220. El Castillo, Defender of Old Monterey

El Castillo, Defender of Old Monterey Located on a hill overlooking Monterey Bay is the site of El Castillo, an old adobe and stone fortification first built in 1792. Today there are no visible remains of the fort. El Castillo began as a crude stockade of logs and earth. Inside the "V" shape of its walls was a stone walkway connecting a soldiers' barracks, a powder magazine, and an adobe brick platform mounting eleven cannons (each one named for a saint). In 1815, Peter Corney stopped in Monterey to spy on the military defenses. His intel proved valuable to Argentine revolutionary Hippolito de Bouchard, who was planning to attack Monterey. Then in 1817, Governor Sola, aware of the impending attack by Captain Bouchard, reinforced the fort with masonry. In 1818, Bouchard's overwhelming force of 400 men led the Governor to abandon Monterey and its fortress battery which Bouchard attempted to burn. The fort was repaired and improved after Bouchard's raid. Only five years later, Mexico declared its liberation from Spain, and Mexico assumed control of Alta California and its capital at Monterey. In 1842, American Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones mistakenly believed that war had broken out between Mexico and the United States. The Commodore, who was in charge of the Pacific Squadron, had standing orders to take the capital of California in the event of such a war. Jones rushed his squadron from Peru to Monterey where his landing party boldly attacked El Castillo with its nine manned cannons. The cannons were ineffective, as they lacked sufficient ammunition. The victorious Americans then marched through Monterey with a band playing an American patriotic song and raised the American flag. When Monterey resident Thomas Larkin, the most prominent American in California, finally convinced him that the United States was not at war, Jones apologized. Pleasantries were exchanged, ceremonies performed, and an embarrassed Commodore Jones sailed quietly away. Four years later the United States did declare war on Mexico, but by then El Castillo had been completely abandoned. It posed little threat to the Americans who raised the flag over Monterey's Custom House in 1846.