Seventy-five Years in San Francisco
Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson was in command of the New York regiment of one thousand volunteer soldiers, which was sent by the United States Government to California, with the following officials attached thereto, namely:
Colonel, J. D. Stevenson.
Lieutenant-Colonel, Henry S. Burton.
Major, James A. Hardie.
Surgeon, Alexander Perry.
Asst. Surgeon, Robert Murray.
Asst. Surgeon, William C. Parker.
Captain William G. Marcy, Commissary.
Lieutenant J. C. Bonnycastle, Adjutant.
Captain Joseph L. Folsom, Asst. Quartermaster.
Sergeant-Major, Alexander C. McDonald.
Quarter-master Sergeant, Stephen Harris.
Quarter-master Sergeant, George G. Belt.
Quarter-master Sergeant, James C. Low.
Sutler, Samuel W. Haight.
Clerk, James C. L. Wadsworth.
Captain, Seymour G. Steele.
Lieutenant, George S. Penrose.
Lieutenant, Charles B. Young.
Lieutenant, George F. Lemon.
Sergeant, Sherman O. Houghton.
Sergeant, Walter Chipman.
Sergeant, Edward Irwin.
Captain, —— Turner.
Lieutenant, Henry C. Matsell.
Lieutenant, Thomas E. Ketchum.
Lieutenant, E. Gould Buffum.
Sergeant, James Stayton.
Sergeant, Charles C. Scott.
Sergeant, John Wilt.
Sergeant, Charles Richardson.
Sergeant, James D. Denniston.
Captain, J. E. Brackett.
Lieutenant, Theron R. Per Lee.
Lieutenant, Thomas J. Roach.
Lieutenant, Charles C. Anderson.
Lieutenant, Wm R. Tremmels. (Died off Cape Horn.)
Lieutenant, George D. Brewerton.
Sergeant, Edmund P. Crosby.
Sergeant, William Johnson.
Sergeant, George Robinson.
Captain, Henry M. Naglee.
Lieutenant, George A. Pendleton.
Lieutenant, Hiram W. Theall.
Lieutenant, Joseph C. Morehead.
Sergeant, Aaron Lyons.
Sergeant, William Roach.
Sergeant, Henry J. Wilson.
Captain, Nelson Taylor.
Lieutenant, Edwards Williams.
Lieutenant, William E. Cuttrell.
Lieutenant, Thomas L. Vermeule.
Sergeant, John M. O’Neil.
Sergeant, Henry S. Morton.
Sergeant, James Maneis.
Sergeant, Abraham Van Riper.
Captain, Francis J. Lippitt.
Lieutenant, Henry Storrow Carnes.
Lieutenant, William H. Weirick.
Lieutenant, John M. Huddart.
Sergeant, James Queen.
Sergeant, Thomas Hipwood.
Sergeant, James Mulvey.
Sergeant, John C. Pulis.
Captain, Matthew R. Stevenson.
Lieutenant, John McH. Hollingsworth.
Lieutenant, Jeremiah Sherwood.
Lieutenant, William H. Smith.
Sergeant, Walter Taylor.
Sergeant, William B. Travers.
Sergeant, James Mehan.
Sergeant, John Connell.
Sergeant, George Jackson.
Captain, John B. Frisbie.
Lieutenant, Edward Gilbert.
Lieutenant, John S. Day.
Sergeant, Eleazer Frisbie.
Sergeant, William Grow.
Sergeant, Henry A. Schoolcraft.
Sergeant, James Winne.
Captain, William E. Shannon.
Lieutenant, Henry Magee.
Lieutenant, Palmer B. Hewlett.
Sergeant, Joseph Evans.
Sergeant, Joshua S. Vincent.
Sergeant, B. Logan.
Captain, Kimball H. Dimmick.
Lieutenant, John S. Norris.
Lieutenant, George C. Hubbard.
Lieutenant, Roderick M. Morrison.
Sergeant, Jackson Sellers.
Rev. T. M. Leavenworth.
