General John C. Fremont, who, at the head of an exploring expedition, had reached the Pacific coast early in 1846, in May received verbal orders from Washington to turn back, and he made his way to Slitter’s Fort, which was on the site of the present city of Sacramento, where he established headquarters and raised a flag that had but one star in the canton.
On June 15 he captured a Mexican post at Sonoma Pass, and on July 4, at a meeting of the Americans at Sonoma, under his advice they proclaimed the independence of California and declared war against Mexico.
General Fremont did not then know that United States troops, under command of General Taylor, had invaded Mexico early in the previous March.
An explanation for having only one star in the canton of the flag that floated over Fremont’s headquarters has not been given. His “Rocky Mountain Flag,” commonly known as General Fremont Flag which he frequently displayed, was a modification of the Stars and Stripes. The Fremont flag was made by Mrs. Fremont on the eve of her husband’s pathfinding expedition to the West. It differs from the ordinary national emblem only in the field of the canton on which is wrought a large American eagle, done in embroidery of great delicacy and beauty. About the eagle are clustered twenty-six stars, the number of States that had entered the Union up to 1841. The Fremont flag was unfurled by General Fremont from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, when he and his small party were on their way to California.
The General Fremont flag is now the property of P. M. Reardon, of Redding, California, to whom it was given by Mrs. Fremont some years ago. This historic relic is carefully preserved in the vault of one of the banks of Redding. Pinned to the flag is a silk scarf bearing this inscription in golden letters:
Rocky Mountains, 1841.”
The General Fremont flag is in a fairly good state of preservation considering its age of more than sixty years.