Company B Sent to San Diego-Change of Diet-Religious Services-Sentinel Court-Martialed for Sleeping At His Post-Colonel Dissatisfied With the Meagre Penalty Remits the Sentencerrowman Accepts the Result As An Answer to Prayer-Detachment Sent After Wagons-Curious Ox Yokes-Garrison Dutieseutenant Stoneman and Detachment Sent to San Diego-Reduced to the Ranks-Unsettled Condition of Governorship-Circular From Commodore Shubrick and Proclamation From Kearny-Orders to Fremont to Disband His Forces-His Refusal
On the 15th of February, company B was ordered to the port of San Diego to garrison that place.
Up to the 19th of February our fare continued to be about the same-fresh beef. Upon that date, however, Lieutenant Oman returned from Roubideau’s, whither he had been sent five days previously, with a quantity of unbolted flour and some beans-a most agreeable change of diet. Each man immediately had ten ounces of flour and two-and-a-third gills of beans issued to him per day, and a reduction made in his ration of beef.
News reached us on the 20th that provisions for the army had been brought by Major Swords from the Sandwich Islands. The next day being Sunday, the Colonel’s regular day for expeditions, a detachment started for San Diego to bring a supply to our camp. The same day, meeting was called at 11 a.m., when, by special request, Elder Daniel Tyler-preached on the importance of revering the name of the Deity and avoiding sin of every kind, and of our duties to each other.
On the 26th, a supply of bolted flour, soap, sugar, coffee and candles, arrived. The same day, John Barrowman, who had been confined at the guard quarters for several days for having been caught asleep while on guard duty, was tried by court martial. The evidence went to show that the man was almost worn out, and had but just been overcome by sleep when he was discovered by the Sergeant, who felt compelled to report him to save his own credit. The sentence was therefore made as light as possible-six days’ imprisonment, two hours of each of the first five days in a dark cell, and a stoppage of $3.00 of his pay.
The Colonel was indignant at this meagre penalty, and remitted it.
Three other soldiers plead guilty, before the same court, to killing an Indian’s cow, and were sentenced to ten days’ imprisonment and a stoppage of $2,50 of their pay to remunerate the Indian for his loss. The Indian was well satisfied with his $7.50, as cows usually sold for about two to four dollars. This last sentence was executed.
Of Barrowman’s sentence, the Colonel says: “The sentence of the court in the case of Private John Barrowman is excessively lenient, and the court probably considered some mitigating circumstances which should only have been done in recommending the prisoner to mercy. That the prisoner was brought before a Battalion court martial, instead of a general court martial, whose power of inflicting punishment extended, for this crime, to the life of the criminal, was the exercise of great leniency on the part of the commanding officer, and it will not be repeated. Proceedings, therefore, in this case, are disapproved, and the sentence is remitted.”
The commanding officer held the power to mitigate the sentence or annul it, but, very properly, not to increase it. The reader will perceive that the fine was remitted, not out of any sympathy for the exhausted soldier, who had been guilty of dozing on his post, but because the commander had not the power to make the penalty more severe; hence, no further cases of the kind would be entrusted to a Battalion court martial. This was the beginning, and, the author thinks, under the circumstances, very properly the end of court martial.
Brother Barrowman accepted the Colonel’s action as a specific and direct answer to prayer, which was doubtless a correct conclusion.
On the 28th (Sunday of course) Lieutenant Samuel Thompson, with ten men, was detached to return to the region of the Colorado, and bring in the wagons left there.
On the 1st of March, a small company of Spaniards and Indians, probably moving to Sonora, camped near our garrison. Some had pack-animals and others ox teams; the ox yokes were straight poles lashed to the back of the oxen’s horns with rawhide. The cattle were large and fat and of the same variety as the wild bulls.
The following day an Indian child, killed by the bite of a rattlesnake, was buried according to the rites of the Catholic Church, eight bells being tolled.