The regiment sailed from New York on September the 26th, 1846, in three transports of about eight hundred tons burden each, namely: Thomas H. Perkins, Captain James Arthur (formerly of the California, a hide ship); Loo Choo, Captain Hatch (formerly of the Barnstable, also a hide ship); and ship Susan Drew, Captain——, for San Francisco. The troops were equally divided among the vessels. After leaving New York, the three ships soon parted company and were out of sight of each other until their arrival at Rio Janeiro, where they remained ten days.
On Colonel Stevenson’s arrival at Rio Janeiro, he found an American naval squadron in port. While he was preparing to salute the squadron’s flag, the captain of the port came on board and asked Colonel Stevenson if he was intending to salute the Brazilian flag. The colonel replied that he was not, but was preparing to salute the flag of the squadron. Then the captain of the port asked if he would exchange salutes, to which the Colonel replied he would do so with pleasure.
After the salute to the American flag was fired, the colonel sent Captain Folsom to the flagship of the squadron to inform the commodore that he was in command of the New York regiment on its way to California; and also, that he intended to salute the Brazilian flag. The commodore said that there was no intercourse between the Brazilian government and the American minister and himself; that as Colonel Stevenson was in command of his regiment, he could do what seemed best, but the relations were somewhat strained between our representatives and that government. When Captain Folsom returned, Colonel Stevenson sent an officer on shore to the captain of the port to inform him that he declined to fire the promised salute to the Brazilian government. The justification of declining to salute the Brazilian flag was the severe criticism which had been passed upon certain imprudent remarks of Minister Wise the day before Folsom visited the flagship. Wise was the god-father at the christening, on board the flagship, of a child born in the fleet of transports during their voyage to Rio Janeiro, and spoke of the infant being greater as to nationality than the child-princess who had been christened but a short time previous at the palace.
Probably there was unpleasantness between minister and government anterior to the christening incident. The Imperial Council met and passed a resolution to order the transports, as well as other American vessels, out of port. Colonel Stevenson, after his ships dropped anchor, issued a general order to the regiment that one-third of the men should have liberty on shore one day, and on the next two succeeding days one-third should enjoy a similar privilege. Colonel Stevenson had taken up his quarters on shore and when that resolution was passed he was informed of the fact by an English merchant.
When he heard this he went back to his fleet to countermand the order, to avoid any collision between the soldiers and the citizens; and he informed the men of the probable difficulty. He instructed the companies to prepare themselves to be ready for the emergency, everything must be in perfect order, and perhaps the next time they went on shore it would be with fixed bayonets. As he stated this the men went aloft and manned the yards and cheered him. He visited the other two ships and countermanded his order, giving the same reasons for doing so. He was also cheered from the yards by them, all of the men being eager for a fight. Colonel Stevenson went on shore, and as he landed on the mole he was met by many thousand people and was asked the reason of the cheering on the three ships. He stated the above-mentioned facts, and told the citizens if the resolution which was passed should be enforced he would land one thousand men with fixed bayonets and they would have one thousand men worse than so many devils turned loose on them, and also have the American naval squadron’s batteries opened upon the city, under which fire the emperor’s palace would inevitably be destroyed. But the imperial resolution was never put in force. The commodore, seeing the commotion on the mole went on shore to ascertain its cause and there thanked Colonel Stevenson for his action in the matter.
In leaving Rio Janeiro the Perkins sailed directly for her destination, and arrived on the 6th of March, 1847, one hundred and sixty-five days from New York, with the colonel of the regiment and her pro rata of the soldiers. After departing from Rio Janeiro the Loo Choo and Susan Drew stopped at Valparaíso. Both vessels reached San Francisco in the same month, but after the arrival of the Perkins.
The voyage of the fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean was without any material interruptions to mar the comforts of their loads of humanity. These troops were the first that ever left the Atlantic coast of the United States to go so great a distance to a foreign country.
