Michael White on the Battle of Santa Barbara

Michael White's oral history continues: In 1829, I was in Santa Barbara when the revolted troops of Monterey and San Francisco, under Joaquin Solis, were expected to come and attack the place. I was engaged in building a schooner at a place called Malcasquetan (it was afterward called la Goleta, in consequence of the building of the Schooner there),[There’s some confusion of names at this point. The area now known as Goleta, was first called Mescaltitlán by the Portola expedition of 1769 after a similar land feature – an island off the coast – in the province of Nayarit, Mexico. The ship White was building was was unnamed and she wasn’t completed. The point was then renamed la Goleta, which means “schooner” because that is where they were building one]  when I was sent for by Capt. José de la Guerra y Noriega, who told me to guard his house with the 18 men I had under my superintendence constructing the vessel for him.

He ordered me that if any one came I was to cry out three times Quie´n Vive? [Who goes there?] and if no satisfactory answer was returned to the third call, I was to fire. My men all got drunk and he told me I had better stand the first sentry. I told him “all right,” but I thought to myself that I had never walked with a musket on my shoulder.

I had a good old-fashioned fowling piece. In the night I saw the old Captain go out to pass water, and as he was coming I cocked my gun, and hallooed out, “Quie´n vive tres veces!” [“Who goes there three times!”] I was not going to bother giving “quie´n vive, quie´n vive, quie´n vive!” He cried out, “yo, yo, picaro, tu esta´s ma´s borracho que los otros; anda a dormer,” [“I, you rascal; you are drunker than the others; go to sleep!”] which was precisely what I wanted, and did go to sleep. The next day he asked me if I would have shot him—[and I] answered “yes,” laughing, and pretended that I had not understood him as to the manner of giving the Quie´n vive three times.

His wife and I had a real good laugh at the old Captain's expense. The good old man, I hope he is in heaven, for he deserved it. Every time I went to his house, he would cry out to his wife, “Get out the money, Michael wants plata [silver].” I would say “No, I have come for provisions,” but he would insist that I should have some money–this was his way, invariably.

The Commandante General Echeandia was there; the Commandante of the place was Don Romualdo Pacheco, father of ex-Governor and member of Congress Pacheco. The revolutionists fired several cannon shot at the presidio—they had possession of the mission, but they dissolved themselves and went back to Monterey. I don't know the particulars of that affair, except that the revolution was put down, the chief leaders captured and sent to Mexico.

[Actually, nothing much happened to Joaquin Solis. He was sent to Mexico, but he wasn’t executed – maybe they thought he had a fair point. Anyway, nobody got killed in the Battle of Santa Barbara and Commandante General Echeandia was replaced not too long after that.]

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~ by ravenjake on January 1, 2010.

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