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General Manuel Castro Obit

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General Manuel Castro Obit

Posted: 1092487778000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Castro, Sloat, Pico, Micheltorena, Fremont, Torres, Hartnell,
Newspaper Abstracts
Salinas Weekly Index
April 30, 1891
Salinas, Monterey, California

Died -- CASTRO -- in Castroville, April 25, 1891, General Manuel CASTRO, aged 69 years, 4 months, 1 day. [see story below]

**General M. CASTRO --
The death of General CASTRO [several words illeg] to the history of California. In the annals of [illeg] prior to acquisition by the United States, the name of CASTRO stands forth prominently in a variety of judicial, [2 lines illeg] …group of families, doubtless the most numerous in California. The grandfather of Manuel CASTRO came from Sinalos, Mexico, in 1778, and left a numerous family. One of his grandsons, General Jose CASTRO, was military commandant of Monterey at the time of Commodore SLOAT’s occupation of the place in 1846, although absent on military duty in another part of the State at the time.
The subject of this sketch was born in 1821, on the ranch where Castroville now stands, and at the age of 18 was Secretary of Monterey. In 1842-3 he was Secretary of the Prefecture of Monterey. He was one of the prime movers in the revolt against Governor MICHELTORENA, which led to the expulsion of that official. He was captured and exchanged during those troubles, and at the close was appointed a commissioner to make the treaty under which MICHELTORENA relinquished the position and Pio PICO became Governor of California. In 1845, at the age of 24, he was appointed by Governor PICO Prefect of Monterey. His authority was brought in question on the ground that he was not of the age required for the position, but the stirring scenes of the times soon adjourned all questions of jurisdiction. He was Lieutenant of the Monterey company and a warm partisan against his cousin, General Jose CASTRO, in the troubles with Governor Pio PICO.
In 1846 he was promoted to the position of Captain, and in the absence of General CASTRO was the senior officer at the time FREMONT visited Monterey in the spring of 1846. FREMONT obtained permission of Captain CASTRO to rest his men and animals, which were then in the region of what is now Kern county, preparatory to starting on his march to Oregon. There were then rumors of an impending war between Mexico and the United States, and as FREMONT, instead of going toward Oregon, brought his men through Pacheco pass and into Salinas valley, making camp on March 3, 1846, at HARTNELL’s ranch on the Alisal, Captain CASTRO very properly construed these movements into an insult to the authority of the Mexican Government and ordered him outside of the department. FREMONT returned an insulting answer, and CASTRO gathered a force to try conclusions with FREMONT’s men. Being apprised of these movements FREMONT retreated and made a fortified camp on Gabilan peak. CASTRO’s forces surrounded the camp, but FREMONT retired with his force on the night of the 9th, and proceeded to San Joaquin valley and on toward Oregon, being overtaken by a courier at Klamath with news of the commencement of hostilities and returning in May.
Shortly after SLOAT’s occupation of Monterey, Captain Manuel CASTRO, who had been north with a force to put down the Bear Flag revolt, returned to Monterey and was paroled by the United States officers. But he was in thorough sympathy with the Mexican Government, and when TORRES raised the standard to recruit a force to hold the interior of the State for Mexico and confine the United States occupation to the seaboard, Manuel CASTRO broke his parole and joined the insurgents. He was made commander of the northern division of California, with headquarters at San Luis Obispo. Gathering a force of about 125 men he proceeded north for the purpose of capturing a force of United States troops at San Juan and replenishing the Mexican stock of ammunition, which was about exhausted. On October 16, 1846, occurred the famous battle of Natividad, in which about 125 native Californians engaged about 50 United States troops. Some 5 or 6 were killed on both sides. The Californians retired at night in view of the utter hopelessness of contending with inferior arms and no ammunition against a force thoroughly equipped with all the sinews of war. CASTRO and his little force retreated south, and on January 11, 1847, occurred the battle of San Gabriel, on the road leading to Los Angeles. The native Californians were completely routed, and Captain Manuel CASTRO fled to Mexico, where he resided until 1852, when he returned to San Francisco, at which place and Oakland he has resided ever since. Before he left Mexico he had attained the rank of Colonel and was General by brevet. He was in command of Lower California in 1849.
In point of ability General Manuel de Jesus CASTRO was perhaps the peer of any of the names in California, and if his lot had fallen in other times would undoubtedly have stood out a prominent figure in the affairs of this State. He possessed a quality that cannot fail to command our admiration -- a love for the country of his birth, its institutions and the people of his own nationality. His feelings were so pronounced upon this subject that he never renounced his allegiance to Mexico to become a citizen of the United States. His opposition to the obvious destiny that was bearing California to the United States amounted to bravery bordering on rashness. He was never married. His valuable contributions to a preservation of the fragments of history of early California in several volumes have endeared him to the people of the whole State.

(Submitted by Dee Sardoch © Copyright 1999-2004,

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