Late in the afternoon of April 22, 1846, the smart new sloop of war Portsmouth, 20 guns and the finest vessel of her class in the United States Navy, dropped anchor off the town of Monterey on the coast of Upper California, then a department of the Mexican Republic. Her commanding officer, Commander John Berrien Montgomery, was a general favorite, both in and out of the service. He was nearly 52 years of age, pleasant in manner, intelligent, and often described as “officer-like” in appearance. As a young midshipman he had served in the Battle of Lake Erie, receiving for his services in this engagement a sword from the government. His fellow officers and crew held him in great respect, both for his professional ability and his moral qualities. A devout Episcopalian, he personally conducted divine service on board his ship each Sunday morning.
Commander John B. Montgomery and the Bear Flag Revolt
By John Adam Hussey