains" John Grigsby and William Ide inside to speed the proceedings. The effect of Vallejo's hospitality in the form of wine and brandy for the negotiators and someone else's barrel of aguardiente for those outside is debatable.
However, when the agreement was presented to those outside they refused to endorse it. Rather than releasing the Mexican officers under parole they insisted they be held as hostages. William Ide gave an impassioned speech urging the rebels to stay in Sonoma and start a new republic. We are robbers, or we must be conquerors!
Some young Californio vigilantes under Juan Padilla evaded the guards, aroused Vallejo and offered to help him escape. The Sonoma Barracks became the headquarters for the remaining twenty-four rebels, who within a few days created their Bear Flag see the "Bear Flag" section below. After the flag was raised Californios called the insurgents Los Osos The Bears and "Bear Flaggers" because of their flag and in derision of their often scruffy appearance. The rebels embraced the expression, and their uprising, which they originally called the Popular Movement , became known as the Bear Flag Revolt.
Ford was elected First Lieutenant of the company and obtained promises of obedience to orders. Swift and Samuel Gibson Sergeants. Ide wrote a proclamation announcing and explaining the reasons for the revolt during the night of June 14—15, below. There were additional copies and some more moderate versions produced in both English and Spanish distributed around northern California through June To all persons, citizens of Sonoma, requesting them to remain at peace, and to follow their rightful occupations without fear of molestation. The Commander in Chief of the Troops assembled at the Fortress of Sonoma gives his inviolable pledge to all persons in California not found under arms that they shall not be disturbed in their persons, their property or social relations one to another by men under his command.
He also solemnly declares his object to be First, to defend himself and companions in arms who were invited to this country by a promise of Lands on which to settle themselves and families who were also promised a "republican government," who, when having arrived in California were denied even the privilege of buying or renting Lands of their friends, who instead of being allowed to participate in or being protected by a "Republican Government" were oppressed by a "Military Despotism," who were even threatened, by "Proclamation" from the Chief Officer of the aforesaid Despotism, with extermination if they would not depart out of the Country, leaving all of their property, their arms and beasts of burden, and thus deprived of the means of flight or defense.
We were to be driven through deserts, inhabited by hostile Indians to certain destruction. To overthrow a Government which has seized upon the property of the Missions for its individual aggrandizement; which has ruined and shamefully oppressed the laboring people of California, by their enormous exactions on goods imported into this country; is the determined purpose of the brave men who are associated under his command. He also solemnly declares his object in the Second place to be to invite all peaceable and good Citizens of California who are friendly to the maintenance of good order and equal rights and I do hereby invite them to repair to my camp at Sonoma without delay to assist us in establishing and perpetuating a "Republican Government" which shall secure to all: civil and religious liberty; which shall detect and punish crime; which shall encourage industry, virtue and literature; which shall leave unshackled by Fetters, Commerce, Agriculture, and Mechanism.
He further declares that he relies upon the rectitude of our intentions; the favor of Heaven and the bravery of those who are bound to and associated with him, by the principle of self preservation; by the love of truth; and by the hatred of tyranny for his hopes of success. He further declares that he believes that a Government to be prosperous and happyfying [sic] in its tendency must originate with its people who are friendly to its existence. That its Citizens are its Guardians, its officers are its Servants, and its Glory their reward.
A major problem for the Bears in Sonoma was the lack of sufficient gunpowder to defend against the expected Mexican attack. William Todd was dispatched on Monday the fifteenth, with a letter [notes 2] to be delivered to the USS Portsmouth telling of the events in Sonoma and describing themselves as "fellow country men". Todd, having been instructed not to repeat any of the requests in the letter refers to their need for gunpowder , disregarded that and voiced the request for gunpowder. Captain Montgomery, while sympathetic, declined because of his country's neutrality.
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Navy Lieutenant John S. Misroon returned to Sonoma in the Portsmouth's launch the morning of the 16th. Misroon's mission was, without interfering with the revolt, to prevent violence to noncombatants. Todd was given a second assignment.
He was sent to Bodega Bay with an unnamed companion sometimes called 'the Englishman' to obtain powder from American settlers in that area. These I could not make known, but felt warranted in assuming the responsibility and acting on my own knowledge. While in command there news of the stranded Donner Party reached Kern; Sutter's Fort had been their unreached destination.
He issued two proclamations on June The first asked the citizens of California to come to the aid of their country. The second promised protection for all foreigners not involved in the revolt. Two additional divisions with a total of about men arrived at San Pablo on June On June 20 when the procurement parties failed to return as expected, Lieutenant Ford sent Sergeant Gibson with four men to Rancho Sotoyome.
Gibson obtained the powder and on the way back fought with several Californians and captured one of them. From the prisoner they learned that Cowie and Fowler had died. There are Californio and Oso versions of what had happened. Ford writes, in his biography, that before leaving Sonoma to search for the other two captives and Padilla's men, he sent a note to Ezekiel Merritt in Sacramento asking him to gather volunteers to help defend Sonoma. In either case, Ford then rode toward Santa Rosa with seventeen to nineteen Bears.
