The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1973, Volume 19, Number 1
James E. Moss, Editor

Edited by Diana Lindsay

Front page of San Diego HeraldIn the Northern Sonora town of Caborca, on April 7, 1857, Henry Alexander Crabb stood with his hands tied above his head to a post in front of him, his back turned to a firing squad. Moments later some 100 bullets riddled his body. A Mexican severed Crabb’s head from his body, allowing the crowd to jeer at it. Afterwards the head was preserved in mescal. The bodies of Crabb’s men, who had also been executed that day, lay unburied and eaten by birds and hogs outside the cemetery walls at Caborca. Four other Americans, who had remained on the American side of the border, were executed a few days later when Mexican troops crossed the international boundary to find them. Thus the San Diego Herald reported the tragic end of Californian’s last and most notorious filibustering expedition to Mexico. It was from the San Diego Herald that other California newspapers first learned of Crabb’s fate. The Herald provided the detailed reports used by the state’s other important newspapers in the first few weeks after Crabb’s execution. These reports came from travelers who drifted into San Diego, the closest California town to the Mexican border.

To San Diegans and other Californians, the outcome of Crabb’s expedition was shocking. Perhaps Mexicans had reached a limit of endurance. In the preceding two decades Mexico had lost her northern territory from Texas to California, some half of her land mass. Since that time Mexicans had struggled to bring about internal order and stability. Making this very difficult were young, restless Americans, frustrated in their professions and attempts to become rich, and infected with the spirit of “Manifest Destiny” — the belief that they had a right and a duty to extend their country’s borders to its “natural frontiers.” The decade of the 1850s saw many Californians leaving the gold fields empty-handed and looking for other areas to make their fortunes. Since 1851 American freebooters had crossed into Mexico under the pretext of “freeing” Mexicans from their own government. The Americans had hopes of colonizing land rich in mineral wealth. Filibusters such as Joseph C. Morehead, Count Gaston de Raousset-Boulbon, Charles de Pindray, and William Walker had attempted to seize portions of Sonora or Lower California during the first half of the decade. Then, in 1857, Henry A. Crabb, a former California state senator and Whig party leader who was unsuccessful in his 1854 reelection bid to the state legislature, made his fatal filibustering attempt.

A childhood acquaintance of William Walker, Crabb had asked to join Walker in Nicaragua in 1855, but Walker had turned him down. As as member of the Know-Nothing Party, Crabb ran for the United States Senate in 1856, but again failed to win election.1 His political failures, combined with marriage into the Ainsa family, a socially and politically prominent clan in Sonora, apparently turned Crabb’s thoughts toward a possible Sonoran colonizing expedition. The political situation in Sonora encouraged his thinking.

Two rivals fought for political control of Sonora, the aspiring Ignacio Pesqueira and the then incumbent governor Manuel María Gándara. Crabb and Pesqueira supposedly made a bargain in 1856 whereby Crabb would furnish military support in return for land in northern Sonora. Later, however, when Pesqueira was able to win control of Sonora without Crabb’s aid, he denied having made such an arrangement. If this bargain had existed, Pesqueira found it to his advantage not only to deny doing business with a “gringo,” but also to prevent Crabb from entering Sonora and embarrassing him. Pesqueira called on the people of Sonora to arm themselves against Crabb and his “invaders.” Crabb, nevertheless, persisted with his plans, feeling it was “his right” to settle in Mexico.2

Crabb enlisted almost 100 men for what he termed the Gadsden or Arizona Colonization Company. They sailed from San Francisco to Los Angeles in January, 1857, then proceeded overland by way of the southern emigrant trail to Sonora. A small segment of this party, under command of Robert N. Woods and Granville H. Oury, went to Tucson to recruit others for the “colony.” They were to join Crabb later in Sonora. In addition, before he left San Francisco Crabb had arranged for General John D. Cosby to recruit 900 more men who were to meet him in Guaymas. These 900 recruits never arrived.

