Narratives of Exploration and Adventure

By John Charles Frémont; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
To the Shasta Country: Klamath Lake: Gillespie's Arrival: The Recall to California*

MARCH 11, 1846. Descending the southeastern side of the ridge, we halted for the night on a stream about three miles from the camp of General Castro, a few miles from our fort. The next day we resumed our route, and emerging into the valley of the San Joaquin on the 11th, we found almost a summer temperature and the country clothed in the floral beauty of spring. Traveling by short stages, we reached the Tuolumne River on the evening of the 14th. By observation, in latitude 37° 25' 53" and longitude 120° 35' 55".

____________________
*
This chapter is taken from Frémont's Memoirs, Vol. I, pp. 470ff. Eight pages of letters which Consul T. O. Larkin sent from Monterey, March 4-March 27, 1846, dealing with Frémont's movements and his clash with Castro, are omitted; they are almost purely political in content. These letters are addressed to various persons, but the most important are to the Secretary of State, Buchanan. Larkin, anxious to keep the peace, must have been much irritated by Frémont's conduct, but his letters betray a certain sympathy with the explorer. He was disgusted by the proclamation which Castro posted after Frémont's departure bragging of the way in which he had driven out this gang of American "bandits." Mexican officers boasted that the Yankees had fled in such haste as to leave their best horses behind. "The horses proved to be those belonging to the Californians themselves," Larkin commented to Buchanan; and he added that the Americans, far from being driven headlong, had moved from four to six miles a day to rest their men.

Larkin also added that many English and American settlers had wished to join Frémont, who could thus have mustered a force as large as that of the Californians. When Frémont reached Fort Sutter, the settlers there gathered around him with noisy congratulations on the firmness of his stand. At that moment General Zachary Taylor, under orders from Polk, had led his army to within thirty miles of the Rio Grande, on disputed territory, despite written warning from the Mexican troops that this advance would be deemed equivalent to a declaration of war. At that moment, too, a lieutenant of the Marine Corps, Archibald H. Gillespie, was at sea, nearing California, with instructions for Larkin and messages and papers for Frémont.

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