The Famous Missions of California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 49 pages of information about The Famous Missions of California.
the ships, and one with the advance-detachment of the land-force, the second part of which was to include the president himself.  So far as the work of the missionaries was concerned their immediate purpose was to establish three settlements — one at San Diego, a second at Monterey, and a third on a site to be selected, about midway between the two, which was to be called San Buenaventura.  The two divisions of the land-force were under the leadership of Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada and Governor Portolà respectively.  The ships were to carry all the heavier portions of the camp equipage, provisions, household goods, vestments and sacred vessels; the land-parties were to take with them herds and flocks from Loreto.  The understanding was that whichever party first reached San Diego was to wait there twenty days for the rest, and in the event of their failure to arrive within that time, to push on to Monterey.

The sea-detachment of the general expedition — the “Seraphic and Apostolic Squadron,” as Palou calls it, was composed of three ships — the San Carlos, the San Antonio, and the San Joseph.  A list, fortunately preserved, gives all the persons on board the San Carlos, a vessel of about 200 tons only, and the flagship of Don Vicente Vila, the commander of the marine division.  They were as follows:  — the commander himself; a lieutenant in charge of a company of soldiers; a missionary; the captain, pilot and surgeon; twenty-five soldiers; the officers and crew of the ship, twenty-five in all; the baker, the cook and two assistants; and two blacksmiths:  total, sixty-two souls.  An inventory shows that the vessel was provisioned for eight months.

The San Carlos left La Paz on the 9th of January; the San Antonio on the 15th of February; the San Joseph on the 16th of June.  All the vessels met with heavy storms, and the San Carlos, being driven sadly out of her route, did not reach San Diego till twenty days after the San Antonio, though dispatched some five weeks earlier.  We shudder to read that of her crew but one sailor and the cook were left alive; the rest, along with many of the soldiers, having succumbed to the scurvy.  The San Antonio also lost eight of her crew from the same dreadful disease.  These little details serve better than any general description to give us an idea of the horrible conditions of Spanish seamanship in the middle of the eighteenth century.  As for the San Joseph, she never reached her destination at all, though where and how she met her fate remains one of the dark mysteries of the ocean.  Two small points in connection with her loss are perhaps sufficiently curious to merit notice.  In the first place, she was the only one of the ships that had no missionary on board; and secondly, she was called after the very saint who had been named special patron of the entire undertaking.

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The Famous Missions of California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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