Crabb made several mistakes which cost him and his men their lives. He inadvertently made a bad selection in General Cosby, who never recruited the promised 900 men. Overly confident, Crabb felt that Mexicans presented no great threat. He even left his main ammunition supplies in slower wagons miles behind the main party when he marched toward Caborca. Most important of all, he had not counted on the firm resistance of Mexicans who were tired of Americans trying to “free” their lands.3

Near Caborca, on April 1, Crabb’s party of some seventy men were attacked by several Mexicans who immediately fled when Crabb opened fire and killed their commander. Failing to follow his initial advantage, Crabb retreated to an adobe house opposite the town’s church where the Mexicans were taking refuge. The Mexicans quickly rallied when reinforcements arrived and soon surrounded the adobe building. A six day seige followed, culminating with Crabb’s surrender on April 6. The Mexicans, who had sustained numerous deaths in the seige, felt they did not owe these surrendering American invaders any prisoners’ rights. After all, had not the Americans entered Mexican land after they had been warned to stay out? Had not their intentions been to steal more Mexican land? Besides, with Crabb and his men dead, Pesqueira would not have to worry about rumors of “deals” made with Americans. The next morning, April 7, Crabb and his fellow survivors were executed. Only sixteen-year-old Charles Edward Evans was spared.

The first published report of the tragic outcome of Crabb’s expedition appeared in the San Diego Herald on May 2, 1857. A week later, on May 9, the Herald confirmed the story, providing its readers with intimate details. Copies of the Herald, carried aboard the steamer Senator, were delivered to Los Angeles and San Francisco in the following week. On May 14, the San Francisco Alta California and the Sacramento Daily Union published in full the Herald‘s May 9 account.4

Crabb’s hometown newspaper, the Alta California, never questioned the accuracy of the Herald‘s account and only reflected indignation at the “ignominous death” of the distinguished and honorable gentleman “at the hands of the savage Mexicans.” The Sacramento Daily Union, on the other hand, at first doubted the “correctness” of the report printed by the Herald because of its gruesome details, which was thought merely to reflect the indignation felt by that border community. Two days later, on May 16, the Sacramento paper compared the Herald accounts of May 2 and 9 and found the former to be “more reasonable” in its reporting. In retrospect the Sacramento editor appears to have been correct.5

On May 16, the Los Angeles newspaper, El Clamor Publico, carried a translated copy of the Herald‘s account of the massacre for its Spanish-speaking readers. This newspaper reflected Mexican attitudes towards filibusters. It challenged the Herald‘s biased account of Crabb’s execution. Newspapers such as the New York Times, on the other hand, reported Crabb’s demise more impartially, merely mentioning the fact that Crabb and his party were all shot.6

Articles in the May 23rd issue of the San Diego Herald added other first hand accounts of rescue attempts by the division of Crabb’s men sent to recruit colonists in Tucson, and the death of the four Americans on “American soil.” The twenty-six members of the Tucson Valley Company, as it was called, had marched toward Caborca while Crabb was fighting there. The company, however, found itself unable either to help or reach Crabb at Caborca and only succeeded in making a hasty retreat toward the border with a Mexican force in pursuit. Nearly a week later Mexican soldiers crossed the border when they heard that other filibusters were staying at Sonoita. These turned out to be four men who had remained behind in an American’s home because of illness. The Mexican soldiers executed them on the United States side of the border. A fifth man, Jesus Ainsa, Crabb’s brother-in-law, was arrested and taken back to Sonora.

Again the Alta California and the Sacramento Daily Union published in full the Herald accounts of the 23rd, printing them on the 28th and 29th respectively.7

The June 6 issue of the Herald reported the outcome of the remaining portion of Crabb’s group, led by Freeman S. McKinney. McKinney and fifteen others were following Crabb to Caborca with the ammunition supplies. A Mexican patrol discovered this party a few days after Crabb and his men were executed. After surrendering to the Mexicans, McKinney and his men were also shot. A week after the Herald reported this last account of Crabb’s filibustering expedition, reprints of it appeared in other California newspapers.8

The San Diego paper, then was a valuable source for the rest of California’s newspapers, and it remains an important source for studying Crabb’s Sonora scheme. The Herald‘s accounts need to be read with caution, however, for they clearly reflected the general attitudes of “Manifest Destiny” and disdain toward Mexicans which were so characteristic of the period. The Herald‘s editor, John Judson Ames, had supported the annexation of more Mexican territory as early as 1851, just a few months after he began printing the Herald, and made no secret of his sympathy for filibusters and his contempt for “greasers.”9