Not finding Padilla, the Bears headed toward one of his homes near Two Rock. Militiamen from south of the Bay, led by Mexican Captain Joaquin de la Torre, had joined with Padilla's irregulars and now numbered about seventy. Ford's men positioned themselves in a grove of trees and opened fire when the enemy charged on horseback, killing one Californio and wounding another.
During the ensuing long-range battle , William Todd and his companion escaped from the house where they were being held and ran to the Bears. The Californios disengaged from the long-range fighting after suffering a few wounded and returned to San Rafael. The deaths of Cowie and Fowler, as well as the lethal battle, raised the anxiety of both the Californios, who left the area for safety, and the immigrants, who moved into Sonoma to be under the protection of the muskets and cannon that had been taken from the Sonoma Barracks. This increased the number in Sonoma to about two hundred.
With him were ninety men — his own party plus trappers and settlers under Samuel J. They arrived at Sonoma in the early morning of the 25th and by noon were on their way to San Rafael accompanied by a contingent of Bears under Ford's command. They arrived at the former San Rafael mission but the Californios had vanished. The rebels set up camp in the old mission and sent out scouting parties. On Sunday the 28th a small boat was spotted coming across the bay.
Kit Carson and some companions went to intercept it. The Haro brothers and Berreyesa were dropped off at the shoreline and started on foot for the mission. All three were shot and killed. Beyond that almost every fact is disputed. Others, that they were carrying secret messages from Castro to Torre. Partisan eyewitnesses and newspapers related totally conflicting stories. Late the same afternoon as the killings, a scouting party intercepted a letter indicating that Torre intended to attack Sonoma the following morning.
He arrived back at the old mission within twenty-four hours of leaving but during that period Torre and his men had time to escape to San Pablo via boat. Torre had successfully used the ruse not only to escape but almost succeeded in provoking a 'friendly fire' incident among the insurgents.
After reaching San Pablo, Torre reported that the combined rebel force was too strong to be attacked as planned. All three of Castro's divisions then returned to the old headquarters near Santa Clara where a council of war was held on June It was decided that the current plan must be abandoned and any new approach would require the cooperation of Pio Pico and his southern forces. A messenger was sent to the Governor. Meanwhile, the army moved southwards to San Juan where General Castro was, on July 6, when he learned of the events in Monterey.
They landed without resistance and spiked the ten old, abandoned cannon. The next day Robert B. Semple led ten Bears in the launch to the pueblo of Yerba Buena the future San Francisco to arrest the naturalized Englishman Robert Ridley who was captain of the port.
Ridley was sent to Sutter's Fort to be locked up with other prisoners. A great celebration was held on the Fourth of July beginning with readings of the United States Declaration of Independence in Sonoma's plaza. There were also cannon salutes, the roasting of whole beeves, and the consumption of many foods and all manner of beverages. He said that he would accept command if they would pledge obedience, proceed honorably, and not violate the chastity of women. A compact was drawn up which all volunteers of the California Battalion signed or made their marks.
They took with them two of the captured Mexican field pieces, as well as muskets, a supply of ammunition, blankets, horses, and cattle. Because of the slow cross-continent communication of the time, no one in California knew that conclusively. Official notice of the war finally reached California on August 12, Sloat , commanding the U.
Navy's Pacific Squadron , had been waiting in Monterey Bay since July 1 or 2 to obtain convincing proof of war. Sloat was 65 years old and had requested to be relieved from his command the previous May. He was also acutely aware of the Capture of Monterey , when his predecessor, Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones , thought war had been declared and captured the capital of Alta California, only to discover his error and abandon it the next day. This resulted in diplomatic problems, and Jones was removed as commander of the Pacific Squadron. He was also aware of Lt.
Sloat finally concluded on July 6 that he needed to act, saying to U. Consul Larkin , "I shall be blamed for doing too little or too much — I prefer the latter. Two days later, July 9, the Bear Flag Revolt and whatever remained of the "California Republic" ended when Navy Lieutenant Joseph Revere was sent to Sonoma from the USS Portsmouth , which had been berthed at Sausalito , carrying two star United States flags, one for Sonoma and the other for Sutter's Fort the squadron had run out of new star flags that reflected Texas' admittance to the Union. John E. The following November, John and his older brother disappeared while traveling to Sacramento and were presumed deceased.
Commander Montgomery kept the Bear Flag, had a copy made, and eventually both were delivered to the Secretary of the Navy. The original Bear Flag was destroyed in the fires following the San Francisco earthquake. The most notable legacy of the "California Republic" was the adoption of its flag as the basis of the modern state Flag of California.
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The flag has a star, a grizzly bear , and a red stripe with the words "California Republic.