Commodore Stockton sailed from Monterey
with 360 marines and seamen for San Pedro on August 1,1846 in
the Congress. They arrived on the 6th where they raised the flag
and prepared to march inland to the Pueblo of Los Angeles. Major
Fremont from San Diego met the marine's force just outside the
town and at about 4 pm on the 13th the combined armies entered
the capital where the flag of the United States was at once raised
with the usual ceremonies and here as elsewhere in California
without the slightest demonstrations of opposition or disapproval
on the part of the inhabitants. A few guns were mounted on the
hill above the Pueblo, a garrison organized and stationed in
the Mexican barracks and the marines marched back to the Congress
at San Pedro. U. S. Marine Gillespie was commissioned commandant
of the southern department of California and left with a garrison
of 50 men.
Stockton imposed martial law on the Mexican
inhabitants on departing. The rudeness of this decision infuriated
the docile Mexicans and fanned the flames of revolt. Mexican
General Flores retook Los Angeles and sent the American garrison
packing to San Pedro. It was necessary to reconquer the once
docile city of Los Angeles. Commodore Stockton had to return
with the marines and the army under General Kearny. Los Angeles
was surrendered to Stockton and Kearny on January 10, 1847. General
Flores's army, which had been defeated by the American troops
in the battle of Paso de Bartolo January 8th and in the battle
of La Mesa, January 9th, was still in the neighborhood of the
city. Commodore Stockton decided to erect fortifications not
only to resist an attack should one be made by Flores but also
in the event of another revolution to enable a small garrison
to hold out until aid might come from other cities.
On the 11th Lieutenant Emory, of General
Kearny's staff, was detained to select a site and place a fort
capable of containing one hundred men. On the 12th the plan of
the fort was marked out and ground was broken. Work was continued
on it up to the 17th by the marines and soldiers.
In the meantime, Andres Pico, in command
of the Mexican troops, surrendered to Colonel Fremont at Cahuenga
and the war was over. Work on the fort ceased. Commodore Stockton
and Brigadier General Kearny having quarreled, Kearny left for
San Diego. Stockton and his sailors rejoined their ships at San
Pedro and Lieutenant Emory was sent east via Panama with dispatches.
Fremont's battalion, numbering about five hundred men, was left
in command of the city.
On the 20th of April, 1847 reports supposed
to be reliable reached Los Angeles stating that the Mexican Congress
had appropriated $600,000 for the conquest of California and
that a force of 1,500 men under command of General Bustamente
was advancing by way of Lower California against Los Angeles.
On April 23, work was begun on a second fort planned by Lieutenant
J. W. Davidson of the First Regiment U.S. Dragoons. Its location
was identical with Lieutenant Emory's fort but was twice the
size of that earthwork. The Mormon Battalion constructed it.
This Battalion of four companies was recruited from the Mormons
in the spring of 1846. They were encamped at Council Bluffs,
Iowa preparatory to their migration to Salt Lake. The Battalion
came to California under the command of Colonel Phillip St. George
Cooke, arriving at Los Angeles March 16, 1847 via San Diego.
The Battalion numbered 500 men at the start but a number gave
out on the march and were sent back. Colonel Cooke was placed
in charge of the Southern Division by the Army covering San Diego
and Los Angeles.
On April 24, 1847 Colonel Cooke issued
his now famous order No. 9 directing the Mormon Battalion to
erect the fort later called Fort Moore in honor of Captain Benjamin
Army, who was killed in the battle of San Pasqual on December
6, 1846. The order read as follows: "The Mormon battalion
will erect a small fort on the eminence which commands the town
of Los Angeles. Company A will encamp on the ground tomorrow
forenoon. The whole company will be employed in the diligent
prosecution of the labor for one week, but there will be a daily
detail of a non-commissioned officer and six privates for the
camp guard. The hours of labor will be from half past six o'clock
until 12 o'clock and I o'clock until 6 o'clock. The guard will
mount at half past 5 o'clock. Lieutenant Davidson, first Dragoons,
will trace tomorrow on the sight selected, his plan, which has
been approved of, a fort with one small bastion, front for at
least six guns in barbette, assisted by the Company Officers.
He will have the direction as Superintendent, which pertains
to an officer of engineers. As assistant quartermaster, he will
procure the necessary tools." Company A commenced work immediately
upon their arrival at the new camping place. Twenty-eight men
of each company worked for four days before being relieved.
A flagpole was erected in the middle of
the Fort. According to James S. Brown, private in Company D,
in his autobiography entitled Life of a Pioneer, "a Spaniard
was hired to haul a liberty pole from San Bernardino Canyon,
a distance of eighty miles, and as he dared not undertake the
journey without military escort, Corporal Lafayette Shepard (Company
A, Mormon Battalion) and fourteen other men among whom the writer
was included, were sent to protect the Spaniard and help get
the pole down to the fort. We hastened back to the fort with
our charge, the logs in the rough being about fifty feet each,
the two making a pole between ninety and ninety-five feet long
when completed, which was done by the members of the Battalion
at the Fort."
The Fort was dedicated on July 4, 1847
when the American flag was raised there for the first time. The
troops were formed in a hollow square at the Fort and Stephen
C. Foster read the Declaration of Independence in English and
Captain Stuart Taylor read it in Spanish. To Lieutenant Davidson,
who planned the Fort and supervised the work on it, was given
the honor of raising the flag to the top of the flagpole. A salute
was fired from the field works on the hill.
