(El Real Presidio
de San Carlos de Monterey, El Castillio, Fort Hill, Fort Jones,
Fort Stockton; Fort Mervine; Fort Savannah; Fort Halleck; Fort
Cape of Pines; Fort Fremont, Monterey Redoubt; Monterey Ordnance
Depot, Monterey Barracks, Ord Barracks; Monterey Military Reservation,
and The Presidio of Monterey, Camp John P. Pryor, and Camp Murray)
The original Presidio
de San Carlos de Monterey, 1793
No other military installation
in the United States had as many changes in nomenclature as the
two-century-old Presidio of Monterey. The military has played
a role in the history of the Monterey Peninsula since 1770 when
a small expedition led by Governor Gaspar de Portola officially
took possession for Spain of what is now central California. In
compliance with instructions "to erect a fort to occupy and
defend the port from the atrocities of the Russians, who were
about to invade us," his men constructed a presidio, or fort,
at the southern end of the bay.. Portolas actions were influenced
by the Spanish fear that other nations, particularly Russia, had
designs upon her New World empire. Spain moved to occupy that
portion of the western American coast which she had previously
neglected. Ripe for colonization and military fortification was
the port of Monterey. which had been visited and charted a century
and a half before by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino
Five-page report that a Spanish
settlement between mission and presidio had just been established
at Monterey, California, by Don Gaspar de Portola and Miguel
Costanso, 1770 To view all pages of this document, CLICK
Monterey became one of five
Presidios, or forts built by Spain. Others were founded in San
Diego, (1769), San Francisco (1776), Santa Barbara (1782) and
Tubac, Arizona (1784). The fortunes of the Presidio at Monterey
rose and fell with the times. It has been moved, abondoned and
reactivated time and time again. At least three times it has been
submerged by the tide of history, only to reappear years later
with new face, a new master, and a new mission, first under the
Spanish, then the Mexicans, ultimately the Americans.
Chapel of San Carlos Borromeo was founded in 1770 by Father Junipero
Serra. First chapel was behind palisades next to Presidio, but
Father Serra moved to present location to be away from military
influence. Six soldiers guarded and helped build church. Serra
died here in 1784 and is buried in church. Chapel was presented
with barrel organ by English explorer Vancouver in 1793. Address:
Church Street near Figueroa.
The first Presidio of Monterey,
El Presidio Royal de Monte Rey, Spain's initial military reservation
in Alta California was situated about a mile east of the present
day U.S. Army's Presidio of Monterey. The mission and chapel of
the Royal Presidio still stands and appears as it did upon its
completion in 1795. The old presidio's foil, surviving for 50
years, was located on Presidio Hill, a site now listed in the
National Register of Historic Places. In 1771 Father Junipero
Serra moved his principal religious activities from Monterey to
his new mission in Carmel. Soldiers were stationed both there
and at Serra's newer mission, San Antonio de Padua, at Jolon,
now Fort Hunter Liggett's reservation. El Castillo (1792-1846),
the fort of the first presidio at Monterey, began as an open V
shaped parapet of logs and adobe revetments enclosing a small
wooden barracks. Adobe structures were added later. From 1792
to 1822, this fort was the castillio, or fortification, for the
Spanish presidio. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver of the Royal
Navy found guns of El Castillo mounted on "sorry kind of
barbet battery, consisting of a few logs of wood ... cannon, about
11 in number ... work cost $450 ... was entirely useless."From
1822 to 1846 (the Mexican era) this was the principal fort protecting
the city and harbor of Monterey. Other redoubts included small
fortifications at Point Pinos and above El Castillo on Presidio
Hill, the site of Fort Mervine's ruins.