All articles from the Herald pertaining to Crabb’s expedition have been reproduced here, retaining the original spelling (and misspelling), and punctuation. From these articles it appears that the Herald relied on personal accounts, without adding editorial comments. It left interpretation and analysis of the news to other newspapers. Curiously the Herald never reported the final outcome of Crabb’s venture. Although the Herald called the death of the four Americans on American soil a treacherous act and demanded revenge and justice from the federal government, it never mentioned the outcome of these demands or the government’s reaction to Crabb’s death. Other sources indicate that the United States minister to Mexico, John Forsyth, did protest the execution of Crabb’s party without a fair trial. Yet, since Crabb and his men crossed illegally into Mexican territory after Mexico demanded they stay out, Washington felt it better not to press the issue of the deaths of the four Americans.10

Perhaps the major outcome of the Crabb expedition was to discourage further filibustering. The “sport” lost its glamour with the coming of the Civil War and came to be associated with invasion, destruction of property, and pillage. Crabb’s expedition became the most sensational and widely publicized of attempts by Americans to seize Mexican territory, and brought to a close nearly a decade of filibustering.

San Diego Herald, May 2, 1857, p. 2.


Late and Important News from Sonora!

We have just learned from Mr. Carey, who arrived in town last night, that the party for Sonora, under the command of H. A. Crabb, were met by a large body of Mexicans near Hermosillo, and an engagement ensued, in which one hundred and three Americans were killed, and the ballance of the party taken prisoners.

Mr. Carey’s informant was an American, from near the scene of action, but was unable to say whether Mr. Crabb was killed or taken prisoner.

The Mexican force was large — the news of Crabb’s arrival having preceded him, soldiers were collected from all parts of the State of Sonora, and stationed at or near the line to prevent his crossing. The engagement is said to have taken place on Sunday, April 19th. We hope this report is exaggerated, but many circumstances connected therewith lead us to believe it is too true.

By the same source we learn that the four companies of U. S. dragoons stationed at Calabash ranch, is reduced by desertion to about sixty men.

Before our next issue we hope to hear full particulars of the above disaster.

San Diego Herald, May 9, 1857, p. 2.


Later From Sonora!!
The Rumor Confirmed!!
Annihilation of H. A. Crabb’s Party!!! Henry A. Crabb and 90 of his Party Massacred by the
Mexicans, at Cavorea [Caborca], Sonora

In our last issue we published a rumor of the entire destruction of Henry A. Crabb’s party, numbering about 100 men, by the Mexicans in Sonora. By the following statement of the facts, kindly furnished us by a gentleman just arrived from Fort Yuma, it will be seen that the rumor has been confirmed. He says:

The expedition into Sonora, under the command of H. A. Crabb, has had a most disastrous end.

Late in March Crabb’s party left Sonoita, Sonora, and marched to Cavorea, a small Mexican town near Point Lobos, on the Gulf of California. The first intention was to have proceeded to Altar, but news of its partial fortification and susceptibility of a strong defence caused the diversion on Cavorea. On the morning of the 1st of April the party of Americans entered the suburbs of the town. — They were met by a body of Mexican troops, commanded by Rodriguez [Lorenzo Rodríguez]. It is said Rodriguez advanced to speak to Crabb, when the Americans opened fire and killed the Mexican commander and several others. The Mexicans immediately retreated — some to the mountains, but the majority to the church, which had been placed in a state of defence, and had at the time Crabb entered the town a number of beeves roasting whole in front of it, to feed the Mexican troops.

It appears that here occurred Crabb’s first and fatal mistake. Instead of at once charging and taking the church, which would have given him the whole town, he occupied several houses on the corner of the Plaza, in front of the church.

The Mexicans at first deserted the most of the town, but gradually being emboldened returned and gradually hemned the Americans in. Fighting continued eight days, with a loss to the Americans of twenty-five killed. The Mexican loss is reported by themselves to have been 25, but is supposed to have been much greater, as high as 200. On the eighth day an attempt was made by two of Crabb’s men to blow up the church, by placing a keg of powder under the portico and firing it. The devoted men who attempted this both were killed, and Crabb is said to have been wounded in superintending it. It is said an offer was made by Crabb to retire if the Mexicans would allow it. He had refused to retire when the offer was made him, after the fighting had continued two days, and now the Mexicans, confident of his weakness and their triumph, refused. The Americans were gradually but surely caught in a snare, from which they saw no escape.

