Interlude : The Long Road Home to San Francisco

– added responses from John, Dave, Kevin, & Daniel


From James Carleton

Upgraded Opinion

  • Garrett Matthews (Kevin) : FRIENDLY
  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT
  • Jess Connor (Dave) : INDIFFERENT
  • Jane Wilson (Judi) : INDIFFERENT
  • Samuel Davis (Daniel) : FRIENDLY
    NOTE: Samuel & Garrett – You may “trade” your opinion upgrade for a written letter of recommendation from Carleton with official U.S. government seal. If you wish to do so, you must make this decision before the start of next session.

New Opinion

  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT

Saving your gear from the SS California

  • Sam Davis pays a Eagle to get the stevedores to unload your gear.

From Ned Beale

New Opinion

  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : INDIFFERENT

Attending the Democratic Fundraiser

  • NOTE: you must explicitly tell me that you attend the party before the next writeup is released, or you are not eligible for any rewards
  • Pick one of the ten “Rally Attendees” listed below. (default is Ned Beale). If you have no opinion with them, then you may now be INDIFFERENT or UNFRIENDLY (your choice). If you already have an opinion, then you can raise (or lower) that opinion one level.
  • Garrett Matthews (Kevin) : unknown
  • Gilbert Warfield (John) : unknown
  • Jess Connor (Dave) : unknown
  • Jane Wilson (Judi) : unknown
  • Samuel Davis (Daniel) : Raise J.J. Warner to FRIENDLY

“Better California, Better America” super-PAC county chairman

  • Let Ed know ASAP if you want to take up the offer to round-up votes for the 1858 Democratic ticket. Choice of county is first-come, first-served – it will be good money (at least one WL) if you take the work seriously.

- Nevada County : Gilbert Warfield
- Sacramento County : Jess Connor
- Placer County : Garrett Matthews
- San Francisco County : Samuel Davis


JOST’s Trip to San Francisco

Jost wants to keep his horse & mule – so he decides to make the long walk across the Sierra Nevada. Good news is that it is at least 100 miles shorter than heading back south and trying to catch up with the Concerned Citizens. Also probably safer than sneaking through Iron County and the Mohave Desert – looking to avoid vigilante Mormons and rabid Indians.

One hundred miles later, and he’s no longer so sure this was a good decision. Ten miles into a salt flat and already feeling thirsty. They told you it was only forty miles across the salt, but you would swear it was a thousand. After three days of blazing sun, you reach those far off grey dragon’s teeth hills – then thread between them, over the saddle pass, and head downhill into scrub land. “Follow the water” – always a good plan – picking up wet spots and dry creek beds, and eventually you find something that has to be the “Humboldt River”.

You follow it west then north then southwest – two weeks of complete isolation, but you have good quality watering holes and running water. Jackrabbits, coyote, and an occasional broken wagon wheel as your only companions. The wet gravel becomes a true creek with grass on both sides – then a true meadowland with good quality wild rye, jackrabbits and squirrels. There you find a semi-nomadic tribe of Paiutes living in teepees.

You head west again for another week. South of Pyramid Lake you need to rest up before hitting the mountains. You find a public house (inn/bar) at Truckee Meadows (present day Reno) and rest up for a few days. There you share drinks with mean-tempered prospector named Jimmy Finnley and his friend “Big John” Bishop. Over drinks they open up about their plans. They are looking at quartz footwalls over near Mt Davidson and claim to know “where that Gold Canyon ore came from”. [Not a strike you know about – must be pretty small] They offer to take you on for a half-share “since you don’t know nothing about mining, but you can keep us in vittles and stop the claim-jumpers”. You decline.

Over the Sierra Nevada another 150 miles on the trail (including a mile up and back down) – though it would have been only 100 if you were an eagle. You land where you started in Nevada City. This is the first place you could send a (reliable) message, but you decline since you would just be one or two days behind anyway.

One more very long, 12-hour day on the trail and you end in Marysville on the Feather River. You find the 3rd-nicest hotel in town and get a steam bath, a really nice meal and [insert whatever social & “companionship” activities appeal to Jost] . You rest up a day, then book passage on a riverboat for the trip to San Francisco.

