Battle of Monterey

The Battle of Monterey, at Monterey, California, occurred on 7 July 1846, during the Mexican–American War. The United States captured the town unopposed.

Battle of Monterey
Part of Conquest of California
Mexican–American War
Batalla de Monterey.jpg
Officers of Commodore Sloat raise the U.S. flag over Monterey
DateJuly 7, 1846
Result American victory
 United States Mexico
Commanders and leaders
John D. Sloat
Earl Van Dorn
Mariano Silva
225 sailors and marines[1] unknown
Casualties and losses
None None
Battle of Monterey is located in USA West
Battle of Monterey
Location within modern-day United States


In February 1845, at the Battle of Providencia, the Californio forces had ousted the Mexican-appointed non-Californio governor, Manuel Micheltorena, and most of his forces from Alta California. The central government in Mexico City cancelled an attempt to reassert authority and grudgingly recognized the regime of the succeeding Californio governor, Pio Pico, who remained nominally in charge in Alta California.[1]: 13 

The main forces available to the United States in California were the about 400–500 bluejacket sailors and U.S. Marines on board the five ships of the Navy’s Pacific Squadron. In November 1845, Commodore John D. Sloat, commander of the Pacific Squadron, then at Mazatlán, Mexico, was joined by the USS Cyane, which carried orders that if Sloat learned "beyond a doubt" that war between the U.S. and Mexico had begun, he was to seize San Francisco Bay and blockade the other California ports.[2]: 98 

On 17 May 1846, Commodore Sloat received word of the first open hostilities on the Rio Grande. On 26 May, Sloat received word of the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, upon which he sent a coded message to Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft that he was leaving for California.[1]: 167  After delaying his departure, Sloat received news on 7 June that an American squadron had blockaded Vera Cruz.[2]: 142  Sloat sailed on the frigate Savannah on 8 June, arriving at Monterey on 1 July.[1]: 168, 170 

They joined the sloop Cyane, which had sailed on 19 June and was already there.[3]: 205  There were U.S. fears that the British might try to annex California to satisfy British creditors.[3]: 180  The British Pacific Station's ships off California were stronger in number, guns and men.[4]: 199 

On 5 July, Sloat received a message from Capt. John B. Montgomery of the Portsmouth in San Francisco Bay reporting the events of the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma and its open support by Brevet Capt. John C. Frémont.[2]: 143  On 6 July, believing Frémont to be acting either on orders from Washington or information that war had been declared, Sloat therefore began to carry out his orders. In a message to Montgomery, Sloat relayed his decision to seize Monterey and ordered the commander to take possession of Yerba Buena (modern-day San Francisco), adding, "I am very anxious to know if Captain Frémont will cooperate with us."[1]: 170 


Early on 7 July 1846, the frigate USS Savannah and the two sloops, USS Cyane and USS Levant of the United States Navy, commanded by Commodore John D. Sloat, captured Monterey and raised the flag of the United States.

Capt. William Mervine of the Cyane came ashore with a small party from the Savannah at 7:30 a.m., seeking the surrender of the port from the Mexican commandant, Capt. Mariano Silva.[1]: 170  Silva replied that he was "not authorized to surrender the place."[1]: 170  In fact, Silva was in command of a nonexistent garrison,[1]: 170  as it would have had no gunpowder to use in its few cannons.[3]: 205  Californio General José Castro had quartered his cavalry forces inland at San Juan Bautista.[2]: 24 

At 10 a.m., 225 sailors and marines from Sloat's three warships landed and formed before the Customs House.[1]: 170 [5] Purser Rodman M. Price read Sloat's proclamation and posted it in both English and Spanish, declaring that a state of war existed between the U.S. and Mexico and that "henceforth California would be a portion of the United States."[1]: 171 [6]

The only shots fired were a 21-gun salute to the new U.S. flag fired by each of the U.S. Navy ships in the harbor.[4]: 252  The British ships observed but took no action. A messenger was sent to General Castro at San Juan Bautista requesting his surrender, which he refused.[2]: 144 


Sloat still recognized Mexican real estate titles and church lands.[1]: 171  He also established justices of the peace when the alcaldes resigned their offices.[1]: 171 

Captain Montgomery of the Portsmouth received Sloat's message to seize Yerba Buena on 8 July and sent Lt. Joseph W. Revere to Sonoma and Sutter's Fort to notify Fremont of the capture of Monterey. Montgomery and 70 men landed shortly before 8:00 a.m. on 9 July to curious onlookers and read the pronouncement at the Customs House.[1]: 171  He then replaced the Bear Flag, which had been raised on 2 July,[2]: 138  with the American flag.[1]: 171  The American flag was run up with a 21-gun salute.[1]: 172  Montgomery then sent Purser James H. Watmough to notify Fremont of the occupation of Yerba Buena and Sloat’s request for a meeting.[1]: 172 

Commodore Robert F. Stockton arrived at Monterey Bay aboard the Congress on 15 July and took over command from the 65-year-old Sloat.[1]: 170 [2]: 151  The British ship of the line Collingwood arrived in Monterey on 23 July, and Juno arrived at Yerba Buena on 11 July, but neither ship interfered in the American activities.[1]: 172 

On 19 July, Frémont's party entered Monterey. Frémont, having been requested, met with Sloat on board the Savannah. When Sloat learned that Frémont had acted on his own authority (thus raising doubt regarding a war declaration), he retired to his cabin.[2]: 149–151  On 23 July, Frémont was appointed major in command of the California Battalion,[7][8] which he had helped form with his 60 man exploratory force and volunteers from the Bear Flag Republic.[1]: 173  The California Battalion, which varied from 160 to 428 men,[9][4]: 253  drew regular army wages and were used to garrison and maintain order in the towns that had surrendered.

The Americans held northern California, but General Castro and Governor Pico planned resistance in the south.[1]: 172  However, on 11 August, upon learning of the advance of the American army on Pueblo de Los Angeles, with about 1,500 residents, the California army of about 100 men, which lacked money and popular support, broke up. Its leaders, Castro and Pico, departed that day for the Mexican department of Sonora. The Mexican government in California had ceased to exist.[1]: 176 

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Bauer, K.J. (1974). The Mexican War, 1846–1848. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0803261071.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Walker, Dale L. (1999). Bear Flag Rising: The Conquest of California, 1846. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0312866852.
  3. ^ a b c Cleland, Robert Glass (1922). A history of California: the American period. The Macmillan Company. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Bancroft, Hubert Howe; Nemos, William; Victor, Frances Fuller (1886). History of California. History Co. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  5. ^ Symonds, Craig L. (2001). The Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U. S. Navy. Naval Institute Press.
  6. ^ Harlow, Neil (1982). California Conquered: The Annexation of a Mexican Province 1846–1850. University of California Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-520-06605-7.
  7. ^ "Compiled Military Service Record of Lieutenant Colonel John Charles Fremont, California Battalion Regiment". National Archives. Archived from the original on August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Bounty Land Application File of Lieutenant Colonel John C. Fremont, Colonel Percifer Smith's Regiment of U.S. Mounted Rifles". National Archives. Archived from the original on August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Denton, Sally (2007). Passion and Principle, John and Jessie Fremont, The Couple whose Power, Politics, and Love Shaped Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Bloomsbury. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-59691-019-5.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°36′23″N 121°53′59″W / 36.60639°N 121.89972°W / 36.60639; -121.89972