Conjectural View of the Presidio
of Monterey,circa 1800, by Jack S. Williams from "The Presidio
of San Carlos de Monterey: The Evolution of the Fortress - Capital
of Alta California." The Center for Spanish Colonial Archaeology,
Technical Publication Series Number 1, Tubac, 1993. Fig. 44,
Monterey remained the capital
of California during the Mexican era. Twice El Castillo fell from
Spanish and Mexican control. On November 20, 1819, the French
privateer Hippolyte Bouchard sailed into Monterey Bay with two
vessels flying the flag of Argentina, then the United Provinces
of the Rio de la Plata. Bouchard easily took El Castillo the next
day while half of his forces launched an attack by land. They
sacked the town and dispersed the Spainards. Crewmen included
Hawaiians who were naked upon landing but soon were clothed in
best clothing empty houses could offer. Bouchard's privateers
sailed away on December 1. On October 20, 1842, the fort was taken
by U.S. Navy Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones, commander of the
Pacific Squadron, who mistakenly believed the United States and
Mexico were then at war. El Castillo was renamed Fort Catesby
(popularly called Jones' Fort in many journals of the day) and
remained such for one day, until Jones learned of his error, apologized,
and reinstated the Mexican standard.
For for information concerning
El Real Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey, CLICK HERE
On July 7, 1846, the naval
forces of Cornmodore John Drake Sloat, commander of the Pacific
Squadron, sailed into Monterey Bay. This time a state of war did
exist. Perhaps remembering. Jones' blunder four years earlier.
Sloat chose to send his second in command it to claim Monterey
for the United States. Thus, Captain William Mervine landed and
ordered the American flag raised over the old Custom House. Instead
of occupying El Castillo, the Americans built a new fortification
on Presidio Hill above El Castillo. This Fort, later named for
Captain Mervine, was the first U.S military reservation in Monterey.
In 1902, this post was greatly enlarged into the Presidio of Monterey
and the old fort fell into ruins. Today only one ravelin remains,
which mounts five guns on Presidio Hill behind the Army's museum.
In the early American period
Monterey was still the capital of California; later, the capital
was shifted to Benecia, and ultimately to Sacramento
was built by Americans in 1846, was first known as Fort Stockton.
It included blockhouse, earthen redoubt, a 100 by 17-foot barracks,
six-room double-story log officers quarters, and 75- by 25-foot
stone magazine. By mid-1850's, inspectors said it was worthless,
guns were too small to cover Monterey Bay, and its only commendable
attribute was that barracks had been turned over to library society.
(Redrawn from Mansfield Report, 1853.)
is remembered by these original earthworks and cannon 145 feet
above Monterey. Battery F, Third Artillery manned it, called
it "Monterey Redoubt" at first, though other names
later included Fort Hill, Fort Halleck, Jones' Fort, and Fort
Fremont. Initially it had 20 mounted 24-pound guns and four 8-inch
guns on platforms. It is now part of U.S. Army's Presidio of
Monterey, founded in 1902, overlooking Lighthouse avenue. The
Army also was at Monterey for short time in 1865, mainly to see
if government buildings were still there.
Construction on Fort Mervine
had been begun by an ensign from Sloat's command. On July 15,
1846, it was named Fort (Robert F.) Stockton in honor of the Pacific
Squardron commander who succeeded Sloat. On January 28, 1847,
Company F, 3rd Artillery, arrived with orders to complete the
permanent fort, which was designed by Corps of Engineer Lieutenant
(later Major General) Henry W. Halleck, and the post was renamed
Fort Halleck. The fort's construction was superintended by Lieutenant
Edward Ortho Cresap Ord and his second in command Lieutenant William
Tecumseh Sherman, both men becoming distinguished generals during
the Civil War. For a brief period during its early construction,
the post was also known as Fort Savannah for Sloat's flagship.
From August 1852 to February 1865, Fun Halleck was inactive, although
for the first four years of this period the post had been designated
the Monterey Ordnance Depot in title and function
On February 17, 1865, the
post was renamed Ord Barracks and reactivated for the last month
of the Civil War. Two log barracks were constructed to accommodate
Company B, 2nd Artillery, Company G, 6th Infantry, and Company
B, 1st California Volunteer Infantry. On October 18, 1865, Ord
Barracks was deactivated and left in a caretaking status. On September
9, 1902, the 15th Infantry was ordered to take post at the Monterey
Military Reservation and begin building a post to house an infantry
regiment and a squadron of cavalry. The end of the Spanish American
War in 1898 saw a significantly sized force stationed here. The
15th Infantry Regiment as well as a squadron of the 9th Cavalry
Regimert, returning from the Philippines, was headquartered here
and developed the fort further. On July 13, 1903, General Orders
No. 102, Headquarters of the Army officially designated the post
Ord Barracks in honor of Major General Edward O. C. Ord. On August
30, 1904, by Presidential direction, War Department General Orders
No. 142 designated that in perpetuation of the name of the first
Spanish military installation in Alta California, the post would
he renamed the Presidio of Monterey.