Two days later you disembark from the SS Maria (Capt C. Mills) in San Francisco. First order of business, a boarding house that rents by the week with stable room for your horse & mule. Now settled down, you send a message to Sam Davis c/o American Hotel, Sacramento – that being the most likely place outside Frisco they might meet up at.


Concerned Citizens – Pt 1 : The road to San Diego

After the showdown in Zion Canyon, you decide you’ve done everything you can. You head back to Iron County, hoping to encounter a U.S. Army patrol before you find the militia, the sheriff or marauding Indians.

You get lucky and find your urchin “Fox” with a cavalry scout troop near the banks of the Virgin River. They escort to a newly constructed barricade outside St George. There are two score troopers along with a small supply train and two artillery crews with small-bore cannon for “suppression of Indian attacks”.

Carleton listens carefully to your reports, asking questions about the state of the site when you first arrived and looking carefully at the sketches of Mountain Meadows.

He becomes excited as your report turns to recent events – especially the insurrection that seems to be plotting in the northern part of the county. He also confirms there was a recent Indian raid against the Mormon depot at Fort Harmony.

After two hours, he thanks you for your good work as scouts and sober reporting – saying he’d be happy to hire you on as civilians any time. Then he suggests you should head out of Utah, as the next bit of business is “Army work, the bloody kind”.

Fox hired on as a scout and plans to stay with Carleton “at least for a while”. He tells you “I ain’t suppose to say, but I’m leaving tonight. Got a message for General Johnston. I think Carleton is gonna smash’em hard before them Mormons start up another rebellion”.

The next morning, you head out south – with 1LT Milton Carr as your escort/guide. Pleasant guy and about your age – but real ramrod straight military attitude. On the trail, he opens up about his family and military background. His great-grandfather served in the Backcountry Militia during the revolution, and was taken prisoner after the fall of Charleston. He was born in Virginia and graduated West Point in 1854. Served in the dragoons ever since – posted to Jefferson, Missouri where he saw action against the Apache. Then marched with his regiment to Mexico Territory in 56, where he worked on the ill-fated Calabazos Expedition. They came to California in 1857. Carr’s unit was split off for the Honey Lake Expedition (150 NE of Grass Valley along the California/Utah border) where he served as 2nd in command. He rejoined the regiment just in time for their redeployment to Ft Tejon in early 1858.

Trip back to San Bernardino is unremarkable. There you hit some disagreements – Carr’s orders are to head south to San Diego, grab transport, and then make to the Presidio at San Francisco Bay. Most of you would rather head directly north. He reminds you America is a democracy, but the army isn’t – so you go to San Diego. The “road” barely exists – it’s a hundred miles of deer path and bramble.


Concerned Citizens – Pt 2 : San Diego isn’t very impressive

San Diego is disappointing. You thought this would be a real city – but it is barely a town. Fewer than 1000 people, less than San Bernardino had before the Mormons left. Only the wharf and harbor facilities are at all unusual – seems that the fishing is good, or maybe just the smuggling. [NOTE: over the next two days, you will come to realize that San Diego has very little water, timber or arable land and no successful gold or silver strikes – the only assets the town possesses are an outstanding bay well-suited to world-class harbor, location on the El Camino Real, and convenience as a refueling and resupply stop for steamships plying the San Francisco / Panama route.]

The town is gearing up for a major political rally – and one of the speakers will be your patron, Ned Beale. Unfortunately your chaperone insists that you take the first available transport and head immediately to San Francisco. That means leaving right after dawn tomorrow on the outgoing tide.

Gilbert gears up into his best “smooth talking” mode – but Carr is unmoved. “Yep, it might be interesting, but we got orders. We leave on the morning tide”.

“Orders” are a poor excuse for the Concerned Citizens – Gilbert starts working on a scheme, drawing in the whole party into a complicated plot to give Carr a nasty “flu” that makes him bed ridden for a few days. Much to everyone’s surprise, it actually works! Carr is too sick to stand and barely conscious.

