Affairs in California.
From the St. Louis Republican, 13th.
To the Editors of the St. Louis papers:
GENTLEMEN: Being direct from California, and presuming that I am possessed of the latest authentic information from that place, I make you the following statement of facts to show the state of affairs there, and to prevent unauthorized or mistaken reports of what in-formation I really bring.
I left Los Angeles on the 22d March, up to which time the province was in a state of profound tranquility, and American life and property was regarded as safe without guards or escorts as in any portion of the United States, Americans traveling through the country, and living in as much security as in Missouri or any one of the States. I, myself, a short time previous to leaving the country, I traveled extensively both in the North and South with-out company, save a Spaniard and a servant—the Span-iard was one who had been most prominently engaged in the late insurrection.
Gov. Fremont had been residing in Los Angelos, the capital of the province, of about 7,000 souls, without any military protection whatever, having sent the un-discharged portion of his battalion to San Gabriel, a Catholic mission, seven miles distant, trusting, as he could safely do, his personal security entirely to the in-habitants.
The day before I left he started to Monterey, near 500 miles, without any attendants but a colored man, and two California gentlemen, both of whom had performed distinguished parts in hostilities against us, to wit: Don Jose Jesus Pico, who had been pardoned at San Luis Obispo, and Don Andreas Pico, who commanded against General Kearney at San Pasqual, and who, indeed, suc-ceeded Flores in chief command.
This fact abundantly shows the tranquility of the country, and the perfect security to American life and property which now prevails in that distant province, and so lately the theatre of war and insurrection. This security is, doubtless, entirely owing to the treaty or capitulation which Col Fremont made with the insur-gents, on the 14th of January, and the evidences given by him of humanity in pardoning Don Jesus Pico, and the implicit confidence which the inhabitants have in Ma justice and sincere regard to all their rights.
This treaty or capitulation was not agreeable to some of the superior officers at the time it was made although approved for reasons of policy; and since my return to the United States, I find it made a prominent charge and accusation against Col. Fremont, as an act of military insubordination, and such a one as the superior officers would not have made, because, as they allege, they con-sider the Californians base rebels, and were for treating them as such.
Being one of the Commissioners that negotiated that capitulation, (Louis McLean, Jr. of the Navy, and Maj. Reading, of the California Battalion, being the other two,) I can affirm, and, if there shall be an official or ju-dicial inquiry, prove, that that capitulation put an end to the war, and established the cordial peace which en-sued ; and that without it, the insurgents would have dispersed into parties, exciting the Indians and people to engage in guerrilla war against us, for which the na-tives of the country, and their extraordinary skill in horsemanship, are so well adapted.
Their public declaration was that they would take to the mountains, and fight every inch of the country, and die like wild beasts, before they would submit to anyone but Col. Fremont, and on the terms he granted them.
These terms did not treat them either as rebels or citi-zens of the United States, and did not exact oath of al-legiance but postponed it for a definitive treaty of peace; requiring no thin g for the present, but obedience to the American authorities, and forgetfulness of the past. These terms the Californians had faithfully observed up to the time of my coming away, and present, Cali-fornia is a state of satisfied quietness altogether different from New Mexico, through which I came on my return home, or any other part of Mexico which we have con-quered.
Two events had taken place just before I left Califor-nia, which were exciting much interest and anxiety.—The one was the joint proclamation of Com. Shubrick and Gen. Kearney, and the other the march of the Mor-mons, under Capt. Cook, upon Los Angelos. I brought with me a copy of the proclamation, but it is behind with my baggage, and I expect it hourly; when it does arrive, it shall be furnished for publication. In this pro-clamation, Com. Shubrick was made Military Governor, and Gen. Kearney, Civil Governor. Com. Biddle was al-so at Monterey, but as far as I was informed, had taken no command.
The cause of the march of the Mormons on the Capi-tal was not publicly known, but all the rumors assigned the same cause which I find for it in the papers since, and attributed to Capt. Emory, and which I prefer to copy as I find it in the papers published in this country :
"Gen. Kearney, we farther understand, is only awaiting the arrival of troops to sustain him, and he will then very probably arrest both Stockton and Fremont as mutineers; and we shall not be surprised, (if Kearney gets the power,) to hear of their trial and summary execution.”
This is what I find published in the United States, and corresponds with great precision with the rumored cause of the march of the Mormons on Angelos, un-der the command of Capt. Cook, where Col. Fremont was located, and where the tranquility of the place so little required troops, that Col. Fremont had sent his away.
Be the cause what it may, it excited the greatest de-gree of uneasiness in the California population, and also awakened apprehensions in the mind of Col. Fremont, which he thought it his duty to satisfy at the fountain-head, and accordingly set off at 3 o'clock of the morn-ing of the 31st of March, for Monterey, where Com. Shubrick and Gen. Kearney were, distant near 500 miles which he intended to reach in three days and nights, on horseback.
Don Jose Jesus Pico and Don Andreas Pico also went up with Gov. Fremont, and will doubtless consider any proceedings against him as imparting danger to them-selves, as they rely upon him and upon the capitulation which he granted for their safety.
They would not have capitulated to any one but him, and this can be abundantly established, if official inves-tigation is instituted. They plead a breach of the capit-ulation of last Fall, by the Americans, for the insurrec-tion which broke out in September, and which we only terminated by the capitulation already referred to, of January.