By breaking through the walls of the adjoining houses the Mexicans forced Crabb and his men into the corner building, which they repeatedly set on fire but which the Americans as often extinguished. At last a Papago Indian shot into the roof of the main building occupied by the unhappy filibusters, a lighted arrow. The flames caught the roof and in a few moments the fire was dropping in great flakes upon the heads of the doomed men within. Worn out with constant fighting, exhausted with anxiety, famished by probable days of starvation and thirst, and without ammunition, Henry A. Crabb and fifty-eight men marched out of the burning house, with a white flag before them, laid down their arms and surrendered. It is supposed unconditionally. This was in the night or towards morning. They were immediately tied, their hands behind them, taken to a corral near the Alcalde’s office, where they were kept until morning, when they were taken out in squads of 5 and 10 each and shot. In the first executions it was found that the calmness of the Americans discomposed the executioners and they shot too high or too low, in many cases only wounding their victims. The backs of the fated men were then turned to the troops and then they succeeded in aiming with better effect.

McCoun [Col. W. H. H. McCoun], (may he rest in peace,) owing to his great stature, was saved this torture, a ball struck him full in the breast at the first fire and he fell dead. Crabb alone was reserved for a solitary death. He was taken to the Alcalde’s office, questioned, allowed to write a letter to his wife, and to have an interview with Dr. Evans, a prisoner in the hands of the Mexicans, who had been in confinement some weeks, on suspicion. The hour for his execution having arrived, he was led out, his hands stretched above his head and tied to a post in front of the building he had occupied, his face to the post, and his back to his executioners — At the command fire, at least an hundred balls were fixed into his body, and all that was mortal of Henry A. Crabb hung dead, swinging by his tied hands. A Mexican stepped forward and with a large knife, severed his head from the body — the warm blood spirting half way across the street. The head was placed on a table in front, or in the office of the Juez, exposed to the jeers of the populace. It was then placed in a jar of mescal for preservation.

Two of the Ainsa’s, (brothers-in-law of Crabb,) are said to be killed, and also Rasey Biven. My informant, an intelligent man and an eye-witness of these horrors, says Crabb died as a gentleman should, as calmly and quietly as if he were going to a pleasant home.

Four men, sick, had been left at Sonoita by Crabb. They occupied the house owned by E. E. Dunbar, Esq., on the American side of the line. On the 18th of April, at night, a party of twenty five Mexicans came up from San Juan, went to Dunbar’s house, took these poor sick men out of bed, tied them, and at dawn of day carried them to the foot of the hill, shot them like dogs, on American soil, and left them to rot. A party of Papago Indians, more merciful, buried them, and four solitary mounds now appeal, lone witnesses of a beastly crime, to the American Government for revenge. Will such an appeal go unheard.

Mr. Dunbar just escaped massacre, having left Sonoita on the afternoon previous. The Mexicans were furious at his escape, although he had nothing to do with the party except to offer shelter, on American soil, to four sick men, in his own house.

A party of about 30 recruits, under Capt. Grant Orey [Granville H. Oury], started from Tucson to join Crabb at Cavorea. When within fifteen miles of the latter place they were attacked by about 200 Mexicans. Capt. Orey retreated, fighting, and regained the American line with a loss of only 4 killed. The Mexican loss was about 40. — Capt. Orey deserves great credit for his skill. At every watering place the Mexicans attempted to check him and subdue him by thirst, but he routed them on every occasion. The last eight miles was a continued running fight, and his fourth man lost was killed just at the line. Another party, of the same strength, which left Tubac has not yet been heard of. It is believed if Grant Orey had been with Crabb a different result might have been anticipated. All was bad management, want of experience, and a clear rushing upon a deadly fate.

Crabb entered Cavorea with 84 men. All these were killed except the youngest, said to have been spared by the Mexican commander, Garcia [Hilario Gabilondo was the commander]. The name of the survivor is unknown, but he is said to be a boy of sixteen or seventeen [Charles Edward Evans was the survivor].

The Mexicans at Cavorea were about 500 strong.

