Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2004 Issue

ILLUSTRATED CALIFORNIA NEWS

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The Riot at Sacramento City.


The crowd pressed hard upon them. "Take the fellows arms from them," "Do not let them go," was being echoed along the street, when the Mayor rode up, meeting the citizens at the corner of the old Post-office. Calling a halt for a few moments, he addressed them, and engaged himself, if the citizens would follow, to disperse or capture the insurgents without resort to arms. Three cheers responded to the call; the Mayor clapped spurs to his horse, and dashed away at full speed in pursuit. The squatters, harassed and exasperated, were now fairly brought to bay. They faced about, and drew up in double file, at the corner of Fourth street, inclining obliquely towards their pursuers, their left flank covered by Waters and Hollub's store. The Mayor and Sheriff rode up side by side to within about twenty paces, ordered them to lay down their arms, and to surrender themselves prisoners. "Shoot the Mayor," was the only answer to the summons. One man stepped forward from the extreme right, and fired, which was the signal for a volley. The Mayor attempted to draw a pistol from the holster, but being at the same moment wounded in the right hand, was obliged to change for the left. In the hurry of the moment, he pulled the trigger too hastily, and the ball entered the ground at his horse's feet. Although wounded in several places, he did not fall immediately. The horse swerved from the fire, and bolted several paces to the rear. The Mayor still kept his seat, but after a few moments, fell to the ground. He rose again, and walked a few steps; "Get your rifles, boys," said he; "you must defend yourselves; I can do no more," when he fell once more, but recovering himself, was enabled to walk unaided to the Columbia Hotel. One ball had glanced his cheek, another passed into his thigh, one struck him in the hand, and a fourth entered the abdomen.

We return again to the commencement of the affray. It should have been observed that the squatters, although few in number, were armed to the teeth—guns, pistols, and some few with knives. The citizens, on the contrary, were nearly all without weapons of any kind, excepting about ten, who had pistols or revolvers, and one, Recorder Washington, who bore a double barelled [barreled] gun. Accordingly, when the squatters faced about, the greater number of the "law and order men" thought it more expedient to provide for their own safety, than to stand being fired at without chance of retaliation. Some few, nevertheless, manfully stood by the Sheriff and Mayor, and certainly showed a bull-dog courage that could hardly be surpassed. Mr. Harper, after the street had been almost cleared by the general sauve qui peut, found himself walking across the street alone directly in front of the insurgents, when a ball whizzing by his head determined him to proceed no farther, lest by so doing he should draw the fire of the whole company. Taking a quiet view of the line, and seeing that Dr. Robinson had marked him, he thought it high time to be drawing his own revolver. The Doctor fired first, hitting his antagonist in the left hand; Harper returned the fire, as he supposes, with effect. Robinson who was armed with a ten shooting rifle, let fly a second time; Harper was struck in the breast, but returned the fire, wounding the Doctor's right-hand man, who fell in his tracks. He then fired a third time without effect, after which his pistol snapped repeatedly, and while examining the caps, with his left side to the enemy, he was again wounded, in the other hand. Being now completely disabled, and all his shots exhausted, he hurled his pistol at the squatters, crossed his arms upon his breast, told them that he was now unarmed, but that they might fire and be damned. To the first portion of his suggestion, they gave a practical answer in the form of some six or eight shots, which struck the house of a man named Rogers, wounding his daughter, a child, in the leg, but all missing the object at which they were aimed. By this time, feeling faint with his wounds, Harper had made up his mind to retire, but first went forward into the melee, to look fir the pistol which he had thrown, because it did not belong to him. His search was fruitless, and he was carried away by his friends to the Humboldt.

Capt. Woodland, the city assessor, paid a dearer forfeit for his share in the affray. He left his own house with Dr. Briarly, who had that very morning attended Mrs. Woodland in her confinement, to go to dinner, the lady laying many injunctions on the Doctor to bring back her husband without delay. On their way, and much to their surprise, they saw a body of armed men marching up the street, and followed accordingly as far as Waters' store. When the squatters came to a halt, Capt. Woodland went forward, and stood upon the causeway; Dr. Briarly remaining in the middle of the street. At the very first fire, the assessor fell. While the firing was brisk, Dr. Briarly was too actively engaged to give attention to his friend, but so soon as it slackened a little, he ran to his assistance. As he drew near the corner, a man named Caulfield suddenly bounded round it, pistol in hand, and took a snap shot; the Doctor returned the fire as he retreated, equally without effect. He then stooped over the body, to ascertain whether life was extinct, when Caulfield again came round, and fired within two paces, the ball passing between Dr. Briarly and Capt. Woodland's head. On a post mortem examination, it appeared that the latter had been struck by two balls, one in the side, the other in the small of the back, touching the spine. He never spoke again, but died in about three minutes.

