Las Flores Asistencia

Now I don’t know about you all, but I thought whole anecdote about Michael White telling off José Sepúlveda  was a little… I don’t know… truncated. Seems to me, ol’ Michael wasn’t telling it all. Turns out I was right. When he told Sepúlveda that he wasn’t a citizen of revolutions, he wasn’t just telling him to man up and settle his own stupid problems, he was also implying that José Alvarado might not represent legitimate authority anyway. You sure don’t get that on the first read.


So going back into research mode, this is what Miguel didn’t say about the rest of the week (and possibly the chain of events that led to him being stuck in a flooded house in Compton:  

An article “Las Flores “from the Journal of San Diego History by Edgar W. Hebert (taken from H.D. Bancroft) has this to say about the battle Michael White took a pass on:

On June 6, 1837, Carlos Antonio Carrillo was appointed provisional governor of California. He took the post of Juan Bautista Alvarado, who had usurped the government. Alvarado would not acknowledge Carrillo as governor and fighting was inevitable.

The "armies" of each side were never much larger than 200 men, Alvarado's forces being slightly larger than Carrillo's. The latter retired to Las Flores, using an adobe building as a barracks and a corral as a fort, mounting three cannon. The gunners were protected by piles of hides, pack saddles and whatever else could be found. Juan Bandini and Jose Antonio Carrillo (the governor's brother) as well as the governor himself, seem to have been present at the "fort", as were Manuel Requenu, Juan Ibaria and other important men from Los Angeles.

Ignacio Ezquer, who was temporarily in charge of Mission San Juan Capistrano, (the real administrator, Francisco Sepulveda, had gone south to join the southern army) said that one evening a small party under the command of Jose Antonio Carrillo came to the mission and inquired about Castro (Alvarado's commander) and his men. Carrillo and his group had first planned to stay at the mission, but withdrew to an arroyo to spend the night there. Apparently well supplied with liquid refreshment, they fell asleep but were aroused at midnight by the arrival of Castro's army.

The newcomers fired a cannon toward the fort. Alvarado had seen horses tied in that direction and felt the foe must be at hand. Salvador Vallejo was sent forward to occupy San Juan Capistrano Mission; he obtained a capitulation, threatening to hang anyone who did not instantly surrender.

At about the same time, Carrillo occupied Las Flores, and on April 21, 1838, the northern army appeared. The "combat" which ensued was of the comic opera type. A cannon was fired several times, but no damage was caused, and finally a flag of truce was sent, although by which side this was done is not clear. Surrender was not mentioned, only an interview, and not one, but several interviews were held.

The rival governors and their representatives met at Las Flores, a midpoint between the two "armies," and on April 23 a treaty was signed. The power of government remained with Alvarado; Carrillo disbanded his troops and was paroled to his wife and, following the negotiations, a barbecue took place. Alvarado boasted in a dispatch to Vallejo and others in the north that he had won a smashing victory over Don Carlos, who had offered nothing of sound value to the people of California.

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, Volume 111, (San Francisco, 1885) p. 559


And some other information about Las Flores Asistencia, where all this action went down (It’s now just some old adobe ruins, so I’m gonna have to check it out) That picture shows what it was like in the 1850s:



The site was developed in 1823 by Padre Antonio Peyri and served Mission San Luis Rey de Francia as well as travelers along El Camino Real.


April 1838. The Las Flores location is most famous for the "battle" between Juan Bautista Alvarado and Carlos Antonio Carrillo. At stake was the governorship of California (the battle was a single cannon shot and Alvarado continued as governor).


After secularization, the Las Flores property (along with Mission San Luis Rey property) was assimilated into Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores; the biggest in California at some 200 square miles in size. The rancho was given to Pio de Jesus Píco and his brother as one of Pio Píco's land deals.


1864. The rancho was sold to a Píco brother-in-law, Englishman Juan (John) Forster. Forster developed the area and even attempted to start a new city (Forster City) in the area. This attempt failed.


When Forster died the rancho was taken over by James Flood via Richard O'Neill (Flood rented the rancho back to O'Neill).


1888. O'Neill rented the Las Flores adobe to a family named Magee. They remained on the property until 1968 when the last of the family died.


1942. The Marines took over the rancho and its properties for Camp Pendleton. O'Neill's son Jerome was managing the property at the time. (Side Note: The main house for the rancho is now used as quarters by the commander of Camp Pendleton.)



The remains of the asistencia is on the grounds of Camp Pendleton Marine Base. The basic location of the asistencia has been turned over to the Boy Scouts; what little is left sits on a hill at the back of the Boy Scout area. Take the Las Pulgas Road exit from I5 and enter Camp Pendleton through the Las Pulgas gate (no guarantee–security may not allow civilian entry to the base). Proceed to the first intersection; turn right and just ahead at the bottom of the hill is the Boy Scount camp on the right (a total of about 0.6 miles from the gate). Turn right into the camp and drive (slowly!) through the area and straight across a small (usually dry) stream. Ahead of you at the top of the hill stands the fenced-in remains of the assistencia along with the California landmark sign. GPS 33°17'44"N 117°27'53"W.


And for the official plaque: Las Flores (San Pedro) Asistencia


From 1823 to the 1840's the tile-roofed adobe chapel and hostel at Las Flores, built by Father Antonio Peyri, served as the asistencia to Mission San Luis Rey and provided comfort to travelers on El Camino Real. The adobe structure and adjacent corral were the site of the April 1838 battle between Juan Bautista Alvarado and Carlos Antonio Carrillo contesting the provincial governorship of Alta California.


California Registered Historical Landmark No. 616


Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps and Squibob Chapter, E. Clampus Vitus. September 17, 1983


Michael White in 1838

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~ by ravenjake on January 8, 2010.

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