Major Bob Wood and Major Tozer are safe. They were with Capt. Orey’s party. Col. R. N. Wood, late Filimore elector, is among the dead.

San Diego Herald, May 16, 1857, p. 2.

Further information received this morning from the Colorado, confirms the news we published last week of the total annihilation of the party under the command of H. A. Crabb. We have full and interesting particulars of the party from Tucson, by a gentleman who was with the party, which we have not space or time for this week, but shall appear in our next.

San Diego Herald, May 23, 1857, p. 2.


From Sonora

A gentleman, just in from Sonora, has kindly furnished us with the following statement of facts, concerning the command of Maj. R. C. Wood, (of which he was a member,) who started from Tucson to join Crabb’s party, and who so bravely fought their way back, through a body of three to five hundred Mexicans and Indians:

“The Tucson Valley Company, composed of 26 men, was organized the 1st of April, and designed to settle in some portion of, and thereby, without a resort to fire-arms, so revolutionized the State of Sonora, as to establish therein, agreeably to the wishes of its inhabitants, as they were induced by their representations to believe, a republican form of government, and for that purpose to co-operate with Gen. H. A. Crabb, then, emigrating expedition to Sonora.

This company purposing to join Gen. Crabb, agreebly to his instructions, under Maj. R. C. Wood, marched for Cavorca, and without delay. At 4 o’clock P.M. of the 4th day, we arrived at a point midway between Cavorca and the town of Pitiquit [Pitiquito], where they were met by from 300 to 500 Mexicans and Indians, in a dense forest of mesquit trees, under command of Capt. Morena, of Altar. — Upon halting, the Americans were informed that the Governor of the State had ordered Moreno’s command to arrest them; that, however, if the Americans would lay down their arms they should be unmolested and allowed to depart from the country under the protection of his, (Moreno’s) force, to consider which they, (the Americans,) were allowed ten minutes, which time they occupied in defensive preparations, and at its expiration moved onward a few hundred yards and halted. By this time they were completely surrounded and being fired upon from every quarter. The fight lasted until dark, and was ended by the Americans charging, under heavy fire, through the enemy’s line. In this engagement the Americans lost no men and had but one wounded (slightly). The Mexicans had eleven killed and many wounded. — The Americans then made their way to within a few hundred yards of Cavorca, where they learned that it would be impossible to join Gen. Crabb by reason of his being surrounded by fifteen hundred Mexicans and Indians. By this they were induced to return to their own territory, and for that purpose at once began the march, retracing their steps. The following morning they were set upon by about seventy horsemen and a running fight kept up during the balance of the day. In this engagement more than twenty Mexicans and but three Americans were killed. On the night of the third day thereafter, a party of Mexicans, French and Indians, who were in ambush, twenty miles north of Tubatama [Tubutama], attacked from the hill tops (their hiding place,) the Americans, as they passed below. The engagement lasted but a few minutes and resulted in the loss of one of each party. No further fighting occurred.

The names of the Americans who fell in the different engagements are Joseph Thomas, A. A. Woods, (generally called Bill Woods,) . . . Hughes and . . . Chambers.”

In addition to the above, a gentleman now in this city had permitted us to make the following extracts from a letter written by Capt. Ankrim, at Fort Yuma, detailing the massacre of four American citizens, on American soil, by a party of cowardly greasers:

Fort Yuma, May 7, 1857.

Dear Sir: — In reply to the enquiry you make in reference to the facts connected with the murder of four American citizens, in the vicinity of Sonoita, Sonora, by Mexican authority, I would say, that I was in that place at the time the outrage was committed, and the facts are as follows: When Gen. Crabb resumed his march upon Cavorca, he left three invalids and one other of his command at Sonoita, on the Sonora side of the line, with orders to join him as soon as their health should be restored. In the meantime rumors had reached Sonoita through the Indians, (the only channel through which any information had been received concerning Gen. Crabb and his command for fifteen or twenty days,) that a party of Mexican soldiers were on the march from Cavorca to Sonoita for the purpose of intercepting and searching for any straggling filibusters that might be in that part of Sonora, these four men concluded that as a matter of precaution, it would be better for them to cross on our side of the line, which they did on the evening of the 14th of April, and took possession of a house that had recently been occupied, and was owned by E. E. Dunbar, Esq. There they remained until the night of the 17th, when a detachment of twenty-five Mexican soldiers, under the command of a Chileno, arrived and during the darkness surrounded the house and took them prisoners, without resistance, tied them, and about 5½ o’clock the next morning, led them out a short distance from the house and shot them, where the bodies were left and soon after buried by the Papago Indians. While this tragedy was being performed, the Captain of the company, with a part of his men, came to the house adjoining the one in which Mr. Slater and myself were lodging, and enquired of the proprietor, a Mexican, if there were any other Americans about there; he was told there were two, but that they were not filibusters. He replied that he did not wish to molest any but filibusters, and after searching for sometime, without success, for an Irishman named McMulty, who had accompanied Gen. Crabb from Sonoita to Aquitobac [Quitovac], as interpreter, and returned from that place, he left for Cavorca, taking with him as a prisoner, young Ainsa, a brother-in-law of Gen. Crabb, who was captured in the same house with the four Americans.

