Battle of Natividad Remembered

Monterey County Weekly writer David Schmaltz documents a pivotal point in California history

PUBLISHED NOV 27, 2022 12:00 A.M.
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A historical marker commemorates the Battle of Natividad, which took place in the Salinas Valley.

A historical marker commemorates the Battle of Natividad, which took place in the Salinas Valley.   Intranila   Creative Commons

Even though California under Spanish rule had been the target of expeditions from various Western countries—France, England, America, Russia—its non-native population remained sparse. That all changed in the early 1840s, when American settlers began arriving. In a cover story for Monterey County Weekly, writer David Schmaltz reports on one pivotal point that took place Nov. 16, 1846. Schmaltz writes:

“Yet even if American expansion into California seemed inevitable by that point, it arguably did not have to be taken through violent struggle.

“But it was.

“The Battle of Natividad, which was fought in northeast Salinas amid the fields and oak groves around San Juan Grade, is a largely forgotten conflict, but it marked an important inflection point in California history. After the battle, American control of Northern California was never again in question, and it was a domino that helped turn the tide in Southern California as well.

“History is inherently messy, both because human memories are imperfect, and because the lens through which events are experienced, and later interpreted, can vary depending on the narrator, and the era.”

Read “As American expansion exerted pressure ever westward, Monterey County became a scene in the crossfire” on MontereyCountyWeekly.com.

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