Less than a week earlier, on the 8th and 9th of January, 1847, Mexican militia forces, under the command of Jose Maria Flores, twice failed to stop an advance on Los Angeles by U.S. forces marching from San Diego (see story). On January 10, American troops occupied the City of Los Angeles. What remained of beaten Mexican forces retreated to an encampment in what is now Pasadena. Meanwhile, another American force, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John C. Fremont, had marched into the area from the north and occupied the Mission San Fernando. Mexican General Flores, seeing the military situation as hopeless, decided to flee south to unoccupied Mexico after turning over command to his deputy Andres Pico. Colonel Fremont dispatched Jesus Pico, a man of some influence in the Mexican community, to persuade the Mexican force to surrender. With Flores still present, the Mexican commanders decided to follow the advice of Jesus Pico. On January 12, as Flores headed south, representatives from the Mexican camp returned with Jesus Pico to meet with Fremont and determine the terms for a capitulation. On January 13, 1847, Andres Pico, as newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of Mexican Forces in California, met with Fremont at a Cahuenga Pass ranch house and formally signed the Articles of Capitulation.
The following text is taken verbatim from Colonel John C. Fremont’s memoirs:
To All Who These Presents Shall Come, Greeting: Know Ye, that in consequence of propositions of peace, or cessation of hostilities, being submitted to me, as Commandant of the California Battalion of the United States forces, which have so far been acceded to by me as to cause me to appoint a board of commissioners to confer with a similar board appointed by the Californians, and it requiring a little time to close the negotiations; it is agreed upon and ordered by me that an entire cessation of hostilities shall take place until to-morrow afternoon (January 13), and that the said Californians be permitted to bring in their wounded to the mission of San Fernando, where, also, if they choose, they can move their camp to facilitate said negotiations.
Given under my hand and seal this 12th day of January, 1847.
and Military Commandant of California.
ARTICLES OF CAPITULATION made and entered into at the Rancho of Couenga, this thirteenth day of January, Anno Domini, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, between P.B. Reading, Major; Louis Mclane, Jr., Commanding Artillery; Wm. H. Russell, Ordnance Officer; commissioners appointed by J.C. Fremont, Lieutenant-Colonel United States Army and Military Commandant of the territory of California; and Jose Antonio Carrillo, Commandante de Esquadron, Agustin Olivera, Diputado, commissioners appointed by Don Andres Pico, Commander-in-Chief of the California forces under the Mexican flag.
ARTICLE I.--The Commissioners on the part of the Californians agree that their entire force shall, on presentation of themselves to Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont, deliver up their artillery and public arms, and they shall return peaceably to their homes, conforming to the laws and regulations of the United States, and not again take up arms during the war between the United States and Mexico, but will assist in placing the country in a state of peace and tranquillity.
ART. II.--The Commissioners on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Fremont agree to and bind themselves on the fulfillment of the first article by the Californians, that they shall be guaranteed protection of life and property, whether on parole or otherwise.
ART. III--That until a treaty of peace be made and signed between the United States of North American and the Republic of Mexico, no Californian or other Mexican citizen shall be bound to take the oath of allegiance.
ART. IV.--That any Californian or other citizen of Mexico desiring, is permitted by this capitulation to leave the country without let or hindrance.
ART. V--That in virtue of the aforesaid articles, equal rights and privileges are vouchsafed to every citizen of California as are enjoyed by the citizens of the United States of North America.
ART. VI--All officers, citizens, foreigners or others shall receive the protection guaranteed by the second article.
ART. VII.--This capitulation is intended to be no bar in effecting such arrangements as may in future be in justice required by both parties.
Major California Battalion
WM. H. RUSSELL
Ordnance Officer California Battalion
LOUIS MCLANE, JR.
Commanding Artillery, California Battalion
JOSE ANTONIO CARRILLO
Commandante de Esquadron
JOHN C. FREMONT
and Military Commandant of California
Commandante de Esquadron
y en Gife de las fuerzas Nationales en California
That the paroles of all officers, citizens and others of the United States, and of naturalized citizens of Mexico, are by this foregoing capitulation cancelled; and every condition of said paroles from and after this date are of no further force and effect; and all prisoners of both parties are hereby released.
(Signed as above.)
CIUDAD DE LOS ANGELES, January 16, 1847
Reenactment of the Signing of the Capitulation of Cahuenga
Each year in January, a live re-enactment of the historic event is held with cannon firing salutes, music, fiesta dancing, an arts and craft village and a historic re-enactors camp. The free event is at the original site at Campo de Cahuenga, 3919 Lankershim Blvd, Studio City.
1931 mural of the historic event by Hugo Ballin in Title Guarantee & Trust Building. Image courtesy of Dept. of Special Collections, Charles Young Library, UCLA.