230. Site of Bouchard's Attack

Site of Hipólito de Bouchard's Attack On November 20, 1818, Capitan Hipólito de Bouchard planned to attack Monterey, the capital of Alta California. Why? Bouchard was a French-born commander for the new republic of Argentina who saw himself as a patriotic leader of revolutionary forces. His goal was to inspire provinces to rebel against the tyranny of Spain and to declare their independence. In 1818 he had his sights set on Monterey. Bouchard was a charismatic, tough, unrelenting military commander. While some saw him as a pirate, he was actually a privateer working for Argentina. Today he is regarded as a hero in that country. He commanded a multi-national force of Argentine, Peruvian, English, Irish, and Hawaiian sailors. Bouchard failed to convince the governor of California and the people of Monterey to join him in his revolution. Even so, he attacked El Castillo, the fortress protecting Monterey and its harbor from invasion. On November 21, one of his ships fired on El Castillo and a battery near the Custom House. The Spanish soldiers returned fire, critically damaging one of Bouchard's ships, the San Antonio. From another ship, Bouchard dispatched his forces in an amphibious landing to overtake El Castillo from the rear. When the Spanish residents fled inland to the Salinas Valley, Bouchard occupied Monterey and raised the Argentine flag. Frustrated that the people did not join his cause and that no-one would surrender, he burned the Presidio of Monterey, wrecked the battery at El Castillo, and after a mere six-day occupation sailed away. It was the first and only land-to-sea battle on the Pacific Coast of what would later become the United States of America.