In reference to the location of Mr. Dunbar’s house, there has never been a doubt expressed as to which side of the line it was on, and as an evidence that the Mexican authorities considered it beyond the reach of their jurisdiction, they suffered Mr. Dunbar to sell many thousands dollars worth of what would be classed under Mexican law as contraband goods, in the same house, during the past six or eight months.
Very respectfully,
Your ob’t serv’t,
Wm. J. Ankrim.

From the Colorado
Colorado River, May 15, 1857.

Editor San Diego Herald:

Dear Sir: — By this time you probably have full accounts of the disastrous Crabb expedition. The Tucson portion of this party, Messrs. Wood, Tozer and others have recently passed on their way to San Francisco.

On account of this filibuster movement trade along the frontier is at a stand, and provisions at this point are high and scarce. No supplies can come from Sonora at present. The new crop will be harvested next month.
Truly yours,

San Diego Herald, June 6, 1857, p. 2.

From Sonora

By Mr. McGrath, who arrived in town, on Sunday last from Sonora, we have the following additional news from that section.

Mr. McGrath has been living sometime in Sonora, and was taken prisoner at Cavorca while driving through that place a drove of horses for the California market, the Mexicans believing they were intended for the filibusters. This happened a few days previous to the entrance of General Crabb’s party into Cavorca, and Mr. McGrath was an eye-witness of all that transpired. He says the only erroneous statement in the account lately published of Crabb’s disastrous battle, is in regard to the number of days in which they were engaged. He states that on the 5th day (instead of the 8th,) Crabb’s party surrendered and gives it as his opinion that Gen. Crabb must have exhausted his ammunition, having on his entrance into Cavorca left his horses and pack animals, with the greater portion of his ammunition in the suburbs of the town. He is positive if they had ammunition they could easily have cut their way through the rear of the building, regained their animals and escaped, as there were but a very few men guarding that part of the town, the greater number being in and on the roof of the church, in front.

He places the loss of the Mexicans, from his own knowledge, and by their official report, to be 19 killed, 20 mortally, and as many more slightly wounded. There were 650 Mexicans engaged, comprising the Altar and Santa Ana troops.

He fixes the number killed in battle and executed of Crabb’s party at 96 men, comprising all of his command excepting one man, who joined the party in Sonora, and who was sent to the Governor, at La Cuidad, for the purpose of eliciting information as to the movements of other fiilibustering parties.

The party from Calabasas Ranch, consisting of 24 men, (who were reported in the last account, as not having been heard from,) were surprised in the night, by the Santa Ana troops, between Pitiquit and Cavorca, and all killed, with the exception of a Mexican boy, a vaquero of Mr. McGrath, he having been taken prisoner by the filibusters the day previous. The next day, Mr. McGrath was taken by the Santa Ana troops to Altar, and on passing over the road was shown the spot of the massacre, and saw a number of dead bodies lying around, unburied and partially devoured by birds and other animals.

Our informant is positive that the brothers Anisa were not killed; not being engaged in the fight, they were taken to La Cuidad for trial; but he thinks there is no chance for their escape, from Pesquira’s [Governor Ignacio Pesqueira] clutches, as he had issued a proclamation, declaring that no mercy would be shown to any of the Ainsa or Gandara [former Governor Manuel María Gándara] family should they be taken. Gándara’s property had all been confiscated and sold at auction, for a mere trifle.

