Michael White on his Imprisonment

Following the Battle of Chino, Michael White / Miguel Blanco was taken prisoner. Here’s how it went from there:

After being exchanged, I was told by Gillespie I might come home or go to San Diego. I replied that I would not go to San Diego. I came home and the Mexican authorities reduced me to prison again. I acknowledge that I was in a very bad position for I was a Mexican citizen caught with arms in my hands fighting against Mexico, and the authorities might have shot me had they chosen to do so, and I would have deserved it, at least for my folly in having listened to Williams.

Myself and other prisoners were held in durance at Los Angeles till a few days before the battle of San Gabriel. We were not particularly well treated during our imprisonment. All that was allowed in was a little food, nothing else, not even a blanket to lie on. My own blanket had been taken by the Californians at the Chino.


Whilst I was in the prison (which was where the Bella Union now is joining the Arcadia block) we got our food from Luis Arenas, who was afterwards paid for it. None of us (except Batchelder) were allowed to go out. Batchelder Picayune was a sort of clown, who could perform all sorts of antics and make queer remarks, which caused the Californian guard to laugh.

In this way he had their good will, and he was allowed to go out, bring in liquor, etc., of course, always accompanied by a soldier. For this he used to tell me that he had never been so much waited on, and taken care of since he was a child.

During our imprisonment we were, at one time, in peril of being sent to Mexico. The military authorities had already prepared the handcuffs to put on our wrists. They wanted Andres Pico to take us in, but he refused, saying that if we were sent to Mexico, Commodore Stockton and

other American authorities would send them to Cape Horn.

Mr. Workman broke up the scheme in conjunction with José Antonio Carrillo, Ignacio Palomares and Ricardo Véjar. At the time we were confined in the Chino ranch having the whole of it for our jail.

One morning I was walking with William Cottrell, when I saw some Mexicans ride up to the Chino house. I told Cottrell, "We are prisoners again." Said he, "You are a witch." I replied, "Witch or no witch, you will see that we are prisoners."

As soon as we sat down to get our breakfasts, we saw two guards, one on each side of the door. That night they put us all on horseback, and brought us away up here, and put us in a corn crib. We had plenty of corn there.

In the evening of the next day, Workman, Palomares and Ricardo Véjar came, freed us from there, killed a bullock and gave us something to eat. They took Rowland to his ranch. I and Cottrell went back on foot to the Chino.

The same evening Williams, the owner of the ranch said, "You have no blanket." I said that I had not. He then told me that he had plenty, and if I would promise to pay him, he would let me have one. I promised to do so, and asked him to fetch another for my partner. I was then well informed about his treachery.

If there was some sort of prize for jerk of the year, Isaac Williams surely earned it. Selling a man back his own blanket after all that? It’s just plain embarrassing! By the way, another Williams daughter ended up marrying one of John Rowland’s sons. I don’t know if Francisco Rowland was John Rowland’s boy (they had 10 kids or so), but it would be interesting to find out.

Now I find this whole thing somewhat puzzling. For starters if Michael White had been used in a prisoner exchange for the release of Andres Pico, then how could he be a “deserter” for not hanging out until the next time Gillespie wanted to use him for something? What kind of “Indian Giver” nonsense is that? 

Secondly, why does our boy, Michael White, keep going back to Chino? Dude, I’m pretty sure no good will come of that! Now, as noted before, San Gabriel to Chino is a pretty long haul, and maybe he thought he’d wait ‘til he got a ride. Maybe he thought it would be safer to hang out there until the war was over, instead of taking his chances on the open road. Either way, we got the “what” but not the “why.”

Another thing that perplexes me is the question of who was at the Battle of Chino. Michael White implied that Wilson showed up with 18 guys and in total there were about 23 all up. There are 32 on this list which are the names that Michael White recalled, Gillespie’s list of prisoners and Fred B. Roger’s roster. So there are some discrepancies that otta be explained.

Apparently everyone at the battle surrendered, but some were used in the prisoner exchange and some were not. I don’t know if William Skene (who suffered the privy part-ectomy) lived, or why the big landowners – David Alexander, the Rowlands, Louis Robidoux, and most importantly commanding officer Benjamin Wilson, went free when Michael White was left locked up in a corn crib. What’s up with that?

Let’s see who else was on the American side at the battle of Chino:

Michael White’s List

Gillespie’s List of Prisoners

Fred B. Rogers’ Roster







David Alexander



Anton the Cook


Lewis A. (Antoine?)

Isaac Batchelder (Picayune)





Frederick Batchelor, (another one from the Rowland-Workman expedition)



E. Bertran


Thomas Canwell


 Callahan (wounded)

Evan. Callahan

Edward Callahan (Sgt.)



Isaac Callahan (Are these guys the Callaghans or the Callahans? And were they at Cahuenga?)


Lemuel Carpenter


Edward Cottrell (sailor)



William Cottrell (sailor)




J. Dobson

Neeley Dobson



Manuel Espinosa

Godey (Creole from Mo – wounded)





Longe Guerra



James M. (Matt) Harbin


Charles Johnson



N. Lorring




Edward Malloy



Alexander Martineau


John Bapista [probably Juan Bautista Mutrel]


Joseph Perdue (Creole from Mo)

Joseph Perdue (wounded)

Joseph Perdue (Orderly Sgt.)


Francisco Roland

Francisco Rolan or Roland

John Rowland


John Rowland

Louis Robidoux




Isaac Slover

Isaac Slover

William Skene (wounded)

William Skene



Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith




George Walters


George Watter

Michael White

Michael White

Michael White

Benjamin D. Wilson


Benjamin D. Wilson


The Glen Dawson notes: According to Gillespie, White deserted, apparently during Gillespie's withdrawal from Los Angeles to San Pedro. The following is "List of Prisoners received in exchange" by Gillespie, September 30, 1846. Most, if not all of these men were captured at Chino Ranch: (1) Lemuel Carpenter; (2) Evan. Callahan; (3) Isaac Slover; (4) Thomas Smith; (5) Thomas Canwell; (6) John Bapista [probably Juan Bautista Mutrel]; (7) Michael White, deserted on the march; (8) N. Lorring; (9) Joseph Perdue (wounded); (10) Charles Johnson; (11) Francisco Roland; (12) J. Dobson. (Gillespie Papers, Ms. No. 93, University of California Library, Los Angeles.)

According to “Rosters of California Volunteers in the Service of the United States, 1846-1847,” by Fred B. Rogers, in Publication for 1950, Society of California Pioneers, Lieutenant Benjamin D. Wilson's Company E, California Battalion, consisted of: Frederick Batchelor, (another one from the Rowland-Workman expedition) E. Bertran, Edward Callahan (Sgt.), Isaac Callahan, Neeley Dobson, Manuel Espinosa, Longe Guerra, James M. Harbin, Edward Malloy, Alexander Martineau, Joseph Perdue (Orderly Sgt.), Francisco Rolan or Roland, John Roland, Isaac Slover, Thomas Smith, Lewis A. (Antoine?) Valois, George Watter, Michael White (Miguel Blanco), Benjamin D. Wilson (1st Lt. Comdg. Co.). Presumably most of these men were at Chino.

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~ by ravenjake on February 7, 2010.

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