THE WORKS OF HUBERT HOWE BANCROFT - VOLUME XIX
HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA
MORAGA'S FIGHT AT SUISUN
The Indians were somewhat more troublesome in 1810 than they had been before, both in the north and south; and Alferéz Moraga, preeminently the Indian-fighter of the time, was kept very busy in the Spanish acceptation of the term. In May he was sent with seventeen men to punish the gentiles of the Sespesuya rancheria who lived across the bay from San Francisco, apparently near the strait of Carquines in the region of Suisun, and who for several years had committed depredations, killing sixteen neophytes from San Francisco. The Spaniards crossed the strait in a boat and after a hard fight with one hundred and twenty pagans, captured eighteen of the number, who were released as they were almost sure to die of their wounds. The survivors retired to their huts and made a brave resistance, wounding two corporals and two soldiers. The occupants of two of the three huts were defeated and all killed; but when the other hut was set on fire with a view to drive out the occupants they bravely preferred to perish in the flames. Arrillaga having sent an account of this brilliant affair to Mexico, and the viceroy having transmitted it to Spain, there came back a royal order expressing the satisfaction of the council of regency, in the king's name, at the glorious action of May 22, 1810. By the terms of this order Moraga was promoted to a brevet lieutenancy. Corporals Herrera and Francisco Soto, wounded, were made sergeants; the wounded soldiers, Antonio Briones and Ventura Zuniga, were given a slight increase of pay, while the others who shared in the action were rewarded with the thanks of the nation.24
24 June 28, 1810, Arrillaga's report to viceroy. Prov. Rec, MS., ix. 122-3. Nov. 12, 1811, viceroy to gov., enclosing royal order of Aug. 19th. Prov. St. Pap., MS., xix. 314. June 26, 1812, governor to Com. Estudillo, transmitting viceroy's communication. Prov. Rec. MS., xi. 222-3. Vallejo, Hist. Cal., MS., i. 131-5, in describing a fight in the same region by José Sanchez in 1817 against the Suisunes under chief Malaca, states that the Indians set fire to thie huts and temescales in which they had taken refuge, and perished in the flames. It is possible that the author has confounded two different battles. Alvarado, Hist. Cal., MS., i. 69-70, makes the date 1817, but puts Gabriel Moraga in command, and says that Samyetoy, afterward known as Solano, was captured on this occasion.
Historia de California (1876) by Juan Bautista Alvarado (Governor of California)
Manuscripts for both of the above sources are in the collection of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley
HISTORY OF SOLANO COUNTY
J. P. Munro Fraser, Historian.
DERIVATION OF NAME OF COUNTY
The origin of the name of the county is thus described in a report to the Legislature of California, in the year 1850, by General M. G. Vallejo, on the derivation and definition of the various counties of the State. He thus alludes to SOLANO: "This is the second name of the celebrated missionary, Francis Solano, and was borne by the great chief of the tribes originally denominated Suisuns, and scattered over the western side of the river Jesus Maria, now Sacramento. The residence of this chief was the valley of the Suisun, which is bounded by the hill near Suscol. Before receiving the baptismal name of Solano, the chief was called Sem-Yeto, which signifies the brave, or fierce hand. In 1817 a military expedition (under command of Lieutenant Jose Sanchez, and by order of the commandant of San Francisco Jose Arguello), crossed the straits of Carquinez (on rafts made of rushes, as there were no regular ferries in those days), for the double purpose of exploring the country and reducing it to Christianity. On crossing the river they were attacked by the Suisun tribe, then headed by their chief, Malica, who caused them considerable loss. The Indians fought bravely and to the utmost extreme, but they were in turn attacked with such force and perseverance as to oblige them to retreat to their rancheria (somewhere in the present Suisun valley), where, being still hotly pursued and believing their fate sealed, these unfortunate people, incited by their chief, set fire to their rush-built houses and perished in the flames with their families. The soldiers endeavored to stay their desperate resolution, in order to save the women and children; but even those preferred this doom to that which awaited them from the hands of their enemies. Thus perished the chief, and thus was the hearth and the home of his people destroyed."
THE SETTLEMENT OF SOLANO COUNTY
In the old days, long ago, somewhere in the year 1817, as has been shown in another part of this work, Jose Sanchez, then a Lieutenant in the Spanish Army, was despatched with a small force to subjugate the Suisun tribe of Indians, an expedition which was attended with but little loss on one side, and sad havoc on the other. As time dragged out its weary course, but little was gained; the aboriginals were coerced into the service of their taskmasters, and without doubt endured many a torture of mind and body, when brought under the yoke of the Mexican Government. It is not for a moment to be imagined that, though the savages were driven into bondage, they suffered all the distress supposed to be a part and parcel of their thraldom; this is not the case; for General Vallejo, who had the lands of Suscol granted to him, held as lenient a sway over his aboriginal vassals as was possible under the circumstances; and, indeed, was the first to prove the soothing influences of even a partial civilization; yet, these people have now vanished, whither it is impossible to trace; the advent of a dominant race was more than they could cope with; hence, they are nowhere to be found; and it is only at distances, few and far between, that traces of their former locations are to be discovered. It is believed that those who inhabited the valleys with which we have especially to deal, were thinned by the hostilities in which they were engaged with the Spaniards, materially aided by a decimating scourge of small-pox that carried off numbers of the half-fed and ill-clothed savages. This epidemic broke out in the year 1839, and such was the devastation which ensued that almost an entire race was shipwrecked, leaving but few survivors of the catastrophe. They died so rapidly that the usual funeral rites were abandoned: huge pits were dug, and the pestilential corpses placed therein by twenties while they were covered up, when filled, with a rude mound of earth; many of them forsook the land of their birth, now become accursed on account of the presence of the odious intruder; their wives and daughters, by the maltreatment received at the hands of these half-civilized soldiers from the Spanish Main, had ceased to bear children, and thus they drifted out of ken, until now they are a thing of the past, their presence in Solano County being at, best but a memory which only lingers in the mind of the early pioneer.