If another insurrection breaks out, it will have to be quelled altogether by force ; and considering the extent of the country, the horsemanship and character of the Californians, and the immense number of Indians they can at any time raise against us, would probably require 10,000 men to put down. Gov. Fremont has conquered the hearts of the Californians. They rely upon his jus-tice; they call him the Just Captain. They think the safety of the treaty is in him, and if they break out again, it will be a second New-Mexico affair, when after all the exertions a large military force will be necessary to keep down the people, many of whom (New-Mexicans) have fled to the Indians, and excited an Indian warfare against us, ail along the road, from the frontier of Mis-souri to Santa Fé. My own party was attacked three times on my late return; and every party on the road is attacked, regardless of numbers. On our own territory, and within the limits of the United States, I consider traveling about as dangerous, from Indian Guerrillas, led on by Mexicans, as it is on the road to Vera Cruz.
Such will be the precise state of things in California, if a new insurrection breaks out. It would have been so, but for Fremont and his treaty. It could not have been prevented, if the wicked idea had obtained of treat-ing the Californians as rebels, and stretching their necks as a punishment for their crimes.
The march of the Mormons upon Los Angelos, a tran-quil city, from which Col. Fremont had sent away his troops, excited the greatest consternation in the city, and would spread the alarm throughout the country. Col. Fremont acted promptly in going to Monterey to see or learn the cause of these movements. The two Picos were also there. It is to be hoped that their visit to Monterey may quiet the alarms occasioned by the proclamation and the Mormon march.
If it does not, and a new insurrection breaks out, it must certainly be traced to the cause just assigned, to wit: the proclamation and the march of the Mormons.
I have also read much in the newspapers, attributed to Capt. Emory, concerning California officers, and which I pledge myself to prove untrue in any official investiga-tion. One of these statements is, that Com. Stockton refused to send aid to Gen. Kearney after his fight at San Pasqual; when the fact is, that he promptly sent him upward of two hundred men, and brought him off safe-ly to San Diego. Another is, that Col. Fremont tried to procure the Governorship, first from Kearney, and then from Stockton, which is false in every particular. I state positively, that both seemed anxious to press the office on him ; and this also can be proved whenever the question is tried. Another of these statements is, that the insurrection of last fall was made by the misconduct of Stockton and Fremont. This is wickedly untrue; neither of them were at Angelos when it broke out.
Capt. Gillespie was in command, and on him the Cali-fornians charge the sole cause of the outbreak. As for Gov. Fremont, he was then in the North of California, 6 or 700 miles distant, and there by order of Com. Stock-ton. The Californians never complained of him on any account, but looked to him always for justice and mer-cy ; and at this very time he was appealed to by the Ex-Gov. Pico for protection, in a letter, which has been pub-lished under the direction of Senator Benton, and which Gov. Fremont did not receive for many months after it was written, in consequence of his absence in the North, and not until he had put down the insurrections.
If Fremont had been permitted to remain at the Ange-los, there would have been no insurrection last Fail; and if insurrection breaks out there again, it will be, because the Mormons, of whom they entertain the utmost abhor-rence, have been marched upon them, in a mysterious manner, and without apparent sufficient reason.
Another of the accusations against Governor Fremont is, because he was absent from the two little skirmishes on the 8th and 9th of January. Colonel Fremont, as a military subordinate, did not report to the Secretary of War, but to his immediate commander, and they could tell the cause of his absence—as it is insiduously called, and which is a false application of the term to him—Where at the time were those false accusers? An offi-cial investigation will show.
From the time of the insurrection, Fremont had been making the most extraordinary exertions in raising and organizing a battalion from the American population, dis-tant six or seven hundred miles from the seat of the in-surrection, and marching it during mid-winter.
The raising that battalion, and marching it down, was an act that displayed as much military conduct as has been performed, in my judgment, during our present difficulties with Mexico, and enabled him to put an end to the war.
The insurgents capitulated to him at the head of that battalion. He raised the battalion by his own influence, and without means of any kind, as furnished by his Gov-ernment, and marched it with great celerity through the heart of the insurgents' country, and through defiles and mountains, capturing insurgent chiefs, and without spil-ling a drop of blood. Incredible were the hardships of men and horses in this Winter march.
On Christmas day, the battalion lost, in crossing the Santa Barbara mountains, some hundred and fifty or two hundred horses. The artillery was brought over by hand, engaging, at one time, over one hundred men with ropes. To have witnessed Gov. Fremont's conduct on that try-ing occasion, and hear him accused of being absent, is truly provoking. Happily for the country, with all his haste and exertion, he was still at some distance from Angelos at the time of the two little skirmishes. He was still at the bead of his own battalion.
He was still a separate commander, and in that char-acter granted the capitulation which the Californians would accept from no other person, and which resulted in peace to the country, and severed it from the deplor-able condition of New-Mexico.
As for the affairs of California generally, what concerns Messrs. Stockton and Kearney I say nothing about, con-fining myself to what I know and feel due to Gov. Fre-mont, and fully expecting that judicial investigations will take place. Until then, this brief statement may serve to disabuse the minds of the public from the effects of the mis-statements abounding in the news- papers, calculated to injure Gov. Fremont.
Those statements are in every particular untrue, and have been attributed to Capt. Emory, I hope an official investigation will take place; it will then be seen that Gov. Fremont has cost the Govern-ment but little money, and performed great service.
That, beside pacifying the country by his treaty, Gov. Fremont has gained the hearts of the people for himself and country. He has reconciled them to the change of government.
Speaking their own language, he is just in all things—active in all kinds of business, both civil and military. In private life, he is pure, without the disfiguration of a single vise—not even the levity of youth. Those happy combinations in Governor Fremont have given him a character and a power in California, that no other man ever enjoyed, and I confidently believe, never will.
Very respectfully, WM. H. RUSSELL.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.