Everything is looking great – and folks with Animal Handling head down to the stables to check in on the horses. They are gone! Talking with the stable boy, you realize that Carr anticipated you might try to delay your departure – and arranged for your tack and animals to be loaded on the SS California overnight! Sam and Gilbert rush down to the docks – and after a loud argument involving tide and sailing conditions, and some significant bribes, the horses and tack are rescued and returned to the hotel.

The festival arrives, and much of the town has shown up for the event – or at least for the promise of free victuals and a show. “Supervisor Bean” opens up the festivities – not sure why he ain’t called the mayor because he definitely seems to be in charge.

Speeches are made by several major politicians running for office or re-election :
• Joshua Bean – City Supervisor
• A. S. Ensworth – State Rep, 1st District
• Cameron Erskine Thom – State Senator, 1st district (Los Angeles, San Bernardino & San Diego Co)
• John C. Burch – U.S. House of Reps

And other figures of local prominence:
• Roy Bean – prominent saloon owner
• Juan Bandini – Californo land owner
• Cave Couts – Postmaster for San Diego
• J.M. Covarribus – Superintendent, San Diego district of U.S. Coast Survey & Customs
• J.J. Warner, Special Agent for San Diego, Indian Department
• Ned Beale – Commander of California Militia & major landowner

Their speech cover issues of local concern. The major themes are “north California has the money, and southern California has the problems” – with the specific problems being the Mexican unrest, Indian uprisings, and lack of investment to make San Diego the city she should be. Talk about slavery, the financial panic, Eastern instability and even “bloody Kansas” is almost completely absent.

Things that were discussed:
• Vilification of the American Party (the “know nothings”) in state government, especially the governor.
• Need to secure the Gila Trail and new “35th Road” across the New Mexico Territory to ensure prosperous commerce with “our fellow Americans”. NOTE: this is dog-whistle for pacification of the Mohave & Apache to ensure trade with the Mexican Territory, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
• State funding for three major infrastructure projects
1) Bridge across the Colorado River near Fort Yuma,
2) Upgrading the aging El Camino Real between San Diego/Los Angeles/Santa Barbara
3) Building a new high-quality road from San Diego to San Bernardino via Temecula. [Having just been on that trail, you agree that a real road would lead to dramatic changes in traffic and commerce]
• Too many ships are starting to bypass San Diego on the San Francisco/Panama route. The Pacific Steamship Company should provide regular service to the major coastal settlements south of Monterey.
• The U.S. Army engineering corp should be surveying the San Diego River and designing a water management & irrigation plan.
• The fortifications, armament and artillery at San Diego Depot (U.S. army) is undersupplied and undermanned. They must be immediately upgraded to deter any spillover from the civil war brewing in Mexico.
• The Point Loma lighthouse needs to be upgraded to a full naval base with a permanent presence. This is the only way to ward off threats of invasion by sea, control piracy and eliminate the scourge of smuggling
• The Tulare uprising prove that the federal government may not protect you from the Indians. You need to join the militia!

The speakers are all great orators, and the crowd is excited by the rally – and more so by the picnic. Sam is quiet and thoughtful – and when pressed only says “I’m not saying those are bad ideas, most of that probably needs to be done. But I learned a few things working in Sacramento and I’d bet a double eagle against a wooden nickel that Beale is going to make a fortune off this platform – esp since Thom heads the ‘public works’ committee that would be awarding all the road contracts”.

Gilbert & Garrett are already talking about “Beale makes a lot of sense” and “California is in good hands with smart guys like that in charge”. Gilbert pushes through the crowd to speak with Beale, dragging Garrett along his wake. After a short conversation, Beale asks them if they’d like to “clean up” and come to a private event that evening.


Concerned Citizens – Pt 3: The smoke-filled room

The party is held on the second floor of the Headquarters Saloon (the Bean brothers’s establishment) in the proverbial “smoky room”. The speakers from this morning are here.

Beale takes a few minutes to speak with the group’s attendees privately and debriefs them. He is most interested in the Mormon unrest going on in the southern part of the territory – and asks for you to speculate on its potential impact to settlers coming in for the next year. He thinks this means the new “35th Road” will be a huge success.

He’ll offer you a job as empressario for land he wants parceled out along the Kern River. The new road will make it easy to bring over settlers from Arkansas, Missouri & Tennessee over to southern California – and he needs recruiters, guides and wranglers to handle about 300 families. [You decline] When you turn that down, he says that “well that’s probably pretty smart of you”.