He further states that there will be great suffering in that part of Sonora for want of food, as the cattle have all been driven south, and the rancheros have been forcibly taken from their labor, by the Mexican authorities, and compelled to take up arms against the filibusters; the Mexican soldiery in the meantime pasturing their horses upon the growing crop of wheat, barley and corn, completely destroying the same.

After undergoing a trial at Altar, Mr. McGrath’s horses were returned to him and he was allowed to drive them to California, and arrived here, as we have stated above, on Sunday the 31st ult.

San Diego Herald, July 25, 1857, p. 2.


GEN. CRABB’S PARTY. — We are informed that nearly all of the Letters advertized as remaining in the post office on the 30th of June, are directed to members of Gen. Crabb’s party. — The writers, by forwarding the requisite number of stamps, with a request to our postmaster to that effect, can have their letters returned to them.

San Diego Herald, August 21, 1858, p. 2.


Capt. [Albert] Bogart [of the schooner Elizabeth Owens] reports everything as being quiet and peaceable in Guayamas when he left. Jesus Ainsa, the only survivor of the unfortunate Crabb expedition, was still in prison at that place.


1. Rugus Kay Wyllys, “Henry A. Crabb — A Tragedy of the Sonora Frontier,” The Pacific Historical Review, IX (June, 1940), 183184, 187. See Joe A. Stout, “Henry A. Crabb, Filibuster or Colonizer?”, The American West, VIII, 3 (May, 1971), 9. Stout, unlike Wyllys, believes that Crabb’s intentions in Sonora were honest, that filibustering was not his motive. See also Andrew F. Rolle, California, A History (New York: Thomas Y. Crowel Company, 1963), p. 256. Rolle, like Wyllys, also mentions Crabb’s interest in filibustering as early as 1855. The question of Crabb’s real motive in Sonora remains a subject of debate.

2. See Crabb’s letter to José María Redondo, March 26, 1857, Sonoita, in Robert H. Forbes, Crabb’s Filibustering Expedition into Sonora, 1857 (Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Silhouettes, 1952), pp. 14-15. Pesqueira replied to Crabb’s letter warning “Death to the Filibusters.” See “Ignacio Pesqueira, Substitute Governor of the State and Commander in Chief of the frontier, To his fellow citizens,” in Ibid., pp. 15-16.

3. See James O’Meara, “Crabb’s Expedition into Sonora,” Californian, IV (October, 1881), typed copy in San Diego History Center, Serra Museum and Library, San Diego. O’Meara and Forbes believe that Cosby was bribed by the Mexicans not to recruit the other volunteers. He made no attempts to raise the men and at the same time became suddenly well-to-do. See Forbes, p. 8. Crabb’s expedition has also been called the “Arizona and Mexico Agricultural and Mining Expedition” in O’Meara and the “Arizona and Gadsden Colonization Company” in Rolle p. 256.

4. Alta California (San Francisco), May 14, 1857, p. 1; and Sacramento Daily Union, May 14, 1857, p. 2.

5. Sacramento Daily Union, May 15, 1857, p. 2 and May 16, 1857, pp. 2-3.

6. El Clamor Público (Los Angeles), May 16, 1857, p. 2. On May 30, 1857, p. 1, this newspaper quoted several other California newspapers in showing the American reaction to the death of Crabb’s party and to the Mexicans crossing the border into the United States. See also Times (New York), May 18, 1857.

7. Alta California, May 28, 1857, p. 1; and Sacramento Daily Union, May 29, 1857, p. 1.

8. Sacramento Daily Union, June 15, 1857, p. 2. The Herald‘s report of June 6 is inaccurate.

9. See, for example, the issue of September 4, 1851.

10. Wyllys, p. 193; and Stout, p. 9.

Diana Lindsay, a native of Southern California, lives at Newport Beach. She received her B.A. in history from California State University, San Diego, and is currently completing an M.A. thesis on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Mrs. Lindsay was employed as a home tutor for special requirement secondary students when she resided in San Diego. Her husband, Lowell Lindsay, a UCLA graduate, is a YMCA program director and an avid southwest history fan. Mrs. Lindsay would like to thank Dr. David J. Weber, Professor of History, California State University, San Diego, who encouraged the editing of these articles and guided her work.