Bronze Spanish cannon guard San Francisco

Battery Street, running from Pier 29 at the Embarcadero, across Broadway, past the Embarcadero Center to Market Street, is now a major artery in San Francisco’s bustling Financial District, but once it was an integral part of the waterfront of the small Mexican village of Yerba Buena. It was named after a short-lived America fortification atop a bluff known as Punta del Embarcadero at the edge of Yerba Buena Cove, between the modern Vallejo and Green Streets.

US Marines land in San Francisco

On July 9, 1846 the USS Portsmouth, under Captain John B. Montgomery, landed a small force of Marines who took the town and the old Spanish fort called the Castillo de San Joaquin at the Presidio of San Francisco without a fight. The fort was in disrepair, with many of the cannon unusable anyway, but John C. Fremont had disabled all the guns the night before after rowing across the narrow straight he named the Golden Gate.

Birgen de Barbaneda 1693

Montgomery managed to restore three of the ornate, old bronze Spanish cannon to working order and installed them in his new battery along with two more brought down from the Presidio of Sonoma. The three Spanish guns, the San Martin, the San Domingo, and the La Birgen de Barbaneda, and three more old bronze guns all poured in the late 1600s can still be seen at today’s San Francisco Presidio and Fort Point.


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