about 2,500 or 3,000 miners. These men proposed that we organize and
resist, forming an army. To us and to other Frenchmen were offered the
rank of officers in this army. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, we
knew our men; at the first serious clash they might even desert and
turn against us. So we declined.
this time on our lives were no longer safe at the placers. Day after
day reports came in not of one death but of three or four murders
committed either by Mexicans or Americans. The only difference lay in
the method used by the murderer. The Americans would come over to the
edge of the diggings and, without any discussion, kill a miner with
their pistols. Then, should one miner attempt to come to the aid of his
comrade, he too would be killed with a shot.
Mexican, on the contrary—and nearly all the Mexicans were from the
province of Sonora—would approach in a friendly manner chat, ask news
of the diggings and, with a blow from his knife, kill the very man with
whom he had been chatting.* Two of our fellow-countrymen were killed in
this manner, but by Americans. Two Mexicans, even made an attempt on
us; but we came off victorious, killing both.
aware that the outcome would undoubtedly be a massacre in which we
should probably be the losers, we sent messengers to Mormon Bar,
Murphy's Camp, Jamestown and Jacksonville to call the French to our
assistance. The following day 350 Frenchmen came over with knapsacks on
their backs, fully armed.
Americans on their part had issued an appeal to their countrymen, and
received reinforcements of one hundred men who came in from neighboring
placers. Toward eight o'clock in the evening the French reinforcements
made us fully aware of their protection by pitching camp between two
mountains which commanded the trail. We also armed and, abandoning our
diggings, went to join these arrivals. A few Americans, more honest
than the others, took sides against their fellow-countrymen and came
over to our camp. Two hundred Mexicans had followed us, the rest,
realizing that a clash was imminent, had vanished.
now took up positions on the crest of the two mountains that commanded
the trail. Our 350 compatriots remained on horseback
The name Sonora was given by the Sonora diggers who originally camped
at this point. By 1849 it was the largest and gayest camp in
California, having a population of 5,0000.