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Posts at Monterey
(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 HERE

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.

Presidio 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, p.145.

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

 
Fort Mervine 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.)
 
Fort Mervine 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 Artillery Regiment.

 
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 Department’s primary center for foreign language instruction.
 
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 CLICK HERE


The American Capture of Monterey, 1842 and 1846
by Colonel Herbert M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Executive Director, 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" its garrison.
 
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 little ammunition.
 
"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 nor anger.
 
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.
 
 
The United 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.
 
Monterey 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 military.
 
 
 
Two early 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.
 
 
 
When Lieutenant 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
Camp John P. Pryor
A Citizens’ Military Training Camps (CTMC) installation located at the Presidio of Monterey during the summer of 1938
 
Camp Murray
A temporary camp located at the Presidio of Monterey before World War I.

 
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