The Bear Flag Revolt lives on as an epic chapter in California History. But a few years before the Mexican-American War of 1846 there was the Commodore Catesby Jones Incident at Monterrey, California. And this is when the first US flag was officially hoisted over California Soil by a government official as captured territory.
Catesby Jones 1842 California Republic Heritage Flag
In 1842 Texas was still a semi-independent renegade republic with limited diplomatic recognition as are Northern Cyprus, Palestine, and Transnistria today in 2012.
There were wild rumors of war in Mexico and the United States. It was sure to manifest but the commander of the US Pacific Squadron - Catseby Jones accidentally invaded and occupied California at Monterrey Bay three years prior to the Bear Flag Revolt.
Commodore Catesby Jones received intelligence that war with Mexico was imminent and inaccurate news was reported that the UK purchased California and rumors of war had already started were abundant. Also note the US was at great tension with Canada over territorial claims in Oregon-Columbia country.
Russia also evacuated California at Ft. Ross, all powers in the area were edgy due to the political vacuum left by Russia. Was somebody going to step up and fill the void? Were Canada, Mexico, and Russia conspiring to split up the West Coast and keep the USA boxed in, on the Atlantic Ocean?
US with 26 Stars - Hoisted Over California in 1842
Four years before the Bear Flag Revolt
In October the pre-game season of the Mexican-American War started on October 19, 1842. Catesby Jones sailed into Mexican Waters with the United States and Cyane. The Americans later captured the Mexican brig Joven Guipuzcoana - the first prize of war in the US-Mexican conflict. The next day on October 20, 1842 over one hundred and fifty US sailors and US marines landed at Monterrey, California. The Mexican Flag was lowered and the 26 starred American Flag was raised. At this time the youngest state in the Union was Michigan. Fort Monterrey was then renamed after a Virginian - as Fort Catesby.
The next day on October 21, 1842 Commodore Catesby Jones truly discovered that Mexico was not at war with the United States. Catesby Jones then lowered the American Flag and restored Monterrey to Mexican control with a 13 gun honor salute to the Mexican Colours.
Jones' action was horribly embarrassing and the United States made a formal apology to Mexico, but four years later the American Hope of expanding in to California was manifested, at least the northern half of it.
Please note that the Catesby Jones 1842 California Republic Flag is a new convention that combines the modern flag of California with elements of history. The bear on the Catesby Jones 1842 California Republic Flag is laying down in a cave and foggy eyed from hibernation.
Bears sometimes awoke too early, before the winter has ended. They would then go back to sleep. Likewise the United States did so with California with the Commodore Catesby Jones Incident, which was a too early 'winter' advance on California. But like the bears who wake up too early, before the winter thaw, the United States went to back sleep and awoke four years later to 're-take' California in 1846 and fly the stars and stripes on her coastline.
Imagine if Mexico and America went to war in 1842? This is one alternate thread of history yet to be written.