Monday, August 6, 2007

Two Conflicting Stories of the Raising of the First American Flag in San Diego

STORY A - In November 1846, Albert B. Smith sneaked ashore to spike the guns at Fort Stockton, thus enabling the Americans to retake the town which they had previously conquered on July 29. At this time Smith and his future sister-in-law, Maríá Antonia Juliana Machado de Silvas, found themselves confronting each other over the battle fire. As she rushed from her home, the Casa de Machado de Silvas, to cut down the Mexican flag to save it from the Americans, Smith climbed the flagpole and nailed the American flag to it since she had made off with the halliards.

STORY B - In this emergency, Bidwell was sent to San Pedro with four men in a small boat to ask for reinforcements. He returned after a dangerous voyage and steps were immediately taken to recapture the town. It often happens that we worry most about things that never occur, and the refugees in the whale-ship worried about the fact that two of the old cannon lay at the Presidio, and that the Mexicans might mount them on ox-carts, bring them down to the shore, and bombard the ships. To render such a disaster impossible, Albert B. Smith was put ashore at La Playa, and succeeded in reaching Presidio Hill by a circuitous route. He found the guns, spiked them, and returned in safety. Relieved of anxiety on this score, and emboldened by Smith's exploit, Captain Merritt the next morning landed all his available force, together with the whalers and two cannon from the ships, and marched upon the town. The Mexican troopers were formed in battle array but soon gave way and ran off over the hills. The Mexican flag was hauled down by María Antonia Machado, who carried it off to save it from the Americans. Albert B. Smith then climbed the flagpole attached the new halyards and hauled up the American flag. Since that day, it has never been hauled down. The Mexicans shot at Smith during his daring feat, and he replied by waving his hat at them in defiance. He was not hit. and none of the Americans were wounded.

Born c. 1817, Long Island, New York

Albert kept a ledger on which he doodled some of the following information in 1850:
"Albert B. Smith, New York City. Oram County Long Island"
"Henary Smith, North Cortland St. New York City"
"Hettey Smith, Oram Long Island, New York"
"Samual Smith"
"John M. Smith"
"Mrs. Hetty Smith. Dear Mother, Long Island Orom Wiliams barge (?) is her rezadence yours most truly and affecionut son Albert B. Smith now living in old San Diego California"
"Hetty Smith Oram Long Island New York is ware my mother lives. I wish I was there with her today. I would be happy as a lord that I would. Albert B. Smith, New York City is where I belong."