From 1907 to 1913 the School of Musketry
was operated on the post, forerunner of today's Infantry Center
at Fort Benning, Georgia. Several units rotated through between
1902 and 1919. Between the two world wars the post was the home
of the 11th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 76th Field
These units remained at the Presidio until
1940. In 1941, the Presidio of Monterey became a reception center
for selectees, and for a while it housed III Corps headquarters.
Declared inactive in 1944, the post was reactivated in 1945.
For a few months the post was a staging area for civil affairs
personnel preparing for the occupation of Japan.
On June 19, 1946 the installation became
home to the Military Intelligence Service Language School. It
was redesignated the Army Language School in 1947. In 1963, the
Department of Defense established a joint service Defense Language
Institute (DLI), headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Presidio
of Monterey became the Defense Language Institute, West Coast
Branch - the Presidio of Monterey, however, kept its name. In
1974 the DLI headquarters moved to the Presidio of Monterey.
In 1976 the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch became
the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC),
the Defense Departments primary center for foreign language
For much of its recent history, DLIFLC
was a tenant activity on the Presidio of Monterey. The Presidio
itself was a subinstallation of the nearby Fort Ord. On October
1, 1994 this situation changed when Fort Ord closed and the Presidio
of Monterey became a separate installation again.
Need directions to the Presidio of Monterey
Capture of Monterey, 1842 and 1846
by Colonel Herbert
M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Council on America's Military Past
A day out of Lima, Peru,
on September 8, 1842, the American ships Cyane, Dale and
United States hove to and two captains' gigs made for
the flagship. Captains Armstrong, Scribbling and Dornan gathered
in the cabin of Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones.
Jones recounted the reports
he had heard while in Lima: not only did a state of war exist
between the United States and Mexico, but English and French
fleets were competing to occupy Northern California. From his
nearer location, Jones' fleet had the advantage. Disregarding
the rumor that Great Britain had bought California for $7 million,
Jones proposed to make full sail for Monterey and take California
for the United States.
Jones said it was their
"bounden duty" to prevent violation of the Monroe Doctrine
by any European power "but more particularly by our great
commercial rival England."
Dale returned to Panama to report the
plan to Washington. The other ships set full sail for Monterey.
"During the battle
and strife," Jones said to his crews, "every man must
do his utmost to take and destroy; but when the flag is struck,
all hostility must cease, and you must even become the protectors
of all, and not the oppressors of any."
At 4:00 p.m. on October
19, Captain Armstrong was sent ashore under a flag of truce to
demand the surrender of Monterey's defenses "to avoid the
sacrifice of human life and the horrors of war."
With time to consider
until 9:00 a.m. the next day, Juan Bautista Alvarado asked his
military commander about the possibility of defending the place.
This same Alvarado had led a revolt against the Monterey redoubt
in 1835, taking it easily with a mixed force of 125 Californians
and Americans. His one cannon had been handled by a lawyer who
consulted the instruction book for the firing procedures, but
its single shot was sufficient to frighten and force out the
governor. The attackers had taken an additional precaution: sending
a gift of whiskey ahead to the presidio to "pacify"
Seven years later after
he seized power, Alvarado knew that little bad been done to improve
the defenses. His captain's opinion was expected: the fortifications
"were of no consequence, as everybody knows." He had
29 soldiers, 29 militia, 150 muskets, and 11 rusted cannon with
"The next morning
at half-past ten o'clock about 100 sailors and 50 Marines disembarked,"
a pioneer wrote in his diary. "The sailors marched up from
the shore and took possession of the port. The American colors
were hoisted. The United States fired a salute of 13 guns; it
was returned by the fort, which fired 26 guns."
"The Marines in the
meantime bad marched up to the government-house. The officers
and soldiers of the California government were discharged and
their guns and other arms taken possession of and carried to
the fort. The stars and stripes now wave over us. Long may they
wave here in California!"
