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Spanish and Mexican California
Battle of La Providencia
(Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass)
 

Battle of La Providencia took place in 1845 in California. It was a battle rooted in the fact that Mexico was choosing the Governors for California. In 1842, the Mexican government appointed Manuel Micheltorena as governor. The citzens did not like him and by 1844, a revolt began against him. After fighting near Los Angeles, Micheltorena finally decided to give up his fight. He withdrew his forces and Pio Pico became governor.

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Excerpt from Burbank - An Illustrated History by E. Caswell Perry.

"In 1842 an unpopular governor, Manuel Micheltorena, was appointed by Mexico City. Supported by his army of 300 cholos, or convict soldiers, he was bitterly resented by the Californios. In November 1844 an active revolt against him was initiated by both Northern and Southern Californians, themselves rivals but united in their desire to oust Micheltorena. Micheltorena defeated the northern faction, led by Jose Castro, near San Jose. But coming south to Los Angeles, even after building up his army to about 400, he was met by about the same number of Californios led by Juan Bautista Alvarado. The two small armies met between February 19-20, 1845, in the so-called Battle of Cahuenga. This was just west of Cahuenga Pass, on the San Fernando Valley side, at Alamos near present-day Studio City. One side had two small cannon, the other had three, and they limited their combat to a long-range artillery duel. The casualties totaled one horse and one mule, and both sides soon ran out of ammunition. The action could only be continued by each side's recovering the cannon balls of the other. Even today, an occasional cannon ball turns up when excavations are made in the battlefield area.

Micheltorena withdrew, stopping the desultory conflict. Finally, on February 22, Micheltorena agreed to leave California, taking his army with him. For all practical purposes, Mexico's control of Alta California was a thing of the past. Pio Pico was made the civil governor at Los Angeles and Jose Castro set up a rival regime at Monterey."

Excerpt from A History of Burbank, Burbank Unified School District, 1967.

"In 1845, the Battle of Providencia unseated the tyrannical Mexican governor, Manuel Micheltorena, and replaced him with Pio Pico. Micheltorena's Mexican forces had three cannons and the Californians under Pico had two. The two forces came within long cannon range of each other near Cahuenga Pass, February 20, 1845. They kept their cannons far enough apart to make sure no one would be injured. Heavy cannonading from these batteries continued throughout the afternoon, but as both armies kept in close shelter under the banks of the Los Angeles River, little damage was done. According to one account of the battle, "a Mexican horse's head was shot off and a California mule was injured by flying debris." The next day the battle resumed on the La Providencia Rancho. But still both armies were reluctant to fight. After two hours of cannonading from both sides without visible results, Governor Micheltorena raised the flag of surrender. Most of his men had deserted in favor of Pio Pico. For many years, Burbank residents in the vicinity of Warner Brothers Studio dug up cannon balls from time to time. La Providencia was a proud, slightly battle-scarred old rancho."

Excerpt from The Story of Burbank, The Publicity Department, Burbank Branch of Security Trust and Savings Bank, 1927.

"Directly south of Scott's portion of Rancho San Rafael was Rancho La Providencia, a Mexican land grant of some 4600 acres, which, when the Mexicans' enjoyment of independence from Spain was at its flood-tide, had been given to Commmandante J. Castro, Luis Arenas and Vincente de la Ossa. Upon its broad acres was fought the historic battle of La Providencia that was to end in the death of a horse and a mule but which nevertheless unseated Governor Emmanuel Micheltorena and placed Pio Pico in his place. As can well be imagined, the battle was fought at long range. Associated with Pico in the rebellion were Manuel Castro, Juan Batista Alvarado and Benjamin D. (Don Belino) Wilson heading a company of 22 Yankees. As Henry K. Norton says, Micheltorena managed to gather a force of nearly four hundred men and started south to crush the rebels. But the rebels did not wait to be crushed. They immediately retreated. In the pursuit, the governor was careful not to come within a hundred miles of them until the rebels picked up courage and returned from Los Angeles to meet him. The two forces mustered about an equal number of men. They came within long cannon range of each other at Cahuenga, the scene of a previous civil conflict. The Mexicans had three cannons and Californians two. Heavy cannonading from these batteries continued throughout the afternoon, but as both armies kept in close shelter under the banks of the Los Angeles River, little damage was done. A Mexican horse's head was shot off and a California mule was injured by the flying debris. During the night some flanking was attempted which brought the armies together again the next morning at La Providencia. For almost two hours the cannonading was again indulged in without visible result, when Micheltorena raised the white flag and proposed a capitulation. This was accepted by rebels and the erstwhile governor was unceremonially shipped out of the country. The real reason for his surrender was the desertion of a company of Yankees with him to the Yankees headed by Wilson on the other side.

To this day Burbank people dig up cannon balls from time to time in their gardens. One of them is pictured in this booklet. It was unearthed by Thomas Story, Burbank's first mayor."


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