The Fort, which was the first to be erected
in Southern California, was a simple earthwork with six embrasures
for cannon. It was not enclosed in the rear. Two hundred men
could have held it against a thousand if the attack had come
from the front but could have been captured from the rear by
a small force. The army decommissioned the Fort in 1853 but it
stood intact for about thirty years. It was demolished when the
streets that pass through its site were graded and the lots it
crossed were built upon. No trace of Fort Moore now remains.
A sketch of Fort
Moore by William Rich Hutton on July 10, 1847 shortly after it
was dedicated (Detail).
Fort Moore shown
on the hill relative to the Pueblo of Los Angeles in 1847 by
Artist William Rich Hutton. Courtesy of the Huntington Library,
Two drawings of the Fort come down to us. William Rich Hutton
made the first in July 10, 1847 right after the Fort was dedicated.
The view is looking up from the Pueblo. The second is a rendering
that appeared in an article about the Fort Moore Hill history
in the Los Angeles Times for April 1, 1934. These are the only
two records that the author has found anywhere.
The work of the Mormon Battalion was highly
praised by General Kearny. According to Daniel Tyler in his A
Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War, Kearny
made the following comments: "On May 10, 1847, the Battalion
was addressed by General Kearny. No commander ever did or could
eulogize or give a greater meed of praise to any corps of veterans
that was given this little band by the Commander of the Army
of the West. In conclusion he said he would take pleasure in
representing our patriotism to the President and in the halls
of Congress, and give us the justice our praiseworthy conduct
General Kearny left Los Angeles on May
13, 1847 with an escort of 18 members of the Mormon Battalion
led by Captain Jefferson Hunt of Company A.
Colonel J. D. Stevenson of the First Regiment
of New York Volunteers succeeded Colonel Cooke in the command
of the Southern Military District. Stevenson gave the orders
and presided over the dedication of the Fort. Cooke went on to
have a town named after him in Utah and to have a fort named
for him in California during the Second World War, to be discussed
in a later section.
In 1857, the Fort Hill was the site of
a gallows hanging of a bandit named Juan Flores who was lynched
by the vigilantes. One of two Los Angeles cemeteries was located
there. Many prominent Los Angeles families built their homes
on the Hill. In 1887 Center High School was erected there. In
1901 tunnels were excavated through the hill for the extension
of Broadway and the right-of-way for the Pacific Electric line.
In 1903 the Native Sons and Daughters
of California, The Pioneer Society, the G. A. R. and the Historical
Society sponsored a memorial in the form of a flagpole. It was
to be erected on the crest of Fort Hill at the head of Broadway
just over the Broadway Tunnel.
The pole was procured in Siskiyou County
and was brought by water to San Pedro from where it was hauled
by wagon. The pole was too long to be handled by the railway.
It was a fir tree 127 feet long, fourteen inches in diameter
at the base and eight inches at the tip, and straight as an arrow.
The flag raising occurred one hundred yards south of where the
American flag was first raised over fifty-six years before. 2,000
people witnessed the event on December 19, 1903. Featured at
the event was a son of Captain Moore, a daughter of General Fremont
and William Beddome, one of the soldiers who helped build Fort
Moore and who witnessed the first flag raising.
An outline of the Fort Moore
works relative to present day streets in Los Angeles as presented
in the Los Angeles Times for April 1, 1934. The walls
of the fort faced toward the sea. The numbers identify the pioneer
homes on the hill at the time of this article.
In 1949 the Los Angeles County Board of
Supervisors initiated a second memorial. It was a wall, waterfall
and flagpole with sculptured reliefs on Hill Street at the base
of the administration buildings of the Los Angeles City Board
of Education. The 400-foot long, 45-foot high memorial with an
80-foot long waterfall was dedicated on July 3, 1958. Mrs. Norman
Chandler, Mrs. Moses Cozzens Davis, Mrs. Daniel H. McAllister,
the Los Angeles Governments, the Church of Jesus Christ of Later
Day Saints and the Sons and Daughters of Utah Pioneers supported
the project. Today, 2003, the Fort Moore Memorial is a derelict,
abandoned by the City of Los Angeles and the home of homeless
References: Old Fort Moore
by J. M. Guinn, pg. 141, Annual Publication of the Historical
Society of Southern California and Pioneer Register, Los Angeles,
1898; Portrait of Captain Benjamin Davies Moore, pg. 4; A Flag
Staff and Flag for Fort Moore, pg. 5, Evening Express; Flag Raising
on Site of Fort Moore, pg. 6, Daily Times; Fort Moore by J. M.
Guinn, pg. 7; Captain Benjamin Davies Moore by M. J. Moore, pg.
10; all articles appeared in Publications of the Historical Society
of Southern California, Volume VI, 1903, Los Angeles, California;
Fort Moore Hill Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow, Los Angeles Times,
April 1, 1934; The Mormon Battalion and the Winning of California,
pg. 5, The Pioneer Vol. 5 No. 7, Winter Edition 1953, Official
Organ of The National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, Salt
Lake City, Utah; Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial, Dedication Ceremonies,
July 3, 1958; The City Then and Now , L.A. Scene, Los Angeles
Times, November 9, 1992.
The Fort Moore Memorial to
the California Pioneers dedicated on July 3, 1958. The wall is
400 feet long and 45 feet high. The waterfall is 80 feet wide.
The memorial is located on the west side of Hill Street north
of the Hollywood Freeway and below the Administration Building
of the Los Angeles City Board of Education in 1958. Photograph
from the Dedication Pamphlet.
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