Our daily garrison duties were: Roll call at daylight, sick call at 7.30 a. m., breakfast call at 8.40, drill at 10 a.m. and 3 p. m., roll call at sundown, tattoo at 8.30 and taps of the drum at 9 p. m., after which lights must be out except in case of sickness. All must then be silent, and were supposed to retire for the night.
The following order explains itself:
(Orders No. 2.)
“HEAD QUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
SAN LUIS REY,
March 2, 1847.
Authentic information of the withdrawal of all naval forces from the town and harbor of San Diego having been received, Lieutenant Stoneman, with a detachment of thirty-one non-commissioned officers and privates, dismounted men of the First Dragoons, will march to-morrow morning to take the post (formerly occupied by marines and sailors) at San Diego, for the protection of the town and the depot of provisions and other public property. He will take rations for four days, and will make necessary requisitions and provision returns on Major F. Swords, Quartermaster U. S. Army and acting assistant commissary of subsistence.
LIEUT. COL. COOKE,
P. C. MERRILL, Adjutant.”
On the 8th, three or four non-commissioned officers were reduced to the ranks for not being experts in learning the drill. Their places were filled from the ranks.
Matters remained in the same unsettled condition in regard to who held authority from the Government of the United States to act as Governor and Commander-in-chief of California. General Kearny had gone to Monterey, and in his absence Colonel Cooke was left to act at his discretion. Writing of the condition of affairs, on the 12th of March, Colonel Cooke says:
“General Kearny is supreme-somewhere up the coast; Colonel Fremont supreme at Pueblo de los Angeles; Commodore Stockton is Commander-in-chief at San Diego; Commodore Shubrick, the same at Monterey, and I at San Luis Rey; and we are all supremely poor, the government having no money and no credit, and we hold the territory because Mexico is poorest of all.”
On the 14th of March, however, Major H. S. Turner arrived at San Luis Rey, bearing documents to Colonel Cooke, announcing that Commodore Shubrick, who had arrived at Monterey on the 23rd of January, had issued a circular on the 1st of March, announcing himself as “Commander-in-chief of the naval forces” and General Kearny as “Brigadier General and Governor of California.” General Kearny had also issued a proclamation as Governor; it “absolved all the inhabitants of California from any further allegiance to the Republic of Mexico,” and announced that they might consider themselves as citizens of the United States, as henceforth Americans and Californians would be one people. Orders were sent at the same time by General Kearny to Lieutenant Colonel Fremont, ordering him to disband his battalion, with the understanding that those desiring it might re-enlist under Colonel Cooke. Accordingly, a courier was sent by Cooke to Fremont, to ascertain what number of men had been mustered into service, to which he received a reply signed by “Governor” Fremont through his “Secretary of State,” announcing that none of his men wished to re-enter the public service. He also refused to disband his men, on the pretext that an insurrection was probable. He asked for no aid in view of the prospective insurrection, but added that his “battalion would be amply sufficient for the safety of the artillery and ordnance stores,” from which it was inferred that he intended to hold possession of them.
Major Turner returned to General Kearny and reported Fremont’s refusal to obey orders, but he was followed up immediately by Fremont himself, who rode post haste to Monterey, and managed to satisfy the General that he was ready to submit to his commands.
On the 15th of March, we received the following:
“(Orders No. 3.)
“(1) Captain Hunter in command of Company B, Mormon Battalion, will march this morning for San Diego. Arrived there, his company will constitute the garrison for the protection of the town, and he will take charge of all the defenses of the place.
“(2) Brevet Lieutenant Stoneman, 1st dragoons, will march from San Diego with his detachment of Company C, 1st dragoons, for this post, on the 17th inst.
“(3) 2nd Lieutenant Clift will proceed without delay to San Diego. He is appointed to receive there such ordnance as shall be turned over to him by officers of the navy. Lieutenant Clift will perform the duties of assistant commissary of subsistence, and assist the quartermaster at San Diego, and receive such subsistence and other property as will be turned over to him by Major Swords, quartermaster, U. S. A.
“P. ST. GEORGE COOKE.
“Lieut. Col. Commanding.”