Monterey Presidio


“The Presidio was an essentila feature of the Spanish colonization of America. It was usually a fortirfied square of brick or stone, inside of which were the barracks of the soldiers, the officers’s quarters, a church, store houses for provisions an dmilitary supplies. The gates at the entrance were closed at night, and it was sually provisioned for a siege.

Early in Spanish colonization, The Presidio at Monterey and the Missions were reliant on supplies from Mexico. “The difficulty of raching California by ship on account of the head winds that blow down th coast caused long delays in the arrival of vessels with supplies. Thsi brough about a scarcity of provisoins…In 1792…At Monterey and San Antonio the padres and teh soldiers were obliged to live on vegetaables. In this emergency, Lieutenant Fages and a squad of soldiers went on a be a hunt. They spent three months in the summer of 1772 killing bears in the Cañada de Osos (Bear Cañon). The soldiers and missionaries had a plentiful supply of bear meat. There were not enough cattle in the coungry to admit of slaughtering any for food.”

The military force at the presidio consisted of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, their numbers varying from 100 – 120 in all. These soldiers furnished guards for th missions San Carlos, San Antonio, San Miguel, Soledad and San Luis Obispo. In 1792, Vancouver, the English navigator, described the Monterey Presidio as being four sided (300 yards long by 250 yards wide)…the whole presents the same longely, uninteresting appearance as…San Francisco…buildings are erected on the inside of the inclosure…[with] on entrance for carriages or persons on horseback and this is on the side of the square fronting the church…At each corner, is a block house raised a little above th top of the wall. On the outside, before the entrance int the presidio, whic fronts the shores of he bay, are placed seven cannon, four non and three three-ounders, mounted. The guns are plantd on the open plain ground without breastwork or othe screen for those employed in working them or the least protetion fro teh weather.”