July 29, 1846

This month marks the 170th anniversary of the first raising of the U. S. flag over the city of San Diego. San Diego was then still a part of Mexico, which was at war with the United States. An American naval fleet patrolling off the California coast dispatched one of its ships, the Cyne, to sail into San Diego Bay and take possession of the town.

After encountering no resistance from a Mexican brig anchored nearby, the captain of the Cyne sent a party of sailors and marines ashore in two boats. The party was commanded by Navy Lieutenant Stephen Clegg and Marine Lieutenant William Maddox.

The sailors and marines landed at La Playa (part of today’s Point Loma] and walked five miles into Old Town, again encountering no opposition. “There had been no Mexican soldiers in San Diego for over nine years,” according to Ed Scott in his book, San Diego County Soldier-Pioneers.

Fighting would take place in subsequent months, but on that day the flag of the United States was raised in front of the Casa de Estudillo with no resistance. The log of the Cyne itself records the event pretty matter-of-factly: “At 9 p. m. the launch returned and at 10:50 the Alligator [second of the two boats] with Lieutenant Rowan, after taking possession of San Diego and hoisting the American flag, leaving all our marine guard, under Lieutenant Maddox, on shore to defend the flag and town.”

In addition to the Scott book, information for this post came from the book, San Diego, A Chronological & Documentary History,1535-1976 compiled and edited by Robert Mayer.

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