If asked about why he’s pushing this rally, he will tell you that he “may not be a Democrat at heart, but they are the only ones who’ve actually done something to keep this country together”. The know-nothings might make sense back East – but out here the immigration is Chinese, and we ought to be welcoming all the Germans and Irish we can find, Catholic or not. Plus of course, the Democrats have done such an outstanding job in California since the Mexican War and annexation.

He will offer you a job as county organizers for the ’58 Democratic ticket – says he needs three people, one each in Nevada, Placer and San Francisco county and he’ll give you an advance tonight if you sign up – plus a bonus for how well you do. His biggest concern is getting Burch elected – Scott is a good guy, and McKibbin might be alright, but Baker would be a disaster.


From John :
Gilbert will gather votes in Nevada county. That way he’s not directly going against Baker in San Fran.

From Ed :
That’s fine – but it’s a statewide race for U.S. Congress …. so you may not run into Baker, but the Stantons and the rest of the Republican establishment in Nevada City will know your involvement.


KEVIN writes : Garrett is only interested in advancing the Railroad company, so he will actively work for the candidate with the strongest support for this. That means Kevin has to do his homework and figure out which person that would actually be. <grin>

I need to check Garrett’s character sheet to see if he can afford the bribe. Is there a party in addition to the rally/speeches? Or are they one in the same?

@Kevin – None of the speeches talk about railroad investment. Not a surprise really, since the focus is so dedicated to local southern Cali issues.

At the party, you can talk with folks directly and privately raise the issue. Beale (your patron), Thom (state senator) and Burch (US rep) are the only ones who have anything coherent to say about the railroads. They have three variations on the same ideas

  1. railroads are only going to get funded in the west with significant government support,
  2. railroads in northern california are going to get built to support the mining and timber industry, and
  3. the federal government is too log-jammed to invest in any truly massive railroad projects.

THOM : He gets interested in the topic once you mention that you are a CCRR shareholder. He was “honored vote for the CCRR charter and shepherd the right-of-way legislation through his committee.” But the last he heard from Garrison (CCRR’s treasurer) the railroad is severely undercapitalized, and funding will dry up at Granite Bay.

That would be a huge loss for Wilson and could end his career as a railroader, esp since the city leaders in Auburn floated a bond to support him and will be looking for blood if they feel cheated. Might bankrupt the SVRR as well, given the way the two companies finances are linked – though someone will step in and buy it on the cheap.

Thom also thinks there will be a lot of railroad talk in the next legislative session. He is being lobbied by city leaders in San Francisco, Stockton and Aliso (Los Angeles) who are talking about filing charters.

BEALE : He is happy to invest in the northern California railroads – there is money to be made supporting the gold trade. But his land is down south – and irrigation and flood control is a more immediate and personal problem.

He would invest and support rails from one of the coastal ports inland to the Tulare Basin. Just “spitballing” he suggests that a route to consider might go from Santa Monica east to the San Gabriel foothills, then northwest through Fort Tejon and terminating at Lake Buena Vista. (Modern day “take the 101 to the 126 then north on I5 to Bakersfield”). Such a railroad would transform southern California by connecting the water and timber-rich Tulare Basin with the desert port towns.

BURCH : He is in favor of major federal investment in the railroads, but sees no practical way to make it happen in the current political dynamic. The northern Republicans oppose any plan that would shift trade away from steamship traffic (majority-owned by New York businessmen) and clipper ships (mostly chartered out of New England) toward overland travel to Texas and Louisiana.

Even getting approval for Beale’s new “35th Road” was a huge win. He believes he will get approval for a federally-supported bridge over the Colorado River – but that may be the most that can be done in the next congress.

KEVIN responds : Garrett will campaign in Placer county. He will glad split duty and reward if there is another group member interested in the same.


DANIEL writes:

For Samuel…

I would be interested in either Beale or JJ Warner. He would prefer Beale, but his interest in the Native Americans makes Warner a viable alternative.

I will be attending the party.

I am willing to canvas for Beale in San Francisco.