When Colonel Stevenson reached San Francisco he found orders awaiting him from General Kearny for the distribution of the companies of the regiment, which were as follows: Sonoma one, Presidio two, Monterey two, Santa Barbara three, and Los Angeles two companies. On the arrival of these companies at Los Angeles, they found a battalion of five hundred Mormon soldiers, and the latter were turned over to Colonel Stevenson’s command. In July the battalion was disbanded. A new company of Mormons was organized under Captain Davis, and sent to San Diego, and remained there until April or May, 1848, when it was mustered out of service. Colonel Stevenson took command at Monterey, where he established his headquarters. Early in June, 1847, he received orders from Washington to take command from Santa Barbara southward, with headquarters at Los Angeles, to the line of the boundary of the Territory newly acquired by conquest, during the pendency of diplomatic discussion over the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was not ratified until May 30, 1848. In August, September and October, 1848, the entire regiment was mustered out of service, and the soldiers became citizens of the new country, and were living under their own flag.
When Stevenson arrived he found California in a state of tranquillity, the result of the good work of Commodore Stockton, a long account of which I have given. There is no doubt whatever that Colonel Stevenson, arriving as he did soon after the battle of the river of San Gabriel, which stamped the naval officer as the conqueror and hero of the war, demonstrated to the Californians the endless power amid resources of the United States to perpetuate its authority over the conquered country.
After the disembarcation of the regiment, the three ships departed for China, for cargoes of Chinese merchandise for New York and other Eastern ports.
The ship Brutus, Captain Adams, was chartered by the government to transport the stragglers of the regiment who had been left behind, and also stores for the command at San Francisco. She sailed from New York for her destination and arrived in April, 1847.
The ship Isabella sailed from Philadelphia on August 16th, 1847, with a detachment of one hundred soldiers, and arrived in California on February 18th, 1848; at the same time that the ship Sweden arrived with another detachment of soldiers.
Before and after war was declared between the United States and Mexico, a journey to California overland was attended with dangers. The person making the journey would feel as if exiled to some foreign land. It took from four to six months to accomplish it.
Colonel Stevenson, during his long residence in California, has invariably won the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens by his manly and upright line of action. All that he has done has been prompted by a fixed principle of honor, probity and integrity. He is still in full possession of his mental faculties and exercises his mind more effectually than do many who have not reached his term of years. He has ever been kind, courteous and obliging to his friends, and even many strangers have cause to be grateful for some benevolent action on his part. It is to be hoped that he may be spared for many years to gladden the hearts of his friends by his presence among them.
I may here remark that his son, Captain Matthew R. Stevenson, whom I knew after the arrival of the regiment, was a high-minded, brave young officer of the regular army. He died at the time of our Civil War, in 1861, in the service of his country during that eventful period of the nation’s life.
In the winter of 1881-82, 1 was at the capital of the nation. On the morning before Christmas, Mr. James B. Metcalfe and myself made a trip to the tomb of the Father of his country (Mount Vernon) to view the interesting relics that were preserved for our citizens and those of other nations to look at as memorials of General Washington. In nearing the wharf that Washington used, or the site on which the old one stood in his days, I observed a tall, stout, well-dressed gentleman looking at me while at the same time he approached and said, “Are you a Western man from California?” I replied, “Yes.” He then asked my name, which I told him. “Oh!“ he said, “I was in your store in San Francisco many times in 1847; I was then a lieutenant in Stevenson’s regiment and my name is Hollingsworth. I will take pleasure in showing you and your friend the sights of Mount Vernon.” Colonel Hollingsworth was the superintendent of Mount Vernon at that time. He went with us to the general’s chamber and showed us the bedstead on which Washington died; then to the room which General Lafayette had occupied, where everything remained just as this noble friend of liberty and comrade of Washington had left it. The apartment in which Mrs. Martha Washington died was next opened for our inspection, and the original furniture stood as she had used it. From the house we went to the tomb of both the husband and wife. All of these objects interested us very much. Colonel Hollingsworth presented us with several relics from trees that were planted by General Washington’s own hands, for which we were very grateful and expressed our thanks, as well as for the courteous attentions he had bestowed upon us because I was an old Californian from the country that he liked and that, as he remarked to me, he hoped to see again.
Many years ago some of the energetic and patriotic women of the nation formed a company for purchasing Mount Vernon and many relics, as permanent mementos of Washington, for the people of the United States. The property was bought for two hundred thousand dollars, by two hundred thousand women of the country.