After the first volley, in which the Mayor was wounded, Sheriff M'Kinney, who had escaped unscathed, put spurs to his horse, and charged right in among the adverse band. Some of the squatters stood their ground, still maintaining a brisk fire with the citizens, but the greater number broke and dispersed. Maloney galloped past and headed them in K street, using every effort to rally them, but without success. When he perceived that exhortations were only thrown away, he rode back deliberately into Fourth street, which was by this time in possession of the citizens. Our fixed belief is this, that Maloney came back to die. He had already said, while marching at the head of his troop on the levee,— "This sword shall never be sheathed until we obtain our rights;" and he did not go back from his word. Recorder Washington had covered him, and was about to pull the trigger, when Dr. White fired, hitting Maloney's horse in the neck, and cutting the carotid artery. The horse dropped upon its knees, and the rider fell over its head; the Recorder reserved his fire, supposing him to have been killed. Maloney rose, and rushed forward, but was met by Mr. Eyre, who snapped a pistol at him. The rebel leader attacked, his adversary, sword in hand, who dodged the blow, with great activity. A second blow was aimed, but weakly, as if the striker had been hit, and Maloney then made for the shelter of a neighboring alley, with some twenty muskets levelled [sp] at him—for by this time the citizens had armed themselves — amidst cries of "Take that captain, dead or alive; shoot him down." Recorder Washington, whose gun was loaded with buck shot, eight in each barrel, fired after him. The first shot did not arrest his retreat; the Recorder followed him up, fired the second barrel, and brought him to the ground. He had been shot in the back, the arm, and through the head; his cap, which is still preserved, was pierced with five holes. Thus fell a fine stout-hearted fellow, by an untimely death. That he deserved his fate, is not to be denied; no provocation, no injustice, if such there were, would justify him in the course by which he sought a remedy; yet there is something in the sight of high animal courage, struggling in vain against odds, which enlists our sympathies, and almost commands our regret.

An episode, of less tragic nature, was enacting meanwhile behind Major Ormsby's house, which is on a corner allotment, bounded by Fourth street and the alley by which some of the Squatters were endeavoring to make their escape. The Major ran back through his own house, expecting to head them, and came across one Parker, from Ohio, who was quietly reloading. Although unarmed, he grappled him, and secured the gun, the butt end of which he converted into a weapon of offence. The Squatter fought desperately for several minutes, making many ineffectual attempts to draw a sword which was hanging at his side; but finding himself over-mastered, surrendered prisoner of war, and was carried into the Major's house where he was fast secured.

After the death of their leader, the insurgents disappeared entirely; although reports of their having rallied and being about to re-enter the town were current more than once during the remainder of the day, each time creating a very marked sensation. Of their subsequent proceedings, we say nothing for the present, as they may possibly form the subject of an illustration in our second number, when it will be time enough to record them.

On the Sq[u]atter side, two fell besides Maloney.— One, a man named Jesse Morgan, who kept the Oak Grove House, killed by a shot through the neck. He had arrived but recently, bringing with him a wife and child. The name of the other we have not been able to procure. Dr. Charles Robinson, of Fitchburg, Mass., was wounded, and taken prisoner.

Four, it seems, were killed, and five wounded, more or less dangerously, in this affray. Of the former, three were Squatters, and one was of the citizen party. Of the latter, four were citizens, and one a Squatter. We regret to state that Mayor Bigelow is still in a very precarious situation.

The number of those who stood to their arms, was small on either side; but those who did fight, went to work with a determination that we have rarely known surpassed. Sheriff McKinney showed himself through the whole engagement every inch a man. One of the insurgents fired six balls at him from a revolver, but the object of their aim was destined for a later death. Let us add the names of Washington Montgomery, Gillespie, Mason, Rush, and Dr. Pearis, to those whom we have mentioned as actually engaged.

Of the conduct of the Municipal authorities, we are enabled to speak in terms of unqualified praise. The prudence, forbearance and energy which marked their action in the critical juncture through which they have just passed, may be a source of just gratulation [sp] to our sister city.

Since the disability of the Mayor, the duties of his office have devolved upon Demas Strong, Esq., President of the City Council. They have been both arduous and responsible to an unusual degree, and he has discharged them with an ability and decision which has deservedly received the unanimous approbation of his fellow citizens.

The loss that society has sustained in the victims of this affray is heavy enough, but there is more to be regretted than even that. Unfortunately, the mischief caused by such an outbreak does not cease with the restoration of peace. It is a precedent for an appeal to physical force upon every grievance, real or imaginary; it engenders the habit of considering the rifle the chief arbiter between man and man. "Men's thoughts," says Bacon," are according to their inclinations; their speech according to their reading and infused opinions; but their deeds are after as they have been accustomed." The tone and character of this young community, whether for good or for evil, has yet to be confirmed; but "if they do these things in the green tree, what will they do in the dry? Time has been, among the fiery Highland chiefs, when the bottoms of the quaighs were made of glass, that he who drank might keep an eye upon the "dirk hand" of his neighbor; and it might still come to this, in California, if the habit of looking lightly upon the laws be once suffered to creep in.

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We offer our thanks to Mr. Johnson, the clever Daguerrean artist, for his courtesy in volunteering to further the purpose of our visit to Sacramento city, by furnishing our engraver with views of the locality where the battle scene was enacted, which he took unweariedly, one after another, from different places of observation, in order that the most advantageous points of view might be decided on by actual comparison.

We cast a curious eye upon Mr. Johnson's finished performances, having known this delicate art from its infancy, in the Old world as well as in the New; and having followed its progress from the first imperfect efforts of Daguerre and Talbot, down to the latest refinements in its practice, can venture to affirm that these may challenge comparison, for clearness and graceful disposition of the figures, with any that we have seen.

We have much pleasure in bearing testimony to the merits of a very deserving artist, which he may rest assured would never have been rendered, had it not been in perfect consonance with our own unbiassed [unbiased] judgment in the matter.


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SHRIEVALTY OF SACRAMENTO.—The election to fill the vacancy in the office of Sheriff of Sacramento county, occasioned by the death of Mr. McKinney, will be held on the 2d September, and already we find the names of twelve gentlemen announced as candidates for the vacant office.

Let us here take occasion to say a few words concerning the management of the Illustrated California News, and the chances of being able to render it an addition of some real value to the periodical literature of this country.

Rare Book Monthly

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