Thirty hours later, the
Mexican flag was back on the flagpole. Newspapers and other papers
located in Monterey convinced Jones that there was no war with
Mexico at the time. The garrison was quickly withdrawn to the
ships and a salute was fired in honor of the Mexican flag. Relief
was mutual that the erroneous invasion had cost neither lives
Jones noted that even
though "we had 150 seamen and Marines on shore 30 hours,
not one private house was entered, or the slightest disrespect
shown to any individual; nor was any species of property, public
or private, spoiled, if I may except the powder burnt in the
salutes, which I have returned twofold."
Later the Mexicans tried
to get Jones to reimburse them for the expenses incurred by the
Los Angeles garrison that had left to reinforce Monterey. A formal
demand for 1,500 infantry uniforms, $15,000, and a set of musical
instruments were ignored by Jones and not repeated by the Mexicans.
Washington relieved Jones of his command of the Pacific Squadron,
but a few years later found him back at the same helm.
Monterey learned no lesson
by the easy capture of its defenses. Four years later, Commodore
John D. Sloat anchored in Monterey Bay and was not bothered in
the least by the supposed challenging artillery on the hill.
Sloat had learned a lesson, however, and delayed landing until
he was told that John C. Fremont and the Bear Flag Revolt had
started. Assuming that Fremont was acting as an American agent,
Sloat sent a landing party ashore on July 7, 1846, and hoisted
the United States flag on the government buildings.
States flag is raised over Monterey's Customs House as sailors
and Marines land. Depicted is the Old Custom House, left, with
a Mexican redoubt on the point. Commodore Sloat's forces are
seen arriving in small water craft. On the right is the U. S.
Sloop-of-War Cyane, U. S. Frigate Savannah (Sloat's
Flagship), and U. S. Sloop-of-War Levant.
The shift of authority
was greeted mildly by the citizens of Monterey. Troops poured
in-some of them being dropped at Monterey rather than other ports
in order to keep them from the distant gold fields. Lieutenant
William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at this time aboard USS Lexington.
Sherman's men expected
to do battle as soon as they landed. In his Memoirs, he expresses
pride that each man had been sufficiently exercised on the 200-day
voyage so that upon arrival at Monterey "every man was able
to leave the ship and march up the hill to the fort carrying
his own knapsack and equipments."
The rumors of an impending
attack on Monterey may have spurred on the troops, as it did
the officers. Not knowing how far away the fighting was, Sherman
said, "Swords were brought out, guns oiled and made ready,
and everything was in a bustle."
Records indicate that
less than decisive battles were fought at Monterey. In 1847 Sherman
incurred the undying enmity of some townspeople by destroying
two barrels of contraband whiskey on the pier. A year later he
led the chase to recapture a mass desertion of 28 soldiers for
the gold fields; be had to include only officers in his eight
man "posse" because he was afraid that bringing enlisted
men would only invite more desertions.
is pictured in Bartlett's Personal Narrative as it appeared when
boundary commission visited in 1852. Bartlett admired "large
and well built adobe buildings" and noted that troops were
occupying "the old presidia or garrison on an elevation
back of the town." He especially admired the "fair
daughters" of Monterey, many of whom were marrying American
actors in Monterey drama are memorialized here. Commodore Sloat
Monument (left) is part of Fort Mervine ruins. Sherman's house
(right) shows ravages of time that revealed adobe under plaster.
Sherman lived here after officers' mess had to be abolished because
cooks deserted for gold fields.
Sherman arrived in Monterey, he first lived in Customs House
(above) while serving as quartermaster. This double-story end
dated from 1814; center single-story was built in 1833; double-story
at opposite end was added by American consul at Monterey, Thomas
Larkin. From 1847 to 1849, Sherman lived in plastered adobe house
(below) also built by Larkin. Custom House is at Alvarado and
Scott streets; Sherman house on Main street near Jefferson.
This page was
reprinted with permission from Pioneer Forts of the Far West,
published in 1965
John P. Pryor
A Citizens Military
Training Camps (CTMC) installation located at the Presidio of
Monterey during the summer of 1938
A temporary camp located
at the Presidio of Monterey before World War I.