Published: January 20th 2013January 19th 2013
BEAR FLAG MONUMENT
This is the monument in the plaza erected in recognition of the Bear Flag Revolt. The flag was raised over Vallejo's headquarters.
BEAR FLAG REVOLT
By 1846 enough Americans had straggled in to settle on John Sutter’s land grant that they caused consternation among the Californios. The governor was on the verge of rescinding Sutter’s land grant and calling upon his military to enforce the expulsion of those settlers. An insurrection known as the Bear Flag Revolt came to the fortified home and military headquarters of General Mariano Vallejo in Sonoma on morning of June 14. A rag-tag militia of thirty-three heavily armed settlers banged on the door and demanded that the general come out and surrender. Vallejo put on his most imposing uniform opened his door and invited the leaders in for breakfast. Before long all of them were drunk. General Vallejo, as it turned out, supported a Republic of California independent of Mexican rule. The rabble did not know whether or not they could trust him so they took him into custody and held him at Sutter’s Fort until the republic could be established. To give validity to the insurrection a new flag was raised over the plaza. It was made out of a petticoat donated by Nancy Kelsey and featured an upright grizzly bear snarling
The state park at Gavilan Peak is accessible from the town of San Juan Bautista. Fremont staged his petulant resistance here that got him ousted from California.
in defiance. It wasn’t a very durable flag though and a new one designed by Richard Todd was soon produced. Todd was later to become the nephew by marriage of Abraham Lincoln. The new flag was made out of sail cloth and featured a more passive looking bear, Vallejo thought it looked more like a pig, it had a single star in the upper corner and red stripe along the bottom to show solidarity with the United States of America, and the words “California Republic” were scrawled above the stripe. The Californios did not simply roll over and accept the notion of independence dominated by American rule even though General Vallejo had surrendered. It would require some soldiering, and none of the settlers were soldiers. What passed for an American soldier was Captain John C. Fremont. He had recently been ousted from California for raising the American flag atop Gavilan Peak and daring the governor to come take it down. Fremont was in command of about 30 topographic engineers who were supposed to be mapping trails into California from the east. They were regular soldiers though and what was needed to sustain the insurrection was military leadership. Fremont returned from
VALLEJO'S SERVANTS QUARTERS
The Vallejo home where the revolt took place has long since burned to the ground. The structure shown is the servant's quarters. It is all that remains of his once splendid estate. When Vallejo returned from his captivity his rancho had been nearly destroyed by vandalism and looting.
his camp on the south shore of Klamath Lake in Oregon to protect American settlers. He formed a sort of rabble militia grandly called the California Battalion. They fought a small engagement near the north end of San Francisco Bay in which a Californio friend of John Kelsey was needlessly murdered. Kelsey was an officer in Fremont’s rabble militia and on a point of honor he resigned and his men went with him. Another small engagement was fought at the north end of the Salinas Valley within sight of Gavilan Peak and that ended Mexican resistance in the north. Fremont then took his rabble south to join up with General Kearny and Commodore Stockton and they achieved a joint victory over the remaining Mexican resistance at Tujunga Pass in January of 1847. The California Republic was under American control with Fremont as interim governor. Ironically John Sutter lost his land grant under American rule anyway. John Fremont was really pretty much of a screw up, but he married well. His wife was the daughter of Senator Benton of Missouri. She adored him, but Benton did not see much use in him. Benton kept sending Fremont out west on foolish mapping
This is the biggest dang prickly pear cactus I ever saw. At the time I took the photo I thought maybe it been standing there since the revolt. Probably it is much more recent though. The building in the background is the soldiers barracks. At the time of the revolt no soldiers were present. Vallejo had conveniently dismissed them.
errands that should have got him killed and certainly would have except Kit Carson was his guide and kept him out of trouble. His wife made sure that his maps and reports were presented in readable fashion and Fremont attained prominence as the Great Pathfinder. Kit Carson is much more deserving of that credit.